The Free Press' own Bingo Holman got married at Graceland last week. You can be a wife and a feminist, you know. Read on.
The hushed, conditioned air of Books-A-Million calms me. I meander up and down the fiction aisles, through the poetry and reference and wend my way toward the back of the store to peruse the magazines. I'm drawn to a section I've pointedly ignored in the past. I stand about two feet to the left and check out the titles of the articles out the corner of my eye while pretending to read Time. I'm the girl who read Camus in high school while wearing cut-off blue jeans, fishnet hose and combat boots. I was a member of the debate team. I subscribe to The New Yorker, Mother Jones, Utne Reader and Newsweek. I secretly condemn those who succumb to mainstream life. Now I'm reading titles of magazines like Elegant Bride and Martha Stewart's Weddings. I'm itching to buy something called Modern Bride.
Yeah, I'm getting married. I'll be a blushing bride of 31, blushing because I still want the Cinderella Wedding. The one the media have promised me since I was a little girl. I want to be Princess Di. I want chiffon, baby's breath and Pachabel's "Canon in D" as I waft down the aisle on my father's arm with everyone I've ever known crying and whispering, "What a beautiful bride." I want a grand reception in a ballroom, with a jazz band and people bringing gifts of china gravy boats and crystal candy dishes we'll never use.
But, here's the rub: I'm a feminist. I proudly wear a T-shirt that says, "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like." My feminist mother gave me books like "My Mother The Postal Carrier" and "Firegirl" (published by the Feminist Press). As a child of the 1970s I grew up believing there was no ceiling — glass or otherwise. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I promptly answered: "The first female president of the United States." So you see my predicament: The libber wants a fairy-tale affair. How to wed the two?
Admittedly, I want to be a wife. Maybe because I am a child of divorce (three times over), I believe that if this great and beautiful man and I marry that he, unlike my father, cannot leave. Maybe I want to succumb to mainstream life. Maybe I just want to live happily ever after.
These days it seems that marriage vows are nowhere near as binding as, say, an apartment lease. Too many people wed for the wrong reasons; there's even a book called "Starter Marriages."
My grandparents were married for 52 years, until my Dado died a couple of Christmases ago. They lost a child and a grandchild. They sent love letters during World War II. They raised four children and farmed in rural Mississippi. They worked at the junior college 20 minutes away. And they loved each other through sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, 'til death they did part. They represent
what I hope to do, what I hope we all can do. The Bible says, "God is love." The Beatles said, "All you need is love." With role models like my grandparents, I can believe it.
So, on Oct. 14, six days after I turn 31, two days after the Ole Miss homecoming game, I will become Mrs. Brad Gunter (I'll still use Holman professionally). I will be the best little feminist bride in Mississippi. I won't be wearing Vera Wang, but I won't be wearing that T-shirt, either. I will wear a dress that I designed and my mother made. Feminism does not have to mean the death of femininity.
When we get home, I will continue to read Camus and debate with the same old fervor. I'll wear my combat boots and read "Talk of the Town." But maybe, just maybe, every now and then I'll don an apron and cook my new husband dinner. Perhaps that's what it means to be a modern Bride.
J. Bingo Holman, pictured, is a 30-year-old bartender who forgot she knew how to write.