david duchovny, why won't you love me


Friday afternoon I went to a happy hour with some folks from my company. They’re not people I work with every day, but they are definitely the cool kids of the office. You know, if it was high school they’d be sitting in the back of every bus, running every pep rally, and fighting each other every crown. That’s not to say that I wasn’t in the running for a few crowns in high school – I was in fact in Homecoming Court my junior year. Of course, that’s because there were only fourteen girls in my grade and if you were nominated for Homecoming Princess you couldn’t be Prom Princess. The three  of us nominated were the three that had ditched the class meeting, since we clearly weren’t motivated enough to care about Prom Princess. I didn’t win, btw, Starla did. She was so cool…. she drove a topless Jeep and always had the best… um… stories. Yep, the best stories.


Off topic.

Getting invited to this happy hour was actually sort of a big deal for me – acceptance into the cool kids club bodes well for me both professionally and personally. I went, cracked the de rigueur PBR and dived into the conversation. Turns out that Matt 1 and Matt 2 both got engaged in the last couple of weeks. We loudly insist on hearing the engagement stories (sweet and not particularly original, both of them) and then it surfaces that they both asked the father of their now fiancées for permission prior to the proposal.

I oh-so-casually surveyed the other married men at the table. I wasn’t purposely excluding women, it’s just that all of us there were unmarried.

Side note: the cool kids club is all men. All the women who got a happy hour invite were unmarried. Huh.

Turns out, to a man, they asked for paternal blessings prior to popping the actual question.

I, less-casually-than-before-but-still-casually, asked if any of their wives had had an issue with that. Blank stares. Becoming slightly less casual all the time, I tried to explain that if someone were to propose to me and were to ask my father first, that would probably have an impact on my ability to answer ‘yes’ unreservedly. Blank stares.

I love my father. He’s a cool dude and when I do get married, I certainly hope that he and my husband get along. As a matter of fact, if he had some strong objection to someone I was dating, I would hear him out and weigh his contributions against my experiences.

But when do you ask for permission to do something that relates to another person? When you were little, you’d ask Timmy’s mom if he could come out and play. If you need someone in IT to drop everything and focus on a new project, you ask her manager. If someone is sick or unconscious and a decision needs to be made, you ask whoever he designated to make that decision.

In other words, you ask the person who is in charge. Do you see my problem?

My friends when pressed declared that it’s a sign of respect, and I have no doubt that they see it that way. I’m sure most fathers see it that way as well. If they’d asked both parents, I probably be objecting less strenuously – then at least they’d be quietly declaring that they didn’t see their girlfriend as someone independent, rather than that they think patriarchal approval is paramount.

These are smart, well-educated men. My industry does have an culture of ‘old boys club’ (as you can see by reading any other post categorized ‘work’), and this would probably be different if I’d asked a roomful of male teachers – if, you know, I could find one. Even in that case, though, I have no doubt that at least some men did this before they got married.

If your wife or girlfriend doesn’t mind and it makes you feel good, then by all means propose to her dad before you propose to her. Just please be aware that you’re perpetuating the idea that we as young women aren’t in charge of ourselves. You probably don’t still call Timmy’s mom when you want to head out to the bars, right?

Rant over. Needless to say, most of this went unspoken at the happy hour and has been banging around in my head all weekend. Ahhh – much better.

P.S. Dear Dad, if a boyfriend of mine ever comes to you asking for my hand in marriage, please tell him it’s my hand and he should be asking me, not you. Then smack him upside the head. Love, Emma


Gratuitous David Duchovny picture. 'Cause I can.





Filed under nablopomo, the people I love, turns out I'm a feminist, work

7 responses to “david duchovny, why won't you love me

  1. Dad

    P.S. Dear Dad, if a boyfriend of mine ever comes to you asking for my hand in marriage, please tell him it’s my hand and he should be asking me, not you. Then smack him upside the head. Love, Emma

    AGREED! And OT, if I read this correctly Matt 1 is engaged to Matt 2? Not that there’s anything wrong with that or anything…. just asking – D

  2. 54

    Interesting post and something I’ve definitely thought about. My mother is an immigrant from China and amongst a thousand other culturally relevant rules I’ve had to concede to throughout my lifetime, marriage probably hosts the largest number of rules and regulations. Traditionally, asking the parents for permission/a blessing/dowry/oopsimeantyourdaughtershandinmarriage is a necessity which I’ve found to be archaic and certainly not in line with the way I view my autonomy, however my mother did put it in a framework which I can agree with: it’s the acknowledgment that two families will be welcoming another person into their lives. Marriage is an intimate affair which involves entire families (my parents families were both very very against the marriage and I can see how difficult it made my parents lives .. and why I have little to zero interaction with my extended families).

    I don’t expect my future beau to door knock all of my relatives to see which ones are the least crazy to invite to the festivities, but I do expect that there is a mutual understanding on both sides and an acceptance that will last the lifespan of the commitment. That being said, I’m about to bring my beau home for the holidays in T-minus 2 days … to China.

    • emmanation

      Two things: First, that’s so exciting! I hope you have a wonderful time and that all goes fantastically (which of course it will).
      Second, I hadn’t considered a situation in which both sets of parents would be brought into the decision making process. In that case, it does seem to be more of a gesture of familial respect and less a feminist issue.

    • yesisaidyes

      Hrm, that last sentence seems to have more than a bit of expectancy.

  3. Funny

    if he knew you, he would love you

  4. toestor

    Loved “Dad’s” comment (the same thought about the Matts actually popped into my head) …

    In other thoughts: Why would anyone “well educated” get married today? (considering the “failure rate” and the waste of perfectly good money that comprises the wedding industry) …

    Or as my wife (!) likes to say: There is no reason to get married unless pregnancy is involved or someone is about to get deported” (and the pregnancy part is certainly up for discussion).

    Finally: No, I/We didn’t ask any third party’s opinion on our decision to get married. (Why does the boy need to ask the girl?)
    Yes, we _are_ married, because the INS does not accept any other means of proof that you are serious about your relationship. In fact: I came here on a “fiance visa” which mandates getting married within 3 months of entering the country … that was almost 11 years ago now.

    rant off.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s