Seeing “ring before spring” in a new light

Relearning feminism on SPU’s Christian campus

Aubrey Rhoadarmer, Staff Writer

Illustration by Gabrialla Cockerell

As little girls, when we watched the weddings at the end of Cinderella, The Little Mermaid and Tangled, some of us dreamed that one day, we would be the princess in the pretty wedding dress.

Intentionally or not, girls are told that marriage should be their goal and that they should dream about being wives and mothers. And for some girls, that does become their dream.

But for me, that pressure made me bitter.

I am not a fan of the idea of marriage. My whole life is determined by men; what men want from me, how men look at me, and the idea of being married to a man sounds like the worst choice I could make for myself.

Unfortunately, this bitterness led me to treat women in the exact way men treat women. Just as men shame women for their dreams, I often look at women who want to get married and I shake my head, questioning how they could throw their lives away like that. I call myself a feminist, but I put myself above girls who have more “traditional” goals.

On a Christian campus, “ring before spring” is the stereotype. Coming to Seattle Pacific University in September, I had already seen several girls from my year post on Instagram about their upcoming weddings. To be honest, I pitied them.

Until one day I was in a class discussion and my classmate spoke up. She talked about her plans for marriage, how she and her boyfriend want to get married within the next few years, and how she feels that feminists often criticize her for that. I became suddenly so aware of my own hypocrisy that I felt sick.

I decided in that moment that I was going to relearn what feminism is meant to be.

Freshman classics major Grace Peterson is the classmate who brought me to my senses. She has been with her boyfriend for two years and they have recently been talking about the idea of getting married.

“I think a part of feminism that gets forgotten is that it’s supposed to be for every person,” Peterson explained, “If we don’t have the equality of every different belief, then it’s not truly feminism.”

The entire idea behind feminism is that every person, whether woman, man, or anyone in between, is equal. Just because a woman wants to get married young does not make her any less worthy of respect. This is something I needed to learn, and it is something everyone needs to remember.

Freshman special education major Angel Wetherbee got engaged in May of 2020 and has a wedding date set for August of 2022. “I think when people see young marriage, their automatic thought is ‘are you serious? Why would you want to do that?’,” she said, “But you just have to remember you’re doing it to make you happy.”

I am living my life the way I want, working towards the goals that I believe will make me happy. Women who get married while still in school are doing the exact same thing. Marriage is their path, and we should not criticize them just because it is not ours.

Junior history and political science major Cambria Judd-Babbitt married her husband in August 2020. “There’s some stigma that ‘Oh, you’re a married woman, you’re giving up your independence and freedom’,” she said, “but my husband is so supportive. He supports me and my career.”

Being married does not mean you lose your identity. It does not mean you are not a feminist. In fact, Grace, Angel, and Cambria are all feminists.

Every woman, every person, deserves to pursue a life that brings them joy. If marriage is a part of that, then we should congratulate them, not criticize them. We must be done shaming women for their choices. If they want to be the princess in the final scene, riding off in a carriage in a big white dress, then that is who they should be.