Rant: Why I’m No Longer Participating in the Light the Night Charity Walk

Let’s start with a timeline.

February 23, 2018. The man who should have been my future father-in-law lost his brief battle with lymphoma (but the death certificate says leukemia).

April 2018. I was looking up the awareness ribbon color for lymphoma out of curiosity. I encountered the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society webpage and read stories. I then encountered information about Light the Night charity walk. I saw the nearest walk was about 30 minutes away from me. I had been turning anger into advocacy that year, so why not turn Franklin’s family’s anger into advocacy?

May 2018. I struggled to tell anyone about my idea, although I knew that I will need plenty of time to collect money. I also worried about how Franklin would feel about this.

End of July 2018. I knew I wouldn’t get enough money to even do the charity walk, so I told Franklin about what I wanted to do, but would no longer be able to do. Franklin thought it was thoughtful and still wanted to do it.

September 2018. We get our wedding email set up due to advice from many wedding forums. I saw something from Light the Night and saw a team was created. What I didn’t know is that this would be my only idea that was put in place. I saw Franklin was made team captain. I was angry. This was MY idea! I was the one who found out about this! Why is a white man once again taking charge of something that a woman, especially a woman of color, started? This was when I first considered not doing the walk. I later found out that the person who creates the team page is automatically made captain. I eventually created a page and added myself to the team.

October 2018. Franklin posts the team page to social media to get us donations. He’s asking for the donations as a good birthday gift for me. I discover we are getting donations on our team page, but to my anger, all the donations were going to Franklin. The original plan wasn’t to do it for the money, but you’d be angry too if one person was getting all the donations and no one else was. Nowhere on the pages does it say that it was my idea. White men never give women, or women of color, credit for anything. White men always want to lead everything. I’ve had enough. I’m no longer walking. I will find a way to remove myself from the team. Franklin is starting to become like my ex. Why is this happening after I get the ring? Is he changing to his true self now that I’m “locked in” with him?

Fuck white men.

DiaryofSelf Marries in 2020 · Self-Reflection

Am I Feminist Enough? Feminism and Weddings

When a feminist goes through wedding planning, she (or they) becomes aware or is already aware of traditions that are misogynistic and women-are-property-based. Feminists will choose to chuck traditions out the window. Websites like A Practical Wedding and The Feminist Bride preach about outdated misogynistic traditions and how to raise a middle finger to the patriarchy which still exists today. But what if, like me, there are traditions that a feminist wants to keep? After reading many posts on r/weddingplanning as well as The Feminist Bride, I started questioning if I was truly a feminist.

Some traditions seen by feminists as misogynistic and women-are-property-rooted include changing your last name to your future husband’s last name, having your father walk you down the aisle, being walked down the aisle in general, being “given away”, having the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, even changing your prefix from Miss or Ms. to Mrs.

Guess how many of those aforementioned misogynistic traditions I’m doing because I’m very big on tradition? Everything except being “given away” and having my parents pay for my wedding. Instead of the part where the officiant asks who’s giving me away, I’m having the officiant ask our families who welcomes Franklin as part of my family and who welcomes me as a part of Franklin’s family (and the family members will say “We do”). Before I became a feminist and while I was still with my previous ex, I wanted the welcome into the family instead because of two families becoming one and such. Franklin and I will pay for our wedding because I read so many stories where families contribute financially and try to butt in with what they want. Since money usually comes with strings attached in this case, we want the wedding WE want and will not accept input of how OUR wedding should be.

I’m changing my last name because despite it being seemingly simple, it is often spelled wrong. Someone is walking me down the aisle because I will feel awkward walking by myself. Dad’s walking me down the aisle because I’m a daddy’s girl (I know some feminists just barfed at the term “daddy’s girl”). I never thought that Mrs. would be sexist, but according to The Feminist Bride (which is a bit too radfem for my taste. If I was a radfem, I would not be marrying a man), men don’t need a change in prefix to show a change in relationship and sexual status.

So what does this have to do with me questioning my status as a feminist? Am I personally gatekeeping based on what other feminists did to deal with weddings? Probably. Am I falling into confirmation bias due to what I’m reading in regards to feminism and how the wedding planning subreddit seems to be based on being non-traditional? I barely looked at that subreddit ever since I got engaged since the only non-traditional thing about the wedding is that Franklin and I are an interracial couple. I should continue with taking breaks from invalidating readings.

However, I will still try to add some feminist elements to my wedding. I’m still deciding on who to have as my officiant, but if it’s my pastor from the Unitarian Universalist church, I know she will be well aware about how to make a ceremony feminist. In the ceremony and in speeches, women WILL speak first. I’m putting the song “Blurred Lines” on the “Do Not Play” list. The religious reading will be a scripture that DOESN’T say I need to be subservient to my husband or that I have to obey him. There will be other ways my wedding will be social justice aware, but I’ll talk about that in a future wedding planning blog post.


DiaryofSelf Experiences a Unitarian Universalist Church

This can also be called “An Atheist Goes to a Unitarian Universalist Church” and this post should have been made back in August. I will mainly be talking about my first visit, but I might include some things from subsequent visits.

I first discovered this church in 2014 when my grandmother suggested that I find my own church since the church I grew up in is catered to the older generation (as in Baby Boomers and what is known as the “Silent Generation”). I had discovered that Unitarian Universalist churches hold the same non-religious beliefs that I do. Unitarian Universalist (UU) churches are also welcoming towards the LGBTQ community, which is a very good thing. Earlier in 2014, I realized my bisexuality. I also had friends in university as well as co-workers who fall somewhere in the LGBTQ spectrum. I was ready to start trying out that church and even joining their choir (I’m not a very good singer, but there was no experience necessary). But then I became an atheist.

Over the summer, I had come across YouTube videos of non-Christians going to a UU church. One person is an atheist while the other person is a Pagan Witch whose favorite goddess is Hecate. Around the same time, Franklin and I were having serious talks and considerations for marriage (heck, my ring had already been picked up from the jewelry store before we went to church for the first time) and I felt like he felt it important for us to go to church. I chose this church because they have potlucks (Franklin actually said the first church to have a picnic would be the church he’d pick), I knew they’d be welcoming of us being an interracial couple, and I didn’t want to go to a church where either of us would be the only ones of that race.

So on the last day of July, we attended the UU church for the first time for a sermon based on Lord of the Rings (during the summer, people do sermons about whatever they want). I found the church service to be religiously-neutral. There was still an offering, readings, and music, but there wasn’t prayer. The chalice is lit and people can light candles of joy or sorrow. Franklin and I lit a candle on our third visit to share the joy of our engagement and a member of his church recently celebrated 20 years of sobriety from alcohol.

After service there are some light foods and refreshments. I liked the blueberry and acai green tea they had (which they ran out of as of the end of September. Boo) and I always get some tea after service. There are potlucks every second Sunday from October through June, but our first visit was during the summer so no potluck for us! So many people talked to us after service, which I liked because people were acknowledging our presence and weren’t cliquish. At my uncle’s church when I first (and last) visited, mom said good morning to the few people they were there (it’s a small church that my uncle is a pastor of) and they looked like “Who does she think she is saying hi to us?” I haven’t been back because I feel like churches should be welcoming. If I’m going to subject myself to church, it better be welcoming.

All in all, I definitely recommend a Unitarian Universalist church to anyone regardless of religious beliefs (or no religious belief).


A Reflection on a Silent Witness Ceremony

TRIGGER WARNING! This blog post will talk about domestic violence and murder. If that is your trigger, STOP READING NOW! SERIOUSLY! Go practice some healthy coping strategies.

In 1990, women in Minneapolis, Minnesota got together with other organizations to do something to address the growing (and still growing today) number of women being killed by their intimate partners. To raise awareness, the women put up 26 figures to recognize the women who lost their lives due to domestic violence. Another anonymous figure was put up for the many women whose murders were unsolved or erroneously ruled as “accidental.” Learn more about it here.

Since 2000, the Unitarian Universalist church I have been attending has chosen to continue this by putting up silhouettes along the roadway in front of the church in honor of the people in the county who have lost their lives due to domestic violence. However, there are figures of all genders and all ages.

So on Sunday, September 30th, my fiance and I went to church, with that day’s theme being about “Silent Witnesses.” A silent witness is someone who was killed by domestic violence and someone who is dead cannot tell their story. After church was a brief ceremony honoring these “silent witnesses.” The ceremony included unveiling the “silent witness” figures that are currently on display outside of the church, talks from guest speakers (a police officer, the CEO of a local spousal abuse shelter, a prosecutor, and a survivor), music, people saying the names of the victims of domestic homicide, and the history of the Silent Witness National Initiative. While people were consuming finger foods, others got a head start on putting up the red wooden figures.

The men’s rights activists would be pleased that male victims of domestic violence were not left out of the conversation. People would be shocked at how young some of the victims are (one figure was in honor of a victim of domestic homicide was only a baby. A baby. Let that sink in). During the regular service (not the silent witness ceremony), a middle-age woman said that 50 years ago when her mom was being abused, shelters and hotlines did not exist. It was strongly implied that her mom was killed.

After the ceremony and before people started taking the red wooden figures, I read the stories on each wooden figure. One man was killed by a hitman that his fiancee, his fiancee’s mother, and some acquaintances hired. One woman was killed with an AK-47 and it was hard to tell how many bullet wounds there were. A pregnant woman and her five-year-old daughter were killed by the mother’s boyfriend.

Warning to everyone: if you are seeking help in getting out, be careful of where you do your research. If you research at home, your partner might see it in the search history. One shelter that a roommate from university did her practicum at has that warning on their home page.

For more information about the Silent Witness Initiative, read about it here.