Sunday, May 27, 2007

Marital fraud

"Most women I know commit fraud on their wedding days--they weigh-in for the walk down the aisle with no expectation of maintaining that weight year after year," said anti-obesity advocate, MeMe Roth.

-- from Roth's blog, Wedding Gown Challenge, in which she liberally quotes herself.
I found MeMe Roth's blog through the comments to zuzu's post about Roth's insulting, misogynist, body-dysmorphic (is the woman blind!?) rant on Fox news about Jordin Sparks, an American Idol contestant. The above quote is a lot more mainstream than Roth's bizarre attacks on Girl Scouts and reading programs, and her vandalism of a YMCA sundae stand. And that's what makes it scary, and worthy of attention.

A woman whose weight varies from her weight at her wedding is committing fraud. Other similar sentiments have used the term false advertising. I'm not a lawyer, but I know that the basic concept behind fraud and false advertising are the same: gaining something, usually financial, through deceptive means.

What are these "deceptive" women gaining, in addition to weight? Maybe Ms. Roth and others mean that women are falsely getting the emotional benefits of marriage, like love and support. I doubt it though. I think they mean the most direct definitions of fraud and false advertising: financial gain.

And now the argument starts to make sense. It fits nicely in a worldview that sees marriage as a straightforward, gender-based financial contract. A man gives his money; in return, a woman gives her body.
What would be the equivalent "false advertising" on the part of a man? Roth's site doesn't mention a "wedding tux" challenge for men. They're allowed to change their bodies. No, I think the equivalent situation is a groom in medical school at the time of his wedding, who later chooses to drop out of residency and become an artist. He wouldn't be holding up the financial side of the bargain; the male side.

None of this is new; marriage has been seen as the sale of a woman's body to a man for centuries. But silly, optimistic me. I thought things were changing. I thought marriage was transforming, becoming more egalitatrian. What frightens me the most is that people are still saying these things, now, in 2007. And both Ms. Roth and MorphingIntoMama are young.

I'd better ask my husband if he's getting his money's worth.


akeeyu said...

Whoa. She's kind of...crazy, eh?

Oddly, my wedding dress is now way too big, and my husband's wedding suit is too small by about, oh, 80 pounds.

Should I demand my money back?

Dr. Confused said...

Sorry akeeyu, you can only demand your body back, and then only if your husband stops financially supporting you the contractually agreed amount. His body, and your money, have nothing to do with anything.

Maybe, though, you can ask for a raise for losing weight.