July 25, 2017

"Many of today’s couples are planning their elopements more closely than ever..."

"... some plotting secret ceremonies several months in advance and spending $15,000 or more for their dream weddings — without a hundred of their closest family and friends," the NYT reports.
They search for stunning exotic backdrops for their ceremonies, shop in secret for the perfect dress, hire florists to arrange a Pinterest-worthy bouquet, hire photographers, even order specialty cakes. But in lieu of the invitations, friends learn about the wedding afterward in a cheeky Facebook or Instagram post, a photo announcing, “We Eloped.”...

Of course, there’s a downside to eloping. Family members are often stung when they get the news — parents’ dreams of seeing their son at the altar or their daughter walking down the aisle crushed, since they’ll never share with their child one of life’s greatest traditional rites of passage....
Well, if you make a big fancy thing out of it, you give people more reason to feel left out. Maybe for some people, that is what they want to say.

ALSO: There's a difference between the surprise "We eloped" announcement and going off and getting married on your own when everyone knows that's what you are doing (as Meade and I did). There are many other important variables here: Is it a financial decision — a preference for a big honeymoon rather than a big wedding? Are you under the impression that people don't really want to attend your wedding? Is this a second wedding? Have you already been living together? Is a sincere religious ceremony part of the wedding?

AND: Maybe what's happening is that for many people, social media is more important than in-person social relationships. Doing things so they'll look great in social media may make sense. Everyone can see it. The photographers don't get in anyone's way. No one needs to spend money to travel see an elaborately staged event or take any real time out of their day. They get an immediate intimate look at something lovely and heart-warming and they power on through their day. Meanwhile the couple doesn't have to worry about tending to all the logistics and catering to the feelings of so many people who've troubled themselves to arrive at an event that might not really be that much fun for them. It may be better for almost everyone.

85 comments:

Earnest Prole said...

"Many of today's couples" = bullshit.

MayBee said...

I think so many people living together before getting married has really changed things as far as engagements and weddings go. Now the engagement has to be a big public thing, with photographs and everything.

It's similar to what's going on with babies. Now everybody knows what gender they are having and the babies name well in advance of the birth, so to re-establish the feelings of excitement, there are the execrable gender reveal parties.

Jeremy said...

Have seen this phenomenon. Seems like the exact opposite of what most couples need. It tells your friends and loved ones, "we don't want you or need you. You have no authority to speak into our lives. Wen we're excited, do not celebrate with us. When we're suffering, do not comfort us. When our marriage is strained, do not support us."

Bay Area Guy said...

Ughh. Now the stuffy, humorless NYT is chiming in on appropriate wedding protocols? I swear that periodical tends to drain the fun and joy out of most topics.

Ann Althouse said...

"so to re-establish the feelings of excitement, there are the execrable gender reveal parties."

Don't worry. Those things are on the verge of being politically incorrect. Excessive interest in the "gender" of your child is transphobic (as well as sexist, which was always true).

The fact that you said "gender reveal parties" shows the problem. You do not know the gender of your child until the child is old enough to know and has made a decision to tell you about it. You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.

Etienne said...

You forgot to add the insanity tag.

rhhardin said...

It's a slippery elope.

tcrosse said...

What will become of the Wedding Announcements in the Sunday NYT, which are a roadmap of the Gentry in America ?

stlcdr said...

Needs the elit(ist) tag.

Lyssa said...

You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.

When I was pregnant with my first, I worked in a cheeky office that looked for any excuse to throw a party, so, of course, they wanted to throw a party to celebrate finding out whether I was having a boy or a girl.

Naturally, we called it a "sex party."

n.n said...

I can see the advertisements now. In 2017, parents knew that gender is fluid, and despite advisories from psychos, they named genders and put their children's mental health at risk. Today, the court has ordered parents, and grandparents, to set aside 30 trillion dollars in capital to compensate children whose gender was correlated with their sex. If you, or an alt-personality, have been affected by what these traditional parents and grandparents did, then you may be eligible to receive an award from the court-ordered 30 trillion dollar trust fund.

Michael K said...

The "destination weddings" are better off being "elopements" as as I am concerned.

My youngest daughter was asked to be a bridesmaid for a friend who was getting married in Jamaica.

Guess who paid the expenses to get there, etc.

CJinPA said...

Maybe what's happening is that for many people, social media is more important than in-person social relationships. Doing things so they'll look great in social media may make sense.... It may be better for almost everyone.

I was going to dismiss this, but it is a decent explanation. If more people are experiencing friends and family developments via social media, why not this?* Still, it is sad. For parents and others of their generation it must be achingly sad. There is no getting around the message that 'What you, and grandma, and great-grandma and her mother did to get married means nothing to me.'

*This assumes any of this represents a trend. Notice they use "many" couples, not "more" couples. Fake trend stories are vital to modern news outlets. More and more of them are relying on it.

n.n said...

Woke. Woke up. Wake up implies that you have already trans-gressed someone, something, somewhere.

n.n said...

In light of the progressive risk posed by Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, it seems prudent to keep the ceremony short with only native flora, fauna, and people; and view others over wires powered by prevailing winds or sunny days.

traditionalguy said...

Modern life. The staged grand weddings were always done as political power displays of the House of the ( insert Family name), and paid for by the Patriarch. That is why many families spend so conspicuously on the Reception and pre-parties. The Honeymoon is irrelevant.

The Indian families I know in Atlanta will , for example, spend half a million on their son's wedding, including the live elephants, the politicians they contribute to and family members flown in from India.

The commoners tend to have a church service followed by cake and punch, much like Church on Sunday but done on another day. The Episcopalians do it the best in a Cathedral with pomp and ceremony, they being the Royal Monarchy's Church.

Earnest Prole said...

I know it goes against the controlling nature of upper-middle-class women, but other than that: what's wrong with learning the gender of your child when it exits the birth canal? We did five that way and each time it was magical.

Mountain Maven said...

It's all about the Bridezilla. And the man dumb enough to marry her.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

They get an immediate intimate look at something lovely and heart-warming

An elopement as described (lavish vacay designed around the Instagram posts) is anything but lovely and heart-warming, to me. It's wildly gauche and shallow.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Have seen this phenomenon. Seems like the exact opposite of what most couples need. It tells your friends and loved ones, "we don't want you or need you. You have no authority to speak into our lives. Wen we're excited, do not celebrate with us. When we're suffering, do not comfort us. When our marriage is strained, do not support us."

Beautifully put.

Etienne said...

The only thing my wife wanted in our marriage, was a prenuptial.

I told her that I didn't want her stuff, I wanted her heart. I was a true romantic. Women eat that shit up with gusto.

Actually, many years before I saw this beautiful red Corvette, and a beautiful dumb blond driving it. I knew the only way to get the Corvette was to date the dumb blond.

I didn't want to own the Corvette, I just wanted to drive it. So I suffered the dumb blond for awhile. Finally, the red Corvette was passé, and I went on to British cars. Now those are some tough women. You have to really work on women with British cars.

So, same with my wife -- I didn't want to own her stuff, I just wanted to put my feet up on it.

Women are so easy...

Owen said...

Weddings have always been theater but until now they required actual humans as guests/audience/extras. Now? Photoshop and upload the Perfect Moment Where We Cut The Cake All By Ourselves on Everest or Some Remote Atoll. Which moment is caught in HD and posted on FB. Sorry, friends, that we couldn't fit you in to our terribly tight itinerary but do please drop us some Bitcoins to help cover our expenses.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

Social media is not a substitute for relationships. I feel sad for people~young people~who do not know this.

Went to significant trouble and expense to attend the wedding of the oldest child of my husband's oldest friend a couple weeks ago. It had been a while since I had been to a wedding, and it was really something to be a part of this large gathering of people who were all there to say, with their presence, their fancy clothes, their prayers and their time & treasure spent in being there: We love you. We care about you. We support you. We want the best for you. We are invested in the success of your marriage and in your happiness. You're not doing this alone. We're proud of you.

These are the things that matter in life.

CStanley said...

It's kind of meta really...weddings have long catered to illusion. Couples and/or their families put on a show of wealth, social class, or even on the simpler end of things, familial bliss.

So instead of putting on this grand live performance, social media has created a platform for an even greater illusion. It's like the difference between building a real home and creating a Hollywood set of one.

Mr Wibble said...

Also, no one can see that the bride is being a raging psycho right before the wedding, comment on the catering, or have to deal with the uncle who has too much to drink.

Everything is an illusion of happiness and perfection.

SDaly said...

Pretty much guaranteed that social media weddings will have the comments section moderated.

Bill Peschel said...

"social media is more important than in-person social relationships."

I spend a lot of time online. I'm almost the classic introvert. I'm happy with my wife, my few friends, and maybe a cat or two (despite the fact I've had a great time putting myself on display as the Author at book events, go figure).

But I know the difference between in-person and social media. At my wedding my three siblings came out, which was a great compliment to me. It was one of the few times all four of us were together as adults, and I wish now I had recorded it, because we shared a lot of stories (and so did they after the wife and I went off on the honeymoon).

Human contact is precious, especially for me because it's so rare. I think I would distance myself from someone who thinks eloping and sending me pictures is a substitute for coming together as a tribe and celebrating. (In a way, haven't they already done that to me?)

Ralph L said...

You have to really work on women with British cars.
Later, you can't let your wife drive one alone at night.

My sister had a Friends wedding despite neither being religious, or even "spiritual."

Anything to stop the wedding delusion/status competition.

tcrosse said...

I think it was Erma Bombeck who said that the length of the marriage is inversely proportional to the cost of the wedding.

gspencer said...

"My youngest daughter was asked to be a bridesmaid for a friend who was getting married in Jamaica."

I would like to think that my daughter would have had the good sense to declaim that bridesmaid honor.

We have a destination wedding we are to attend soon. Trying to get over the stupidity of it all - asking 00s of people to uproot for a 3 day "gala" - the time wasted, and the out of pockets in addition to a wedding gift, just so this enchanted couple can feel like trashy Hollywood people.

MayBee said...

with learning the gender of your child when it exits the birth canal? We did five that way and each time it was magical.

I agree!

MayBee said...

Hahahaha, Althouse!!

traditionalguy said...

Speaking of pre-nuptual Agreements, the times that I have done them for friends was hard. The essence of negotiating the Divorce limitations so they are binding when challenged is full disclosure of assets by both and picking one that you represent forcing the other to go to another lawyer for counsel.

Invariably the man resented the lawyers even being paid, much less two of them, while the woman kept her mouth shut of course. After it was completed, half of them did not sign it as a show of something. One even demanded a refund because they did not sign it, and he had only done it to please the woman.

Crazy Jane said...

I wish in retrospect that we'd just gone down to city hall. Nothing I see these days --- reservations 18 months in advance for favored venues, elaborate bachelor and bachelorette trips, ungodly expenses for lavish spreads and travel for guests, gowns that are too too, dance lessons for the reception, and all of it staged for photographers and "memories" -- seems to have much to do with pledging your lives to each other, which is the real point of the matter.

And, yes, I know I'm a crank.

Professional lady said...

I just went to a destination wedding on a Greek Island. The actual marriage ceremony was in a Greek Orthodox Church. The couple currently lives in the UK and about 40 guests came from the US, UK and other places. It was wonderful and I'm glad we went. Greece is beautiful and fascinating and the Greek people are very warm and kind.

Professional lady said...

We also went to a family wedding on the West Coast last summer (we live in the Midwest). The West Coast family had suffered a heartbreaking tragedy the year before and I think it really meant a lot to them that everyone made the effort to come to the wedding to be with them. It also was really nice that my husband had a chance to reconnect with all of his remaining siblings.

Martha said...

Being excluded from a family wedding does feel like a snub though.
Last summer my nephew announced we should all save the date for his wedding planned for July 29, 2017. Then, several months ago, most of us were informed that plans had changed and the wedding would be small —only immediate-immediate family was invited. Trying to meet the expectations of the more socially prominent family of the groom was not worth the stress or the expense.
And yes, I do believe that the size of the wedding is inversely proportional to the length and happiness of the marriage, but I will sorely miss witnessing the wedding.

brylun said...

Michael K: Money only goes one way - from the old to the young.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

My Detroit grandparents eloped - took the train to a town in Indiana where a cousin was a Justice of the Peace.

Church weddings are inexpensive. Just serve cake and punch at the church basement reception. Your out-of-town guests can party at their hotel. I've been to a few of these, and they are really fun.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Of course, there’s a downside to eloping. Family members are often stung when they get the news — parents’ dreams of seeing their son at the altar or their daughter walking down the aisle crushed, since they’ll never share with their child one of life’s greatest traditional rites of passage

Why would any parent want to see their daughter crushed, in any context? That's just terrible.
Plus isn't that a little sexist? Why shouldn't the daughter be at the alter and the non-crushed son walk down the aisle? Problematic.

Ann Althouse said...Maybe what's happening is that for many people, social media is more important than in-person social relationships. Doing things so they'll look great in social media may make sense.
Elope: Do It for the 'Gram.

Ann Althouse said...

I object to the term "bitrh canal." Why is a body party getting renamed when it performs one of its functions?

It's like calling the mouth the vomit hole when a person vomits.

Whether things are going in or coming out, it's the same thing.

It's like some kind of joke, like "pie hole."

Earnest Prole said...

I object to the term bitch canal as well.

Earnest Prole said...

But in seriousness you make a good point.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

The sign in my county's courthouse directing visitors is "Marriage Licenses, Gun Permits, Snack Bar" with an arrow.
Last time I renewed my CCW there were two gay couples in the marriage license line next to me--it had only become legal in my state a few weeks earlier. One couple was very excited and was apparently going to have the justice of the peace in that office do a ceremony; the other was bored and I think wasn't going to have a ceremony at all. The CCW line was much longer, btw.

Ann Althouse said...The fact that you said "gender reveal parties" shows the problem. You do not know the gender of your child until the child is old enough to know and has made a decision to tell you about it. You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.

That's funny and very, very close. Next time please close with "Get woke!" instead.
[I hope I wasn't just mansplaining.]

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Whether things are going in or coming out, it's the same thing.

Planned Parenthood certainly agrees...gotta drop that "birth" at the very least.
"Babymaker" is, of course, also out.

Earnest Prole said...

I suppose the term moneymaker will also be frowned upon.

rhhardin said...

A man, a plan, a canal : vagina

urbane legend said...

MayBee said...
Now everybody knows what gender they are having and the babies name well in advance of the birth ...

The ultrasound tells you the baby's name, too?

Mr Wibble said...

Of course, there’s a downside to eloping. Family members are often stung when they get the news — parents’ dreams of seeing their son at the altar or their daughter walking down the aisle crushed, since they’ll never share with their child one of life’s greatest traditional rites of passage....

I would love to just go down to the justice of the peace, or a quiet ceremony with the local priest and a few friends as witnesses, if I were ever to marry. Unfortunately my sister decided to throw a lavish wedding and not invite our mother. This means that I have to ensure mom gets to watch at least on of her kids get married.

mockturtle said...

I know couples whose wedding preparations lasted longer than their marriages. Spend $25K and more on a wedding and not have enough money for a down payment on a house.

mockturtle said...

n.n. remarks: In light of the progressive risk posed by Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, it seems prudent to keep the ceremony short with only native flora, fauna, and people; and view others over wires powered by prevailing winds or sunny days.

:-D

Etienne said...

I can see why women would object to poetic names for body parts. I mean womb, carnal knowledge, etc? Only men with beards could invent this crap...

www.cancer.gov offers this government advice on pronunciation:

Birth Canal

or for Spanish:

Canal de Parto

I like: canal de naissance ...It sounds Catholic...

tcrosse said...

I can see why women would object to poetic names for body parts. I mean womb, carnal knowledge, etc?

Anaïs Nin: Delta of Venus.

mockturtle said...

rhhardin quips: A man, a plan, a canal : vagina

Good one!

Professional lady said...

When I was a kid, I would ask my mother where babies came out (of their mother's bodies). She would answer "the birth canal." I thought it was kind of like the Erie Canal.

ALP said...

Ann! Thank you for the "blast from the past" link to one of my all time FAVORITE posts, the: "if you've been living together for years why the big wedding?" from 2015. I think it was one of the first posts on this blog I had ever read, and I was blown away to see my own thoughts/feelings on a blog. Every single damn wedding I've ever been invited to was of that type - two people that had been living together for years, owned a home, had kids...

For fuck's sake, if doing marriage paperwork after all that time demands a party, I want a party every time you do any kind of paperwork that reinforces your bond: life insurance, health insurance, listing your spouse as your emergency contact, etc...etc...etc... I demand a party and a meal of equal value to the tacky gift I'll arrive with.

dbp said...

It takes all types:

A woman I work with is planning to "elope". She and her fiancee will go, essentially on a week-long vacation, but arrange ahead of time to become legally married when they first get to the destination.

My eldest daughter would (someday) like a big formal wedding, while the middle daughter thinks the wedding industry is a giant scam and is torn between elopement and a guerrilla wedding. She was miffed by the idea of her sister hogging familial resources, but I indicated that each of them will receive an equal wedding gift of money, which they can use in whatever way they choose.

lgv said...

"I know couples whose wedding preparations lasted longer than their marriages. Spend $25K and more on a wedding and not have enough money for a down payment on a house."

I have a daughter who was in the business. It wasn't just the Bridezillas, mothers of the bride were far worse. In a big city, you can't do a middle-class or higher wedding for $25k. It has gotten ridiculous. The logistics are mind boggling. Elopement, with or without some of those extras associated with real weddings, makes tremendous economic sense. It also eliminates all sorts of stress. The wedding racket has gotten out of control. This is just a natural roll back in a way that doesn't says, "I can't afford a big wedding".

Destination weddings are good deals for the family. It cuts down on the crowd. Much of the wedding party's costs are comped or discounted.

Larry J said...

My wife and I spent maybe $200 total to get married. We were still in college as older (non-traditional) students and money was very tight. We never regretted the decision to get married and live within our means. We've been married 34 years. The same week we married, one of the big news magazines had "Big Weddings - They're Back" as the cover story. I wonder how many of the couples featured in that story are still together.

California Snow said...

My wife just gave birth to our fourth three months ago and we thought about not finding out the sex of the baby but it was too convenient. It's just easier to plan for purchasing necessary clothes plus the wife likes to decorate a little so she wants to make sure the room is the right...instead of pink lady bugs my son gets brown monkeys.

BudBrown said...

I don't know about social media contributing to the increase but maybe the
internet plays a part. Makes the planning ahead easier. I mean in the old days
maybe the guy says honey let's elope up to Myrtle Beach right after the prom.
And they're on the lookout for vacancy and justice of the peace signs. Now
the kid's driving along while the bride to be is laying out the itenerary for him.
What's with the boutonniere stuff honey, my flys up.

Michael K said...

"Resented it at first,but was nice to get away for a long weekend."

Yes but you got to go and pay for it.

College age daughters go and daddy pays for it.

I admit it. I'm a sucker for pretty girls.

ALP said...

Igv @ 2:20: "The logistics are mind boggling."

I used to work for a historic mansion/garden that hosted weddings. It was not my job to be involved, but being on site makes it difficult to avoid. I got my hands on a multi-page "wedding plan" authored by a wedding planner for the event the next day. NINE pages (and this was an excerpt) listing a sequence of events, with many little things that needed to happen as little as TWO MINUTES apart. I am not kidding! One late event, the entire thing falls apart. Jeebus, even law firms only go to 6 minute increments. A military campaign is probably simpler.

SukieTawdry said...

I love going to weddings. I served as maid of honor seven times. But I find the idea of spending tens of thousands of dollars on them absurd. By happenstance, I was married by a justice of the peace. I couldn't have cared less at the time about a big splashy ceremony and have not had even one regret since.

SukieTawdry said...

The fact that you said "gender reveal parties" shows the problem. You do not know the gender of your child until the child is old enough to know and has made a decision to tell you about it. You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.

Obviously you should wait to have the gender reveal party until after the child has chosen his/her/ze/their gender.

veni vidi vici said...

This is sad. People are lame. That is all.

MadisonMan said...

The fact that you said "gender reveal parties" shows the problem. You do not know the gender of your child until the child is old enough to know and has made a decision to tell you about it. You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.

I echo others in applauding this. (laugh)

My kids approach marriageable age. So I'll not comment, lest I have to eat my words. I *hope* they're sensible, and I think they will be. We'll see.

mockturtle said...

In a big city, you can't do a middle-class or higher wedding for $25k.

True today, but when my friends were getting married it was late 1960's and early 70's.

Johnny Sokko said...

We have a weird wedding industrual complex that pressures women into thinking they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a fairy tale wedding. We also have a baby industrial complex that pressures mothers-to-be into thinking they must have a baby butt wipes warmer (baby butt wipes are heaven sent but a fucking warmer?) We live in a odd world.

mockturtle said...

Larry J reports: My wife and I spent maybe $200 total to get married. We were still in college as older (non-traditional) students and money was very tight. We never regretted the decision to get married and live within our means. We've been married 34 years. The same week we married, one of the big news magazines had "Big Weddings - They're Back" as the cover story. I wonder how many of the couples featured in that story are still together.

Good show, Larry! My late husband I--married 40 years--got married at a Justice of the Peace in downtown Seattle with two witnesses [close friends] with whom we enjoyed a lovely dinner afterward. We bought our rings at a downtown pawn shop. :-) Of course I still have them and wore both of them after my husband passed. My parents loaned us money to buy our first house and we paid them back with interest. Everything thereafter we paid with cash including six homes. It really pains me that so many young couples start out life in debt. It can only be a strain on their marriage, IMO.

Joe said...

My marriage to my now-ex was a simple, inexpensive thing, yet still extremely stressful for everyone. I offered my oldest daughter $3000 to elope to avoid that. She ended up spending just about that [in 2010], which is cheap as modern weddings go, yet it was still incredibly stressful for everyone.

I noticed even here that many of the complaints are by guests who are miffed that THEY aren't able to share in this, yet it isn't about them, is it? Therein lies the problem--wedding all to often cease to be about the couple, but about everyone else.

Owen said...

...wedding all too often [ceases to be] about the couple...". Yes and no. There are lots of cooks stirring the pot. The couple, who want to invite their friends. The parents, who want to invite THEIR friends. The parents-in-law, ditto.

It is supposed to be this awesome happy perfect relaxed party where you have hours to chat and catch up with just everybody. But what actually happens is a high-speed frenzy. The more money, the bigger the guest list, the less time you can spend with anybody, the bigger the need to nail the next canned toast.

Although much too late on my case, I think elopement has much to recommend it.

jimbino said...

In a big city, you can't do a middle-class or higher wedding for $25k.

Not true at all: I've been to weddings where the benighted pair bought lots of wedding stuff from places like Walmart and Amazon and returned it with full refund after one use.

Weddings are terribly sexist: my parents, who prided themselves on treating their kids equitably, spent 1970's small fortunes on getting my three sisters hitched. The only son, still single and childfree, I got nothing comparable, but I did get justice: I alone, out of four siblings, have arranged to have the family name die with me.

CStanley said...

I object to the term "bitrh canal." Why is a body party getting renamed when it performs one of its functions?

It's like calling the mouth the vomit hole when a person vomits.


I find it very creepy that this is the comparison you would make.

And anyway, the birth canal refers to several parts of the woman's anatomy performing a biological function together, and we do have a similar term for the structures that together perform the function of ingestion, digestion, absorption and excretion: the alimentary canal.

mockturtle said...

Ann seems very anti-childbirth for some reason.

southcentralpa said...

1) A lot of people (especially in my experience, women) give more thought to getting married than to BEING married.

2) This is not eloping. Elopement is when you run away to get married in a hurry, particularly if one or both of the sets of parents object (especially the woman's). It sounds like the couples are going fancy on their "elopements" (really more "self-indulgent vacations that they happen to get married on") with the money they're saving by not inviting people. Sounds like a jerk move, but some people are more anti-social (or self-absorbed) than others.

Ann Althouse said...

"And anyway, the birth canal refers to several parts of the woman's anatomy performing a biological function together, and we do have a similar term for the structures that together perform the function of ingestion, digestion, absorption and excretion: the alimentary canal."

That is not parallel. With the alimentary canal have one system with one name, covering multiple functions that are going on all the time. With "birth canal" (aka bitrh canal), you are taking what is a permanent part of the woman's body and substituting a euphemism to give it special honor when it performs what is a rare function. It seems to me that there is an effort at something like transubstantiation, taking the lowly thing, and through an incantation, making it into something exalted.

Now, I do hear what you are saying in that the birth canal includes the dilated cervix, so parts with 2 names take on a single name, as a pathway is opened from the uterus to the outside world, whereas normally the vagina is a dead end. It's not simply renaming the vagina, but marking the occasion of the open path from the womb.

I agree that my example "vomit hole" is creepy, but I find "birth canal" creepy. "Birth canal" is creepy because it is a euphemism. If we stick with "mouth" and "vagina," both are standard words for body parts that would do perfectly well remaining constant whatever the function. The perceived need to change the name reflects aversion to something.

Ann Althouse said...

The original meaning of "elope" in English was — and this was a legal term — (of a wife) to run away from her husband. A married woman was running off with her lover. That meaning goes back to 1338 (according to the OED).

The word has the implication of running away.

Bay Area Guy said...

The NYT is written by humorless pedants for humorless pedants.

That is all.

Quaestor said...

The original meaning of "elope" in English was — and this was a legal term — (of a wife) to run away from her husband. A married woman was running off with her lover. That meaning goes back to 1338 (according to the OED).

It also means rape. When Paris makes off with Helen the word used in the classical sources is βιάζω, which can mean to make haste, but in the context of a man running off with another's wife it means rape as we understand the concept. Prudish English translators lite Matthew Arnold fudged and rendered βιάζω as elope. Alexander Pope translated most instances of βιάζω as rape. However, he used the word in his mock epic, The Rape of the Lock in the more common sense, i.e. to carry off or to plunder, so we can't be sure what he was implying.

It's really depressing that rape (I, know I'm going to get crucified for this, but here goes...) refers almost exclusively to the largely mythical crime of carnal knowledge of a woman without her consent, while nearly every student today is absolutely ignorant of that word's more general and historically more important meaning.

I characterized rape as largely mythical because it is, and not because actual rape is not heinous and barbaric. Among criminal complaints rape is the most often falsely reported. Furthermore, rape is a convenient subject of propaganda intended to promote political opinions which are only peripherally concerned with criminal deviance, and as such should always be treated with suspicion. To put it bluntly, rape is to modern identity politics as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was to National Socialism.

Quaestor said...

The NYT is written by humorless pedants for humorless pedants.

The staff writers of the New York Times are a bit light in the factual knowledge department to be pedantic.

Is there a word that means to be pedantic about thoroughgoing bullshit? If not there should be.

mockturtle said...

I agree, Quaestor. Pedantry would be a step up for the NYT.

Quaestor said...

Althouse wrote:
"so to re-establish the feelings of excitement, there are the execrable gender reveal parties."

Don't worry. Those things are on the verge of being politically incorrect. Excessive interest in the "gender" of your child is transphobic (as well as sexist, which was always true).

The fact that you said "gender reveal parties" shows the problem. You do not know the gender of your child until the child is old enough to know and has made a decision to tell you about it. You can only do a sex reveal party. If you can't say sex, you're not doing it right. Wake up.


The fact that there are supposedly educated people who could write those paragraphs in complete and candid sincerity makes me want to barf.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Re: birth canal and vomit hole--a famous comedian everyone loves recently used "cock holster" for "mouth" when referring to the current President. The comedian is loved by the Left so that must be an acceptable phrase (not overly crude nor homophonic, etc).

stlcdr said...

"The word has the implication of running away."

Exactly. It also has the implication of defiance, and perhaps that's why it's (incorrectly) used in the context, but it is defiance against the actual marriage, and not the hoopla surrounding it. When there is no objection to the marriage (such as a father saying that the 'daughter will never see that man again') then it is not eloping.