Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Brides' bodies

Go . . .Here's my attempt to spark a conversation.

Honeymoon murder

As mentioned in previous post, I'm challenging readers and authors of this blog to get the conversation going by adding a few comments about a situation, in this sad case the murder of a bride on her honeymoon and the arrest of the groom.  The bride was from Sweden, the groom from the UK, the murder happened in South Africa, and couple's wedding picture shows them in traditional Indian attire.  The husband is reported elsewhere to be wealthy.  None of the articles I read referred to the history of bride burnings, though (and perhaps it was just me) the emphasis on the murder of the Indian (Indian-Swedish) bride seemed to whisper the allusion.

This is NOT about the innocence or guilt of the husband. And it's not about Indian bride burnings -- well at least not wholly. 

I want to comment briefly on the bride as simultaneously celebrated -- worshiped, almost -- and fragile.  The celebration (the gown, the festivities, the bride in the center of it all) highlight a feminine power: she is the desired, celebrated object.  But despite her power, she is weak, especially (generally) compared to the groom. Her body is "given away" in some traditions.  No matter how egalitarian the relationship, her physical security depends on the genuineness of the groom's love and declarations of care because of his greater physical strength. 

When brides die or are killed, we are jarred by the contradiction between the power inherent in the celebration of them and the relative powerless and vulnerability of the female body.

And this is the case even today when many (most?) people are living together before marriage -- if they marry at all.  (And there is, indeed, some question as to whether this couple were officially married despite the ceremony they went through.)

It seems to me that the murder a cohabiting girlfriend, even if the death involved as many global connections as this one, would not be nearly as sensational as this, the murder of a bride.

OK, Folks:  How do you see the embodied story behind this situation?

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