The Thinking 

Mrs. Segal Disappears

March 21, 2010


THE NEW YORK TIMES wedding and engagement anouncements have for a long time trumpeted careerism in women and treated a nuptial as the merger of resumés. They make excruciatingly boring reading, detailing the bride’s career, the groom’s career, the fathers’ careers, the mothers’ careers, the stepfathers’ careers and the stepmothers’ careers.

A wedding announcement for today’s paper accidentally included comments in its Internet version from an editor who was miffed by the scanty work history of a housewife. What to do? The paper finally omitted the mother altogether. According to  Gawker:

The final edition leaves poor Mrs. Segal out entirely, because if one does not have an easily identifiable job, philanthropic hobby, or tony employer, one does not exist at all to the Vows page. 

To be fair to its feminist leanings, the paper should have listed Mrs. Segal as the inmate in a concentration camp or as a household slave.

Mabel LeBeau writes:

It appears a sort of joke resulted from inadvertent release of copy to the internet through a series of unfortunate steps resulting in what might be liberally interpreted as social commentary by the newspaper. If the hard-copy article is different, it’s merely release of an unedited article.

Not a subscriber to widely-circulated,major fishwrappers, I realize there may be various standards for reporting nuptials. It may be of importance to New Yorkers to read about the parents. In the newspapers around here, the place where I married, my husband’s hometown (a different country), and where we met each other and wanted to let our friends know, the format is basic: parents’ names, high school graduated, college or training, job, and location where live together. Variations may include immediate future education plans and location of honeymoon. Because I live in a major college town for this area of the country, there are a lot of planned weddings so the format is rather rigid due to space constraints. The couple contributes information and photo, and a social editor writes a short paragraph to be published whenever there is space. Locally, June weddings are often reported through autumn. Many years ago before we moved here, I had the luxury of writing the story for my hometown paper, and my husband translated it to put in his hometown paper, and an LA ethnic paper where he lived for a while. In none of our announcements were mention of our parents’ occupations.

If it is the responsibility of the family to contribute verifiable information to the NY newspaper, there may have been deliberate or inadvertent lack of appropriate discretionary statements. If the groom’s mother last taught school in the mid ’70’s when her son was born, the newspaper could have diplomatically stated his mother left a teaching post when he was born to help raise a family, without any need for particulars.

Laura writes:

The bride’s career accomplishments should not be listed at all. They are not something to brag about and are irrelevant to her new role as wife, except as a possible indicator of her utter unfitfulness for the role. It’s a cheapening of womanhood. 

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