Judging localtakes on sex and gender.

What a week to launch a new sex and gender blog. Since Sunday, The Washington Post‘s Style Section has been going balls out on its trad. values coverage with “Wedding Week 2008.” Whether you’ve feasted from the Post‘s Wedding Week buffet or merely dipped your finger in its room-temperature hollandaise sauce, The Sexist has your guide to what coverage catches the bouquet and what pieces are so homely they might never find a man who could ever love them.

Naughty: Rachel Beckman‘s “One Ring Circus.” This piece is your typical girl meets boy, girl falls for boy, girl spends several years waiting for boy to ask her to love him until they die, girl converts her workplace into an “Engagement Watch” bitching den until she finally wears boy down enough to propose to her type of story. In other words, a success!

Beckman, a former City Paper writer, spends the piece struggling to align her “feminist” side with her “princess” side. “I was caught in a Catch-22,” writes Beckman. “I could be hands-off and leave it all to him (feminist Rachel says no), or I could be hands-on and get what I want (princess Rachel says no).”

Let me make it easy for you, Beckman: You’re a pretty, pretty princess.

For the sake of the story, though, let’s imagine that, by virtue of picking up Bust Magazine a few times in college, Beckman is, like, a totally liberated woman beneath that frilly exterior. Beckman’s idea of compromise between the feminist and the princess is to coerce her boyfriend to propose to her how she wants it, when she wants it, and with the appropriate cut of diamond—-but to maintain the artifice that he is running this entire show in order to preserve what she calls the “purity” of the engagement.

Years ago, these sort of behind-the-scenes marriage machinations might have been seen as clever tricks for women to transcend patriarchal control in order to get what they want. But this is Wedding Week 2008, Beckman!

If a “pure” union requires a woman to kill herself in order to make it appear as if her “man” is making all the decisions and that she agrees to every one of them, consider me the piss stain in the freshly fallen snow of modern marriage.

Nice: After that, Caitlin Gibson and Rachel Manteuffel‘s “The Anti-Wedding” reads positively radical. Gibson and Manteuffel’s piece—-their attempt to deliver a “Fuck You” to the marriage industry by planning the nuptials of a wedding-averse alterna-couple—-is largely a pleasant romp through the tedious wedding-making machine. Still, I can’t help but see this piece as token “Other” coverage in an entire week of features that pander to the wedding industry. Just how Anti-Wedding is this wedding anyway?

– wedding occurs not in church but in street
– bride wears red summer dress
– service marred by miserable, miserable rain
– guests brandish signs reading “‘Til Debt Do Us Part” and “Money Can’t Buy Me Love”
– no rings exchanged
– in place of champagne and cake, beer and pizza consumed

– requires two wedding planners
– union between man and woman
– photo shoot printed in national newspaper
– couple still fucking getting married

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.