Created By: PrfnoffMarch 30, 2013 Last Edited By: jormis29May 10, 2014

Love And Honor But Not Obey

Objection to wedding vows making the wife subservient to the husband.

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In the traditional wedding vows, the bride vows to "love, honor and obey" her lawfully wedded husband. It says something when the word "obey" is deliberately omitted, or the bride objects to its inclusion. What kinds of female characters would object? HELP!

If a couple is allowed to write their own wedding vows which don't follow the traditional style, this trope can be averted completely.

Film
  • In the movie Amelia, George Putnam proposes to Amelia Earhart and she at first tells him that she's not the marrying sort. She changes her mind but when the preacher gets to the obey part she says to skip that and the she's already talked about it with the groom.

Literature
  • In the Little House On The Prairie series, when Almanzo and Laura are discussing their wedding, she specifically says she won't make the obedience vow. Almanzo's fine with that and anyway the preacher marrying them categorically refuses to administer it for any wedding he performs.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's Pegasus In Space, when Sascha marries Tirla, Tirla agrees to "honor" her husband, but emphatically refuses to have the words "obey" anywhere in the vows.

Live Action TV
  • In the Stargate SG 1 episode "Sacrifices" Teal'c's son Rya'c has fallen in love with one of the Hak'tyl girls, Kar'yn. Jaffa society is typically "men tough, women meek" (it's the fault of their Goa'uld masters), but the Hak'tyl are members of the Jaffa Rebellion and do not believe in this. During the wedding rehearsal Kar'yn and Rya'c get into a shouting match over a section of the ceremony that stipulates that she must kneel before him. They both end up storming off, and Bra'tac, officiating, remarks:
    "I can see why one must rehearse these events."
  • In the Firefly episode "War Stories" a sideplot is that Wash is angry that his wife Zoe is more inclined to agree with Mal, her captain and former sergeant, than with him. (Bear in mind, the following exchange takes place after Mal and Wash have been kidnapped by Adelai Niska's thugs.)
    Wash: I'm the one she swore to love, honor and obey.
    Mal: Wait, she swore to obey?
    Wash: Well, no, but... But that's just the thing, she obeys you! There's obeying going on under my nose!

Theatre
  • In "An Old-Fashioned Wedding" from Annie Get Your Gun, Annie sings that she wants to get married her way and agree to "love and honor, yes, but not obey!"
  • Abie's Irish Rose, after My Own Private I Do:
    Abie: Oh, that reminds me, why did you refuse to say "I do" to the obey me?
    Rose Mary (with a slight brogue, smiling): Shure—I'm that Irish!
  • In one of the later Dream Sequences in Dream Girl, where Georgina and Clark elope, they simultaneously object when the Justice of the Peace reaches the word "obey." The minister insists on its inclusion: "It's part o' the ceremony. Folks ain't expected to take it seriously."
Community Feedback Replies: 18
  • March 30, 2013
    sgamer82
  • March 31, 2013
    StarSword
    See also No Womans Land.

    TV:
    • In the Stargate SG 1 episode "Sacrifices" Teal'c's son Rya'c has fallen in love with one of the Hak'tyl girls, Kar'yn. Jaffa society is typically "men tough, women meek" (it's the fault of their Goa'uld masters), but the Hak'tyl are members of the Jaffa Rebellion and do not believe in this. During the wedding rehearsal Kar'yn and Rya'c get into a shouting match over a section of the ceremony that stipulates that she must kneel before him. They both end up storming off, and Bra'tac, officiating, remarks:
      "I can see why one must rehearse these events."
    • In the Firefly episode "War Stories" a sideplot is that Wash is angry that his wife Zoe is more inclined to agree with Mal, her captain and former sergeant, than with him. (Bear in mind, the following exchange takes place after Mal and Wash have been kidnapped by Adelai Niska's thugs.)
      Wash: I'm the one she swore to love, honor and obey.
      Mal: Wait, she swore to obey?
      Wash: Well, no, but... But that's just the thing, she obeys you! There's obeying going on under my nose!
  • March 31, 2013
    StarSword
    Also, fixed the laconic.
  • March 31, 2013
    StarSword
    Another related trope: May be a trait of a Straw Feminist.
  • April 15, 2013
    randomsurfer
    On The Jeffersons when George & Louise renew their wedding vows George gets quite upset when he learns that the new version of the boilerplate service no longer includes "obey."
  • April 15, 2013
    lexicon
    I don't see how this is a trait of a Straw Feminist. The concept is mostly old-fashioned as these days the word obey isn't used much. The Episcopal Church voted to remove it in 1922.
  • April 16, 2013
    DunDun
    I can see this trope being more a more general "something traditional about wedding ceremonies are removed because of the bride or groom". Do we have something like that?

    And as far as the Straw Feminist goes, I also disagree. Unless the bride's reasoning has something to do with the Patriarchy™ or believes the vows would make her a slave or something.
  • April 16, 2013
    KingZeal
    That's kind of implied anyway.
  • April 16, 2013
    DunDun
    Not all religions' marriage rites have the phrase "to love, honor, and obey"...
  • April 16, 2013
    lexicon
    I doubt any whole church has the phrase these days. It's a feminist concept, not a Straw Feminist one. In any of the examples does anyone ridicule the character for wanting to take out the word obey? If no one has a probelm with what the feminist is saying then she's not a Straw Feminist.
  • April 17, 2013
    Prfnoff
    • In Anne McCaffrey's Pegasus In Space, when Sascha marries Tirla, Tirla agrees to "honor" her husband, but emphatically refuses to have the words "obey" anywhere in the vows.

    That particular example was written in the Noughties (I think), so the trope is still there. More precisely, the wife vowing to "obey" her husband is a Dead Horse Trope, and this is the parodic, defied version of it.
  • April 18, 2013
    DracMonster
    • In the Little House On The Prairie series, when Almanzo and Laura are discussing their wedding, she specifically says she won't make the obedience vow. Almanzo's fine with that and anyway the preacher marrying them categorically refuses to administer it for any wedding he performs.

    So this is Older Than Radio, at least.
  • April 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Somebody want to take control of this and do some Rolling Updates? I've got my hands full.
  • April 18, 2013
    lexicon
    I added the ones that I knew where they went.
  • April 18, 2013
    SKJAM
    • Inverted (?) in Fables when Snow White insists on the "obey" wording being included in her wedding vows to Bigby Wolf. Word Of God was that she wanted a wedding like the ones "from her culture" only to have nitpicky internet people point out that the Snow White story comes from before that became the standard boilerplate.
  • April 18, 2013
    lexicon
    Why does the description now say, "What kinds of female characters would object? HELP!" It doesn't sound like a description line.
  • April 20, 2013
    Ramidel
    It's a placeholder asking for Wiki Magic.
  • April 24, 2014
    Elkhound
    In Dorothy L. Sayers' "Busman's Honeymoon", Lord Peter and Harriet discuss the matter. Peter says that it would be a breach of manners to give his wife orders; Harriet replies that if the house were on fire or something, he'd give orders pretty quick; he responds that she might too under those circumstances, so perhaps he should promise to obey. They decide that this would create too much controversy, so they decide that she will promise to obey, but he would 'endow' her with his worldly goods, not 'share' them with her.

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