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Top Billing in the Wedding Industrial Complex

Kate’s Kismet

by GAIL DINES

For the last few months my British accent has been the bane of my life. Let me explain. Everywhere I go in this country I am accosted by locals asking me for details on the royal wedding. As if a lefty Jew from the north of England would have any inside knowledge of the workings of the English upper-class long known for their anti-Semitism and love of all things Conservative. At first I would use these questions as an opportunity to rail against the class system, but after giving what I thought was an eloquent analysis of the reproduction of inequality, the reply I always got was “yes, but what do you think her dress will look like?”

The media frenzy over the dress is a wonderful gift to the wedding industrial complex that is now a multi-billion dollar a year industry.  As media scholar Erika Engstrom argues in her article “Unraveling the Knot: Political Economy and Cultural Hegemony in Wedding Media,” the center of all this marketing hype is the bride who will be transformed into a “princess” for a few hours, as long as she can find the right dress to wear.   Given the divorce rate, women would be well served to focus less on the dress and more on thinking about how to protect themselves financially if their prince decides that he wants to replace her with a younger model a few years down the line.

Kate is certainly going to be turned into a princess on her wedding day, and given the track record of how the royal family treats its women, she should be anything but thrilled at the prospect.  Should she decide not to play the game of loyal royal wife, then she need only look to Diana or Sarah Ferguson to see her future.  Royal men have a long history of turning from princes into frogs once married, so I hope Kate has signed a good prenup.

The British and American press have run stories about the way William’s friends make fun of Kate for coming from a family that has actually had to work for a living. Evidently especially humorous is that fact her mother was once a flight attendant.  William’s family is the richest welfare family in the world yet you won’t hear David Cameron attacking them for being lazy freeloaders.  No one seems to be questioning why the British tax payer should be paying for a family that likes to party all the time.  Especially as the average person is being told that their days of partying are over and now it is time to tighten their belts. As if it was their parties and not the parties of the rich that led to the economic meltdown.

Ever since Cameron got into power I have been waiting for millions of people to take to the streets of London.  A royal wedding wasn’t exactly what I had in mind!

GAIL DINES is a professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Wheelock College and chair of American Studies. She is the author of Pornland: How Pornography Has Hijacked out Sexuality, published by Beacon Press.  She can be contacted at gdines@wheelock.edu