The XX Factor

Is Our Interest in Chelsea’s Wedding Sexist?

Rebecca Traister of Salon takes a hit at the media for frothing over Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. Given all of her other accomplishments, why, Traister asks, do we fixate on this one day?

The fevered fetishization of the marital day is not just irritating, it’s destructive. It reproduces attitudes about personal – and especially female – achievement that are far past their sell date: that marrying is the goal toward which all of us strive, that our weddings are somehow the most exalted expressions of our accomplishments and of ourselves. That they are proof, validation, some sure sign that we turned out OK.

Chelsea is unlikely wedding gossip fodder for many reasons-she’s been with the same man for a decade, she doesn’t seem to care about fashion or fame, and she has strained hard her whole life to be as stable and un-gossipworthy as possible. (Listen to the DoubleX podcast on the Chelsea wedding here .) But her gender is not one of them.

It’s a strain to say that the media cares more about women’s weddings than men’s. If anything, the culture has moved in the opposite direction. A wedding is interesting if either the bride or groom is intriguing, and it doesn’t matter which. People magazine is just as likely to give a lavish spreadsheet to Eddie Murphy’s wedding as to Jessica Alba’s. They gave almost no attention to the marriage of the Bush girls. The most slavishly covered nuptials in recent memory were JFK Jr’s. And you think when Al Gore’s son gets married it will go quietly?

The attention given to Chelsea’s wedding seems strange because she so obviously does not warrant it. But that’s because it’s not about her at all. Nobody in the fashion world really cares if she will wear a Vera Wang or an Oscar de la Renta . But they care about her parents. Chelsea has always been famous unwillingly, and by proxy, and this is the latest example. What holds our interest here is the idea of a second-generation Clinton marriage, with all the immense baggage it has inherited.

Photograph of television crew in Rhinebeck, N.Y. by Stan Honda/Getty Images.