Negotiating the Tuxedo Wedding: The Division of Wedding Labor for Men in Same-Sex and Straight Marriages

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Melanie HEATH, Sociology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Tina FETNER, McMaster University, Canada
Jessica BRAIMOH, McMaster University, Canada
Nikki-Marie BROWN, McMaster University, Canada
The wedding industrial complex has long marketed the consumption of weddings based on heteronormative gender roles, expecting men to do little more wedding labor than sporting a tuxedo. In contrast, women have been characterized as “bridezillas” who control every aspect of the “bride’s day” and are expected to do all the emotional kinship labor. Research on the division of wedding labor confirms that conservative gender ideologies push heterosexual women to see weddings as being for women, not couples, and brides as the natural organizers of weddings (Humble, Zvonkovic, and Walker 2008; Sniezek 2005). In contrast, women who participate in same-sex weddings are more likely to resist heteronormativity and traditional gender roles (Fetner and Heath 2016). To date, research has not considered how men negotiate the division of wedding labor and the emotional kinship work that is entailed in straight and same-sex weddings. How do the gender strategies in the wedding division of labor differ among heterosexual and non-heterosexual men?

To answer this question, we draw on in-depth interviews with 23 men who participated in same-sex weddings and 23 men who participated in straight weddings. We find that negotiating the tuxedo wedding is a complex process shaped by men’s social location and gender ideologies. Confirming previous research on straight couples, we find that heterosexual men generally rely on the bride to do emotional kinship labor and organize the big day. For same-sex couples, we find that gender ideology connects to power dynamics within the relationship, meaning that wedding labor falls on the shoulders of men who perform marginalized masculinities. We analyze what these findings mean for understanding the relationship between gender, race, class, and heteronormativity.