“Lots of Young People
Today Are Doing This”
In 1978, a young Barnard College graduate began the process of planning her wedding. As the bride-to-be—a working woman and vocal feminist—filled out the paperwork for her wedding license, she was surprised to find that there was no place on the form for her occupation. When she asked the clerk at City Hall where she should provide that information, the woman responded, “Oh, we don’t ask the girls for their occupations.” The bride insisted her profession be recorded, and the kindly clerk willingly obliged. “Well, we’ve never done that before,” she said, “but … all right, sweetheart, what is it?” Twenty-six-year old Anna Quindlen—future columnist for the New York Times and Newsweek, novelist, and Pulitzer Prize winner—asked the woman to type in “newspaper reporting.” “Well, isn’t that exciting,” the clerk proclaimed. She then asked, “Have you quit your job now that you’re tying the knot?”1 New weddings may have raised questions about the white wedding’s staying power, but old ideas held strong.
Chronicling the months leading up to her wedding in the pages of Ms. magazine—the publication born of women’s liberation—Anna Quindlen grappled with the inevitable tension faced by someone who