Winter’s Wedding Words: Matron
Matron. Matriarch. Maternity. Matricide. All share a common root: the Latin ‘mater’, meaning mother. So why does ‘matrimony’ derive from the same?
As with many marriage traditions, the answer is in its patriarchal origins. Marriage was seen as literally the act of establishing a mother in the household.
Clearly this is problematic. It is male-centric, where the man is the active participant bringing the passive woman/mother figure into his domicile. It is hetero/cis-normative. It also assumes that every woman getting married wants to, and will, become a mother, not to mention that this is the primary purpose of marriage.
So, does this mean that technically only hetero/cis couples planning children can be joined in matrimony? Of course not. It’s not the 1300s, from when ‘matrimony’ was first recorded, spelled ‘matrymony’ at the time. Language evolves. Spellings and semantics change. Mercifully, so do (some) patriarchal social norms.