Groom’s Mother Enforcing Ethnic Stereotypes

My friend Matt is marrying his fiancé MaureEn. Maureen is from Ireland. She already is a citizen of the United States so we don’t have to worry about her using Matt to get a green card. She does well professionally so we don’t have to worry about her using Matt for his money.

In fact, Maureen has things so together, we often wonder why she’s marrying Matt in the first place.

With his fiancé’s family in Ireland, Matt thought the planning process would be hassle free. Then his mother suggested that he hire Irish step dancers to perform at the wedding.

“Does your mother think you are marrying a leprechaun?” Maureen asked afterwards.

The idea was nixed. Then a few weeks later Matt ‘s mom suggested the step dancers again. Again, the couple said no. A month after that, Matt ‘s mom suggested enthusiastically, as if she had not brought the idea up two times before, to hire Irish Step dancers.

Now, Matt ‘s mom isn’t Irish. Matt ‘s dad is 8th generation Irish American. In fact, if you really look at Matt , the only thing Irish in Matt is Maureen (wait that doesn’t make sense).

Now Matt ‘s mom’s intentions are pure. She’s trying to make the Irish side of the family feel comfortable. She doesn’t realize that she’s reinforcing a negative stereotype . . . that Irish people can only dance if they don’t move their arms.

Except for Michael Flatley’s mom, Irish people are not proud of “Lord of the Dance” and Irish step dancing. It would be less offensive if Matt ‘s mom suggested they serve Lucky Charms at the reception.

“It’s a dead art” said my father, a first-generation Irish American. “I’ve been to hundreds of Irish weddings. I’ve never seen if before.”

If Maureen were German would Matt ‘s mom be suggesting the groomsmen wear lederhosen? If Deirdre’s family were Mexican would Matt ‘s mom ask to serve tacos?  As I go further along the list of ethnicities, my imagination is getting very offensive.

The bottom line is thinking that all “Irish people love Irish Step Dancing” is offensive to many Irish people. It’s fun to watch Maureen and Matt  get mad. I’ve signed the two up for e-mails from a few Irish Step Dance groups in the New York area.

“The only thing Irish at my wedding is going to be me.” said Maureen of the Step Dancing debacle.

What Maureen doesn’t know is that Matt ‘s mom and I have signed up for bag pipe lessons. We’ve got six more months to learn “Here Comes The Bride.”

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