In Slovak the verb ‘to marry’ has two versions, you have one for when a man gets married, and one for when a woman gets married.

The verb for men, ženit’ sa, could be translated as ‘to wife yourself’ or ‘to be wifed’ or ‘to get a woman.’

The verb for women, vydat’ sa, could be translated as ‘to deliver yourself over to’ or ‘to give yourself away’.

During the last wedding party I attended one of the female guests started a monologue about what an honor it is when a man chooses you, above all other women, to be his wife. She kept repeating how a marriage is primarily a man’s decision to make, he has to choose the woman and he has to decide there will be a wedding or not. If the woman had any say in it, wasn’t very clear.

If we look at the verbs it certainly seems that to a shocking extent Slovakia is still very much patriarchal.

I notice this all around me, wherever I go, it’s almost always the women who arrange everything, all the little nasty chores are performed by women. Ok, I saw men do very hard work on the tram lines today, but in general I would say that Slovak society is sustained by the efforts of the women, they take care of all the details, are caring, do most of the household chores, arrange a lot of the boring paper work, and find it surprisingly normal that they are freeing up a lot of men’s time to go into politics, do all those cool sounding, but in the end rather distracting, intellectual things in the media, and, although they may complain that women have two jobs, one at work and one at home, they seem all too willing to stay the strong woman BEHIND the man…