Comments on: All the best marriages are queer http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:56:35 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7650 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 21:56:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7650 Hey–good points. I should have said that the state should only be involved when one or the other parent (or both) are unwilling or unable to care for children appropriately. The state is the last line of defense for kids whose parents are crapping out on them.

Love that Fineman title!

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By: Homostorian Americanist http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7649 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 21:52:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7649 Homostorian Americanist completely agrees with Historiann that things change once kids are involved, but only to a point. H.A. does not believe that the state needs to be involved in the business of regulating marriage in order to get at the best interests of the child, just regulating (and monitoring, privileging, etc.) the relationship between parents and children, though that, of course, need not have anything to do with marriage or couplehood of any variety (something that same-sex couples discovered long ago). Homostorian Americanist’s favorite legal theorist, Martha Albertson Fineman, makes just this point in her brilliantly titled *The Neutered Mother, The Sexual Family, and Other Twentieth-Century Tragedies.*

H.A. does happen to disagree, however, about the notion that affirmation of couplehood (and desire for said affirmation) is somehow hard-wired — mores and values change over time. This is why H.A. is a homostorian, so that he may study why and how they have done so. This is one value that could change as well. In some circles, it already has.

Greetings from Boston!

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By: mary http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7587 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 15:02:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7587 Oh I agree. I am not hostile to people who want weddings either. I think, that like you, all women (and men for that matter) should do what they want. I guess I should have clarified that as well, I just assumed that bloggers would infer that from your original post where you write “So let’s agree to just bitch and gossip about each other privately like we always have, deal with our own happy and/or screwed-up (or happily screwed-up) marriages, and get out of the way of other people’s civil rights–the way adults do in a free society,” that you weren’t going to boycott weddings any time soon. Personally, I would rather not deal with the whole ordeal, and I feel that some people still do not take relationships seriously until someone walks down the aisle.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7585 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:33:41 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7585 Mary–good story.

It’s not bad to want a wedding. I should not have proclaimed, as I did above, that (all) “weddings are the height of vanity and narcissism.” That’s unfair. For many people (especially many women), it is the only day of their lives when they’re at the center of attention. They may not have had the opportunity for multiple graduation ceremonies, for example, so I don’t think they’re all bad. (Besides, if you decide to marry, you may find that you can’t STOP other people from giving you parties. That’s what family members want to do, and it’s usually out of a generous impulse to celebrate you and to make the new family member feel welcome and appreciated.)

But if you don’t want a wedding, then stick to your guns and do what you want to do.

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By: mary http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7584 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:18:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7584 should say “privledged status.” too early to proofread these days

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By: mary http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7583 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:16:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7583 Funny note about coupledom historiann…
Some weeks ago my partner’s father took a picture of us at a family event and recently gave me a copy…Its really the only nice picture of us so in order not to lose it I put it on the refrigerator at the home I share with two other women, I had intented to get a frame and put it in my bedroom. However, two days later, I noticed that one of my roommates had also placed a picture of her boyfriend and herself on the refrigerator. Realizing that this young woman is fairly insecure and often feels the need to compete, my other roommate and thought this was very silly and laughed over the photo’s mysterious appearance. However, by the end of the week, she too had placed a picture her boyfriend and herself on our refrigerator. When I asked her why, she simply said she didn’t want her boyfriend to think that she didn’t value their realtionship as much as her roommates did theirs. I really had no intention of “showing off” my coupledom and “privledged,” although I now realize that is exaclty how my act of publicaly dispalying my photo was interpreted.

Personally, I completely agree with your anaylsis of weddings historiann. But whenever I say I don’t want a wedding, people either tell me I will feel differently when I meet the “one,” or ask me why I don’t want to celebrate “the happiest day of my life.”

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7582 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:13:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7582 HA–I agree completely. I’m just suggesting that coupledom is probably rooted in our animal instincts to be part of a pack, and to seek approval from others. And in our packs, there’s a cache in having an “exclusive arrangement” among lovers and friends. (At least among straights, that seems to be the case.) One caveat, however: while I think the state has no business “registering” and tacitly approving of some people’s romantic and/or domestic arrangements (while tacitly disapproving others), I think the board shifts when there are children involved. I think the state might be the best guarantor of children’s rights–not ideal certainly, but proabably better than leaving it to churches or individuals. Human reproduction is too fun and easy to leave it up entirely up to the reproducers to deal with the consequences.

Feminists are just (or almost?) as enmeshed in marriage as anyone else. Since third-wave feminism is all about “choice,” we’re not allowed to say that some choices are more valid or more feminist than others. So, we all have to affirm each others “choices!” Kum-bye-yah! (Kind of stupid, but perhaps it’s better than getting into fistfights over whose life is more ideologically correct…) For the most part, mainstream feminism has focused on reforming marriage rather than blowing up the nuclear family (Andrea Dworkin, may she rest in peace, aside). I don’t know if our project of reforming marriage by showing people other ways of being married from the inside out is working or not. Mostly, I would say it’s not, looking at the way traditional gender roles tend to be adopted by straights after marriage. Same-sex marriage would probably be the most dramatic re-shaping of marriage in my lifetime.

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By: Homostorian Americanist http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7581 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 13:57:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7581 While Historiann is probably right that people will want to be in couples no matter what, surely she must also concede that if the federal and state governments would get out of the business of acknowledging that one’s affectionate/romantic/sexual entanglements *mattered* in some particular legal way (over 1000 ways, according to historian Nancy Cott), whether or not one was in a couple would become far less meaningful. Then maybe a whole lot of us would stop spending so much time hoping, as Historiann’s colleague was doing, that there actually *needed* to be someone for him or her. In other words: it might make it a little more OK for single people to remain single and not feel that there was something fundamentally wrong with them. And would also allow for a proliferation of different kinds of equally “legitimate” relationships that might otherwise be stifled today but could well be more useful and meaningful for many people than couplehood.

I must say that this is the single issue that I’m always amazed does not get more support from feminists, the very people who have so insightfully criticized the institution of marriage. I feel like feminists suffer from the same romantic blind spot that seems to color the rest of America when it comes to weddings and marriage. It’s not enough that one’s own individual marriage can be feminist and egalitarian — the sum total of even those “good” marriages has effects for all those people who are not married. These are the very lessons we’ve learned about all other state institutions and systems of power but ones that feminists seem to have a hard time grappling with in relation to the institution of marriage.

I should reiterate: I’m not calling for an end to couplehood (an impossibility), simply the derecognition on a legal and societal level that it matters in some significant way (in the form of what we call –and legally recognize as — marriage).

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7569 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 12:46:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7569 Well, Homostorian Americanist, I agree with you–weddings are the height of vanity and narcissism–but I’m not sure that abolishing marriage would necessarily de-privilege coupledom (homo or hetero.) This Marxist feminist resents the institution of marriage as much as anyone. And, people will still want their big parties and all the presents…

Coupledom–separate from weddings and marriage–will probably always be fetishized and regarded as a privileged status, because it signals to the world that somebody wants you, no matter how strange or undesirable you or your partner might seem to others. As a wise friend of mine said to me, upon the wedding of a colleague of hers, “they give me hope, because it shows that there really is someone for everyone!”

Random thought: Coupledom seems to relate to the status that even very small children get from having a “best friend,” and all of the jealousy and exclusivity that can result from that.

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By: Homostorian Americanist http://www.historiann.com/2008/04/22/all-the-best-marriages-are-queer/comment-page-1/#comment-7537 Thu, 24 Apr 2008 04:21:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=265#comment-7537 While I absolutely agree that same-sex marriage would undermine traditional gender roles in ways that upset the, well, traditionalists, I also think that what upsets them is something that they share with ALL people who enter into marriage: a desire to have their couplehood validated by the outside world. Same-sex marriage would declare same-sexers to be as legitimate in the way of couplehood as heteros. This is, of course, about traditional gender roles, but I also think that it is about religion and a whole host of other issues. All of it, of course, could be solved if we simply abolished marriage altogether as any sort of contract. Cease the legal and societal recognition — and hence privileging — of couplehood completely.

While I agree that my fellow homos should be able to marry if they choose, what I most object to is that couples of any variety are privileged in a million daily ways (see Bella DePaulo’s recently published *Singled Out*); if you love each other, that should be enough. No more flatware, no more celebrations for non-accomplishments, no more discounts, no more tax breaks. Revel in your love together and be done with it. Feminist legal scholar Martha Albertson Fineman called for this in the early 1990s — long before the queer theorists got on board. She was right then, and she remains right now. Enough squabbling about who should be able to get married — let’s just get rid of marriage!

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