Recently there has been much debate surrounding the idea of marriage and children as agents of normalization, and how the fight for marriage equality and family equality is a fight for the ability to buy into normalcy, and is a fight that is only acknowledging privileged demographics. This has been a huge factor in the arguments of many who criticized the Vote No campaign, and other marriage equality campaigns.While I think that to an extent, marriage is definitely an idea coming from a place of privilege, I disagree with the idea that it is an agent of normalization because sometimes kids are just kids and marriage is just marriage, sometimes it has nothing to do with being normal or feeling normal, sometimes people want to get married for tax benefits and joint health care, sometimes people want kids because they like kids and want to raise a child and pass on their philosophies and offer that child love and protection and funds for college, and all of those other warm fuzzy things that come with parenting. I want to marry, not because I want to feel like a normal American woman, but because I finally found someone that I feel supports me and cares about me to the extent that I want to commit myself to her for life, and make that commitment in front of my family and friends and her family and friends. I could do this without marriage, but I value the sentimental tradition of marriage as a symbol of commitment, and a ritual of commitment; it is a part of my culture, and of many cultures, and it is a cultural ritual that I want to partake in, not because it will make me feel normal (I’m still a super gay, feminist, agnostic, bi-racial woman, there’s no “normalcy” here and I’m ok with that) but because it has cultural and sentimental value to me (also because I want the party, cake, and to wear my mom’s wedding dress and all that mushy sentimental good stuff).
Saying that marriage is purely an agent of normalcy is just as privileged as saying that everyone should have the right to marry, because while saying “everyone should have the right to marry” comes from an economically privileged context and can be problematic, saying that “marriage is an agent of normalcy” is also privileged because it assumes a position of authority, and disregards the sentimental and broad cultural value behind the idea of marriage. While marriage may have started as a sexist and patriarchal exchange of “property”, it now has many new meanings that must be taken into consideration when talking about the significance of marriage. Frankly, I think sometimes theory takes itself too seriously, and over-analyzes things. Yes critical thinking is important, but it is also important to take a step back and remember that sometimes people do things because they genuinely want to do them, not because they want to feel normal or uphold patriarchy and whatnot.
Meet Bri, one of our new bloggers: Hello! My name is Bri, and I am a new blogger for the Women’s Center here at the University of Minnesota. I am in my fourth year of college now, my third year at the U, and hope to graduate in the fall of 2013 with a degree in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies. I plan to minor in Journalism & Mass Communications. In my spare time, I like to bake and cook, play with my dog, and write poetry. I am very excited to write for the Women’s Center blog and to be able to share my thoughts and ideas in a welcoming atmosphere. Thanks for reading!