07 July 2005

shotgun weddings make so much more sense now

From a recent NYT op-ed:
Throughout much of history, upper-class men divorced their wives if their marriage did not produce children, while peasants often wouldn't marry until a premarital pregnancy confirmed the woman's fertility.
Two conclusions:
  1. I always suspected that my understanding of shotgun weddings (a father preserving his daughter's honor) wasn't quite patriarchal enough. I think I was confused by thinking of premarital sex in more modern terms, whereas in societies where the female orgasm is quasi-taboo, the function of premarital sex would probably be different.
  2. The rest of the article is a nice reminder of why marriage should go the way of slavery - that is, replaced with something still exploitative, but less so, and more fluid and market-based. It brings up a potential double turn problem with defending same-sex marriage. Conservatives say gay marriage undermines traditional marriage, and traditional marriage is good. It's naturally to respond by saying:
    1. Same-sex strengthens marriage because it supports gay/lesbian couples who want commitment and monogamy, thereby taking legitimacy away from more flexible "domestic partner" arrangements. By contrast, acceptance of public homosexuality is pretty much inevitably increasing, and if this continues without legalized gay marriage, then the "domestic partner" model of a long-term relationship will continue to gain credibility. For example, after gay marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, many companies stopped offering health benefits to both gay and straight domestic partners, because now anyone can get married.
    2. Fuck the sanctity of marriage. Any institution where you can sue for loss of housekeeping and sexual services is based on some seriously twisted foundations. That's fucked up even aside from the sexism. Long-term monogamy is often great, but the state/religious/cultural sanction has more drawbacks than advantages.
But things get dicey when you make both arguments at the same time. I suppose you can say that same-sex marriage undermines the bad aspects of marriage and strengthens the good parts. Or you could oppose same-sex marriage outright. Some queers do oppose same-sex marriage based on the above arguments; or more often, just can't bring themselves to support it, though they also would never vote for the alternative---kind of like how radical leftists felt about Kerry. I saw a good book presenting this position, but, um, I forget the title and the author. Anyway, I think I agree more with the "best of both worlds" argument at the beginning of the paragraph, though I admit it has some problems.


ahren said...

"whereas in societies where the female orgasm is quasi-taboo"

there's such a thing as a female orgasm?

aram harrow said...

i like how you start my quote with "whereas" so that it sounds like the declaration of independence.

ahren said...

that wouldn't be a bad start to a declaration of independence actually:
"whereas in societies where the female orgasm is quasi-taboo, it becomes often necessary for one people to dissolve the relationships bands which bind us to such endeavors and cast off the taboo momentarily in pursuit of that which neither satisfies nor sates desire of man. we, the citizens of aramistan declare ourselves independent and 100% free from the female orgasm and the dark spectre of obligation which it casts over all things. from here on out..."

so on and so forth.
hard to believe i'm single, right?

aramistan said...
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aramistan said...

1. there's a book called Cunt: A Declaration of Independence.

2. i was disappointed to see the ... at the end of your declaration - i was kind of hoping you'd get to the "He has plundered our seas and ravaged our coasts" line.