21 July 2008

Another Opportunity to Think Deeply about Marriage

It seems that these days, trashing the wedding industrial complex has become the focus of most marriage-related debates. And, let's be honest, especially when it's Sarah Haskins or your best friend stuck with a hideous bridesmaid dress, that's fairly enjoyable. But this does seem to have shifted the public conversation more toward "Giant white dress and 500 guests or simple suit and only close family?" and away from bigger issues of the lingering patriarchal vestiges, what we should learn from the 50% divorce rate, or whether "till death do us part" even makes sense as our life expectancies close in on 100.

So it was nice to see that the joy of legalized gay marriage in California has opened the door for some serious thinking. Stuff @ Night's Jeannie Greely takes a funny-serious look at the ambivalence around winning a set of rights that also comes with such a huge, conventional cultural weight (I can't help but note that her vision of a giant lady commune was pretty much my dream through most of my early 20's). Meanwhile, Coutney A. Martin has a piece tackling her own feminist ambivalence about this new embrace of marriage.

They both echo thoughts I've had, myself. I'm ambivalent (at best) about the institution of marriage and often felt a big tug of war between the logistical and concrete reality that marriage is more than a symbol - it is 1000+ rights handed to you with a nice bow on top - and the abstract concept that maybe we shouldn't be pushing everyone toward marriage, but reevaluating the whole thing and then getting everyone equally to there... whatever "there" ended up being. I'd say both women express these ideas much more eloquently that I ever could, so stop reading me and click through!