This post and discussion over at Hugo’s got me thinking.
I’m a feminist.
I’m about to get married.
What the fuck?
On its surface, marriage doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. It binds two people together in such a way that it is hard to extricate them should the relationship go sour. It causes many people to view the woman as “owned” by the man. Often, women get the short end of the stick in marriage – they’re expected to look after the house, raise the kids, and make sure the guy takes good care of himself (goes to the doctor, eats right, etc).
Well, here’s the thing: I am an idealist.
Marriage in and of itself is not terrible. If you take away all the cultural bullshit and just look at the legalities, it has a number of benefits: it simplifies taxes (woo, married filing jointly!) and can even save you money on them, makes your spouse your immediate next of kin for legal purposes (medical decisions, etc) which would otherwise be left to family, lets you cover each other with medical benefits, and so on.
The rest is cultural bullshit. Seriously. The fiancé and I are defining our marriage the way we want it, and everyone else can kiss our joint ass. We are equal partners, we split things up according to our skills, we can discuss things like rational adults, and we don’t fight because a harmonious and honest partnership is more important to us than “winning” or whatever it is that motivates people who supposedly are in love to scream at each other.
What other people think we should do is unimportant. Sure, it places a mild stress on us – the same way I often feel a bit nervous about how clean our home is or isn’t because I’ve internalized societal pressure about that. But that’s mild stuff I want to overcome anyway, so … yeah. Bring it on.
I don’t really have a spiffy conclusion to go here except to say this: marriage isn’t for everybody, but to pretend that it has nothing to recommend it is bullshit – if it didn’t, why would gay marriage be an issue? Marriage confers a lot of legal rights and conveniences we don’t really consider until we need them. Marriage is useful. It is a legal and financial agreement which does not limit or define your relationship unless you let it.
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