Monday, September 12, 2011

Marriage Could Do With Some Retooling

I am tired of hearing about how teh gayz are ruining the concept of marriage. One, because that's homophobic. But also because there are a whole bunch of things about marriage that we are better off without.

For example, in France, "a judge has now ruled that ... 'sexual relations must form part of a marriage.'" This is in the context of a law suit in which a Frenchwoman, having already been granted a divorce from her husband, and whose husband had been found solely responsible for the breakdown of their marriage, demanded compensation from him for not having sex with her during said marriage, and was granted it. (Via The Gloss.)

This concept that marriage somehow negates the need for consent is an ongoing problem. In 2/3 of the United States, husbands are granted various exemptions from prosecution for marital rape; it seems that in many states, for instance, you can totally rape your sleeping wife, no problem. And France, the devaluation of consent has been made explicit by a 1992 ruling that consent to sex is presumed to exist in marriage until it is provably revoked.

If this is what marriage means, then yes please, let's rethink the whole thing. Now, I'm not laying this all on the shoulders of the first generation of legally married same-sex spouses; the above legal precedents for devaluing consent is a problem for all marriages, queer or straight. I'm saying that anything that prompts us to think about what marriage means is good for us, and not just because we can then be more inclusive in our social traditions.

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