Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Is Gay Marriage Good for Women?

My initial and end answer to the question posed in class was ‘yes, of course.’ For some reason, hearing arguments that suggested otherwise was surprising to me. I see an easy connection between the changing marital roles that would arise from an institutionalization of gay marriage and a liberation for women. Having that example, of couples who defy the expected marriage dynamic of heterosexual unions, seems like it would encourage Americans to reevaluate the system of marriage we already have.

When we say that gay marriage can’t be good for women because it won’t change the dynamic of marriage, it is a very discouraging thought. We study in sociology and anthropology that social change comes very gradually through the reification and individual externalization of new norms and beliefs into society. This process starts with initially unheard of things, like gay marriage. If we do institutionalize gay marriage, won’t that reinforce new understanding between individuals? Marriage between people of the same sex will undoubtedly change our reality of the “proper” roles of marriage. I find it hard to believe that as students today we really are so jaded and harsh as to not be able to imagine what changes like this can eventually do to the society at large. What are some of the reasons you think gay marriage would not be good for women? I’m really curious to talk about this more.


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  2. As Dr. J pointed to the naturalized notions of marital roles, I feel as though certain entrenched ideals would remain in place over a certain amount of time, assuming the sudden legality of gay marriage. Belief systems are, as you noted, generated very gradually, but in light of other beliefs. Just think of the arguments currently used against institutionalizing gay marriage. Even after showing a majority of the U.S. in support for such legislation, the argument from morality, the "unnatural" argument, the "God intended" argument, etc, would continue to arise.

    However, I do see how legalizing gay marriage could prove efficacious for women. If anything would undermine the ideologies informing traditional marital roles and gender inequity, legalized gay marriage would play a pivotal part. This tactic works at least in theory. What remains to be shown is how same-sex couples working outside of traditional domestic roles would affect the institution of marriage itself. I'm curious how this would directly influence how heterosexual couples feel about or practice their marital roles. First, I'm curious how long it would take for a conservative ascendency in the Congress and presidency to overturn the legislation. The mere legalization of gay marriage would not necessitate acceptance and inclusion in more conservative communities. While I'm not quite so jaded as to believe legalized gay marriage impossible, I do harbor certain reservations as to the actual effects it might have on traditional formulations of gender-specific marital roles. Effectively dissolving these roles requires not only social sanction in the form of proclamations, legislation, etc. It requires males to give up their privileges within marriages. It requires them, to combine prescriptions from Orkin and Fraser, not to exploit their wives, not to abuse their unfairly acquired power, not to hold their substantially larger incomes over the heads of their wives, not to embrace the inequality of leisure time between husband and wife.

    In other words, while I do feel that legalizing gay marriage would be good for society as a whole, the actual benefits granted, in practice, to women currently within heterosexual marriages seems questionable. That is not to say that granting these rights to homosexuals would not bear on the anticipation of marriage by young girls. Perhaps this would be the most effective aspect in the long run.

  3. I feel like gay marriage wouldn't be good for women. I feel like allowing gay marriage for some people would be saying that they are just like heterosexuals and people would still try to make them fit in gender roles. Some one would have to be the "male" of the relationship and someone would have to be the "female." I wish it wasn't this way but i feel that when people are used to a "norm" they will try to put something unfamiliar or abnormal into something they can relate to. So in the end i think that it would reiterate the marriage role norms and place them on homosexuals as well.

  4. I don't have trouble seeing how gay marriage could benefit women. My only complaint with this argument is that it doesn't change things immediately. As you said, the change that we would see for women would occur gradually. Similarly, gay marriage would have to be something that was as common as heterosexual marriages. It would have to be a very present and acceptable thing in our society. This is not something that I see happening over night. I am not denying that it can happen or that it can be very beneficial for women, I just do not see it having a very immediate effect.


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