Wednesday, March 27, 2013

One of Us, One of Us

I'm not going to pretend that I even understand all of the history, sociology, biology, literature, and more involved with the issue of marriage. (And not to sound obnoxious, but I probably understand more than a lot of people do.) But doesn't the notion of marriage seem like the equivalent of asbestos tile and avocado-green appliances? Just a little bit? An iota?

I am not trying to be cynical about the idea of spending a substantial chunk of your life with a person or persons who challenge you, complement you, teach you, love you, and who add to your world view as much as they do to your nighttime or morning routines. Those things are awesome and maybe the only time I'll use the word "blessed" in any way is when I think of the fact that I've had the pleasure of experiencing those things--and that I still do on a daily basis.

But there's this nagging thing about marriage for me: It just feels wrong--like a state of being with strings being pulled by the government and corporations to ensure that you act in a certain way and that you are tied in to an economic system that is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and that in the end does not let everyone enjoy the same benefits.

We have it shoved down our throats from day one--and have for a great part of the last century: This is what you're supposed to do. This is supposed to be what you want. Look at all the financial benefits to being married. You should find this or there's something wrong with you. Sure, people/animals (which we are) pair up, have sex, sometimes have kids/offspring, and sometimes stay together for a long time. Sometimes they don't. But who really has the vested interest in us being coupled, buying houses and cars most of us can't realistically afford, and keeping everything from Babies R Us to Crate and Barrel in business? Just because you love someone and possibly want to have a child, this is what you are supposed to do? Why?

There are so many tangents I could explore at this point--from the way the housing market is used to signify economic health in this country to discrimination against single people to the idea that religion is somehow supposed to be the bedrock of all of our social policies--but only if you're Catholic or Protestant. (But do allow me to say that I remain mystified by conservatives who say government should have little role in our private lives, but then run to the government to scream that same-sex couples shouldn't have any rights precisely because of their fear of what we do in our private lives.)

Do I believe everyone should have the same rights? Of course. But I worry that marriage as a "final hurdle" is really just part of a path to a false goal--one in which assimilation is prized more highly than anything else, and anyone who remains outside of these so-called norms is not seen as revolutionary, but, rather, a menace.
Then again, so many of us already do exist outside of this narrow, media-reinforced, capitalist-fed idea of what "normal" is. Remembering that, and relishing the ways in which to change it together, is an inspiring task.

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