In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Punting on Marriage Equality Won’t Prevent Culture Wars; It’ll Undermine the Supreme Court’s Credibility

Political commentators, at least on the left and center, seem relatively convinced that the past two days of marriage equality hearings in the Supreme Court won’t result in an opinion extending same-sex marriage rights to all people in the United States. They might be right, but I’m not sure why so many left-of-center folks seem to be warning the Court not to move too quickly on marriage equality. I get why the socially conservative right is doing it — it’s a threat, essentially. “Do a think we don’t like and we will FREAK OUT!” And they will surely throw a mild temper-tantrum if the fundamental right of marriage is found to include same-sex couples. But “Oh jeez, the religious right might act like toddlers again” is not a very good reason to delay granting a group of citizens basic constitutional rights. Also: Contrary to what has somehow become an accepted truth, Roe v. Wade did not ignite the culture wars. Abortion was controversial well before Roe, and while abortion rights were secured in a small handful of states (four, I believe), they weren’t going to move ahead in many more because of conservative, religious push-back. The idea that a Roe-free U.S. would somehow have led to the broad securement of abortion rights without controversy is flat-out wrong. As is the idea that marginalized groups of people should have to wait for the tides of public opinion to turn before they get rights. Which is what this piece in the Nation is about:

Grover on Marriage

Love knows no color or texture, and marriage is when two people get married. In this clip from a 1983 episode of “Sesame Street,” Grover and a little boy named Jesse define the concept of marriage. I’m not going to give away the ending, but their definition involves kissing, hugging, being friends, helping each other, and being between a mommy and a daddy. Wait, shoot, not that last one.

How to be traditionally married

Today, the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a day after it heard Hollingsworth v. Perry, about California’s Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in that state. The Hollingsworth audio is worth a listen if you have an hour. There are a lot of things that stand out about the arguments, and I’ll be writing about them in various places around the internet (hopefully) today and tomorrow. But one piece that, unsurprisingly, was hammered by Mr. Cooper, the attorney for the anti-marriage-equality side, was the idea that marriage has always been a certain way, and allowing same-sex couples to marry would change the entire institution in a way that had never been seen before. Which is kinda true, except of course that same-sex marriage is already legal in a bunch of places and Armageddon has not arrived. And also, marriage has been fundamentally changed in ways never seen before dozens (hundreds?) of times over. The vast majority of folks who crow about their support for traditional marriage are in (or seek to be in, or support) decidedly un-traditional marriages. So for all the female proponents of “traditional marriage,” I hope you are following these rules:

Divorcing ourselves from traditional marriage

My latest column in the Guardian is about the latest move from a group of conservatives to call a truce on gay marriage and get back to blaming single moms and poor people for destroying marriage itself. They say that poor and middle-class people aren’t getting married, and that’s hurting them financially and socially, keeping them poor. I say that working-class and middle-class people are marrying less often precisely because of economic insecurity: Outdated views of men as breadwinners mean that men who aren’t making enough to support a family may be less enthusiastic about marriage; increases in gender equality mean that working women no longer need to get married for social status and may not want to take on a husband who doesn’t pull his own weight inside the home and out; and with divorce being financially ruinous for women in particular, it’s probably a good idea to avoid marriage if you aren’t reasonably sure you’re hitching yourself to a good horse. If conservatives actually care about the things they say are the purpose of marriage — a good environment for children, family stability, accumulation of personal wealth — then they should support policies that directly promote those things instead of claiming marriage is the one and only solution, because it’s clearly not. A taste:

Really good pieces about weddings and love

Not joking, the wedding section of the Times this week is actually good. This Modern Love, about love and marriage between two older folks, is about the sweetest thing you will read this month, and if you don’t cry by the end you have no soul. This marriage announcement contains the line, “The bride, 97, is keeping her name,” which is about the best thing I’ve ever read. And this look back at a 40-year marriage defined by a commitment to social justice and a son’s well-being is also just lovely. And yes I’m a cranky feminist who will probably never get married, but a good marriage story still gets me. Maybe I’ll finally consent to the betrothal thing when I’m 80.

Groom tries to take wife’s last name, is grounded by Florida DMV

If a woman changes her name after marriage, it’s a sign of her love and enduring commitment. (Aw…) If a man does it, he’s a fraud who’s trying to get one over on the state, and such offenses will not stand!

After Lazaro Sopena and Hanh Dinh got married, Sopena decided to change his name to Lazaro Dinh to honor his wife’s Vietnamese family surname.

More than a year later, he received a letter from Florida’s DMV accusing him of “obtaining a driver’s license by fraud,” and letting him know that his license would soon be suspended.

Your wedding is the most special, important, valuable day of your entire existence, but you are a crazy bitch if you plan it too much.

That’s basically my summary of this New York Times article, which covers a small number of women who planned their weddings (or are still planning their weddings) before they even had a boyfriend. And yes, I actually agree that spending large chunks of your free time planning your own wedding when you aren’t actually engaged to be married is… a tad bizarre, and kind of sad. There are so many other things you could be doing with your spare time! And while I think many of us have had the experience of seeing a pretty dress or a nice piece of jewelry online and going, “Oh I like that” and maybe even posting it on Pinterest (hell, even I pinned a wedding dress one time), it’s a whole other level to plan out a venue, monogrammed cocktail napkins and what you’re serving for dinner before you’ve even met the person who you’re planning to wed: