Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why Marriage?

I figured in the blog we would get to the heart of the issue and the title of Chauncey's book: Why marriage? What is it about the title marriage that has both sides so fervent and unyielding?

Evan Wolfson explains that -“One of the main protections that comes with marriage, is the word marriage, which brings clarity and security that is simply not replaceable by any other word or sheaf of documents”

Knowing what we know about marriage and its history from this class, why do you think there is such a wish to "defend" marriage in its "traditional" state by conservatives and the Christian Right and such a desire to be included into the institution of marriage not just by benefits but by name as well (civil unions not enough for activists) on the part of the gay community? Do you think the name marriage is necessary for the gay community to have full equality? How vital is the title of marriage to self-identification, societal understanding, and distribution of benefits?

Monday, November 26, 2007

NY Times Article

My friend Julia knows that Gillian and I are in a class on marriage, so when she found this article she IMed the link to me:

I thought it was interesting since its written by Coontz.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Law and Order: SVU

I'm not sure how many of you watch Law & Order: SVU, but I was watching a rerun on USA while finishing reading the Chauncey book. Anyway, it fell in line pretty well with the book (minus being really sensationalized at parts). To begin with, a girl is being teased by a boy at her school for having mothers that are lesbians (Kate as a biological mother Zoe as her other mother - I only use these to help differentiate later on). The 8 year old girl, Emma, stabs a boy in the back with scissors to stop the teasing. Kate is sick and in the hospital so Zoe acts as her guardian during the police interrogation. The next morning Zoe and a lawyer come in to suppress the confession because she never signed adoption papers and is therefore not her parent or legal guardian.

They arrest Emma, and Zoe is denied custody before the trial because she relinquished custodial rights prior to suppress Emma's testimony. Eventually Emma is acquitted and Zoe gets permanent custody of her. In the meantime, Emma has been staying with Kate's parents who blame Zoe for making her daughter a lesbian. Kate has died by this point, and under persuasion by her grandparents, Emma tells the police that Zoe has been sexually molesting her. The police realize that Emma is being coerced and arrest the grandparents for some complex thing that eventually boils down into a hate crime. Eventually there is a mistrial because it turns out that the lawyer for the grandparents were feeding them information that children raised by homosexual parents are more likely to be molested prior to the custody hearings.

Again, I realize that this is television and probably a lot more complicated than needs be, but I thought it was interesting and wanted to open it up to discussion about the way that parental rights for gay and lesbian couples are portrayed in the media. In this storyline, Zoe uses her lack of rights to her benefit her daughter, but in doing so loses her future ability to gain custody of Emma.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fathers, Wisconsin, and Welfare

From the New York Times Magazine, 2004:

A shorter version - the book review of the book-form of the article:

There might also be an interesting paper topic here!

Race Mixing and Latinos

From Vicki Ruiz, "From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America," (Oxford U. Press, 1998):

In writing about Chicano student and labor activism in the late 1960s, Ruiz points out a theme also present in Romano's book.

"Surprisingly personal decisions, such as dating, marriage, and sexuality, became movement concerns whether one identified with cultural nationalism or Marxism or some sort of combination or an in-between political space. The whole issue of interracial dating and marriage became hotly debated. In 1971, Velia Garcia Hancock argued against this mixing on political grounds. It was not a question of 'mingling of the bloods' given the nature of Mexican mestizaje, but rather that 'intermarriage results in a weakening of ties and declining sense of responsibility and committment to La Raza.' These types of wholesale generalizations did little to promote communication. Love cannot be legislated. Furthermore, did marriage within La Raza always guarantee commitment to community empowerment? Many chroniclers and fighters for social justice, including slain journalist Ruben Salazar and poet/scholar/activist Adaljiza Sosa Riddell, intermarried. Marta Cotera addressed this issue in her 1977 collection of esssays, The Chicana Feminist. 'You have to be mature enough to respect people's choices. Any individual who doesn't have freedom of choice cannot be liberated.'"

Ruiz doesn't elaborate on whether men or women had different views, as does Romano, but this could be an interesting research topic, if you're in the market for a paper idea!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Modern Marriage

Maureen Dowd column mentioned in class today:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gordon article

If you happen to look at this before you start reading . . . the Gordon article is a bit denser than I remembered. You don't need to pay too much attention to all of the reformers, their social positions, etc. that fill up the first pages - instead focus on the part of the article towards the end when she gets to the family ideals supporting welfare policy in the early days.

What assumptions are going into welfare policy? How are welfare laws shaping marriage, or vice versa?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Welfare (and more!) Reading for next week

Next week's reading is a bit of a hodge-podge, but I think we'll be able to draw some intersecting lines, or at least we'll look towards Beth and Bailey to do it for us.

The Coontz chapters move us forward from the 1950s to the 1990s with an examination of the feminist movement, the resulting "culture wars" of the 1980s and 1990s, and the gay marriage issue.

The Gordon article ("Social Insurance and Public Assistance") takes us back to the origins of the welfare state; the Mink article ("The Lady and the Tramp (II)") fast-forwards to the so-called end of welfare in the mid-1990s.

The Kunzel article fits in between the Gordon and the Mink. It takes a more intricate look at the psychological analyses of marriage, race, and motherhood - connecting us with Romano's Race Mixing as well as with this week's welfare discussion.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Personal is Political?

One of the interesting themes I noticed in Romano's "Race Mixing" is her analysis of interracial marriage as a political act. It seems that in the earlier period of her book (1940s and 1950s), whites considered interracial marriage political, but by the late 1960s, it was the Black Power supporters who saw such marriages as inherently political.

How do you think Romano's subject matter (and time period?) gives her a different understanding of the political framework of marriage from the more metaphorical politicization of marriage that we've talked about in relation to Republican wives, monogamy, consent laws, etc.?

Related: Where do you think American ideas about the right to privacy come from?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Nostalgia for 1970s girlhood?

Judith Warner's column and blog in the New York Times has an interesting article on why we need to return to the "girlhood" of the 1970s, as well as various entries on modern marriage.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

How did the 1950s family become "traditional?"

Building off of yesterday's class: how did the media, sociologists, and others construct the ideal family model of the 1950s and how did this model become what we think of as the "traditional" family, even as it bore little resemblance to families of the 1800s, 1700s, etc.?