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Dodecahedron314

Aro marriage: to subvert, or to dismantle?

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My QPP and I semi(?)-seriously resolved to get married in the future for tax benefits and to thumb our noses at the allo establishment today, but because I'm the kind of person who spent way too much time ranting about this in their gender & sexuality studies classes last year, I've been doing some thinking about the whole idea and came upon a sort of internal ideological conflict. On the one hand, there's something very powerful in taking something formerly oppressive or problematic and reclaiming it for one's own validation--a subversion of the system by its own means, using itself to point out the flaws in its own logic and execution. On the other, marriage as a concept is rooted in so many things that are either inapplicable or downright harmful to both the aro community and parts of modern society in general (amatonormativity as codified and exemplified in both culture and legal status, extremely gross heteronormative cisnormative patriarchal gender roles, establishment of inheritance through a recognized system of paternity, monogamy and its attendant normativities, religious exclusionism (and hence a question of the separation of church and state), etc.) that one wonders if it's beyond the point of constructively subverting and reclaiming, and instead just needs to be utterly discarded and overtaken by something entirely different that's not nearly as broken and isn't rooted in the same ossifying structures that caused all these problems with marriage 1.0 in the first place. I'm not looking for personal relationship advice here, I'm just wondering what all y'all's take is on the matter.

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I grew up in a not so religious home, so marriage has always seemed more ceremonial and for legal benefits for me. 

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I don't feel like it's my responsibility to try and repair a system as big and over-arching in society as marriage. I'm just trying to live my life; if my QPP and I end up being long term, I don't see why we shouldn't get married if we want to in order to get the legal benefits.

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Ignore - can't get my ideas down in a coherent manner today!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Confidential_Con said:

I don't feel like it's my responsibility to try and repair a system as big and over-arching in society as marriage. I'm just trying to live my life; if my QPP and I end up being long term, I don't see why we shouldn't get married if we want to in order to get the legal benefits.

 

I agree with this. Trying to 'edit' one's desires- whether platonic, sexual, romantic, whatever- to adhere to a political ideal usually doesn't work out. For one thing, interpersonal relations are a reflex for most humans; we're social animals and trying to limit one's social drives is kind of like trying to suffocate yourself by holding your breath- you'll gasp involuntarily sooner or later. For another, not everyone agrees on the same things even being a subversive act (think of the eternal "is choosing to be a mother and housewife antifeminist or not" argument). And for a final thing, even if you (general you) do find yourself fitting happily into a lifestyle which fully subverts allo systems- for the most part, who's gonna know? Marriage is a huge institution that exists in one form or another across the entire globe. Even if someone becomes newsworthy for an unusual living situation and doing activism around it, 90% of the world is just never gonna hear about their acts of subversion. Most people will see a QP pair frolicking in the street and might think 'couple' or 'friends' or 'siblings', and won't think or talk about it again.

 

It seems to me that change in how society sees major systems like marriage comes about slowly through more and more people tiring of the status quo and exercising their right to do something different and ask for what they need to be happy. Just living authentically is active and subversive enough, because it gives other people implicit permission to do the same, and that exposes a wider and wider amount of the world to the alternatives as time goes by- inevitably leading to some change.

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Lots of good thoughts here. I feel like, as someone who's out as aro, there are always two side of me in a social setting:

 

Side 1: The side that I'm consciously presenting

Side 2: The side that others around me are perceiving

 

We have no control over side 2. In my opinion, marriage is a[n innacurately] romantically-loaded system, despite its fundamental nature as an economic arrangement. Therefore, because society mostly thinks that marriage is romantic, getting married will raise the likelihood of you and your QPP being perceived as a couple. However, as @Gingerplume pointed out, QPPs are likely to be passed off as anything from lovers to siblings regardless of marriage status anyway. It's a lose-lose situation whenever you're playing with Side 2, so might as well forget about Side 2 and do whatever Side 1 impels you to do.

 

I'm personally against marriage as an institution, for all individuals, for the reasons listed in the article I linked in the above paragraph. But I realise that my view is pretty radical and I'm unlikely to find support anywhere. If I were to dismantle marriage, I would not do it on an aromantic platform--I'd do it on a political one, like how the government shouldn't be giving tax benefits to married people, and rather giving universal healthcare or fixing the nation's food distribution system so that children don't die. My aromantic opposition to marriage, frankly, is immaterial.

 

Also another thing that @Gingerplume said that resonated with me: "Trying to 'edit' one's desires- whether platonic, sexual, romantic, whatever- to adhere to a political ideal usually doesn't work out." Feelings aren't revolutionary. I was quite upset with myself as a relationship anarchist, after discovering that exclusivity is actually one of my primary methods of engaging in intimacy. I still consider myself a relationship anarchist because my exclusivity isn't hierarchical (i.e. my way of being intimate with all of my friends, QPPs or otherwise, is by hanging out with them one-on-one.). I came to that conclusion by reexamining my own feelings in the context of my politics, and challenging some of the problematic reasons I was having those feelings--like toxic monogamy, amatonormativity, and toxic masculinity. Having a socially-conscious ideology is good for checking your privilege and checking for internalized toxicity, but I think that probably should be as far as it goes.

 

That having said, I think it's pretty hard to come up with a collectively agreed-upon solution to what aros should do in regards to marriage. And there shouldn't be a collectively agreed-upon solution. Marriage, just like alcohol, Skittles, or 18th Century Lithuanian literature, is there for those who want it. And I am not an 18th Century Lithuanian literature guy. I think I'd end my relationship with my QPPs if either of them proposed. *shudders* The nerve of them.

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I see marriage as a money-suck with few benefits, but I like your idea of derailing it :D

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9 hours ago, SamwiseLovesLife said:

I see marriage as a money-suck with few benefits, but I like your idea of derailing it :D

The benefits I would see are tax benefits and simpler economic consolidation, if desired. Also it gets a QPP into hospital rooms.

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I think it helps to step back a bit and consider: what actually is marriage? A few possible definitions suggest themselves:

 

  1. Marriage is a social institution through which a political union between two families/clans/tribes/dynasties is formally recognised and through which these two formerly separate, autonomous political 'units' become merged: at the economic level (through exchanges of property) and even at the genetic level (when children are born)
  2. Marriage is a societal framework for supporting childrearing - a particular form of adult-to-child caring relationship.
  3. Marriage is a societal framework for recognising adult-to-adult caring relationships and providing certain state supported privileges and subsiies for the same (historically man-to-woman intimate caring and sexual relationships, but recently extended to homosexual relationships, with the possibility of being extended to other possible adult-to-adult caring relatinships in future, such as polyamarus unions, adult care networks, QPRs, etc.)
  4. Some combination of all the above, plus various other definitions I haven't though of ;) (I didn't really touch on the religious aspects of marriage, on its potential role in conserving and replicating certain cultural norms through generations, etc.)

 

The above definitions aren't mutually exclusive. Historicaly marriage was arguably very much about 1, with some of 2 and 3 also thrown in for good measure (but with 3 very much restricted to man-to-woman unions). Elizabeth Brake (her of 'amatonormativity' fame :P) has argued in her book Minimising Marriage for a definition of marriage along the lines of 3, one that she called Minimal Marriage:

 

Quote

Unlike current marriage, minimal marriage does not require that individuals exchange marriage rights reciprocally and in complete bundles: It allows their disaggregation to support the numerous relationship, or adult care networks, that people may have. Minimal marriage would allow a person to exchange all her marital rights reciprocally with one person, or distribute them through her adult care network. It thus supports the variety of relationships excluded by amatonormative marriage law: frienships, urban tribes, overlapping networks, and polyamory.  

 

So that arguably removes one of the major objections from the essay that @omitef linked: that marriage would privilige some forms of adult-to-adult caring relationships over others*. It needn't do that, provided marriage is suitably (re)defined (although I suppose we could always choose a different word than 'marriage' if that word just carries too much historical baggage?). Another objection from that essay was the regressive role marriage played historically. But I don't think it matters so much what the historical function of marriage was; for me the question is more, what role do we want it to fulfill today - and do we want to keep using the same historical word for it or not? 

 

Now one remaining interesting question is: should the state get involved in this stuff at all? The answer, in my view, is yes. I think that in a state-market society such as ours (i.e what is going to exist for us in the forseeable future, for better or worse) you're going to have to have the state get involved in subsidising adult-to-adult caring relationships to some extent, or not enough adult-to-adult caring will happen. Similarly to how the state gets involved in funding for the arts (economists refer to this as a 'positive externality' - when you care for somebody, or try making art, you're undertaking an activity that has economic costs to you directly, but economic (plus other) benefits to society as a whole). You're also going to have to have a mechanism to recognise certain rights/privileges at a societal level, not just an individual level, that naturally arise in the context of adult-to-adult caring relationships. Such as the hospital room visitation rights @BionicPi mentioned, which could be extended to QPRs under a minimal marriage framework, but probably not at all easily under a private contract framework (would the hosiptal, as a state institution, recognise your private contract? having state recognition of exchanged rights and responibilites can be useful in this sort of context and arguably many others).

 

 

*and some of the objections in that essay struck me as a bit U.S. specific IMO, like those relating to the U.S.'s idiosyncratic (and arguably very costly and ineffectual by international standards) private insurance healthcare system tying healthcare insurance to marital status - we have universal helathcare here in the U.K. (and many other European countries) for contrast

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A while back I thought about how I might actually consider marriage if it was possible for a group of 3 (or more) friends to all be married to each other. That would actually be interesting. It's possible for men to marry more than one woman in some places/cultures, but that's not the same thing at all. What I'm thinking about is: each one is legally married to each of the other 2 (or more) at the same time. Group marriage. If that's actually a thing somewhere in the world, please let me know... :)

 

Marrying just one person isn't something I'd like to do... it's too common, and everyone would just assume it's romantic & sexual, and that's pretty boring. People assume that anyway of me and my (male) friend I live with, which I suppose is technically a QPR, although we've never used that term.

 

51 minutes ago, NullVector said:

Marriage is a societal framework for supporting childrearing - a particular form of adult-to-child caring relationship.

IMO it's not even a very good framework for childrearing... the 'village community' kind of framework works better - less pressure on any particular individual to be responsible for the children. Not even to mention how hard it is to get kids away from mildly-psychologically-but-not-really-physically abusive parents - that'd be a lot easier if they weren't legally owned by  stuck with just one or two people.

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7 minutes ago, SoulWolf said:

A while back I thought about how I might actually consider marriage if it was possible for a group of 3 (or more) friends to all be married to each other. That would actually be interesting. It's possible for men to marry more than one woman in some places/cultures, but that's not the same thing at all. What I'm thinking about is: each one is legally married to each of the other 2 (or more) at the same time. Group marriage. If that's actually a thing somewhere in the world, please let me know... :)

http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/three-men-marry-in-first-legally-recognised-polyamorous-wedding-6708801/

Saw this recently

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Ooh, nice find! Seems limited to 3 though, but still, progress.

 

I tried Googling for more information about Columbia's 'trieja' marriage legalities, but everything that comes up seems to be about those 3 specific people, and... not in English. :rofl: 

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2 minutes ago, SoulWolf said:

Ooh, nice find! Seems limited to 3 though, but still, progress.

 

I tried Googling for more information about Columbia's 'trieja' marriage legalities, but everything that comes up seems to be about those 3 specific people, and... not in English. :rofl: 

Google and hit "translate this page"?

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OK, by the powers of the interweb, I am finding a bit more information.

 

http://reason.com/blog/2017/06/15/colombia-sees-first-gay-polygamous-marri - according to this, it's not actually known if the government is taking their marriage seriously.

http://reason.com/blog/2015/11/06/polygamous-brazilian-trio-weds - these 3 women managed to get a civil union in Brazil.

http://reason.com/archives/2015/04/30/hacking-marriage - this is also pretty interesting.

 

Which brings me to... er... I'm not really sure what the difference is between marriage and a civil union... :rofl: 

Although the more I'm reading about marriage, the less I want to touch it even with a 1km long pole... the entire concept is broken beyond repair, and the government has no business dictating so much personal stuff about people's relationships... it actually makes me pretty angry.

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One thing I really hate about the idea of marriage is actually divorce. I know some divorces are amicable and end on good/mutual terms but by the Gods, I hate the idea of potentially getting stuck, legally, to someone else, whether it's because they want to make life more difficult or we both just want to be free to move on but the process is taking too long.

I like the idea of being able to dissolve at least some legal unions more easily, even if people cry that it cheapens marriage. If you want to separate and it's mutual/you can divide your stuff without a fuss, why not?

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On 18/06/2017 at 5:10 AM, Dodecahedron314 said:

My QPP and I semi(?)-seriously resolved to get married in the future for tax benefits and to thumb our noses at the allo establishment today,

Something you may have missed is that those "benefits" are paid for by unmarried people.

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I think it's ok to use marriage for your own benefit. If your letting other people why you choose to get married it will broaden their idea what marriage can be and might inspire more people to think about what kind of marriage they would want.
As different type of queer relationships become more common and accepted the legal framework most follow I think. Even people who want to have a monogamous relationship might need different types of marriages and paternity. Like two men in a romantic relationship face lots of hardship (biologically and societal) if they want to have children. Maybe some would like the possibility to take a part in parenting a child they already know, like a niece or the child of a friend. And would want a different type of contract for that then the standard adoption or marriage.

 

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On 6/21/2017 at 0:39 AM, SoulWolf said:

IMO it's not even a very good framework for childrearing... the 'village community' kind of framework works better - less pressure on any particular individual to be responsible for the children. Not even to mention how hard it is to get kids away from mildly-psychologically-but-not-really-physically abusive parents - that'd be a lot easier if they weren't legally owned by  stuck with just one or two people.

 

I agree. I like the sound of the 'Mutual Adoption Club' family setup that's described in Aldous Huxley's novel Island:

 

Quote

"Escape", she explained, "is built into the new system. Whenever the parental Home Sweet Home becomes too unbearable, the child is allowed, is actively encouraged - and the whole weight of public opinion is behind the encouragement - to migrate to one of its other homes."

 

"How many homes does a Palanese child have?"

 

"About twenty on the average."

 

"Twenty? My God!"

 

"We all belong," Susila explained, "to a MAC -a Mutual Adoption Club. Every MAC consists of anything from fifteen to twenty five assorted couples. Newly elected brides and bridegrooms, old timers with growing children, grandparents and great-grandparents everybody in the club adopts everyone else. Besides our own blood relations, we all have our quota of deputy mothers, deputy fathers, deputy aunts and uncles, deputy brothers and sisters, deputy babies and toddlers and teen-agers."

 

Will shook his head. "Making twenty families grow where only one grew before."

 

"But what grew before was your kind of family. The tweny are all our kind." As though reading instructions from a cookery book, " 'Take one sexually inept wage slave,' " she went on, " 'one dissatisfied female, two or (if preferred) three small television addicts; marinate in a mixture of Freudism and dilute Christianity, then bottle up tightly in a four room flat and stew for fifteen years in their own juice.' Our recipe is rather different: 'Take twenty sexually satisfied couples and their offspring; add science, intuition and humor in equal quantities; steep in Tantrik Buddhism and simmer indefinitely in an open pan in the open air over a brisk flame of affection.' "

 

"And what comes out of your open pan?" he asked.

 

"An entirely different kind of family. Not exclusive, like your families, and not predestined, not compulsory. An inclusive, unpredestined and voluntary family. Twenty pairs of fathers and mothers, eight or nine ex-fathers and ex-mothers, and forty or fifty assorted children of all ages." 

 

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10 hours ago, NullVector said:

 

I agree. I like the sound of the 'Mutual Adoption Club' family setup that's described in Aldous Huxley's novel Island:

 

 

That's so cool. I've been planning to read Island for some timem. I should get to it. 

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Dammit, I thought that adoption club was real! I think that's a really cool idea too!

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23 hours ago, Holmbo said:

That's so cool. I've been planning to read Island for some timem. I should get to it. 

 

Yeah, you should! It's good :)

 

(I've read Chrome Yellow, Brave New World and Island so far. Next up is Eyeless in Gaza. Huxley is great!)

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On 6/21/2017 at 0:33 AM, NullVector said:

I think that in a state-market society such as ours (i.e what is going to exist for us in the forseeable future, for better or worse) you're going to have to have the state get involved in subsidising adult-to-adult caring relationships to some extent, or not enough adult-to-adult caring will happen.

Is there any evidence for this?

On 6/21/2017 at 0:33 AM, NullVector said:

Similarly to how the state gets involved in funding for the arts (economists refer to this as a 'positive externality' - when you care for somebody, or try making art, you're undertaking an activity that has economic costs to you directly, but economic (plus other) benefits to society as a whole).

There's not much more about art funding than shuffling a few dollars around (as long as the art funding is “democratic” and not connected with fostering political goals). Marriage gets beyond this, it's connected with rights of which some are difficult to achieve (apparently saving your sister's life ... that's not a valid reason for even getting a visa, but there's no problem with permanently immigrating when you just marry a citizen of the country).

 

And in the case of art funding, there's obviously feedback, the art is produced and then can be judged by the public, etc. Assessing the benefits of subsiding certain adult-to-adult (supposedly caring) relationships on the other hand is difficult.

 

Also if “marriage” stops being a big deal legally or we reduce our expectation what “marriage” should entail, it's clear that marriages entered purely for the reason to get certain privileges will increase.

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On 01/07/2017 at 5:07 PM, DeltaV said:

Is there any evidence for this?

 

Hmm. Not sure about 'evidence' - were you thinking of public policy studies or something? I don't know much about those :/. I guess I was arguing it from 'general principles' and deductively; which is always a dangerous game to play! xD

 

But probably I had in mind something along the lines of this: lets imagine you've a really good friend . You've known them for a while. They live alone and are a few decades older than you. Recently they've started to struggle to cope alone. They don't want to go into a home, but there's only so much that drop in carers can do. You'd like to help out more, but work full time and can't afford to work fewer hours. But what if you could work part time and the state would make up the loss of earning as part of a subsidy for an adult-to-adult caring relationship under a minimal marriage framework? (you 'marry' your friend) That might lead to a better standard of care and quality of life for your friend than what they would otherwise get from people they don't know and trust. Plus you also might be happier with the situation and enjoy helping out and doing a mix of care plus your standard work. So your quality of life also improves.

 

I mean, something like this might be possible under existing legal frameworks for adult carers? I don' t really know much about this stuff. Just trying to suggest a potential case where increased quantity and/or improved quality of care might result. Maybe someone else can think of a better example ...

 

On 01/07/2017 at 5:07 PM, DeltaV said:

Also if “marriage” stops being a big deal legally or we reduce our expectation what “marriage” should entail, it's clear that marriages entered purely for the reason to get certain privileges will increase

 

Is that necessairily a bad thing? (what if those privileges are also benefitting society by facilitating certain positive behaviours between people? like in my subsidised earnings example)

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Regarding divorce, from what I understand, it's not a big deal unless you have children. Childless couples divorcing just divide up the property and then go their separate ways.

 

And regarding the Mutual Adoption Club, that sort of thing, while it sounds cool, would either not be very good for the kids, or else in most cases wind up looking like a kid living in one home with the other families being more like aunts/uncles/(is there a gender neutral term for aunt/uncle?). Kids don't seem to be able to treat more than a few adults as primary caregivers, psychologically. One of the big reasons why it's actually a good thing that it's hard to get kids away from mildly psychologically abusive parents - taking kids away from a primary caregiver is really damaging to the kid, and only worth it if staying with that caregiver is even worse.

 

In Israel, when the country was refounded recently, some communities tried a kibbutz system where kids were raised communally in a shared home, kind of like a 24/7 daycare, with lots of adults working in shifts to care for the kids. Researchers have found that those kids have a higher rate of psychological problems and insecure attachment. Since then, most kibbutz have become basically just free daycares, with kids going home each night (and having a consistent kibbutz caregiver), and that's turned out much better. Essentially it's become a three-parent system.

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Lots of interesting points have come up but there is something I want to ask all the non-Australian, do you have de facto partner laws?

http://landers.com.au/insights/publications/family-and-relationship-law/de-facto-relationships-and-asset-protection-whats-mine-is-yours/

it is all the hassle of divorce without the marriage! 

A family member went through a bad de facto split and it was just as bad as a messy divorce. 

I have never heard specific benefits to being married, most of the benefits are tied up with whether you have children or not. One married couple I met at university got divorced because being married cut their low earner wage supplement payments. That was the only reason for the divorce, to gain back benefits, they were still a couple and wore their rings and planned a family. 

I'm not that well informed but with de facto legal ties out there I don't see a reason not to get married. Have lots of people come and make them question what a marriage is! friendship vows, bring your own food, wear green, make everyone wear green, walk down the isle to 'friend like me' from Disney's Aladdin.

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