On Heteropatriarchy, Presidents, and Families1/11/2012
I've been reading a lot these days about polyamory. The theory itself is pretty convincing and ...
I've been reading a lot these days about polyamory. The theory itself is pretty convincing and so are the arguments against the heteopatriarchal myth of marriage:
"For instance, we may be in a relationship we are super into, but then want to have an experience outside that relationship with someone who shares a characteristic with us that our partner doesn't, whether that be race, language, age, class background, ability, trans identity, or something else. Our radical politics tell us we don't have to pretend that those things don't matter, and that we can honor the different connections we get to have we get to have with people based on shared or different identities. If we love our partners and friends, it makes sense that we would want them to have experiences that are affirming or important for them in those ways, and not let rules of sexual exclusivity make us into barriers for each other's personal development (For Lovers and Fighters, Dean Spade)."
What does it mean that only one of our U.S. Presidents have been unmarried (James Buchanan was engaged to be married before his fiancé died)? And that none of them have been married to someone outside of their race? Or that all of them have been Christian and heterosexual? What message does being married send to the American public?
Our society is rooted in capitalism. It is the fundamental building block of America and it is present in every corner of our lives. Therefore, it is no wonder then, that the wives of American presidents, particularly in this example of Mitt Romney are treated as the property of the President and by extension, the American public.
Andrea Smith, in her article, "Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy" quotes Christian Right activist and founder, Charles Colson, "Marriage is the traditional building block of human society, intended both to unite couples and bring children into the world... the family, led by a married mother and father, is the best available structure for both childrearing and cultural health."
The marriage of Barack and Michelle Obama is drooled over by the American public as well, particularly the Black American public. That's not particularly a bad thing either. Media, even black media, depicts black relationships as tainted and violent; Baby Boy is one example, not to mention that Chris Brown's violence against Rihanna received more media attention that any white man beating up his white wife. However, I believe that the near worship of Potus and Flotus' relationship is unhealthy, because its almost never accompanied by a real interrogation of the President's politics.
In conclusion, whether choosing polyamory, monogamy, single hood or marriage, we must create our own ideals of family that include consciousness about our relationships with the community around us.