Critiques of Marriage

Elizabeth Brake

in Minimizing Marriage

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199774142
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933228 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

Critiques of Marriage

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Theorists of oppression note that marriage law has historically oppressed women and people of color and argue that it continues to perpetuate oppression of women, gays and lesbians, and minority racial and ethnic groups. For example, John Stuart Mill and 20th century radical feminists compared marriage to slavery. Susan Moller Okin argued that gender-structured marriage makes wives economically vulnerable. Claudia Card has argued that marriage facilitates abuse and, far from serving gay and lesbian liberation, same-sex marriage would encourage assimilation to a heteronormative ideal of monogamy. And Patricia Hill Collins has argued that marriage law has functioned as an important symbol of racial hierarchy; U.S. marriage promotion continues to be racially inflected in ways which devalue practices found in African-American communities. Such critiques will be crucial to my arguments for marriage reform. I will argue, though, that marriage is not essentially unjust; its symbolism can be changed through extensive restructuring.

Keywords: marriage; history of marriage; feminism; gay and lesbian oppression; racism; ethnocentrism; class; coverture; slavery; justice

Chapter.  9611 words. 

Subjects: Feminist Philosophy

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