Recently in Question 9: 4/6-4/8 Category

Normativity is not the problem...

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After reading the article on normativity, it got me thinking about what normal is and how it relates to society. As the "Key Terms: Normativity" article states, scholars and activists have developed the concept of "normativity" as a means of understanding the ties between social or political power and moral norms. This got me thinking and there will always be "normal" in a society. There will always be traditions, expectations, typical behavior that can be expected...this is what defines our culture and separates it from others. This is essentially a part of what defines us as a people whether you like it or not. Take a look at the Hmong culture, who have no origination or "homeland" and you can see the psychological effects on them as a people that has lasted for generations. Effects that we take for granite every day. So to me, having norms is not the problem. It is going to happen whether you detest them, are in favor of them, or think they are unfair or unjust.

What the problem is in my opinion is how people react and treat the people that they don't understand. It is on a more personal level. Anybody with half a brain can chose not to like someone, or view them negativity simply because they don't agree with the decisions they make in life. But who are we to judge them? Who are we to compare them to ourselves? What gives a person a right to hate a person because they are a homosexual, or a person of color, or do not wish to have children, or in any scenario different then what is common today. To me, the change is not in the structure, or in the average life of an American that is similar to most everybody else. It is with the "average" people learning to accept others who they don't identify with or even agree with in their life-style decisions. Perhaps the problem isn't the government, or a patriarchal society, or the normal people. Perhaps the problem is you and I.

Gay Marriage

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Gay marriage is an important feminism issue that we are still fighting for whether it should be legal or illegal. However, I think it should be legal and we should respect them and we also need to care about this same-sex marriage as feminists. Even though same-sex marriage doesn't harm us, people are against to it. Being gays or lesbians is not wrong! They are just same humans like us. So we should respect them and protect their rights. because it's not their fault to being gays or lesbians. I have some gays and lesbians friends and I can't understand why some people hate them so much. They don't give you any negative effects to harm you. Being abnormal comparing to majority of people around us must be difficult because the majority of people give them weird looks and they think they are very different. But they are still human as we are, so we should fully respect them. We don't have to accept them fully, but maybe just trying to understand and to respect them would be great.

as.JPGIn U.S. Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., marriages for same-sex couples are legal and currently performed.

Marriage

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I look at same-sex marriage as tying in as a feminist issue. Overall I have come to understand feminism as fighting for equality in all areas, that being the case, everyone should be able to have equal marriage rights too. Same-sex marriage is a very controversial topic in itself. Whether or not it is a feminist issue will also have different opinions and viewpoints. People who are for same-sex marriage believe that each individual's life journey is unique and that love comes in many different forms. Love should not have to depend on gender or sexual orientation. Every person should be able to have equal rights. If same-sex marriage is the type of marriage an individual so chooses to have, that should be his or her own decision to make. If being involved in a homosexual marriage is what someone desires, then why wouldn't you allow it? I believe everyone has the right to be happy. I don't think same-sex marriage harms anyone, but allows people to engage in what they want, even if it may be out of the "norm."

Normal

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What is normal? The article on normality was extremely interesting for me because it slices open our social archetypes and examines their functionality and relevance. The article defined normativity as " as regulative matrix that operates through distinctions of gender, race, class, ethnicity and nation". The regulative quality of society has long had to balance itself from restrictive qualities to freeing qualities. The history of feminism is testaments to the suppressive qualities society can posses. Like wise the progression of feminism and social rights presents an alternative perspective that shows the adaptability of social normatives. If we look at what is considered "normal" within America it changes constantly. I think the most important aspect of "normalcy" is that it is never the same and it is not consistent. This quality is deceptive because it enables individuals to remain static in their perspectives and misunderstandings. The regulative powers of culturally defined normalcy are extensive and we see them perpetuated and implemented on television every day. The youth of our nation are taught what is normal through media, education, politics, and our own actions. I believe that there will most-likely be a state of defining what is normal within a culture. What is crucial is how we as a society define normalcy. There is a desperate need for consciousness towards the negative ramifications of creating a restrictive normalcy. It is easily evident to see the restrictive and painful effects of an inconsiderate normalcy in America's history. We as a culture need to ensure a broad perspective that makes us curious as to the positive and negative effects our thoughts and definitions may have upon one another. The most important quality of defining what is normal is to ensure that the definition does not harm other individuals or restrict them from a standard of life. I don't know if I am being idealistic, but it is difficult to even back my own writing because I want to exclude certain groups from my own definition of what is normal. I do not want sex offenders to be considered normal, but that sets in motion the idea of contraction within my definition and may lead to mis-definitions. Normalcy is confusion.

Isn't marriage always already heterosexist?

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While I am wary of overtly stating that gay marriage is not a feminist issue (by this I mean not aligned with feminist intentions or political aspirations), the following arguments may appear to favor that conclusion. However, the rampant homophobic sentiments opposing gay marriage, in addition to circulating fears concerning the holy innocents (those "unagentic black slates" (Martin, 457) commonly referred to as children) - under the threat of pestilent queers - are surely issues warranting feminist attention. First, to any position postulating that gay marriage is a subversive or revolutionary act combating exclusionary heterosexist and homophobic mandates prohibiting "same-sex" partners from participating in a thoroughly sexist and capitalistic social institution, I have a simple reply: absolutely not. To any position intent on romanticizing institutionalized kinship, claiming that the marital contract is the state's recognition of love: please note that "love" is never recognized by the state - legally binding contracts are. The gay marriage campaign is merely a misguided reinscription of heteronormativity. Once the "good gays" are successfully normalized, the rest of us queers will be left to our now increasing stigmatization upon the emergence of new hierarchies rendering various queer sexual practices and relationships utterly untenable. However much I adamantly resent the viciously homophobic discourses surrounding this debate (which both sides have generated), I also resent the denial -- and refusal -- of sexual alliances not seeking expurgation, nor adhering to formulated delimitations that constitute normative, or naturalized, legitimacy. By proscribing the legibility of sexuality, possibilities become impossible.

schiele.jpgDo abject sexualities have claim to ontology?

In "Is Kinship Always Already Heterosexual?" Judith Butler writes

... we see the debate break down almost immediately into the question of whether marriage ought to be extended legitimately to homosexuals. This means that the sexual field is circumscribed in such a way that sexuality is already thought of in terms of marriage and marriage is already thought of as the purchase on legitimacy. (106)

What do we understand as legitimate kinship? autonomy? personhood? Does gay marriage seek to displace homophobic paradigms or merely relocate them? The logic circumscribing the anxiety over legitimacy that Butler outlines serves not to abolish an oppressive construct, but to re-articulate that construct - which only serves to reinscribe its terms. Sexuality is not simply always already conceived of as a potential social contract, though, but also dyadic, static, and nuclear-ly/reproductively oriented. Furthermore, this emphasis on marriage, whether it be homo- or hetero-, upholds binary characterizations - one is legitimate only if occupying a political either/or: gay/straight; male/female; black/white; liberal/conservative; et cetera. This aligns very well with Martin's discussion of gender neutrality in "William Wants a Doll," and also the general discussion concerning family values. How are "traditional" or conservatively rigid family values that produce and delimit gender roles subverted or dismantled by gay marriage? If anything, the voice as projected by mainstream media sources loudly declares that gay kinship is the same as marital kinship. Those "straight" gay folks advocating for their supposed "natural human right" to state-sanctioned legitimacy adhere to oppressive frameworks that expel queer bodies and queer sexual proclivities from intelligible legitimacy. The argument proposed is not different though equal (or equally valuable), but equal because the same - valuable because the same. Yet, the very existence of difference serves to delineate the standard for sameness. Conceiving of individuals and societies in relation to a model of legitimate humanity does not, as gay marriage advocates want to imply, create a possibility for equality through sameness, but rather expel that which is read as "different" from the borders of acceptability: what is understood as legitimate depends upon a confounding demarcation in order to be recognized as such, which necessarily separates legible sexuality or sexual alliance from the illegible - creating tensions and anxieties over the sustainability of juridically conceived sexuality. "In effect, this is the mode by which Others become shit."*

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*J.B. in Gender Trouble, 182

Equality in Marriages

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In my opinion gay marriage should be important for feminists because gays and lesbians are not receiving the respect they deserve, they are being oppressed and isn't that what feminists are trying to do: end the oppression and hierarchy that exists in our society? I believe that religion even though it is separate from the government it still has an influence on the government since law makers pass laws that go with their believes then they have a biased opinion. Gays and Lesbians should have a choice of whether or not they want to get married. It shows commitment to the relationship just as and other heterosexual couples would want. It would be a challenge though because we have everything pre-established so it would be different and kind of exciting since everything we see can change and it would be interesting to see how everything turns out. I neither agree nor disagree. It is their choice or at least they should have that choice.

Gay Marriage = Feminist Issue

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I believe that gay marriage is or should be at least a semi-important issue for feminists. Feminism is not only a woman's issue, but an issue of overall equality as I chose to define early in the year. I may have once thought of feminism as a solely 'women's right's' movement, but I learned and my definition of feminism evolved and generalized to the idea of general equality for all. If feminism is both a man and woman's issue and is based on the general idea of equality... Then, gay marriage definitely should be an issue of importance, because the whole idea of gay marriage is that they deserve the equality as any other couple. With the equality comes rights, respect, etc. As stated in article Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families & Relationships, "We seek access to a flexible set of economic benefits and options regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender/gender identity, class, or citizenship status." This emphasizes the fact that people are being denied rights based on many factors that need not me considered in the giving of rights. This is why gay marriage/marriage rights in general definitely should be considered a feminist issue just due to the injustice to equality as a whole which is the main goal for many feminists around the world.

Normativity

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My question to everyone is "why are the normative standards set at what they are today in society?" In the article, "Key Terms: Normativity", the developed concept of "normativity" is the means of understanding the ties between social or political power and moral norms. This article goes on to state that the current normative standards consist of moral norms dealing with heterosexual couples and their ability to fit the regulations to receive the access to a wide range of social and governmental benefits. This leaves any other type of couple that doesn't fit the "normative model" unable to get access to the same benefits that heterosexual couples do receive access to. Who gets to decide where the line gets drawn? During a small group discussion one day in class my group begun to talk about why people care if others receive certain benefits or not if it's not going to affect them either way. I personally brought up how my parents are very strong Christians and feel that marriage should only be for heterosexuals. Because of their belief, they then feel that homosexuals and such others should not receive the same benefits as heterosexuals. I know there are many other reasons and I want to restate the question I asked earlier, why do people care if others receive certain benefits or not if it's not going to affect them either way? This is something I am very unknowledgeable about and would like to hear other people's opinions.

Question 9: 4/6-4/8

OPTION 1: As I mentioned in last week's question, several of you indicated that the question prompts were too restrictive and didn't enable you to engage with the readings in the ways that you wanted to. Therefore, I am opening up the direct engagements by asking one broad question in terms of the readings: How do the readings (Martin, Berstein) make you curious? You can engage with this question in any way that you wish as long as you follow these basic rules:

* Your direct engagement must address at least one of the readings
* Your direct engagement should be aimed at making us curious and demonstrate a respectful and critical engagement with the ideas/readings
* You may include your own opinions about the readings, but those opinions must be explained and supported by examples (from the readings, your experiences)
* You should include some sort of question that you pose to your readers

In discussing how the readings make you curious, you could think about these questions--Were there terms or concepts that didn't make sense or that you weren't familiar with? Are there certain issues that you would like to know more about? Were any aspects of the readings confusing? Are there certain claims that you strongly agree/disagree with and that you would like to read how others feel/think about them? What issues did the readings fail to address that you think are very important for discussing family values, feminism and marriage.

OPTION TWO: For this option, I have one set of questions: Is gay marriage an important issue for feminists? Why or why not? What feminist (or queer) family values can be generated from our critical conversations about gay marriage and/or gay families and radical kinship configurations?

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