To work within the system, or to work outside the system? This is the question.


In "Families, Unvalued" and "Border (In)Securities" both focused on the more conservative family values as well as the more "radical" ones. The Human Rights Watch piece was working within the system of immigration in the U.S. with portraying homosexual couples as having that "norm" sense of family values. The people whose stories were featured usually had children, were white middle class, were successful and had access to lawyers etc. This picture seems more relatable for those conservative individuals/lawmakers who are having a hard time getting past the homosexual aspect of it. Chavez questions this approach, basically saying it is too exclusive of other family values/ways of life/"non-normal" families. "Families, Unvalued" holds the institution of marriage as the standard for families. Chavez questions this in her piece saying that working within this system, using marriage as a standard, is ignoring the other "sub culture" because they are too different. I feel like these two pieces boil down to this very point: working within the system vs. working outside it. My question is how do you work outside it and still make concrete (new laws/reform) progress? A student said today in class that it seemed like the Human Rights Watch piece was a liberal way of fighting for progress, while Chavez is more radical. I feel like there should be a point when the two merge, but I am unable to identify what that would look like, ha.


While reading "Families, Unvalued" I too noticed that there was certainly a type of relationship that was highlighted. As you pointed out, most appeared to have children, were white, of the middle class, and successful. This and additionally that most of the partners that were outside of the United States and denied entry to the country were from privileged countries themselves also struck me. For instance, some of the countries I recall being mentioned were New Zealand and Portugal, affluent countries in their own right. And even so, when less privileged countries were brought up, such as Jamaica and Venezuela, the fact that they had the means to meet someone from the United States suggests something about their own potential privilege. For example, they perhaps had the means to travel to the United States and subsequently met their partners, or if their partner was the one doing the traveling, they perhaps had more access to areas or places that are popular tourist spots, general costing more money.

Similarly agreeing with you, I think that the point about marriages as a standard is a very strong point of Chavez's. I feel like marriage is generally offered as a standard in the United States, especially for heterosexual couples, which has now been extended to homosexual couples. I definitely feel as though much of the push for marriage equality is a way to make gay couples more "straight," by allowing them entry to a historically heterosexual union and therefore making them more so like "us." Similarly, I really like Chavez's point that often times individuals must gain rights by proving how similar they are to everyone else, as opposed to being acknowledged and appreciated for their differences, and still being seen as deserving because of it.

Probs024- I definitely think you are describing some key aspects as to why "Family, Unvalued" was somewhat problematic. It only depicted "heteronormative" couples that would be easy to "digest" as Jackson put it in class today. This is troublesome because again we're putting people into a box. Why is this so? In class today we were discussing that capitalism drives family values. How is this so? Are the boxes that we feel the urge to push people into a byproduct of capitalist ideology or more of a conscious effort among capitalists high on the pecking order? I also think many times the pro-family argument is used to push certain political policies into place which is problematic. For example, "Family, Unvalued" had a specific motive of getting a piece of legislation passed, so as you said they were "working within the system." I think there are definitely some fundamental questions to be asked in relation to your work within the system or outside the system? I have to wonder that if some argue against working in the system how will change happen? Is it possible? One can critique the system and work to not participate in the system as much as possible but at what point is that a lost cause? Is it a lost cause?
But then I have to think, if you work within the system are you not fully realizing the goals or ideals set forth. Are you still ignoring certain populations? I"m right there with ya, is there a way for there to be some type of collaboration? sorry...thinking aloud, once again...

Someone brought up in class that modern day televisions shows such as, "Modern Family" and even "Desperate Housewives" seem to try and normalize gay couples. Sticking them in middle to upper class, white neighborhoods with kids, a nice house, an steady careers. These shows even seem to ignore the other cultures these couples may experience, or live in. By "normalizing" gay, they try to gain "acceptance." For example the producers seem to be saying, "Here, we stuck a gay couple into our TV show so we can reach a more broad audience." At the same time they are completely ignoring the fact that they're missing the majority of that audience completely.

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