marriage

DRUNK IN LOVE AND MARRIAGE

 

Anybody have any feminist-related thoughts or comments on Beyonce and Jay Z’s performance at the Grammys last night?

I, for one, loved that it oozed both sex AND partnership. What a concept! As it started, I was thinking, “DAMN. Get it, girl! GET IT,” and by the end I almost shed a tear because it was so sweet.

We should all be so lucky to have a partner with whom we can grow, share in our version of success (whatever it may be), and of course, be madly, butt-crazy, passionately in love with. I feel incredibly lucky to feel that I have that too.

It was also interesting to wake up to an article this morning about how Beyonce and Jay Z “Make The Case for Marriage That Conservatives Can’t“…

 

drunk in love

 

Lyrics via metrolyrics.com:

[Intro: Beyoncé]
I’ve been drinking, I’ve been drinking
I get filthy when that liquor get into me
I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?
I want you, na na
Why can’t I keep my fingers off you, baby?
I want you, na na

[Verse 1: Beyoncé]
Cigars on ice, cigars on ice
Feeling like an animal with these cameras all in my grill
Flashing lights, flashing lights
You got me faded, faded, faded
Baby, I want you, na na
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you, na na
Drunk in love, I want you

[Bridge: Beyoncé]
We woke up in the kitchen saying
“How the hell did this shit happen?”, oh baby
Drunk in love, we be all night
Last thing I remember is our
Beautiful bodies grinding off in that club
Drunk in love

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 2: Beyoncé]
We be all night, and everything alright
No complaints for my body, so fluorescent under these lights Boy, I’m drinking, walking in my l’assemblage
I’m rubbing on it, rub-rubbing
If you scared, call that reverend
Boy, I’m drinking, Imma bring it right
Oñly bring you a gangster wife
Louis sheets , he sweat it out like washed rags, he wet it up
Boy, I’m drinking, I’m singing on the mic ’til my voice hoarse
Then I fill the tub up halfway then ride it with my surfboard
Surfboard, surfboard
Graining on that wood, graining, graining on that wood
I’m swerving on that, swerving, swerving on that big body Been
Serving all this, swerve, surfing all of this good good

[Bridge]
We woke up in the kitchen saying
“How the hell did this shit happen?”, oh baby
Drunk in love, we be all night
Last thing I remember is our
Beautiful bodies grinding off in that club
Drunk in love

[Hook]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 3: Jay Z]
Hold up
I do say it’s the shit if I do say so myself
If I do say so myself, if I do say so myself
Hold up, stumble all in the house tryna backup all of that mouth
That you had all in the car, talking ’bout you the baddest bitch thus far
Talking ’bout you be repping that 3rd, wanna see all that shit that I heard
Know I sling Clint Eastwood, hope you can handle this curve, uh
Foreplay in a foyer, fucked up my Warhol
Slid the panties right to the side
Ain’t got the time to take drawers off
On sight
Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
In ’97 I bite, I’m Ike Turner, turn up
Baby know I don’t play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!”
I’m nice, for y’all to reach these heights you gon’ need G3
4, 5, 6 flights, sleep tight
We sex again in the morning, your breasteses is my breakfast
We going in, we be all night

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

[Verse 4: Beyoncé]
Never tired, never tired
I been sippin’, that’s the only thing
That’s keeping me on fire, me on fire
Didn’t mean to spill that liquor all on my attire
I’ve been drinking, watermelon
(I want your body right here, daddy, I want you, right now)
Can’t keep your eyes off my fatty
Daddy, I want you

[Hook: Beyoncé]
We be all night, in love, in love
We be all night, in love, in love

Read more: Beyonce – Drunk In Love Lyrics | MetroLyrics

HAWAI’I: An Exploration of Relationships, Cultural Dissonance, & Catharsis

Hawai’i

(pronounced ha-vai-ee)

Hawai'i ("The Big Island")

A beach on the “Big Island”
Original photo taken by yours truly

As some of you may or may not know, one month ago I had my wedding reception, followed by a week of work, then 16 days in this tropical paradise within the U.S. we call Hawaii.

A few interesting factoids about Hawaii:

  • It is the only state in the U.S. made up entirely of a chain of islands
  • It is one of only two states in the U.S. that do not observe daylight savings time
  • It was the last state to join the U.S. in 1959

A couple of particularly interesting facts about that last point (taken from wikipedia):

  • [One] factor against statehood was a strong possibility of a non-white senator and their opposition to Racial segregation.
  • In March 1959, Congress passed the Hawaii Admission Act and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed it into law.
  • On June 27 of that year, a referendum asked residents of Hawaii to vote on the statehood bill. Hawaii voted 17 to 1 to accept. The choices were to accept the Act or to remain a territory, without the option of independence. The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization later removed Hawaii from theUnited Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.

*bold and italics added by me for emphasis

For most of us here in the United States, we will learn about colonialism throughout primary and/or high school (i.e. K-12) as historical fact— something that happened in the past— which is, of course, true. However this does not preclude the possibility of extant colonialism. This does not mean that we live in a post-colonial world. Far from it. I believe Hawaii to be a demonstration of that fact. After all, one of the former Big Five powerhouses (what some would call the former oligarchy of Hawaii), Alexander & Baldwin,  still oversees sugar cultivation in Hawaii, is still one of the largest landowners in the state, and owns dozens of income properties in Hawaii as well as the mainland.

My husband and I spent the bulk of our honeymoon (13 days) on Hawaii’s “Big Island” (the island actually named “Hawaii”). It’s the largest and least touristy of all the islands, which can also mean a higher local to tourist ratio. It was so interesting to be in a U.S. state where English was not the dominant language. Over the loudspeaker in a grocery store I heard Hawaiian. Between vendors at the farmer’s market I heard Hawaiian. Walking down the street, (usually only between local adults but not so much with the children) I heard Hawaiian. We rented a car so as to be able to travel all around the island, and naturally, I wanted to listen to the local radio station instead of the ol’ regular pop/rock you hear everywhere else (“Hawaii’s native island music” as they announced on the radio) and guess what I heard….

That’s right! A lot of great music. But also— yes— many songs sung in Hawaiian. Even more interesting were the many songs I heard that sang of Hawaiian history: songs about King Kamehameha, Queen Liliuokalani, the history and tradition of respecting their land with the utmost reverence, and how they lost their right to the land due to the power and influence of the Big Five.

As one DJ said at the end of a certain song [of one of these historical ballads], “That was [musician’s name] with [song name] singing about King Kamehameha… and yes, as __________ said in that one right there, let us ‘never forget, never forget’…” While I did not encounter a single unfriendly person, local or otherwise,throughout my vacation, hearing this on the radio definitely gave me that unmistakeable feeling of being a tourist on foreign land, perhaps somewhere I wasn’t meant to be.

In addition to this contrasting language and music, there is also the overall difference of lifestyle, values, tradition, all that constitutes the very fabric of culture itself. People there will call friends (or even customers…?! I observed this in a radio shack store between a salesperson and very elderly customer) “uncle” or “aunt/auntie” as a term of endearment. (Which is also, oddly, much like Spain where people call one another “tia” or “tio,” Spanish for aunt and uncle, respectively)

Hitchhikers also abound on the Big Island. When my mom first told me that she picks them up once in a while (she has what I call a “hippie shack” over there- solar powered, no plumbing, grows a lot of her own food) I flipped out, naturally. She said, “Oh but everybody does it. Everybody hitchhikes, and everybody gives them rides. It’s fine. Besides, I always have them sit in the bed of the truck back there.” Needless to say, this did not assuage me. I told her to knock it off and that if she’s going to do that she had better at least have some pepper spray or mace on her. She gave me the “ok, but sheesh you really just don’t get it” look and that was it. Well by the end of our 13 days there, seeing hitchhikers almost on the daily (and quite frankly, yeah, they all looked harmless) I got it.

It’s about community and trust.

I thought about reading the U.S. Constitution side by side with a Native American tribe’s constitution for a class at Berkeley (sorry, I can’t remember which tribe, it was 4 years ago). The stark difference between the two, other than the central issue of property, was trust. Ours was based on an implicit lack of it, while the Native Americans’ was based on an implicit understanding of it. Hawaiians, I believe, are culturally operating on a similar level: everybody hitchhiked, and everybody picked up hitchhikers, because their culture is one of trust, and let’s not also forget, one of respecting the land and only using what is necessary, thereby making hitchhiking actually quite conducive to environmental values as well.

Such thoughts would, on occasion, bring me back to why I was there in the first place.

I was on my honeymoon.

I had never been on a trip outside of 4 days tops, in Las Vegas, with my now husband. We were now on an island, with just each other, for 16 days straight. Of course it was fun and amazing and all of that, but it was also a learning experience (and not just sociologically speaking). It was like an exercise in team-building. And having to really, really, confront where you may be falling short on this team, then figuring out why, and then figuring out how to go about fixing it. An implicit understanding of trust is an important thing, both socially and personally.

Even more important is knowing when and how to trust yourself.

Sources:

Love, Relationships, & Other Natural Disasters

photo courtesy of Miss Erin Belle

 

As my “wedding” day nears (yes, I’m technically already married, but we’re having the actual reception for which people fly in and there’s a big “to-do” in just 2 days), I am reminded of past pieces of relationship advice and reflecting on how the hell relationships work anyway.

For example, isn’t it strange how the majority of us will feel obligated—perhaps even think it a moral duty—to be kind and considerate to roommates, you know clean your dishes, take turns cleaning the bathtub or floors or whatever, doing your own laundry, etc., yet often, when we end up living with someone with whom we are in a relationship, such acts of courtesy and common decency may suddenly cease…? Or how one can hang on every word a friend says and/or answer their phone calls or text messages right away, yet not remember the important things a loved one tells them, or make more of an effort to communicate with them? Such things remind me of something a friend (and former co-worker in the retail world) once said to me:

“You know, some people will spend all day being nice to strangers [at work/school/wherever], and then go home to their loved ones/ spouses/ whoever, and end up treating them like shit. We have to remember to treat the people who matter the most, the best, not the other way around.”

I, personally, (especially after having spent about 13 years in the customer service work world) find this especially profound and true.

This same friend also told me:

“The first fight you have will be the last fight you have”

I think anyone in a serious relationship, after some thought, can see how that one can easily come into fruition. Here are some other gems I’ve heard, read, been told, and concluded on my own, that I thought worth sharing:

  • You can’t just wish and hope for a better relationship, you have to work for it.
  • Sometimes you should just go to bed mad.
  • One person will always think they are doing more than the other.
  • Relationships aren’t complicated. People make them complicated.
  • Don’t go into a serious commitment hoping/expecting something about the other person to change.
  • Prioritize, prioritize. And keep those priorities straight.
  • Life gets hectic, remember to set aside time with, and for, each other.
  • You don’t have to share all the same interests, just love and a mutual respect.
  • You and your partner are on the same team. Don’t ever forget it!

Well that’s all I’ve got so far (at least it’s what I would consider to be the most crucial/relevant pearls of wisdom so far). I am sincerely looking forward to all I will learn in the years to come while on this crazy roller coaster of a journey they call ‘marriage’.

Feel free to share anything else you’d like to add/advise in the comments below!

XO

 

Marriage is a System of Privilege, Part 2: Love

First and foremost, I would like to say… I looooove my husband. Immensely. He is my best friend, the love of my life, the yin to my yang, my emergency contact, and most importantly, my life partner. I am very happy to be married to him.

In reality, however, love is not a requirement for all marriages. While it obviously should be, and hopefully is the ultimate catalyst for all such unions, people can and do marry simply for those benefits, privileges, and protections previously mentioned. But shouldn’t it be all about the love? I think so.

What if marriage was, in fact, a love-centered social institution, instead of one based on heterosexual romance?

A story, as told by Lisa Duggan (her story*):

 

“A few weeks after September 11, 2001, I went with my ex-lover to register as domestic partners with the city of New York. We had never registered our relationship with any state agency during the 17 years that we had actually been partners. But we changed our minds nearly a year after we broke up, on September 11, as we searched for each other in the chaos of that day. I had spoken to her on the phone that morning, but then lost phone service and all contact with her. She was teaching at Brooklyn Law School then, and I at New York University; we lived near each other only minutes from the twin towers. I did not know where she was, or how she would get home. I started to panic that she might have walked across the bridge right when the second tower fell. I imagined her hurt and me unable to find her, or unable to convince a city worker or hospital employee that she was my next of kin still, though no longer my lover… When she finally came through my door late that evening, covered in grey dust and totally exhausted, we both grasped the significance of that term “next of kin” as we never had before. If anything happened to her, the importance of me being recognized as the one most responsible, the one most concerned, arose in my mind then as an absolute emotional and practical imperative.

As soon as the relevant city offices reopened, we made the trip to city hall to register—though given the requirements and assumptions of the domestic partner provisions, we had to lie and claim we lived together as a conjugal couple. We were not surprised that there was a long line of people waiting to register along with us. We were very surprised to find that nearly all were heterosexual couples. We asked the people around us why they were there, and their reasons were very much like ours. They did not want to be married, or they were not romantic couples, but their experiences since September 11 had convinced them that they wanted the basic legal recognitions that domestic partnership registration would provide.”

 

Lisa’s personal narrative underscores her political one: That the abolition of marriage could be “one other path to full equality of gay and non-gay people…in the meantime, it is obviously discriminatory to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. But given the demographic reality—the diversity of our actual relationships and households—might de-centering marriage and multiplying options be not just another, but a better path to meaningful equality?” The way I see it, she has a point. What if we took heteronormative romance out of the equation, leaving only the love, along with a corresponding “life partner” aspect? What if we redefined marriage (or as Duggan suggests, abolished it completely and replaced it with something new) as a legal union that addresses the “diversity of our actual relationships and households”?

For example, my godmother in Spain once half-jokingly proposed that my mom move to Spain and they get married so that my mom could finally retire, not worry about health care and, they could ultimately, ‘be there’ for each other (after all, the two have been best friends for 40+ years and they are both single senior citizens). Think about it: Why shouldn’t they be allowed to enter into a legal union together, affording them the benefits and privileges of a life partnership if they have the mutual love and respect that I believe any such union should require (and, in my opinion, should be the basic foundation for any such union). Why not? Why should they not be entitled to a legally recognized life partnership in which they share all property, health benefits, and anything else they wish, if they so desire?

Why should that kind of deeply committed partnership not be recognized or allowed? Just because it’s not romantic or doesn’t fit into our traditional notion of “marriage”? Well maybe that kind of notion is becoming outmoded; Or, at the very least, it is no longer the only kind of union or partnership that we are seeing these days. Hence, Duggan’s proposed abolishment of marriage in favor of a new, more inclusive, and pragmatic legal system that addresses the needs of the varying types of households and partnerships that we are increasingly seeing these days. Oftentimes our legal system needs to be re-imagined and reworked in order to more appropriately fit what the current state of affairs in our society is, and I believe that this is one of those areas in which the law needs to catch up with the status quo- not the other way around.

Oddly enough, I think Carrie Bradshaw said it best when she simply stated, “It’s just two grown-ups, making a decision about spending their lives together.” ** I love this statement both because of its simplicity, and because of its inclusion of potentially platonic, yet pragmatic partnerships. It speaks to an institution that “potentially separates state recognition of households or partnerships from the business of sexual regulation altogether,” to borrow from Lisa Duggan again. It speaks to an institution founded on love- one that caters to partnerships founded on mutual respect and love- whether that person is the love of your life or your emergency contact. It speaks to a legal system that is simply about “two grown-ups, making a decision about spending their lives together.”

 

 

 

*taken from Lisa Duggan’s “Beyond Marriage: Democracy, Equality, and Kinship for a New Century.” You can read the full article at: http://sfonline.barnard.edu/a-new-queer-agenda/beyond-marriage-democracy-equality-and-kinship-for-a-new-century/

**quote taken from Sex and the City, the movie.

Marriage is a System of Privilege, Part 1: I’m a hypocrite!

Hello all! I know it’s been a long time but I am finally back with a new article that I hope tickles your fancy…

Now you may be asking yourself, “Yeah, that’s right, where the heck has she been..?” and the answer is, unfortunately, that work (you know- the kind that pays the bills) became exponentially explosive as the holidays commenced, and furthermore, immediately following those holidays, I ended up getting married and going on a little mini honeymoon.

You know what that means…. I am officially a self-acknowledged hypocrite.

You see, my stance on marriage for some years now, has been and will continue to be [albeit hypocritically], that marriage is a system of privilege and I am therefore politically [albeit hypocritically] against it. It is a system that serves to privilege one group of people (the “marrieds,” as it were) over others (the “non-marrieds”).

Think about it: What purpose does marriage serve?

*Ahem* tax break(s), health benefits, marital communication privilege, “family benefits” vis a vis children, visitation rights, residency privileges, and let’s not forget, social status, just to name a few of the many benefits, privileges, and protections afforded to married persons.

Many of you, I’m sure, will answer with a response that argues for the romantic aspect of marriage: “it’s about making that special, romantic commitment to the one you love in front of all your family and friends,” or, “it’s about taking that bond and commitment to an even more heightened level,” or perhaps, the purpose lies in one’s religious beliefs and moral doctrine.

Well, those rationales are all fine and good, but none speaks to an actual, concrete, pragmatic purpose with regard to the legal aspect of the binding social contract that is marriage. For example, if you want to get married because you want to solidify your relationship in front of all of your family and friends- you want to have that special ceremony in which you each declare your love for one another in front of all whom you care about- well you can still do that without actually going through with the whole marriage license and certificate bit. In fact, someone very close to me has recently done just that. And I’m sure I was the only person that walked away from that beautiful, emotional, and very fun wedding saying to my [then boyfriend, now husband] “That was a really, truly, wonderful wedding, but I can’t help but wonder… if those two are actually married, ya know? As in, realistically, that whole ceremony, while beautiful, means nothing legally, so it’s just kind of funny, ya know…? They could totally not be legally married for all anyone knows. I’m just saying….I wonder.”

Now I don’t mean to sound like a jerk or anything, but that’s just the way my brain thinks. Honestly, blame the UC Berkeley “question everything” analytic ethic that has been ingrained into my mind if you want, but really, that’s just me.

So, the point to that story is, as it turns out, they were not, and are still not, legally married. But as far as all of society is concerned, they are absolutely married. They are husband and wife, that’s how everyone knows them, they wear the rings, the whole deal. And if one is in the hospital you bet your ass no one is going to deny the other access to him or her because they are husband and wife. (You think anyone’s going to ask to see the marriage certificate? No. And I actually know for a fact that they have not run into this, each of them having been in the hospital for various reasons) Therefore, you can still have the ceremony, the vows, the entire romantic gala in front of all whom you hold dear without submitting to the legal system of privilege that is marriage. Even if it’s for a religious purpose, you can still make that commitment without making it “legal.” Anyone can make that commitment without making it “legal.” Hell, that’s how my partner and I had looked at it for years and why we were never really concerned with, or cared about, getting married. We were married in our heads and hearts. We were determined to get through any and all problems together and had mentally eliminated the idea of breaking up as an option. That’s how we came to buy a house together last summer.

Which is sort of how we came to get married at the tail end of 2012, too.

Yes, yes, of course we love each other and all that, but let’s face it: as stated above, from my perspective, love does not provide a valid rationale to enter into the institution of marriage. Where love is concerned, two emotionally committed people, such as my husband and I, do not need it. It serves no purpose for us. Our bond and commitment is strong either way. We’re good. That’s not to say that we’re above, or better, than anyone else, but as aforementioned, being politically in conflict with the institution myself, my choice was to say, “thanks, but no thanks,” and my partner was okay with that.

Furthermore, it’s purpose is clearly not to protect the sanctity or strength of two people’s “love”. If that was the case divorce probably wouldn’t be allowed, or there would at least be some kind of quick litmus test to make sure the two people entering into this powerful, yet ridiculously easily obtainable contract, were somehow fit to do so*- maybe a quick quiz to make sure they just know one another’s last names or something…? Oh, but that’s right, they have to recite each other’s full names during the vows, so I guess that covers it! Nevermind!

Returning back to my valid rationale for getting married: privilege.

We had bought a house together. And come tax season, the whole home ownership tax situation would be a whole hell of a lot easier if we were married….

Not to mention, no longer being a law student, with my student health insurance about to expire…

Privileges, Benefits, and Protections…

…benefitting one group of people over another.

I implore you to just think about this. Think about it in this way. It doesn’t mean demonizing marriage or those who are married. It just means critically analyzing a certain social institution. <— Go ahead and expand your mind with a little Lisa Duggan action. She calls for an abolishment of marriage… And in it’s place, a new system of legally recognized partnership(s) that is more inclusive and pragmatic. I know, I know, so very liberal, so very leftist, so very radical… But if you’re curious about such ostensibly radical ideas, I suggest you check her out. Who knows, it may not actually seem that radical at all.

*I am not really advocating some kind of standardized test as a pre-qualifier for two people that want to get married, nor am I implying that any two people that end up getting divorced were probably never fit to be together in the first place. Every couple is different, and most importantly, both of those ideas are dumb.