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Julie Bindel in the Guardian. Marriage can never be feminist.

(124 Posts)
MardyBra Wed 25-May-16 18:20:48

What a load of tosh. Just because traditionally a woman had to be a virgin/get given away/take her husband's name/could be raped legally in marriage, doesn't mean that these things apply now.

She might get married in white because she likes that fashion, get given away because she wants her beloved father to hold her arm. She doesn't have to change her name at all. And rape is marriage is now illegal in this country.

In fact, doesn't marriage offer women protection to family assets in the event of a split in a way that cohabiting doesn't.

And anyway, I don't know anyone who got married to "reclaim" it or as a subversive act.

dudsville Wed 25-May-16 18:30:23

I know lots of people on MN are pro marriage for the protection they say it gives them. I'm on the side of the video in that I could never participate in a wedding that has so many rituals dating back to a time that does me a disservice and I am fortunate to not require marriage for the protection people post about here. I agree with you OP, I do not know anyone taking marriage (or weddings) with a wry smile, a subversive act.

VestalVirgin Wed 25-May-16 18:45:24

Huh? Of course marriage cannot be feminist. At best, it is neutral. That's rather self-evident.

Yes, marriage does offer some legal protection to women in patriarchy. But it is only feminist in the way one-use cups and plates from biodegradable material are good for the environment - better than the conventional alternative, but still part of, and grown out of the problematic culture.

I really don't think that's controversial. Well. Going to read that article, perhaps she has some interesting new thoughts on the topic.

And rape is marriage is now illegal in this country.

I wouldn't rely on that too much. Yes, it is technically illegal, but I don't think there are many women who managed to have a rapist they cohabitated with convicted, married or not.

MardyBra Wed 25-May-16 18:47:46

"At best, it is neutral."

Yes, I'd buy that argument, but the whole thrust of her argument is that it's incompatible with feminism. Definitely historically, but not necessarily now. IMHO.

VestalVirgin Wed 25-May-16 18:54:25

Have you watched the video until the end?

That's not what she says. She just says that you can be a feminist and get married - just like she can be a feminist and listen to sexist rap music - but that does not make it a feminist act.

I don't see how that's controversial. Marriage has been, and still is, a tool for women's oppression. Feminists can get married, of course - feminism isn't a club where you can only be a member under certain conditions.
It just isn't a feminist act.

almondpudding Wed 25-May-16 19:00:57

There are many good points in there.

But marriage does offer some protection for women with kids.

MyCrispBag Wed 25-May-16 19:48:08

Can I just share some love for y'all?

I just left a well known "Russel Group" Uni feminist discussion group on Facebook because the comments on this video were... fucking depressing.

Two people actually stated they were sick of feminists. In a feminist discussion group. Populated by supposedly educated women. I fucking despair I really do.

BuggertheTabloids Wed 25-May-16 19:59:23

Vestal I don't know why you say marriage is a tool for women's oppression. I do not feel remotely oppressed, I feel valued, loved and supported. I have certainly felt oppressed in previous relationships where I wasn't married.
Marriage does not oppress a woman, but some men oppress women whether married or not.

SenecaFalls Wed 25-May-16 20:02:21

It just isn't a feminist act. I agree.

As for name-changing, no she doesn't have to. But the social pressure to do so is very strong; numerous MN threads attest to this. As for marital rape being a crime, do you know the statistics for reporting and prosecution? Very low indeed. The vast majority of men who sexually abuse their wives do so with impunity.

SomeDyke Wed 25-May-16 20:04:32

Marriage here is, I think, code for 'institutionalized heterosexuality'. Oddly enough, I came across this when we converted our civil partnership to a marriage -- then loads of people asked us if we were changing our names, when they hadn't when we got civil-partnered. Although people got confused when I asked them 'What to'? Because without a male and a female in the marriage, who gets to lose their name? What did they expect us to do, swap? They didn't know which one of us was, in effect, wearing the trousers (well, both of us actually!). The usual assumptions just didn't work. And which ones of us was supposed to be given away, and to whom? Well, neither of us was!

Lesbian and gay marriages illustrate how unequal straight marriages are as an institution. Perhaps what we need is that all straight couples should aim for civil partnerships instead, and leave marriage and fancy frocks to the gay men who might appreciate them more.......

DoinItFine Wed 25-May-16 20:06:55

Vestal I don't know why you say marriage is a tool for women's oppression. I do not feel remotely oppressed, I feel valued, loved and supported.

Oh, well as long as it works for you, there's no way it could be a tool for the oppression of women as a class.

Or wait... could it be that it could be a tool of oppression AND that individual married women might not feel, or even be, oppressed by it?

VikingLady Wed 25-May-16 20:11:17

I consider myself a feminist, though I let some things slide for an easier life for me and my kids (make up for me, dressing my DD "cute" so she's given more latitude for SEN-related behaviour etc).

I married to ensure greater security for my future children, financially and emotionally. I felt marriage would help DH feel our kids were his too, and cement the idea of a family unit.

We both went double barrelled, the order decided by which way around sounded better. No bridesmaid dresses, no white dress or veil, no giving away, no church. We did the bride walking down the aisle thing because the venue arranged it that way against my wishes.

I don't see it as un-feminist.

SenecaFalls Wed 25-May-16 20:15:28

And certainly marriage as constituted in many religions is oppressive to women, individually, and as a class.

FloraFox Wed 25-May-16 20:21:11

I can't see a single controversial thing that Julie Bindel has said in that article and I say that as a long married woman who changed her name. JB says some women she knows are "reclaiming" marriage as a feminist act. Do you think she is lying? It can't be reclaimed or subverted any more than stripping or prostitution.

And she's clearly talking about the institution of marriage. She's not saying every women is oppressed in her marriage.

lulucappuccino Wed 25-May-16 20:22:32

I agree with her completely.

Marriage is not feminist at all.

BuggertheTabloids Wed 25-May-16 20:34:11

But doinitfine what I am trying to say is that any relationship between a man and a woman can be oppressive to a woman. It doesn't have to be a married relationship. It is the attitude of men in general then that needs to change - many have, at least in this country. Worldwide I agree, not so much....

Felascloak Wed 25-May-16 20:35:09

People would get annoyed if Julie Bindel said the earth revolved around the sun.

Hi crisp!

VestalVirgin Wed 25-May-16 20:43:23

People would get annoyed if Julie Bindel said the earth revolved around the sun.

Just because they like the fine old tradition of being annoyed when someone says that the earth revolved around the sun. grin

But doinitfine what I am trying to say is that any relationship between a man and a woman can be oppressive to a woman. It doesn't have to be a married relationship.

In the end, marriage is just that: A heterosexual relationship. Made official by law.

But there are other aspects. If you focus on married women, you are missing the point.

In Germany, marriage oppresses me, personally, as it gives married couples tax benefits. I could live on the money that a high earning husband + housewife saves in a year. Literally. It is as much money as I earn in a year that a man can save in taxes.
And it is paid by the taxes I, a low-income single woman pay. (And also by the taxes single mothers pay. They don't get that tax exemption!)

Yeah, less dramatic than child marriage. Still oppression.

DoinItFine Wed 25-May-16 20:50:45

I disagree with Binder on this, BTW.

I don't think it's about reclamation.

I think for many women getting married protects them financially and as a feminist I often recommend that women marry.

Childbearing makes women financially vulnerable and marriage can force the father of their children to lessen that impact.

So in a patriarchal world, I think insisting on marriage before having children is often a feminist act.

Leaving yourself and your children vulnerable to being left poor by a rich man doesn't strike me as a smart or feminist choice.

I'm not irritated by the argument. Or the Bindel. Nor do I think my own happy marriage has any bearing on the matter.

BuggertheTabloids Wed 25-May-16 20:52:11

Vestal I agree that does sound unfair on you.
I don't think there should be tax breaks to get married, it should be a personal decision not one based on finances.

Gwenhwyfar Wed 25-May-16 20:53:08

As far as I can see, the video was only put up today and comments have already closed. Very annoying.

BuggertheTabloids Wed 25-May-16 20:56:33

Though I agree with doinitfine' last comments on getting married before having children.

DoinItFine Wed 25-May-16 21:02:09

I think it is reasonable that a couple should be allowed to pool their tax free allowance to make it easier for them to share earning and caring duties.

It is a way to financially reward the type of labour that is not normally remunerated and that is usually done by women.

Fatrascals Wed 25-May-16 21:08:08

So are getting married and being a feminist mutually exclusive?
I am married and I'm a feminist.
My wedding was not a subversive act. It was just a wedding.
It was my choice.

WomanWithAltitude Wed 25-May-16 21:13:18

I agree that marriage is not a feminist institution. At best, it could be neutral in a more equal world, but in our current world it isn't. The various traditions associated with marriage and weddings mainly stem from the fact that, historically, it was about property transfer (the woman was transferred from her father to her husband, as chattel, and often had little choice in the matter). Those traditions aren't cute or romantic to me - they are symbols of oppression.

I am a married woman, but quite happy to acknowledge that without seeing it as a personal criticism of my relationship with my husband.

When we got married it was me that got hassled about not changing my name, not him. That tells you how far we've come - not far enough!

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