Marianne had her first theory class tonight and since she is currently reading her homework assignment, I decided to jump back into a little of my favorite feminist theory alongside her. I started with what I know and love – Michel Foucault and Judith Butler.
(Just an FYI, I once read the entirety of Butler’s Undoing Gender during a summer vacation, so yes, I’m kind of a theory nerd).
As I was tooling around the internet looking for stuff by/for/about them (because all of my books are in storage), I came across a piece from Butler’s Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence:
Law itself is either suspended, or regarded as an instrument that the state may use in the service of constraining and monitoring a given population; the state is not subject to the rule of law, but law can be suspended or deployed tactically and partially to suit the requirements of a state that seeks more and more to allocate sovereign power to its executive and administrative powers. The law is suspended in the name of “sovereignty” of the nation, where “sovereignty” denotes the task of any state to preserve and protect its own territoriality.
Basically perfect for where Marianne and I are on our journey toward relationship legality. At every turn it seems the state does something to keep us as lesbians ( or any homeosexual) in check – to get a name change we need a whole host of legal documents – yet the state does not demand any of that from certain other citizens – say a woman who marries a man. What makes the straight woman any less of a threat than us? She could just as easily be running from the law or assuming a new identity for any number of nefarious purposes as we could.
The second part of Butler’s quote is applicable as well, gay marriage accross America could be allowed tomorrow but it currently doesn’t suit the best interest of the state, America, for a number of resons – economically, politically, morally.
The biggest point of Butler’s peice is this I think – rules are arbitrary and only used when they serve the best interest of the state. Individuals don’t matter and until the state sees a useful purpose for allowing gays the right to marry, it seems we’re kind of stuck.
Practically, this means M and I are stuck waiting another six months to begin the name change process. Seems “the state” requires us to live here for at least that long. Boo hiss.