Marriage: For Or Against Traditional Marriage Models - Essay Example

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Historically feminists have criticised marriage characterising it as patriarchal in nature and facilitating the “social oppression” of women. Even today although to a lesser extent, the institution of marriage continues to represent male dominance and female subjugation in a patriarchal society…
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Marriage: For Or Against Traditional Marriage Models
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Download file to see previous pages thod by which to transform traditional patriarchal marriage models to a more egalitarian marital structure.4 Same sex partnerships and marriages also challenge the traditional perspective that marriage is primarily a welfare and economic solution. Queer theorists in particular draw attention to sexuality as a distinct class of subjugated citizens and promote the shifting of identities and transformation of all conventional “categorizations and analyzes”.5 Thus conventional concepts of marriage and the social and economic value of marriage are challenged in favour of models built around values of love and commitment between gender neutral environments as manifested by same-sex marriages and partnerships. The potential for the transformation of marriage is evidenced by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which treats unmarried couples as married, but differs in that it is gender neutral and thus removes the gender distinctions that typically oppress women in marriage institutions.6 This paper analyzes the traditional concept of marriage and its institutionalization of patriarchal values and concepts of gender roles, the current culture toward transforming this patriarchal institution of marriage and how the Civil Partnership Act 2004 is a manifestation of how same-sex marriages and partnerships can restructure and transform marriage toward an egalitarian model. Traditional Marriage Models Dominant Western cultures define marriage legally, socially and religiously as an inherently heterosexual institution as it is defined as the union between one man and one woman.7 However, feminists and women’s movements beginning in the 1960s drew attention to how marriage has been shaped by gender roles. Essentially feminists drew attention to the “gender-based imbalances of power” within the heterosexual marriage.8 Marriage was thus perceived as a social method of institutionalizing patriarchal values. Those patriarchal values positioned men as privileged and women as supportive and insubordinate to men. Thus marriage was perceived as a social institution perpetuating “patriarchy structures social practices” and represented those structures as “natural and universal”.9 Marriage not only reinforced patriarchal values, but organized them.10 The main problem with the institutionalization of gender roles in marriage is that it informs social and cultural norms that manifest gender inequalities.11 Historically and “traditionally husbands have exercised greater control in marriage” and this power is intricately connected to “income” and “status” that men have as the “breadwinner” and thus head of the household.12 While exchange theories would suggest that power follows economic status in marriages, Tichenor argues that power does not change in a marriage where the wife’s economic status and occupation is greater than that of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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