PHIL 2170 Lecture Notes - Claudia Card, Radical Feminism, Bell Hooks

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Published on 15 Nov 2011
School
Dalhousie University
Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 2170
Friday, April 1, 2011
Claudia Card
The title of this essay is deliberately provocative, because I fear that radical feminist
perspectives on marriage and motherhood are in danger of being lost in the quest for
equal rights… And I am skeptical of legal marriage as a way to gain a better life for
lesbian and gay lovers or as a way to provide a supportive environment for lesbian and
gay parents and their children
Suggest the end goal is the problem, maybe we shouldn’t want
marriage/motherhood, at least in the ways it’s being promoted today
Not just changing definitions, but getting rid of the terms altogether
Legal rights don’t grant a better life. Rights may look good, but think about why
we want them. Suggests this is not the best way to get what you want
Bell hooks writers, ‘Childrearing is a responsibility that can be shared with other
childrearers, with people who do not live with children. This form of parenting is
revolutionary…Many people raised n black communities experienced this type of
community-based child care…
Ex. raised by a village
Revolutionary because it goes against the paradigm of motherhood/parenthood
(i.e. one mother, one father)
This form of child rearing may be more common than is generally acknowledges in a
society in which those who caretaking does not take place in a nuclear family are judged
by those with the power to set standards as unfortunate and deprived.
Just because of the hierarchy we think this way
Nuclear family looks attractive because – not a primordial tradition, but a problem
we solved by making a mother look after her kid
I believe that women who identify as lesbian or gay should be reluctant to put our activist
energy into attaining legal equity with heterosexuals in marriage and motherhood…
Marriage/motherhood should be changed
Institutions are so flawed they shouldn’t be recommended for anyone
Yet ‘parenting’ by a wider community is a form of child-care not currently enshrined in
Northern legal systems. It is not the model guiding lesbian and gay activists currently
agitating for equal rights before the law.
For more communal child-care, the language of ‘mothering’ and even ‘parenting’ is
somewhat misleading in that these practices are not particularly ‘mother-centered’…
Child-centered ideal
Working against current trends: 1. Same-sex argument for legal equity in regards
to marriage, 2. Feminists philosophers’ trend to use motherhood as a paradigm of
ethics Card says motherhood is not a universal experience, but childhood is.
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The question whether lesbians and gay men should pursue the right to marry is not
the same as the question whether the law is wrong in its refusal to honor same-sex
marriages.
It is one thing to argue that others are wrong to deny us something and another to
argue that what they would deny us is something we should fight for the right to
have.
…We should be careful not to support continued state definition of the legitimacy of
intimate relationships. I would rather see the state deregulate heterosexual
marriage than see it begin to regulate same-sex marriage.
Wants the state to stop defining legitimate relationships
Problem is not marriage, but the regulation
Yet if marrying became an option that would legitimate behaviour otherwise
illegitimate and make available to us social securities that will no doubt become even
more important to us as we age, we and many others like us might be pushed into
marriage. Marrying under such conditions is not a totally free choice.
Marriage is controlled, constrained by the state (problem)
State defines which relationships get certain benefits, which makes institutional
reasons for marriage distorts the reasons why we get involved in marriage
Problems with marriage:
1.Married couples are granted special rights that anyone would want (and, that
people must get married to get – coercive) Means-end relationship, no longer for
marriage but what you can get out of it. Ex. Marriage-only neighbourhoods
2. The severe consequences of divorce make maintaining a marriage look better
than it is Ex. Why people may stay in damaging relationships
3. Marriage limits us to only one spouse at a time (against the norms of intimacy)
problem with gay/lesbian community. Regulating more partnerships will not solve the
problems of marriage
4. Marriage grants spouses’ unlimited access to each other and their well being
Card finds this dangerous. Why give up everything? Other aspect of the autonomy
problem – a lot of access you’re granting someone (ex. sharing bank accounts, choosing
what happens to organs after death)
The points are, rather, that the institution places obstacles in the way of protecting
spouses (however many) who need it and is conducive to violence in relationships
that go bad.
Prevents from protecting people
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Document Summary

Rights may look good, but think about why we want them. Suggests this is not the best way to get what you want. Bell hooks writers, childrearing is a responsibility that can be shared with other childrearers, with people who do not live with children. This form of parenting is revolutionary many people raised n black communities experienced this type of community-based child care : ex. raised by a village, revolutionary because it goes against the paradigm of motherhood/parenthood (i. e. one mother, one father) Just because of the hierarchy we think this way: nuclear family looks attractive because not a primordial tradition, but a problem we solved by making a mother look after her kid. I believe that women who identify as lesbian or gay should be reluctant to put our activist energy into attaining legal equity with heterosexuals in marriage and motherhood : marriage/motherhood should be changed. Institutions are so flawed they shouldn"t be recommended for anyone.