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Lecture

Claudia Card

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 2170
Professor
Samantha Copeland
Semester
Winter

Description
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. 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 But when we [same-sex couples] stay together, that is usually because of how we feel about each other and about our life together. Consider how this basic taken-for- granted fact might change if we could marry with the State’s blessings. The attachment of such benefits to marital status is a problem in two respects. First, because the benefits are substantial, not trivial, they offer an ulterior motive for turning a lover relationship into a marriage—even for pretendin
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