Marriage is a system of oppression – and yet I am marrying myself

Marriage is a hugely important step for many. For me, this subject is tainted, even if I am going to marry it myself soon.

i am queer As someone who does not conform to heteronormativity, i.e. is not heterosexual, as a queer person you have a choice: either you melt in self-hatred over the fact that according to the definition of some people it is not “normal” but rather “different” or worse ” to be wrong”.

Or one questions the legitimacy of such norms. This includes the norm of patriarchy, according to which the white, straight male is the center of power in society and the woman is “the other”, along with people of color, people with disabilities and queer people – subordinate to the white man. This includes the norm of monogamy, according to which a sexual/romantic relationship can only exist between two people, at best a heterosexual man and a heterosexual woman.

The “Most Important Day of Your Life”

Marriage is considered by some to be of enormous importance

Marriage is considered by some to be of enormous importance

© / Adobe Stock

Marriage is one of the norms more than worthy of questioning. There are people who describe the wedding as the most important day of their lives. As if everything before that was insignificant in comparison, as if there would be nothing after that worth mentioning. In 2021, according to the Federal Statistical Office 357,800 marriages, 142,800 divorced in the same year – what happens to the 285,600 people who have already passed the most important day of their lives and whose marriage has broken up? Who spent an average of 14.5 years with their partner before deciding to divorce? Have you already lived your life, already had your big day? The same applies to those who are still in a marriage. Are Disney classics right? Nothing comes after the “happy ending”?

For queer people there is – how could it be otherwise – another statistic: Since the introduction of “marriage for all” in 2017, 65,600 marriages have been concluded between same-sex people by the end of 2021. This will not include the marriage between me and my love relationship person: he:she is non-binary, i.e. does not belong to any of the binary genders. Not that the state cares, but that’s another topic.

Marriage: A life model of oppression

Actually, marriage is really nothing worth striving for: a life model that still suppresses women in patriarchy in the 21st century, maintains the heteronormative image of the two-person relationship and whose role allocation still goes in one direction quite clearly today – according to which the man is the Earning and the woman is the educator, if you want to or can take the next step and have children. As the “world” puts it, marriage is still the “most effective instrument of social security for women – especially if they have children”.

So that people can still participate in the marriage system despite all the oppression, there are advantages from the state

Because to this day, women earn an hour 18 percent less than menif they then have another child, they are allowed to say goodbye to an average of 80 percent (“Child penalty” is the name of the phenomenon, i.e. “loss of money due to children”). In order for anyone to still participate in this system, marriage promises a number of advantages: When it comes to paternity, everything is – unusual for Germany – fairly unbureaucratic if the parents are married (the man does not even have to be the biological father.) From a tax point of view, it can have great advantages, especially if both earn different amounts (which is often the case for men and women).

When the state approves your love

With a signature is love from the state "approved"

With a signature, love is “sanctioned” by the state

© Alexander Johl / Adobe Stock

There is another “bonus” for queer people: they can adopt a child. With my love relationship person and I, that is the deciding factor. If the state approves our love and makes it “official”, we are allowed to raise a little human. Of course, other factors will determine whether or not we have the right to a child throughout the adoption process. But the cornerstone must be marriage, that was made very clear to us.

Why are we more worthy of a child if we sign a contract?

And so I am extremely ambivalent about marriage. On the one hand, I see it as enormous state interference in individual (not just queer) people’s lives. Why is marriage and family under the “special protection of the state order” and every other form of relationship is subject to it? Why does the state have the prerogative to define the term “family”? Why are my love relationship person and I squeezed into the heteronormative drawer from which we both had to break out with all our might for our salvation? How are we more dignified to take in a child if, let’s call it that, we put a signature on a contract that legally binds two people together? And why is marriage and its hollow symbols so important to me?!

A celebration of love

As I said, I’m ambivalent about marriage. In addition to my critical stance on the subject, I have to admit that I was the one who almost insisted that marriage should be accompanied by an application. But then my lover designed it according to his own ideas and not clichés from film and television. It’s me too, typing these lines and, grinning silly, adjusting the beautifully glittering ring on my finger. And I’m also the one who needed that affirmation, that symbol that says to the world, “That’s right, I love and am loved.” And I’m angry about that, even a little ashamed.

I’m also a victim of society in a way, after all I didn’t grow up in a bubble: I grew up watching Disney movies which often had the wedding as the climax, I’m touched by proposals that take place in my favorite series and yes , I want to make something very special out of the day we celebrate our wedding with family and friends.

But on this day oppression should not be celebrated, neither heteronormativity nor outmoded traditions. On this day we celebrate love – to each other, to our family, to our friends. And if it has to be marriage that will allow us to bring a child into our family—a family far larger than just the two of us and our blood relationships—then I’m willing. Only I will do this with a laughing and a crying eye.

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