Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Musings on marriage

I don't understand the heteronormative pressure to get married that seems to be driving a great many of my old school friends and acquaintances. I can't help but wonder how people I used to associate with every day could have wound up with such different attitudes to me. In order to understand the pressure they have grown up with, and have succumbed to, I have to remember that they always predominantly identified as heterosexual, and never rebelled against their traditional Asian upbringing too much. Even then, I have to wonder - why didn't they decide to be different anyway? "Why be happy when you could be normal," asks Jeanette Winterson, and the question is succinct to the point of brilliance.

Sure, I was out (and about) since I was 15, doing such "audacious" things as rejecting the expectation of marriage. "It's just a piece of paper," I would defiantly decry the institution. "I hope I never reach the point where I need to validate my relationship like that." Much later, Gloria Steinem sums up my sentiments with "I don't breed well in captivity." Not that Gloria is alone - there are a wide range of women (and men) who've proudly denounced marriage, preferring to make their own blueprint for love and life.

It could be because I've often identified as the eccentric (in fact, my former psychiatrist saw me as fitting the official description of such). It could be that - yes - I got married eight years ago for immigration purposes, or what would have been immigration purposes if I hadn't had enough of the American life and divorced the guy a few years later. It could be that I currently identify as gay for all practical intents and purposes. It could be that my parents have learned by now that, in the end, I always do exactly what I want, so there's not much use trying to persuade me to shun my nonconformist ways.

Whatever it is, I think marriage is a social construction I can be perfectly happy without. And it kind of amazes me that people haven't caught up to my ultra-progressive views yet. Stubbornly enough, I hope they will. In the meanwhile, suffering prevails in mainstream culture.

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