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Meister- 1 Philippe Meister ENG 497 Rhetoric & Writing Seminar Dr.

Darci Thoune Independent Project Same-Sex Couples and the Currents of Marriage Through the power relations Foucault describes in The History of Sexuality, and the theory of performativity Butler asserts in Critically Queer this paper will analyze the social power conditioned by the legalization of same-sex marriage to explore the possible effects on gender norms. The main ideas carried throughout the essay will begin with Foucaults analysis if the family and his theory of power-knowledge. His ideas will be used to show how the individual family unit is a center of social power and he will be used to support my claim that a variety of conversations constitute a culturally significant discourse on marriage. Second, this paper will refer to Butlers theory of performativity in Critically Queer to explore how a changing discourse on marriage may channel social power. She says the following about gender formation, This failure to approximate the norm, however, is not the same as the subversion of the norm. There is no promise that subversion will follow from the reiteration of constitutive norms; there is no guarantee that exposing the naturalized status of heterosexuality will lead to its subversion. Heterosexuality can augment its hegemony through its denaturalization, as when we see denaturalizing parodies which idealize heterosexual norms without calling them into question ( Butler, 23). Butlers ideas will be used to show how a change in social practices may create create a mobilizing site for gender formation and her ideas will be used to analyze whether these mobilization will be re-enforce current structures of subvert them. The History of Sexuality can be read as creating the trace of sexuality. Foucault begins to describe what the family is not in the victorian age, he says, at the beginning of the seventeenth century a certain frankness was still common, it would seem. Sexual practices had little need of secrecy; words were said without undue reticence, and things were done without too much concealment (3). Modernity is typically characterized by the social relations that

Meister- 2 become normalized with the rise of capitalism and the intellectual movements associated with a post-industrial life from about 1600-1800. Foucault theorizes that in the age of modernity two discourses converge to form our conceptions of sexuality. The first is the discourse on relationships of alliance; the second is the discourse on relationships of sexuality. These two discourses both constitute bodies of knowledge-power. The two discourses describe two different bodies of knowledge but they also overlap and influence one another. According to Foucaults theories, the system of sexuality is superimposed on top of relationships of alliance because the system of sexuality is able-ized through the established patterns in relationships of alliance. Foucault's usage of sexuality is non-normative because it draws its definition from power relations. Foucault uses power to describe how humans have created, and subsequently intertwined ourselves within specific power relationships with every other being in our world. One of these relationships we have created is sexuality. What Foucault refers to as sexuality can be contrasted to the term social sexuality to highlight the holistic way in which he uses the word sexuality. Foucault uses the term evocatively to introduce the power foundations through which the term is constituted. He says, Relations of power are not in a position of exteriority with respect to other types of relationships (economic processes, knowledge relationships, sexual relations), but are immanent in the latter; they are the immediate effects of the divisions, inequalities, and disequilibriums which occur in the latter, and conversely they are the internal conditions of these differentiations; relations of power are not in superstructural positions, with merely a role of prohibition or accompaniment; they have a directly productive role, wherever they come into play (94). Foucault is not saying that the economy, pedagogy, medicine, and justice system are social sexual discourses. He does, however, describe our being as essentially consisting of a continuity of relationships that may be implicated in our conceptions of sexuality. His theories of power and sexuality are formed from a viewpoint that believes that every single intelligible relation is a

Meister- 3 product of force relations present in every particular being. He maintains the belief that no universal entity exists, and that each occurrence or particular does exist, then our lives consist of a consistent engagement in power relationships between our bodies, minds, and everything we sense. Foucault says, Power is everywhere; not because it embraces everything, but because it comes from everywhere. And Power, insofar as it is permanent, repetitious, inert, and selfreproducing, is simply the over-all effect that emerges (93). Foucaults explains sexuality through relationships of alliance and relationships of sexuality. Relationships of alliance are family groups that provide for themselves consumptive resources distributed throughout capitalist societies. Relationship of alliance are a social technology that was formed in response to laws of nature in order to organize how the individual productive/consumptive familial unit is able to accesses consumable goods. In the past, families were expected to produce children as well as products; but modern families are expected to produce children and consume economic goods. The family is a consumptive, self replicating unit of society. But within the family is the interchange of sexuality and alliance: it conveys the law and the juridical dimension in the deployment of sexuality; and it conveys the economy of pleasure and the intensity of sensations in the regime of alliance (108). With the legitimization of same-sex marriage in our culture, same sex marriages will be termed marriages, but they may not fulfill the traditionally established reproductive roles of marriage. This change may significantly change the structural composition of marriage which is based on relationships of alliance. The family as the most fundamental social unit in our capitalist system and it is relied upon to rejuvenate the economy and represent political ideals. The family takes on multiple legal significances, multiple appearances, as well as multiple personal meanings. But with same-sex marriage, no longer will the nuclear family be the only narrative of marriage, and no longer will our exposure to legitimate relationships be publicly limited to the traditional family unit. Gender is being viewed as a social and psychological construction, therefore we must

Meister- 4 take into account the totality of our current experience when talking about gender. Gender cannot be understood without the effects and interactions one experiences through personality, orientation, education, wealth, race, environment, and culture. When taking into account the history of the development of sexuality, and the theory of performativity, many factors become significant in gender formation; the distinction between the public and the private, the distribution of power-knowledge, and the dominance of capitalism all produce forces on the body; all these must be accounted for when talking about the ways in which we constitute gender. The politics of same sex marriage is only one element in our daily experience, but it is significant because it intimately affects cultural practices of the family. The family is central to our relationships of alliance and the traditional marital family constituted the ideal off of which our social structures reinforce social and economic process based on heterosexual norms. To understand how same-sex marriage may affect our gender formation, it is necessary to identify either changes in cultural practice or changes in our cultural knowledge. There are hints of socially powerful conversations in a few different aspects of our culture. I will discuss the conversations around the following; the function of a church sanctioned marriage, personal conceptions of sexuality and attraction, sexuality in media, marriage in governing and legislation. The conversations within these areas are being instigated by same-sex marriage legislation and these conversations will affect the totality of gender forming influences. These conversations may constitute sites of social mobility because the compilation of these tidbits of conversation all constitute one major event: a cultural discourse on marriage. As Foucault says, We must not imagine a world of discourse divided between accepted discourse and excluded discourse, or between the dominant discourse and the dominated one; but as a multiplicity of discursive elements that can come into play in various strategies (100). The legitimization of same sex marriage has transformed converstaions on sexulaty into conversations inplicating much more social significance. First, a study done in Massachusetts after same-sex marriage had been legalized

Meister- 5 reported that only 6% of their sample reported that legally recognized same-sex marriages would not impact their understanding of romantic relationships (Lanutti). Further, the same study found two significant trends in their discussions of same-sex marriage; the first being making relationships more real and the second revealing desires (Lanutti). The discussions that pertain to revealing desires are not focused on questioning sexuality, but rather many participants engaged in discussion regarding the acceptance and value of marriage (Lanutti). The impact of the change in the social knowledge of romantic relationships and legally recognized relationships will contribute to an increasing understanding of homosexual practice by the dominant culture. The second significant trend are conversations surrounding the church. Foucault would name the church as a powerful institution in our lives because of its visibility and power to isolate individuals. Same-sex marriage has excited discourse that questions the cultural capital of the church. For example, The Huffington Post publicizes articles that highlight government triumph over the churchs established hierarchies, one heading reads The openly gay state representative led the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in what may be the most Catholic state in the nation's most Catholic region (Peoples). The article continues to suppose that Perhaps more problematic for the church is that state-by-state setbacks on gay marriage illustrate a widening divide between the church hierarchy and its members that may be undermining Catholic influence in American politics (Peoples). These articles reveal that same sex marriage is not only causing conversations, but its effects are already politically and socially observable and they are being published. Publishing websites with a heavily politicized agenda show signs of a developing cultural discourse on marriage. For example, there is an increase in conversation within conservative christian communities that reveals more anxiety than power within value their own value structures. Christian conservatives are engaging in conversations about the changes to marriage that will take place rather than asserting the sanctity of the institution. The rhetorical impact of

Meister- 6 these types of conversations, especially in media, on the general public may actually help deconstruct the institution of marriage because of its increasingly apparent malleable nature. Third, same-sex marriage legislation extends into other areas of politics such as workplace regulations. The New York Times writes, And in a sign that the political momentum from that ruling is being felt elsewhere, a Senate committee is expected to approve a bill on Wednesday that would grant protection from discrimination to people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. It would be the first measure of its kind to advance to the floor in either house of Congress (Peters). The workplace is an important area for same-sex legislation to extend becuse in todays society our work is the way spend the majority of our time. It is how we produce and it is how we earn the ability to consume. If our workplace environments are more accepting, than the lives through which we spend our productive time can better match our private lives. The separation between public and private space becomes less strict, and homosexual lifestyles become more legitimized and more culturally visible. Some people hold the opinion that same-sex marriage is a conservative cause (Yasmin Nair and others). These are legitimate arguments, and they are most persuasive in fiscal arguments. But the social knowledge that will be generated through the institutional change of same-sex marriage is invaluable to our culture. If we were to skip same-sex marriage and campaign for other changes such as universal healthcare, our politics may change but social knowledge may not change as significantly because there will be no significant focus of periphery interests compounded onto the heteronormative familial relationship. The discourse around obamacare is not producing as much cultural discourse as gay marriage is. No doubt universal healthcare would improve the lives of almost all Americans, and great social change would come with it, especially for queers. But what types of social bonds would remain? It may appear to some people that same-sex marriage was conceded by progressives, but because of the power heaped onto the family, the social knowledge created through the same-sex marriage process may be the golden nugget that propels Americans into a more socially enlightened state.

Meister- 7 The most probable and significant change in our popular culture from same sex marriage is a greater understanding of gender. Butler may give us a foundation off of which we can theorize potential changes in institution of heteronormativity through her ideas of citationality and performativity. In reference to heterosexual gender norms and the use of language to ascribe to these norms, she says, Are these two different senses of performativity, or do they converge as modes of citationality in which the compulsory character of certain social imperatives becomes subject to a more promising deregulation? Gender norms operate by requiring the embodiment of certain ideals of femininity and masculinity, ones which are almost always related to the idealization of the heterosexual bond (23). Same sex marriage may subvert our gender norms because of the foundational change in the conception of a matrimonial union. Instead of the traditional familial unit, we will see a growth in conversations trying to describe the types of marriage in gendered terminology. For example; Will lesbian marriages may be seen as totally feminine because there are two biological females? Or, will people conceptualize them as conventional, ascribing a masculine role to one and a feminine role to the other? Will the relationship as a whole be gendered? Will the people themselves be gendered? These conversations around same-sex marriage may be hurtful and politically charged, and they may increase or complicate the policing we see around gender and sexuality; but they are bound to create problems that will need to be resolved in our cultural conceptions of partnerships, gender, and sexuality. Same-sex marriage may increase our social knowledge of gender because it will multiply the number of platforms we can cite to define our gender and sexuality. There will now be three visually apparent options for young people; a pair of biological females, a pair of biological males, and a pair of one female and one male. This is a fundamental change because these are all the available combinations of people based on our sex categorization; and there is no regulation of gender within marriage law. The de-regulation of biological sex will open visual channels for

Meister- 8 other relationships that dont fit traditional norms to be viewed with more legitimacy. Same-sex marriage, by functioning within the discursive field of marriage, but by expanding the accepted discourse through foundational biological pairs, will expand the discursive elements that are available in our associations to marriage. Butler makes a joke in her essay by replacing the common declaration of Its a girl! at birth with Its a lesbian! (23). She continues to describe her joke, explaining how the queer appropriation of the performative mimes and exposes both the binding power of the heterosexualizing law and its appropriability (23). Butlers joke may be more realistic than expected. With same sex marriage, how will our childhoods change? Citationality and performativity are two theories that may be quickly summarized as the cognition of highly invested terms, which among other things includes sexes, genders, and social structures. Samesex couples constitute a change in the very terms children are able to see and cite in their own identity formation. Butler describes heteronormativity as being central to our gender formation, but the amount of cultural weight we place on straight marriage may change because gender forming citations may now be based off of multiple combinations of public partnerships regardless of sex. If she is correct in saying that gender undecidability is to be traced as the play between psyche and appearance (where the latter domain includes what appears in words). Further, this will be a play regulated by heterosexist constraints through not, for that reason, fully reducible to them (24). The deregulation of sex in marriages will serve an important function in our identity and gender formation because of the visible benchmark relationships that will form. Looking past the construction of gender and focusing on conflicts between practices, Butler explains that homophobia often operates by attributing a damaged gender formation to the homosexual to explain their engagement in particular sexual acts; and that this mental activity is important in creating the heteronormative system that controls sexuality through gender. But the change in marriage regulations doesnt support this homophobic logic. Nobody

Meister- 9 knows how homosexuaity and heterosexuality will interact under the institution of marriage. And we dont know how the instituion of marriage will change. It is bound to be a cultural event full of rich meaning. Butler says, Sexual practices, however, will invariably be experienced differentially depending on the relations of gender in which they occur. And there may be forms of gender within homosexuality which call for a theorization that moves beyond the categories of masculine and feminine (Butler, 27). It seems likely that the theorization beyond the categories of masculine and feminine within same-sex marriages will increase our cultural sensitivity to gender and affect the conceptualiztion of gender within hetersexual couples. The interplay between gender and sex in marriage will be scrutinized and may lead to interesting connections. Along these meaningful interactions, some of the most significant interactions may be the questioning of heterosexual practices. As homosexual practices become legitimized, heterosexual social statistics like divorce rates, reproductive technologies, distributing children to fit parents, and the wealth of parents may come into question. It is unlikely that same-sex marriages that follow the straight narrative will not have an affect on heteronormative culture. And, its possible that an even more significant result of these interactions will be produced in the ways in which heteronormative culture attempts to augment itself to accommodate same sex couples who wish to participate in straight marriages. These augmentations of heteronormative practices may create social systems that lend themselves well to producing queer politics. One example of the heteronormative practices that are questioned may be the practices around reproductive technologies. The logic behind reproductive technology just doesnt seem to be simple. Birth control, abortions, condoms, but at the same time hospitals, doctors, nutrition plans and regulations for childbearing females; the amount of technology we create for reproduction is great and it focuses in two specific actions: the first action is child prevention, and the second action is child production. The system of sexuality is so powerfully heteronormative that we cater to this orientation option for recreational sex. Society who has

Meister- 10 created technologies that allow us to have sexuality, and has created technology for a recreational sexuality, but hasnt developed more simple recreational sex practices. Although I highly doubt that our culture will question recreational heteronormative sex as a result of same-sex marriage. A questioning of a topic like reproductive technologies may spawn inquiry into other practices. For example, straight notions of gender. It is easy to imagine the theoretical exploration into homosexual gender that Butler mentions above helping heterosexual notions of gender because our gender sensitivity will increase through our conscious analysis of same-sex gender relations. Further along this gender exploration, sexuality and gender have been theorized as something that is unstable, yet stable; unstable because we see variation in gendered individuals, but stable it that once someone is gendered, we believe them to remain gendered in the similar fashion. So although a straight man is a man, this mans cultural gender position is in constant flux according to his current relations. We may say that this man is courageous when he is caught in a storm at sea, in this instance the man has no choice but to be masculine and fight for his life against the sea. We may say that this man is being masculine in working 50 hours a week at his low paying job to support his newborn child. We may say that this man is feminized, or emasculated, because he lives in rural america, and rather than work the land himself, he chooses to work for the factory. We may say this man is feminine, because he was told he cannot work over-time anymore, he will only be paid for 40 hours a week, and although he needs the money, he submits to the companys designation. How do we classify this mans masculinity? Part of our conception of gender necessitates the othering and gendering of the environment around us. In the social world, we are put into relations with other humans, and with social powers that affect our gendered being. Economic strucutures are a good example of social power systems that may be studied for their gendering effects if our cultural discourse on gender becomes more sophisticated. Heteronormative culture contains many confusing combinations of sex, gender, and sexuality that become disordered when one is questioned. Under the title of marriage, the

Meister- 11 confluence of same-sex relationship practices and social institutions of heterosexual relationships will create spaces in our social currents. These spaces are revealing themselves in same-sex marriage legislation, in the extension of this legislation into the workplace, into the discourse on marriage, and into individuals conceptions of relationships and romance. These spaces are not just abstract areas of non-normative sex practices. These spaces become the gay couples house down the street, they are your lesbian aunts, they are your transgender sister. Legal same-sex marriage allows these spaces to buy the property they had formerly been squatting on and for that reason I think it will influence our pop culture. Because, at the end of the day, who is more influential than those who own property?

Meister- 12 Works Cited Butler, Judith. Critically Queer In class material. Web. 18 Nov, 2013. Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Paris: Editions Gallimard, 1976. Print. LaFrance, Denise. The Schocking Effect of Marriage on Same-Sex Couples. YourTango. Tango Media Corporation, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. http://www.yourtango.com/experts/deniselafrance-cta-cc/surprising-effect-gay-marriage-some-long-term-couples Lannutti, Pamela. The Invluence of Same-Sex Marriage on the Understanding of Same-Sex Relationships Journal of Homosexuality. 53.3 (2008): 135-151. Online. Peoples, Steve. Catholic Churchs Invluence on Gay Marriage Wanaing. Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 1 June, 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/01/catholic-influence-gay-marriage_n_3371052.html Peters, Jeremy.Effects of Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Start Rippling Out Through Government. The New York Times. The New York Times Company, 9 July, 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/10/us/politics/effects-of-same-sex-marriage-rulingstart-to-be-felt.html?_r=0