CONJUNCTION JUNCTION: WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION?
A Modern Day Rubinesque Example:
Kim Gritzke AND Tim Clune Get Married
Yes, the historical derivation of gender exists. We all have been molded to live it. Then you get married and things become more surreal than you ever expect.
Gayle Rubin’s The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex made me better understand Jacques Derrida. She mentioned him but briefly, yet I saw the cultural baggage we unintentionally carry in conjunction with examination of the role women occupy in society. This was profound for me. I was suddenly struck by how I’ve lived both theories without knowing. I teased this stuff out, finding meaning outside the text… or, in this case, ritual.
FEMALE EXCHANGE RATE
My father walked me down the aisle, “giving me away.” I didn’t think it was so applicable. I was LONG gone years before I ever got married. I consciously turned this event into my own liberation rather than exchange, and thus could accept the idea. I was walking away from my father – although that assumes he had me to begin with. When I look closely at how things panned out, nobody else was outwardly jumping on board my liberation train.
Linking Rubin’s idea to Louis Althussar’s, I learned that although I “thought” I was making a statement of individuality as a woman, declaring my own meaning for the father/daughter ritual, I was simply perpetuating the Ideological State Apparatus by including it in my ceremony to begin with.
IDENTITY – AS PROPERTY
The idea of “name change” illustrates Rubin’s theory that, although the gender roles no longer serve the purpose they once did, we still keep them firmly in place without examination or challange. From my grandparents’ generation to present, patterns of social/tribal/genealogical alignment are difficult to reform, lacking any value of individual recognition.
I symbolically took my husband’s last name, not as a sign of his ownership over me, but to consiously break with my crappy past and redefine who I am on my own terms. Tim was all for me keeping my maiden name… In fact, he tried to talk me into it. But, hey, what the hell do you do with Gritzke anyway? So, there’s my spiel.
Still, wedding cards and gifts came addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Clune. My name ends with “im” but it starts with a big fat K, thank you very much. Unifying our last names to form our family unit is fine. Being assimilated into my husband’s identity? That’s not okay with either of us. Really.
Then there’s the family perception. My family wreaked of odoriferous abandonment, somehow embracing the thought that I had left the nest. Tim’s family immediately assumed ownership over me. His sisters adopted me into their recipe circle, his father and brothers welcomed me into the family with only mild recognition that I had my own. When my side was mentioned, it was also joining theirs, not the other way around. His brothers, as best men, toasted my grand entrance into their tribe with, “Let me introduce the other side to what is so special about our side of the family.” Hurm.
SIGN OF THE WOMAN
As Ferdinand de Saussure says, the value of a sign (woman/wife) is accepted by society, not an individual. I was struck with the implications of something so ritualized as a wedding. We lose sight of what the acts mean. We see them so often that we forget to question. You can try to make things mean what you like, changing the”sign” to suit yourself, but society/family asserts their definition anyway and you must defend and redefine yourself repeatedly. Derrida is right. Intended meaning brings along baggage of social construct, often without any awareness of it’s insertion.
The effect of marriage on your identity is not for the feint of heart. It is a topic rarely talked about. People always ask, “When are?you getting married? Where? What kind of dress?” They focus more on the event than the impact, never asking, “How do you feel about this? What does it mean about who you are? What does being a wife entail?” The older generation of women is particularly eager to give you some odd advice about having dinner ready and doing laundry. I warn you now… Hold true to yourself. Think about what it is YOU want from marriage.
Okay, and now I come to the whole reproduction issue. Tim and I aren’t going to have kids. This realization came much to the dismay of several family members. When we recently received our wedding video, we found we had been cursed with a wish for triplets upon our house. Really, particularly after reading Rubin’s theory, why would we submit our daughter – let alone three of them – to such a society just so she can become an economic commodity of culture and capitalism? There is this inherent idea that one must have children to further human existence, perpetuating the machine that reproduces the effect to infinity. We’re not buying it. Over and out.
Copies of Rubin’s theory for everybody! Revolution abound!
I agree that culture needs a good toppling and that nothing will change without opposition. People need shaking up. Maybe it needs to be sudden, as in “Let the dead monster fall.”
Women have been fighting and winning, slowly but surely. Changes are occurring in my lifetime alone. Most of my friends have kept their maiden names. The acceptance of women as individuals in that regard is far more prevalent than 20 years ago. Once the previous generations die off, maybe there won’t be any more Mrs. Tim Clunes.
As for the acceptance of equal gender power, patriarchal religion would have to go. I can’t see it happening any other way.
Give birth to a new brain child!!
Equality and free love for all!!!