What’s Sex got to do with…. Marriage?

According to Erica Hunter marriage is a “legal and social contract, and an institution that includes romance and weddings that reinforce gender roles and heterosexuality” (Hunter 308).  Is that really the case now though? I think not.

Hunter explains that marriage provides a lot of couples with many personal benefits as well as a marker of transition to adulthood.  With that, marriage helps legitimate heterosexual relationships because the relationships between marriage and sexuality is created and maintained through gender expectations and roles.  Heterosexual marriage is celebrated in our society and is sitting at an outstanding 90% of population that will be married in their lives (Hunter 309).  This clearly shows how marriage is an institution that reinforces the idea that heterosexuality is the way to be.

Nonethess, over time marriage has drastically changed.  One of the main differences is that same-sex couples are now allowed to marry.  In 35 states: AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, KS, ME, MD, MA, MN, MT, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, and WY, plus Washington, D.C. and St. Louis, Missouri – same-sex couples have the freedom to marry.  Below is a map that explain it in detail.

The addition of same-sex marriages is not the only difference that marriage as gone through.  In the United States, from the nineteenth and twentieth century things like same-sex marriage and interracial marriage have been brought to light.  Marriage historically served a very important role in shaping an individuals life.  During this time, men and women would marry for similar reasons like to combine family wealth and to maintain stable relationship with neighbors (309).  The focus of marriage was social; people did not marriage because of feelings and love because those relationships were viewed as unstable.  Instead men looked for wives who could assist wight he family and farm and could provide for the family.  In the same plane, women looked for men who were stable and reliable providers.

Marriage began to change in the later half of the nineteenth century.  Marriage has lost some of its influence as competing institutions, such as the workplace, the peer group, and education, replace many functions historically served by the family.  But now marriage is no longer the only marker of becoming an adult (310).

One thought on “What’s Sex got to do with…. Marriage?

  1. I found this piece to be very interesting and sparked my interest right away. The motivations for marriage, I feel, have changed over time and this post touches upon that. I thought your inference that in the past, marriage was done so for more purposes of efficiency or strategy such as to combine wealth or for social reasons. I find it interesting that you referred to marriage as the marker for becoming an adult. I really had not thought of marriage in that way but it makes sense as it has become a natural step in growing up and in individual development.


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