The way some people talk about the power of marriage totally baffles me. From Salon--I don't quite know what to make of this:
...300 African-American couples [are] hoping to be among the 10 who'll be chosen for an all-expenses-paid weddingpalooza on Sept. 29 -- an occasion that the competition's inventor, Brooklyn author and journalist Maryann Reid, has dubbed Marry Your Baby Daddy Day.
Reid, 29, says she conceived of the event -- to be sponsored by several local black-run wedding businesses -- as a community service of sorts. "I kept meeting women who said, 'I live with my baby daddy and we're not married but we've been engaged for five or 10 years …,'" she says. "There are so many couples who live together and love each other but for some reason just are not motivated to tie the knot, but when given an opportunity, they jump right at it." She sees the campaign as a way to draw attention to -- and perhaps decrease -- the number of black couples who call each other "baby daddy" and "baby mama" instead of "husband" and "wife."
Is it just me, or is this kind of a batshit idea? Who cares what people call each other as long as they're in a committed relationship? (Not that free weddings aren't nice. Well... having a wedding with 9 other couples where you're only allowed to invite 10 guests isn't that nice, but I guess it's better than nothing if you're strapped for cash.)
To her credit, Reid is concerned with the number of black women raising children on their own. Ok. Excellent. But let's think about marriage for a second. Mawwage. That would be the "lifetime commitment" that half of all couples reneg upon at some point or another. The foundation of our society blah blah blah. Needs to be protected from the lesbians blah blah blah.
Though "family values" purveyors would have you believe differently, a healthy committed relationship doesn't have to mean marriage and marriage certainly doesn't mean a healthy committed relationship. I invite anyone who thinks differently to spend a christmas holiday with my family. BYON. (Bring your own nog. You'll need it.) Marriage doesn't do anything. Fostering committment between individuals is a complicated project. Going through a silly ceremony can be nice but it's in no way essential to the commitment itself. Why do these people need to get married if they're already in a long-term committed relationship? (as all of Reid's winning couples will be--one prospective couple has been together since he was 17 and she was 15--now they're both over 30.)
More importantly though--and this is my main point--while there may be cause to encourage family unity (in both black and white communities), I think that singling out committed black couples for criticism is not only a case of misplaced condemnation, but also an invitation for further criticism of certain minority behaviors...specifically, behaviors (like raising a family together but not getting married) that aren't at all harmful but that don't meld well with Whitey P. Republican's set of "values." Am I off base here?
As for mawwage, I just want to get this off my chest: Marriage is a fabulously overhyped institution, whose allure is all-too-often rooted in fabulously overstated assertions about its power to foster domestic bliss/stability/happy families/committment/prosperity. And it's kicked off with a fabulously overpriced event where you dress up in a princess costume and recite some archaic lines and then you dance and have champagne or something. Oh and it only works for straight people. Gay people can have the overpriced event but the relationship won't be recognized and they don't get the domestic bliss. Cause they're sinners.