The Wedding issue
I always said I would never get married. For most of human history, marriage has been a horrible exercise in restriction, a transaction that has disenfranchised women to an astonishing degree. Getting married meant becoming property to be traded, meant being threatened by false notions of purity (you better be a virgin so we know that baby will continue the right family line!), and sometimes meant legal rights disappeared entirely. That's not even mentioning what an impossible shitshow marriage is if you're gay or trans, since you have to jump through extra hoops to prove that you're worthy of entering this supposedly hallowed space, and even then you're not always legally recognized as married. Sometimes, as in the case of Utah last week, you're legally recognized as married and then you're suddenly not legally recognized as married. Just because.
In 1998, I started talking to this really funny guy on an online comic-book forum. We were friends for eight years before we finally met. When we started dating, I made it clear that I wasn't interested in marriage or kids or any of that. I just wanted someone cool to hang out with. Then we moved to Madison, Wisconsin, so I could go to graduate school. I got health insurance through the school, but my boyfriend didn't have health insurance at all. I hate saying that we got married for insurance because that makes it sound like we had some sort of illicit arrangement, when really we were just a couple of dopes who wanted to make sure getting the flu wouldn't kill us.
We got hitched on Halloween in the least goth way possible. Our costume was Two Dicks Getting Married, and we wore Nixon masks! I had to come to marriage on my own terms: Here was a person who I loved and wanted to protect. We only told our families and the two friends who would be our witnesses. Then we spent $40 on some rings made out of an old skateboard, filled out some paperwork, went to a lawyer's office overlooking a lake, and—boom—we were married. Our friends were nice enough to rent us a hotel suite as a wedding gift, and my new husband and I sat in a big tub eating cupcakes and watching Doctor Who. It was perfect.
Since my wedding didn't involve a lot of fanfare, I didn't think my marriage would, either. But I was pursuing a master's degree in gender studies. I was met with a series of questions like "But I thought you said you weren't going to EVER get married?" and "Isn't that kind of anti-feminist?" I found myself in the disorienting position of constantly defending marriage—strange for someone who never planned on getting married in the first place.
I never thought marriage would come coated in a slick sheen of guilt. I had to wonder if I had betrayed my ideals in some way because, yeah, I did say I was never going to get married, and I do think marriage is bullshit on many levels. It is really difficult to sit in a classroom full of post-gender, post- binary feminists and tell them you just did the most archaic, gendered thing in the world and still maintain your cred. But by that token, shouldn't I also feel guilty when I sit down to knit, or cook, or do dishes? The backbone of feminism doesn't dictate that you can't engage in domesticity, just that it shouldn't be your only option. I wish we were cool enough to favor civil unions like France, but we're not, and I'm still a feminist even if I love someone enough to declare that love to the state.
Addressing my guilt was really about addressing the ways that I've changed my mind about marriage. I never thought marriage was a good idea, because in my life it was always done in such a batshit crazy way. Shotgun weddings! Cheating spouses! Weddings that cost more than a house! This mom hates the in-laws! This dad shot at the in-laws! If you're judging it by the awful examples we often see played out, marriage can seem like the worst decision on earth, and anyone would feel guilty saying they signed up for that rodeo. But my marriage isn't like that—our low-key wedding complements our low-key life, and I don't feel guilty about finding the exact right person to spend time with on this planet.