Home > Uncategorized > Marriage=Bondage?


What really stood out to me from class today was our discussion on Butler’s message on marriage. As we’ve said, Steinburg made some provocative claims when he said, “Butler suggests that, for black women, interracial heterosexual marriage too might be a form of oppression not unlike chattel slavery,” (468). Understandably a lot of people in the class had a problem agreeing with this assertion, including myself. I think there were many instances in Kindred that support the idea that Kevin and Dana shared an equal partnership. Both were working writers. Kevin obviously acknowledged Dana as an intellectual equal. We especially see this in the only instance that Butler uses the word “kindred.” Kevin and Dana were “kindred spirits” who loved to write.

However, later in the essay Steinburg digs into a passage that really nagged at me when I read Kindred, “Kevin must confront the direct query of a slaveholder: ‘Does Dana belong to you now? (60) His response equates matrimony with possession: ‘In a way… She’s my wife,’ (60).” I remember reading this part of the novel and thinking, “Wow Kevin, you really OWN her?!” Here I see more support for Butler making the point that the entire institution of marriage is a form of bondage, not just interracial marriages. I think she’s pointing to our continued tradition of a dominantly patriarchal society and saying, “Is this really what we want our loving relationships to resemble? We’re ignoring the implications of this long standing tradition.”

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