Thursday, October 02, 2014

Fauxbivalence revisited

Yes, I've seen the latest in fauxbivalence. My cohort is leaving the age of wedding fauxbivalence, and moving on to the early-middle-aged question of fauxbivalence within marriage. Or: Nona Willis Aronowitz remains fauxbivalent. Whatever the case, old age.

If this piece irritated me less than her wedding fauxbivalence one, it was partly because it totally does give people a different impression of you if you mention a spouse. It makes you seem like someone who'd prefer to stay home watching Netflix than going out, which (may be true but) is - and this I can attest - a slight impediment to making new friends, at least for a time, if you marry earlier than your peers. It's temporary, of course, but it's a thing. So if she was just saying that saying "husband" makes you seem old and conservative, well, it does. First-world-problems, but problems all the same.

Mostly, though, it was because at least with this piece, there was some concrete reason why Aronowitz wouldn't want to be thought "married." With the wedding, it seemed to be about aesthetics; here, there's a buried lede: "we are allowed to hook up with other people when one of us is out of town." Oh! That really is a different sort of "married" than is generally assumed. For all the talk of "monogamish," a ring or a reference to a spouse typically signals that someone is not available, so if you are, how on earth would you convey that? If, then, she'd left it at, it's awkward to say you're married when you're in an open marriage, fair enough. I bet it is!

But no! She doesn't leave it at that. She takes it in an appropriative direction, talking about "code-switching" and "respectability politics," as if her struggles as an open-married, by-all-accounts-straight white woman "philosophically opposed to what traditional marriage means" have something to do with those of African-Americans. And gay people - her plight is also like theirs. Or something. And then it came back to me why fauxbivalence bothered me in the first place: It's the conflation of one's own quirkiness (or quirks of the progressive subculture one was born into) with marginalization.

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