more Lehr quotes

[cw: heterosexism, misogyny, racism, classism]

“We can consider further the importance of sexual exclusivity within marriage and the impact of inclusion into the marriage contract by exploring the regulation of marriage through the requirement of consummation, which guarantees that the family is a sexual family.  Richard Collier (1995) provides a detailed analysis of the construction of appropriate sexuality and masculine identity in British law through legal cases contesting the consummation of particular marriages. In these cases, the courts decide what counts as meaningful enough sexual interaction within a marriage so that the marriage should continue… the courts can void those contracts where they — generally in conversation with ‘experts’ such as medical professionals — determine that appropriate sexuality has not taken place.”

–Valerie Lehr, Queer Family Values, p. 28-29

“…In fact, the social privileging of heterosexual monogamy was part of an early twentieth-century attempt to control and civilize European immigrants, and to control and encourage white middle-class women to reproduce.  It was a social norm heavily connected to the middle-class desire to encourage the development of private family life, a life away from the public space of the street.  By forming such isolated family units, men would be influenced by the pro-social desires and needs of their wives; workers would be more hesitant to strike, both because they would be less connected to one another and because they would feel greater responsibility to their wives and children; ideal consumer units would be created; and parents would be able to support their increasingly costly children…  Within this patriarchal construction, women were accorded rights by the state and benefits from the state not as individual, but as mothers and as caretakers of others.”

–p.57

“…Equally important, [creating and maintaining relationships and that embodied romantic and sexual desire] provided a rationale for addressing what had become a serious social concern — an increased number of educated, middle-class women who were choosing not to marry and not to give birth.

In the period immediately prior to the consolidation of the companionate marriage as ‘normal,’ women chose in extraordinary large numbers to forgo marriage and childbearing… The circumstances that gave rise to an ideology that defined single women and men increasingly as ‘sick’ and dangerous are instructive for us today because they reveal the complex ways by which gender, sexuality, race, class norms, and privilege were woven together through the creation of norms of family.”

–p.60-61

“While white middle-class women were giving birth to fewer children in the late 1800s, large numbers of immigrants continued to enter the country and rates of reproduction were higher among immigrants, blacks, and the native working class than for the white middle class.  Spreading the middle-class value of sexual restraint to the working class was one answer to growing fears of ‘race suicide.’ This would only be effective, however, if combined with increasing pressure on white middle-class women to marry and give birth to more children.  President Theodore Roosevelt expressed these desires: ‘By 1906 [Roosevelt] blatantly equated the falling birth rate among native born whites with the impending threat of ‘race suicide.’  In his State of the Union message that year Roosevelt admonished the well-born white women who engaged in “willful sterility” — the one sin for which the penalty is national death, race suicide’ (Davis 1981, 209).”

–p.61

“The development of hegemonic family centered around companionate heterosexual relationships and had a particularly devastating effect on women who often did not have the economic resources to choose not to marry.  The attack used against women who were choosing to not marry was that they were too androgynous — that is, not accepting of their proper place as women.”

–p.61-62

…Does this remind you of anything?

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