Oppression and Violence — 7 Comments

  1. Yes, this is the line that the leadership within the LGBT movement wants us to believe. It is a rather sad development within their strategy and it’s counter to many people’s wishes in the LGBT community, especially the more radical parts. There are many voices speaking out against this single focus on marriage, some more angry than others. For example, Tommi Avicolli Mecca has pointed out that there are much more urgent issues facing the LGBT community that are being ignored because of the marriage-focus (for example, many transsexuals face discrimination at work and in housing, leaving a large proportion homeless). He is pretty angry about the massive expenditure to fight for gay marriage while leaving others in the community out in the rain, literally. I haven’t listened to this yet but Avicolli Mecca is involved in a radio program “beyond marriage.” There’s also the Beyond Marriage statement and, of course, Nancy Polikoff’s book. I’ve written about the voices against marriage before. That post contains more links to voices other than the mainstream LGBT leadership…

  2. One of the problems as I see it is that the LGBT community is now fighting to get the right to marry. And in order to do so they’re emphasizing the benefits of marriage. Which means that they’re not going to be happy when someone points out that marriage is perhaps not that great or all that necessary. It runs counter to their strategy.

    And when you think about it, it’s understandable. The average gay couple is probably not that different from your average straight couple, at least not when it comes to marriage. The idea of questioning the value of marriage probably isn’t any more common among them than among straight couples.

  3. @Darshan: Thanks so much! I am glad you found this useful! I suspect applications like this is what Iris Young had in mind when she wrote up the categories of oppression.

    @Donna Marie: Excellent point! I completely agree that the normative state is the couple whether married or not! That’s one reason why it always irks me to hear about the extension of benefits to more couples rather than more people…

    @Alan: I think these arguments are precisely what prompted Iris Young to make the point that it’s silly to talk about who is more oppressed! Because then we’re busy arguing over this rather than fighting to end the oppression… Think about this way: Is a person who is a Lesbian and single morally superior in some ways to a straight woman who is single? That’s just absolutely silly! There is no morality here except the moral outrage we should be reserving for the oppression in general! Of course, there are differences in levels of oppression and, yes, the LGBT community faces expressive and instrumental violence while singles don’t but this doesn’t mean that the LGBT community can ignore the oppression faced by singles. It simply means that they face different levels of oppression and we better figure out how to fight/change all of the above!

  4. I know that there are groups who would argue that their oppression does have “causal or moral primacy” over other groups. I have heard members of gay rights organizations say that the discrimination experienced by singles doesn’t really count, at least not compared to what they experienced.

    While I dislike the singlism I periodically find in gay organizations, I’m not sure I disagree with their assessment of the level of discrimination: If you use the standard definition of violence then gays are more strongly discriminated against than singles.

  5. I definitely agree with the notion of the economic advantages and other protections offered to marrieds and not to singles. And, I would extend the notion of “oppression” to include uncoupleds who I think can feel emotionally oppressed and excluded because of their choice to be uncoupled singles. In my view, the normative state is being coupled not simply married. This is so evident in pop culture as well as marketing/advertising efforts. As a single/uncoupled woman and a market researcher I was inspired to discuss it from this perspective in my trendblog (

  6. Good.

    You have nicely explained with those five points what oppression is. But what’s rather delightful to read is how you proved that “singles” are being oppressed in the society. That was a new take on the subject. Liked reading it.

    Learned a neat new technique (to prove something concretely) also!

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