lotesse: a still from Peter Jackson's "Forgotten Silver" (glamazon)
Talk around Dylan Farrow's recently-published account of Woody Allen's sexual abuse of her during her childhood is bigtime reinforcing my opposition to marriage, and my belief that it's an institution that should be discarded rather than adapted. The creation of a legal category of family implicitly defines other situations as not-family, when in fact kinship structures are more complex and evolving than "marriage" can account for. There's a lot of chatter right now over whether your mom's long-term boyfriend is your dad or not, with reference not to Dylan but to Soon-Yi Previn, her sister-stepmother, in service of what seems to be the very dodgy claim that if she's only your long-term partner's teenaged daughter it isn't incest or abuse and doesn't establish a pattern of sexual predation on daughter-figures. Because Mia Farrow and Woody Allen never married, the kids are being tacitly denied the protection from parental abuse that we offer marrieds' children. We recognize that the family is a place of intense feeling that can become very unsafe in conflict - but what legal measures we have against familial violence seem kind of distressingly heteronormative. It's a problem that legal relationships and actual relationships don't always match up.

I look at the families around me and I see a lot more going on than mama+daddy+offspring. It's not just that marriage prioritizes reproduction over love, although the current heteroitude of the institution does indicate that - it's that marriage prioritizes sexual partnerships over non-sexual ones, reinforcing the fiction of the nuclear family and denying people the right to name their own kinfolk.

Anyway, I've been having really intense responses to the whole thing - maybe because I connect to the way that it's hard to admit that abuse can come out of cool nontraditional families without seeming to reject them/re-establish the norm as the best and only way. I need to take an MPEG Streamclip hacksaw to Midnight in Paris, the only Woody Allen movie I give a damn about, and cut out all the angsting and nebbitude and subtle misogyny and just keep Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway.

Date: 3 Feb 2014 11:34 pm (UTC)From: [personal profile] staranise
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
Interesting thoughts! I also really wish there were a way for an adult to legally repudiate kinship with their parents, the same way parents can relinquish a child.

In my part of the world there's been a lot of legal movement over the past decade to try to get the law to catch up to society, mostly in protection of poor and indigenous families. In a lot of provinces, a couple are in this respect considered married if they've lived together in a "marriage-like relationship" for two years, or if they're living together and have had or adopted children together. In Saskatchewan the law makes specific provision for polyandry, where a woman legally married to one man can be considered common-law married to another without having to divorce first.

My home province, in a petulant fit of conservatism, skipped over common-law marriage completely and now has "Adult Interdependent Partners", which does the involuntary "you acted like you were married, so we'll treat you like you are" thing; but you can also formally register anyone you like as your interdependent partner, whether they're your brother or roommate or whatever, and they become your next-of-kin and effective spouse.

I would love if family law could get itself jolly well sorted out. On my wishlist: recognition of multiple marriages; legal designation of non-blood-related siblings.

Date: 4 Feb 2014 12:53 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] neotoma
neotoma: Neotoma albigula, the white-throated woodrat! [default icon] (Default)
Wait, is polyandry legal in Saskatchewan? Is there a group that practices it on a regular basis there?

I like the idea of Adult Interdependent Partners, especially because it sounds like you can have a completely platonic/asexual relationship and yet still get treated like you're family.

Date: 5 Feb 2014 03:34 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] staranise
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
Yep, polyandry is legal in Saskatchewan. I'm not informed about specific group traditions, but my understanding as a MHP from Alberta is that it's a provision to address a common family situation in Aboriginal families.

Date: 4 Feb 2014 05:06 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)
One of the annoying things people keep bringing up about the Allen Farrow relationship is "they never lived together."

That's not because their relationship wasn't real, it's because they were RICH and could afford separate residences. O. and I often thought that our ideal set up would be to live next door to each other.

Date: 5 Feb 2014 03:35 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] staranise
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
The whole situation is a SEA of red herrings, hiding the really important facts.

Date: 4 Feb 2014 05:50 am (UTC)From: [personal profile] legionseagle
legionseagle: (Default)
Even back when I was studying family law (1982/3) there was a concept in English law and I imagine in a lot of other legal systems called "the child of the family" whose welfare had to be considered in all cases of family breakdown. That didn't necessarily map onto the law of incest (though I believe strides have subsequently been made to bring the laws in line with each other) but it certainly affected areas like custody and protective orders in cases of abuse. I don't think if this had occurred in a different socio-economic group the social worker's report would have been drawing the nice lines of demarcartion that apologist article by the documentary director did; they'd have concentrated on the practicalities; were both the girls treated as children of the family during the period of the relationship?

daughter of the sea, oregano's first cousin

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