Here at Jotwell, McGill’s Robert Leckey has reviewed London based writer and UCL-affiliated Yuvraj Joshi’s Respectable Queerness.
On Joshi’s reading, and it is a fair one, the push for same-sex marriage has proceeded less by demanding respect than by attempting to demonstrate gay men’s and lesbians’ respectability. The agency associated with respectability is a key analytical insight: while assimilation refers to pressures imposed by the mainstream, respectability gestures to efforts made by gay men and lesbians to remake themselves as worthy of recognition. Think of the factual accounts of model plaintiffs advanced to courts in same-sex marriage litigation, which were advanced in order to establish couples’ stability and heteronormativity.
Also touching on the respectability point as part of a much larger development of the feminist critique of same-sex marriage is Dr. Nicola Barker in Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage (Palgrave-MacMillan Socio-Legal Studies 2012) (not that Nicola Barker, this one, from Kent Law School (UK)). You can hear her discuss the book here, podcast from Feminist Current. You can also download a sample chapter from the publisher here
Not the Marrying Kind is a new and comprehensive exploration of the contemporary same-sex marriage debates in several jurisdictions including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. It departs from much of the existing scholarship on same-sex marriage, which argues either for or against marriage for same-sex couples. Instead, this book begins from a critical analysis of the institution of marriage itself (as well as separate forms of relationship recognition, such as civil partnership, PaCS, domestic partnership) and asks whether and how feminist critiques of marriage might be applied specifically to same-sex marriage. In doing this, the author combines the theories of second wave feminism with insights from contemporary queer theory.