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After MarriageRethinking Marital Relationships$
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Elizabeth Brake

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190205072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190205072.001.0001

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Equality and Non-hierarchy in Marriage

Equality and Non-hierarchy in Marriage

What Do Feminists Really Want?

Chapter:
(p.100) 5 Equality and Non-hierarchy in Marriage
Source:
After Marriage
Author(s):

Elizabeth Brake

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190205072.003.0006

This chapter defends the continuing relevance of feminist critiques of marriage. It sketches how power inequality, or hierarchy, arises within different-sex marriage against a background of social pressures, injustice, and gendered violence. It then argues that hierarchy in any intimate relationship is wrong in itself, as the ongoing alienation of decision-making power over the activities of a shared life constitutes a harm and fails to respect autonomy. Finally, it argues that friendship is the best model for a non-hierarchical intimate relationship, suggesting that law should treat marriage more like friendship than a traditional union. While emerging from a comprehensive ethical view, this argument dovetails with the author’s previous liberal argument for “minimal marriage.”

Keywords:   feminism, equality, hierarchy, marriage, gender equality, housework, gender roles, friendship, marriage reform

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