Stephanie Schroeder is a queer feminist dyke writer, mental health advocate, & activist for social and economic justice. Schroeder’s political essays have been anthologized in the queer classic, That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation and Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage. She is currently a Contributing Editor at Curve Magazine and a relationship and sex blogger on curvemag.com. Her first book is Beautiful Wreck. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
How did you arrive at the decision to not get married? How firm are you in this decision?
Getting or being married has never been in my consciousness. My family of origin never placed any emphasis on it for me and my two sisters like any other families do. And, growing up lesbian and feminist I found (and still do) the idea, the concept and the institution of marriage totally repugnant. It is outdated and useless for modern women. Plus, the history of marriage for women is atrocious, it has positioned women as the property of men. There is no way to reform or redeem the institution – or to queer it. There’s nothing queer about marriage, but everything that is dangerous to queers, state involvement in our personal relationships, now even the church is involved in places such as Denmark. It’s frightening to think so many LGBT people are embracing this traditional model of relationship because, to me, a lot of what is queer about queer relationships is that they are outside of the mainstream and outside of marriage. There’s no changing my mind.
Where did you get your thoughts about marriage?
As I mentioned, my family of origin wasn’t big on it. My parents transmitted the idea that my sisters and I were all independent agents and didn’tneed the support of anyone else to make our lives full and whole. Over the years, as so-called “marriage equality” has taken over the LGBT community, it’s been on my mind more…I am not only opposed ot marriage, but see this move by the gaystream as extremely short-sighted in terms of any strategy for “civil rights.”
What do you say to folks who ask you when you’re getting married?
I just say I’m not interested in getting married. If they want to hear more (which they never do) I have a lot to say on the subject.
Why do you think there’s such a stigma against women who aren’t married/choose not to be married? How do you think this stigma has affected you?
There is the idea that women who aren’t married “can’t get a man” or are somehow limited without a male (or another female) appendage. Our society thinks in terms of coupledom, and of coupledom being the holy grail of adulthood, and this is very damaging to all women, not just those of us who don’t marry. It’s a total scam run by men to keep women in bondage and now the same scam has reached lesbians and I’m really not sure why any of us would or should be interested in this withering institution. The stigma as not affected me because I don’t much care what other people think about me.
What are your feelings on the word “spinster”?
Well, some feminists like Mary Daly and other tried to reclaim it. There’s the publisher Spinsters Ink and I love that name, but in broader society “spinster” has a hugely negative connotation–again, a woman who cannot “get a man” (or woman) and poor, defective thing she is…a total loser because she has not coupled up with another human being.