Katie Haegele, the dynamic and thoughtful writer behind The Lala Theory and creator of the White Blackbirds zines about women who aren’t married and don’t want to be, pointed me to this great piece in the June/July 2001 issue of Ms, by Pagan Kennedy on the Boston marriage. (In the near future, I’ll be posting a collaboration between Katie and I in which we talk about White Blackbirds, marriage, feminism, instinct and more.)
First: A Boston marriage is a term used in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to describe two women living together, independent of financial support from a man.
Kennedy talks about Liz, her great friend with whom she shares creative, intellectual and political energy as well as a living space, and how she grapples with what to call their relationship in order to make it seem “valid.”
From the piece: “Most likely, the Boston marriage was many things to many women: business partnership, artistic collaboration, lesbian romance. And sometimes it was a friendship nurtured with all the care that we usually squander on our mates — a friendship as it could be if we made it the center of our lives.”
There’s a lot of intellectual and feminist fodder in this piece and to be extrapolated from it-the idea that for straight women, our lives “start” once we get married, that living with a man and having children is a mark of true adulthood and stable mental health, and what it would mean to have a platonic marriage, especially with another woman, in a world where heterosexual marriage is not the centrally valued and strived for relationship.
Go and read.