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I Do? Towards an (Alternative) Alternative Sexual Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  11 sexual relationship. For the unmarried, and for the unemployed (and worst, for those in both categories), legitimating the marital system of benefits is synonymous with continuing to deny, just for example, pension, health care benefits, and the naturalization of foreign partners, all of which, constricting on the body, mind, and “leisure” time, hamper the fostering of intimate relations. Many serious harms of marital misrecognition are perpetuated by an unjust system of distribution. 13 The spousal allocation signifies a statutory hierarchy where some citizens are more deserving than others by virtue of their marital status. The recognitive question is thus inseparable from the redistributive question. While Warner undertheorizes patterns of distribution and their consequent (under)valuations of recognition, both Warner and Butler, when they do canvass the marital distribution of benefits, do so under a separate register from the rest of their critiques. For example, Warner relegates concerns over nationalized health care and the redistribution of other marital benefits as issues of “social justice” obfuscated by the allure of the altar. Butler too writes, “why shouldn’t there be a way of organizing health care entitlements, such that everyone, regardless of marital status, has access to them,” also apparently arguing forasmuch under a larger appeal to human dignity. (2004, 109) Implicit in their arguments is the assumption that the recognitive and redistributive harms perpetuated by marriage are conceptually and practically separate phenomena, or alternatively, when interimbricated, foremost harm those in alternative sexual relations, i.e., queers. 14 13 Fraser (1997b) makes the inverse argument against Butler (1997b), that just recognition of gays and lesbians will rectify distributive injustices like workplace discrimination. 14 It would be disingenuous not to note that Butler theorizes on the relation of economy to sexuality in “Merely Cultural.” (1997b) She counters, as she perceives it, neo-Marxist derogations of culturalist politics as trivial and secondary to socialist ambitions. (270) At its best, “Merely Cultural” is a double move, at once defending “the cultural” while also enervating culturalism’s identitarian presuppositions, locating contention and difference within the cultural domain as the site of political vivacity that ought not to be resubsumed into some mythically unified Marxism. Opposed to characterizing anti-homophobic politics as culturalism par excellence (a position which she, with measure, credits to Fraser 1997a), she suggests that queer interventions to disrupt the naturalization and normalization of the heterosexual nuclear family are necessarily also critiques of late modern political economy, dependent as such upon gendered divisions of labor and the constitution of private and public spheres. Nevertheless Butler’s analysis of economy makes her more susceptible to my criticism, not less, demonstrating most explicitly the limitations of the queer critique. She does not

Authors: Fischel, Joseph.
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sexual relationship. For the unmarried, and for the unemployed (and worst, for those in
both categories), legitimating the marital system of benefits is synonymous with
continuing to deny, just for example, pension, health care benefits, and the naturalization
of foreign partners, all of which, constricting on the body, mind, and “leisure” time,
hamper the fostering of intimate relations. Many serious harms of marital misrecognition
are perpetuated by an unjust system of distribution.
13
The spousal allocation signifies a
statutory hierarchy where some citizens are more deserving than others by virtue of their
marital status. The recognitive question is thus inseparable from the redistributive
question.
While Warner undertheorizes patterns of distribution and their consequent
(under)valuations of recognition, both Warner and Butler, when they do canvass the
marital distribution of benefits, do so under a separate register from the rest of their
critiques. For example, Warner relegates concerns over nationalized health care and the
redistribution of other marital benefits as issues of “social justice” obfuscated by the
allure of the altar. Butler too writes, “why shouldn’t there be a way of organizing health
care entitlements, such that everyone, regardless of marital status, has access to them,”
also apparently arguing forasmuch under a larger appeal to human dignity. (2004, 109)
Implicit in their arguments is the assumption that the recognitive and redistributive harms
perpetuated by marriage are conceptually and practically separate phenomena, or
alternatively, when interimbricated, foremost harm those in alternative sexual relations,
i.e., queers.
14
13
Fraser (1997b) makes the inverse argument against Butler (1997b), that just recognition of gays
and lesbians will rectify distributive injustices like workplace discrimination.
14
It would be disingenuous not to note that Butler theorizes on the relation of economy to
sexuality in “Merely Cultural.” (1997b) She counters, as she perceives it, neo-Marxist
derogations of culturalist politics as trivial and secondary to socialist ambitions. (270) At its best,
“Merely Cultural” is a double move, at once defending “the cultural” while also enervating
culturalism’s identitarian presuppositions, locating contention and difference within the cultural
domain as the site of political vivacity that ought not to be resubsumed into some mythically
unified Marxism. Opposed to characterizing anti-homophobic politics as culturalism par
excellence
(a position which she, with measure, credits to Fraser 1997a), she suggests that queer
interventions to disrupt the naturalization and normalization of the heterosexual nuclear family
are necessarily also critiques of late modern political economy, dependent as such upon gendered
divisions of labor and the constitution of private and public spheres.
Nevertheless Butler’s analysis of economy makes her more susceptible to my criticism,
not less, demonstrating most explicitly the limitations of the queer critique. She does not


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