What’s the Problem with Normativity?

Nothing bugs me more than seeing female academics whom I know personally and who adore their husbands and children go on and on at academic conferences about how important it is to “subvert the normative expectations about the importance of marriage and childbearing” and how you can be alone and still happy.

Let the women who are alone and happy tell us about it. But it all sounds quite ridiculous when a happily married mother of three who keeps sharing packets of her kids’ photos bleats about the heavy burden of normativity.

On the positive side, I did ask why “freedom of choice” for women is limited to the freedom to abort a pregnancy and never includes the freedom to have children. Especially given that far more women in Spain report not being able to have as many children as they want than women who report not having had as many abortions as they wanted. Obviously, nobody had an answer but two young female scholars nodded vigorously.

This “traditional gender role” we keep denouncing is increasingly a class issue. It’s kind of sick to promote a single, unattached lifestyle when you can afford not to live it yourself and so many women (especially in Spain) simply can’t afford the normativity that they long for. I completely support everybody’s right to be married or single as they wish but it’s an undeniable fact that lonely, unattached, fluid subjects are more profitable economically and useful politically. It used to be the opposite but that system of economic and political relations is long dead.

We keep fighting the battles of 1852, which makes us look like total idiots.

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