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One Marriage Under GodThe Campaign to Promote Marriage in America$
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Melanie Heath

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814737125

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814737125.001.0001

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The Stakes of Gender and Heterosexuality

The Stakes of Gender and Heterosexuality

Chapter:
(p.43) 2 The Stakes of Gender and Heterosexuality
Source:
One Marriage Under God
Author(s):

Melanie Heath

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814737125.003.0003

This chapter examines the boundary work of marriage promotion workshops offered to the general population, which practices ideas concerning hierarchical gender relations. By teaching about the “opposite sexes,” these workshops organize knowledge that depends on homosexuality's omission and the prohibition of non-heterosexuals' desire. They teach principles about marriage that rely on common sense ideas of gender and heterosexuality—ideas that speak to a mythical gendered American family. Thus, these workshops focus on conservative gender norms in relation to what it means to be a husband or a wife. Referencing the ideal nuclear family, they spoke to a conceptualization of gender that fits the theoretical perspective of the sociologist Talcott Parsons on male and female “roles” and their divergent social functions—the male role being “instrumental” and the female “expressive.”

Keywords:   marriage workshops, marriage promotion, gender relations, homosexuality, heterosexuality, American family, ideal family

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