Self-Marriage?

Sometimes you read and reread an article to see if the article actually said you thought it said.

A few days before Christmas, Cosmopolitan published an article on its site by Abigail Pesta entitled, “Why I Married Myself.” If you are confused by the title, let me assure you, the article will provide no answers that will clear up your confusion. We read statements like, “I choose you today,” “I will never leave myself,” and “I promise to give you the incredible life that you long for.”

I’m not sure what it would mean for someone to choose themselves since they can’t choose to be someone else. Furthermore, the promise never to leave oneself is something of a self-evident truth. And the commitment to give oneself “the incredible life you deserve” seems somewhat empty when we consider that this appears to be an underlying drive for most of humanity.

But placing the logical incoherency aside for a moment, we enter into the world of women seek the “affirmation” that comes with marriage, but doing so without the assistance of a partner. One woman recalled her marriage to her husband and said the fact that these women had not experienced the same affirmation was “incredibly unjust” (though this statement seems to suggest she has not encountered true injustice).

In reality, the number of people “marrying” themselves is not statistically significant enough to be deemed a movement. In fact, nowhere in the article does Pesta give any indication that enough women have “married” themselves to make this newsworthy. But that doesn’t appear to be the reason that Pesta wrote the article or why Cosmopolitan decided to run it.

Rather, in reading the article and hearing the ways in which these women felt the affirmation of their friends, it appears that Pesta is seeking to celebrate this development and invite others to do the same. On this side of Obergefell, we see that the redefinition of marriage won’t just stop with same-sex couples, it can’t.

Before Obergefell, conservative scholars asked what logical distinction existed that would exclude throuple or any other permutation of the polygamous/polygynous relationships from demanding marriage rights. Same-sex marriage activists assured everyone that these wouldn’t be an issue, but those quickly filed suit and are pressing for legal recognition. While their court battles have thus far been losses, if the logic of Obergefell holds it is hard to think that we won’t end up here, as some have even suggested. But if we continue extending that logic, what about the person who wants to marry themselves?

One could counter that they don’t meet the definition of marriage as, “the legally or formally recognized union of two people as partners in a personal relationship.” By definition, this cannot be marriage because a person cannot form a union with themselves. However, until recently, this definition would have included the words, “man and woman” or “husband and wife.” Once we have renegotiated the definition once, there will always be attempts to renegotiate it in “evolving” contexts.

Pesta gives no indication that these women are seeking the legal benefits of marriage, but we all know that eventually, someone will. They will most likely lose at first, but the battle will not be over because Obergefell set a logic loose that cannot just stop. It must work itself out in society until the very institution it set out to liberate from its historical roots is stripped of all meaning.

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