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Sociologist says “compulsory coupling” is “heteronormative” oppression

February 14, 2014

What would we do without sociologists?

Erika T. sent in this 30 second commercial for Frito Lay chips and dip.   Masquerading as simply “cute,” instead the cartoon sends strong normative messages.

It straightforwardly suggests that single people are inherently sad.  Being coupled up is presented as the norm and single people’s pathetic-ness is visible for all to see, even if they try to hide it.  It’s also implicitly heteronormative (different colors = the perfect blend) and overtly promotes monogamy between two and only two people.

Because we can’t have monogamy.

“Compulsory coupling” comes up every Valentine’s Day. Last year it was the U.K. Guardian: “Is compulsory coupledom really the best way to live?”

[I]t’s time that coupledom stopped being touted as the best option, an idea reinforced not just by state approval and resource allocation, but also by religion, the market, popular culture, assorted therapists and our own anxieties.

Resisting the consolidation of invidious forms of social exclusion, it’s time to get beyond the notion that yoking together love, coupling, marriage and reproduction is the only way to achieve happiness. The scare stories about single people dying earlier or loneliness becoming a pandemic must be seen in the larger context of a social order that is hostile to non-couples and an economic order to which the collective good seems to be anathema.

Why are diatribes against “compulsory coupling” always written by females right around Valentine’s Day? Just asking.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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