Should a Feminist Choose A Marriage-Like Relationship?

Hypatia 1 (2):139 - 160 (1986)
Is "living together" in a marriage-like relationship compatible with the feminist ideal of individual self-development? Paradoxically, while the structure and social-historical context of marriage-like relationships seems in fundamental conflict with the goal of autonomous self-development, the development of individuality also seems to be better fostered by living with a significant other in a committed relationship than by living alone. This paradox is resolved through the suggestion of a three-stage account of self-development: inauthenticity, autonomous being oneself, and autonomous being with others. At the third stage, living together in a marriage-like relationship is one social format in which autonomous relating to others is possible. Unless the partners have attained the second stage, however, such a relationship will be destructive rather than conducive to individuality.
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