More Than a Feeling?
Some of you may know that I am currently in a doctoral program at UVM. I am thoroughly enjoying myself being a student once again, even though it is a bit odd being a professor at the same time. What I most enjoy about being a student again is the conversation that ensues with well considered colleagues after we have all read the same articles from our widely divergent perspectives. This week’s readings are largely on socio-economic class (capitalism, for those of you that are daring enough to say the word), with a focus on it as one of many social constructions. While pondering the merits of the reality of capitalism as a non-natural way of life, my thoughts gravitated towards other un-natural ways of living that we have been socialized to engage in certain ways, like not recognizing social constructions themselves as constructions. Marriage was the most obvious one that came to mind. It is obvious because so many of us have been associated with marriage on an intimate level. Either we are the product of marriage, are or have been in one ourselves, or have been socialized to see our ultimate worth in life somehow linked to marriage, the penultimate posture for procreation. But we don’t necessarily logically engage it as a social construct, as something we have been primed and prepared to experience since birth. Maybe it is because we don’t even know what a social construct is. Concisely speaking, a social construct is something created by society that we respond to, or conform to, often without thinking about it. While many social constructs are problematic for an array of reasons (homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. get a lot more visibility than other social constructs), marriage escapes this scrutiny. Well, while I was thinking of marriage as a social construct, I somehow floated to thoughts of one of the strong underpinnings of marriage, love! Is love a social construction? Well, is it?
Before you dismiss this question and say to yourself, “society didn’t teach me how to feel about someone,” be careful. Think about the way you feel/felt about someone very different from you at first, and the way you feel/felt about that person after you spent time with her/him. People’s reactions to your spending time with that person influenced your relationship with that person, either in a good way or a bad way. Similar images or stories (many garnered from film, novels, are watching other people live) that reflected some aspect of your loved one's reality led you to be more/less curious or concerned about knowing her/him. So, before you dismiss love as a social construct you must ask yourself if the love you feel for this person/possession unaffected by society’s spin on it? If not, then what are some of the factors that affect the way we love? What are some of the ways love is spun that makes it more attractive to us? Is it possible that our entire notion of love is, while not a consistently framed/media driven concept that we have completely and fully digested, never the less is a concept that is difficult for us to separate from its marketing in our society?
Do you love him because he is himself, or because he is the ideal of what society has encouraged you to love? Are the things you love about her important to you because society has manipulated you into seeing those things as significant as opposed to them being significant for some other reasons? While I know that socialization can be attributed to almost anything for good and bad reasons, does that negate the problematic issues that might accompany love as a social construct? Is the concept of love more than a feeling? In the final analysis, what's love got to do with it?