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State Sanctioned Intimacy Essay



The state plays a major role in defining the lives of people based on formulated legislature. As such, our general behavior and character is to some extent detected by the state in order to avoid contradiction of the existing law. This is quite important in ensuring that citizens adopt norms that are not only acceptable but also which are enshrined and supported by the state regulations.

However, in addressing this issue, the epicenter of the discussion has always tried to understand the boundaries within which state operations ought to operate. The essay begins by defining intimacy and seeks answer as to whether our intimate relationships be controlled by the state?

Is private life part of a state affair? Can sanctions be imposed based on one’s intimate associations? These are examples of issues addressed in this paper which analytically expounds on some of the consequences of state sanctioned intimacy.

Public Life

Intimacy is understood as a flimsy form of communication, it can be defined as the close and the warm relationship and which in most circumstance is private and personal and belongs to an individual’s deepest nature. Intimacy is conventionally applied in romantic coexistence and it is defined in terms of feelings and emotions. Intimacy varies based on the degree of the relationship.

Intimacy is expressed in both heterosexual and homosexual relationship. Intimate relationships are viewed by majority of people as private engagements which solely affects the lives of the parties which are directly involved. On the other hand, it has been arguably noted that sometimes whatever is perceived to be private may find its way into the public with considerable impact.

An understanding of public affairs and what legally falls outside the jurisdiction of our private lives is essential and consequential. In explaining this concept, Warner argued that public refers to a sense of social totality within the society. It may refer to people organized in states, commonwealth or some form of community with a wide variation of differences (Warner, 2002, p. 49).

It therefore includes all individuals within the organized space of discussion. Warner further noted that a group of people may have its own organized structures independent of existing state institution, citizen frameworks and law. Similarly, it may be considered sovereign with regard to the functioning of the state.

In his 2002 survey, Warner further echoed that common interests exist in the public domain, an element that is profound significant in formation of associations and relationships. What of intimate interests? Do they form part of the public?

Private Life and the State

Throughout human history, there have existed laws which criminalize intimate relationships among people of either same or opposite sex orientation. Extreme cases of such ideologies have led to brutal persecution and discrimination.

According to Dominica Central Newspaper articles published mid this year, there are countless laws which criminalize private lives of people in the world with double emphasis being put on their sexuality. Such laws whether public or private undermine development progress towards democracy, peace and security (Dominica Central Newspaper, 2011).

Criminalizing Same Sex Intimacy

Same sex relationships are intimate in a manner that they emanate from strong affection and attraction between two parties. There have been bans imposed on these relationships in most parts of the world thus leaving victims in a state of societal seclusion.In addition, sanctioning of intimate relationship significantly affects the relationship of the affected people with the rest of the society (Dominica Central Newspaper, 2011).

How many employers would be willing to hire a person who is known to be a lesbian or gay when the government has outlawed such relationships?

Queer Minority

According to Gregg’s argument, discrimination of the queer minorities in Australia affects the lives of many. Together with the black communities, they face widespread segregation form the state making them susceptible (Gregg, 2007, par. 3). She concurred with Berlant who affirmed that the conservative nature of the American people had played a major role in shaping the mind and attitude of people towards the minorities.

According to Berlant, the intimacy of people is sacred, proper and is only meant for family members (Berlant, 1997, p. 2). The main consequence of such a notion is that it transforms the primary role of politics as a conservation tool to a judgment mechanism that targets the private life of the society.

It is therefore clear that the state which represents heteronormative culture may use crude and inhuman strategies to enhance change of culture that denies both federal and judicial support as they are viewed unethically fit for their existing citizenship (Gregg, 2007, par. 4).

In addition, segregation of people with different sexual orientation continues to undermine hundreds if not thousands of Australians who lack state recognition and support. In her 2007 research, Gregg identified a list of ways in which same sex couples are discriminated in the contemporary society.

Among these included but not limited to social security, compensation, children bearing and work and taxation (Gregg, 2007, par.11). These contribute to the continuous mundane treatment of people engaged in state-sanctioned intimacy.

Furthermore, encounters with gays indicate that their fight against discrimination does not target making them special in the society but equal with the rest of the population (Gregg, 2007, par.12).

They believe that that they are hated not because of being in love but because of their sexuality and whom they have chosen to share intimacy with contrary to the state’s wish. It is however important to double emphasize the fact that individual’s sexual relationships determine their intimate decisions.

Among the facts generated by debates on sexuality and intimate relationships is the fact that feelings tend to be natural and an artificial intention to eliminate such feelings would contravene human rights. In this perspective many authors and researchers have tried to explain marriage structures within the context of monogamy and polygamy. Is polygamy unethical or should the campaign against monogamy be intensified?

Why do people cheat in marriage? The question of the state’s intervention in such cases has always triggered controversial stances within the public domain. In her 2010 analysis, Wood focused on the issue of infidelity and why millions of married couples sign up for online dating sites. Love and intimacy are personal decisions and the choice to move out of a relationship could arise when such affection dies (Wood, 2007, par. 19).

According to the founder of ashleymadison.com, the tendency of people having extramarital affairs is so common that running a dating website alone would not promote the spread of the behavior. This questions the legality of having state-sanctioned intimacy as it contradicts natural feelings of humanity which are expressed through loving others (The Marriage Debate, 2007).

Monogamy and Intimacy

According to Rosa (1994), compulsory heterosexual relationships do not represent a complete package of addressing sexuality in a contemporary society. Monogamy requires that both lesbians and heterosexuals have to consider adopting a lifestyle that is far beyond sexual relationships (Rosa, 1994, p. 106).

She argued that the push for anti-monogamy aims at addressing the rights of people like gays and lesbians who may have not subscribed to heterosexuality. If the theory of family only recognizes mothering women and child bearing, then it does not appreciate the existence of childless women and lesbians who live among us. It is possible to live a complete life without necessarily having to bear children as perceived by the society today.

As analyzed by Rosa, love is independent of any social interference or state sanctions since it emanates from individualized feelings towards others. Nevertheless, the society does not recognize those who express their intimacy outside the context of heterosexual relationships.

She further noted that love exists in variations mainly depending on whom the feelings are being directed to. This ranges from family members to non biological friends. As such, romantic love between women simply signifies strong affection and intimacy as experienced by those in monogamous relationships.

In a general perspective, enjoying intimacy has been perceived to be unlawful resulting into sanctions by the state or negative attitude from the public. However, intimacy can equally be enjoyed without cheating. How possible can this be? Through relationships and partnerships, men and women share romantic feelings.

Singlehood can also be enjoyable in allowing individuals to derive comfort from their inner being. Additionally, serial monogamy illustrates how intimate partnerships form important components of individual lives and deserve no state-sanction (Easton & Liszt, 1997, p. 50).

As deduced from above segments, sexual persecutions exist in various ways in not only Australia but in most parts of the world. In fighting for the rights of asylum refugees, discrimination of people based on their sexual orientation dominates the issue. It explains how refugees experience intimate relationship through queer practices defining their individual sexuality.

Gay Marriages

Gay unions which fall in the category of same sex marriages invoke reactions across the plane. Although many states have gone ahead to ban these relationships, some analysts approach the issues differently. Lindenberger argued that the definition of marriage does not consider the rights of gays in recognizing their existence and rights.

To realize equality between the gays and straight, both need to be recognized as civil unions (Lindenberger, 2010). According to Bernstein and Schaffner (2005), gay marriages which have been sanctioned by several states can provide room for those involved to assume gender roles as they share their intimacy.

Protection of these marriages does not primarily target the existence of equal rights but guards an institution which promises nothing but intimacy in life (Bernstein & Schaffner, 2005, p. 240).

Consequences of State Sanctioned Intimacy

State sanctioned intimacy has several consequences. These consequences may be positive or negative. The consequences of state sanctioned intimacy can have adverse effect individually and society wise. All these are explained in the following subsequent sub-sections.

Positive Consequences

The society generally views homosexuals as unfit to not only offer their professional services but also to interact with other people. As a result, they become inactive in the society and eventually unproductive to a level of not being able to meet their needs.

Moreover, there exists no category of persecution based on the sexuality of a person regardless of their origin (Raj, 2010). Australia recognizes sexuality as a form of persecution although this has been met with the challenge of defining a social group within which this recognition applies.

Negative Consequences

Criminalization and debates on homophobic societies have triggered discrepancies with most people including leaders making statements which completely undermine and belittle the rights of these people as human beings (Herzfeld, 2005, p. 50). How does this affect the society? When the state or states agents fail to consider the wider space to exercise one’s sexuality, the ultimate effect is predominantly felt by the victims.

This may also apply when the state prohibits certain aspects of human sexuality say, lesbianism or gay marriages. Although ignored by some people, researchers do concur that there are millions of people who silently suffer as a result of such inflammatory statements and regulatory approaches towards sexuality and intimate relationships.

Because of existing attitudes, women have continuously been forced into heterosexuality unions making them vulnerable to sexual abuse and inability to experience their intimacy with those they love. In discussing the issue of lesbianism and heterosexual relationships, Rosa reiterated that friendships among women have received negative press.

This has led to the neglecting of the sexual rights of women as bounded by intimacy. It therefore means that having intimate feelings among women does not insinuate promiscuity and casual sex behavior but a response towards natural feelings of love (Rosa, 1994, p. 106).

As a direct impact of sanctioned intimacy, many people find themselves poor and dependent. This does not originate from the fact that employers ignore them. Rejection from family members is common rendering them homeless and desolate. Similarly, medical care and food may become a major problem leading to starvation and inability to live a normal life.

Encompassed with denial of employment and homelessness, victims of state-sanctioned intimacy become vulnerable to countless risky situations including drug abuse and irresponsible sexual behavior that may lead contraction of HIV and other related infections (Dominica Central Newspaper, 2011).


It is evident from the above discussion that intimate relationships play a pivotal role in the society. Intimacy is believed to be away of sharing love which is a major ingredient in social bonding and partnerships. As a matter of fact, love has been used as a marketing strategy by several organizations resulting into improved performance (Gregg, 2011, par. 3).

Nevertheless, the political power of love remains threatened by states, families and corporations which do not appreciate it. In harnessing singularities, love gives identity which forms the basis of social relationships. The immense support and emphasis which is put on marriage illustrates change in discourses under capitalistic politics (Povinelli, 2006, p. 190).

Intimate relationships mean deflection from material possessions. In general, intimacy is not only a complex concept but important in determining social unions. It is founded on principles of natural strong affection. As a result, sanctions by the state undermine citizens’ sexuality rights.


Berlant, G. L. (1997) The queen of America goes to Washington city: essays on sex and citizenship. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Bernstein, E & Schaffner, L. (2005) Regulating sex: the politics of intimacy and identity. London, UK: Routledge.

. (2011) State Sanctioned Homophobia Undermines Citizenship Security. Web.

Easton, D. & Liszt, C. (1997) The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities. Emeryville, California: Greenery Press.

Gregg, M. (2007) . Web.

Gregg, M. (2011) . Journal of Communication Inquiry. University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Web.

Herzfeld, M. (2005) Cultural intimacy: social poetics in the nation-state. London, UK: Routledge.

Lindenberger, M. A. (2009) Web.

Povinelli, E. A. (2006) The empire of love: toward a theory of intimacy, genealogy, and carnality. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press.

Raj, S. (2010) Displaced subjectivities: the queer refugee body in law. Web.

Rosa, B. (1994) Anti-monogamy: Radical Challenge to Compulsory Heterosexuality. Challenges for Feminism. London, UK: Taylor & Francis.

The Marriage Debate. (2007) Should State-Sanctioned Marriage Exist at All? Web.

Warner, M. (2002) “Public and Private”. Public Culture Winter 14(1): 49-90. Web.

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