Unruly democracy and the privileges of public intimacy: (Same) sex spousal hiring in academia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Western democracies seems to have largely been dominated by samesex marital and domestic arrangement claims, there remain domains of contention where the romantic bonds between same-sex partners have not yet attracted the public eye. One can reflect, for example, on the issue of same-sex partner hiring in academia. Whether it pertains to such an infinitesimal portion of its population or it is perceived as less a matter of rights than of a recognition of intimate bonds that intersect with intellectual capital, the social and economic costs of spousal hiring-especially same-sex spousal hiring-are yet to be fully considered and weighed.1 Within the context of this discussion of Lesbian Academic Couples there is something to be said about the (dis)pleasures and profits of a heteronormative practice such as spousal hiring and how much this little privilege reveals the broader systemic discrimination vis-à-vis sexual and gender claims in our academic institutions. Although this essay doesn’t pretend to uncover all the dirty little secrets surrounding this very (un)official practice (if it did, there would be enough material for a three-part exclusive cover story in Harper’s), my paper aims at reflecting upon two issues that emerge from its (questionable) application:

1. How a privilege such as spousal hiring intersects with institutional policies concerning sexual diversity; and in light of this,

2. Why queer or lesbian couples shouldn’t embrace dubious spousal hiring incentives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationLesbian Academic Couples
EditorsMichelle Gibson, Deborah T Meem
Place of PublicationBinghamton, NY
PublisherHaworth Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780203729113
ISBN (Print)9781560236184, 9781560236191
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Academic couple
  • Domestic partner benefits
  • Lesbian
  • Queer
  • Spousal hiring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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