Tell Facebook: “Relationships” Comprise More Than Just Sex Partners
Facebook allows us to write whatever we want in our profile’s “Religion” box — even Peanut Butter Cups. So why, for our “Relationship,” must we choose from a pre-set list of nine choices: single; in a relationship; engaged; married; it’s complicated; in an open relationship; widowed; separated; and divorced?
Facebook needs to make the Relationship status a write-in field. I at least want the option of flaunting of my relationships with my cat or my hairdresser. But there are serious, bigger problems at stake here.
By forcing users to choose one “relationship” from a narrow range of options centering around marital status and sexual habits, Facebook perpetuates our society’s entrenched mate-mania, which over-worships the sexual-couple-unit, and marriage in particular. This bias devalues other important relationships. It devalues platonic friends and non-spousal family members. And it devalues people for whom conventional coupling/marriage is either not appealing or not an option.
Many of us have experienced this mate-mania in common discourse, such as the single person who weathers comments like “You’re so awesome, why are you still single?” But most people don’t realize that this irritating cultural quirk is actually codified into government policy. In the U.S. legal code over 1300 laws mention marital status, favoring married couples by a wide margin. People seldom question this blatant discrimination because they’re brainwashed by the myth of marriage-as-panacaea, a myth encouraged by casually couple-centric phenomena like the Facebook Relationship Drop Down Menu of Doom.
Since at least 2007, users have been asking Facebook to broaden its definitions of relationship (here and here and here and here and here and here). [links for the word “here” found at the original post.] Facebook appears to have ignored them. To get their attention, please sign this petition asking Facebook to allow users to write-in their own descriptions of their Relationship.
Granted, with all freedom comes risk. Someone might argue, “But my creepy coworker could write that he’s dating me, when obviously I would never go out with someone who collects shrunken heads.” Solution: Facebook could allow your coworker to request you “validate” his status update (as already occurs with “in a relationship”), which you of course wouldn’t, thereby rendering his update less legitimate-looking.
And while I’m redesigning Facebook, why is there only one Relationship Status box? (The answer to that rhetorical question is in paragraph three.) Let’s advise Facebook that we all have myriad important people in our lives.
And even if the only important person in your life is your spouse/partner, then please sign the petition for my sake. I don’t want to have to choose between “In a relationship with Dwight” and “In a relationship with Cottonpaws” because I’m not sure who would come out on top.