Emilia Roig’s first book Why We Matter: The End of Oppression was published in 2021 and was one of our favourites of the year, leaving a strong positive impression on me. Roig is the founder of the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice and an expert on diversity, intersectionality, inclusion and equality. I was looking forward to her second book, Das Ende der Ehe: Für eine Revolution der Liebe (The End of Marriage: For a Revolution of Love), which was published by Ullstein Verlag at the end of March 2023, and I was not disappointed.
Roig begins her book with her personal story, tells of her wedding, marriage and divorce, and also explains right at the start the origins of a collective-social longing for marriage, before she then focuses on the individual aspects of marriage and heteronormative relationships. For instance, she sheds light on women’s care work, the role of sex in marriage, the financial disadvantage of married women, and she dismantles the idea of binarity. But she also refers to same-sex marriage and asks interesting questions: Is same-sex marriage a success for the LGBTQIA+ movement or is it ultimately an attempt to gain legitimacy in a heteronormative system?
Every now and then I find myself not necessarily wanting to agree with Roig, and maybe that is precisely where her talent as an author becomes apparent. Because she manages to prevent a wall from building up inside me, quite the opposite – it crumbles and I begin to ask myself what mechanisms are at work inside me, what script I am following that causes me to feel this resistance.
What I generally appreciate about Emilia Roig’s books is how she breaks down complex themes into small pieces, which makes them very accessible and understandable. But then, bit by bit, she weaves in what has already been said, shows the connections between the different aspects of marriage and always addresses the significance of other forms of discrimination such as racism, ableism or classism. So as a reader I always feel I can understand the complexity of her thoughts and ideas from scratch.
As in Why We Matter, Roig ends The End of Marriage with an outlook on what the first steps towards a future that marks the end of marriage might look like. These ideas seem tangible, realistic and leave one feeling hopeful.
The End of Marriage has not been translated into English so far.