The Dangers of Desiring the Law’s Discipline

Yvonne Zylan: States of Passion: Law, Identity, and the Social Construction of Desire. Oxford, New York, 2011, 324 pp, ISBN: 978-0-19-973508-2
  • Emily KaufmanEmail author
Book Review

On December 7th, the Supreme Court announced it would take up two cases concerning gay marriage: a challenge to California’s 2008 Proposition 8 and to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. Between polls showing a majority in favor of gay marriage, and heart-wrenching and politically compelling arguments for it, popular discourse has it that the challenges are good news for the gay marriage movement. However, Yvonne Zylan might disagree. She would also tell us that ‘gay marriage’ does not exist (Zylan 2011: 222).

States of Passion: Law, Identity, and the Social Construction of Desire, is an attack on taken-for-granted notions of gender, sex, sexuality, law, and the idea that anti-gay hate crime legislation, same-sex sexual harassment clauses, and ‘gay marriage’ are necessarily progressive causes. Yet it is an exceptionally gentle, thorough, and impeccably crafted ‘attack’ which, rather than pulling the rug of assumptions out from under us, takes our hand and leads us through a wealth of...

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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