Date of Award

August 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Noelle Chesley

Committee Members

Celeste Campos-Castillo, Cary Costello, Timothy O'Brien


gender, heteronormativity, inequality, LGBT+, marriage, sexuality


This research positions marriage as an institution that has historically served to privilege men, masculinity and heterosexuality. Overall, this project is intended to advance our understanding of gender and sexual inequalities in the realms of marriage and family by examining the lived experiences of married people. It draws on data from 41 in-depth interviews conducted with married people living in Wisconsin, many of whom identify as part of the LGBT+ community. Using qualitative social science methods, this research speaks to unanswered questions regarding the capacity of a more gender-fluid society to reshape key social institutions (like marriage) in ways that make them more accessible to a wider population by reshaping cultural ideas about what marriage and family can look like. Theoretically, it broadens our understanding of how gender and sexuality are connected, the mechanisms that reinforce and disrupt gender and sexuality norms, and the larger implications of undoing for greater gender and sexual equality.