Apparently my honour needs protecting…

I believe in gay marriage. Without a doubt, without question, without hesitation I believe that members of the queer community have every right to socially and legally commit to the person they love and wish to spend their life with, and to be able to call it the same thing as everyone else in the world. Not separate but equal, but exactly the same. I honestly don’t understand why anyone would even think of creating legislation outlawing it (especially since the US separates church and state and may not legislate according to religious beliefs). As my dad once said, why the hell would anyone care about gays getting married besides gays who want to get married?

Ever since Judge Vaughan Walker overturned California’s Proposition 8, though, there’s been an even further hysteria among conservatives who fear gay marriage will somehow impinge upon their lives. Today I read an article on slate.com which distilled the points made in a couple of opinion pieces criticising the judge’s decision, and something that I’ve always known inherently was suddenly crystallised in my mind: the battle for gay rights and equality is inextricably entwined with the battle for women’s rights and equality.

So beyond the moral and ethical and constitutional questions of restricting the rights of a minority group, my opposition to Prop 8, and all legislation that seeks to define marriage, is that they’re subversively anti-feminist. Take Ross Douthat writing in the NY Times a couple of days ago. He doesn’t argue that allowing gay marriage diminishes an ancient tradition (because, obviously, the ancient tradition of marriage is of a business transaction between two men, a father and a potential husband), but instead devalues an institution that is the rock upon which western civilization currently rests because it is the only one that naturally bears children.

The unspoken assertion here is that the highest aspiration in society, what’s sacred, what must be protected at all costs is the unit that produces children. We elevate child rearing as the pinnacle of human endeavours.

And that’s where I start feeling a personal threat in the whole conservative idea of marriage and family. I’m a straight woman. I’m single, though I’m not averse to the idea of marriage. And I never want kids.

So while I’m not specifically included in the moral outrage against gay marriage I’m still uncomfortable by its tacit assertion that people who have children have a higher status in the community, a life with greater meaning.

Look, I don’t hate kids. I love my friends’ kids and I like playing with them and seeing them grow and buying them things. I look forward to my brother and sister having kids so I can be a really cool aunt. But I just don’t feel any need to have my own. I don’t see this as selfish: it seems to me that succumbing to a biologic need for procreation isn’t any less selfish than deciding that shouldering the responsibility of raising another human being is not for you. I respect everyone’s right to make that choice.

But in elevating couples who rear children above all other relationships, the Prop 8s of the world demean this choice. They insinuate that part of my inherent value is that I can produce children and since I don’t and any relationship I enter into won’t, I and it matter less.

So when this tool in the Christian Science Monitor writes:

Marriage is not about couples or lovers it’s about the physical and moral integrity of women. When a woman’s sexuality is involved, human communities must deal with a malign force that an individual woman and her family cannot control or protect.

My first reaction is: wait, what?

My second reaction is: no, seriously, what?

What Schulman seems to be saying is that my sexuality, my physical and moral integrity, must be protected by my community. I think he means against being seen as an object of sexuality instead of a holy vessel inside which life is nurtured and created. If it weren’t for marriage then men, evil, bad men who would never consider regarding me as a full person but only as a virgin, mother or whore, would rape me and turn me into a concubine or prostitute.

And there’s a serious inference of ownership in there. Not only does modern western marriage tame the wild rapist that exists within every man, but it gives him ownership over the sexuality of the woman he’s protecting. A husband doesn’t run around raping other women partially because marriage forces him to see women as bearers of his children, and also because he knows that these other women have men who will protect them from his aggression.

So not only do my relationships and my person mean less than a woman’s who marries and bears children, but I am also leaving myself open to be defiled by lust-filled guys; and, conceivably, this is my own fault for not having yet availed myself of the protection that marriage brings. Wow. That’s a little too Taliban-esque for my liking.

I don’t even think I can be snarky over this. It’s just asinine drivel. Maybe in Sam Schulman’s weird fantasy world women are weak flowers who need to be protected and cosseted, but in my world women can take care of themselves and own their own sexuality without needing a man to guard their moral and physical integrity. Slate says Schulman’s and Douthat’s arguments have “the virtue of targeting two of [conservatives] favourite demons: gays and uppity women”. I agree: it’s so ridiculous it can only be propaganda. In reality, relationships, and marriage dammit, are not about ownership and protecting the (ostensibly) weaker sex but about commitment and love. And occasionally about affording a mortgage but that’s a whole nother story.

I’m kidding. Jeez.

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~ by kellly333 on August 11, 2010.

One Response to “Apparently my honour needs protecting…”

  1. The best part about this post is that one of the tags is “douchebags”.
    I think in the end that gay marriage will be allowed in the US (or at least civil partnerships like in the UK) because any kind of partnership where people are living together in a household and sharing expenses, there are potential legal issues. If there is a breakdown in the relationship there will be disputes over money and custody of children. It will be the need to have a legal framework that will make marriage/legal partnerships necessary. I don’t have time to address that comment in the Christian Science Monitor, but I agree, what a tool!

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