Hey, Christian Fundies Listened To Me!

March 24, 2009

Well! What interesting timing. Just when eloriane and I were both thinking about same-sex marriage (ok, I was mostly scrunching my eyes shut and spewing), Vermont goes and votes almost unanimously for marriage equality! Okay, maybe 26 – 4 isn’t all that “almost unanimous” mathematically, but hey! It’s not a squeaker 😀 And yes, the vote does need to clear the House but it sounds like that’s likely not going to be a problem. w00t! This is awesome news, Vermont!

Of course, being the newshound that I am ,*ahem* I learned of this first from Shakesville, thankyouverymuch Ms. McEwan. I don’t read the news, it seems. I read feminists’ take on the news. Much easier for the blood pressure.

Over at Blurt, the blog of Vermont independent newspaper Seven Days, they bring us  a view of what it was like inside the Senate during the debate and the vote:

Sen. John Campbell (D-Windsor), the key sponsor of the Senate version, tossed aside eight pages of notes to “speak from the heart” in an effort to urge his colleagues to support the bill.

Campbell said marriage needed to be inclusive, and into its fold brought people who were committed to upholding the rights and responsibilities of marriage, as well as the love it takes to make it work.

He took offense at some opponents labeling gays and lesbians “those people.”

“You know who those they people are? They are our policemen. They are our firefighters. They’re teachers; they’re garbagemen; they’re the guy who plows the street,” said Campbell. “They are our children, our sisters, our brothers. That’s what they are. They are human beings and as such and as it’s said in this bill they should be treated equally.”

*sniff* You know, usually when I go to weddings I don’t get emotional. Often there’s this part of me inside that is really hoping that the bride won’t go through with it. “Run!” says the voice in my head. But, the only same-sex marriage I’ve been to is also the only wedding where I cried. Being able to love, openly, and to have that love acknowledged by the community? That means something. Good for you, Vermont senators, for doing the right thing.


Hey Christian Fundies, You Don’t Own “Marriage”

March 22, 2009

Reading eloriane’s recent great post on marriage and the interesting comments to it brought to mind something about this marriage issue that’s always pissed me off: the idea that marriage as a religious institution supersedes it as a social institution, or a legal one. That’s certainly not what the post or the comments say, but rather what Christian and other religious fundamentalists clearly believe. I’m going to point my rant-y mouth at Christianity though, because in the United States, it’s predominantly Christians who are blocking same-sex marriage (although this is likely simply because Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S.)*. And it’s not just that Christians focus on the religious aspect of marriage, but that, arrogantly, they believe that they own marriage, as an idea, as an institution. And that marriage is a religious institution above and beyond what it is as a social or legal one. And as a non-Christian this is frankly appalling.

Heads up, my bigoted Christian neighbours: YOU DO NOT OWN THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE. You don’t. You did not invent it. Your god is not the author of that idea. People of no religion get married all the time. People of other religions also get married. Religiously. And have been doing so for longer than 2000 years. People have been doing it all over the world in all sorts of different cultures with all sorts of different religions (how commonly they are deeply patriarchal, of course, is another post altogether!). Does your own personal concept of what marriage means have to be shoved down everybody else’s throats? Is a Sikh woman and man not married if they do so in a temple? What about Hindus? Are Hindus not married because they don’t do so in a church? Oh that’s different, you say. “That’s still a man and a woman.” Well, WHO is to say that THAT is what the definition of marriage is? Why do YOU get to decide? Why not the Pagans? Why not the First Nations? Because, even if you don’t come right out and say it, you behave as if 1) the definition of marriage comes from your religion, and 2) your religion supersedes all others. Also, I think that basically homosexuality squicks you out and you hide your bigotry behind religion and tradition. The idea of marriage being between one man and one woman is mostly a religious one, and as such, you have no right to force me to follow that.

What ever happened to freedom of religion? Am I not free to not be a Christian and not follow Christian tenets? You cannot, you simply CANNOT argue that the rest of us must follow your religion. The arrogance.

And I’m speaking as someone who will never get married, not ever, for all the feminist reasons that make marriage as a social/legal institution problematic (see the comments to eloriane’s post). I simply cannot get over signing a legal contract to be in a romantic, sexual relationship with someone. I cannot get over the ownership/prostitutional flavour of that (interesting arguments about reforming social/legal institutions aside). However, I will fight endlessly, constantly, to ensure that marriage is open to everyone, because it’s not just about what I would choose, or my feminist arguments (though those are valid and need to be addressed concerning marriage as an institution), it’s also about acceptance in the larger social community. For me and my also-female loved one to stand together and declare our love in our community, and to have that recognized, officially, legally, is a statement of equality**. And I think that’s why homophobes hate it so much. Simply, it legitimizes same-sex romantic relationships.

And ultimately, that is my reason for fighting for it.


* yes I know that countries dominated by other religions are equally homophobic. I’m  yelling at my neighbours in particular, this time.
** yes this does mean that marriage is about equality in one situation and inequality in another. welcome to intersectionality – road maps are challenging to read!
***p.s. yes, I know. I fell in love with formatting in this post. Don’t judge us :-p

My Dream Wedding

March 19, 2009

When I was a kid, I never fantasized about getting married, or having a wedding, or keeping house with a husband. I didn’t get it; I literally could not imagine myself in a romantic relationship with a man. I figured I’d just have a female friend as a “roommate-for-life,” basically, and we’d adopt kids together. (And yet it was a total surprise to me when, at 15, I realized I was gay!)

Somehow, though, it feels like the last year or so I’ve been trying to catch up on all the wedding-fantasizing I “missed out on” as a kid. I find myself mentally planning the perfect, patriarchy-smashing wedding. Generally my partner is Doctor-Who-as-played-by-Lucy-Lawless-in-a-tuxedo or some such similar fantasy spouse, since I really don’t want to be getting married any time soon! No, really; I don’t even want to date for at least another year.

But I somehow can’t help thinking about what kind of dress I’d like to wear (something ridiculously sexy!) and what kind of cake I’d prefer (the jury’s still out on that one– but it’ll be something nerdy, for sure.)

It might be because I’ve been thinking a lot more about where my future is headed, lately, whereas before, I always sort of “knew”: I am in school, and next year I will also be in school, and after that I will still be in school. Only now, I’m not in school. I know I’m going back to school, but I’m thinking more about what will happen after that, where I will live, what I will do.

And I’m especially thinking about my Canadian citizenship. Should I move to Canada? When should I move to Canada? Should I become established in my career first, build a resume, and then move, or just head straight for where I want to end up? The family I know best is in the United States. (Probably because that’s where I am; I would know my Canadian relatives better if I moved there.) My history is in America. Does my future need to be in America, too? I’ve always lived in the Midwest or the South; what if I just moved to New York or someplace in California? Mostly the desire to expatriate is a nebulous feeling that I am painfully out of place in the States. Mostly.

But I could get married, in Canada. One hundred percent, legally recognized everywhere, no oops-we-take-it-back or only-in-this-state, but really, truly married. Which is tempting. I could have a big party. My parents might even publicly say that they’re happy for me. We could have crab at the dinner; I love crab.

This is about when I start having second thoughts, where I ask myself, “Why the hell do I want a wedding, anyway? Marriage has been a tool of the patriarchy for centuries! I don’t need to have any part in it!” I always sort of appreciate it when straight folks opt out of marriage, challenging all our cultural ideas about its necessity. I especially appreciate it when they do so as a symbol of solidarity with the millions of gay folks in America who don’t have handy Canadian dual citizenships to buy them access to the institution.

Except, of course, that I’d like to have hospital visitation rights for my partner, and all the other very practical benefits of marriage, not to mention the official recognition of our relationship as real and important, all of which which straight folks “living in sin” tend to get regardless of legal status, but which gay folks are often denied, also regardless of legal status.

I’m tentatively thinking that, in a perfect world, after the great feminist revolution or whatever, we might do away with the current conception of marriage altogether, but in the mean time, in the world we live in now, it’s not fair to exclude people who want to participate in marriage’s assorted messed-up-ness from doing so.

So… what? Gay folks should all opt into marriage and straight folks should all opt out? Huh? Where am I even going with this??

Maybe I shouldn’t post this when I’m still so conflicted, but the thing is, I really don’t know. Is homosexuality a sufficient “subversion” to “justify” playing into as patriarchal an institution as marriage? Or do I need to ignore the confusing longing that I find in myself, and throw my hands up at all marriage? Which extreme will move us towards the revolution we need? Or, what would the “middle ground” even be?

Why does this movie exist?

March 15, 2009

I was watching the Daily Show when I noticed a lot of ads for a movie called, “I Love You, Man.” Because I love feeling angry, apparently, I checked out the trailer!

Our protagonist (as it were) is going to get married, but, oh no! He has no Man Friends! Who will be his Best Man at the wedding? Clearly, the only solution is to go out on a lot of Man Dates to meet a new Man Friend specifically for the wedding. Obviously he can’t have a female friend fill the role, or his brother, or eliminate the role entirely. No, he must foray into the dangerous realm of Man Dating! Perils await him; in one hilarious incident, highlighted in the trailer, on of the Men that he Man Dates comments on the enjoyability of their Date, and then tries to kiss him! “With tongue?” “Oh yeah, deep in my mouth.” The horror.

In order to keep his Man Dating safely free of Teh Ghey, he does what any sensible person would do: starts Man Dating a complete asshole.

No, seriously. In the trailer, we see his Man Date walking his dog, and intentionally not picking up said dog’s poo. When a pedestrian (rightly!) tries to call him out on it, he screams like a maniac and scares said pedestrian away. “Society tells us to act civilized, but the truth is we’re animals,” he says. Later, he tells our protagonist’s girlfriend that because her fiance is kind enough to go down on her, she needs to reciprocate with blow jobs!

All I can think is, why does this movie exist? I just can’t get over the premise– that a guy without a male friend has to go and find one, any one, and that it’s good when said friend teaches him to “loosen up” by becoming a jerk. Seriously, I like the protagonist in the beginning– the guy who sincerely enjoys The Devil Wears Prada. He is interesting and also not an asshole. Why do we need to turn him into another, all-too-common masculinity-obsessed self-absorbed jerk? And why do we see this as him “having his own life”?? He had a life! A life that involves going to the movies with a woman that you like is still a life!

I’m extra skeeved-out by the fact that his wedding is the impetus for this “life change.” I think I might have to entirely call off movies that revolve around weddings. I can’t think of one that didn’t ultimately focus on upholding stupid gender norms and pigeonholing people because of them. Plus, the gay jokes. Attention, world: gay jokes are particularly mean-spirited in movies that focus on weddings, which gay people cannot have! Also, “this person is gay” is not a particularly funny punchline! “Someone thinks someone else is gay, but they’re actually straight!” is even less funny.

I’m thinking of Made of Honor (note the closing punchline of the trailer: “someone thinks the protagonist is gay!”), Bride Wars (tag line: “It makes up in sexism what it lacks in gay jokes!”), and possibly 27 Dresses (quote: “You can start over, and you can say no, and you can do what you want!” Which is marry a dude!).

I honestly feel faintly ridiculous whining about the wedding-industrial complex being sexist and heterosexist. It’s not really a surprise! But after reading about people in the feminist blogosphere working to subvert those traditions, and grappling with my own decision of when/if to expatriate, well, I’m just not in a generous mood. And I’m angry that a movie like “I Love You, Man” even needs to exist.

I’m Too Lazy for my Blog, Too Lazy for my Blog

October 3, 2008

So it’s time for a blogaround!

Voting myths and Registration Deadline over at Jump Off the Bridge. The short version: it’s illegal to campaign too close to a polling station (distance varies by state) and wearing campaign paraphernalia can qualify, but even if you wear an Obama T-shirt to the polls they may NOT deny you your right to vote! Just cover up or remove the campaign gear, and they MUST allow you to vote.

Plans B Damned: The Quest for Emergency Contraception at RH Reality Check. Kind of an upsetting story, but also just about exactly what I expected. It makes me want to do my own experiment, to see how hard it is to get Plan B here in Arkansas, except, of course, that birth control is a shameful, shameful thing to talk about, and I’m not that brave. Who needs to overturn Roe v. Wade? Just keep chipping away at this stuff.

But cheer up, everyone, and check out Sarah Haskins again! Actually, you should bookmark her right now, so you never have to miss another of her videos again. She is my favourite comedian ever. If only the rest of Current was half as funny.

Hey, more funny stuff: At Least We’re Good For a Laugh! at BGKev.com. Oh, oops. This is actually not funny at all. Turns out one of the few things Palin and Biden agreed on last night was the fact that it would be illegan to deny certain rights to those icky gays, but by God, we don’t have to let them use the word marriage! It’s times like these that I feel most defeatist about American politics, but at least BGK sees some hope. If we can get civil unions to exist, then we can challenge them in the Supreme Court, and it’ll probably be good news. But still…if you’re agreeing with the Republicans, you’re not being a very good ally. This is one of the major ways that the Obama campaign continues to disappoint me.

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart: basically the only thing I’m going to say about last night’s debate. Besides the thing I just said about gay rights.

A Conversation with the Nuptial-Industrial Complex over at 2 Elle also makes me laugh and makes me wonder what I’ll do when it comes time for my afore-mentioned evil Canadian gay wedding. I’m thinking a Marilyn Monroe-type white dress– it would flatter my figure in all the right ways, and I want my wedding to be more like a party and less like a Formal Ceremony if at all possible. I want to actually be married at the end of it (boo USA!) but other than that I’m not that interested in a traditional wedding.

The Myth of Objectivity over at Echidne of the Snakes got me thinking about my experiences in journalism, and how “objective” is usually anything but. Supporting the status quo is still taking a position; it is promoting a viewpoint; it is not “neutral.”

For some good ol’ FA stuff, I’ve been reading old Shapely Prose posts. Hooray for the Duh Truck! Twice! My favourite bit is a brief anecdote from the second one:

“I just recently met a woman who has fraternal twin boys, one of whom is bigger than the other — and she told me the pediatrician is on her ass about that kid’s weight. Because of course the only logical explanation for that would be that she’s overfeeding one kid but giving the other a normal amount of food. As, you know, mothers of twins are totally wont to do. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?”

I mean, has this doctor never seen children in their natural habitats before? When I was a kid, it was totally unacceptable for my brothers to have a different number of sprinkles than I got, let alone such a fundamentally different diet that they were noticeably heavier. Isn’t that typical behavior for kids, especially for twins? “If they get X, I want to have X too!” It’s just bizarre to assume that the difference is in the input, rather than the body’s response.

Also: Feeling fat may be worse for you than being fat. And it’s in a reputable news source and everything! If only I were brave enough to mail these links to my mum…luckily, though, she can’t make me feel fat. She can make me feel terribly unfit, but that’s because I haven’t exercised regularly since 6th grade and am not strong enough to climb two flights of stairs in a row. (I’m working on it!) So, unhealthy, sure, but unacceptably fat? No way. I am drop-dead sexy, guys. Voluptuous and gorgeous.

Ten posts is enough for a blogaround, right? You’ve all got enough stuff to read now that I can leave, right? You won’t come after me for failing my blogular duties?

Great! Then I’m going to go watch some more Planet Earth. Man, I love the BBC.

Babylon 5, “Soul Mates,” and marriage.

September 6, 2008

In the season 2 episode of Babylon 5 titles “Soul Mates,” we have a sudden influx of spouses. Talia’s ex-husband, Matt Stoner, and Londo’s three wives all arrive on-station to cause headaches for their spouses.

The plot revolving around Talia was frustrating in the ways her plots always are– it seems like nobody, even she, can remember her past (like, say, who was her mentor in her first year at Psi Corps– she’s had three now!) or her goals for the future. Just last episode, she was “completely loyal to Psi Corps” (in Ivanova’s estimation) and even concealed information from Sheridan to protect the Corps. But in this episode, she longs to escape! Madness.

(EDIT: This madness is explained in the “next” episode, “A Race Through Dark Places,” where Talia meets a number of telepaths fleeing Psi Corps and comes to sympathize with and defend them. I put “next” in quotes because it was actually intended to air before “Soul Mates,” and although the incorrect order is preserved on the DVD it’s still pretty clearly wrong.)

But more frustrating was the sudden appearance of Londo’s wives. He’s whined about them before, and how much they nag him and spend all his money. But now he has been granted a special dispensation from the Emperor, allowing him to divorce all but one of his wives. Hurray! he says, and calls them all to B5 to decide which one to keep. The two he divorces will lose their social status and their money, a fact he is just overjoyed to relay.

Daggair is generally critical of Londo, but goes honey-sweet in his presence, trying to convince him she’d be a political asset. Mariel is always sweet, and plays up her sexiness and youth. Timov thinks the whole thing is ridiculous and derides Londo for putting them all through it.

Basically, we have a spectrum: a shrew (Timov), a shrew-cum-gold-digger (Daggair), and a gold-digger (Mariel). And Londo is deciding which of these three “burdens” he will have removed.

Now, these were all arranged marriages, but I was still upset that there was so much vitriol directed towards the wives. It was meant to be a humorous sub plot, but I just couldn’t laugh when Mariel and Daggair are each trying to seduce Londo, and actually consider his proposal of a competitive threesome. It only fails to happen because Timov, when invited to “show her feelings for him” like the others, slaps him and storms out. (Well, and because it’s a PG show.) I don’t think sex is inherently debasing, but there did seem to be something debasing in this scenario…the fact that it was the only way they could secure their futures, that it was compelled rather than desired. That’s not what sex should be about, and that’s not what marriage should be about.

The thing is, I knew Londo would pick Timov (the shrew) because to have him reward gold-digging behavior would be unacceptable, somehow. I don’t think the writers felt they could get away with endorsing that kind of message– that you shouldn’t tell men what you think of them, you should lie and offer sex or else the men will throw you to the streets. And they did a good job with that decision, but not the best job possible.

You see, the problem with Mariel and Daggair was that neither of them really respected him. When, at one point, Londo’s life is threatened, they talk about how much better it would be if he died, because the divorce hadn’t been ratified yet so they’d all live richly. We later discover that Mariel had actually poisoned him herself in an attempt to bring this about (and Daggair may have been in on it). I would say it makes sense to divorce a woman who would prefer you dead than alive.

Especially when Timov is the alternative. It’s not so much that she hates Londo as it is that she recognizes his flaws and is more than willing to point them out. Since he does the same to her, it’s in some way a healthier dynamic than the cloying lies of the other two wives. Especially since there is an undercurrent of respect– Timov shares Londo’s blood type, and though she reflects for a while first, she does go to give Londo the blood transfusion that saves his life. However, she keeps this secret.

In fact, Londo makes his decision without knowing that Mariel and Daggair sought his death, or that Timov saved his life. He chose Timov, even though, as she says, she will never be what he wants her to be, because “with you at least I know where I stand.” This is an admirable sentiment, preferring the honesty of her ambivalence to the sweet lies of the other two, but it is a sentiment that would have been strengthened if he’d known about their actions regarding his life.

As it stands, it seemed almost as if he’d chosen the one option sure to infuriate all three wives. I can only hope he learns to appreciate her honesty a little more in future, and we will be subject to less of his whining about the terrors of wives.

Because honestly, that trope is what bothers me most in all this– the idea that wives are somehow annoying. Newsflash, guys! You don’t have to get married if you don’t want to! Why is it funny to act like associating with your chosen life mate is some kind of burden? I guess I’m just a humorless feminist, but if I was allowed to get married, I wouldn’t be embarrassed to let people know that I liked my wife.