Posts Tagged ‘marriage equality’

  1. We’ve Moved Out Already, Church, Let It Go

    March 4, 2013 by J9London

    Image from http://www.atheistmemebase.com/

    Image from http://www.atheistmemebase.com/

    I don’t normally go in for them political fandangos, due to the high rate of people getting shouty, but the equal marriage bill passed through the house of commons and that deserves a pretty big huzzah from ever one. Of course, there are still some people who are dragging their heels about the whole thing, like the good ol’ Archbish of Cant, so as my personal celebration of this excellent news, I’d like to tell him why he just needs to let it go.

    You see, the church* built the society we live in, however irrelevant it may seem to your own personal life. The church is like a parent, and under its sometimes too watchful, often hypocritical eye, we have grown into the strange and varied culture of the west. And just like all parents, it has to let go sometime.

    When you’re a toddler, you trust your parents completely. You have to. They’re the only people you know, and they know the power you have. So when you say “why can’t I chase my ball out into the street and put flaming trombones in my hair and swim in the sea with my pet manatee and no water wings?” they just say “because I said so” and have done with it. Or they go on to say “you are an infant and I am grown and as I have grown I have received wisdom which you have thus far had no access to and besides I have a whole big book on exactly why you shouldn’t do those things, but it’s in Latin and you can’t even read English, can you, tiny child, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say I can sum it all up into a neat bundle of ‘because I said so.’”

    But you don’t stay a toddler forever, and your parents can’t watch you all the time, so you’re probably going off and learning stuff behind their backs. And they know this and, even though they’re divorced now** and sometimes disagree on things, they still love you and want to raise you right. So when you say “but why can’t I go to that party on the other side of town with Tanya who just got her drivers licence and have fun with all the boys she says will be there because there won’t be any parents around and then next week go backpacking through Turkey and Israel and Iran with one of the boys I meet at the party tonight?” they sit down and explain it. And they say “look, there’s a lot of swell advice in this book I was talking about earlier that I’ve now translated into a strange and unlikely form of English and you’ve learned to read, so here, have a copy, although seriously there are a lot of weird analogies and contradictions so I’ll just tell you what it all means anyway.”

    But there comes a time when every child has to leave his or her parents protective bubble. Whether it’s to go to university, to move to a different city, to live with another human so you can get your junk all up in each other’s business without it being creepy because your mum and excessively flatulent stepdad are in the next room, or just because your, like, twenty seven, jeez, eventually it’ll just be time to go. So you’ll say “I’m moving out. I’ll be making my own decisions from now on. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the foundation in life you’ve given me. And although I may listen to people who oppose you in various areas, and although I may form opinions you disagree with, I’ll still come round for dinner and talk to you because you have interesting views, some of which are helpful, all of which are fun to debate. When we inevitably do disagree I hope we’re both smart enough to use that as an opportunity for discussion, rather than reasons to fight and ultimately hate each other. Please trust that you’ve instilled in me some generally good values and let me make the calls now, KTHNXBYE.”

    Whatever you believe, wherever you’re from, if you’re living in the west, you’re in a society that was parenting by the church. Or churches, I should say, for there are several. In general, we’ve moved out and on. We’ll visit, some of us every week, but we don’t belong to the church anymore. It’d just be nice if it’d keep the kettle on. For anyone who ever facies a cup of tea.

     

    *I mean the church as a general, meandering beastie; the corporate church, the global church; not a specific church, and certainly not God
    **And I’m sure that picture of Henry “douchebag” the Eighth with the caption about the Church of England respecting the sanctity of marriage just brings HELLA LOLZ, but there was way more going on with the reformation of the church than him having blue balls for that Anne girl, come on, guys, research, jeez

    Janina is addicted to dark chocolate and peppermint tea. She once made a burger so good she has a picture of the occasion on her bedroom wall. You can find out more about her at myrednotebook.com and follow her on twitter at @J9London.


  2. Darn Right, I’m a Feminist!

    June 27, 2012 by tedmcwhirter

    Image from sinninginsuburbia.blogspot.com

     

    Something happened to me recently which got me thinking. A friend of mine came over for a catch up, and as we sat (discussing the breakdown of Johnny Depp’s marriage, if you must know) I took the opportunity to sew a patch into my husband’s work trousers. Each time I looked up from my stitching, I found her looking at me, bemused. At first I thought she was just interested in what I was doing but the longer it went on, the more flustered she became until (as I picked up a sock that needed darning) she blurted out,

    “..and you call yourself a feminist?”

    I was struck dumb, but must have conveyed my confusion through my raised eyebrows because she added,

    “Make him fix his own clothes. You don’t have to do that!”

    Now, there are several things wrong here and I’ll tackle them one by one. Firstly, no – I will not make him fix his own trousers because he can’t sew. In the same way that my husband (a carpenter) would not leave me to build my own extension on our house. I do the sewing because I’m good at it.

    Secondly, (and this is a major one) I like to sew. I find it relaxing. I like the fact that, given a couple of hours, I can make myself a dress or change the length of a skirt. I also love being able to fix things – when my buttons fall off, or hems come down or seams come apart I don’t have to pay anyone to mend them (or, worse, throw the items away). No! I can simply put them back together again. Saving money, recycling and giving my self a nice sense of accomplishment to boot. Brilliant.

    Lastly, (and this is the kicker) no-one is making me do anything. It’s 2012, not 1952 – my marriage is a partnership. I do not have to have dinner on the table when my husband comes home. I do not spend hours slaving over the laundry. My friend had reacted as if I’d whipped out a mangle and sobbed “he won’t let me use the washing machine because I need to learn my place!” (In truth, he wandered into the house with his pants showing through the rip in his trousers and said “bum flap!”). I hadn’t implied that it was a chore or that I was annoyed to be doing it.

    I wondered whether she would have had the same reaction to other household tasks – would sweeping the kitchen floor have resulted in a lecture? Or hanging out the washing? Or fixing my own socks? I think not. What had bothered her was the idea that I was doing housework for my husband. And yet, would she have reacted as negatively had she seen him putting my clothes away? Or shining my shoes? Or darning my socks? No – that would have been seen as kind, caring – as ‘making an effort’. Why does this double-standard still exist?

    The problem seems to be that the term ‘feminism’ is widely misunderstood; many people associating it with a fight for female superiority rather than for a world in which women and men have equal rights and freedoms. The confusion is understandable. Looking at the negative aspects of womanhood is always going to involve comparison with the positive aspects of being a man. The issue becomes a battle of the sexes – which, by its nature, implies that there will be a winner. Any idea of equality falls by the wayside.

    In ‘How to be a Woman’, Caitlin Moran succinctly explains that her idea of feminism is “neither pro-women nor anti-men [but rather] thumbs up for the six billion”. We’re aiming for a system within which we all have a fair deal – not a world in which one sex lords it over the other. What’s not to like? I can darn socks if I want to and so can my husband – equality. If we don’t want to do it we can buy new socks. Brilliant. Of course, I’m simplifying a much bigger issue but the fact remains that for many people my action of sitting mending my husband’s clothes would’ve prompted a similar response.

    So what’s the answer? I don’t know – but here’s what I did. I explained everything I’ve said here to my friend as I finished darning the socks, I gave her my copy of ‘How to be a Woman’ and then I wrote this article. It’s not easy to lecture friends but it is sometimes necessary. Why? because if more of us spread the word then hopefully the need for rants like this will disappear and we can get back to the important task of making things fairer. Simple.

    Alis writes a wonderful blog here – www.alphabetteringmyself.com – based on bettering herself each week via the alphabet. Go check it out and you will understand – it’s very cool. You can also find her work on the HuffPo. She tweets as @tedmcwhirter.


  3. Pride and Prejudice: Thoughts on Marriage Equality

    February 28, 2012 by alicehaswords

    Image from speakequal.com

    Hello.

    I am writing this blog in response to a petition put forward by the ‘Coalition for Marriage’. Sounds benign enough, doesn’t it? I quite like marriage. It has a bit of a shady past, and it doesn’t always work out, but when it does, it can be a wonderful thing. Romantic soul as I am, I find the idea of getting married one day quite appealing – all that security and commitment and support? Lovely.

    Surprisingly for an organisation claiming to be ‘for marriage’, the Coalition for Marriage holds the strange belief that if, for example, I were allowed to get married, (to another woman, as I imagine I might some day want to do), society would somehow collapse around me as a direct result of this well-intended, loving union.

    In a surprise (and I can’t help but suspect cynically calculating) move, David Cameron, the Conservative prime minister, has stated his support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK. “Society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other”, he says. His claim that this view is the basis on which Conservatism is built is just plain inaccurate (unless I have missed a recent, drastic Tory swing in favour of the ideals of the socialist left) – but regardless, I can’t help but agree with this statement. Which is why I think it can only be a good thing to open up the marriage field beyond its current heterosexual margins.

    The Coalition for Marriage disagrees. This is the text of their online petition:

    “I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.”

    The thing that bothers me most is their reasoning. So I’m going to pick it mercilessly apart.

    The following excerpts are taken directly from the Coalition for Marriage’s website:

    1. “Marriage is unique: Throughout history and in virtually all human societies marriage has always been the union of a man and a woman. Marriage reflects the complementary natures of men and women. Although death and divorce may prevent it, the evidence shows that children do best with a married mother and a father.”

    Well, that’s just not true. Throughout history and in virtually all human societies, marriage has had little or nothing to do with what we consider it to mean in Western societies today. It has been used as bargaining tool, to cement peaceful diplomatic relations between nations and families, to keep wealth within the realms of the already-wealthy; marriage as an entirely voluntary union between one man and one woman based on mutual love and commitment is, in the context of global history, a novel and peculiar notion. Don’t get me wrong, I think marriage is improved vastly by the attitude that women aren’t commodities to be exchanged in pursuit of wealth or power; I think the fact that marriage is no longer a necessity for one’s own physical and financial security is a good thing (much as I enjoy the works of Jane Austen for their wry, wordy humour, I can’t help but wonder if the intelligent and independently-minded Miss Elizabeth Bennett would have been quite so smitten with Mr Darcy had he not been fabulously rich).

    Yes, children are important. Yes, there have always been and will always be single-parent families (I tend to believe divorce actually adds value to the institution of marriage – there’s no such thing as a voluntary commitment when it’s legally irreversible, after all) – but the argument that children do better when brought up by a married couple surely falls in favour of marriage equality. More married couples! More basic, stable societal units! Everybody wins.

    2. “No need to redefine: Civil partnerships already provide all the legal benefits of marriage so there’s no need to redefine marriage. It’s not discriminatory to support traditional marriage. Same-sex couples may choose to have a civil partnership but no one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.”

    Civil partnerships are quite nice, I’ll grant. But you can’t pretend they’re not a compromise. For one thing, heterosexual couples aren’t allowed to have them. That seems unfair. Some straight people really don’t like marriage (possibly for some of the associations I’ve already mentioned), or are just cross that their gay friends don’t have to right to call their partnership the thing they feel it to be: a marriage. Why can’t everybody have a choice between the two?

    And there’s that annoying word. “Traditional”. Again, whose tradition? How old exactly is this tradition? And why does changing this tradition to include same-sex marriages differ from changing the traditions that frowned upon marriage between people from different class and ethnic backgrounds in the past – (which, coincidently, were also widely disapproved of at first but gradually accepted as the norm. Funny how that keeps happening with stuff, isn’t it? I personally enjoy the way the centre ground is gradually pushed more and more towards the progressive left. I can vote AND go to hospital for free! Brilliant.)? The same arguments about things not being ‘natural’, as I recall, have been used time and time again to counter positive change. It’s a non-insult. The flushing toilet is not ‘natural’, but goodness knows I’m glad it exists. Whether or not homosexuality is ‘natural’ is irrelevant. There are gay people. Some of them want to get married to eachother. It’s not going to do anybody any harm, so let them.

    3. “Profound consequences: If marriage is redefined, those who believe in traditional marriage will be sidelined. People’s careers could be harmed, couples seeking to adopt or foster could be excluded, and schools would inevitably have to teach the new definition to children. If marriage is redefined once, what is to stop it being redefined to allow polygamy?”

    I just. What? There is absolutely no basis for these claims.

    And now they’re starting on polygamy too? But in many religions and societies, polygamy is traditional! Sticking with just one person for life? What a weird and unnatural thing to want to do. (That is, going by the Coalition’s own ideals of the all-importance of Tradition and Nature.)

    4.  “Speak up: People should not feel pressurised to go along with same-sex marriage just because of political correctness. They should be free to express their views. The Government will be launching a public consultation on proposals to redefine marriage. This will provide an opportunity for members of the public to make their views known.”

    Well there’s an easy answer to this one. If a gay person approaches you and proposes marriage, you don’t need to feel pressured into going along with it! You can just say no. Like with any other marriage proposal from somebody you don’t want to marry. Maybe you’ve misunderstood the suggested change to the law. If so, good news! Same-sex marriage is not compulsory. You can carry on your happy heterosexual life utterly unaffected.

    As a member of the British public, I am making my views known: marriage inequality IS discrimination. The definition of marriage lies with the specific individuals involved, and nobody has the right to take that away from them. Love is a fantastic starting point around which to build a shared life and a compassionate society, and it’s stronger than prejudice, and it’s stronger than intolerance, and if you think that a petty, narrow-minded, poorly justified petition is going to get in the way of that, you’re likely to find yourself on the wrong side of history.

    Yours patient-yet-defiantly,

    Alice x

    Alice is a student of cultural studies, a blogger, an aspiring maker of stuff (including, but not limited to, music, films & cake) and an all round Very Nice Person. She has a rainbow hat (and quite possibly a rainbow jumper) that I am fond of.

    You can find her on Twitter, or you can shake and shimmy over to her superb blog. I highly recommend it for insightful posts and general brilliance.