Monday, November 16, 2009

Gay marriage isn't about getting married, dammit

Let’s get down to brass tacks: This “marriage equality” thing has little to do with getting married. No, seriously - it’s not about bloody marriage.

Sure, if gay marriage becomes legal some of you might get married. Good for you. I hope you enjoy your twenty identical rice cookers. If you’re thinking of inviting me, I don’t do tulle or chiffon. Or purple. Or happy-fun times.

Marriage equality isn’t about marriage, because it just can’t be.

Because marriage is an outdated social construct wrapped in a frivolous ceremony that is used to gloss over the fact marriage has its roots in slavery, and was created for a time when a woman’s worth was measured in the dowry she delivered and the sons she bore; a time when a woman was owned by her father until she was traded to a husband for goods and/or services rendered, and when the contract between man and woman was more for the benefit of the agreement between men than for the love of a good woman.

That’s not lefty feminist tripe, because lefty feminists regularly kick me out of their camp, due to my crude behaviour (and occasional grope-age of their boobs). No, that is the stuff they call truth.

The majority of the people I associate with, and/or call my friends, exist within relationship structures that bear little-to-no resemblance to what I would also say is the outdated structure of monogamy (and yes, I am actually a monogamist). Monogamy is outdated.

The necessity of a single-partner relationship with the presumption of fertility is an arcane idea that does not fit with our post-war, post-feminist, post-Free-Love, post-AIDs crisis, post-forgetting-of-AIDs-crisis, internet-endowed, social-networking society. Woman no longer needs man to survive. She does not need to rely on man to make a wage, she does not need him to own property or housing, she does not need him to protect or defend her honour and one can argue she does not need him to bear children - not within her immediate proximity, anyway.

Ipso facto, man does not need woman to keep his house, to be in proximity to birth his children, or to give him purpose and standing in our society.

In no longer needing each other, we negate the necessity of the institution that is marriage.

Let’s be very clear here: “Marriage” has nothing to do with being in love. Not in the way we’ve been parading the word around. If used as an adjective, if used to describe the many years two people spend pouring themselves into a relationship, marriage is synonymous with love – or at least to a couple’s dedication to compromise, understanding and the occasional door-breaking fight over the remote control. But as an institution, as a legally recognised contract between two people to be financially and legally dependent on each other – love has nothing to do with it. Bonding, sure - but not L.O.V.E.

We don't need to be married to love. But couples who want to get married, should not be denied access to it.

No, this “marriage equality” thing isn’t about getting married to "have" love (and I know I’ve said this before, and I know you can all hum the tune, but it seems to need constant repetition). No government can sanction love. No church, no economic body, no lawyer or court or policy maker can define, designate or quantify love.

Poets and artists have struggled for thousands of years to capture its essence, to convey its power and fragility, to explain its devastation and its empowerment. But Love defies understanding; it cannot be denied or artificially created; it stands defiant in the face of logic and grim determination.

And “marriage equality” isn’t about marriage, comma, the “Bridezilla-esque” act of, comma, because it can’t be, because I am not a frivolous person. I lack the patience for meaningless chatter on how beautiful the bride looked, I’m too outspoken to let the father-of-the-bride grope me in a drunken haze without recriminations, and I’m too allergic to people to spend time shopping for that “perfect” gift.

I am a Humanist. That’s like a sociologist with less academia, a politician with less posturing, a philosopher with a more realistic view of the downfalls of humanity all wrapped up in one surly, girl-shaped bag of flesh. I don’t throw my weight behind arcane views, “moral” majorities or reasons for cake (although I do quite like cake). I don’t, because as one woman - who holds my heart so dearly in her brains - put it recently, I strive for the “Uberwench”. Some of you will recognize the wonderfully gender-fucked version of Ubermensch, a la Thus spoke Zarathustra.

For those who don't, this is very basically the idea that society will one day be populated by “better”, more advanced people. People with compassion, and altruism, and understanding borne of inherent curiosity; people who believe in people because people are something to be believed in, and people who understand the beauty of the Oxford comma.

Marriage equality is not about gay marriage at all. “Marriage equality” is a symbol we use for a concept that is either too complicated, or takes too long to explain to the wider populace of our instant-gratification society. It's about the elimination of discrimination.

I may have made a career out of being a whore for the wankfest that is mainstream media, but it doesn’t take a trained eye to understand that “Spin” makes the world go around. In the restricted space of headlines, “Marriage” gets people’s attention. “Gay marriage” makes people form an opinion. Good or bad – interest is roused.

I disagree that “any press is good press”, but in a world that is saturated with information, and in which opinions can be given and received at the stroke of a key, you have to make your issue painfully clear to a majority of people – and get them to give a damn – with as little effort on their behalf as is possible.

The issues, inequalities and general up-fuckedness homos deal with every day could fill the tomes of academia for lifetimes and still have an epilogue or two to throw around. BIG DEAL. Who has time to slog through that?

Whether you agree with it or not – and our many-shaded Rainbow Nation is never going to agree on fucking anything – “marriage” is what we have to work with. The "mainstream" gets it, they care about it, and they can understand the basics when we tell them we’re the only group in the world that isn’t allowed to have it. Moral posturing aside, “all but one” is a pretty frickin’ straightforward definition of discrimination.

For 30 years we (teh gayz) have been (visibly) fighting for gay rights and inclusion. For 30 years, the mainstream has not quite caught on. If it takes the word “marriage” to finally get our voices heard and our point across, I will not only scream it amply and with force, I will clutch it between my thighs and fuck it as I think of (Angelina Jolie dressed as) England.

And that's the Naked truth.

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