BroadSnark

Thoughts on politics, religion, violence, inequality, social control, change, and random other things from an autonomous, analytical, adopted, anarchist, atheist who likes the letter A
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To All the Marriage Pushers

March 04, 2011 By: Mel Category: Politics, Sex

If I have to read one more article on how a group of people must somehow be damaged because they aren’t in a 1950s nuclear family, I am going to spit nails.

Kay S. Hymowitz has a piece in the Wall Street Journal where she complains that men in their twenties “hang out in…a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.”  Poor Hymowitz and her fellow women can’t find a husband and breed.  All the guys are playing video games, fucking around in bands, smoking pot, or watching porn and comedy central.

Don’t feel too bad, dudes.  Tracy McMillan, has been married three times and so styles herself some sort of expert on what is wrong with those loser women who haven’t even managed to get married once.  According to her, women are shallow, selfish, slutty, lying bitches who don’t spend enough time acting like a doting mama to their men. And if you are a black woman who isn’t married, well then your lack of a mate is headline news and asshats like Steve Harvey make money telling you all the ways you should change yourself in order to attract a charmer such as himself. (I just threw up a little.)

Why is it that people are so fixated on marriage?  Why is it so fucking important to them that they will excoriate anyone who doesn’t hop right onto the marriage bandwagon? (Why the hell is our tax money going to try to make poor people get married?)

Usually, marriage pushers say some crap about marriage being the foundation of society. Horseshit. Marriage as a monogamous death pact has not been the foundation of society. The foundation of society has always been much bigger than the fragile nuclear family.  If marriage has historically been the foundation of anything, it is privilege, hierarchy, sexism, and the accumulation of property.  The kind of marriage we are familiar with is an ownership arrangement.*

If you really want to get to the heart of why people are so marriage obsessed, you must read the conservatives on the subject. Here I actually appreciate them. Most people pretend that they want you to change your entire self for your own good. They tell you it is what you really want. They tell you it is about love. At least some conservatives are honest.

Sam Schulman says that marriage is about controlling sexuality, especially women’s sexuality.  And we can’t possibly let the gays marry, cause gay marriage has nothing to do with controlling who people can fuck. It’s like telling everyone they can go out and fuck willy nilly.  We can’t have that. And my god, didn’t you realize that,

Even in modern romantic marriages, a groom becomes the hunting or business partner of his father-in-law and a member of his clubs; a bride becomes an ally of her mother-in-law in controlling her husband.

How the hell are two gays supposed to navigate those all important elite and gender specific roles? I mean all our parents hunt and belong to a club right? (Seriously, you should read his piece.  You can’t make that shit up.)

These people piss me off so much. They want you to revere an institution that gives them privileges. They want you to modify yourself to serve their needs. They want you to give up looking for something real so that you can be as miserable as they are. They want to stuff you into the same tiny box they have stuffed themselves into.  They want you to have the opposite of love.

Love is not about putting people into boxes, making them into something that suits you. As James Baldwin put so perfectly, “Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” These people are telling you to put on more masks, to be as phony and miserable and deluded as they are. And for what? So rich people can have a system for property inheritance? So selfish people can delineate which tiny group of people they have to care about in life? So men can delude themselves into thinking that there is some virginal housekeeper waiting to take care of him who will never, ever want to fuck anyone else?

To hell with that.

Guess what? Not every girl has that Disneyland princess fantasy that McMillan and the rest claim we do.  As Violet so eloquently put it, some women listen to all that crap and think “Yes, I’d like to put a ring on it. The kind attached to a ball gag.” And here is another crazy fact for you. Men are actually human beings with feelings and not just walking hornbots. No, it is true.  I swear. It is possible to be a man and actually want something more than sex or money from people. I know, I could hardly believe it either.

I have no intention of getting married. I knew that by about the age of fifteen. It doesn’t make me damaged. It makes me someone who actually thinks about things before doing them. I have no idea if my fourteen-plus year relationship will last another four years or fourteen years or forty years. I do know that I love my video game and guitar playing, pot smoking, porn and comedy central watching bfriend. And I have no intention of telling him to “grow up” and fit into some Ozzie and Harriet idea of what a man is supposed to be. And I know that he loves me, not despite the fact that I am angry and raunchy and thoroughly undomesticated, but because of it.

So to all you marriage pushers who want the rest of us to sacrifice our happiness on the alter of your delusion – I know you hate to see people be honest about who they are, despite the harsh social consequences people like you met out for not conforming.  It must remind you of your own phoniness, unhappiness and mediocrity. I kind of feel sorry for you, but mostly I just want to tell you to suck it.

____________________________________

*  If you have never read Stephanie Coontz’s book, Marriage A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, I would highly recommend it.

The Nuclear Family is a Failure

October 13, 2009 By: Mel Category: Misc

According to a study by Paul R. Amato, children  “who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive more effective parenting, experience more cooperative co-parenting, are emotionally closer to both parents, and are subjected to fewer stressful events and circumstances.”

Amato admits that, while his research shows a relationship, it cannot show a causal relationship. But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that there is a causal relationship between two-parent households and positive indicators for children.  And lets assume that single parent households have a harder time providing the stable environments that help kids to thrive.

What do we think should be done?

Like many Americans, Amato concludes that “the importance of increasing the number of children growing up with two happily and continuously married parents… is self-evident.”  The U.S. government seems to agree.  Under the Bush administration, a program called the  Healthy Family Initiative was started to encourage marriage and to provide relationship skills training.  The Obama administration is continuing the initiative.

There is nothing wrong with a stable two-person relationship.  However, we seem to be offered only two choices for raising children – the “healthy” two-parent family or single (usually) mothers struggling along in poverty.  But the nuclear family is not the only structure for raising children in this world.

The Europeans who stumbled upon the Americas came from a culture where a man was only responsible for the children he fathered within a marriage.  He had no responsibility for children he fathered outside of wedlock, much less for other children in the community.  Many Native American communities, in contrast, had very different ideas of who was responsible for the community’s children.  In Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, Stephanie Coontz tells of how one Jesuit reacted to the sexual freedom enjoyed by native women.

One missionary warned a Naskapi man that if he did not impose tighter controls on his wife, he would never know for sure which of the children she bore belonged to him.  The Indian was equally shocked that this mattered to Europeans.  ‘You French people,’ he replied, ‘love only your own children; but we love all the children of our tribe.

Other native societies believe that every man who has sex with a woman while pregnant “contributes a part of his biological substance to the child” and has responsibilities toward that child and the mother.  And in some societies, it is not the biological father but the mother’s brothers who take responsibility for the child.

All of which is to say that structures for child rearing are cultural not immutable or “natural.”  And these structures of responsibility are as much about abdicating responsibility for “other people’s children” as they are about taking responsibility for “your own.”

The two-parent family is a structure that relies on two people. Half of all marriages end in divorce.  Parents get sick.  Parents die.  And (all too often in the U.S.) parents go to prison.  Ultimately, that means that many children are not going to have that two-parent family.  Rather than trying to bury our heads in the sand, wouldn’t it make more sense to question the cultural beliefs that lead us to only take responsibility for children on such a limited basis?

The nuclear family is a weak institution.  When one parent is taken out of the equation, as so often happens, the children suffer.  Kids need more than two people that they can rely on in this world.

Obama vs. Obama on Gay Marriage

August 13, 2009 By: Mel Category: Politics, Religion

President Obama does not support gay marriage.  And the only justification for this prejudice that he has ever given, to my knowledge, is his faith.

The Advocate reports that, during Obama’s meeting with the Pope, he claimed to be “’wrestling’ with his Christian faith and ‘concern for gays and lesbians.’”  In the chapter on faith of his book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes about an interview where he spoke about his “religious traditions in explaining” his position on gay marriage.

Ironically, earlier in the very same chapter, Obama himself spells out why religious tradition is an unacceptable justification for a political position.

What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason. If I am opposed to abortion for religious reasons and seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or invoke God’s will and expect that argument to carry the day. If I want others to listen to me, then I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.

He refers to his principle as “ground rules for collaboration.”  I think they are spot on.  I just wish President Obama would abide by them.

Freedom to Marry Week: Whose Marriage does the Church Approve?

February 11, 2009 By: Mel Category: Inequality, Religion

join the conversationMost of the objection to gay marriage comes from religious people. As I’ve mentioned before, regular church attendance is the most telling factor when looking at who will be for or against gay marriage.

These people believe that marriage is a union before god. So if marriage is a joining of two people before god, do all gods count? If you are a christian, do you accept a marriage before Allah? Do you accept a marriage before the Buddha? Do you accept a pagan marriage? Do you accept a marriage between two people who don’t believe in god at all?

If I were to start a religion (let’s call it snarkism) whose main tenet was that only people of the same sex should get married, would that be an acceptable marriage before god? Even if it was christian in every other sense of the word?

Let’s get real here. The objections to gay marriage come largely from people who think they can impose their particular idea of morality on the rest of us. And it doesn’t matter if they get that morality from their religion or they use their religion as a shield for their prejudices. Enough already.

Feminism and Work: Where Things Went Wrong

February 03, 2009 By: Mel Category: Inequality

The 1950s ideal was a nuclear family where the father worked, the mother stayed home to take care of the kids, and everything looked like Leave it to Beaver. Many people still hold onto that ideal and there may even be people who live it and love it.

For others that ideal was anything but idyllic. Women who craved intellectual pursuits felt stunted. Those who worked, out of desire or necessity, were relegated to the least interesting jobs at half the pay. Women were dependent on men and sometimes financially trapped in abusive situations.

But women’s lack of opportunities for employment, financial freedom, intellectual stimulation, and positions of prestige were not the only problem with that system. And in their zeal to correct the injustices that women were experiencing, many feminists do not appear to have taken the time to examine the bigger picture.

The system was flawed in fundamental ways for men as well. Men were expected to be providers. They were valued for their purchasing power alone. They were, and often still are, treated like automatons with no ability to fulfill emotional needs.

Having worked for many years for divorce attorneys, I saw first hand how these societal roles played out in the worst situations. Yes, I saw women who gave twenty years of their lives to husband and family and then got dumped for a younger woman. And I saw deadbeat dads who refused to pay child support and flitted around the world living like kings while their ex wives waited tables to pay the rent.

I also saw cases where men were assumed to be of little value in child rearing and where the wife received preferential treatment in deciding where the kids would live. And I saw many wives keep children away from their fathers out of spite.

But the problem was more fundamental than how people were stunted by the gender rolls they were playing. What women should have been doing is questioning the hierarchy that we are all serving. They should have been questioning the assumption that only paid work is deserving of admiration. They should have been questioning how much of ourselves we are giving to our employers and how much is left over for ourselves.

A middle class family could once support itself on the wages of one decently paid man. Now most families have two wage earners and struggle. That isn’t news to anyone. Rarely, however, do I hear that issue couched in terms of how many family hours we are giving to someone else. If a family used to give 40 hours a week to the company and is now giving 80, 100, or more, we went terribly wrong somewhere.

In fairness, we should have split that working week with men. We could have had some of that intellectual stimulation and income, and they could have become more a part of the emotional lives of their children and the civic lives of their communities. Even more importantly, we would not be relying on poor women to clean the homes and take care of the children of the more privileged.

The people who have benefited the most from the gender wars are our employers. They have been able to get more and more out of us and we have received less and less in return. It’s time we stopped battling each other and started working together to bring that family work contribution back down to forty hours.

Then men and women can go back to fighting over who is going to do the dishes.