Dear readers: I have been talking about marriage equality from a very privileged and ignorant POV so far. I apologize for that.
The internet is a powerful, addictive thing that makes us think we are not harming anyone, but sometimes we are. That being said, I explicitly recognize that I am just this tiny person on the big mess that is the Internet. I am voicing opinions as informed as I can make them and your comments, criticisms and support are awesome and always welcome.
I have been getting plenty of comments both regarding my blog post on marriage and regarding my Facebook profile and regarding my Internet sharing habits and regarding feminism in general. My head is exploding at the moment with many things I want to say but feel too weird about saying because I feel like the more I read, the more I need to read and the more I think I know the more I might need to re-evaluate what I have said and written and thought. Also, because I don’t like sharing an opinion until I’ve read as much as possible on a matter. Clearly, I hadn’t done that, but here goes.
I will tell you, first, why I did not change my profile picture to the HRC “equal” sign.
When I first thought “no, I don’t want to” it was because people were calling marriage equality the biggest human and civil rights issue of our time. And I shouted out loud: “Really?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?”
There is human trafficking in practically every single country in the world,
Modern-day slavery in the hands of capitalism is a thing for millions and millions of human beings on the planet (in our backyards, too),
Palestinians are killed, tortured, raped, harassed in their own homes every day,
and I don’t even need to travel far:
Trans* people are forced to be sterilized if they want to be legally recognized,
Women have been murdered systematically and with impunity in Juárez for over 20 years,
Aboriginal peoples everywhere are still being systematically ignored and impoverished and culturally erased,
Women constitute approximately 70% of poor people in the world,
Rape culture IS A F*CKING THING, everywhere in the planet,
(this list goes on f o r e v e r)
and you’re telling me that marriage equality is the biggest human and civil rights issue of our generation?! In all seriousness? I’m not even going to start a conversation with you about this, your barricade of privileged whiteness is way too high even for me.
Now, of course, the fact that it is not the biggest civil rights issue does not mean it is not an issue or an important issue to address. I guess it is just that that common phrase around the days of the Supreme Court ruling were enought o gross me out of the profile-picture business.
Another issue that I have with the marriage equality craze is that it still holds marriage as this ultimate, most legitimate institution that grants legal, social, political and health benefits to those who comply over those whose lifestyle and choice and possibility is not marriage. Now, I still think that the two struggles – the one for same-sex marriage and the one to de-throne marriage as a conservative and oppressive institution – are not mutually exclusive and that society is not equally ready for both. And that peeling the “heterosexist” layer – albeit partially – off the rotten apple that is the institution of marriage is a step towards a healthy apple, somewhere far far away down the line. But the way the marriage equality debate is framed is that marriage is this precious precious thing that we should allow fellow LGB (I am joining in taking out the T and the Q, and I will explain this later) people to have too.
And I repeat, I think LGBTQ* (all people, really) should be able to get married. But it should not be a precious, precious thing. It should not be the only way to access privileged civil rights – hospital visitation rights, survivor benefits and pensions, death-bed decision-making, health insurance transference, etc. It should not be the only way to protect your family or loved ones. It should not be the gold-standard for social legitimacy as far as relationships go. Allowing everyone to get married in order for them to have equal legal rights is reinforcing (even more so) that if you want those rights you should get married. That you’re less worthy if you’re not, and your family is less family if you’re not, that you’re harming your children and your country if you’re not. Don’t know exactly what I am talking about? Single parents, polyamorous partners who have children, partners who choose not to marry, etc. A family, to me, is measured in love and support, not in papers signed or not signed.
There’s much more, though. This is where my ignorance had kicked in.
What I wanted to share with you, because I know some of my readers, and some of these readers I know have the HRC logo on their profiles – not that Facebook is real-life, or has much consequence, but it kind of does – is some of what I did not know and feel sorry I did not know. I will not re-write what the blog post says, though, so here it is.
Now, I don’t agree with everything the blog post says, but I do agree that supporting their campaign – even if your intention with the profile picture is to support of marriage equality, not their campaign specifically – is supporting them and their donors and their discriminatory pick-and-choosing of groups of people to support and their transphobia and their white privilege-d way of dealing with the money they have and spend. I also agree that supporting marriage-equality without making this about every other group whose needs are not being addressed and whose status as second-class citizens is even more blatantly obvious and offensive too, is putting a band-aid over a very bad bruise that are human rights worldwide, and not addressing structural problems at all. It is, by virtue of ignorance possibly, reinforcing the status quo.
Now, I am not saying you should absolutely not support marriage equality. First of all, this is a free world, and you can stand up for anything and everything that you believe in. You can agree with me on one, or two, or all the claims that I make, or none at all.
I could suggest, if you want to make your support of marriage equality known, for example, that you change your profile picture to something that represents marriage equality (a picture of a wedding between members of the same sex, a sign that says I am all for marriage equality, I don’t know: be creative) but is not the HRC sign. I could also suggest that you talk broadly about LGBTQ* rights as human rights, with a sidenote on marriage, instead of marriage front-and-center. I could suggest to drop the profile picture madness altogether and do actual things in your community to promote equal rights.
I could and absolutely suggest that you do better than me and do as much research as you can before even barely supporting any cause. As much as Facebook is just an informal thing on the Internet where duck faces are a thing, it does slowly but steadily shape public opinion and where conversations are headed; it does tell corporations and politicians what we are into and what we are not into. You may think my blog post is now almost irrelevant, but it is not. Us social-media addicts get caught up in trends and campaign-ish efforts of every shape and size. Let us PLEASE reflect upon them better. [Want to hear a quick coming-out story? I was one of the stupid-ass people sharing Kony 2012 shit like I was going to save the world with it. I clearly did not save the world or change it in any way whatsoever, and I may or may not owe people money for sharing that dumb campaign with them].
So yeah, sharing is caring (always always). But sharing-with-care is what should happen. Let’s make it a thing, yes?