I would say ‘mea culpa’ but I hated catechism.

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.

This sign.

This 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.

Why I almost defriended everyone who had an HRC logo as their profile photo this week

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?

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Lines, marriage and who’s worthy (and who decides).

Same-sex marriage in the United States has been for quite some time the focus of attention in terms of LGBT activism in that country. It also has the entire world turning its head whenever a state legalizes it, whenever the Supreme Court discusses it. Today and tomorrow are such days, in which activists around the world are either picketting, marching, making phone calls, staring at their TVs/computer screens in waiting for statements, for results, hopefully favorable ones.

For thousands and thousands of people in California, though, today and tomorrow are life-changers. It is not just a cause that they support: it is their life and their happiness that is in the hands of those judges. Because of the weight of the decisions being made in these two days, millions of people in other states’ livelihood is also at stake. Furthermore, as has been studied over and over again, a course taken in the United States, because of its standing in the global market (of ideas and products alike) is a course likely to be followed by other countries. The whole world is watching.

miserable gay marriage

I cannot stress this enough, though: it is people’s lives that are on the table when you talk about same-sex marriage, anywhere in the world.

You might think I am exaggerating. Some of you may even think: “who cares about an archaic notion such as marriage?” or “marriage is a patriarchal, oppressive institution” or, most valid of all (imho), “fighting for marriage equality is supporting the notion that marriage is the ultimate and most legitimate form of coupledom and that coupledom is the ultimate and most legitimate form of existing in today’s society”. And I agree, I don’t care about the archaic notion of marriage, I also think marriage is instrinsically oppressive and (hetero)sexist and indeed, marriage should not be the norm and standard to which to compare other forms of relationships or families. But that is absolutely not the point.

The way I see it, the struggle to dethrone marriage and the struggle for marriage equality are two parallel ones, not mutually exclusive or in competition with one another. First, because we are talking not just about principles and causes and struggles and good ol’ activism: we are talking about people’s choices, even if we (marriage dethrone-rs, that is) don’t agree with them. And I will beat you to saying “but they are socialized into wanting marriage, that’s why”, because it might be true but kind of irrelevant. I was socialized into liking The Beatles by my mother who would play their albums nonstop, which does not mean that I didn’t later arrive by my own means to the conclusion that they are awesome and I like them too. The second reason why the two struggles are parallel and not competing is because you cannot have the first without first having the latter, I believe. It is like skipping a step in the ladder for actual, full equality of all humans regardless of their sexual/romantic choices and modes of association.

Marriage, whether we like it or not, the most validated relationship status (which is key in society’s evaluation of us and others, the State’s evaluation of us and of our own self-evaluation), the only one that is sanctioned by the State and the one that all other forms of association “look up to” (in terms of legal, social, economic and political benefits, that is) and compare themselves to. It is the 10 on the scale of 1 to legit. Not having the right to marry means you are less legit as a couple, and therefore as an individual. It means you are less citizen, less human being, less everything. As a pivotal institution in society, having access to it means having access to all that being a human being in a particular place can have access to. It means society accepts you and sees you as important and legitimate and equal to everyone else.

One only has to look at the name of the law the Supreme Court is discussing tomorrow to see how degrading the illegal status of same-sex marriage is: Defense of Marriage Act. To me, it sounds like the precious sanctity and purity of marriage has to be defended against the abomination of outside forces such as homosexuality. It comes down to that, really; it is saying: “you are unworthy of such an institution, you are unworthy of equal treatment and you are unworthy of the same kind of citizenship that we have”. I will not even talk about the divorce rate, statistics on cheating, on domestic violence or on sexual abuse within heterosexual marriages. You can look those up and question how sacred and pure and worthy of “defending” heterosexual marriage is. I am not even arguing homosexual marriage would do a lot better on those stats (which I have many reasons to believe), I am merely saying that there is probably little difference, little to no abomination that same-sex marriage can bring to the general pool of ugliness that marriage in general already is.

Furthermore, who exactly is being called “unworthy”? According to various surveys throughout the years (at least in Canada and the United States, but there is little reason to think the trend is not in the same direction in other countries), more and more people self-report as being somewhere along the scale which is not 100% heterosexual. This means, for one, if you are casting a vote (or buying a product that casts a vote for you) against same-sex marriage, regardless of where in the world you are from, you are almost sure to be casting a vote against people you know, people you care about. Your ballot is actively telling your neighbor, your cousin, your teacher, your fireman, your son, your soldier: “you are less worthy of rights than me”.

I want to share this TED Talk (I could share a thousand TED talks, really), because it speaks to exactly this. It is as relevant now as it was 20 years ago, as it will be for quite some time, until we stop categorizing arbitrarily and picking and choosing who is worthier than who based on ridiculous and private things such as what genitals does the person in the neighbor’s bed  has. Because it boils down to that, folks: you are casting a vote saying your choice of genitalia to bring home is better than everyone else’s. To me, that’s just arrongant, condescending, ridiculous and kind of none of our business at all.

Anyhoo, the awesome TED Talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/io_tillett_wright_fifty_shades_of_gay.html

I want you guys to think about this because sometimes we think about laws being discussed and we may sort of support them but not really cause they sound so far away, specially if we don’t live in the States or do not vote there, and specially if we do not identify as LGBTQ*.

They are not far away, though. First, in today’s global society, every place that passes a law (or repeals a ban) in favor of same-sex marriage, it encourages other countries to do the same, it fuels activists worldwide, it makes a case that judges elsewhere can look at.  Second, politicians are elected by us, which means they can be pressured by us too. Third, corporations are sustained by us, which means they can be pressured, by our wallets, to push for one or other law.

Fourth, and going back to my mention of the feminist dilemma to support marriage equality or not, consider this: a challenge to traditional marriage is a challenge to traditional marriage. What I mean by this is that by challenging the heterosexism of marriage as an institution, other challenges are in order, such as gender roles within a marriage, economic and social responsibilities, division of labour, etc. Taking one layer of oppression of the giant oppressive pile that is marriage, is a start. Even if it is true that the only legal way to protect and validate your family and your love should not be marriage, while it is, let us make sure we all can access it.

Let us all make sure we are concious of who we are voting against, or who we are not moving an inch for. Wherever you’re reading this from, there is very likely a group of people considered less worthy of basic civil rights, basic human rights even. There are people challenging that worthiness. Learn about it, so that this piece of big news in the Supreme Court does not end there. Look at the pictures in the ‘Self Evident Truths’ and see if they’re really less worthy than you, if you can really be the judge of that, if you can really point to a radical difference in their faces to yours, to your family’s. If you can really stay still while people like you are being told, on a daily basis, that their existence in their own homes is not legitimate.

I know I can’t. I can’t look any one person in the eye and say that they matter less than me. I can’t draw a line between ‘more important’ and ‘less important’ than me.

 

 

An itty-bit more on the debate of marriage equality (there is PLENTY):

Live Blog: Supreme Court Weighs Gay Marriage – Washington Wire

Defense of Marriage Act – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

LZ Granderson: The myth of the gay agenda

Feminism and the Same-sex Marriage Debate

Decoupling Marriage and Procreation

 

 

And to answer the question of who decides who’s worthy: we all decide. We all have the power to decide. As I said before, we elect the politicians, we keep the businesses going, we tune in to the media. That is how we vote, that is how we say that we are all worthy, or none of us are.