Why I'm not celebrating Ireland's legalization of gay marriage as a win for 'equality'

Progressives around the world celebrated this weekend as Ireland voted 62 per cent in favour of legalizing same-sex marriage. This win is significant and important for a country that only decriminalized homosexuality in 1993 and has long been dominated by the misogynist, homophobic Catholic Church.

Image: Ken Danieli/Flickr
Image: Ken Danieli/Flickr

The vote signaled, to many, a shift towards a more progressive cultural, social, and political landscape.

The New York Times quoted Ty Cobb, the international director of the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based advocacy group, saying, “I think this is a moment that rebrands Ireland to a lot of folks around the world as a country not stuck in tradition but that has an inclusive tradition.”

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s health minister, said, “[The vote] makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality. It’s a very proud day to be Irish.”

“This decision makes every citizen equal and I believe it will strengthen the institution of marriage,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

But are human rights and equality really based on the right for anyone to get married? Is Ireland truly a model of “liberty and equality?” And why are progressives looking to “strengthen the institution of marriage,” anyway?

To be clear, of course I believe that so long as heterosexual couples are permitted to marry, gay and lesbian couples should also be allowed access to the same rights and privileges they have access to. What I oppose is not gay marriage, rather I oppose marriage as a whole and, more generally, I don’t believe that allowing same-sex couples to wed signals a move towards “equality.”

While support for LGBT rights is growing worldwide, women’s actual human rights remain unaddressed.

Liberals-minded folks can quite easily pat themselves on the backs for supporting the right to “equal access” to the institution of marriage without doing much of anything at all. Liberating women from male oppression, on the other hand, means those in power have to give up a lot. As Katha Pollitt wrote, in The Nation, “Marriage equality costs society nothing and takes no power away from anyone.”

In fact, gay marriage allows progressive heterosexuals feel much more at ease about their choice to join the church of wedded bliss as they can tell themselves it is no longer the old-fashioned, conservative institution of yesteryear — it’s now hip and open-minded and “inclusive.” We are all now able to forget about critiquing the institution, asking why we continue to marry at all, and why we continue to allow marriage to define our relationships and lives in such an overbearing way because we’ve so generously let the gays in.

In April, Pollitt asked why reproductive rights were “losing” while gay rights were “winning.” She pointed out that “Indiana’s attempt to enshrine opposition to gay marriage under the guise of religious freedom provoked an immediate nationwide backlash.” Meanwhile, in many states, women still don’t have access to abortions and women are even being charged with feticide for miscarrying or trying to terminate pregnancies themselves. Last month in Indiana, Purvi Patel was given a 20-year sentence for miscarrying, accused of using abortion drugs to terminate her pregnancy. In Mississippi, Rennie Gibbs, who was 16-years-old at the time, faced life in prison after she delivered a stillborn baby. Jessica Mason Pieklo wrote, for RH Reality Check that after the medical examiner decided the cause of death was “cocaine toxicity,” the grand jury concluded that Gibbs had “caused the death of the baby by smoking crack cocaine during her pregnancy.” That is to say she was facing murder charges. The charge was dismissed, but both cases represent a growing effort to criminalize pregnant women in the U.S. and a prioritization of the lives of fetuses over the lives of women.

Ending a pregnancy is still technically a criminal offence in British law (though The Abortion Act, passed in 1967, means that most women’s abortions can take place legally if certain conditions are met). Women still cannot get legal abortions in Malta, El Salvador, Chile, and The Dominican Republic. In Nicaragua the penal code criminalizes both the practitioner and the woman who gets the abortion, which has made unsafe abortion the leading cause of maternal deaths in the country.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland in all cases (including incest and rape) unless the woman’s life is in danger. Ireland’s Constitution states, in its Eighth Amendment, that “the State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

But we are to believe that marriage will create a free and equal society?

Reproductive rights allow women control over their lives. Abortion access is both a health issue and a human rights issue. We have a right not to give birth and raise children. We have the right to not put our lives at risk through pregnancy.

The reason that something like reproductive justice is still something we are fighting for while same-sex marriage is widely supported, is because abortions are for women. And women’s lives still are not of primary importance to most liberal and progressive men. Men don’t get pregnant, therefore pregnancy is not men’s problem. Marriage and the nuclear family keep women under the thumb of men and ensures we continue to give birth to and raise men’s children (and keeps women dependent on men), while reproductive rights ensure women remain independent, in many ways.

Marriage is not a progressive institution. It is an institution founded on the idea of women as property, traded among men, and it continues to be a site of oppression for women today. More than a third of women murdered around the world are killed by their partner. Domestic abuse kills more people than wars. The most progressive thing we could do would be to abolish the institution once and for all. To refuse to let our wedding day be the most important day of our lives. To refuse to perpetuate the idea that becoming a “wife” is a thing to aspire to or celebrate. To push back against the idea that the correct way to live and love and have families is within this these very restrictive parameters that devalue all relationships that are not of the “husband and wife” variety. To reject the idea that those who choose to marry should have access to rights and privileges that those who aren’t married don’t have access to.

We know that motherhood and marriage are not universally “good” for women. Pregnancy is dangerous, childcare and housework — which women continue to do the bulk of — are undervalued and unpaid, women continue to take their male partners’ names in marriage, signalling subservience and patriarchal ideals, and, of course, violence continues to be central to many women’s experiences of “wedded bliss.” Often when women leave these abusive relationships they continue to be financially, psychologically, and emotionally abused by their ex-husbands, who torture them in court by trying to take their children away from them.

The fact that lesbian and gay relationships are being acknowledged as legitimate is a good thing, no doubt. But the fact that it is marriage that defines what is and is not a legitimate relationship remains a problem. Beyond that, weddings will not lead to equality or human rights for women. They can be fun and lovely (they can also be boring, offensively lavish, and extremely sexist), but they will not end oppression.

It is women — 51 per cent of the world’s population — who remain the largest group of oppressed humans on this planet (within that, women of colour and poor women suffer inordinately under capitalist patriarchy and, not coincidentally, face the most significant barriers to safe abortions). It is women who continue to be devalued, exploited, raped, and abused, by men, because they are women, on a daily basis. One would think our humanity, equality, and rights would be of concern to those who care about things like humanity, equality, and rights. So until progressives in Ireland (and beyond) make women’s freedom a priority, I won’t be celebrating.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Julie

    I want to have the right to choose not to get married. That’s an important right for lesbian women. (or even getting married if that’s what mae us happy, and all statistics proove that gay weddings are much more oof anequal partnership).

    Having the same right as the group considered as the norm and what’s “right” is hugely important. And as you said “Reproductive rights allow women control over their lives.” it’s also true for lesbians, and this kind of activism is what’s lead lesbian to have their right upon their own body. But as it not one of the first preocupation of straight feminists, it is mostly supported by gay rights activists. And it comes with lot of downsides,like the possiblility of renting a woman uterus. Because it’snot longer a women right, it’s a gay right.

    If straight women didn’t look upon lesbian women “Reproductive rights allow women control over their lives. ” and stopped treating lesbians as second class women, we could have avoided a lot of sexist stuff. Because doing what you want with your own uterus has nothing to do with rentin another woman uterus. When straight women only care for straight women rights, it becomes bad for every women.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well, for starters, lesbians are raped and abused by men too…

      I think there are far more productive ways to address the rights of lesbian and heterosexual women alike than advocating for equal access to the institution of marriage. My argument is that people and people’s relationships should be valued regardless of whether or not they marry.

      I would assume there are few, if any, women in this forum who ‘look down upon lesbian women’ or see lesbians as ‘second-class citizens’ so, while I agree with you that straight women should not treat lesbians badly, you’re kinda preaching to the choir here…

      Most radical lesbian feminists are not pro-marriage.

      You might find Julie Bindel’s analysis of the gay rights movement of interest. I did… http://feministcurrent.com/9600/podcast-has-the-gay-rights-movement-has-lost-its-teeth-julie-bindel-on-her-new-book-straight-expectations/

      Here is an interview I did with Nicola Barker in 2012, who wrote a book outlining her feminist critique of same-sex marriage, which you might find interesting as well http://feministcurrent.com/5940/can-marriage-ever-be-feminist-an-interview-with-nicola-barker/

      • Julie

        Well i’m a radical feminist lesbian and i am for the right for everyone to marry first. Even if as a final goal i can understand the need to destroy marriage, we don’t know how long it will take maybe a century or two or three, in the mean time gay and lesbians need to have the same rights as straight couples. Even if it is to question the institution together.

        As for marriage as a goal of life i think it already depends on the place you live, for exemple in France last year 56% of children were born out of marriage.

        The problem is that straight couple were (are) considered as more legitimate than gay ones. I think it’s very important that we have the same rights as sraight people.

        You don’t have the right to deny us that, as you don’t have the right to forbid black people to marry because as a white person you don’t like marriage. If you then destroy the institution with black people it will be more fair. You have the choice not to marry we want to have the same choice. Depraving us from that choice is instulting.

        And as for straight feminists looking down on lesbian rights, in France at least this is just history. Fortunately it’s starting to change but please don’t oppose straight women/ lesbians rights. It’s the very reason why so many lesbians turn themselves toward the queer movement and other misogynists 3rd wave feminists movements. You have to listen to young lesbians and we are almost unanime on needing those rights. Don’t overlook our voice.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I have no desire to deprive anyone of rights through marriage or otherwise.

          Can I ask why my relationship should be seen as less legitimate because I am not married to my partner? Or why I should be denied rights and privileges because I choose not to participate in the patriarchal institution of marriage? Celebrating the institution of marriage and continuing to hang on to it as we do impacts more than just same-sex couples.

          • Mary

            As I’m a little ignorant on this topic and am very interested, could someone please give me an understanding of what rights and privileges i am denied if I choose not to participate in the patriarchal institution of marriage? Or even some links/reading material where I could learn more. I am a straight unmarried female…

          • Mary

            Another question, I wonder if there are any historical examples of marriage that are not patriarchal that could be drawn from

          • well, in the US, some examples: right to visit your spouse but not your partner in hospital, fairly automatic power of attorney if they’re incapacitated vs no say at all, inheritance rights of course, many employers allow spouses to participate in a worker’s medical insurance but not partners, Social Security benefits for spouses but not partners, etc. etc. etc.

            It’s all legalistic, financial, super-boring stuff until it isn’t, and then suddenly it really matters.

            Now, in my book, that issue should have been solved by nice egalitarian universally available civil unions for all the legal stuff. And the whole stupid marriage-with-a-capital-M should have been left to the churches and temples and such who seem to want it so desperately.

          • Another important one is being able to sponsor your spouse for immigration status. Fortunately, in the case of a (non-married) lesbian couple I know here in Québec, the Canadian citizen among them was able to sponsor her Argentine companion.

          • Polly MacDavid

            It depends on where you live. In the United States, you get tax breaks dependent on your marital status. This is federal. Some states also give you tax breaks dependent on your marital status. Another thing is that if you are not married, some places, such as hospitals, will not let you enter the room of your loved one, even if you are listed on the HIPPA list, if you are not legally married. It really blows my mind that my sister, who is listed on my HIPPA, can have access to all my records, but my hypothetical lover, might not. There are also Estate Law, after one dies, that effects unmarried couples. I could go on. I don’t know about other countries, I only know about the United States. I agree, these kinds of layers of legality should NOT exist. But they do & this is why gay & lesbian couples seek legal status in marriage.

          • Alex

            In Germany, married couples have shared custody over the children, while if the couple is not married, the father must apply for custody. It is usually granted, bringing more trouble to the mother, but at least she can argue against it. Another thing is financial, with married couples being immensly favoured at income tax, wether they have children or not. You can just split the income, benefitting from twice the extemption. A single mother or an unmarried couple have to pay regularly. Inheritence rights and power of attourny are the same as in the US.

        • lizor

          Julie,

          In the original article, the one we are discussing, Meghan wrote, “To be clear, of course I believe that so long as heterosexual couples are permitted to marry, gay and lesbian couples should also be allowed access to the same rights and privileges they have access to.”

          You seem to be pushing against a position she did not table.

          The institution of marriage has its roots in the ownership of females by males. It’s a fact, not an opinion.

          Further, the fact that families that have been legitimized through a pair-bond either by a ceremony within the conventions of patriarchal monotheism or by the state are favoured over those people who form family structures outside of these institutions is a problem for everyone and it is worthy of critique.

          I understand your objection. However the position you are objecting to has not been put forward here.

    • James

      So let me get this straight, you want nobody to be married because you think that marriage is about women being the property of men?

      What about the male-male or female-female relationships that Ireland has just allowed to exist legally? I’m pretty sure there’s no male-dominating-women dynamic there.

      Also, where does it say that marriage is mandatory?

      Also, what does this have to do with gay marriage in Ireland?

      • James

        Ahk, forgive me. I accidentally hit reply to your comment instead of posting a new comment, I’m sorry.

      • Polly MacDavid

        Except that there’s power dynamics in men-men relationships & women-women relationships as well as men-women relationships, which anyone who has ever stayed in a domestic violence shelter well knows. There is a need for shelters for men only, since DV affects men-men relationships & is becoming more prevalent as men come out of the closet, in terms of sexuality & the violence in their relationships. And we women need more shelters, simply because of austerity closing so many of them & closing off so many avenues of financial support.

  • The reason that something like reproductive justice is still something we are fighting for while same-sex marriage is widely supported, is because abortions are for women. And women’s lives still are not of primary importance to most liberal and progressive men. Men don’t get pregnant, therefore pregnancy is not men’s problem.

    Bingo! If we as women don’t stand up for ourselves and each other, we will never be liberated. That so many progressive initiatives have gained steam while the rights of women have regressed tells us everything we need to know about who we can depend on for support. Feminism must be for women, by women, first and foremost.

    • Exactly.

      I’ve been taken by surprise — which makes me feel D.U.M.B. in hindsight — by the way everybody, everybody, right on out to FullyRawCannibals has important issues we much all respect and must all work for full recognition of all their rights … except when they’re women.

      Stupid me, I thought we were all in this together. Solidarity forever. Except for women.

    • slaw

      What is really meant by progressive though? Because it seems to be a libertarian worldview that is being valorized not a progressive one. The pro-sexism, pro-porn, pro-sex industry, pro-individual rights (over any collective ones), etc. And the progressive agenda always seems to dump on women and ask them to wait their turn. When will be it be the turn of women? And just the other day I was ranting (to myself) about how 85% of women get to dictate how the rest of us relate to men. Disregard me – I am. I am not LGBT I am A(sexual and not a romantic A) and I am really not interested in how men (as a group) perceive me (or how women perceive me) … so many of the conversations around rape culture and street harassment (which seem sole focus of some feminist blogs on rabble.ca) or representation of women in the media just leave me saying … what, that is what you feel is the most important issue facing women (cis)? Yes, I have been harassed by men for wearing fairly pedestrian clothing (e.g. winter coat and jeans) and harassed (by women) for appearing to be (from a distance) a gay male. And I have never identified with a character in a movie or advertisement just because they are female (there are no ways to describe being XX in the English language without referring to women/females in relationship to men) if their personality/outlook didn’t resemble mine. Though I will never reproduce I see the importance of easy access contraception and safe abortions (few to no questions asked) and the need for pay equity, the need for universal daycare, the need to support single parents, etc. But like others here I will never understand the reverence for marriage some have, the legal necessity yes, given tax and other law, but marriage from the perspective of someone who is XX & A, yech. For women the institution is oppressive – it is what defines them as persons somewhat but still ensured they stayed chattel (first of fathers or brothers and then of husbands). I still remember seeing a film in an anthropology class about peasant cultures which featured the waving of the bloodied sheet (re-enacted, I realise) proving the virginity of a bride. But so many traditions around marriage are just, well rapey. Like kidnapping your bride (longstanding behaviour in many traditional cultures found all over the world (e.g. Central Asia, Caucasus, parts of Africa, Hmong in SE Asia, Tzeltal in Mexico, Romani, Turkish peasants (another era)).

      • Non-PC RadFem

        “[..] the need for universal daycare, the need to support single parents, etc”

        Here is where I disagree with pretty much every feminist from any ‘wave’…

        Children are not a ‘right’ and if they’re perceived that way, well… it shouldn’t be.
        The way I see it, it’s the other way around; it’s the children who have the fundamental right to be looked after and provided for by those who brought them into the world. Parents – single or otherwise – shouldn’t expect society to feed and raise their children for them.

        Can’t afford them? Don’t have them. And if you need something like free daycare, that means you really can’t afford them on the first place, let alone look after them properly. I’m even against free schools*, education for minors should also be the sole responsibility of parents; if they can afford it they should pay for a private school, if they can’t, they should home-school, if they can’t home-school because they need to go to work to earn money, then that means they can’t afford to have children, it’s that simple.

        [*I’d much rather like to see the money being pissed on child-minding services… Sorry; “primary education,” being spend instead on free-for-all high education. Yup, it‘s the exact opposite of we have today: where dependants get free basic “education“ but as soon as those same dependants reach adulthood – and that‘s where most parents wash their hands off them – then it‘s up to them to find funds (in the form of student loans) to fund their further education, the only type of education that might give them a better future, btw. How convenient for all involved except the broke offspring themselves…]

        Men in particular, but also women, need to learn responsibility and accountability for their own actions. Provided they live in a country where contraception and abortions are available [and ideally free of charge], children don’t just happen. They are either; a conscious choice or the result of their own sloppiness at preventing pregnancy. That’s also why in the event of an ‘accident’ or a faulty contraception method, abortions should be widely available to all women as a last recourse.

        It’s no good, within the Feminist ethos, to demand the same rights and privileges men have, but then pass-on the responsibility of being financially liable for children to the tax payer.
        The; ‘it takes a village’ mentality that so many women [and men] seem to have, needs to be put to rest.

        Being considered a full Human Being comes with both; rights and responsibilities and I can’t think of a bigger responsibility than providing for and looking after a brand new person.

        Things like: free schooling, free universal daycare, support for single and/or married parents, child benefits/tax breaks are at their core ALL pro-natalist policies to make the business of breeding more palatable for parents.

        It goes like this; most countries in the world want people to breed, ergo; most countries are pro-natalist.
        Pro-natalist policies are tied-up with the Capitalist obsession of perpetual economic growth, and to have growth you need more and more people to create ‘wealth’ and pay taxes.
        In a finite planet, with finite natural resources, perpetual growth is unsustainable and anathema not only to future generations but also to those of us already here.

        Capitalism and Patriarchy go hand in hand. Capitalism demands perpetual growth, which in turn demands high birth rates of ‘worker bees,’ for that to happen they need free access to women’s reproductive capabilities, because women are the only ones physically capable of actually producing new worker bees. This is why; from a capitalist perspective, subjugating and oppressing women is in his best interest. Hence; why Feminism was allowed to progress only as far as it helped to serve the capitalist agenda, for example: allowing women to work; more worker bees = more wealth creation for the capitalists, more worker bees = more people [men and women] paying taxes.

        Therefore: pro-natalist policies are inherently: anti-Feminist, as far as I’m concerned.
        Yet, because these policies give women the illusion that they can have it all: breed and have a career just like men do – for example – so many women, including feminists, fall for them.

        .

        PS: btw, I’m not picking-up on you; slaw, for what it’s worth; I agree with you 200% on everything else you said 🙂

        • A Non-White US Lady

          Meghan is a socialist & I am too.

          I despise libertarianism. It honestly has its roots in European settler colonialism which is very very obvious. Individualism is very much rooted in White Supremacy in North America.

          People who espouse the above position obviously haven’t thought it through. So non-whites & the working class are supposed to die off & not have kids so they don’t burden whites with money?

          I honestly don’t understand how one can think the liberation of women is at all compatible with you’re on your own ideology.

          I also don’t get the resentment except as capitalist in-fighting as even if I have no kids ever, I would be very glad to see all children taken care of & educated.

          Reagan would have loved this comment. Full of anti-poor rhetoric & race-whistles. The ppl who believe the comment above tend to believe in no free contraception or abortions bc “you should be able to afford sex!”.

          Also what’s the suggestion? Impoverish the children of the irresponsible & unfortunate. OK.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @A Non-White US Lady:

            I’m a socialist for pretty much everything except subsidized child support. In a world that is obscenely overpopulated, with a chronic shortage jobs and likely to get much-much worse in the not so distant future, encouraging people to breed is utter lunacy.

            I’m in favor of population stabilization and against overpopulation. Overpopulation cheapens life, degrades the environment and dehumanizes people in general but more so; women and children in particular. There’s no chance in hell you’ll get me to support natalist policies.

            And let’s not kid ourselves that tax funded child support is anything other than state policies to encourage [bribe] people to reproduce; it’s not charity and it’s most certainly not because they care about the welfare of children, or their mothers for that matter.

            Feminism is the political movement for the liberation of women, pro-natalism pushes in the opposite direction of women‘s emancipation.
            Natalism fosters the ‘war on women,’ draconian pro-life legislation, conservatism, “family values,” marriage, paternalism (etc)

            You can’t have an egalitarian society without sustainability > and you can’t have sustainability without population stabilization policies which, in above replacement birth-rates countries, will have to aim at lowering the number of children people have.

            Now we can go about achieving that the coercive way; with forced mass sterilizations, one-child policies, parenting licenses (etc), or… we can do it the humanist way; educating and empowering women, plus allowing easy access to multiple forms of free birth control, abortion and voluntary sterilization, and yes, also by removing state subsidized incentives to reproduce.

            The latter approach is totally compatible with Feminism while the former quite obviously isn’t.

            Lastly: patriarchy is, of course, the root cause of overpopulation. Fighting against patriarchy it’s also a fight against overpopulation, albeit indirectly. But it stands to reason, this also works the other way around; fighting overpopulation – from a feminist stance – it’s also ultimately a fight against the patriarchy.

            Additional notes:

            “People who espouse the above position obviously haven’t thought it through. So non-whites & the working class are supposed to die off & not have kids so they don’t burden whites with money?”

            I can’t care less which race breeds more, or less than the next one.
            I’m only concerned with over-all numbers and the welfare of everyone on this planet. And call me crazy, but I would totally love to see the ‘working-class’ to die off as a class. Who wants to be forced to be born into this world just to toil, work for the enrichment of someone else and go absolutely nowhere for the rest of her life? Are you mad?

            In fact, I would love to see the hierarchical concept of ‘classes’ to die a short but extremely painful death. Hence; the reasons for my socialists leanings.

            Only those on the upper levels of the hierarchal class, who have invested interests in assuring the so-called “lower classes” carry on reproducing themselves uninterrupted [hence; the pro-natalist policies and propaganda that goes with it] are the biggest advocates for natailsm, patriarchy and are also staunchly anti-feminist. Mustn’t run out of them worker bees, you know?

            .

            “Also what’s the suggestion? Impoverish the children of the irresponsible & [the] unfortunate. OK.”

            NO-K.

            That’s what Child Protection Services are for!
            Yeah… granted; they’ll need a: from the ground-up restructuring/reform and therefore; a massive tax cash injection before it‘s even deemed good for purpose.
            But I can live with that. I’ll much rather my taxes went to assist children in need of help, rather than aid irresponsible parents ‘in-need’ to be helped from the children they shouldn’t have had to begin with.

            …to be perfectly honest with you :/

          • esme

            That is an interesting take on subsidized childcare. I see it as allowing women to work instead of being trapped at home raising children and without options to earn money outside of relying on a man with a job. Childcare is ridiculously expensive and if we want women to be free to leave men who abuse them and free to devote their lives to something other than childrearing then subsidized childcare can help.

            Educating girls and women and ensuring access to birth control and abortion brings down the birthrate pretty well without hurting women who already have children and very little means to care for them.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            esme: “[..] and free [women] to devote their lives to something other than childrearing then; subsidized childcare can help.”

            Well… call me crazy, but I happen to believe that: since it takes ‘two to tango,’ it should take the effort of those same two to look after the child they brought into the world.

            Childcare/Child-daycare does indeed; free women to go into the world and generate money for somebody else, but crucially; it leaves FATHERS off the hook too.

            Let me flip this one on its head and allow me ask you; why me – as a tax payer; I’m supposed to subsidize fathers/men/sperm-infectors(etc) to NOT look after their own sprogs?

            Hmm?

          • bella_cose

            So if no one who was wealthy could have children and raise them, we would get the elite class procreating, and (quite probably) using the most marginalised women as surrogates to bear children for them to buy. What kind of feminism is that? Do you also believe in the mythical mother privilege?

          • Non-PC RadFem

            bella_cose: “So if no-one who was wealthy could have children and raise them, we would get the elite class procreating, and (quite probably) using the most marginalised women as surrogates to bear children for them to buy”

            Well… since I think surrogacy is a “new” form of women’s exploitation [not unlike to; women’s exploitation on the sex industry]
            I am, of course, against surrogacy.

            I’d say the solution to that will be to outlaw it [Btw; I’m also not a huge fan of most artificial conception methods, IVfs, and the rest of them…]

          • esme

            I am just going to second Marv here. He is right. And add that getting men to actually care for their own offspring will probably only become the norm when we finally do smash the patriarchy. Until then women need to be able to look after themselves and their offspring without depending on men who will use their need to provide for children to hurt them. Or is ok with you for women and children to be stuck in abusive situations as long as you can lower your tax rate?

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @esme:

            “…And add that getting men to actually care for their own offspring will probably only become the norm when we finally do smash the patriarchy”

            And what are we doing to get “men to actually care for their own offspring”? Ask nicely? Pretty please, sugar on top… (?)

            Fuck them! If we need to make our point forcefully; we shouldn’t care if they truly “care” about their offspring or not. If they don’t care, we should force them – maybe not to care – but at least to be financially responsible for the sprogs they’ve sired.

            Feminists; I suspect: mostly the ‘choosey-choice’ type – instead of lobbing the government for universal free child daycare, if they were really serious about “smashing the patriarchy” they should be lobbing for things like… Oh, I donno… mandatory father DNA tests as soon as the baby is born (or when possible: earlier). Once the father is identified [doesn’t matter if he’s present or not], he should be for 18 years linked to that child and financially liable to that child. Among plenty of other things; he should be legally-bound to pay for at least 50% of child daycare.

            Only in cases when the father is dead, homeless, jailed [most likely for not paying child support] unemployed (etc) the tax payer should step in and top-up the mother’s child benefits.

            “Until then women need to be able to look after themselves and their offspring without depending on men [..]”

            I’ll repeat: two to tango: it takes two to create a child.

            Women most indeed need to look after themselves, but their “offering” part… not so keen on that [pending on circumstances, so hence: tax funds should be allocated on one-to-one means-tested basis].

            Women are not born pregnant, so no. Unlike, for example, women being born with extra-expenditures men don’t have to suffer, such as periods and the need for birth control methods.

            All of those things should be free, to level the playing field with men, but “feminists” are way too busy lobbing for universal ‘free child daycare’ instead…. *eye-roll*

          • marv

            Without socialized daycare it will be poor women, aboriginal women and women of colour who will face the most hardship. It would be sexist, racist and classist to reduce population rates on their backs. If we want to end ecological devastation and poverty the best way is to end wealth, male control of women’s bodies and the lack of consciousness.

          • Sisters Before Misters

            The private model of child-raising doesn’t fit well with a socialist perspective, the goal of which is to share resources and responsibilities across society, including the care and education of children.

            melb_gal posted a link in this thread, to an excellent essay by Claudia Card: “Against Marriage and Motherhood”, which has some interesting ideas about communal child-raising, and lots of citations for further reading.

            Some reading for anyone interested in critical feminist perspectives on population control:

            An essay by by Holly Grigg-Spall ‎(author of “Sweetening the Pill”), “Mother Earth: Population Control Isn’t the Solution”,

            http://ladyclever.com/health-fitness/mother-earth-population-control-isnt-the-solution/

            Hampshire College Population and Development Program: http://popdev.hampshire.edu/

            “PopDev challenges traditional views of over-population and immigration as primary causes of environmental degradation, political instability, and poverty, and promotes social, reproductive and environmental justice”.

            “…unsustainable consumption and production patterns and inequities that are actually far more significant in producing environmental problems than are sheer numbers of people…”.

            “…the dangers of narrowly focused population policies that view women’s fertility as a cause of and solution for environmental degradation and that can be coercive and punitive, without providing support for — and in fact, often undermining — women’s rights, dignity and control over their bodies”.

            Lots of papers on this topic, available through their website.

          • C.K. Egbert

            I’m not sure that this really provides an argument against population control (which is problematic if it focuses on female contraception/sterilization, rather than male sterilization–which is low-cost, effective, and very safe).

            Yes, we definitely need to decrease consumption, but consumption is necessary to quality of life. We can either have a lot of people, all consuming very little, and having a very low quality of life (less quality and less food for everyone, extremely cramped living spaces, etc.), or we can have fewer people and a better quality of life.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            C.K. Egbert’s comment

            ^ Basically, that’s what it all boils down to: quality of life for all vs. “less quality and less food for everyone, extremely cramped living spaces, etc.”

          • marv

            My (possibly incorrect) reading of Sisters Before Misters was that a socially and environmentally sustainable populace is an inevitable effect of empowering women by eradicating male dominion/capitalism. Curbing our numbers therefore doesn’t need to be a direct goal.

            For me, carrot and stick incentives for males to be sterilized, especially in the upper and middle class sectors, is a laudable planned objective as they engage in most of the production and consumption (however unlikely current prospects for implementation are). It becomes more thorny though to include men of colour and indigenous men due to white supremacy and the history of eugenics which targeted/targets women of colour and First Nations women.

            Holly Grigg-Spall’s use of “Mother Earth” made me uneasy because the stereotype genders nature as female. It inadvertently undermines the necessity for men to be tender, nurturing and childcare givers. This highlights yet again the indispensable requirement to eliminate gender.

          • marv

            “control production” rather than “engage in most production”.

          • Sisters Before Misters

            Progressive critics of population control see it as a questionable concept with roots in the eugenics movement and ties to conservative anti-immigration and antifeminist politics, which compromises both the environmental movement and women’s reproductive rights.

            “This blame game is part of a long tradition of eugenic environmentalism in which environmental and economic resource scarcities are attributed to “too many people” — usually meaning too many people of color — and not to highly inequitable and environmentally damaging processes of production, distribution and consumption.”
            http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/57
            (10 Reasons Why Population Control is not the Solution to Global Warming, by Betsy Hartmann)

            “The idea of overpopulation promotes the simple assumption that there are a finite amount of global resources spread among too many people. The reality, however, is far more complex. Inequitable production, consumption and distribution patterns often have far more to do with generating poverty and environmental degradation than the impact of population growth.”

            “…although many Americans believe and repeat the dire forecast of overpopulation, few know basic facts about demographic dynamics. For instance, few realize that recent UN data indicate that population growth rates are declining worldwide faster than anticipated.”
            http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/9
            (U.S. High School Social Studies Textbooks: Perpetuating the Idea of Overpopulation, by Anne Hendrixson)

            “The global population growth rate peaked [mid 1990’s] and is now declining. The annual growth rate in 1963 was 2.2. percent; today it’s closer to 1.2 percent. Today’s population of 6 billion people will become 9 billion people in the next 50 years, and then it will begin to decline.”

            “My hope is that those people who describe themselves as population activists for historical reasons, who already find themselves working for women’s emancipation and sustainable development, will seize this moment to challenge the population orthodoxies and allow their work to move forward without the baggage of the population framework. Today they’re fighting a losing battle against history, language, and commonly understood mythologies that attract the wrong types of allies.”

            “Here’s the paradox: If we reject the population-control frame in favor of the goals of women’s emancipation and sustainable development, we may achieve a healthier and more stable population, without inviting the unwelcome embrace of ugly exclusionists.”
            http://prospect.org/article/end-population-movement
            (The End Of The Population Movement, by Adam Werbach)

            More links to critical analysis of population control:

            http://phys.org/news/2011-01-one-child-policy-yields-multiple-woes.html#nRlv

            http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_religions_and_babies (video and transcript)

            http://livinggreenmag.com/2013/07/11/people-solutions/sustainability-and-the-world-population-what-is-our-global-limit/

            http://www.pnas.org/content/111/46/16610 (Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems – abstract).

            http://cwpe.org/resources/popcontrol (Committee on Women, Population, and the Environment)

          • Sisters Before Misters

            “Viewing family planning as a means to solve the climate crisis will set back progress on the delivery of safe, voluntary and ethical reproductive health services. That’s because there’s a big difference between family planning programs designed primarily to reduce birth rates and those premised on reproductive rights as an end that is worthy in
            itself”.

            “Population control pushes quality of care and freedom of contraceptive choice to the back seat. Its long and sordid history provides ample evidence of these risks”.

            (10 Reasons Why Population Control is not the Solution to Global Warming, by Betsy Hartmann)
            http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/57

          • Non-PC RadFem

            “…the dangers of narrowly focused population policies that view women’s fertility as a cause of and solution for environmental degradation and that can be coercive and punitive [..]”

            I never said overpopulation is to be blamed on women’s fertility.
            If anything; I said [and/or implied] the exact opposite of that.
            Overpopulation is due to the patriarchal/capitalist obsession to view children [especially children form unprivileged classes] as ’assets’ – hence the term: “human resources” or if you will: latent Human Resources.

  • Deborah Peifer

    A very fine, well-argued post. I too have been very concerned that marriage has become not just a possibility, but a requirement. In much the same way, although, I believe with more exhortations to die in a fire, transmania enshrines the patriarchly and its oppressive gender roles. There is so much work to do. Thank you for your superb efforts on behalf of all women.

  • As feminists, we shouldn’t be celebrating marriage. We shouldn’t be contributing to the patriarchal brainwashing that marriage is life’s ultimate goal.

    The consequences for promoting marriage are dire, as women are brainwashed into devoting their lives to and compromising their boundaries for men every single day. Every day, some women are being locked into matrimonial isolation and domestic and reproductive slavery.

    We need to bring back the feminist critique of marriage.

    • Mary

      But isn’t it possible that there can be some feminist models for institutionalized marriage — or is it out of the question. I ask this with sincere interest.

      • Priscila

        I’m not either knowledgeable about this. I guess, though, that the problem with the idea of “feminist marriage” is of the same nature than that of “feminist porn”. It’s a contradiction in terms.

        • Priscila

          To be clear: *yes sure of course* feminists are entitled to their “choice” of getting married like everyone else, but then we go back to the start: it doesn’t turn marriage into a feminist act just because she’s a feminist.

    • lizor

      “women are brainwashed into devoting their lives to and compromising their boundaries for men every single day”

      Yes. And we are also coerced – financially (I think that’s the biggest pressure: you know, having access to the wages you’ve been deprived of because of your sex) and also by the idea that having a husband will somehow protect us from male violence.

      It all boils down to being a possession – a pet, well cared-for by a man who has the resources to “provide” and a precious commodity that will be shielded from the advances of other covetous owners (as per the Christian commandment about not wanting other men’s stuff).

      Ug.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Right. We are taught to give up everything for our relationships with men, that marriage and childrearing is our ultimate goal, and that all this should fulfill us in some inexplicable way. STILL.

        • lizor

          Yeah, STILL.

          I’ve had women tell me “Having a child is the most profound thing a woman can do” – this in context of encouraging me to have children. Happily the coercive talk did not work. 🙂

          • tinfoil hattie

            It’s pretty amazing, true – but then you’re still stuck with raising a human being. Seriously: good-bye to your individuality after kids, if you’re the mother. Here I am, 54, trying to figure out who I am and how I will live out my life, after my 22 years (total) of raising kids is at an end.

      • slaw

        If you are not ‘pet’ material then they seem to see you as a rival for air, jobs, etc. In my world men are frequently not neutral people, they have physically threatened me, tried to intimidate me, negged me (male parent), and so on. What happens when you cease to have appeal for your male partner? Hopefully just disinterest and not violence. Men are quite capable of violence other than sexual (emotional, financial, physical, psychological).

      • Non-PC RadFem

        “Yes. And we are also coerced – financially (I think that’s the biggest pressure: you know, having access to the wages you’ve been deprived of because of your sex) and also by the idea that having a husband will somehow protect us from male violence.”

        To be fair – and I’m one of the last people who would ask something as asinine as: what about the menz… But truth is both sexes are being financially coerced into dual-earner households, just to be able make ends meet and have some semblance [or illusion] of ‘prosperity.’
        This forces people to choose a ‘partner’ based more on their earnings rather than if they actually like them as people or not.

        Romantic relationships are becoming more akin to financial/business partnerships as time move forwards and things become economically tougher.

        I seriously think the Feminist perspective [especially the radical version of it] on marriage is stuck in the past [40‘s, 50‘s?]. I learned a lot from that perspective, and I’m immensely grateful for them, but times moved on. And not for the better either.
        We’re dealing with an altogether different beast now, I’m afraid.
        It’s about time we come up with a new and updated perspective/critique, one that of course, includes the pioneering feminist views on women and the patriarchal construct of marriage, but crucially; it must include new social, financial, economic and all other dynamics that weren’t really at play 50 plus years ago.

        Since patriarchy is kind of the ‘rule of the land,’ feminists need to really understand their[our] enemy, that‘s the only way we can be ahead of curve, this means; learning about things like: political science, modern politics and geopolitics too, just to name a few.

        Otherwise we’re just compartmentalizing ourselves to obvious injustices that happen to women only, while ignoring the big picture of why this is happening on the first place, who benefits [and why], what’s the context facilitating this to happen, and the rest of it.

  • Pingback: Why be liberated when you can be ‘normal’?? A lesbian proposing NO to gay Marriage….. | Shack Diaries()

  • I’m as cynical as you are about gay marriage being obtainable because it’s about men’s rights.

    But I’m going to disagree with you that marriage should be abolished. I think it should be more egalitarian (and it already is a lot compared to my mother’s and grandmothers’ days). But marriage is about creating a family (with or without children), and everyone needs family. (Plus it’s a lot easier to raise kids with not only a partner but also an extended family.) Maybe you get along great with your family of origin, but I lost mine when I stood up for myself, and I haven’t found one since then, even though I’ve hung out with lots of feminists over the years. I think the only way I can find the family I need at the level of commitment I need is through marriage. Pair bonding seems to be a natural human instinct, and I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

    In short: Marriage is something a lot of people want, and I don’t think it’s because they’re stupid or brainwashed. I think there’s something to it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I hear you. I’m not anti-pair bonding. It’s what many humans seem inclined to do, myself included. But I’m unconvinced that marriage is necessary in order to do this or in order to have families?

      • Well, if you live with someone long enough, people will consider you married sooner or later, including the government*. So I’m not sure how you’re going to get out of it. (Separate residences?) I suppose it depends on how you define marriage.

        *I made the mistake of telling the welfare officer in Vancouver I once lived with someone, many years ago, for less than a year, and got listed as “common-law separated.” I was not happy.

        • Meghan Murphy

          I don’t think that’s actually true… If it were, there wouldn’t be so much pressure on single women to find husbands. There also wouldn’t be this bs idea about a woman’s wedding being the day she dreams of her whole life, this ridiculousness about diamonds and proposals, and white dresses, fathers ‘giving away’ their daughters, and so on and so forth.

          If living together is the same thing, then why does anyone bother with marriage? I think a big part of it is that it’s a status thing. “He proposed” is meant to show the world that a women is desirable enough to lock down. It legitimizes the relationship and the family in a way that I don’t believe to be particularly progressive. I mean, should we see same-sex relationships as more legit if the couple is married? I think not…

          There is a great deal of privilege that comes with choosing to marry and while I think gay people should have access to that privilege so long as straight people do, I don’t think that privilege is a good thing.

          “What gets lost in the celebrations about ‘equal marriage’ is that marriage is not about equality; it’s about perpetuating privilege.” http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/16/gay-marriage-equality-women-lesbian-couples-conservative-institution

          • Ann

            I’ve never been married and raised my children as a single mother for most of their lives. I’ve been demeaned, judged and even pitied for being a single mother, especially one who has no intention of ever marrying or living with a man. I support gay marriage on principle, but I agree with Meghan that the institution itself is used to give both social and legal status to families and relationships, especially to women. In my daily life I’m often reminded of my ‘lower’ status as a single mother and a single woman, despite my personal and educational achievements and my economic independence. The comment that we need marriage to create families is one example, as though my family is somehow not as legitimate without that validating piece of paper and a man on my arm. It’s very insidious.

    • Obviously, you don’t get married thinking, “This is gonna some unequal contract of patriarchal supremacy!” You get married thinking you will both be equal partners.

      But something happens when you become a wife. There are subtle social norms in marriage that systemically screw over women and benefit men. They’re so deeply baked in to the institution of marriage that we don’t even notice them.

      • Mary

        I’m wondering if it would be possible to have a few examples of what you mean i.e. the subtle social norms. As I am straight and unmarried I would like to know ore about what would await me on the other side (not intending to go there right away but just incase)…

        • esme

          It usually becomes obvious when you have kids. Moms do all the organizing of the children’s lives. Appointments, logistics, discipline etc. They do all the messy jobs too or the bulk of them. Diapers, breast feeding, cleaning puke and snot and so on.

          But before that the women do the bulk of the emotional work and end up taking a back seat in their career because the guy makes not money etc.

          No couple is exactly the same, but this is a general outline of a pattern I have experienced and observed many times.

          • tinfoil hattie

            And, frankly, the baby-care years, when I had equal division of work with my husband, are the least of it. 18 years go by and I, die-hard curmudgeonly feminist, am STILL the one who organizes every single llogistic in this family. Why, we just had a huge fight about it last night!

          • esme

            I hear you. It is very difficult to break those patriarchal patterns and expectations once in a marriage no matter what ideals you and even your partner hold, at least when your partner is a man and you are a woman. I suspect that they can even creep into same sex marriages as well.

        • I think the isolation is probably the most harmful social norm for married women. A “girlfriend” is free to go wherever and socialize with whomever. A wife, however, is a different story. It’s a very narrow spectrum of approved social interactions she can have and groups with which she may be involved. She also can’t devote too much energy to any relationships outside of the family. Husbands don’t have the same norms of isolation.

      • dandelion

        And then all that’s compounded when you become a mother.

    • I am for egalitarian, loving pair-bonding. What I am not for is expensive ceremonies, in your face religiosity and virginity symbolism, the father bringing the wife to the alter as he is meeting with the husband to carry out a trade, everyone gasping at how pretty the woman is with little regard for any other trait she may have, etc. Not to mention the fact that marriage is life-time contract that is expensive and is difficult to break out of. If you do manage to break out of it, you get accused of traumatising your children (and not just by conservatives.)

      I proudly favour monogamous relationships, because I think it is good thing to encourage people (particularly men) to develop self-control with regard to sex, recognise that more sex partners does not equal more happiness and value the individual they are dating for the unique person they are, instead of viewing them as an interchangeable source of sexual pleasure. Of course, people should be able to easily leave a monogamous relationship whenever they wish (this is not true for marriages.) That said, I don’t think any particular way of having sex is more or less “natural”. The great thing about being a human is that you can decide how you are going to live your life and attempt to be the best human you can possibly be regardless of your supposed nature.

      • Priscila

        “If you do manage to break out of it, you get accused of traumatising your children”

        This might be the thing that most pisses me about marriage. I grew up with parents who HATED each other. All my teenage years were spent longing desperately for them to get a divorce, but they didn’t. I once came to the point of locking my parents in my room and telling them I’d release them only after they had discussed the terms of their divorce. Of course it didn’t work and of course the situation was more complex (my mom didn’t have a job, etc), but I still burn with anger every time a divorced parent is accused of “traumatising their children”. My parents caused me and my siblings WAY more trauma by staying married.

        For the record, they’re still married. It’s their 40th anniversary this year. And they still hate each other.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Staying together ‘for the children’ is the biggest joke of the century. Like kids need to be around their shithead dads/fighting/abuse, yaknow?

  • Our gaining the right to marry does constitute a move toward equality between us and straights, whether marriage is a good thing or not. And I don’t think anyone has claimed that marriage equality amounts to full equality between the sexes, or to anything other than an improvement in the situation of homosexual and bisexual people.

    Regarding marriage itself: I’m fine with it. It’s just a way for the law and society to acknowledge the unique nature of monogamous, long-term romantic relationships, and the needs that come with it. Marriage is not inherently patriarchal or gender roled, and in fact marriage equality helps to ‘de-gender’ marriage by making it so that there is no sex difference requirement on it.

    • Mar Iguana

      “Marriage is not inherently patriarchal or gender roled…”

      Bull.

      • Ann

        “Marriage is not inherently patriarchal or gender roled, and in fact marriage equality helps to ‘de-gender’ marriage by making it so that there is no sex difference requirement on it”.

        If marriage is not inherently gender roled then it shouldn’t need ‘de-gendering’.

      • slaw

        With you on that, Mar Iguana. Complete bull. Given the history of marriage and its consequences for women across the globe. And the consequences of being considered unsuitable for marriage (uncircumscised women in some cultures) – having no social status as an adult woman. Or the consequences of displeasing one’s husband or husband’s family (not having sons, or some other reason). The consequences can be death. Marriage is totally gendered. Consider that in many cultures the family of the bride has to compensate the family of the groom (with a dowry or some other gift). There are some cultures in which a bride price is paid (compensating family of bride for their loss of her productive and reproductive labour, according to anthropological interpretations) but they are fewer in number than the cultures that consider women to be surplus to requirements (or matter out of place). Need I mention again cultures that continue to practice kidnapping of brides (essentially rape, because many of these are not elopements). Or in western Europe having to sign over whatever money you have coming into to the marriage to your husband – happened to middle class women as well as wealthy women. Or that fact that many women in England needed to bring something to a marriage or they wouldn’t have been considered suitable marriage candidates (Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” explores this).

  • Mary

    Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the tyranny of coupledom. How “the couple” is designed to automatically exclude others, and becomes such a privilege and sacred right. I’ve been thinking about how coupling up in this way is such a capitalist endeavour and it makes me actually nauseated to think about it. As I come from a broken family I have never bought into the idea of marriage making me happy, it was deeply damaging to many if not all the women in my family. The ones who “benefited” often cited that their husbands “made good money”. I think this is a disgusting thing to say, and so capitalist! Because of marriage and the tyranny of the social pressure to participate in it, women are all too often reduced to “winners” and “losers” based on 1) whether or not they are married; 2) how much money their husband makes. In my opinion ALL women need to take responsibility for their lives. “Wife” is not a job category. We are adults not infants and have a responsibility to ourselves and to one another and to the planet (in my opinion) to support ourselves and not fall back onto this so-called “privilege” of marriage. I believe women should find a way to earn their own living, despite any obstacles, though I recognize this is not always possible in our sexist society and the many internal and external roadblocks.

    There is an interview by Masha Tupitsyn that I highly recommend reading:
    http://bitchmagazine.org/post/interview-masha-tupitsyn-love-dog-film-art-feminism

    “Queer is hardly just who you sleep with (it’s more like how), so we need to get past those simple reductions. I don’t think heterosexuality is always the same as heteronormativity, just as I don’t think being gay is inherently radical anymore. I don’t see a lot of relationship alternatives on offer even by gay culture these days.

    Real love is queer when it’s not purely tied to heteronormative status symbols, like marriage and children and the social arrangements that make it an acceptable project. As feminists we are mostly only allowed to talk about desire because desire is seen as transgressive and love is seen as old-fashioned. But I don’t agree with that, and neither do other contemporary philosophers of love like bell hooks and Badiou.”

    There is nothing Radical or intereseting about homosexuals falling into the same normative roles. I support gay marriage and all gay rights and would put myself on the line for them, I similarly bow down to the visionary and revolutionary lesbians who made the feminist movement even possible, and see the gay rights movement and the women’s movement inseparably interdependent.

    For those interested, if you haven’t already, please please please read The Mermaid and the Minotaur by Dorothy Dinnerstein. It is the best model for coupling up and raising children I’ve ever read. I can’t believe the book isn’t discussed more often.

    • Lena

      Wow. Ok first of all do not use the word “homosexuals.” If you are going to refer to us, use the word we call ourselves. The word “homosexual” is clinical and dehumanizing for many gay men and lesbians.

      Second: Its hilarious to me that as a straight woman you thought it was appropriate to link to an interview of another straight woman to prove your point. Its totally cool how you (a straight woman) and the other straight woman in your link can reclaim the word queer as if the older generation(and a lot of the younger generation as well) of lgbt people were not beaten and killed after hearing that word. I guess it is easy to detach yourself from it as a slur when it will never be shouted at you from a car window.

      Thanks for the solidarity “sister” and for showing how much you care about gay and lesbian people and our pain and our history. Why don’t you take a break from going on about how gay people are not being “radical” enough while you figure out how to convince straight people (you know the people that make up the majority EVERYWHERE) to abandon state recognized partnerships. I’ll wait.

      • Meghan Murphy

        I honestly hadn’t realized “homosexual” was dehumanizing… I was under the impression that all it meant was “sexually attracted to members of one’s own sex”?

        • Mary

          I’m sorry I offended you as that was not my intention and I will choose my words more carefully now that I know that “homosexual” is for some people a dehumanizing word — why it would be I do not understand — will read up on that. What I meant to say was that marriage is not necessarily a radical or interesting choice (if one is interested in being radical, that is). But I was not suggesting that gay people should in any way be obligated to be radicals! I support gay marriage as integral to a just society. My closest cousin is lesbian (not to mention my three of my closest girlfriends).
          I find your comments about straight people using the word “queer” interesting and important. I resonated with the article as a straight feminist who does not fit into societal norms and never has, which has caused much pain. I thought that part of the discussion we where having here was about the institution of marriage to men which applies to straight women. The article I posted I think speaks to a minority of women who are feminist, straight and for lack of better words, unsure of how, or unable to it into the world/status quo. I think part of being sisters is explaining things to one another when there is a possible misunderstanding or misuse of terminology. I agree that the term queer should not be taken out of context if is offensive to people in ways I am not yet educated about, but I still think the article has some really interesting and unique insights.

          • Lena

            “Homosexual” is a term that currently is used mostly by hate groups and by people like Pat Robertson. That is what I think of when I read “homosexuals.” Its a loaded term: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/23/fashion/gays-lesbians-the-term-homosexual.html Here is a list of offensive and inoffensive terms: http://www.glaad.org/reference/lgb

            As I have seen other people point out in the comments that were posted since I commented it is totally inappropriate that straight women see the gay marriage laws being passed and then see it as an opportunity to make it about them and their relationships.

            I support straight women having an alternative to the cultural narrative and having a place to discuss that but that should never come at the expense of gay people. Using slurs like “queer” and using terminology like “heteronormative” incorrectly does exactly that.

            Lastly, I feel like there is a lot of projection on your part with repeating the “marriage isn’t interesting or radical” line when I haven’t seen anyone claim that gay marriage is either of things.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Lena. Marriage IS about straight women. It is also about lesbians and gay men and heteronormativity and heterosexism. But it simply makes no sense to talk about the patriarchal institution of marriage without acknowledging that it has been a site of oppression for women since its inception.

            What should be clear is that we do not believe “homosexual” to be a bad thing here. It was used in a neutral way to describe exactly what the term is meant to describe. It appears to me that many people use the term “homosexual” in an entirely neutral way. It is likely that the word “feminist” is used in a negative way more often than it is a positive way, but I’m not about to demand people stop using it because misogynists use the word in a negative, hateful, way. “Homosexual” isn’t a slur, despite the fact that homophobes may use it as such. All that said, I’m interested in hearing from other lesbians about the term. I’d never heard that it was offensive (though I tend to use more specific terms, like lesbian and gay).

          • slaw

            Why are you making it all about you? I think projection is a term that one could apply to your upset and apparent outrage at straight women who think marriage is much worse than a ‘double-edged’ sword. Women are punished if they do marry and if they don’t. Always have been. Being ahistorical about marriage is intellectually lazy and quite dismissive of women’s experience. And many of the negatives of marriage are still being experienced by women around the globe.

          • t

            Lena isn’t saying that marriage doesn’t hurt straight women. What you and Meghan keep ignoring is people saying that this is a GAY AND LESBIAN TOPIC. Lesbians are women, so we also experience pressures to date and marry men, we also experience pressures to share our lives with men and have children for men. Just because we’re lesbians doesn’t change how society views women (which we are….which is why I don’t see why you all are making it seem like a marriage equality win has no impact on women at all).
            With gay and lesbian’s marrying, there isn’t that heteronormative problem. There isn’t the sexism….because there can’t be, by the basic composition of a same sex relationship. “Allowing” us to marry doesn’t expand female suffering in any way, so I’m not sure why straight women keep trying to make it seem like it’s a step backward.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I don’t think I said it was a step backward. I think I said that it didn’t make Ireland some beacon of liberty and equality, that I don’t support the institution of marriage, as a whole, and that privileging married couples of non-married couples isn’t progressive. I think I also said that gay marriage was widely supported by liberals because it isn’t a specifically female issue, whereas abortion is.

          • t

            and nobody else is saying it’s a beacon of liberty and freedom. However it’s still lesbian and gay men earning rights they’ve been denied. I don’t understand why that’s such a horrible awful thing. Married couples are already privileged over non-married couples. Gay people being able to have access to those privileges doesn’t somehow make things worse for non-married couples.

            You also keep ignoring me when I call you out for making a gay issues about straight people. It’s really irritating, you’re dancing around my main issue with this whole article and your comments since.

          • Meghan Murphy

            What are you talking about? No one thinks it’s a “horrible awful thing.” What’s irritating is the way that you are manipulating people’s beliefs and arguments here in order to pick a fight.

          • lizor

            “You also keep ignoring me when I call you out for making a gay issues about straight people.”

            Perhaps because it’s a non-point? The topic is access for same-sex couples to an institution that is deeply heterosexist, that has been defined by heterosexuality and FOR THAT REASON exclusionary to same-sex couples. You seem to want to amputate the discussion about access to a legal institution without discussing the actual ideological roots of that institution.

            To think about gays’ access to straight institutions while insisting that no one connect the two is incoherent. To accuse Meghan of “making it about straight people” is unfair and nonsensical.

            “It’s really irritating, you’re dancing around my main issue with this whole article and your comments since.”

            This is projection. Your “main issue” (that discussions of gay access to an institution deeply embedded in sex-based exploitation should somehow be amputated from that exploitive history; that no one in the conversation should mention the sexist roots of marriage) does not hold water. You want to de-historicize marriage in order to shut down critical discussion of the past and current function of marriage and its reiteration of sex-class hierarchy. If don’t want reality to kill your buzz, then why are you on this webpage in the first place?

          • slaw

            I guess I don’t believe that anyone has an entitlement to marry, including straight people. Is marriage a symbol of something (more than government recognition and as a necessary pre-requisite to legal entitlements) to you? Do you seek affirmation (from individuals) as well as legal recognition from the state? Because while you can get the latter in many places in the world, you don’t really have a right to the former (unless you have some way of getting into the heads of people and sanctioning those you consider to be wrong-headed or hateful). Because people who marry seem to pick and choose the symbols they embrace and those they choose to ignore (e.g. the white dress, come on people, just get rid of it). I think it is a great triumph that the Republic of Ireland (of all places) will be legalizing same sex marriage. I have always thought it unfair that same sex couples have had to face the prospect of having the family members of their significant others swoop in on the death of that person and determine what kind of memorial they will have and refuse to acknowledge their lovers, etc. But I reserve the right to think that marriage is often a ludicrous and hypocritical institution for all who are entangled in it. Especially the children. I have often thought if the option for becoming an emancipated minor had been available when I was growing up (running away was the only option) – it may have been wise to divorce my family rather than remain connected to them. Because remaining had quite a corrosive effect in the long run.

          • t

            It’s about the legal rights. It has nothing to do with anything else. I’m not even someone who has any particular interest in getting married myself, but the fact that as a lesbian I have no access to rights BECAUSE I’m a lesbian (not because of some choice I made not to get married) is wrong. If that changes somewhere in the world, it’s a good thing. It’s not about embracing symbols, it’s about rights. (see this website for a list of rights we are currently denied in states without marriage equality). That’s all it’s about…but I personally think that’s plenty to celebrate. Maybe people who aren’t lesbians shouldn’t keep being so vocal about how horrible marriage is when things like this comes up. Us gaining rights isn’t a talking point for non lesbians radfems to talk about how horrible it is to be married to a man as a woman. It’s not about the institution of marriage being terrible (which it is….especially for straight women). It’s about lesbian and gay people not having rights because of homophobia, and when those rights are granted to us it’s a good thing. The abolition of marriage as an institution is a completely separate subject. Do you bring it up every single time someone you know gets married? Do you refuse to go to the marriages of your friends and family? I just don’t get why so many radfems who are not lesbians are so passionate when it comes to us gaining legal rights. It comes off gross and lesbophobic regardless of your true feelings about lesbians.

          • Meghan Murphy

            It wouldn’t be difficult to offer the same rights to non-married couples. Why must we join the status quo in order to access rights? What if we don’t want to sign a legal agreement and enter into a state-sanctioned, historically repressive institution? Why are relationships under marriage more legitimate or valuable than others?

            “I just don’t get why so many radfems who are not lesbians are so passionate when it comes to us gaining legal rights. It comes off gross and lesbophobic regardless of your true feelings about lesbians.”

            I’ve written many times about my opposition to marriage and the sexist traditions that come along with marriage (women taking their husband’s names, etc.) I’ve never written about same sex marriage, until now. I’m not sure where you see all this “passion” for opposing same sex marriage coming from, as far as heterosexual feminists go. I learned about (and up until recently) “opposition” to same sex marriage (which is actually about opposition to MARRIAGE, as a whole/institution, not specifically about opposing same sex marriage) from lesbian feminists. In any case, you’re misrepresenting the issues/arguments here, again. No one wants to keep lesbians from accessing the same rights heteros have. Rather, it is the opposite. We all agree that same sex couples SHOULD have access to the same legal rights heterosexual married couples do and have said so many times over. We support same sex marriage so long as marriage is a thing that exists and grants particular rights and privileges to those who choose to marry. You’re fighting a battle that isn’t there.

          • andeväsen

            “Maybe people who aren’t lesbians shouldn’t keep being so vocal about how horrible marriage is when things like this comes up.”

            Would you rather we suffer in silence then? Marriage has been the bane of womenkind, including lesbians, for centuries on end and continues to be so to this day for women in most parts of the world. Marriage conferring rights to a small minority of the world’s women has happened recently enough to be a historical anomaly. Maybe the quest for some lesbians to embrace marriage is misguided at best.

          • Mary

            Seems to me that if I were speaking to someone I probably wouldn’t use the word “homosexual” but in writing it flowed more easily due to using a more formal language. I see that according to your list the word homosexuality is also offensive, but that heterosexuality is not. I am confused by that. I don’t know what word you say then in the context of speaking about heterosexuality/homosexuality distinctions. If a hate group started using the word “feminist” I would still declare myself one. Seems to me you are allowing hate groups to determine the language that people who are your allies and supporters can and can’t use or identify with. That’s worthy of reflection I think.

            As for the word queer, I thought some of the comments in the article I posted were really interesting.
            I can sympathize that the appropriation of a word that has caused so much pain and alienation for discriminated people would be offensive to many, as it is to you. But if some people identify with the term and want to use it to talk about their own struggles, and mean no harm by making a relevant and thought-through reference to it, is it necessary that the word be on lock down and not undergo cultural shifts or changes or comparisons in meaning as time evolves? I believe that dialogue and conversation is one of the ways that society grows and evolves.

            You write: “I feel like there is a lot of projection on your part with repeating the “marriage isn’t interesting or radical” line when I haven’t seen anyone claim that gay marriage is either of things.”

            I don’t understand what you mean because I don’t know what my projection is!

            I would like to reiterate with the words of Bell Hooks (yes, another straight woman — I apologize!): “Our freedom as women to chose who we love, who we will share out bodies and lives with, has been deeply enhanced by the struggles of radical lesbian women both on behalf of gay rights and women’s rights.

            “Without radical lesbian input feminist theory and practice would never have dared to push against the boundaries of heterosexism to creates spaces where women, all women, irrespective of their sexual identity and/or preference, could and can be as free as they want to be. This legacy should be continually acknowledged and cherished.”

            I post this quote because In my mind gay rights and women’s rights are integral to one another. I reiterate that I support gay marriage not only for my own selfish reasons, but because I think human beings should be able to marry whoever they want to marry — if they want to marry! I also respect those who don’t want to marry! Let’s stick together a little more, eh.

          • lizor

            “Using slurs like “queer” and using terminology like “heteronormative” incorrectly does exactly that.”

            This is the first time I have heard the the term “homosexual” is offensive. I also did not know that “queer” (a term that is used broadly inside and outside of academia) is a slur as well as “heteronormative” being a slur.

            What words should we use? “Gay”, while referring to both men and women currently leans towards men as a descriptor, otherwise, the frequently used phrase “gay and lesbian” would be redundant. Which word(s) can we use inoffensively and also what term should I use in place of “heteronormative”?

            This is a very serious question as it is important that we are precise and inclusive in our language.

          • lizor

            Sorry, I posted too early. I’d like to amend my last comment.

            What is an inoffensive term to use in place of “heteronormative”?

            Is there an alternate term for “gay and lesbian” that includes both groups? “Gay” with its dominant association to males has become ambiguous and imprecise.

  • Philip Rose

    It’s a bit off-topic, but maybe you should think about getting politically involved in order to give women a chance to be more represented and try to solve all these problems.
    In the UK, we now have the Women’s Equality Party. Yet I see no political party like that in Canada. You should start one.
    A party run by women for women – what’s not to like?

  • marv

    On top of shrouding women as a class by privatising them, marriage definitely stifles relationship diversity and its status. When one type is raised up as the most valuable along with silly rituals others are subordinated to second class rank. Because we live in such a marriage based individualistic society it’s no wonder are choices are so constrained.

    Pinning our nuptial institutions on natural drivers compounds the problem. The same reasoning buttresses gender, heteronormativity, pornstitution, the nuclear family, capitalism, property privitization, BDSM and just about everything else (a little hyperbolic I admit).

    For alternative options to expand marriage needs to contract as a contract. What we have become is infinitely less than what we could become.

  • porcelaintree

    I can’t help but wonder if many of the sexist aspects of marriage that have historically plagued women are really an innate part of the institution itself, or rather are just inevitable consequences of living with a man in a patriarchal society.

    If a heterosexual couple is living together, but isn’t married, is the woman any less likely to experience domestic violence and rape than a married woman? Is she less likely to be burdened with the majority of housework and childcare than a married woman? Is her career going to be valued more by her male partner than a married woman’s career would be valued by her husband? I realize this is anecdotal evidence, but my own observations of my unmarried female friends/acquaintances who are living with male partners show that lacking a marriage license not lead to a relationship that lacks sexism. I don’t think marriage is necessarily the problem – men are the problem.

    Though I am in a monogamous relationship with a man, I don’t particularly care about getting married. However, I maintain a fairly neutral opinion on marriage as an institution. Any institution or social construct created/maintained within a patriarchal society is going to contain and promote sexism to one degree or another: this includes not only marriage, but art, language, law, fashion, medicine, education, technology, etc. When feminists identify sexist trends or norms in spoken language, no one suggests that humans stop speaking altogether – the response is to reform our language or speech patterns to eliminate sexist or otherwise discriminatory words. When feminists identify sexism in art or fashion, no one demands that humans stop making art or stop wearing clothes. When feminists identify sexism in the medical field or in education, the solution isn’t abandoning science-based medicine or getting rid of public schools. Identification and removal of the sexist elements within these institutions, not elimination of the institutions themselves, is the pattern we follow – so, the claim that marriage itself is innately sexist strikes me as overly simplistic.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Those are fair points. Certainly women experience male violence, married or not… Though I think there are ideas about ‘ownership’ that remain attached to marriage and that the word “wife” holds certain connotations as well, in terms of duties, behaviour, expectations, etc. Certainly I think the potential for further abuse — financial, psychological, etc — to happen in court, during a divorce and during child custody battles is much higher if you were married.

      For me, what I always tend to come back to is, why marry? Part of the reason I’ve made a decision not to marry is because of the patriarchal roots of the institutions, but also because I don’t like the way that marriage privileges certain couples/types of relationships. Why should we choose to be privileged in this way? Why participate in these notions of what a “real” relationship/couple/family looks like? Why not push back against that?

      • Joe Halloran

        As distorted and imperfect as things are in the culture, marriage defines legal and economic responsibilities. Not sure how much that matters for the adult relationship, tho it might, but for children it seems to me that some guarantee of at least economic support is important. If you do away with marriage, do you have an alternative way to protect children? You can say marriage doesn’t do a very good job of protecting children and I’ll agree with you. Still, people change, relationships end, but children still need to be raised. Thoughts on that?

        • Meghan Murphy

          Well, marriage has never really ensured men care for their children… Has it? The job of raising children has long fallen to women, whether or not they are married.

          • Joe Halloran

            But even in same sex relationships things change, relationships end, and there are support and custody issues – I’m not devils advocating, I’m just wondering if that’s a consideration and how else that might be dealt with outside of some legal arrangement like marriage.

        • esme

          Parents are already required to provide financial support to their children whether or not they were ever married to the other parent. As for other kinds of support, the law is poorly equipped for ditching parents to provide them.

    • lizor

      “the claim that marriage itself is innately sexist strikes me as overly simplistic.”

      Perhaps this is true. But the claim that marriage is historically sexist is factual, and the ways in which the deep sexism of the institution have infiltrated the broader culture is not simple at all.

  • Rosie

    FUCK YEAH

  • G.

    “Marriage is not a progressive institution. It is an institution founded on the idea of women as property, traded among men, and it continues to be a site of oppression for women today”

    Agreed.

    Now tell me how exactly that is also true for same sex relationships.

    You want to abolish straight marriage, I support the sentiment. In fact, maybe it’d be good idea to strip straight people of their constitutional right to exist for a few centuries and see how they talk about the subject then.

    Don’t project your relationship dynamics–your codependency to men–onto lesbians. That’s just condescending, thinly veiled heterosexism.

  • t

    ” Marriage and the nuclear family keep women under the thumb of men and ensures we continue to give birth to and raise men’s children (and keeps women dependent on men), while reproductive rights ensure women remain independent, in many ways.”

    In what way does same sex marriage do any of these things? Reproductive rights are important, but you’re literally taking a lesbian and gay issue and making it about straight people which comes off a little homophobic. Marriage is rooted in misogyny for people in straight relationships, however people in same sex relationships should still have the right to decide if the legal benefits of marriage are something they want. Marriage is a contract, and any adult should be able to engage in it.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’ll refer you to these interviews/articles as well:
      http://feministcurrent.com/9600/podcast-has-the-gay-rights-movement-has-lost-its-teeth-julie-bindel-on-her-new-book-straight-expectations/
      http://feministcurrent.com/5940/can-marriage-ever-be-feminist-an-interview-with-nicola-barker/
      http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/16/gay-marriage-equality-women-lesbian-couples-conservative-institution
      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/11/gay-marriage-equality-tolerance-discrimination

      “people in same sex relationships should still have the right to decide if the legal benefits of marriage are something they want. Marriage is a contract, and any adult should be able to engage in it.”

      I agree. I said as much in the article.

      I fail to see how it is homophobic to argue that same sex relationships should be treated as legitimate regardless of whether or not the couple is married.

      • t

        Acting as if it’s not a win for the gay community and women is where I think there seems to be a disconnect. Just because your personal politics haven’t been positively impacted by this decision doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be celebrated as a positive for women. Taking something about lesbians and writing an entire article making it about straight women/het partnered bi women comes off a little like you only care about things that impact you and yours.

        Writing this article and not affiliating it with something related to a gay and lesbian issue would have been a completely different thing, and something I would have totally agreed with. Utilizing something related to gay and lesbian people as a talking point for straight women seems a little off.

        • Meghan Murphy

          “Just because your personal politics haven’t been positively impacted by this decision…”

          I don’t follow.

          How do abortion rights “positively impact my personal politics?” I’ve never even had an abortion and I haven’t used hormonal birth control in years. I’m here for women and for freedom from oppressive systems of power. I want women to have access to reproductive rights because I care about women’s lives — other women’s lives — women who are less privileged than I. I live in Canada. We have health care. I live in Vancouver, where I have easy access to affordable birth control/abortion, should I need one. This really isn’t about me.

          I made the decision not to marry for political reasons a long, long time ago. I am opposed to the institution of marriage for political reasons, not because I think marriage is bad for me as an individual. I would just as easily have some big wedding and a fancy ring. I like all that stuff too. If I had no politics, I’d take the same route all my friends did. I’m choosing to push back, as I said, for political reasons.

          Offering privileges and rights to married people and treating those who don’t marry as less than is not progressive or inclusive.

          Please read the critiques and listen to the interviews I linked to here and respond to the arguments being made if you would like to have a productive conversation about this issue.

          • t

            I don’t see how allowing gay people to marry has anything to do with non married straight people. They’re separate issues that you’re trying to combine. It is perfectly possible to advocate for gay marriage for women while also not supporting the system of marriage itself. Just like you can support union workers without supporting capitalism.

            The first link is to a “political lesbian” and I really don’t see how her experience is anything like lesbians like me who are “born this way.” However, I did listen to the whole thing and here are some of my thoughts on that point of view.

            I 100% agree that anyone should be able to have the rights as married couples without actually being married. I agree that marriage equality isn’t the end all be all politically. However it is a way to work within the system to allow all people, including lesbians and gay men, access to rights that we’ve been denied. You don’t have to advocate for gay marriage, you don’t even have to support it, but taking this issue which is about gay people and trying to twist it and make it about straight people comes off homophobic. Do you celebrate any other laws or changes that benefit people within any current systems that you also oppose? That is exactly what you’re saying not to do with this issue. Being against the system itself doesn’t mean you can’t also acknowledge when there are small victories within the system.

            The idea that marriage itself is a conservative institution is true. That does not change the fact that it’s the only way to gain access to rights that are denied to same sex couples currently. It is your choice as a straight woman not to gain those rights through marriage….but people who want them are being denied them. When that changes, it’s something to be celebrated. That is one more lesbian who can keep her late partner’s assets after she passes. It’s one more lesbian who wont have to fight in court for custody of her child after the primary parent dies. These are real issues, and again I don’t think they should make marriage a requirement for these rights. However right now that’s the only way to gain them.

            I also have a fear that people as a whole will stop advocating for change after marriage equality is achieved. It’s a very real fear for feminism and lgbt rights on a larger scale, but I don’t think it’s the fault of gay and lesbian people earning more rights within the current system.

          • lizor

            “I don’t see how allowing gay people to marry has anything to do with non married straight people.”

            Then you need to reread the article. No one, certainly not Meghan, is criticizing “allowing gay people to marry” and most definitely not proposing that doing so has a negative impact on heterosexual marriage as your comment insinuates.

            “It is perfectly possible to advocate for gay marriage for women while also not supporting the system of marriage itself.”

            And this is exactly what Meghan is doing. You seem to both be in agreement on this.

            “I also have a fear that people as a whole will stop advocating for change after marriage equality is achieved. It’s a very real fear for feminism and lgbt rights on a larger scale,”

            Again, you are both in agreement.

            “but I don’t think it’s the fault of gay and lesbian people earning more rights within the current system.”

            And again, this was never stated or even implied.

            You seem to agree with the actual thesis put forward in this piece, and yet you are contesting arguments that are not here.

            There is a difference between observing that the overwhelming celebration of this vote* in Ireland stands in stark contrast to the continued erosion of women’s safety and well-being, and proposing that finally abolishing long-standing measurably destructive discrimination is somehow bad for women. The latter was never stated by Meghan or any else on the thread.

            * NB – does anyone else find it a bit unnerving that basic human rights like universal access to institutions like marriage should be put to a plebiscite? That this is the means by which people gain rights that should be intrenched though existing written law but are functionally compromised by the infiltration of patriachal religious texts? I realize the end is just in this case, but if the rights of groups of people can subject to the whims of current popular opinion, it sets a troubling precedent, especially given the compromised status of women within popular culture.

          • Meghan Murphy

            “does anyone else find it a bit unnerving that basic human rights like universal access to institutions like marriage should be put to a plebiscite?”

            Yes. Completely. Like, “should same sex couples have the same rights and privileges as hetero couples” is not something that should be put to popular vote!! It should be a given. Like, if the majority of the population were homophobic and voted no, would that make it right or acceptable? Seems sketchy to me. But maybe is intentional so the state can pretend to have nothing to do with it? I don’t know…

  • Jacqueline

    I will quote directly from Meghan’s article, as it appears you may have missed this on your first reading:

    “To be clear, of course I believe that so long as heterosexual couples are permitted to marry, gay and lesbian couples should also be allowed access to the same rights and privileges they have access to.” She goes on to say, “The fact that lesbian and gay relationships are being acknowledged as legitimate is a good thing.”

    At no point did she argue that lesbian couples should not have the right to marry or decide for themselves if they wish to participate in its legal benefits.

    • Jacqueline

      Hit the wrong button … my comment was a reply to “t”.

    • Philip Rose

      t was responding to the writer’s view that ‘Marriage and the nuclear family keep women under the thumb of men’ etc.
      However, this does not apply in marriages between two women or two men.

    • lizor

      Isn’t it weird how many people are admonishing Meghan for things she never said; railing against her for positions she has not taken?

      This is not a comment directed at objectors here so much as a general observation of debates over the past year or more like the recent goings-on at rabble and the backlash that many feminists who critique the more “liberal” popular culture’s appropriation of sex-based human rights struggles: it seems to me that the more clearly evidenced and rationally argued the position, the more the straw-witch-burning mobs are likely to show up. It’s almost like a tally of the straw-arguments correlates with the powerful truth of the original statement.

      Meghan and her sisters who bravely withstand this sort of persecution are truly the heroes of our age.

      • Meghan Murphy

        It’s very strange and persistent. It feels like I see more lies about my work than truths.

        • lizor

          “It feels like I see more lies about my work than truths”

          Yes. That does not surprise me. I’m sure it’s cold comfort, but I think that this is largely a testament to the power of your words/work. I hope that most days you can see that and also take some comfort in the network of allies that has emerged in the past few years through the recent battles – to know that you are recognized and respected by other powerful women like so many who have contributed here or whom you have interviewed.

          And anyway… what’s the alternative? Sign up for a lobotomy or commit to staying drunk for the next five decades? 🙂

      • Yeah. It’s almost like people really, really, really want to to tell Meghan to SHUT UP, WOMAN, but can’t find a good reason based on Meghan’s actual arguments. So they misinterpret what Meghan writes and hey, presto they can imply or insist that Meghan is a -phobe, or a bigot, or erasing someone, or else stealing their agency. And apparently from there it is not only reasonable but necessary to demand (or support)that Meghan i)stop writing *as she pleases* about feminism on her blog and/or ii) be abused and threatened for writing about feminism on her blog and/or iii) be fired from her job for writing about feminism on her blog.
        I remember it didn’t take me long to recognise the truth of Germaine Greer’s observation that “women have no idea how much men hate them.” I can’t believe that it has taken me such a long time to realise how much women hate other women who continue to bring to our attention the manner in which women continue to be used and abused under patriarchy.

  • MsKittens

    This is spot on! Really loved Julie Bindel’s Guardian article as well. The truth about marriage is that it’s based on actual bullshit! Stop wasting money and time on it – wake up and start getting involved in the LGBT community again!

  • Ellesar

    I can see that maybe an argument would be that the more same sex couples that are married, the more the ‘institution’ of marriage is changed, and anything that takes it further from a man owning a woman is a good thing. but for me it does not change my attitude towards marriage at all. I will always connect it almost solely with patriarchy in many sick manifestations, and having same sex marriage legalised does nothing to change those origins, which continue to pervade for many.

  • I’m a baby-boom era Québécoise, and like many people here, I’ve never been married; there are a great many longstanding couples here (gay and straight) who have never had any desire to do so, precisely as an outcome of our collective “divorce” from a Catholic Church ver similar to its Irish counterpart in terms of its power, its reactionary hold on society and its appropriation of our national struggle (after betraying its emancipatory demands).

    And I also read the Pollitt article, which some feminist comrades across the sea sent me to bolster what I had written to them: that yes, it was cause for celebration, but that as well as class and other inequalities in Ireland, the utter lack of abortion rights (and other misogyny enshrined in law and custom) mean that “equality” was a long way off.

    We remember at least one recent case in which a woman in Ireland died because a therapeutic abortion of her non-viable foetus was denied her.

    That said, I am celebrating, primarily because it has so mightily pissed off the Church, and also because we can see a dynamic that could renew movements for other social rights such as women’s reproductive rights, and an end to overt or covert clerical control of women’s bodies, and of how people, gay or straight, live their lives and of the choices they make.

    I’m not a supporter of marriage as an institution but I think that it is essential to remove heterosexist definitions of it or of anything else, while fighting for equal rights for life partners who do not marry (power of attorney, inheritance, power to sponsor an immigrant partner etc and also removing unequal benefits that favour married over unmarried people (tax benefits and such).

    • slaw

      As a marriage agnostic (well more atheist, really, I don’t believe in it at all) I sort of feel as I do when as an atheist I am asked to respect other people’s religious beliefs. As if my starting position is disrespect. My first question is why, if I am not actively insulting their beliefs do I have to acknowledge those beliefs? Now what I think is on the table? Acknowledging those beliefs seems counter to my lack of belief and denies me my freedom of conscience. I don’t generally think about what other people believe (in terms of their cosmology) and am really not interested given some unpleasant experiences with believing people. So why do I have to express interest in and address my attention to beliefs I do not share in any way? I don’t mock religion online but will state with clarity that I don’t believe. I am not interested in marriage, the institution, the trappings of, the ceremonies around marriage. But all my life I have been compelled to validate marriage because to do otherwise would be ‘bad taste’. I have been to many weddings (as a child, adolescent and young adult) because my mother comes from a big family and I have many cousins. But I never imagined my own wedding. I think I married my cat off when I was eight because I thought it would lend her an air of respectability (she tended to get pregnant with some regularity (before we could ‘fix’ her (literally darting out the door as we gave away her last kitten)). But that was my childish worldview. Marriage, given how central financial/economic considerations are to its make-up (historically and in modern times), really doesn’t seem that romantic or dignified.

  • marv

    I read this book years ago. Some of you may find it relevant. It opposes marriage from a semi-liberal position.

    http://www.beacon.org/Beyond-Straight-and-Gay-Marriage-P584.aspx

  • vagabondi

    It’s astonishing to me how much debate this article is getting. As a lesbian, my reaction to the news was much the same as Meghan’s: well I guess that’s nice, I said to myself, but doesn’t Ireland still outlaw abortion…?

    When I was much younger and newly out of the closet, I would have been thrilled by this news. And I would probably have said, what do I care about abortions, I’m a lesbian, I’ll never need one. But over the years I’ve come to feel that the GLBT “community” doesn’t really care about lesbians or represent our interests.

    Gay men, once upon a time, could have been really revolutionary allies: they could have acknowledged that their oppression was based on the hatred of women and anything associated with women. But gay men are no less likely to be misogynists than any other men. They minstrelize us, say that our bodies are disgusting, lecture us about how we need to be sexually available to men who say that they’re women, and now that they’re becoming all respectable and stuff it seems like their main activist goal is to assert their male right to our reproductive capabilities.

    Yeah, once upon a time I felt like being a lesbian separated me form other women, like “queer” (we didn’t call it that 20 years ago) was my primary class loyalty, but now I think the opposite. I think that being a lesbian makes me doubly woman-identified, in the second wave sense. My allegiance to the political class woman is not diluted, as it is for many straight women (not the ones who’ve actually analyzed their own position as women in patriarchy, just the ones who aren’t really politically aware).

    There are certainly good things that flow out of access to marriage for lesbians, some of which have been named by other commentors: hospital visitation rights, tax and immigration benefits, hundreds of others. But really, since when does expanding access to patriarchal institutions satisfy us? This seems like the same argument in favor of sexually objectifying more women who weren’t previously sexually objectified, or in favor of giving women in Thailand the opportunity to be exploited in sweatshops. Do we want more women in boardrooms, really, or do we want to tear down the corporations?

    Yes I want my human rights, but not on the terms of the dominant class. I don’t want to access men’s power, I want to overthrow it. I don’t want compulsory heterosexuality to merely expand to compulsory legal monogamous coupledom, I want people who choose not to couple to have the right to name our next of kin, pay taxes at the same rate, and so forth. Liberation, not equality.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “There are certainly good things that flow out of access to marriage for lesbians, some of which have been named by other commentors: hospital visitation rights, tax and immigration benefits, hundreds of others. But really, since when does expanding access to patriarchal institutions satisfy us? This seems like the same argument in favor of sexually objectifying more women who weren’t previously sexually objectified, or in favor of giving women in Thailand the opportunity to be exploited in sweatshops. Do we want more women in boardrooms, really, or do we want to tear down the corporations?

      Yes I want my human rights, but not on the terms of the dominant class. I don’t want to access men’s power, I want to overthrow it. I don’t want compulsory heterosexuality to merely expand to compulsory legal monogamous coupledom, I want people who choose not to couple to have the right to name our next of kin, pay taxes at the same rate, and so forth. Liberation, not equality.”

      YAAAAAAS.

    • Mary

      This is soooo good! Thank you for posting!

    • Mar Iguana

      I wish I could hit the thumbs up button a whole bunch of times for your comment, vagabondi. Fuck equality and Fuck revolution.

      Viva La Libertad! Viva La Evolución!

    • lizor

      “Gay men, once upon a time, could have been really revolutionary allies: they could have acknowledged that their oppression was based on the hatred of women and anything associated with women. But gay men are no less likely to be misogynists than any other men. They minstrelize us, say that our bodies are disgusting, lecture us about how we need to be sexually available to men who say that they’re women, and now that they’re becoming all respectable and stuff it seems like their main activist goal is to assert their male right to our reproductive capabilities.”

      Yes! As a very young woman, alienated from the sexist conformity of my peers, I took solace in my towns’ queer social scene (a small town – the gay bar was a catch-all for misfits and social rejects). I believed that our collective alienation from the conservative and heterosexist status quo constituted an allegiance. Over the years [decades] I’ve seen that erode and transform with the rise of [male-centred] porn culture, the rise of individualist ideology. Gay men’s financial advantage is one thing. I also think that within an extremely male-centred culture, being a gay male is somehow more acceptable (albeit not without conflict) to some straight men than being a woman – after all, why not fuck, pair bond with men if you can, they are superior beings after all! And on top of that, it’s pretty clear that men are better at being women than women are!

      The mainstreaming of gay men into popular culture has in anyways served to further marginalize all women, with our “disgusting bodies”. Lesbians, in my experience, are looked upon with the greatest distain by some gay men, given that they don’t even put their “disgusting” bodies into the service of boners.

      Thanks for bringing this up. My own experience of this has been very saddening, hurtful and frustrating.

    • purple sage

      Fantastic comment, vagabondi. I couldn’t agree more. I also feel my allegiance is toward women as a class rather than GLBT. I increasingly feel like GLBT has absolutely nothing to do with me and in fact acts against my interests as a lesbian feminist.

  • andeväsen

    I’m waiting for the first country to hold a plebiscite to abolish marriage and have only civil partnerships to facilitate the legal recognition of monogamous partnerships of all individuals of any sexuality. That would be true liberation, rather than this homeopathically weak sauce “look we’ve reformed marriage slightly now rape is not allowed now unmarried women have the vote yay woo hoo”.

    “Equal marriage” is like “equal sati”, the erstwhile Indian practice wherein widows were encouraged to voluntarily burn to death on their husbands’ funeral pyres. But why was this opportunity limited to heterosexuals? Surely 18th century gay Indians should have had the human right to perform sati for their spouses too, right? Surely that was where the injustice lay?

    Marriage is still a stick to beat girls and women with around the world today. “Sex out of wedlock”, even when it refers to rape, results in punishment for women today. It belongs in the dustbins of history. Progress is not tweaking a corrupt system but getting rid of it altogether.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Word.

  • purple sage

    I’m really surprised about the backlash to this article. It seems pretty common sense that the right to marry is not getting anyone very far. While we still have marriage, then yes, gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, but I agree with Meghan that what we should be doing is asking ourselves why we are still getting married at all? It’s completely nonsensical to spend thousands of dollars on one party, and to ask for the approval of all your friends and family just because you’re partnering with somebody. I don’t want anything to do with marriage. I don’t ever want a ring or a wedding dress or any of that crap. I don’t want anyone’s approval. What happened to the good old days when gays and lesbians reveled in being different and challenging the status quo? We’re all about fitting in now. I’m quite happy to be a lesbian feminist in a common-law relationship with no children.

    Regarding the word homosexual, I think a fair number of gays and lesbians do find this word offensive because it is associated with the field of medicine/psychiatry and the belief that homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be cured. I would recommend avoiding it. That being said, the person who used the word homosexual in this thread clearly didn’t mean any harm. I think people should be able to read context and intention as well as just words. If someone doesn’t mean it in a negative way, then it’s not something to pick a fight over.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Regarding the word homosexual, I think a fair number of gays and lesbians do find this word offensive because it is associated with the field of medicine/psychiatry and the belief that homosexuality is a disorder that needs to be cured. I would recommend avoiding it.”

      That makes sense. Thanks.

  • Sylvia Black

    My female partner and I applauded this article a couple nights ago when we read it. Now I read the comments in dismay.

    For some, it seems, *not as bad/the same as when hetero couples do it* automatically equates to *socially progressive*. That may, at times, be true but it’s not enough to go on when trying to imagine and create a more egalitarian society.

    WHY have men hoarded this institution for so long? WHY have they fought so hard to keep it from the “awful” gays and lesbians?

    Is it because they really just didn’t want us visiting each other in the hospital? Because sharing tax breaks really bummed them out? Give me a break (most hetero couples hardly know what legal benefits they get anyways).

    No, it’s because “between a man and a woman” has always been about power, it’s always been about men’s God-given right to possess a woman, to be owed a female sexual and domestic servant. Marriage is precisely how men harvest a lifetime of privilege at women’s expense, place her in state AND culturally sanctioned debt bondage, impregnate her, play out the daily S&M of hetero-degenerative life, and live off her unpaid labor til death. ANY redefinition of marriage was going to scare these power-hungry freaks into a raging mess.

    The ONLY reason gay marriage is finally turning a political corner is because The LGBT Marriage Rainbow has NOT been challenging men’s power position within marriage. On the contrary, the whole argument is based on assuaging these fuckers’ fears, “we are just like you, except we are the same sex!” We have shown them enough examples of how closely the LGBT crowd can mimic hetero-nuclear life, have convinced them that we will not call out their shit, that we will participate in the consumerism, the religiosity, with nary a difference (so long as you overlook that whole genital thing).

    We have not threatened this institution which is evident in men’s allowing us (because really that’s how this goes/went) to finally partake.

    The feminist argument against marriage was always about men’s access to power. Lesbians and gays marrying will not change that. If you don’t want to change men’s access to power then you aren’t doing feminism. Polish your turds elsewhere.

    • lizor

      “If you don’t want to change men’s access to power then you aren’t doing feminism. ”

      Thank you. Thank you for that.

    • purple sage

      Fantastic post Sylvia, thank you.

  • melb_gal

    It seems very strange to me that anyone would say that being against marriage – or being skeptical that same-sex marriage rights will bring serious benefits to women – is somehow anti-lesbian – esp. given that radical lesbian feminists have always been at the forefront of critiques about the institution of marriage.

    Claudia Card has written some of the most scathing pieces against marriage as an institution.
    (just for example: https://pol285.blog.gustavus.edu/files/2009/08/Card_Against_Marriage.pdf)

    The idea that the institution of (traditional) marriage itself is only problematic because it contains men also goes against decades of radical lesbian feminist theorising that sees the overarching construction of heterosexuality as greater than an issue of individual relationships. That even for people living outside of heterosexual relationships, the bounds of the construction are still very much part of all our lives – even if only as something to resist.

    (another just for example: https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Heterosexuality.html?id=ViCBRAMWOuoC&hl=en)

    • lizor

      Fantastic article by Card. Thanks for posting!

  • Rye

    Looking at this article and its comments, I thought some of you might be interested in learning that there actually is a culture that doesn’t have marriage. They are the Mosuo, a people who live in modern day China. And moreover, for thousands of years Mosuo women have enjoyed a measure of sexual freedom largely unheard of elsewhere.

    When a Mosuo woman sexually desires a man, she simply invites him to her bedroom at night (and only Mosuo women have bedrooms). If the man decides to accept her offer, he will then return to his mother’s house in the morning. Moreover, their relationship may last for as long as they want it to. And if the woman has children with him, he has no parental rights because Mosuo children are raised by their mother’s family in multi-generational, matrilineal households. In addition, Mosuo women are allowed to have multiple lovers at a time (although most do not).

    Of course, the Mosuo are not an equal society. But, I think the Mosuo illustrate something important about marriage. Mosuo society is structured in such a way that women are afforded the absolute freedom to exit their sexual relationships. And as others here have already explained, marriage will invariably perpetuate women’s subordination because it is inherently incompatible with such freedom. So it would seem that it isn’t marriage that needs to be reformed, but something much deeper.

    • David

      Interesting. (http://www.mosuoproject.org) and (http://www.chinaexpat.com/2009/02/18/the-mosuo-and-their-walking-marriages.html)

      The Mosuo were a society of an elite few ruling the downtrodden many. The nobility were unrepentantly patriarchal, and long ago imposed a matrilineal tradition on the plebs, to eliminate threats to their power. This aspect is pure genius as a means of ensuring the nobility are never challenged.

      All anthropologists, Han and Western seem fascinated by the unusual partnering/sex relationships, the idea of women being sexually free is scandalising and people don’t seem to be able to see past it. In reality, relationships are usually just plain old serial monogamy, without the ceremonial marriage/divorce. This loose partnering works because child-rearing is supported by the matrilineal “house”, extended family, tribal community. I don’t see this kind of arrangement working well in modern, urban, atomised societies where many mothers really are “single”.

      Chinese TV loves China’s minority populations, they are always on TV, singing and dancing. China joyously celebrates and romanticises it’s ethnic minorities while the Han slowing assimilate them. (My outsider’s view.)

      The Han view of the Mosuo is that Mosuo women are promiscuous because of two traditions:
      – girls of 13 get their own private bedroom and are free to accept lovers.
      – the walking marriage, where the male partner leaves his communal sleeping quarters to visit the female partner in her private room.

      This myth of promiscuity has resulted in a growing sex industry in the the capital village, Luoshu. Visitors think that Mosuo women are “easy” and they might enjoy some free sex, but then they are sold women shipped over from Thailand dressed in Mosuo traditional dress. The Guardian

      With a population of only 40,000 and annual incomes of about US$140, I would not be surprised if this ethnic group is ravished by HIV and dies out completely within 20 years. The prospect of making a year’s wages in just one night is an offer that is hard to refuse, especially when prostitution is seen as a normal part of modern life, your ethnicity is sexualised and eroticised, and everyone thinks you are a prostitute anyway. (Cherry Smiley territory here!)

  • FormerLurker

    Meghan, upthread you said you “would be happy to abolish marriage.” Now, I can understand you having the opinion that marriage isn’t for you – different strokes for different folks, and all. But what do you mean by “abolish” marriage? Most people take “abolish” as to “outlaw” or “criminalize”. Is this really what you’re saying? You would like to see married people be made into outlaws and have to go underground, or risk prison? Or what? That sounds ludicrous, but again, you did say you would “abolish” marriage. What does that mean?

    • Meghan Murphy

      The dictionary says abolish means to “formally put an end to (a system, practice, or institution).”

      But on second thought, yeah, let’s send all the marrieds to jail. You have to admit it would be awfully amusing to see all those khakied yuppies behind bars…

      • FormerLurker

        So “formally put an end to”. How?

        • Meghan Murphy

          You make it unnecessary by allowing the same rights and privileges to unmarrieds. I mean, of course, a number one reason people get married is for the pomp and circumstance of the wedding, as well as the status. It would have to be a cultural shift as well as a legislative one.

          • Anna

            What if you just stopped marrying people? And if churches insist on continuing the practice, just don’t legally recognize it? And since everybody has the same rights regardless of marital status, it won’t harm anyone to have their marriage unrecognized. I mean, what is it about marriage people can’t let go of? The big party, the white dress, the gift registry? The fuss people make over it? Being able to rub it in unmarried folks’ faces? If everybody had all the same rights regardless of marital status, what does it matter if you get married? Maybe that’s it – it won’t hold status anymore, and maybe people just won’t be interested.

            I feel like rather than making people who want to abolish marriage answer questions, we should make the pro-marriage camp defend their stance. If we all had equal rights, and outside of religious reasons (churches could still marry you, there’d just be no legal recognition), why get married??

          • Meghan Murphy

            YES, ANNA, YES. All of that, yes.

      • Morag

        “But on second thought, yeah, let’s send all the marrieds to jail. You have to admit it would be awfully amusing to see all those khakied yuppies behind bars…”

        Yes, but let’s don’t let the punishment be cruel and unusual. We should let them keep their china set, collected via bridal registry, in their cell. For morale, they can pretend to have dinner parties, and pass the gravy boat back and forth. Also, they can keep their matching towels. His and hers. No double sink, though! No way. As part of their punishment/rehabilitation, they will have to learn to brush their teeth all alone — just like the rest of us.

        • Meghan Murphy

          AND THE DIAMONDS. LET’S NOT FORGET ABOUT THE DIAMONDS.

    • vagabondi

      It just means that the government would no longer provide different rights and incentives and so forth. If I were in charge I’d still let people have their own ceremony if they wanted, there’d just be no legal ramifications to it. Ideally they’d be less smug, too, but that can’t exactly be legislated.

    • EEU

      No, FormerLurker, that’s not what ‘abolish’ means. People often confuse ‘abolish’ with ‘prohibit'(probably because the two often go together), but these are two different concepts.

    • purple sage

      We should create a cultural shift where people are no longer taught that marriage gives them status and that marriage is their ultimate goal. The narrative that everyone will grow up to settle down with their soul mate and raise children together is everywhere from movies/TV to popular music to stories and books. It’s ingrained into the fabric of our lives by our institutions such as government and church. What we do is stop giving people privileges and status for being married, stop telling people that their ultimate goal should be to marry, and stop putting so many marriage narratives in the stories we tell through books and film. We also should abolish organized religion. That makes marriage become less important.

      We absolutely don’t criminalize married people. That’s a really silly thing to suggest. And in case anyone asks, no I don’t advocate for criminalizing people who participate in organized religion. We simply stop participating in it, we don’t need to throw anyone in jail.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Exactly. (And in case it wasn’t glaringly obvious, I was being sarcastic.)

      • Mar Iguana

        “It’s ingrained into the fabric of our lives by our institutions such as government and church.”

        The one-on-one foot soldiers (aka husbands) in male institutions are crucial to patriarchy.

  • FormerLurker

    Also, Meghan was wondering why people continue to marry in large numbers – well, one reason unmentioned so far is because of very strongly-held religious views, e.g. marriage is a sacrament (hence “holy matrimony”), fornication is sinful, children deserve an intact family with a mother and father, etc.

    Also, women especially I think, feel a certain lack of status if not married by a certain age (say, early to mid 30’s). I think they are very conscious of the “old maid” stereotype, and feel that married ladies look down on them and even pity them. And this is a very motivating factor.

    Lastly, I don’t know if Mary is still reading this – she had asked about workable models for marriage, as she may consider (heterosexual) marriage someday. I didn’t see anyone address her question. I’ll just throw in my 2 cents that I believe (and it’s been my experience) that marriage works best when the two parties tend to embrace traditional gender roles.

    When the husband assumes the role of provider and the wife the role of nurturer, things just seem to run smoother. The “career gals” married wives/moms I know are all overwhelmed, burnt out, stressed, and just generally having a tough time. The housewives (or those with a part time, family-friendly job with flexible hours) just seem a lot more content (although even some of those still can’t seem to break the habit of nagging too much). Food for thought, esp for someone like Mary who hasn’t experienced these things herself yet.

    • lizor

      Three of the long-standing heterosexual couple I’ve know since I was quite young decided to reverse with her spending most time at work and him as primary care-giver. Right from diapers onward. It has worked beautifully as have other arrangements involving the equal sharing of domestic/childrearing duties between the man and the woman. I don’t know anyone from my circle who I would describe as stressed out or overwhelmed “career gals” – though I, nor anyone I know would never use that term anyway without sarcasm.

    • lizor

      NB to my previous reply: none of those couples got married.

      • FormerLurker

        Take a poll of average young ladies and ask them if their preferred plan is to be the breadwinner, supporting their husband and children financially, while their spouse is a house-husband. I’m guessing the percentage who would affirm that notion would fall somewhere under 10%.

        BTW, historically marriage marked an improvement(!) in women’s status. Prior to that, as the weaker sex they were subject to violence/force from any of the males in the tribe…and if impregnated, could not expect help in raising the child from the father (who would even know who the father was?)

        With the institution of marriage, she had protection from her husband against the other males (to whom she was now “off limits” as a sexual partner) Further, since her husband could now view her as “his” wife, he would see that she is worth investing his effort/resources/labor into. Likewise, with her offspring, whom he could now know are really his children.

        Of course, the children would reap the benefits of having both a mother and father committed to their health, well-being, and safety. In addition to these practical aspects, the emotional bond between the two would grow as well, and the word we normally give to this is “love”.

        So even in the ancient world, the institution of marriage was a huge step forward for society, women, and children. And this was even before the coming of Our Lord and the raising of marriage to the status of a sacrament!

        Perhaps some more thought and careful contemplation is in order before attempting to tear it down with a wrecking ball?

        • vagabondi

          Is this a poe?

          • Morag

            “Is this a poe?”

            No, vagabondi. FormerLurker comes here frequently to share his manly wisdom with us silly little ladies to impress upon us how little we understand about the ways of the world. He’s very generous with his time and his knowledge.

            Men know best, and they’ve always known best — even before the coming of Our Lord!

          • Morag

            One can skip over his comments to save time. They all say one thing, anyway: men are women’s natural superiors, so women would be happier if they just submitted to male authority. In other words, it hurts less if you don’t fight back.

          • purple sage

            What is a “poe”?

          • Morag

            Poe is parody that is mistaken for the real thing, for the original. Usually because the real thing so outrageous that it already sounds like parody. So, if one were to write parody that mimics and mocks MRAs, the imitation would probably sound a lot like a true-blue men’s rights activist.

          • vagabondi

            Morag’s got it, I couldn’t tell whether Former lurker was serious or not. At first I thought he was, then I got to the “Our Lord” stuff and I thought nah, he’s pulling our leg.

            It was first the assumption that everyone here is christian (“who’s ‘we’, white man?” As the old joke goes) and then getting basic things about Christianity so wrong! Everybody knows that Jesus was against marriage, right? He said, don’t get married, guys, cos the world’s gonna end any day now, and in heaven there’s no such thing as marriage. Paul, who turned jesus’ little rebellion into an institution, was against marriage too. Marriage didn’t become a sacrament until more than a thousand years later! For more than half of the history of Christianity marriage was seen as an inferior accommodation for people who just couldn’t control themselves.

            So yeah, I thought it was a satire, written by someone who was making fun of Christianity and didn’t know much about it.

          • vagabondi

            But then, I’ve found that many, maybe most, christans don’t know much about christianity.

    • Anna

      “marriage works best when the two parties tend to embrace traditional gender roles.”

      I feel like you (or someone) has made this comment on this site before.

      First, Mary’s specific questions (quoted word for word) were:
      “Another question, I wonder if there are any historical examples of marriage that are not patriarchal that could be drawn from”
      and
      “But isn’t it possible that there can be some feminist models for institutionalized marriage — or is it out of the question. I ask this with sincere interest.”

      She asked about feminist, non-patriarchal examples/models. Clinging to gender roles is not feminist.

      Second, Priscila answered Mary’s inquiry: “the problem with the idea of “feminist marriage” is of the same nature than that of “feminist porn”. It’s a contradiction in terms.”

      But I guess if you addressed Mary’s actual questions, or acknowledged that someone else already had, it wouldn’t fit your pro-gender-roles agenda.

      As to what you did offer in response:
      I wonder if you ever stopped to consider that “the “career gals” married wives/moms” were burnt out because they had no support from their husbands? And that the housewives that can’t stop “the habit of nagging too much” ALSO maybe don’t have support from their husbands? (Also who uses the word “nagging” on a feminist website?)

      I anticipate that you will attempt to defend your stance with more anecdotal stories of how great gender roles are for women, and that, gosh darn, women would just be so much happier if we let go of our goals and autonomy and stuff.

      I desperately urge you to read the Feminine Mystique to remedy this bizarre line of thought as quickly as possible, you poor dear.

    • C.K. Egbert

      “I’ll just throw in my 2 cents that I believe (and it’s been my experience) that marriage works best when the two parties tend to embrace traditional gender roles.”

      Marriages with traditional gender roles: involves the justification and promotion of raping women through the expectation that sex is a “duty” to a woman’s husband and that he has a “right” to her body regardless of her desires; complete dismissal of any of a woman’s wants, needs, or desires (including bodily integrity, leisure time, expression of her feelings–as evidenced by your comment that women aren’t supposed to “nag” but accept all abuse without complaint); forcing a woman to do all the drudge work and emotional management for everyone else while getting nothing in return; forced pregnancy; domestic violence; homophobia; providing more resources, attention, and affection to males while enforcing submission on girl children, stunting their growth, and destroying their humanity; victim-blaming, gas lighting, and psychological abuse of victims of rape or incest (e.g., Duggar case)…

      If those are the only marriages that work, then you’ve just explained why we need to abolish marriage.

      • FormerLurker

        Wow, C.K. that’s quite a laundry list of horrors you’ve got there. You really think that describes the average marriage? Really? Hmmm, makes you wonder why so many women are so determined to marry!! Cause it sure seems like all men sure are @ssholes!!

        Regarding your bizarre claim that the sex act in marriage involves raping women, I’d like to address that. I know I’m probably wasting my time, but since Meghan has been so kind and gracious as to allow an occasionally dissenting viewpoint such as mine, I would like to politely put a different spin on this. That you may not have thought of.

        You see, the whole idea of the martial act is that the two come together as one (literally, when intercourse is taking place). “It is for this reason that a man leaves his father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”

        So this act involves an act of surrender on the part of both partners, one to the other, regarding the most intimate parts of themselves. This is especially true on the part of the women, as she is literally allowing her husband into her body (can’t get much more intimate than that!) It’s an act of complete self-giving that is the acting out (in flesh) of the marriage vows. And the beauty and love of this act of love, intimacy, and self-giving is so great that life itself may be the result of it!

        This is why organized religions condemn fornication (e.g. “hooking up”). Because it is taking the sacred marital act and cheapening it, by reducing it to nothing more than base, animalistic urges….as if man had no intellect or soul and was merely an animal. Likewise with homosexuality, which is a completely unnatural act. Likewise with birth control, which is the frustration of the life-giving aspect of the marital act.

        So you see, insisting on the sanctity of marriage and condemning homosexuality and fornication is actually upholding the beauty of the marriage covenant and the marital act! And that is very pro-woman as well as pro-family! Because it values the wife/mother properly as she should be valued. Her husband – although naturally assuming the role of leader/head of household – loves, honors, and treasures his wife. And her children love, honor, and obey her. And she in turn loves and treasures her family and respects and submits to her husband.

        The whole thing is really so beautiful when you think about it. We need more marriage in this world, not less.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Marriage is not “happy” for most women. I have no idea what gave you that impression. Movies?

          • FormerLurker

            Well Meghan, the New York Times disagrees with you:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/upshot/study-finds-more-reasons-to-get-and-stay-married.html?_r=0&abt=0002&abg=0

            Excerpt:

            Social scientists have long known that married people tend to be happier, but they debate whether that is because marriage causes happiness or simply because happier people are more likely to get married. The new paper, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, controlled for pre-marriage happiness levels.

            It concluded that being married makes people happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who remain single – particularly during the most stressful periods, like midlife crises.

            Even as fewer people are marrying, the disadvantages of remaining single have broad implications. It’s important because marriage is increasingly a force behind inequality. Stable marriages are more common among educated, high-income people, and increasingly out of reach for those who are not. That divide appears to affect not just people’s income and family stability, but also their happiness and stress levels.

            They analyzed data about well-being from two national surveys in the United Kingdom and the Gallup World Poll. In all but a few parts of the world, even when controlling for people’s life satisfaction before marriage, being married made them happier. This conclusion, however, did not hold true in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

            Intriguingly, marital happiness long outlasted the honeymoon period. Though some social scientists have argued that happiness levels are innate, so people return to their natural level of well-being after joyful or upsetting events, the researchers found that the benefits of marriage persist.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I think that it should be pretty obvious that humans enjoy companionship. I, too, like having a partner in life — I have someone who is on my side, to hang out with, to go for meals with, to plan things with. Humans are mammals who like to partner up. The point is that marriage is not necessary in order to have a partner or companion. As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I am not against love, monogamy, or partnership — rather, it is the institution of marriage, the wedding industrial complex, heterononrmativity, and the privilege and status offered to marrieds, that I don’t like.

            It would be interesting to do a historical survey of women married to men and look at whether or not those women are happy and why. How are we defining “happiness”? When we know the frequency with which women are subjected to abuse in relationships with men, it challenges the “marriage = happiness” argument you’re making. There would need to be a far more comprehensive and feminist study done in order to know whether marriage was actually “good” for women, regardless of how many people claim to be “happy” in marriage.

          • FormerLurker

            Well, as I said in a prior comment, historically the invention of marriage was a big positive and a huge step forward for women (and children), because it gave women security, protection, status, access to the benefits of male labor and energy, and a father to help raise and provide for their children. This is why the matriarchal societies died out and were replaced with patriarchy, the patriarchy being a much better system wherein the defining characteristic of such a system is the harnessing of male labor, initiative, and energy for the benefit of women and children, i.e. the man takes care of his family. In a matriarchy, men are basically disposable sex partners and sometime sperm donors who have no real stake in working or fighting for the benefit of any particular woman or child. You see this today in the inner cities.

            That said, I agree with you that marriage isn’t for eveyone. It takes a real sense of sacrificial love to truly make marriage and family work the way it’s intended to. Viewed in this light, as the sacrament it is, marriage is a beautiful thing. But again, I’m the first to agree, it’s not for everyone.

          • vagabondi

            Pre-patriarchy, it seems pretty clear, women lived in extended kin groups, and raised children with the help of their sisters, mothers, aunts, etc. The kids’ uncles would have helped quite a bit too, but men have never brought in really significant contributions, so we can disregard them and focus on the women. If I had a baby, I’d rather have my sister helping me than any 10 men.

            Are you really trying to tell us that when men invented patriarchy, when you guys started kidnappings us away from our sisters, forbidding us the support of our kin groups, raping and impregnating us several times as often as the female body can handle safely, and expecting us to do all your housework on top of it, that that was some kind of improvement for us? Holy shit.

            And as for rape in marriage, yeah, I’d bet my life savings that it happens in nearly every damn one. My bedroom was right next to my parents’, and many nights I could hear “no, stop it, leave me alone, I’m trying to sleep, I said stop it… Fine, get it over with so I can sleep.”

            But I guess you’d just call that proper wifely submission, huh?

          • Anna

            I agree Meghan, any study that wanted to fairly assess women’s satisfaction of marriage would necessarily have to be more nuanced than these studies of “people.” The factors are not the same for men and women, and as we know from medical sciences, most of those studies are designed for men and men’s experiences. The results are often then applied to women as if women are just smaller and/or variations of men.

            Not only would the studies have to factor in physical/sexual/emotional abuse that women suffer, but also societal pressures women experience surrounding marriage that men do not experience. Are women happier married because they feel they succeeded at landing a man, vs. those unlovable unmarried women? Are married women supposedly happier because from the time they were little girls they were encouraged/socialized into believing getting married was one of the most, if not the most, important goal they could have in life? And therefore any unmarried women brought up this way obviously feel less happy because they haven’t succeeded at this lifelong goal? I mean this becomes way more complicated than just “rate your happiness!” if researchers honestly wanted to evaluate women’s satisfaction in marriage.

            But in any case, Meghan, I don’t think FormerLurker cares for the distinction of the marriage institution vs. just cohabiting/partnering with a loved one: it’s obvious from other comments left by this person that she/he has the goal of persuading women to embrace sex roles in marriage. And in that case the research is demonstrably not supportive of her/his agenda.

          • “This conclusion, however, did not hold true in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”

            So 2/3 of the Earth’s population don’t find marriage makes them happier, but you’re gonna go with 1/3 of the earth’s population saying they’re maritally satisfied as The Story because…?

          • Anna

            FormerLurker, you left out this bit of the NY Times article you were quoting:

            ““What immediately intrigued me about the results was to rethink marriage as a whole,” Mr. Helliwell said. “Maybe what is really important is friendship, and to never forget that in the push and pull of daily life.””

            So the conclusion isn’t that marriage is just great no matter what, but that having a lasting friendship is.

            The article continues:

            “Marriage has undergone a drastic shift in the last half century. In the past, as the Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker described, marriage was utilitarian: Women looked for a husband to make money and men looked for a woman to manage the household.

            But in recent decades, the roles of men and women have become more similar. As a result, spouses have taken on roles as companions and confidants, particularly those who are financially stable, as the economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers have discussed.”

            Uh-oh, there goes your traditional-sex-roles-make-for-happier-women-in-marriages argument! Oops!

            Meanwhile, over at the :

            “It shows that divorced, widowed and never-married elderly women reported significantly better general health than married women”

            Also interesting from here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/mother-tongue/8435389/Married-women-are-happier-because-society-approves.html

            “The study of 22,000 people from around the world found that British women who cohabited with men before they were married were slightly unhappier than married women, and that the most likely reason was because they had “violated” normal behaviour and had to endure disapproving glances.”

            Says more about social norms than it does about women or marriage, doesn’t it?

          • Anna

            Alright, I tried out some of the html and it didn’t quite display how I thought it would 🙂

          • FormerLurker

            Relax Anna, nobody’s going to force you to get married if u don’t want to. And quite honestly, it’s not the women that need convincing…it’s men.

            Because of the way the divorce, alimony, child support, and domestic violence laws are stacked against men, more and more guys are passing on marriage. Some are even calling it a marriage strike. And there’s some logic to what they’re saying…and after all, nowadays you don’t have to marry a girl to get sex. You may have to buy her dinner, but thats small potatoes, now isn’t it?

            It will be interesting to see how this plays out. You don’t need a large slice of the male demographic to participate in the marriage strike – if even 5 to 10% of the eligible, marriageable bachelors eschew getting hitched, they will skew the marriage market and create an imbalance. (Remember that prices are set at the margins). Which in turn may cause panic among the unmarried women of a certain age, who have always assumed a husband will be there for the taking once they are done chasing and sexing up the badboy alphas and are ready to settle down with a dependable beta guy.

            So how will society as a whole sell these refusenik males on marriage? I predict they will try to shame them into it. Stay tuned for memes about “Peter Pan men” who refuse to grow up. They should just man up and marry those aging spinsters already! And plenty of hand-wringing will be forthcoming – what’s wrong with the men, that they don’t want to get married anymore!

            But what if the shaming doesn’t work? Because marriage is so risky for men, these guys may well stay bachelors anyway. They will work just hard enough to support themselves and pay for their toys and hobbies. They have their bros, their sports, their hobbies, their beer, their video games, and their porn. They can date, but if the girl gets too serious they can just “next” her – since they are not married, she has no legal recourse. The more confident and attractive alpha guys can maintain harems of women on speed dial for “hook-ups” and “booty calls” – or the old hit it and quit it, aka pump and dump.

            Brave new world indeed.

          • Anna

            Oh ho ho, “relax.” Ok then.

            You know, it’s becoming obvious that once I or someone else addresses your points and shows them to be false/misleading, you move the goalposts.

            “Because of the way the divorce, alimony, child support, and domestic violence laws are stacked against men, more and more guys are passing on marriage.”

            LOOOOOOOOL

            This is the best laugh I’ve had all day, thank you FormerLurker. Seriously, nice trolling, you sound just like an MRA. Spot on.

            “after all, nowadays you don’t have to marry a girl to get sex.”

            This whole post is a goldmine. It’s really transparent. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free, amirite, FormerLurker??

            “Some are even calling it a marriage strike.”

            You mean MGTOW? So many sads 🙁 Poor men.

            “if even 5 to 10% of the eligible, marriageable bachelors eschew getting hitched, they will skew the marriage market and create an imbalance.”

            You know what, I don’t think anyone here gives a crap if men stopped marrying women.

            But since you want to go there…
            Marriage rates have been declining for decades, and the sky is not falling.

            “In 1960, only about one-in-ten adults (9%) in that age range had never been married” vs. one-in-five right now. (Source) So it looks like we hit your 10% stat back in the ’60s and have even surpassed it. Terrifying. And I noted your use of qualifiers like “eligible” and “marriageable.” Is there something other than being a single man that qualifies one for these things?

            “Adults are marrying later in life, and the shares of adults cohabiting and raising children outside of marriage have increased significantly.” (Source)

            “About a quarter (24%) of never-married young adults ages 25 to 34 are living with a partner”
            (Source)

            So again, sky not falling, people still getting together and living together and having families together, they just aren’t requiring the church/state be involved in it. You do seem overly invested in this all, though. What’s wrong if people stop marrying? What great social horror would come to pass, in your mind?

            “They should just man up and marry those aging spinsters already!”

            You seem very concerned for women, indeed.

          • lizor

            I was wondering if it was just me, or if FormerLurker comes off as a wheezy old white guy issuing correctives to the “ladies” and the “career gals” from the comfort of his barcalounger.

            You’re right Anna, he is incapable of conversing coherently. I think he’s just a bit unnerved at the prospect of a world without wives (and the myriad services they provide).

          • Anna

            I just noticed I quoted the wrong statistic about never-been-married people, when it should have been about never-been-married men (in the interest of staying on point):

            “Men are more likely than women to have never been married (23% vs. 17% in 2012). And this gender gap has widened since 1960, when 10% of men ages 25 and older and 8% of women of the same age had never married.” (Source)

            My above commentary is still applicable.

          • Thomas Eisenecker

            ” They can date, but if the girl gets too serious they can just “next” her – since they are not married, she has no legal recourse. The more confident and attractive alpha guys can maintain harems of women on speed dial for “hook-ups” and “booty calls” – or the old hit it and quit it, aka pump and dump.”

            Wow. It’s almost like I’m on some PUA forum.

            Every single horror scenario you pulled out of your ass is misogyny on the part of men. The way you describe it, it’s more of a horror scenario for women. “Harems of women”? “‘next’ her”? “booty call”?

            You know it’s interesting that MRAs and PUAs and WTFs are not against marriage AS SUCH, but only against situations where things don’t unfold on to THEIR own terms, the way they want it. That’s why conservative males (and even a lot of liberal ones) have been lamenting the decline of marriage rates for over a hundred years. Because especially since the 60s and 70s a lot less women were willing to have their freedom taken away from them and that’s just a Bad Thing, isnt’t? Marriage strike, here we come! (sarcasm)

          • Meghan Murphy

            HA. Men are going on “marriage strikes” now? This sounds like some Grade A MRA bs. Strike away, we don’t want ya.

          • Non-PC RadFem

            @ Meghan:

            “HA. Men are going on “marriage strikes” now? This sounds like some Grade A MRA bs. Strike away, we don’t want ya”

            You ain’t kidding, his entire ‘meme’ reeks of: MGTOW [Men Going Their Own Way] *eye-roll*

            May I just say in behalf of all women – everywhere: good-by and good riddance *waving them off enthusiastically*

            GoodBYE!

            Bye; and please, don’t ever come back! BYE!

          • vagabondi

            Interesting how that article keeps talking about married “people,” tough as you yourself admit marriage is a very different proposition for women than it is for men. Men who marry, after all, are gaining a servant; women are losing their freedom. Given this discrepancy, it’s necessary to analyze whether marriage is good for women separately from whether its good for men.

            So I found this article. It’s about lifespan rather than happiness, but if anything that’s probably a more objective measure of benefit or harm.

            http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/the-stress-of-marriage-shortens-your-life-by-a-year-if-youre-the-wife-467782.html

            “Marriage helps husbands to an extra 1.7 years, but it knocks 1.4 years off the average wife’s lifespan, according to the study of more than 100,000 people across Europe.”

            In other words, men are vampires. They suck out women’s lives.

        • vagabondi

          “That you may not have thought of.”

          Hahahahaaa!

          We’ve never though of the mainstream, patriarchal propaganda that we’re trying to expose and overthrow!!!

  • Plasma Mongoose

    A feminist who’s against the institution of marriage huh, MGTOWs minds will be blown.

    • Anna

      You know feminism has been critical of the institution of marriage for decades now, right? These dudes “rejecting” marriage are throwing a tantrum. Hardly equivalent.

  • Buster Brown

    I’m viewing what happened in Ireland as just another example of what women always do. That being, to put themselves last. Patricia Arquette was right. When women put the rights of gay males above their own, if you ask me, that was a serious miscalculation. After all, when the term homosexual and gay is used- it’s really about males. The term “Lesbian” is rarely used when speaking about gay rights. Those invited to advocate for the rights of Gays in Mainstream Media typically are white males. And in reality, they are the center of the movement…which Sheila Jeffreys has so correctly stated is Libertarian.

    Furthermore, let’s be real honest here while we’re at it. Women have yet to have a serious talk with gay men about their chauvinism and objectification of females. The fashion and beauty industry imbued with gay men have promoted ideals of womanhood that are unrealistic and physically dangerous. They mock females with their drag shows, and expect women to admire them. They insist on dominating and defining the spaces of women. Of course women feeling sorry for their persecution by straight men- have given them a free pass. What women failed to realize that a white, gay male, still had access to economic power. White and male is still a privilege whether gay or not. You can see that economic power operating today. And you’re going to feel it! Issues that should be about women are commandeered as a gay. A primary example of this is the scandal involving the reality show Duggar Family. As most of you know, Josh Duggar, the eldest of 19 children had been sexually molesting his sisters and another family friend. Instead of the Mainstream Media using this to make a statement about the subjugation of females in religious cults, the abuse of their bodies, and male sexual violence against children, they went on a tirade about the Duggar’s being against gay marriage. Dan Savage, a gay activist was invited to make commentary.

    In summation, right now, Bruce Jenner is on the cover of Vanity Fair as a woman. And it’s a representation of a female aesthetic created by men. Yet women, born female, who have spent a lifetime protesting for the rights of women, insisting that women be recognized for their intellect instead of their appearance, will never be placed on the cover of Vanity Fair. As a matter of fact, when has Gloria Steinem been on the cover of a so called women’s magazine? Yet it is the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement that Jenner is channeling his rights. He does so- by proudly boasting that he supports the Republican Party. The very same party that is anti-gay and anti-female, and racist. I have a feeling that women are about to be played by the Bruce Jenner’s. After all, he bedded 3 wives and fathered 6 children on his way to womanhood. He is portrayed as the victim, not the wives. I find this incredibly selfish and wholly disrespectful to women.

    On YouTube you will find an interview of feminist Shiela Jeffreys speaking about the origins of gay liberation. The title is “Derick Jensen Resistance Radio W/ Sheila Jeffreys September 21, 2014”.

    • Polly MacDavid

      FABULOUS COMMENT. What you have written about Bruce Jenner is SPOT ON.

      I think everything about “marriage equality” is about taxes & finances rather than “equal rights” which is what how it’s been framed. I live in Buffalo, NY, which is only 20 minutes from Niagara Falls, NY. When NY was pushing for Marriage Equality, the mayor of Niagara Falls was one of the biggest proponents of the measure, not because he believes in gay rights but because he believes in Niagara Falls Tourism. Marriage Equality has been really good for the Cataract City. I hate to be a cynic (at my age it’s hard not to be) but whenever something is done for “civil rights” or “equal rights” or when rights are taken away, look for the financial angle of the situation. That’s the REAL story.