Why those cancelled meet-ups are funny

People got very cranky about a set of meet-ups by a group called “Return of Kings” last week. Very, very, cranky. And then the meet-ups were cancelled, and those people cheered. The guy behind, this, Daryush Valizadeh, said the reason he the meetings were cancelled was because he couldn’t “guarantee the safety or privacy” of the attendees.

LPTwitter

They wouldn’t last five minutes as ordinary men who go outside either, given that the male of the species is more likely to get murdered or assaulted. And that’s actually at the heart of it; these guys have no balls to speak of.

I’ve had the misfortune of seeing one of Valizadeh’s YouTube videos – one about how to approach women in bars, one of his great “pick-up” techniques.

The Germans have a word, “fremdscham”, which is embarrassment you feel on behalf of others when they’re doing something so stupid or cringeworthy that you want to hide under the couch and die for them; that’s exactly how I felt watching the video. Remember back when we were all kids and just starting to discover dating as a thing? Other kids would run up and go “so-and-so thinks you’re cute!” or “my friend likes you!”

The method Valizadeh outlined was the step below that in terms of how awkwardly pathetic it was; you try to very quietly (so that she’s unaware) slip in behind the young lady you’re trying to woo in line at the bar when she’s getting a drink, so when she turns around the first thing she sees is you, and then you try to talk to her. Yes; that was his great technique to pick up chicks – appear so sad and pathetic and desperate that you garner a pity-fuck. As opposed to actually just talking to her, without holding up the other people at the bar, like someone who understands how human interaction works. Or as opposed to doing the radical thing of “hey, can I buy you a drink?”

At least 12-year-old kids have the excuse of still being kids.

Now, I’m a flaming homosexual, and the rules are different for us; I’m only aware of heterosexual courting rituals, which seem absurdly complex at times, through observation. But even I know two things; first, women aren’t Gorgons. You can look them in the eye and approach them from the front without being turned to stone or devoured. Second, the only time this could ever work is the tail end of trash o’clock, the time in the night when the bars are about to close and everyone still there who isn’t a designated driver is just looking to just go home and have drunk sex with the nearest random stranger who doesn’t look like a camel’s arse.

Seriously; if one of my straight friends ever tried to do this, he’d cop a slap over the head and the barked instruction to “just grow a pair and go and talk to the woman already, Jesus Christ on a pogo stick!”

This is the calibre of the standard-bearer for these guys; he’s their leading light.

And some people view him as a serious threat.

Yeah, yeah, I know – “he advocated for rape to be legalised on private property” – do you honestly think that a guy who can’t bring himself to walk up to a woman while she is facing him and say “hey, having a good night?” would be able to get rape laws overturned?

The only thing funnier is than him are the people who take him seriously – both his fans and his opponents. And I’m not laughing with them.

Three Circles and People on Boats

So the High Court did a thing with people seeking asylum today. In case you were asleep or stoned.

And people are quite outraged.

I’m not.

Before we go into why, we need to check this pretty picture out. It’s my rendering of the “spheres of control” diagram, done in five minutes in MS Paint. Behold my elite graphics skills:

spheres

Stop laughing. Let’s look at them.

First; the sphere of control. This is what you directly control; within this sphere, your will shall be done. At its very core is you; your body, your mind, and so on. Granted, some of us are at the mercy of things like brain chemistry gone awry or an immune system in revolt, but for the vast majority our selves are under our direct control. Further out but still here are the people who answer to you at work, things you have direct authority over, etc. The point is that here, you control the outcomes.

Next is the sphere of influence. You can persuade, lead by example, support others, and so on, to influence outcomes you don’t directly control. You can help push things in a particular direction, but the result isn’t certain and you won’t always get what you want. Other people fall into here, unless they answer to you in some capacity.

Third comes the sphere of interest. These are things you are aware of, or interested in. They may impact you, but, most important, you actually have bugger all say in them (or what say you do have is negligible). Some of these things can be crucial; such as the economy. Others are of curiosity only, like the mapping of Pluto (unless that’s your job – in which case why are you reading this? Go do science!).

Outside of this is irrelevancy.

Now the problem is that too many people allow the sphere of interest to become a sphere of concern, or a sphere of worry, and that leads to stress (which, I hardly need tell you, is a great way to screw up your mental and physical health).

Which leads me to the asylum seeker ruling from the High Court.

It lies in my sphere of interest; I found it interesting. But I am not concerned or worried by it. Nor am I outraged. First, the High Court was not asked to rule on whether this was moral or just, but if it was constitutional and legal; they found that it is. So be it. Second, and more importantly, I can do nothing at all to change that outcome, nor can I do anything to prevent those people from being sent to a remote island in the South Pacific. I could act in my sphere of influence to talk to those around me, but everyone I know is outraged already; preaching to the choir when it’s already singing is a pointless exercise. It is outside my sphere of influence in any meaningful sense of the term, and as I do not set immigration policy in Australia, it is far outside my sphere of control.

That all changes on Election Day; democracy affords us the chance to tell our leaders that this was unacceptable. If you truly feel so strongly about this issue, if you think Something Must Be Done, then take note of this. Look at the various political party’s websites; examine their policies in the lead-up to that day.

Then cast your vote accordingly; on that day, the issue moves into all our spheres of influence.

For what it’s worth, no, I don’t think this will be a big enough issue to actually change things. After 2013, ALP is terrified of being seen as soft on this issue, and the Coalition has more intention of legalising same-sex marriage than of softening their stance. And the reason they do this is because it still wins them votes. It will take a major upset to break either party out of their stance on this.

And when the chips are down, the plight of asylum seekers is not uppermost in the minds of voters; it’s the economy, stupid.

Alternative Dates for Oz Day

The timing of Australia Day – January 26, the anniversary of when Governor Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney Cove and the British Empire expanded its reach across the continent – is controversial. “Expanded its reach” is a polite way to say “conquered the hell out of the place” – and that’s exactly what the day marks. It was the day the continents indigenous inhabitants encountered an Outside Context Problem;

The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you’d tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbours were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass… when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you’ve just been discovered, you’re all subjects of the Emperor now, he’s keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.

To be honest, what the British did here was no worse than what had been done across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas, for thousands of years; if you don’t believe me, go look up the Mongol Conquest of Baghdad.

That’s not to say it was OK; though I loathe historical presentism, by the standards of today what was done was reprehensible, and people are still hurting from it. But even by the standards of the time, the British weren’t very nice – and they knew it;

Aborigines were initially treated with compassion, but soon after Governor Phillip’s departure the massacres began. First at Risdon Cove in Van Diemen’s Land, where in 1804 a large party of Aborigines hunting game was murdered by grapeshot fired on the orders of Dr Jacob Montgarret, Launceston’s magistrate. He recovered many of the bodies, melted them down and crammed the bones into casks which he sent, for anthropological amusement, to his colleagues in Sydney. Other massacres followed, and in Tasmania – let’s make no melted-down bones about it – the British committed genocide. Although the term would not be coined for another century, the British knew exactly what they had done: they had, admitted a parliamentary committee in 1839, left ‘an indelible stain’.

— Robertson, Geoffrey (2011-07-01). The Statute of Liberty (Kindle Locations 844-850). Random House Australia. Kindle Edition.

My personal view is that January 26 isn’t an anniversary to be celebrated as the national day of the country – it can be a day to consider the journey of the nation since that fateful day in 1788, both the good and the bad, but I can think of better dates for our national day. Dates that don’t rub it in the faces of the indigenous inhabitants of the country, and actually mark something significant – milestones on our march to independence as a nation.

First, 9 October, the date of the passage of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act – the Statute being an act of the British Parliament that made us, and the other dominions, de jure independent nations. The British Parliament passed it on 11 December 1931, but seeing as it took us 11 years to pass the enabling legislation here, 11 December would be a poor choice.

Second, 4 December, the date of the Australian passage of the Australia Act, which severed the last constitutional links with the United Kingdom.

Third, 3 March, the date that Act came into effect.

All three are good candidates for our de facto independence as a nation, and all three come without a very bitter pill for our indigenous peoples to swallow.

I’ve listed them in order of my personal preference. My reason for ranking 9 October as first is that it marks the day the Australian Government finally gathered the intestinal fortitude to do what the British had been wanting us to do for over a decade, and become legislatively independent. I rank 4 December second as it is the day we crossed the Rubicon in severing ourselves from the UK. 3 march comes a distant third, only because you’ll have to fight the gays for that day every time it coincides with the first Saturday in March.

Picking any one of those days will be fine, frankly. And it beats waiting for the Republic.

He’s a Straight White Dude? So Fucking What?

I had a curious experience this week; in a discussion about who should be invited to be on a particular panel discussion, it was suggested that we try to avoid having “old white men” on there. The particulars of the discussion aren’t relevant – it’s the bit about not having people on the panel due to what they are.

This is something I’ve seen a lot over the last few years, especially among those who claim to be progressive of some flavour. You can see it if you follow Richard Dawkins on twitter, where barely a week goes past without him being attacked for having an opinion while being white and male (his age seems to escape for the time being).

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. We’ve two places to visit; the first is a high school in a small town some years ago (give me a moment to suppress my instinctive urge to flee screaming). Back then I was a skinny bespectacled nerd who didn’t talk back to the teachers and didn’t keep pace with the growth spurts of my peers until I hit 16. Back then I still laboured under the delusion of heterosexuality – and I was alone in that delusion; my friends today assure me that they knew from the moment I walked into the room; apparently with some people “you can just tell, you know?” It was not a pleasant time (in fact, I can recall more than one instance when jack-knifing off a bridge sounded fantastic), and the recovery was a long and hard road.

I recall being silenced, mocked, ostracised, and vilified for things I couldn’t help. Being slight. Being gay. Wearing glasses to read. An aversion to sports (caused by said eyesight; can’t kick a ball you can’t see properly). What can I say? Kids can be really cruel.

My default response was to try and let it just slide past, to passively ignore it – if you didn’t respond, they got bored and let you be. It wasn’t easy; my natural inclination was to retaliate, but when you’re 15, under five foot, and so skinny you don’t cast a shadow when you turn sideways, self-preservation trips you up.

But the thing is I remember how that made me feel; how painful it was to be excluded, not on the basis of anything I’d done, but for what I was. The worst part was internalising it; one of my biggest fears as a teen was that if they were right and I actually was gay, then what else were they right about when they said those horrible things?

The second place is a little further back. When I was around six or seven, I had the misfortune of nearly faceplanting onto a barbeque hotplate – instead, one of my hands made contact and saved me from something far less pleasant. I can still remember the sound and the smell and the ache. Give me a pen and I will be able to trace exactly where the blisters were on my hand. The burn healed in a month, and I was lucky that there was no severe scarring or loss of dexterity.

I’m all grown up now, and that all is in the past (which is another country), but the memory of the pain persists; but even now I still suppress a shudder when I’m near one of those hotplates. Sometimes the fingers of that hand curl into a fist before I’m aware I’ve done it.

Likewise, I still remember the isolation, how it felt to be belittled and mocked and ridiculed and ignored based on what I was. Isolation and exclusion and silencing based on attributes that are innate; things that weren’t caused by anything I did, and that could never, ever, change.

This pain is like that of the burn; a ghost that can’t hurt me now, but that will be forever etched into my memory.

Now, in the name of “progress” I’m seeing the same thing being inflicted on others; people being shamed and hated and ridiculed not for what they say or do, but for what they are. This is usually tied up in notions of “privilege”, which can be a useful concept when used to encourage people to think about how lucky they have it and how that may affect their views, but is more and more being used as a cudgel to silence people.

Indeed, from my experiences and observations of the past few years, I can even list the kinds of “privilege” used in that way, the personal attributes used to silence people on the grounds of what they are:

  1. Male;
  2. White;
  3. Heterosexual; and
  4. Cisgendered (your gender identity and your biological sex match).

I have seen them all used in lieu of conversation to shut down a discussion – not on the basis of the merits of an argument, but on the basis that one or more of those personal attributes applies to the participant being silenced. They are employed in varying combinations; a ladder of “privilege” if you will, although the order of the rungs changes.

These four things are innate. Your ethnicity, your sexuality, your gender identity, and your sex; baby, you were born that way.

Occasionally the tactic will be employed against people who are not disabled or if they are not fat, but this is only something I’ve seen a few times or heard second-hand. It is those four innate characteristics that are, in my observations, the go-to cudgels.

More and more I’m seeing them used to silence people, to shut them down, to dismiss their arguments, or deny them the chance to speak. In extreme cases it becomes ostracism and isolation on the basis of those characteristics; even in the most moderate cases it’s done with sneering derision. And it’s done regardless of the merits of the argument itself.

Chillingly, this is not just directed at people who are making the conservative case in an argument or hold conservative beliefs or views. It is directed, as noted above, against Professor Dawkins when he notes the indisputable fact that Islam is not a race. It is directed at those who vary from a hardline progressive stance, like Dr Christina Hoff Sommers. It is directed against artists who use their works to promote causes commonly thought of as progressive. It is directed against politicians who are, frankly, the best hope for addressing the concerns of the silencers. It is directed against anyone who is considered to have committed the sin of saying something about social issues in public (and currently it seems as though anything can count for that) while being at least one of those things; may the Flying Spaghetti Monster help you if you have all four.

This cudgelling is used against such people without regard for their views, their actions, their philosophies, or their arguments. The only thing that matters is what you are.

In the main, I do not think that the individuals being so dismissed are, individually, hated by their detractors (outside of a few big names such as Professor Dawkins). From what I can see, the people dismissed are instead dismissed as being in a group based on having one or more of the four traits. When you are dismissed on the basis of what you are, not who you are or what you’ve done, it’s the act of someone who despises you. This is not merely the “intense dislike” of hate, it is contempt as well, based on what you are.

A contemptuous dismissal, an attempt to ostracise and exclude someone, an utter contempt, on the basis of an innate trait? Why is that familiar?

I remember what it felt like to be on the receiving end of that; now perhaps this makes me a traitor to the Left (pretending for a moment that it’s a single monolithic entity), especially given what I wrote some years ago, but there is no way I am OK with this.

No-one should have that sort of contemptuous exclusion inflicted on them for what they are. And I would hope that those of us who have suffered this in the past would remember what it felt like, and stay our hands before we inflict it on another human being.

I am thankful that I have not turned into one of the people who hated and dismissed me for what I am. Do you want to be like them?


If what I’ve written above doesn’t sway you, then consider this; dismissing, excluding, or otherwise discounting someone simply because they happen to be straight, white, male, or not transgender (or any combination thereof) is attacking a person’s character or personal traits instead of their argument. There is a term for that.

A person’s sex, sexuality, gender identity, or ethnicity and whatever advantages those confer, do not and should not matter to the merits of their argument. Such things are irrelevant. Dismissing that person simply because they have “privilege” on one or more of those grounds is playing the man, not the ball, and is a sure sign that you can’t play the game at the adult level.

If you do this, and make it your default stance, then you have abandoned logic and reason, and there is no need for a rational person to take you seriously.

So don’t be surprised if you are dismissed out of hand by others.


As an aside; conspicuous by its absence from the list of “privileges” is the privilege of economic class.

I have a dark suspicion as to why that is.

You Need Your Cat To Catch Mice

The best bit of advice I ever received with regards to advocacy came when I was in my teens, from a magazine called MacAddict. That was in the time when people got Very Serious about their platforms – my god, we were a bunch of nerds – and this piece was all about how the Mac faithful could convince windows users to join our Holy Mother Church.

That was a time when Apple was circling the drain, when the irreverent and enthusiastic tone of MacAddict appealed to the younger part of the userbase, when we did have to defend our choice of platform in the face of hordes of naysayers.

The times have changed, but the advice that has continued to resonate with me through the years is this:

If you take on every fight as if it were a hill to die on, you’ll find that hill sooner than you think

It was part of an article called “Five Do’s and Don’t’s of Advocacy” by David Reynolds, and, thanks to someone on the MacNN forums in 2002 transcribing it, we still have the entire piece:

Five Solid Advocacy Tactics

  1. Be Polite

Please, thank you, you’re welcome, simple bits of polite discourse go a long way when you debate others about your platform of choice.

  1. Be Generous

Don’t jump on bad happenings in the Wintel world. A perfect example is the I Love You virus that slammed Wintel users, leaving smoking hard drives in its wake. Copping a snotty attitude about how the worm didn’t hurt Mac Users isn’t going to help make your case. Instead, offering sympathy (whether genuine or well acted) dispels defensiveness. Besides, we all know the real truth.

  1. Pick Your Fights Carefully

If you take on every fight as if it were a hill to die on, you’ll find that hill sooner than you think, leaving you exhausted when the truly important fights come along. Exercise good judgement before picking up the gauntlet.

  1. Check Your Facts

Before you state facts (such as ‘The Mac is better because it dispenses soft-serve ice cream’), make sure they’re true. Nothing damages your credibility like an outrageous or inflammatory claim. If you do make a mistake, correct it honestly and openly.

  1. Give Ground to Get Ground

Conceding some ground is a great way to build good will. In return, you may find that others will come around and embrace certain portions of your point of view. Remember: unconditional surrender worked only in World War II.


 

Five Advocacy Tactics to Avoid

  1. Don’t Troll for Flames

Don’t troll Usenet groups, mailing lists, bulletin boards, or chat areas for defensive people with whom you can pick a platform fight. While it may be fun to whip someone into a slavering fury, it’s not constructive.

  1. Don’t Attack Indiscriminately

If you must go on the offensive, keep your attack focused. Flailing at anything that moves (figuratively speaking) is just sad, especially when it comes to arguing platform niceties and processor speeds.

  1. Don’t Go Beyond the Subject at Hand

Don’t move the discussion from Pentium III versus G4 to how fat someone’s mother is. While it may be funny (or true), it also is not constructive.

  1. Don’t Turn Pit Bull

Know when to give up an argument. Pit bulls have locking jaws for a reason, and it’s certainly not to hold on to a discussion that has degenerated well beyond recognition.

  1. Don’t Insist on Changing Someone’s Mind

While you want to bring people around to your point of view, you can’t control whether someone actually does start to see things your way. Witness the Flat Earth Society.

When I look at a lot of self-styled activists, especially the keyboard variety, I see people who took the above list, and did the precise opposite. They’re rude, snotty, treat every battle as THE great fight of our time, play fast and loose with the facts, and demand unconditional surrender. Compounding the error, they pick fights where no fight needed to be had, they argue with all the focus of a claymore mine (frequently shifting the goalposts in the process), won’t stop until their opponent is ready to sacrifice a child in penance, and will not do the mature thing of agreeing to disagree.

Further compounding this is a tendency to adopt a “you’re either with us or against us” mentality.

And then they’re surprised when all they achieve is animosity.

That bit up the top, which comes from the point about carefully picking your fights, is the one that really stuck with me through the years. Fighting every battle as though it’s a hill to die on doesn’t win your war. It gives others the impression that you’re a hair-trigger lunatic, and turns them away from your cause.But every single thing on that list is important.There are two things I would add to the list. This one is to the “do’s”:

6. Do educate your audience

If you want to assume the power of the advocate, the representative of the cause, you have a duty to provide information. You cannot expect to convince people by volume alone. The onus is on you to explain why your cause is worthy of support. Do not expect people to know what you’re talking about. And you absolutely must be honest; remember point 4. If you’re caught in a lie, your credibility will be shot to hell.

And this one is for the “don’t’s”:

6. Don’t attack a neutral party

Not everyone will support you. Learn to live with it. But some of them will not support you because they just do not care; they have other things to worry about, or have considered their stance and decided not to support either side, but mostly they simply haven’t made up their minds yet. They’re not going to actively oppose you, but they’re not going to side with your opponents, unless you attack them. They’re the people you want to convince. So try, but if they won’t be convinced, then leave them alone; they’re not your enemies, but if you treat them as such, they most certainly will be.

There is a certain kind of firebrand who will no doubt take issue with this if they ever saw it, not least because it’s come from the hand of someone who dares to be male and have white skin at the same time, as if that’s relevant.

Consider then, the words of Deng Xiaoping:

It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.

The list of advocacy do’s and don’t’s has the benefit of working; by following the original ten points (twelve if you decide to include my additions), you will achieve the primary aim of advocacy; convincing others of your stance through your arguments. You may not like it – hurling outraged invective is so much more satisfying after all, even though it doesn’t work.

I’ve been on the receiving end, more than once, of people who inverted the list – and have been told that it’s not the advocate’s job to educate me, that I should just listen and believe. I’ve also been savaged simply for being present, on account of things like skin colour, gender, and presumed sexual orientation. Not once has any of it made me want to support the “activist” – in fact it’s usually made me turn away from their cause in utter disgust.

This is especially true if I find out I’ve been lied to; I continue to maintain that if you have to deceive me to get me to support your cause, it’s not worth supporting.

Or, to put it another way; ignore the attributes of the person telling you this, and don’t mind that it originally came from a tech magazine a decade and a half ago. The list of advocacy do’s and don’t’s is how you train an excellent mouser. Ignore it, and you’ll have a serious rodent problem.


 

Sources:

  • Hung Li, China’s Political Situation and the Power Struggle in Peking (Lung Men Press, 1977)
  • Reynolds, David, “Five Do’s And Don’t’s of Advocacy”, in MacAddict Magazine (Imagine Publishing: September 2000)

So… what now?

Kevin Rudd has been restored to the ALP leadership, as the Press Gallery have been declaring would happen in the immediate future every week for the last three years.

A saying about stopped clocks comes to mind, but, more importantly, what happens now?

Well, right now, Mr Rudd is not Prime Minister. Ms Gillard still has to go and have a little chat with Her Excellency, the Governor-General, who then has to invite him to form a government. Her Excellency needs to be convinced that he can command the magic number in the House. There are 150 members in the House; you need 76 to command a majority.

Here are the numbers as they stand:

  • Australian Labor Party: 72
  • Liberal/National Coalition: 71
  • Minor Parties and Independent: 7

Since Slipper and Thomson sit outside their parties, I haven’t counted them towards their respective groups. I have included Tony Crook with the LNC, as he is inside the tent.

To get 76, the Rudd-led ALP needs four of the MP&I group to join them.

When I wrote this, the numbers fall like this:

That’s three. He only needs one more. Now, can he do it?

(caution; wild and baseless speculation ahead)

My feeling is, yes. Despite Bandt’s prevaricating, the Greens aren’t likely to back an inevitable LNC attempt at no confidence while there’s still legislation pending.

I suspect that Mr Rudd can also count on the support of Mr Slipper; the latter has no love for Mr Abbott or his former colleagues after his treatment by them. And Mr Oakeshott might be talked around.

Remember; Mr Rudd only needs one more from those already publicly backing him.

Either way, we’ll know by dinner tomorrow.

You Still Can’t Have Both

Over a year ago I penned this piece laying out why I don’t believe someone can validly claim to be “pro-gay” while they are against marriage equality.

My view hasn’t changed; I’m aware of the feminist and Q*-theory critiques of marriage as an institution. I understand them. I even agree with many of them. For example, marriage is a social construct with an oft-times horrific history (not unlike the criminal justice system).

You see, I accept that many of these arguments are valid and I understand them. But I don’t agree that they can be used to deny same-sex marriage, and for the same reason I do then; denying a class of people access to it on the basis of what we currently understand to be an immutable non-deleterious biological condition (sexuality), is to render that class of people inferior at law. No-one is harmed by giving that class access to marriage, and, in fact, the studies cited in the American Psychological Association position paper Marriage Equality and LGBT Health (PDF) imply the reverse; gender and sexual minority individuals benefit from marriage.

In a submission to the Senate of Australia, the Australian Psychological Society, our country’s premier association of mental health professionals, declared that;

“Psychological research provides no evidence that would justify legal discrimination against same-sex partners and their families, but there is ample evidence that such discrimination contributes significantly to the risk of mental ill-health among gay, lesbian, bisexual and sex and/or gender diverse people, especially young people.”
– Australian Psychological Society, Submission to Senate Inquiry: Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, pp2-3 (emphasis added)

Denying same-sex couples access to marriage is actually harming them.

Of course legalising same-sex marriage will not solve the problems of the Gender and Sexual Minority (GSM) community – just like ending anti-miscegenation laws didn’t end racism, marriage equality won’t solve homophobia or transphobia. But to contend that we shouldn’t go after it on those specific grounds isn’t a valid argument. Likewise it’s not a valid argument to say we shouldn’t fight for it because not everyone wants it – it’s a voluntary arrangement. Saying one doesn’t want to opt into a voluntary arrangement is only an argument for not opting in; it isn’t an argument for using the law of the land to prevent those who do want to give their free and informed consent to opt in from doing so.

Saying we shouldn’t legalise same-sex marriage because not every GSM person wants to get married is like saying we should criminalise steak because some people are vegetarian – and yes, “criminalise” because a penalty that has a cost to someone is imposed.

Ultimately, though, my personal position is that these discussions around the utility of marriage are secondary at best.

As I said above, and have said elsewhere in numerous times and places, I understand and appreciate the feminist and Q-theory critiques of marriage as an institution; among the other issues, it has echoes of times and places when it was/is a union between a man and another man’s property.

But the fact remains that as long as we have the institution of marriage recognised and ratified by the law (and it is extremely probable this legal arrangement, or something indistinguishable from it, will likely endure so long as people continue to pair-bond and pool assets), then denying it to anyone on the basis of their sex or sexuality is rendering those people inferior before the law. And, again, to borrow a sentiment from Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln, while I do not hold with equality in all things, I do hold with equality before the law.

If you want to argue for your own oppression, feel free; don’t expect me to support you, or take your argument seriously.

 

 

————————

*Q-theory; queer theory. I loathe using the word “queer” when used to describe anything to do with the GSM community because it brings back traumatic memories I’d rather forget.

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