Shy of Expectations
Assessing M. Night Shyamalan's career.
Off to see Lady in the Water myself. AC … 7:40pm PDT
Monday, July 17, 2006
Richard Ford's piece on gay marriage got an intense drubbing in the Jurisprudence Fray, with much scrutiny directed at his central claim that "a hunger for distinctive sex roles is just not the same thing as anti-gay bigotry."
In a lengthy diatribe, Rrhain explains how anxiety over gender roles is at the root—or at the very least, a displaced symptom—of homophobia:
Despite protestations to the contrary, "a hunger for distinctive sex roles" is precisely anti-gay bigotry and the reason why is that gays inherently cross those roles ...
And this connects directly to marriage due to the fundamental purpose of marriage: Legitimization of a sexual relationship. Marriage has changed quite a bit over the years, but the one thing that remains constant throughout its history is the sexual relationship that is created between the participants. To this day, one of the reasons you can get a marriage annuled is that the two have never had sex…
And this is why we see the homophobes drawing the line at marriage even though they don't have nearly as much of a problem with employment, housing, education, military service, etc.: Marriage forces them to consider sexual activity between people of the same sex. Working at a job, paying the rent, going to school, serving in the military, none of those things are sexual in nature. But marriage? That's got sex written all over it. What is the symbol by which we show the world that the marriage has been solemnized and made legitimate? That's right, by an act of physical intimacy: The couple kisses. And then we send the couple off on a honeymoon so that they can have lots and lots of sex.
A self-identified straight woman who eschews conventional gender roles in her own marriage, Janessa lectures Ford on "Womens Studies 101":
Underlying homophobic attitudes is fear of divergent gender identities. It is impossible to consider sexual orientation without considering gender presentation and identity. This is like, Womens Studies 101 (but maybe Ford skipped that class in college since it was only for ladies).
Gay men and women have been discriminated against and subject to medical, behavior, and disciplinary intervention so that their gender presentation more explicitly matched their biological gender…Compulsory heterosexuality, exemplified by "one man one woman" marriage, is one of the stalwart elements of gender discipline…
It is completely befuddling why Ford thinks that some straight people's clinging to violently, legally policed gender roles is somehow more okay than hating gay people for some mysterious "other" way of hating gays. In fact, his description of straight anti-gay marriage activists' attitudes sounds like my definition of homophobia straight up -- the belief that women should get f----- by men, and men should f--- women, and anything else is icky and scary.
More to the point, badtequila asks why sexism is somehow more palatable or excusable than homophobia tout court.
Religious marriage is caught up in all manner of dogma and tradition detailing very specific gender roles for a husband and wife. When you accept religious marriage, you are supposedly also accepting the religion's version of the roles that come along with it. But Government marriage is only a distribution of the same exact benefits to two people. Your own sex is irrelevant. Your partner's sex is irrelevant. No government benefit of marriage is gender related. And you accept no gender "role" when you have the government sanction your marriage."
In a sentiment perhaps typical of fair-minded social moderates, OldGrouch expresses his slight revulsion at the idea of gay marriage but in practice argues for social tolerance.
Adam Christian is co-editor of the Fray.