Sorry I haven’t posted anything of substance in a while. I’ve been having a combination of issues here lately. The heatwave has coincided with cricket mating season and I ended up with a pretty disgusting infestation (like the requiring an exterminator kind – and even he, the grizzled and experienced bug guy, was grossed out), which has caused me to have some pretty chronic insomnia as the loud nocturnal bastards chirp away incessantly during the night. But recent events in the blogosphere (or is it a dodecahedron?) have pissed me off enough to write something.
Ok, so this has come up a few times recently in the “skeptical community” since the wonderful surprise wedding celebration of Skepchick’s Rebecca Watson and London Skeptics at the Pub’s Sid Rodrigues: Marriage – Appropriate or not for skeptics?
First, fuck all of you who presume to decide what is “appropriate” for other people to do in their personal relationships. Well, I think that pretty much sets the tone… [Edit: Apparently my use of strong language has offended some people, so if you’re going to get a case of the vapors at the word “fuck” or my strong feelings on leaving people doing harmless things alone, as if those at all have anything to do with the point I’m making, then sure…turn back now. This is a rant. Polite has no place in it.]
The argument I’m hearing is that skeptics shouldn’t get married because marriage is an out-dated, religious-based excuse to subjugate women and practice legal misogyny. Bull. Shit. I suppose if we were getting married in a church and said the vows that are blatantly “I promise to obey/give myself to you” etc, then these people would have a point. But who said secular couples have to get married in this way? Other people take issue with the various rituals and traditions involved in weddings, such as giving away the bride. But who says the wedding has anything to do with the rest of the marriage?
So I think we have [at least] 2 problems here. On the one hand, there are people who think secular marriage somehow condones abuse towards women in certain religious marriages – apparently because of word association and cultural religious stereotypes. Further to this argument, some say that we have to make a distinction because the word “marriage” causes moral confusion…even though secular weddings have been available for years so I don’t see how, for example, my marriage is stretching any definitions. On the other hand, there are people who confuse “sexist” rituals with the tone of the entire rest of the marriage.
I’m going to get the alleged sexism out of the way first (I’ll continue with the giving away the bride example). Some fathers may like to walk their daughters down the isle because they are “giving her” to her husband. Other normal fathers like to walk their daughters down the isle because it is a special moment between them in their relationship. Some people opt to have both parents walk with them. I had my dad do it because I come from a family that cares about that kind of thing and I knew he would want to do it. It’s not all about me and my politics and it doesn’t mean I was “condoning sexism” or that this small gesture, or others like it, would have any bearing whatsoever on my subsequent marriage. Which, by the way, is between me and my husband only.
Onto the “logical, rational” reasons. There are many justifications people give, and I’ve even given some, such as that there are associated social and legal benefits. You know what? Who cares? I didn’t need laws and tax breaks to marry my husband. They are perks, yes, but not the reason. We’re people who live in a certain culture where the symbol of marriage means something. Who cares if there is some “good” reason for it? Emotion is good enough for me. Apparently not for some people, but they don’t have to get married.
I don’t expect that my secular marriage will have any broad effect on religious cultural tradition, whatever that means, but I didn’t get married to make a political statement. I didn’t get married so that other people would realize it’s not ok to be abused (I would hope they know that already). I got married because I love my husband. If I make a personal choice with my husband to enter a legal partnership for reasons of our choosing, it is absolutely unacceptable for self-righteous skeptocrats to look down their noses at us and judge us as uncouth skeptics because we’re supposedly “lending legitmacy to the wife-as-property ‘ideal’” (as one commenter on Skepchick said). That’s ridiculous. How dare anyone judge us for a completely benign celebration of our relationship that in no way lessened me as a human being or committed me to a situation in which I would be legally abused.
I understand that people are upset with stories like the Bahamian “marriage rape” law. I’m disgusted by that horrible “man’s” comments. But anything in the hands of evil people can be misused, even a symbol of love and commitment like marriage. A marriage doesn’t have to be like this just because there are disgusting and disturbing assholes like this in the world. Getting rid of marriage will not halt spousal abuse. Believing that marriage itself is the problem is naive and distracts from the real issue that people like this vile toad are just plain evil and use religion as a shield to justify abusing their wives. It sickens me. And it’s absurd to relate something that horrible to my own marriage as if it’s the same thing, even though it’s nothing of the kind.
This is one area in which I think some people’s “skeptic powers” are on needless overtime. Do they really think we didn’t think this through? Do they really think that anything we do in our personal lives has anything whatsoever to do with what assholes use to justify their psychotic behaviour in their own marriages? Do they really think my husband and I didn’t enter into this partnership equally? I doubt they really think those things, so then what is the point of this “debate”? Some people in our “community” are doing something that makes them happy. Do they really need to continue to beat this dead horse in order to defend that? Come on.
Don’t presume to know anything about me, my wedding, or my marriage – especially without asking me. It is absolutely insulting that anyone would assume that I would purposely enter into an agreement in which I would be treated like garbage or that by entering my own agreement I condone the same. Give me a little fucking credit. For the record, we had a humanist ceremony read by a close friend of ours. We later legalized our marriage with an informal, secular JOP ceremony. To each his or her own.
What people do in their relationships is none of anyone’s goddamn business whether that be the choice to get married, what sexual acts they choose to engage in, the number of people in the relationship, or the gender of the person(s) with which they interact. It is not up to some people in the “skeptical community” to decide the correctness of anyone else’s relationship choices. So. Fuck. Off.
P.S. Yes, the title is from The Princess Bride.
UPDATE: In other words… (a less reactionary follow-up).