Why I Don’t Believe You: A Case Study on Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting
So I was scrolling down Facebook, as the young‘ns do, and found an article which began pretty much as this one did. The author, like me, found a post on Facebook by some person they’ll never see, and has never affected them before, to produce consequences that would never change their lives.
In the article, Johanna Dasteel describes her experience about reading a pro-gay marriage graphic saying “ALL love is equal”. She had her “liberal-arts educated mind” kick in and mentally analysed “manipulative slogans” used to drive appeals of emotion. She wrote about her childhood, and the title of the article — “The terrible injustice of same sex ‘marriage’: my story” — lived up to expectation. Instantly, my own (incomplete) Year 10, public school education kicked in. I could feel all the liberal, anti-discrimination bias marinate my brain creases and I thought: “The first paragraph was great, you thought critically… but here comes the anecdote.”
Johanna my dear, I am about to do something socially abhorrent. You say:
…it is the loss of my father that makes my story just as relevant to the debate as that of the woman wanting to marry her girlfriend.
This is the equivalent to sticking bananas in your ears and singing “You’re wrong, you don’t even know what I’ve been through. Shut up now.”
Calling this intellectually dishonest, the “fodder of politics” and foolish might be social suicide, but this is where I pull out my get-out-of-jail-free card. My counterstatement is as such: it is the loss of my own father that proves your story irrelevant to the debate. I’m sorry if my paraphrasing loses some of her meaning, but she implies that the loss of her father meant that herself, and especially her younger brothers, were deeply affected by the lack of a father in their lives.
Another mother — even two more — would not have remedied what we lacked; we needed a man.
And here I realise that this isn’t about gay marriage anymore, it is about same-sex couples looking after children. Let’s write that off as pure semantics, and go on for now.
Equally, children need mothers. Mothers and fathers compliment one another in the raising of children. The absence of one or the other (or both) has a devastating effect on children.
I recommend you read the whole thing; I’m just picking out the juicy sentences here. I’m not the only person rubbed raw by this debate.
Without both a father and a mother, she says, children will be deeply affected. But my family was no worse off (it might have been better actually) without that masculine influence in our lives.
Pubescent development was (as far as I could see) perfectly average for anyone going through those years of my brothers’ lives — turmoil was expected. They were not emotionally crippled by not having a man to look up to. That is not to say a father is useless, of course. I could counter your example with mine all day, but the issue is bigger than me and you. A dad should not be valued because he is a man, but because he took the time to raise you and he has his own unique influence in your life.
I’m about to propose something almost as socially abhorrent as what I said before. It’s a crazy, drastic concept that might have been equivalent to the abstract movement of Picasso’s time.
Yes, it is the “gender is a social construct” argument, Johanna, but since apparently losing a father gives one authority on the subject, here I go.
Parents do not fit into two neat boxes named “Mum” and “Dad”. Your dad might act like a “Mum”, and/or your mum might act like a “Dad”. My parents certainly didn’t fit neatly into their boxes. My father was not the “unconditional loving” type, as Johanna thinks he would have been, based on how she categorizes parents. My mother also did a great deal of disciplining, which according to Johanna is the father’s job. My mother had no choice: she is the type of woman that can knock you into place. Don’t tell me how my mother is based on knowledge of your own mother, Johanna, that’s absurd.
What I lacked was a fallen man — who is not so inclined to love the unlovable — loving me unconditionally anyway. Girls need that assurance.
No, no they don’t. I didn’t need that assurance. If you want to generalise about women, Johanna, at least make it applicable to all women. I learned to talk to males of all ages when I was young, I am not socially crippled because of the lack of fathering in my life, and I never needed to see a man “inclined to love the unlovable” to keep my weak girly heart fluttering, and my feminine compassion flowing.
Johanna, I don’t see why your personal experience of your own parents should define how other parents behave and what role they play in their own lives. You’re trying to categorize; you are trying to shove people into neat little boxes. It does not work. Some mothers will be rotten, some fathers will be rotten, but that doesn’t mean that a certain combination of genders will turn out rotten every time. I was practically raised by two mothers — my other mother being my grandmother. It was better without my father.
Don’t be too wound up about it, Johanna, but you did know that there aren’t just two sexes? I want to draw your attention to this example because I don’t think the issue is with your upbringing, I believe it is the way which you see the world. At least give some rebuttal to the idea of gender construction before you throw it away on a whim.
The concept of marriage is dependent upon a dichotomy where a man will be a (culturally defined) man and a woman will be a (culturally defined, of course) woman. I’m not sure that you realise that there are people who don’t even relate to either. By this standard, somebody born with unidentifiable genitalia will never know the “love” which you may or may not have for a man. Sometimes they build their own gender, sometimes they don’t. But what do they build it on? The cultural definition of the time and place. A person who identifies as male would prefer pink if he were born in 1900, for instance. Blue hasn’t always been a boy’s colour either. And some cultures have been known to put dresses and skirts on men too — just look at Scotland. With a liberal-arts degree, surely you can appreciate free thought and that ideals should not always be defined by tradition.
For the sake of not having a double standard, would you, Johanna, change legislation so that single parents couldn’t adopt children? Or let single parents raise children, after the death of a partner or spouse?
I wouldn’t see an issue with Johanna drawing conclusions from her own experiences, if she wasn’t trying to impose her own ideals on a whole segment of the population. I am straight and even though this issue will never affect me directly, it will never affect you directly, you are encouraging discrimination, and all the hate. And that fact that this is an argument to prevent same-sex marriage, when the issue is really about couples raising children. Not marriage.
Please don’t make me pull out the clichés. The major reason to marry is not reproduction anymore. That was the past, this is now.
In the end, Johanna, our stories are both completely irrelevant to the question of same-sex marriage. You are just as “manipulative” and dependant on persuasive technique as I, or the person who made that “ALL love is equal” Facebook graphic. You can tear open every paragraph I write with a butcher’s knife and the subjective, foolish juices will spill across the battleground.
But is my story just the exception to the rule? It’s not for a single narrow human opinion to decide on what a societal norm is. What will one story ever say about the big picture? Something miraculous to you might just be statistical noise in everyone’s perspective.
[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by troybthompson]