Tagged: marriage is capitalist

Family First: Marriage is just a game and youth suicide is funny

No, seriously, I can’t make this shit up.

Rugby is a game played by most boys in New Zealand in their childhood, though some don’t want to play it at all. A significant section of the community have always preferred to play a different sport, like soccer. But Rugby gets all the status in New Zealand, commanding all the respect. So much so that those who play soccer are often made to feel like second-class citizens. They lack the mana of those who play the nation’s revered game. Reliable studies show that this has statistically led to a higher degree of depression among soccer playing boys, and already our rate of male youth suicide is far too high.

Yep.  Marriage is just like choosing to pick up a ball and throwing it backwards, and lol, let’s use youth suicide as a punchline because obviously our continued statements about gay people being unnatural, confused, less valuable to society and unworthy to be considered fully equal can’t be having any kind of effect on suicide at all. Mind you, given what we know about US fundy attitudes to gay kids killing themselves, it isn’t a surprise.  It’s just contemptible. And if it’s not deliberately vicious, it’s really, really shittily timed.  But remember, Bob and Colin are the guys who care about our children and families. Bob, I can’t believe this hasn’t happened already, but you’re Officially Scum. H/T Protect Marriage Equality on Facebook.  More responses via GayNZ.com.

EDITED TO ADD:  The post on FF’s website now reads “(Author Unknown”) at the top.  Please compare and contrast with the screenshot below and rate Bob’s level of backtracking bullshit out of 10.A screencap of the Family First "rugby redefinition" postEDITED EDITED TO ADD ADD:  And now there’s a wonderful fauxpology at the bottom:

UPDATE: Please note that we have removed the reference to suicide in this satirical piece. In light of horrendous stats on suicide just released, it was an inappropriate reference. The piece was sent to us – we didn’t write it – but we should have vetted it better. We apologise for any offense the reference may have caused. It was certainly not our intention.

Look, the reference is only inappropriate, and only because of the statistics release – not because our actual suicide statistics are actually horrific.  Also, obviously, they only apologise for any offence [it] may have caused – because quite obviously they’ve only stuck this fauxpology up randomly, and not because they’ve received any actual backlash or anything.

And Family First, clearly, just loves posting poorly-written shit sent to them anonymously.  Their only real crime was “not vetting it properly”, where “vetting” is an archaic term for “reading”.

And if you believe all that, I have a big pile of bullshit to sell you.  No metaphor can really do it justice.

 

Next stop on the slippery slope: bestiality

Family First are trying to imply that adding polygamy and polyamory (not actually the same, Bob, trying Googling them with SafeSearch turned off) to the marriage equality debate is just some natural, logical progression of the issue – and not a slightly really kinda earthshatteringly obvious dogwhistle to the pearl-clutchers of the nation.

I just wish they’d had Stephen Franks’ guts.

But to entertain their dystopian-horror scenario for a moment?  Why not?  What does the state’s recognition of marriage, and its granting of various benefits to married people, have to do with either the number of people in the relationship or the junk in their respective trunks?

I’ve seen, and been part of, any number of non-traditional family setups.  Three-parent households where two people are the bio-parents and one bio-parent and the non-bio-parent are in a relationship.  Solo mums living in flats where one or more flatmates share in the “parenting” duties of feeding, cleaning, school pickups.

Even if we accept Family Fascist’s assertions that families are there purely to raise the next generation (a statement obviously disproved by the fact we don’t live in the Republic of Gilead) the fact is that Mum And Dad Plus Two is by no means the only option these days.

And if the state definition of “marriage” only exists because of some nebulous value assigned to certain expense-sharing emotional pair-bonds … well then it’s fucking stupid and why not give it to BFFs who love their cats so much they don’t even need to whack them with rulers for backchatting?

“Redefining” marriage: suck it up, Bob edition

Same sex marriage has come up as an issue in the Kiwi politisphere.  It should be no surprise at all where I fall on this, so allow me to steal the words of others:

The state has no business in our bedrooms, or in dictating to us the sorts of relationships we should pursue. If the parties involved are consenting adults, then it is none of the state’s business what they do. And this is exactly why I support same-sex marriage: because it puts all relationships on an equal footing, and gets the government out of people’s bedrooms.

What I want to address is this old canard, most recently elaborated by Bob McCoskrie and his Amazing Talking Boner (who also like to use “gays” as a noun).

The state – which did not invent marriage – has no authority to re-invent it.

Bob is correct, to the best of my knowledge.  The patriarchal claiming of women as the property of individual men in order to ensure property passed to one’s genetic offspring probably long predates the concept of “state”.

Bob is also, still, entirely full of shit.

You know, I have no problem with particular churches or groups wearing their bigotry on their sleeves by choosing, individually, not to perform ceremonies uniting and recognising the relationships of same-sex people.

But all marriage equality/gay marriage/civil unions do is extend the state’s recognition of those relationships.

And that ain’t just about a pretty piece of paper.

There are clear societal and economic benefits to getting married in the eyes of the state (whether your ceremony is in a church, on a beach, in the back of a car).

In the US (damn the lack of good easily-found lists like this for NZ), there are one thousand, one hundred and thirty-eight federal benefits, rights and responsibilities which are contingent on being part of a legally-recognised marriage.

In NZ, off the top of my head, there’s property rights, superannuation rates (admittedly, a disincentive to be old and married if there ever were one), and if Peter Dunne gets his way, income-splitting – which, oops, Bob and his pretend fanclub completely support.

So the state does have a “definition” of “marriage” which it has created to suit its purposes.

And which it has changed to suit its purposes.

Sorry, Bob:  people don’t get married as much any more.  It might have something to do with us all being godless heathens, or it might be something to do with organised religion’s strangehold on society lessening, which means a whole bunch of us figured out that for us, personally, it wasn’t necessary to get an old white dude to say magic words for our relationships to have meaning.

(Well, it’s probably both.)

But the fact is that as societal attitudes to marriage has changed, so has the law.  Which is why we have legal definitions of de facto relationships, to wit:

In deciding whether two people live together as a couple, the Court will consider all the relevant circumstances, including:

  • How long the relationship has lasted;
  • The extent to which the couple share a home;
  • Whether they have a sexual relationship;
  • Their financial and property arrangements and interdependence;
  • Their ownership, use and acquisition of property;
  • Their degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • Their care and support of children;
  • Who does the housework and other household duties;
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship (e.g. whether the partners are known to family and friends as “a couple”).

These factors are only a guide. The presence or absence of any one of them will not necessarily determine whether there is a de facto relationship.

Emphasis mine.  And it ain’t all about length, either:

If your relationship has lasted for less than three years, you may still be covered by the Act if there is a child, or if you have made a substantial contribution to the de facto relationship.

No magic words in a pretty stone building required.

My point, if I’m ever going to get to one, is that sure, whatever, Marriage Predates The State And So On.  But the state has its own definition of marriage, a definition which has changed and will continue to change, and its definition applies to everyone, not just those who believe in one god or the other (though presumably Bob doesn’t give a toss about other people’s faiths or beliefs or heathen ceremonies).

Bob is perfectly happy for the state to “define” marriage when it means those families wealthy enough to live on one income can lower their tax burden.  Tough shit on him if the state decides its own definition is up for debate.

~

In the meantime, our PM has declared that there isn’t a “clamour” for marriage equality, ergo he doesn’t care (and by whatever gods there may be I bet that line is pissing off the pro-smacking lobby).  Why not send him a wee line to let him know his cowardice is unappreciated?

Stuff fail o’ the day II: side effects say what?

Actual headline:

Pill influences women’s love choices

Actual screenshot of frontpage teaser:

Actual lead sentence:

It gave us sexual freedom, but the pill may affect who women choose to shack up with.

Actual description of study:

The study of 2500 women from around the world found those who met their partner while on the pill were less satisfied with the sexual element of their relationship but more satisfied with non-physical elements – so less likely to separate.

But don’t get comfy, ladies, because the fact your relationship is built on more than sheer sexual attraction still means you are DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED.

However, growing sexual dissatisfaction could eventually tip that “delicate balance” and trigger a separation – especially if the woman was no longer taking the pill.

Because women are whores, see, thus when they stop taking the pill they realise that despite having been attracted to you by virtue of your sweetness and intellect and loyalty, all they really want is dick.  Dick dick dick dick dick.

Actual scientific fact mentioned nowhere in the article:  sometimes the Pill lowers libido!  Wait, no, I’m sure that’s not something any ethical researcher might want to control for or anything.  And sometimes two people might really be into each other but not be satisfied with the sex, and – brace yourself – breaking up over that “imbalance” might actually be the logical, adult, mature thing to d!

Wait, no, I forgot, staying in a relationship which leaves you unhappy and unfulfilled, in which you grow increasingly bitter but feel trapped because you’re constantly bombarded with messages about the tragedy of singlehood and how you’ll never find Mr Right, you picky bitch … is totally the healthy thing to do.

Actual advice given by researchers:

However, if they were really worried about the influence of the pill on how they felt about their partner, they could always stop taking it for a few months to reassure themselves.

You know what totally spices up my sex life?  The constant fear of unplanned pregnancy and the anticipation of exciting new side effects during a medication switch! WOOOOOOOO!

Why the Left needs feminism

[This post first appeared in two parts at The Standard on 31/1/2011 and 1/2/2011.]

I had set my mind to writing this article a few weeks back after IrishBill said some charming things to me on my own blog.

Then, because this is how the Universe works some days, the very issue came up on Kiwipolitico when Pablo sought discussion on where all the young left thinkers at. George D commented:

I know perhaps 20 or 30 minds as sharp as the ones you mention, all to some degree politically engaged. But absent a home – they are just speaking into the wind. Most prefer to save their breath. Many have deserted “left politics” for more direct forms of struggle/praxis: working class, union, and beneficiary activism; tino Rangatiratanga; environmentalism; feminism; and animal rights. Most engaged in at least one, with the knowledge that the structural conditions that enforce one enforce them all.
By this home I mean a space in which they can express their ideas and be taken seriously, at the very least by each other, and from which to develop a sustained and productive critique of society.

This really crystallized one of my key arguments: that the Left in New Zealand has been weakened by (among other things) the loss of activists and voices to other issues that aren’t specifically focused on class struggle or strictly economic leftist ideas. (I really focus on feminism here as that’s my baby.)

To put it in my more usual terms, the Left, and especially Labour, have screwed up by ignoring, cutting out and downright condemning feminists and other progressive activists and they need to get the fuck over themselves.

Also, it’s your own fucking fault.

Part One: history lesson

Second-wave feminism grew out of a lot of things. Yeah, there was dissatisfaction with horrific job discrimination and middle-class housewives were finally getting mad that their supposedly perfect lives left them feeling unfulfilled and directionless and women were haemhorraging to death in hotel rooms after botched abortions. And some women were feeling a wee bit angry about that.

But one thing that really helped kick things off? Leftwing men. Leftwing men who could talk your ear off about the oppression of workers but let the women volunteers stuff the envelopes and make the coffee. Leftwing men who were all about opposing men being drafted for a capitalist war but didn’t have time to think about how, war or no war, women got drafted into producing the next generation of cannon fodder.

Leftwing men who tried to tell us (and the people of colour, and the people with disabilities, and everyone else) that the problem was capitalism, obviously. It was all about class and once we got rid of that mean ol’ power dynamic all those other oppressions – those oppressions that didn’t matter quite so much – would just vanish.

Now could you please go make some coffee while the boys are talking?

And those angry women realised that relying on men to give a shit about issues that only affected the segment of the population categorised as “food provision/fucking” was about as good a strategy as deploying marshmallows against a Flammpanzer II.

Thanks, guys, I don’t know if we could’ve done it without ya.

Part Two: more recent history lesson

Nine long years of Labour, etc etc and oh, there was a lamentation and a crying of neckbeards, for women occupied a few powerful positions simultaneously and surely the end was nigh. And thanks to the 9th floor being transformed into a feminist lesbian cabal or something, we now have basic social support for parents (predominantly women) to take paid leave and not get fired, and The Gays can get almost-but-not-quite-proper-married, and you can’t just rape hookers safe in the knowledge that the cops, with their wonderful culture, will just arrest your victim because you’re a nice white pillar of the community etc. etc.

Oh, for shame.

Then our Beloved Leader smile-and-wave got into power, Auntie Helen handed over the reins and headed off to the UN just to let y’all know that the cabal is everywhere (or she could be immensely talented and qualified for the role) and lo, there was a great releasing of pant top buttons and a relieved round of burping at the caucus table and, well … the guys went a little silly.

Did I say a little?

These people have become the fervent champions of an indigenous culture they can never truly join because, fundamentally, they despise their own.

Yep, things got to the “white leftwingers who talk about Maori issues are race traitors stage a little quicker than I might have expected…

Part Three: identity politics kicked Chris Trotter’s dog

But don’t think Trotter reserved his scorn just for tino rangatiratanga:

[The] ideological roots [of “knee-jerk liberal orthodoxy”] descend into the swamp of identity politics and the New Social Movements which were at that time engaged in tearing apart the complex web of personal and political relationships that made up the traditional labour movement.

Trotter is speaking about the 1980s, that golden age of namby-pamby identity politics when the left got distracted by piffling little side issues like whether men should be held accountable for raping their wives and whether gay men should be allowed to be gay.

A time when the Left wasn’t, to quote Phil Goff’s own advisor John Pagani on that thread, “connecting with things that matter to people”. You can probably draw your own conclusions as to the kind of people he means.

I must admit to some naivety, because it came as a bit of a shock to me that identity politics could so easily be divorced from leftwing thought and cast as unrelated to the struggle against capitalism.

I mean, what is sexism if not a manifestation of capitalist reliance on women’s unpaid labour and reproductive capacity? (More on this in a later post, methinks.) And what is racism if not another handy way to separate out one sector of society to be exploited for their labour, all wrapped up in “science”? What is ableism if not driven by capitalism’s need for the most “productive” labour at the lowest cost and accommodation? How is enforcing heterosexuality and strict gender roles not about ensuring an increasing population to fuel the capitalist eternal-growth pipe dream?

(I certainly don’t want to imply that capitalism is the be-all and end-all of these oppressions, see previous “we’ll let you make speeches when the revolution is over, kitten” commentary.)

But nope, apparently these issues and concerns and theories were all just chaff getting in the way of the real workers’ struggle and the things that matter to people.

Again.

To quote myself:

[W]hen two guys get in a huddle and start slanging against the Liberal Left and the evil distraction of identity politics, and whinge about how we need to think about ordinary people, I think we can make a few very good guesses as to the kind of people they’re talking about.

And I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t you or me, assuming you are not a middle class white heterosexual cisgendered currently able bodied male.

Because here’s what matters to me:

It matters to me that I not be passed over for a job or a promotion because I’m a woman who’ll obviously just leave to have babies.

It matters to me that I have the right to be paid the same as a man for doing the same work.

It matters to me that gay men and women can have their relationships recognised by the state just like every two-in-three-chance-of-divorce hetero couple.

It matters to me that people of colour not get pulled over by the cops because brown people shouldn’t be driving expensive cars, or are obviously on drugs because they’re brown, or not be played by white people in movies about their lives.

It matters to me that people with disabilities can travel on aeroplanes, and get into buildings, and pass exams at school (look out for that incredibly-expletive-filled-post tomorrow!) and go shopping without worrying some bastard’s going to throw them out for having a hearing dog.

It matters to me that trans people shouldn’t have to worry about being murdered because someone else feels they have the right to judge what defines a man or a woman.

It matters to me that people should be able to practise their faith without fear of persecution, and that people not-of-faith should be able to say so without harassment.

But fuck all that! That’s just identity politics! That’s just me assuming that the way people identify, the way society wants to identify them, the assumptions others feel free to make about you because of your identity or assumed identity, might actually affect people! It might actually rate a bit higher on their List Of Things That Pissed Me Off Today:

  1. Harassed on bus by guy who wouldn’t leave me alone.
  2. First question asked at job interview: “Do you have kids?”
  3. Threatened with sexual violence by blog commenter.
  4. Still alienated from means of production.

TL;DR: when a capitalist society chooses to force identity markers on you to aid in its goals, the shit you get for having those markers is probably going to be a bit relevant to your interests.

Part Four: how’s that centre vote treating you?

Going by Chris Trotter’s figures, the choices are between sucking up to the “5,000” nasty liberal left bastards who want to ruin everyone’s fun or bringing back the “150,000-200,000” voters who went over to National last election.

The assumption being, of course, that they did so because whinge cry nanny state nasty feminists etc.

Or it could be something to do with a notion roundly accepted and bemoaned on leftwing blogs at the time – the idea that the voting public just thought it was “National’s turn”. Or to quote a certain teacher in my family, “at least we expect to get screwed under National”. Or simple voter fatigue with a front bench of far-too familiar faces with too much baggage attached. Or the eternal tax-cuts bribe which probably seemed to make a lot more sense with 9 years of healthy surpluses dimming the traumatic memories of the last National government. Or fuck it, maybe a lot of people do just think John Key is a nice down-to-earth chap.

Nah, probably just the evil feminist cabal chased them away with our brooms.

But if the question is “why did a bunch of traditional Labour types vote for a cuddly, definite-statement-free-zone John-Key-led National” one is really struggling to think of why anyone in Labour thought the answer was “because they wanted some more of that uncuddly strong-statement Don-Brash-led-National type racism”.

And when your answer to anything is “make ourselves more like John Key” it doesn’t matter what the question is, you’re probably just fucked.

Conclusions

So, leftwing men being douchebags who refuse to consider the distinct oppressions suffered by other, not-them groups of people have managed to drive a lot of natural allies away. Natural allies who surprisingly don’t take it well when told that shit that affects them every day of their lives isn’t that important. Most recently in NZ this has been done by the Labour Party because everyone wants a piece of the elusive, self-contradicting “centre” vote. And as we approach a general election, a heck of a lot of good liberal-yet-still-left people just don’t know what the fuck to do to set things right.

Here’s a few ideas.

Stop buying into the idea that acknowledging the actual harms suffered by actual people is “polarising” or “distracting”. All it does is signal loud and clear to women and Maori and queer folk that they are expected to once again sacrifice themselves For The Good Of The Left. We’ve already seen how that kinda doesn’t work out so well.

Acknowledge where relevant that if you are white, male, cisgendered, currently able-bodied, living above the poverty line, and reading this post online and in vivid Technicolor, you have privilege. Probably another post in that concept because I’m just so sure a few types will refuse to get it.)

If you want to throw around concepts and slogans like “for the many, not the few” try to bloody well remember that the “few” in that should be the people on the top of the heap, not the bottom.

If you want to make any kind of political play on a platform of fairness and ability/need and compassion and social justice it might fucking help to do some social justice.

And when the Right (and your own mainstream commentators) decide to attack you for focusing on “fringe” elements or “irrelevant” issues, you just look those bastards in the eye and say “Our society should be free and fair for everyone. No one should be attacked or discriminated against just because of who they are. We are doing this because we care about people, even though some of them will still vote against us for other reasons or even though they’re already a part of our core vote or even though their votes won’t make a difference in the election. It’s the right thing to do and we are going to do it because all New Zealanders deserve to live in the kind of country that takes care of its people.”

Just remember: an issue may not be important to you. But if you’re on the Left you better be motivated by something more than what you fucking get out of it.

Not what we meant by a feminine mystique

Just a tiny, weeny, last point on the Stephen-Fry-being-a-wanker debacle.

A heck of a lot of people who frankly should know better have been pseudo-defending Fry along the following lines:

Stephen Fry’s gay.  Of course he doesn’t know anything about women’s sexuality!

Stephen Fry’s wrong about women because he isn’t a woman, he’s not attracted to women, he’s [many would presume but who knows?] never interacted sexually with a woman, of course he says ignorant shit about women and sex.

Now obviously it was very naughty of him to presume to comment on matters of which he is profoundly ignorant.*  And of course we can’t expect him to know any better, the dear over-excited puppy.

Hang on one fucking minute.

We’re women, not tablets of Linear fucking B.  Our vaginas [for those of us who have vaginas] aren’t Rubik’s Cubes and our boobs [for those of us who have boobs] aren’t the Grand Unified Theory.

And when we fuck, if we fuck, we fuck just like normal human beings.

I am, really, just a bit fucking disappointed that the defenders, and even the people not defending Fry’s comments, have happily seized on his own sexuality as being the cause, or at least a mitigating factor, in his comments.

As though “women’s sexuality” were some mystic unknown whose secrets were revealed only to The Enlightened, who by virtue of not being A Gay Man must be, or presumably have fucked, a woman.  As though women’s minds were that idea feminism has fought and raged and yearned to destroy:  strange, alien, different things, things that cannot really be understood or acknowledged or Gods forbid treated on a par with the minds of men.

And simultaneously, as though gay men are by default this detached, unaware, unthinking, unempathising group who couldn’t, even if they tried, ever really understand the thoughts and feelings and lives of a group of people they are wholly uninteresting in fucking.

At this point my brain is stuck on a bit of a “what the fucking fuck?” loop.

So just to be clear, here’s some things that even gay men like Stephen Fry can understand about we bizarro women and our sexuality.

1. There are three billion women in this world.

Odds are, some of us do actually enjoy fucking.

2.  The sex women have is policed and punished by society.

Those in a state of disbelief may wish to turn on the television for five minutes, or perhaps read a quaint hard-copy newspaper.

3.  To be open about sexual interest is to be vulnerable to attack.

Or you could crawl out from under that rock you’ve been calling home forever.  Hoyden About Town’s tragically ongoing it’s not sex it’s rape series may be illuminating.

4.  Women trading sex for a stable relationship is the bedrock of patriarchal capitalism.

If women had to be paid for their labour in terms of childrearing and homemaking the economies of the West would die screaming.  [Old sauce, new sauce.]  Entire industries are dedicated to convincing women that they must marry, that they must have babies.  Disbelievers can go read any single issue of Cosmo picked at random, then get back to me.  It is of course necessary for this transaction to occur that women be taught to think of sex in terms of its value as a commodity, and not as something that’s actually fun.

5.  Being a gay man doesn’t make you inherently a fan of anonymous sex in parks.

Shockingly, I as a hetero woman feel entirely secure making that call.  I also feel certain there’s probably some other reason why the practice of cruising has sprung up in societies which massively stigmatise and oppress homosexual behaviour, but darned if I can think what it might be.

6.  Four plus five = REVELATION

[Straight] Women probably haven’t ever had to seek out anonymous sex in parks because they already had an acceptable outlet for sex, vis-a-vis monogamous heterosexual slavery marriage, and weren’t told they were meant to actually enjoy themselves in the process – because if they did, see threeThey were sluts who deserved to get raped.

~

Hope that answers all your difficult little questions, Mr Fry.

~~

*Henry Wright of 103 Mein Street, Wellington represent!