March 2019
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gay marriage & civil unions / the sexist, misogynistic nature of traditional weddings

I want ALL marriage to be extralegal, like it should always have been. There should be no laws concerning marriage -- there should only be civil unions, and the rights of civil unions should be the same for any family, regardless of gender. I find it very ironic that the same people who say 'we want separation of church and state' also say 'we want gay marriage legalized.' Modern marriage is essentially a religious ceremony (yes I know the church didn't invent it, but the church has been handling it in our society for hundreds of years), and the government shouldn't get involved. The government should not be the one that tells churches to stop being exclusionist and hypocritical -- unfortunately, they have that right, just like individuals do. The problem here is not that marriage laws are flawed -- it's that they exist at all.

But even though I think the government should have nothing to do with marriage, since it already does, it needs to at least do it fairly. Civil unions only exist in 3 states and they give far less rights than marriages. So I'd vote for anything that made civil unions equal to marriage or made the legal part of marriage gender-neutral.

But regardless, I don't think that a license or a ceremony make a marriage. Marriage is when one person decides to join their life with another in a committed, spiritually-mentally-sexually intimate relationship. There are many relationships that have never had a ceremony or a legal document that I would consider marriages.

And weddings, UGH. I hate traditional heterosexual weddings, they're so freaking misogynistic. The woman wears white to represent her 'purity,' while the man wears what-the-hell-ever because HE doesn't need to be pure. HIS sexuality does not exist for the sole purpose of pleasing his spouse. She walks down the aisle while he waits at the altar for her to be given to him -- he does not meet her halfway, she does ALL the work. She wears a veil on the way up to symbolize her lack of personhood -- she does not become a person until her husband legitimizes her by marrying her. Until then, she's just a body. Also, she's given away by her father to her husband, because she must of course be owned by a man at all times: this is just a business transaction with flowers. And this is supposed to be the happiest day of her life -- it's the day a man proves her worth by 'tying himself down' to her. There aren't any phrases that describe a woman losing her freedom to a man, which is what really happens, but in a ridiculous reversal, the woman is described as 'the ball and chain' (again, with the lack of personhood), 'my old lady', 'the missus' (as if women are masters of men), 'the boss', etc. Also, a woman usually wears a corset or some other restrictive undergarment, restricting her breathing and squishing her innards, because women need to be controlled, and they are not allowed to indulge themselves -- all the good parts of a meal must go to the man, and her body should reflect that. And the final, most disgusting thing of all is that at the end, the speaker says 'you may now kiss the bride' -- because sex is properly done when a man is the instigator and the woman is passive. She does not show desire, but passively allows herself to be used for the pleasure of the man. And the phrasing! 'You (person) may now kiss the bride (thing)'! Then afterwards, society tells women that their status depends on whether or not a man has legitimized them -- Ms. Mrs. Miss. Men have the same title regardless of marital status. Don't even get me started on the practice of 'Mrs. HUSBAND'S NAME.' Last name is bad enough! The practice of a woman taking her husband's name is more proof that she has been sold from her father-owner to her husband-owner. (the second Ben and I can decide on a surname and afford the legal fees we're both changing our last names -- we do want to have matching surnames to symbolize our family unit, but we want them to represent US)

And women buy into this. In high school, girls wear their boyfriend's class ring or jacket, to prove that they have worth. Many don't realize that their desperate desire for a boyfriend has little to do with romance and much more to do with feeling worthy. Worthy of love, worthy of notice, worthy of personhood. If a woman felt like a whole person, instead of a decorative item in need of a human (male) arm to rest upon, she wouldn't feel like she needs a man at all times, and would not settle for one who treats her like shit. She also might realize that perhaps she doesn't even want a man, but rather a woman. And vice versa -- if a man wasn't expected to find a decoration, but instead an equal partner, he would not look for the 'prettiest' or most 'feminine', but instead for the person who matched him best -- and he might just find that that person is male. ((In a later post I want to go deeper into how I believe sexism is the root of heterosexism (aka homophobia). This one is long enough))

DISCLAIMER: I didn't write this because of anger against MEN. I wrote it out of anger against SOCIETY at LARGE, because both men and women are responsible for sexism. Some of the most sexist people I have ever met have been women. Societal habits are set up in a way that keeps men in the position of oppressor and women in the position of oppressed (not to mention those who don't fall neatly in a category). And that is hurtful to ALL people.

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growing_wise ══╣╠══
I really enjoyed Obama's comments on the HRC/Logo discussion about gay marriage. He said that he wants to give the LGBT community the right to be unioned in the eyes of the law, in the same way that hetero couples are unioned in the eyes of the law. He made it very clear that the concept of "marriage" should remain in the church and not the state, and that each church can decide for itself whether they wish to perform same-sex ceremonies.

I for one don't understand why so many people think "marriage" is so sacred. Hetero couples don't have to have a religious ceremony to get married; in fact it doesn't have to be religious at all. The only thing they need is a state-certified marriage certificate.

I never thought about the whole "you may kiss the bride" thing, but you're totally right. And Dee and I have been going back and forth on the name-change thing. Neither of us are attached to our last names but for the sake of our future children we'd like to have some consistency. But I absolutely believe it should be the choice of the woman or the man to take the other's last name, or not take any new name at all.
jenniology ══╣╠══
This is a big issue for me - Sweden has had "partnership registration" for gay couples for a while now, but we're still fighting to make marriage gender-neutral. I, too, think it should all be civil unions - and the spiritual element or blessing could be added afterwards. It's more equal that way. But of course, the fundamentalists scream at the very thought - oh no, don't equate us with 'them' and 'their ways'! The mere attitude pisses me off.

I've never attended a Swedish wedding (only an English one), but here, the traditions are different: there is no giving away, no meet-me-at-the-altar. The bride and groom go in together, and exit together. That makes more sense to me, than the (indeed misogynist) give-her-away tradition.

I for one would not mind getting the boyfriend's surname - because I like it, and because mine is too damn hard for other people to spell and pronounce. Had it been a less good surname, I'd have requested that we'd both change our names - much more fair, and much more unique. (By law, you are here required to invent a unique surname if you decide to take on one that neither had from the start.)

But I shall never call myself Mrs. Hayden Watkins. Wtf? I have my own identity, dammit. And I have to agree that the changing pronouns of a woman is a bit... belittling and old-fashioned.

Good post, by the way. :)
fionavere ══╣╠══
I have a lot of thoughts on this, but don't have a whole lot of time to go into it as I have to leave for an appointment soon. The only thing I would like to say is that I took my husband's name I'm sure in part because it was tradition and that's what you're "supposed to do", also because I love him and I wanted it to be apparent to the world that we were a family, but mostly because I wanted to shed any sign of my father's control/ownership of me. My husband and I are getting separated, and may eventually end up divorced, but I WILL NOT go back to my maiden name for anything.
kevloid2007 ══╣╠══
uhh... aren't YOU married?
belenen ══╣eccentric╠══
heh, yes. I didn't realize all of this until AFTER I got married. :-p
kevloid2007 ══╣╠══
kevloid2007 ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣╠══
aliyna ══╣╠══
kevloid2007 ══╣╠══
kevloid2007 ══╣╠══
darkpool ══╣╠══
brightlotusmoon ══╣╠══
Lesse... I didn't wear a veil, I wore a wreath of tea roses. Both my parents walked with me (mostly to hold me up and keep me from shaking). I wore a simple ivory white dress only because I loved the color. The vows were changed to treat us as equal partners. And my name is hyphenated with his. His family wanted a traditional Jewish ceremony, but screw that. My mother taught me how to be my own woman, dammit!
Wedding Steve
devjannz ══╣Wedding Steve╠══
I agree that the gov't should not have any say in who can or cannot get married. I have always lived with the belief that everyone has the right to do what makes them happy (as long as it does not harm others). After all doesn't the Declaration of Independance state that we all have the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. If someone wants to get married to a woman, a man or both, they should have that right and the government should stay out of it.

My wife and I have been married for 5 1/2 years now and it has been great. We decided that since neither of us was overly religious to not have it at a church and instead had it in a park. We both were active in the Renaissance Faire at the time so we made it a Ren Faire theme. We had a good friend from our guild(who happened to be an ordained minister through some online church) perform the ceremony for us (at the cost of a bottle of Rum). We ended up having the ceremony we wanted, the way we wanted it(for the most part, I mean nothing ever really goes entirely as planned). I like that fact that we had some non-traditional things in it(my great friend Missy was my "Best Man", we had dragon statues(made by my wife) as the wedding cake toppers, etc).

Amy did end up taking my last name mainly because she did not want to be associated with her father(who did not even come to the wedding) but also because that is what she wanted to do. She was proud to join my family because they loved her and she loved them. In the end that is what this all should be about.
aliyna ══╣╠══
I myself have a similar situation here in that I am proud to be no longer associated with my father, who has not spoken to me in over two years even with the knowledge of the birth of his only grandchild. I'm sickened by him, and it pleases me to know I no longer need to be tied to any aspect of my past that has slighted me.

Not that my husband's family is much better, come to think of it...

We're trying to sculpt our own family and our own bonds. And I surely hope it works.
devjannz ══╣╠══
_paroxysm_ ══╣╠══
Hm well I have to disagree with your attitude towards the 'traditional' marriage ceremony. I do agree that all the things you pointed out can be taken as sexist but on the other hand I disagree that they have any significance in this day and age. They are traditions and are likely to be repeated for years and years to come but the symbolism is no longer valid. I guess it's the same as practice vs. theory - the theory is always there but it doesn't stand true in practice.

I hope you get what I'm saying because I am feeling particularly inarticulate today /=
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
I feel the same way you do. I don't see it as sexist. But then why do we need to do half of those things especially since the significance has been lost? Why not develop new traditions that had more relevance and meaning... especially for something so special? I feel that many brides stress over how their wedding has to fit the perfect ideal. It would probably run a lot smoother if they made it more about THEM (as a couple) instead of caring so much about how it's SUPPOSED to be.
lorelei_sakti ══╣╠══
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
sabr ══╣╠══
kmiotutsie ══╣╠══
i have always wanted to do that fresh-new last name thing. doubtful if i'll ever get married and should i ever, i might not even be so concerned anymore, but i think it's a great idea. when you bond with eachother to go ahead and shed the old names of your old families and start a whole new one. ♥
aliyna ══╣Ew!╠══
When Zack and I first got engaged I wrote our wedding ceremony, start to finish. It was a ceremony that involved a lot of equalization and Pagan Ritual elements (even though he's so not spiritual) and more involved the members of our bridal party for the different facets of the ceremony. There was a tying of our hands as they rested on the hilt of a sword, there was a broom jumping, a lot of typical modern handfasting stuff in addition to crap I made up- just ANYTHING to keep it from being "American Traditional" because traditional weddings make me ill.

Plus the closest thing to white I was intent to wear was 'antique candlelight' (so Watters & Watters calls it.) Because I hate white and never wear it anyway. I was mostly in brown and rust (for an October wedding being held in my mother's yard.)

But it never happened, I got pregnant and we went to a Justice of the Peace instead, which really did leave me feeling unfortunate and cheated. It had meant nothing to me much in the same way a 'normal' white & black church ceremony would have.

But what I really agree with here is the 'decorative item' symptom.

Hmm, I might go into this myself in my journal. ::ponder::
rockstarjoker4 ══╣╠══
Have you ever considered doing a commitment ceremony now?

It's unfortunate that you weren't able to plan the sort of wedding that you had wanted because of circumstances, but that doesn't mean that you don't deserve to celebrate your love anyways.

That's one of the things I've never really understood about marriage, why do we have the really big celebration at the beginning, when alot of couples are still pretty queasy and unsure about their relationships (I don't condone this, but I think the statistics on divorce rates can somewhat confirm it) Why not have a massive celebration after a number of years, or the birth of a child- or some sort of milestone in the marriage that signifies the lasting bond between two people?
aliyna ══╣╠══
rockstarjoker4 ══╣╠══
doctor frank
blood_4_deniro ══╣doctor frank╠══
interesting. i never really thought of the marriage traditions in that way. i'm taking my fiance's name, mainly because i dont wanna be associated with any of my father's relatives. for that reason, my brother said that when he gets married, he's taking his future wife's name also. i used to love my last name (no one has my last name w/out being directly related to my dad's family cuz it's so unique).

dont think i'd wanna wear a veil, maybe i will (havent decided), but not over my face. tho in most traditions the veil was worn over the bride's face to keep the demons/evil spirits from recognizing her, which is also the reason for bridesmaids - to distract the demons from the bride. in medieval times (well, according to my "History of Medieval Civilization" professor) there were 1 or 2 "bridesmaids" who dressed exactly like the bride so as to keep the demons from the bride. the reason was also the same for the groomsmen.

i'll probably wear white cuz it's 1 of the few light colors that look good on me. we're also writing our own vows. we're keeping some traditional elements for our wedding, but throwing quite a few of them out as well.

but i do think that gay marriage should be legalized. it's legal to marry a cat, but not someone of another sex. there was a story like 4 or 5 years ago where this guy in CA decided that his deceased wife's soul inhabited his cat and so he LEGALLY married his cat.
mourningdoveava ══╣╠══
As someone who's been in poly relationships, and who is also pansexual and currently in a relationship with a male, amusingly the "traditional marriage" thing has never really very much been an option for me. I'm fascinated by the alternatives, instead: handfastings, Shinto ceremonies, commitment ceremonies. Having attended several myself I've found them to be often more unique, heartfelt, and passionate than any ceremonies conducted on the basis of staid tradition.

Oddly, sometimes this occurs in m/m relationships, too, where one of the male assumes the role of "the bride" and subsequently goes through almost all the steps mentioned above as a way to fulfil the passive female. In either case, these sorts of things establish a damaging, false, and unequal binary...
mourningdoveava ══╣╠══
*when I say m/m relationships in this case I'm referring to commitment ceremonies I've seen that mimic traditional wedding ceremonies.
genesiskenshin ══╣╠══
Since my wedding is still really fresh in my mind, I gotta say, the only reason I had a wedding is because my husband wanted one. I wanted to elope. I did not want to plan and deal with all the hoopla, but in the end it was worth it. I felt like a princess and was really happy my daddy could give me away. After being adopted, it felt like I was truly apart of a family, like they finally acknowledged me and the fact that I chose to bring this man into our family. They love him.
rockstarjoker4 ══╣╠══
I totally agree with you on marriage not having laws. "Marriage" is a personal, religious experience, and the government really shouldn't have anything to do with it.

Honestly, I don't really understand why we should have "benefits" for being coupled up at all, so i'm not quite sure if I truly understand the purpose of civil unions either. I mean, all the benefits of being in a relationship are private, as well, so I don't quite understand why those who are married should get tax breaks, or be allowed not to testify against each other.

I don't mean to sound extreme, I guess I just feel like, if you've found some one to share your life with, aren't you already benefitting more than some one who hasn't? Why should the government need to know what your status is at all?

You also made alot of very great points about the restrictive traditions of the typical wedding.
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
I absolutely adore the way you're so passionate about your beliefs and view points.
Play naked
chitownpunx ══╣Play naked╠══
I am inclined to agree that the government should not imposed laws on religion, just as much as I believe that religion should not hold say in the government. Religions are formed based on what people are FREE to believe and conducted in uniform to those shared beliefs. Not everyone shares the same beliefs? Well, yes. Of course. That is why there are so many religions. I may not agree with any religion in particular, but that's not to say they should change to fit my beliefs.

However, the government should not even debate the subject of civil unions being available and equal to marriage to everybody, not gender-exclusive. It should be common sense. The usual belief that homosexuality is immoral is faith-based. And since civil unions are not marriage by the church, there should be no moral dilemma on whether or not to let 2 committed people legally cement their lives together if they choose to.

I could go on all day about this but I'm at work so I will leave it at this and eagerly await your "sexism is the root of heterosexism" post. ^_^
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on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.