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Archive for May, 2009

I’m probably already on the record somewhere as saying that marriage sucks, but I thought I’d have another go at it, given that some hatemongering scumracket judges in California decided that homos aren’t allowed to get married to eachother. As indicated by the first half of that sentence, I too do not think homos should be allowed to get married, although my sentiment is only coherent for a highly specific value of the word ‘marriage’ (and yes, I do happen to love discussing highly specific values of otherwise everyday words). I know saying that you’re against gay marriage, in the leftist world, is commensurate with vomiting into a large tub every day for five years and then flooding a happy rainbow unicorn land with your saved up puke, but give me a minute to make a list of some stuff.

1. Under the current system, all marriage sucks. It’s an inherently exclusionary way of validating one kind of highly specific relationship and awarding it benefits based on outdated criteria. It rests on a set of heteronormative assumptions (possibly the most heteronormative assumptions of all, unless you count the ones in ads for washing detergent), mostly to do with the production of children. Married hetero couples, it is assumed, produce the most and the best of society’s children; therefore, the union itself must confer special, glittery benefits upon its partakers. Of course, those of us with giant communist brains realise that unmarried hetero couples, unmarried homo couples, single men, single women, polyamorous people, and various combinations of the above all take care of children in our diverse modern society. Some would suggest that taking care of children may be the best criterion for assessing whether a person should receive benefits for taking care of children, but shh. Don’t tell Family First.

2. Marriage privileges some kinds of interdependent relationships over others. Namely, ones in which the participants are assumed to be fucking. This is a clever social fiction that I don’t fully understand, and which mirrors another, more deeply rooted (lol sorry) social fiction: if you don’t fuck eachother, it’s not a real relationship. It’s funny and/or absurd to think of two people getting married who don’t fuck eachother, isn’t it? To think of two people living together, declaring next of kinship, having children, and demanding social recognition of their interdependence, without fucking eachother? I find this attitude totally bizarre. What if two siblings, or three or four siblings, want to raise children together, or just live together? A group of female friends? A couple and their friend? A polyamorous relationship with three people, one of the partner’s parents, and a cousin from interstate?

All of these are de facto possibilities, and, I think, possibly better possibilities. Who knows how many people would be happier in some kind of alternate arrangement that didn’t involve a socially compulsory man-fucking-a-woman, or, in places with gay marriage, person-fucking-ONE-other-person. Hey, kids, guess what? It’s okay to  have kids with whomever you want. It’s okay to not fuck that person, it’s okay to not fuck anyone, and it’s okay to live by yourself, hate kids, and use your fertile years to build giant sculptures of zombie pirates out of Lego. 3… 2… 1… go.

3. Marriage at the moment is a weird, squishy consolidation of church stuff and state stuff. Instead of bitching about that, check this out: France has a pretty good solution, even if it’s in its infancy and has a while to go before you can let it out of the house on its own. The idea is that “marriage” is definitely a religious thing, and specific religions can impose whatever wacky norms they want on it. Civil unions, on the other hand, are definitely a State thing, and imply, socially speaking, nothing about whomever is seeking to be a party to one. You can have one, both, or neither, depending on what you had for breakfast this morning.

Obviously, the glaring omission in the French version is that only two people can enter into it at a time, and it suffers from conflating adult interdependency with caring for children. I think the solution is that someone smarter and more hard-working than me has to invent either a new kind of union, or a modified Civil Union, that specifically refers to the responsibility of spooning mashed veggies into a snotty infant after 1.5 hours of poor quality sleep.

4. The gay marriage movement ignores many of its own. It ignores many of the reasons gay people might want to get married. ‘Gay people can’t marry eachother for immigration status!’ Well, maybe you should think about reforming your shitty immigration system. ‘Gay people can’t access their partner’s health insurance!’ Stop me, but maybe you should reform your shitty health insurance system. etc. It ignores polyamorous people, and in fact seems to spend a lot of its time refuting the conservatives who say that it might lead to poly marriage. This is pretty stupid, because they’re right: consenting adults, blah blah blah. It ignores the rights of trans people, who might have a lot more complicated and traumatic legal bullshit than cis gay people if they want to get married. In short, it’s pretty fucking bourgeois.

So that’s why Eleanor Carnivore is against gay marriage. There’s another post in here somewhere about whether or not gay marriage can be seen as a kind of baby step on the way up to something that actually resembles equality, but I’ve got dinner to eat and an assignment that was due yesterday to write. Also: I’m officially asking for submissions for another Ask Aunt Carnivore, which appears to have been my most popular post. So, are you bored? Gassy? Lonely? Angry? Email me at shesacarnivore@gmail.com ! I want to turn your problems into a mildly amusing and ideologically motivated blog post help!

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How did I miss this? I blame you, my usually-diligent army of feminist informants! This is an essential document giving legitimacy to the fundamental rights of non gender conforming persons, a sorely lacking element of our supposedly liberal and accepting democracy! I realise that, like most sensible, inclusive, and just recommendations made by the Human Rights Commission it will probably languish in the margins of the government’s attention, but the fact that there is even a report about the blatant ridiculousness of official sex/gender recognition is really important. Every single time I go to tick the ‘female’ box it reminds me forcefully of the massive privilege I have as being someone whose sex and gender are a) congruent, and b) culturally acceptable and recognised.

Some of the recommendations of the report are relevant to areas of Australian law I didn’t even know existed, but which probably impact trans and genderqueer people every day of their lives.  I feel ignorant for not knowing, for example, that someone’s marital status could impact their eligibility for a legal sex change:

Recommendation 1: Marital status should not be a relevant consideration as to whether or not a person can request a change in legal sex.

Of course now that I read this, it’s obvious that the government would want to pour petrol over and set fire to any suggestion that two people of legally the same sex should be allowed to exist as married. I assumed that, if a person legally changed their documented sex, they wouldn’t be eligible to get married to someone of the same sex; but it never occurred to me that someone’s sex might be contingent on their being married already.  The level of fuckedness in that notion is just astronomical. ‘You’re married, therefore WE GET TO DECIDE WHAT SEX YOU ARE HAHAHAHAAAAA’ what the fuck? If I’m married, do you also get to decide my religion, or decide whether or not I identify as someone who’s likely to set you on fire with my mind? That is cisgender privilege on ‘roids.

Then there are the more obvious recommendations, the ones that address grindingly obvious bits of legal discrimination:

Recommendation 2: The definition of sex affirmation treatment should be broadened so that surgery is not the only criteria for a change in legal sex.

[…]

Recommendation 7: Documents of identity and processes required for the legal recognition of sex should not reveal personal information about a person’s past identity in relation to sex.

[…]

Recommendation 9: Where possible, sex or gender should be removed from government forms and documents.

NO REALLY?! People who are men or women shouldn’t have to undergo invasive surgery in order to be legally recognised as their correct or chosen sex or gender?! ‘WELL, you can be a woman IF YOU MUST, but only if you modify your genitals so that they look like something our tiny brains can easily identify as female.’ Sex reassignment surgery should be as easily available as possible for people who need or want it, but damn. You now have to be unmarried and surgically altered to change your sex. (And privileged in a million other ways that this report doesn’t mention.)

#7 is a really important one, I think. It definitely strikes to the heart of this weird cis-predominant notion that trans people have to tell everyone they’ve ever met that they’re trans, otherwise they’re ‘lying’  or ‘tricking people’ into thinking that they’re cis. This notion is really, really fucking dangerous, and is the bedrock of the ‘trans panic’ defence which is often used by violent transphobes in court after they’ve murdered a human being. It’s bizarre enough that the dominant culture forces trans people to disclose their personal medical histories in order to parse them on a gendered level, but that the ‘failure’ of trans people to do this often results in violence is hideous. Get this: it’s not a trans person’s job to tell you shit. You assuming anything concering their trans status is your own weird problem, and refusing to list a trans person’s sex as the only sex on their personal documents is a clear indication of the illegitimacy that trans identities have in our society. That somehow the identity that cis society gave them without their permission is any of anyone’s business. Because trans identities need to be interrogated, like this: ‘LIKE I KNOW YOU SAID YOU’RE A MAN, BUT, LIKE … WHAT ARE YOU REALLY?!?! LOLOLOL@@!’ (read: ‘my identity as a cis person is realler than your identity.’)

#9 is relevant to trans people and genderqueer people in really important ways, like passports; if some ignorant customs official thinks your gender presentation isn’t quite up to scratch, it can seriously impede your ability to travel. Same for drivers’ licenses. And considering the extreme level of harrassment that trans people are subject to by various government agencies, having anyone doubt the veracity of your official documents can be a one-way ticket to Police Brutalitiesville.  I think it’s also relevant to the change of gender norms in society generally, as well; it signals that your gender is not necessarily the cornerstone of your identity. I wouldn’t be unhappy about my electricity company no longer knowing my gender identity, certainly.

In summary, this is definitely a positive step initiated by the HRC, and I would be interested in reading the submissions they received from individuals and trans organisations in formulating their recommendations. It looks pretty good to me, but you never know how much important shit they got told by people that might’ve been ignored or left out.

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