Monday, April 4, 2011

Why being married 31 years shows no family values

PJ Myers takes on thrice-married Newt Gingrich:
It's a strange situation where the political party with more ex-wives than candidates, that houses and defends a disturbingly amoral network of fundamentalist operators is regarded as the protector of the sanctity of the family. They're anything but.

I think I understand, though — it doesn't matter what you do, all that matters is what you say. The Republicans support a version of marriage that rests on tradition, authority, and masculine dominance, and everything they do props up one leg of the tripod or the other. Public piety reinforces religious tradition; the insistence that there is one true form of marriage, between a man and a woman, which represents a legal and social commitment is part of the authoritarian impulse; and of course, if a man steps out of the matrimonial bounds, it's an expression of machismo and patriotism and entitlement.....

I've been married for 31 years, and my relationship with my wife is solid. Not because I've got her shackled with a prenup, a pile of legal documents, and a willingness to abuse her to keep her in her place, but because we're comfortable together, she with me and me with her, and there's no stresses that might tear us apart. With both of us in academic careers, there have been years where we've had to live apart, and those separations have been made with complete trust in one another — while we've both had times when we've "worked far too hard," and we've been "driven" by passions for our work, strangely enough it never seems to have the side effect of sending us shopping for a different mate.

So, just a suggestion: if you want a relationship that lasts, don't rely on god, lawyers, and social pressure to force it to work. Love and reciprocal trust are the only chains that last, and the only ones that make you feel happy while wearing them.

I think those are the "secular, atheist" values that Newt and his ilk find heretical and threatening. Those values allow me to sit smug and content in a happy home while watching authoritarians discard wives.


MadPriest said...

Love and reciprocal trust are the only chains that last

So Jesus was a secular atheist.

IT said...

Well, yes, PZ has to do his religion bashing. It's PZ. But ignore that for the broader point, please, about hypocrisy and the anti-women attitude that drives the "family values" contingent.

And Jesus certainly wasn't anti-women, although the church tries to deny it.

MadPriest said...

You have my full support, as always, IT. But this is very much an American problem. In England there are a few RC bishops who go on about them (and, of course, they're mostly Irish) and, of course, we have our homophobes, but, so far, family values hasn't got linked to any huge extent to the same sex marriage issue and I don't think it will. There are so many open about it gays in our conservative party (and in high office) that our right wing is actually campaigning harder than the left wing for equal rights. But, most of all, English marriage is in such a mess that there are few people who could claim they have lived, or are living, according to such traditional values. And we do get embarrassed about hypocrisy and if our leaders say one thing and do another our media comes down on them like a ton of bricks and they are ridiculed. So, basically, I think your problem is not politicians but your right wing dominated media.

IT said...

MP, you will get no argument from me. Britain has managed to move ahead quite sensibly (though it's interesting to remember how recent was Section 28).

our media is a complicit manipulator and journalism here is almost dead. How else could you explain the breathtaking stupidity of the tea party congress!