This is a guest blog from Kathy, a fabulous firebreathing feminist who blogs about ferrets, frogs, footwear and feasting. Her blog is great. Go read it.
Every time the concept of gay marriage is proposed, someone (either a senior churchy person, or a moustachioed retired brigadier-general from Tunbridge Wells) declares decisively that Gay Marriage is Impossible, since the sole reason for marriage is babies, and Teh Gheys can’t procreate, end of discussion.
For the record, I married (a very fine member of the opposite sex) shortly after university, we have been married for over ten years, and there are currently1 no plans for babies. As a result, and setting aside the fact that 61% of people who identify as Christian (including me) believe homosexuals should have the same legal rights as everyone else in all aspects of their lives2, this attitude makes me very cross for a number of reasons:
- It’s quite insulting to heterosexual (or bi!) married couples who are infertile, and those who simply choose not to have kids.
- It subtly implies that my child-free marriage is less valid than that of someone who does have kids. Like Katie Price.
- It trivialises adoption, and holds up natural biological procreation as the One True Way.
- It perpetuates the myth that a woman who marries is nothing more than a walking uterus (“You can’t possibly have got married because you love him! You must be planning to sprog!”)
- It encourages employers who discriminate against women, especially those who are married (“Married? At the age of twenty-one? Er, actually, we’re not interested in employing you after all. We wouldn’t want to be saddled with someone who is likely to go on maternity leave.3“)
Oh, and also it’s utterly homophobic.
It strikes me that any feminists interested in addressing gender inequality in employment could do worse than support gay marriage.
1 I use the word “Currently” because I am aware that attitudes and circumstances change. When I was six, I assumed I’d get married and have lots of babies. When I was ten I assumed I’d be a space-traveller. When I was fourteen I assumed I’d become a nun. When I was seventeen I assumed I’d be a world-famous double Nobel Prize-winning microbiologist. Currently, the only way that I can see myself entering the blessed realm of motherhood involves me winning the lottery, purchasing a house large enough to situate the children’s rooms in a remote wing, and employing a full-time nanny to waft a (clean, angelic, non-crying) child into my presence for an hour or two each afternoon in my free time between cycle rides and gin. Since I don’t even buy lottery tickets, I think this scenario is pretty remote, currently.
2 Caveat: This research is funded by the anti-religion Richard Dawkins Foundation, so I would suspect some selection bias and leading questions. Nonetheless, I found the results interesting. Curiously, the media tried to spin the reports on this survey to show how not-religious people who call themselves “Christians” actually are. I see it as a gloriously positive bit of news about how progressive and open-minded modern Christianity has become.
3 As I say, I married young. I suddenly found it very hard to get a job.