Saturday, May 30, 2015

"Family", "Marriage" and Heterocentrism

As always, I get quite irritated at the use of "family" and "marriage" rhetoric to discriminate against people who do not identify as cisgendered or heterosexual.

There are 2 commonly used statements that deserve attention and scrutiny.

"Gay marriage and the gay agenda seeks to redefine marriage."

"We won't be able to have children if everyone turned gay."

First, it is same-sex marriage, not gay marriage. You could say your marriage is gay/happy.

As for the gay agenda, just do a historical study of the term. It is a term created and used by the conservative segments of Christians in America. Their purpose is to seek to judge, dehumanise, denaturalise, trivialise, pathologise and demonise fellow human beings who identify as gay.

Judge = wrong, sinful, immoral.

Dehumanise = don't deserve equal rights.

Denaturalise = a wrong and immoral behaviour, behaviour can be changed. "Alternative", "Lifestyle", "Against nature"

Trivialise or demean = jokes about sexuality, sissy, "be a man/lady".

Pathologise = it's a condition, sickness, it can be cured.

Demonise = (slippery slope arguments) will cause moral degradation and the whole population to be wiped out.

If you want to rely on something that is so emotionally stirring and unquestionable as religious faith, just to justify why you should do any of the above to someone who you perceive as different from you, just because such acts are based on "values" that resonate with your community, do you think it is right and responsible?

Historically, the term "gay agenda" was coined in desperation and frustration that some conservative Christian segments, with their siege and bunker mentality, in reaction to civil rights movements and greater awareness on gender and sexuality issues. It - very opportunistically - leverages religious piety/fervour to affirm homophobic prejudices, and what better way to validate it than with unquestionable faith and socio-religious affiliation.

In another trajectory, on the idea that there is a "natural" and thus divinely mandated order of things, we get rhetoric on "alternative" and "lifestyle", since we would very conveniently choose to believe that being in the majority and having the privilege of centuries of socialisation, ritualisation and institutionlisation, and common heterocentric experiences, that well, heterosexuality is natural, thus normal, and endorsed (rather reinforced) by socio-religious institutions.

In Singapore, you see alliances being forged across secular and religious communities, doing their very best to manipulate, leverage and normalise rhetoric of the family and marriage. Imagine trying to pass off the political ideology and religious dogma of one community as something that is universal. Imperialism?

Marriage is not the issue, but sex. But conservative circles don't like to talk about sex. They are sex-negative and, ironically, are observed to be frequently infatuated with their imaginings of homosexual sex.

Religion has to make sense of sex, and religious communities therefore have to institutionalise it in order to subsume it under the cosmos of the mythology that binds the community emotionally, so they won't question it. The conceptual duality of sacred-profane can only persist with enforcement. You enforce it with laws, social norms/normatisation and violence. When these processes occur over generations, people develop less a capacity to question/challenge, while at the same time - in this case - succumb to the naturalisation of heterocentrism.

Some religious communities are far too concerned about survival of dogma in the context of mortality. Procreation fits the puzzle. And the act of procreation is ascribed a certain set of meanings that make it the gold standard of sex.

This is why you have hate-mongering nuts flapping their gums on the importance of procreative sex, in the process trying to demonise non-procreative sex. And same-sex couples become a convenient target. What better way to enforce the idea of procreative heterosexual marriages than to create environments in which people feel bad/guilty they don't fit in or feel "incomplete" - e.g. premarital sex, cohabitation, single parent, infertility, etc.

Gay people and gay marriages do not threaten straight marriages. Straight people threaten straight marriages.

In religious mythology, there is the common theme of inherent human weakness and the susceptibility of succumbing to temptation. And we rationalise human beings to be simply imperfect, compared to another higher level of being(s) that would fit or transcend our humanly idea of what constitutes "perfection" - seems like something one can aspire towards.

That discourse takes on a heterosexist/homophobic tilt when LGBT people and the topic of same-sex marriages are publicly positioned as weaknesses to which our imperfect selves have succumbed. So put on your iron-spiked chastity belts, eat your Kellogg's and think pure thoughts.

It is ridiculous to charge that if everyone turned gay, our human race will die. This belief is a combination of the uncritical assumption that people can turn gay and are destined to get married and procreate. This is compounded by the lack of understand of sexual orientation and attraction.

Religion, if it provides the comfort in appreciating the workings of the world and people, of life and death, has its place in society. But what irks me is that there are some folks who use it to influence communities to either reinforce existing or create new biases, to varying extents of oppression and violence.

Any way, no, there will be no gay apocalypse in which everyone turned gay and we won't be able to procreate. There will be lots of heterosexual people who remain comfortable with their different-sex attraction, their different-sex lifestyles and their different-sex marriages, and these folks will see no necessity in putting down others just to justify and validate their belief systems and lifestyles.

To deal with our mortality, we respectively attempt to storify our existence, rationalising them into phases/milestones, e.g.:

  • Born, die
  • Born, suffer, reborn, suffer again
  • Born, reborn, transcend
  • Born, marry, die
  • Born, marry, children, grandchildren, die
  • Born, hardship, success, , die
  • Born, get love, give love, , die
In the process of rationalising our mortality, we colour them based on prevailing discourses that shape our worldview and ideas that resonate with us at various points in our lives. When some start believing that their story is universally applicable to all, and feel the need that others should share the same beliefs, we get defensive people who don't appreciate a diversity and plurality of belief systems, and will resort to oppression and violence to ensure alignment.

Who made it compulsory that "family" and "marriage" undergo a heterocentric audit? Why is compulsory?

In championing straight procreative families and marriage, is it really necessary to put down homosexuality and same-sex marriages? The same logic applies to validating one's masculinity through the trivialisation of femininity, is that really necessary and what are the achievable sustainable results?

Are people not sold on the intrinsic value of straight procreative families and marriage, that they require external and unrelated demonised same-sex examples?

What is more damaging to Singapore then? Gay people? Or self-proclaimed straight defenders of the straight family and marriage who doggedly believe homosexuality is inherently wrong and can be "solved", who opportunistically leverage (the fault-lines of) culture and religion to validate their positions and publicly justify their bias against fellow Singaporeans who identify as a homosexual? Who is being divisive here?

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