Oh my. Oh, oh my:
by Sam Schulman
There is a new consensus on gay marriage: not on whether it should be legalized but about the motives of those of us who oppose it. All agree that any and all opposition to gay marriage is explained either by biblical literalism or anti-homosexual bigotry. This consensus is brilliantly constructed to be so unflattering to those of us who will vote against gay marriage–if we are allowed to do so–that even biblical literalists and bigots are scrambling out of the trenches and throwing down their weapons.
OK, so we can expect Schulman from here to advance his argument against gay marriage in a way that does not invoke Jesus and does not call gay people “icky.” I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to pull this off, but I’ll be interested to see him try.
When a gay man becomes a professor or a gay woman becomes a police officer, he or she performs the same job as a heterosexual. But there is a difference between a married couple and a same-sex couple in a long-term relationship. The difference is not in the nature of their relationship, not in the fact that lovemaking between men and women is, as the Catholics say, open to life. The difference is between the duties that marriage imposes on married people–not rights, but rather onerous obligations–which do not apply to same-sex love.
If I’m interpreting this correctly, Schulman is arguing that gay people aren’t miserable enough to be properly married as straight people are. I wonder how Schulman’s wife feels about the fact that he’s finding himself envious of gay couples.
The relationship between a same-sex couple, though it involves the enviable joy of living forever with one’s soulmate, loyalty, fidelity, warmth, a happy home, shopping, and parenting, is not the same as marriage between a man and a woman, though they enjoy exactly the same cozy virtues. These qualities are awfully nice, but they are emphatically not what marriage fosters, and, even when they do exist, are only a small part of why marriage evolved and what it does.
The entity known as “gay marriage” only aspires to replicate a very limited, very modern, and very culture-bound version of marriage. Gay advocates have chosen wisely in this. They are replicating what we might call the “romantic marriage,” a kind of marriage that is chosen, determined, and defined by the couple that enters into it. Romantic marriage is now dominant in the West and is becoming slightly more frequent in other parts of the world. But it is a luxury and even here has only existed (except among a few elites) for a couple of centuries–and in only a few countries. The fact is that marriage is part of a much larger institution, which defines the particular shape and character of marriage: the kinship system.
Ah, now this is the argument I’ve been waiting for! The argument that not only are gay marriages corrupt but that modern hetero marriages are corrupt as well because people are actually enjoying their lives and are not adhering to Medieval traditions where an 80-year-old man married a teenage girl. Let’s see where he takes this:
Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.
The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality.
The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage.
Uh, we also have a legal system for that. And I’m pretty sure that rape and degradation occurred pretty frequently in the elderly-man-on-teen-girl days of yore that you seem to be pining for.
This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined.
So. Marriage, then. It’s actually about controlling what a woman does with her vagina.
Y’know, I actually wish this article had invoked Jesus or just called gay people icky. But no. And it’s only going to get worse:
This most profound aspect of marriage–protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex–is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage.
OK, dude. What if we made all lesbians wear Ye Olde Chastity Beltes until they found someone to marry. Would you be happy then?
Anyway, it goes on for about a billion more paragraphs, so I’ll just skip to the wholly masterful ending:
Can gay men and women be as generous as we straight men are? Will you consider us as men who love, just as you do, and not merely as homophobes or Baptists? Every day thousands of ordinary heterosexual men surrender the dream of gratifying our immediate erotic desires. Instead, heroically, resignedly, we march up the aisle with our new brides, starting out upon what that cad poet Shelley called the longest journey, attired in the chains of the kinship system–a system from which you have been spared.
Jesus Christ. Does Mrs. Schulman know that her hubby considers their marriage to be “the longest journey” that is “attired in chains” and that tragically forces Sam to “surrender” from realizing his “immediate erotic desires?” Does this sound like a well-adjusted person who should be giving marriage advice to, like, anyone?
UPDATE: Holy crap, how did I miss this part:
Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage–much less three, as I have done–were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.
Three failed marriages and an unresolved Oedipus complex! You must be a devil with the ladies!
(Thanks to Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist for pointing this gem out to me. I must have read it the first time and then used advanced self-hypno-therapy to convince myself that it wasn’t real.)
UPDATE II: Apologies to the non-crazy Sam Schulman for posting your pic in connection with the crazy Sam Schulman. I have replaced your pic with one that I think accurately depicts the crazy Sam Schulman.