Posts Tagged ‘gender politics’

There are things I would say if I had a voice.

I don’t, you see – have a voice. Not an individual voice that is mine and that matters and can be heard over the din. Because it is put down, or written off, or labelled in a way that makes it worth less. Not worthless maybe, just worth less. I am told I am a mummy blogger, and maybe I am – but I am also not a writer, I am a woman writer. A woman who writes, predicated on gender; an aside, behind the hand, good at what I do for a woman. ;

There are moments in every woman’s life when she is both confronted by her womanhood and reviled by it – when it beats on her like a hammer, a mantra, a reminder of all that she is, all that she is not, all that is expected of her and all that is not allowed of her. To be a woman is to be mired in contradictory social conditioning that both contains us and undermines us.

(I am 13, walking to a fete on a hot day in a singlet and shorts, and some hoon drives past slowly, leaning out the window, making a lewd gesture. I bloomed late – I have no breasts, no curves, no signs of womanhood other than I am taller than I used to be. This is a rite of passage all young women face – this moment, of being unsure if this is a compliment or an insult, or somehow both. Feeling raw and slick with disgust and heat and shame and yet somehow pleased too, because only attractive girls get leered at, right? Right?)

I am a mother now, and this is an extra caveat to womanhood, an extra characteristic that defines me as Other. I am a mother with that this pertains – the guilt, the boredom, the terror and fleeting moments of joy; joy so sharp and poignant it is more like a bandaid being torn off than any permanent emotion. Like a quick rip through the heart that leaves you blinking back tears, because this joy feels almost like grief too – I get this, yes I get this joy but the compromise is so great. There is so much I lose. The cost is so high. Motherhood is another way of losing one’s voice, after all.

I had no voice today in the shopping centre – the mother rocking a wretchedly sobbing infant in her arms – while in the pram, a toddler mimics the wails of the infant. An old man walked past, staring at me like I’d ruined his day, like I’d brought my children into his space and deliberately upset them, so the shrieks echoed through the vaulted mall in a way that is perfectly toned to make your ears itch. If I spoke then, my voice would have been lost in this old man’s judgement. Mothers are not supposed to inflict their children on public spaces, THEMSELVES on public spaces. Do not be a mother in a shopping centre doing her shopping for dinner, trying to get out of the house for an hour, to make the scenery change for a moment of a day otherwise filled with childish chatter. Do not be a mother whose children are not perfectly silent and still mannequin models of good behaviour. Do not be a mother who is trying her best, getting through the day, trying to cope. Do not be a mother, because mothers have no voice.

Mothers are in the home, most often, because it makes sense after a traumatic or exhausting birth, or a c-section, to be the one to stay home. It makes sense, being the one who breastfeeds, or even bottle feeds; it makes sense when doing the night wakings. It makes sense for me to stay home now with the second baby because I stayed home with the first one, and after several years of a slow domestic tilt where everything slides in my direction, it makes sense that it is my studies that stop, my career that grinds to a halt, my earning opportunities that pass by unnoticed because I am a mother, and this is what mothers do. I stay home and contemplate the scars on my body, the medicalisation of my genitalia, the baby on my breast. I stay home because it is easier, and anyway mothers who don’t stay home are judged too. ;

If I talk too loudly about my needs and wants, if I try to speak up about equality – for any woman who speaks up about equality – there are other ways of being silenced. There is the label of ‘feminist’ – not the meaning, just the word – the label that some say needs ‘re-branding’, as though it is an item for sale rather than a thought or a need. There’s the ubiquitous, ‘but I’m not a feminist’, as though it’s a club you sign up for a membership for rather than a way you live your life, a definition of your core beliefs. So this word, feminism-in-quote-marks, it comes to represent all of these things that it does not actually mean, it becomes an insult and a pejorative explanation, a political ideal and a movement that is picked over by those against is so they can say, ‘feminism has failed’, like it were a child, when really this is just another way of shutting us up. By saying ‘feminist’ as though we don’t matter. ‘Feminist’ as though our words have no import – after all, it is only a feminist who is speaking.

(It is 2009. I am in a relationship with a man, watching the slow wince form on his face when I speak too long and too loud on the gender pay gap, on domestic violence statistics, on cases of sexual assault. I am in a relationship with this man who professes to love me but at the same time, would prefer it if I didn’t talk about the things that matter to me, the life I live and the fear I face simply by being a woman. I am in a relationship with a man who wants to play ‘devil’s advocate’ and try and tear holes in the things I say or deny my experiences because he can. And one day I wake up and realise I don’t love him, I don’t want to be with him, I shouldn’t waste anymore of my time on him because someone who would rather I be silent is not someone I can trust. I end it, but he won’t ever understand.)

There are things I would say if I had a voice, but I don’t by virtue of being a woman. By virtue of being a mother, a feminist. I am categorised and allotted a certain space in this world, slightly over and above those who do not have the privileges that I have (the right skin colour, the right gender identity, the right sexuality, the right socioeconomic background, the right abled body, et cetera, et cetera), and I, like most women, am told I will be assigned someone to speak on my behalf, to choose my reproductive rights, my pay grade, my career opportunities – and when I look up to see whose voice will actually be heard, it is usually a man.

As it has always been men, a whole establishment of them. Calling us ‘feminazis’ with a sneer. Legislating our bodies. Marking us down on a list, splitting us into little categories, some with more privilege than others, deciding our rights and where we fit, writing us off as good at what we do ;for a woman. ;

Telling us where we fit. Mummy blogger. Woman writer. Just a stay at home mum. Just a woman. ;

Which might as well be nothing at all.



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Stay at home parents like me spend a lot of time doing things that are observed and judged by other people. I take my toddler and baby with me when I go shopping, the groceries I choose are visible in the basket or cart; the way I speak to my children and react and interact with them can be viewed and listened to when I’m out in public. Who they are, how they act and what they wear can be taken as a direct reflection of me – I’m the one they will spend the most time with at least until they start attending school. I choose their clothes, organise their haircuts, feed them and wipe their faces after. It’s with me that they will do a lot of their learning – my voice and words and behaviour they emulate. 

Being their mother is my job right now. Someone has to do it, and I want to, don’t get me wrong, but its a job. Unlike every other job, however, there’s no clear reimbursement for services rendered, no start and finish time, no set goals and achievable outcomes. But everybody, and I do mean everybody, thinks they get input into how I do my job. Everybody is my boss.

I found I got really defensive a few days ago when my partner innocently requested that I do something (to do with our grocery shopping) differently than I’ve been doing it. I got angry, because this is a task that I do 90% of the time and it makes sense for me to do. I have the time, the inclination, I know what needs to be bought and what foods the toddler is happy with fit now. Generally I have a fairly accurate idea of the contents of our fridge and pantry as I do a lot of the cooking too. 

A perceived criticism in the way I did this really got to me because its part of my job. I already feel ongoing Mama Guilt over the toddler not eating enough vegetables, or too much sugar, and that I don’t cook enough, or cook enough variety, and we don’t eat organically, and I buy snacks often without paying too much attention to the sodium or sugar levels, and none of this would be so bad if only we all watched a lot less telly which is probably evil.

I see articles online, and tweets and Facebook posts, that judge mothers, that make commentary on how they parent and how their children behave. Because society thinks it is my boss, that it gets to decide if I’m doing a good or bad job parenting, and those parameters change with who you’re speaking to. 

its hard because this is my job but my partner is parent too, he lives in this house too, and the things I do every day affect him. Where is the line for what is entirely my say and what we have equal input into? If I make most of the decisions because I’m the one that’s home, can he question them? How do you balance that, being fair to his personal investment and my need for autonomy? And sometimes I make so many of the decisions that I don’t want to make all of them, but they’re like cascading dominoes – I know what is in the pantry/fridge because I’m the one that did the shopping so I should decide what we eat for dinner even when it’s not my turn to cook. 

I think we don’t talk about this enough – that when one half of a couple stays at home, they become entirely responsible for the home, even when the other partner spends all their off time there. It’s then easy to become resentful over household and parenting responsibilities, because of lack of autonomy in some areas and far too much autonomy in others. This then affects the relationship, because that relationship exists within the context of the household and parenting, and its sometimes easy for us all to forget: this might be my home, but it’s also my job. One of us Goes out for work and comes home to relax, but I must somehow do both in the same space, when there is no 9-5 definition of start and finish for each.

A balancing act, and one I don’t know I’m particularly good at. 


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I have watched a lot of films lately that easily fail the Bechdel Test. If you’re not familiar with the Bechdel Test, then hit the link, it’s eye-opening. Basically it works like this: to pass the Bechdel Test, a film has to 1) Have at least two [named] women in it, 2) Who talk to each other, 3) About something other than a man.

The most recent example is The Hobbit, which fails on a catastrophic level. There’s one named female character. One. And people say to me, oh, but The Hobbit was written in a different era. This excuse doesn’t fly for me, because most contemporary films, based on material created roughly a century later, also fail. Think The Dark Knight Rises, or The Avengers, or what about Life of Pi. Some of the biggest films of the last 12 months fail.

This upsets me because I am a woman, and my reality is not represented in mainstream media. There are so many bromance films out there, but so few films about women, with solid women casts, who live complex lives where the film plot is not about romance, break ups or weddings. When I see a film with a largely male cast, with one or two supporting female characters, it doesn’t matter how kickass that female character is when she kind of seems like an accessory to the man.

Here is my reality: I have women friends, and I don’t call them ‘The Girls’, because that’s infantalizing and horrible. Sometimes we talk about our relationships, and for those of us who are heterosexual that means talking about men. With other mothers, we often talk about parenting, where the male partners (for those of us that have them), will come up too. Sometimes I talk to other women about feminist issues, and naturally men come up then, but kind of in a generalized, peripheral way. But a lot of the time, I mean over my whole lifetime, I have talked to other women about things that were nothing to do with men.

I have sat in a Muslim prayer room with Muslim women, who removed their headscarves and bared their arms because they were in a female space, and we talked about god and science as they hennaed my hands.

I have talked with women in their late teens and early twenties about teenage bullying and peer pressure. We discussed women’s magazines like Cleo and Cosmo that seemed to foster unrealistic ideals of femininity, sexuality and attractiveness. We talked about societal expectations of women, the hypersexualization of pre-teen girls and untenable atmosphere of competition that exists amongst young women. We also danced badly to Fergie.

I have had long, long conversations with other mothers I know about baby poo, spit up, sleep schedules and mother-guilt. I’ve talked about my fears and expectations for my child, how the love feels so raw and overwhelming, and which noisy toys annoy the hell out of me. As a stay-at-home parent I’ve talked about meal planning and grocery budgets and maternity clothes, about breastfeeding and stress and time out, about loving my child but sometimes feeling a need for physical and mental space; the paradox of loving your child, needing and wanting them but being overwhelmed by them too.

I have talked to many, many women over my life about mental illness. I’ve spoken at length with other women about having depression, managing it, trying drug after drug and shrink after shrink. I’ve talked about the shame I have felt, the stigma, the rejection and the anxiety. I’ve spoken of my fears and wants and needs, of the physical illness that accompanied the mental illness and made it worse – but I’ve also spoken about my small milestones, my achievements and breakthroughs, the struggles and ultimate successes. I’ve spoken about being sick, and the gratitude I have for being well.

I have lain on a picnic blanket at twilight in summer and talked with a woman about my dreams, my hopes for the future, the things I want to achieve in my life. I’ve spoken about writing, and creativity, and art; I’ve spoken about painters I like and poetry I love and plays I’ve seen and music I’m into.

I have worked hard, with other women, on theatre projects that consumed my life, and we have talked about everything from technical details to the greater meaning of the text. We’ve talked about words that I have written and what they mean, how they can be transformed and represented on the stage. I have had the great pleasure of sharing my writing about women with other women, and heard their thoughts and interpretations and felt that slow burn of satisfaction that what I write has meaning.

I have spoken to women about everything that is deep and meaningful, like religion and the soul and what happens after death, but I have also spoken to other women about clothes I like and shoes and craft projects and shiny things.

I have had conversations with women that were beautiful or tragic, awkward and light; conversations that have lasted hours or just a moment or two. I have emailed women on the other side of the world and chatted to women on the phone who were not very far away. I have sat in dark theatres with women as we’ve caught up on our lives, and asked after their families, or their work, or even their state of happiness. And sometimes, but not all the time, we have talked about men.

Only sometimes.

That’s my reality. That’s what I wish I could see in a film or a TV show with any regularity. I want to see all the parts of myself that belong only to myself, and not to a man.


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When Sebastian was a baby it was just easier to gender code his clothing. He wore a lot of blue, and his clothing was cuts and styles more frequently attributed to boys. Partly, this was because when you’re pregnant for the first time a lot of people give you clothes – newborn clothes, clothes for when he’s older, both new and secondhand. My own shopping also played into this – boy clothes and girl clothes are segregated in most stores, even opp shops. And partly, his clothing was gender coded because it makes everyday conversation easier when random people you talk to don’t stall in their phrasing, saying ‘…his? …hers?’

Make no mistake – Sebastian was a very pretty baby and still got mistaken for a girl, which I don’t care about. But I’m just not transgressive enough yet to dress him in pink and frills to truly abolish any societal gender expectations when it comes to his clothing. He can do that himself when he’s a little older – and yes, I’m fine with him playing dress-ups with my clothes and make up.

Toys, however, are a different and somehow more complex issue. Sebastian’s clothes are just what he wears to keep warm and get food all over himself in. But toys express behaviour.

About six months ago Sebastian met a newborn baby for the first time up close, and was adorably fascinated. So shortly after I took him to Kmart to buy a baby doll. Naturally he picked the creepiest and most realistic newborn he found, but despite the many, many baby dolls on offer, there were none that were gender-neutral. I don’t mean the gender of the baby doll itself, but rather their gender coding. All of those dolls wore pink, and all of them were female.

I often go to Kmart. They have a huge variety of toddler toys, are very cheap and have a generic brand A-Z that I like very much because A) while there’s lots of plastic stuff, there’s lots of wooden stuff too, B) their toys are often very simple but entertaining to a young child, like a wooden train or set of plastic food items, and C) their toys are largely gender neutral. This last part is important to me. Their trucks are not all blue and tea sets not all pink. They sell little play vacuum cleaners and irons and kettles and other things that kids will see Daddy and Mummy using every day, and there are pictures of both boys and girls on the packaging, while the toys themselves are coloured red and blue or green and yellow.

There are some pretty obvious reasons why gender neutral toys are important. Firstly, toys often represent a way for children to play that allows them to reenact what they see in their lives. Sebastian loves to have tea parties, because his family drink tea. He likes to play with toy tractors and cars and trucks because he sees so many varieties in the country. He likes to cuddle baby dolls because babies get cuddled. He likes to draw, and roll dough, and dance to Angelina Ballerina on the telly, and he has a little play kitchen near our kitchen, where he will pretend to cook an egg while myself or Alex cook. He likes to clean because people around him do. He is using imaginative play to express the patterns and behaviours he sees the people in his life have.

If pink is a girl’s colour, which I don’t think anybody can deny society teaches us, and all baby dolls are dressed in pink, this tells us that only girls are supposed to like babies. Only girls are supposed to want to cuddle and nurture. Only girls are supposed to have a baby they might know in real life, or see an adult with a baby. This is a girl’s toy, and by colour coding it pink the toy manufacturer has signaled it is off limits to a boy.

Sebastian’s baby doll is called Brienne, and he likes to cuddle her and pat her back and make us cuddle her too. He has no idea that the colour pink means he’s not supposed to play with it. And we won’t be telling him that either.

While there are relatively few toddler-aged toys I see that are gender coded, there are still some pretty glaring examples. I would really like a simple doll house for Sebastian. Unfortunately, the A-Z dollhouse is pink. I say unfortunately because I’d prefer something non-gender coded, and refusing to buy items that are specifically aimed at a boy or a girl at this point is my only method of protest. 90% of the dollhouses I’ve seen are pink. I’m currently deliberating over a Fisher Price dollhouse (here), and while I feel like an effort has been made not to colour code it (while a floor of the house is pink, there’s also some blue in there too), it’s like whoever designed the packaging rebelled and slapped pink all over the box and a picture of a little girl playing with the house just in case the toy itself gave you the wrong idea.

Interestingly, while hunting for a direct link to this product so I could happily hotlink the photograph above, I found a Little People dollhouse that I had not seen in my hunt at Kmart or any of the other major stores:

Genuinely non-gendered?

Little People is a subsidiary brand of Fisher Price, and are almost always non-gendered with their toys. I love them like crazy, and the above picture makes me love them more – no dominant blue or pink on the toy itself, and a little boy playing with it. It does make me wonder, however, why I didn’t see this on sale anywhere else – is it the buyers for these stores choosing not to stock non-gendered toys when it comes to dolls and houses?

The whole dollhouse thing is important to me because it seems amazingly idiotic to gender it pink, as a girl-specific toys. Kids live in houses, usually with their parents (or family at the very least), and love imaginative play that revolves around their lives. Why is that a girl-only thing most of the time?

When I walk through the toy section of any store, I see my future there. Right now, Sebastian has the freedom of brightly coloured toys that aren’t aimed at any gender in particular most of the time. But once you start getting into the aisles with toys for older kids, the shift is dramatic. There are trucks, planes, trains and building kits that all show a boy on the packaging. And there are makeup kits, dolls, nail polish and creepy furry cats and dogs that move, that all show a girl on the packaging. In fact, while the packaging for a boy’s toy might be colourful and reflect the item itself, the packaging for a girl’s toy is almost always pink. Read this powerful article about Pinkification for a much more eloquent statement of the rules at play here than I can provide.

Gender coding toys seems really, really stupid to me. I mean, society has been in a state of shifting values for a long time – while the mother may stay home with the baby for a while because of the logistics of breastfeeding and birth-recovery (and the fact that most men earn more so therefore it makes more sense for the higher-earner to stay at work, therefore reducing the woman’s potential lifetime income and career advances even further, but that’s-another-post), mothers no longer stay at home forever and ever, keeping house and getting dinner on the table by six. Men are now, for the most part, deeply involved in child-rearing and housekeeping and cooking – all the nurturing aspects of life that are traditionally female roles. So if Sebastian’s daddy has rocked him to sleep and feeds him and changes him and bathes him and plays with him, why the hell can’t I find a baby doll that isn’t wearing pink so Sebastian can do the same? Why aren’t there baby dolls for boys, or ones just wearing green?

Why is it that today when I went to buy a little toy bath for Brienne, Sebastian’s doll, the only ones I could find were pink? Does Sebastian not take baths? Why can’t he have a toy – aimed at him or, even better no gender in particular – that lets him play in a loving and nurturing role?

Gender coding toys is like trying to draw some very straight lines in the sand right before the tide comes in. Sebastian will (hopefully) grow up in a society where gender transgression becomes more and more normalized and acceptable; he will grow up with his parents teaching him that gender equality is for men and women, boys and girls, and works both ways – that while a girl can do everything he can do, he can do everything a girl does too. He can play with cars and trucks and then play house and dress-ups. He can build forts and wear nail polish. He can do whatever makes him happy, because society’s gender stereotypes are outdated and a bit useless.

So to toy makers who gender code their toys, I want to say this: that water is coming in to wash away those lines in the sand, do why even bother drawing them?

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When it comes to the arguments against same-sex marriage, I like to play a little game. Remove the word ‘gay’, and either replace it with the word ‘human’, or ‘people’, or switch some words around, or do without it altogether. Would you like to play? Here’s the gist of some of the anti-gay marriage arguments, in original form:

  • Gays don’t need to get married, they have all the same legal rights now with civil unions. It’s just attention-seeking.
  • Gay marriage only effects a minority, so therefore it’s too much effort to change those laws.
  • If gays can marry it’s just the start of it… next people will want to marry their dogs.
  • I have lots of gay friends and they don’t want to get married so why bother?
  • Being gay is a choice.

This does not, of course, cover the full idiocy of anti-gay marriage arguments, however we’ll get to that later. First, lets play word swap and examine how these statements change.

  • [People] don’t need to get married, they have all the same legal rights now with civil unions. It’s just attention-seeking. Of course, everyone has the same legal rights without marriage. Being officially partnered (that is, the government recognises that I am in a long-term, de facto relationship with my partner), I have pretty much every right that a married couple does (I could even take his last name, without ever signing a marriage certificate). I am my partner’s next-of-kin, his medical authority, all our assets and income are joint, and if we (for some unforeseen reason) were to separate at this point, it would be the same complicated mess of asset-division, joint custody and other unspeakable horrors. So if everyone has access to these rights without the necessity of marriage, then clearly nobody needs marriage. It should be abolished.
  • [M]arriage only effects a minority, so therefore it’s too much effort to change those laws. If you remove the word ‘gay’ from the above sentence, you see the angle here. Not everyone is married. Or going to get married. Some people spend most of their lives not-married. Some get married, then get divorced, then get married again. Children are too young to marry. And so on and so on. Basically, because marriage does not affect the entire population, no laws should ever be made that change it. Ever. And maybe we should repeal some of those much, much older laws – we’ll go back to the golden era where women were property and divorce was impossible without some sort of decree from the Pope and you had to read the banns for a month before you wed to prevent Mr Rochester from bigamy (and oh, poor Jane Eyre…)
  • If [humans] can marry it’s just the start of it… next people will want to marry their dogs. This argument is too stupid to exist, and yet it does. I mean, same-sex marriage… REALLY. If humans can marry humans then soon we’ll want to marry a cow or an inanimate object or a child or some other poor thing that can’t consent. Or we’ll want to marry our siblings on reality shows, because people like to watch train wrecks, and produce genetically deformed incest-children, which we’ll then marry. One consenting human marrying another consenting human is a stepping stone to hell.
  • I have lots of friends and they don’t want to get married so why bother? I have simply removed the word ‘gay’ from this argument, and it still wallows in its stupidity. See also: above argument about changing laws for minorities. So if not everyone wants to get married, NOBODY should get married. This argument has the added bonus of presenting the speaker as someone who isn’t discriminatory (I have gay friends! And black ones! Sometimes I listen to reggae!), they just don’t see the point. The reality is this: if your straight friends don’t want to get married right now, they can change their mind later. Your gay friends can’t.
  • Being [human] is a choice. You see how this argument turns itself around by replacing one word? Saying your sexuality is a choice is like saying your chromosomes are a choice. Granted, some people go through periods of confusion about their sexuality (as a teenager I decided I was a lesbian, but clearly since then I have had sex with a man). While I may not be entirely heterosexual, I have made a choice to be in a heterosexual relationship, because I fell in love with a hetero man. But we have to be careful about the distinctions here – it’s my choice to be in a relationship with him, but I did not choose who I fell in love with. I didn’t choose his gender. I am happier in a relationship with him, so here I stay. People who are only capable of having romantic or sexual feelings for one gender, whether it be the opposite gender or the same gender, also do not choose who they fall in love with. To say you can choose who you love is like saying you can choose whether to be a human or a chimp – your opposable thumbs aren’t optional, you are what you are.

(As a side note here, I’d like to point out that there are some people who are attracted to both genders, or more one gender but occasionally the other, and they don’t choose that either. And in fact, it’s damn fucking hard to figure out who you are and what you want and who you’d like to sleep with when there are societal pressures saying that you must be either Column A or Column B.)

But marriage is about family!

I’d like to move on now to address one of the biggest anti-gay marriage arguments: that marriage is about procreation, the protection of the family unit, the safety of children – you know the rest.

I am not married (gasp!) but I have a child. Alex and I live together as a family, and as I said above, we have all the rights of a married couple. Therefore, I seem to breaking the cardinal law of family life – we are a happy, functioning unit, and yet our child is a bastard. I said it. He is illegitimate. However, I’ve read enough historical romance novels to know that because Alex gave our son his last name, he will be recognised as his heir according to primogeniture, unless another son shows up in the future that’s born of the marriage bed.


We intend on getting married, someday. At the moment we’re too busy twiddling our thumbs and rearranging the furniture or something. But that’s our choice. As a heterosexual couple, nobody decries our lack of marriage certificate. Although I’ve looked very closely, I’ve seen no sign that Sebastian is aghast at the lack of a piece of paper. He sees only two parents, that love him very much and love each other. What would the child of a same-sex couple see? Exactly the same thing, but with one major difference – we have the choice to marry, and his or her parents do not.

Some gay marriage objectionists state that having gay parents is a disadvantage to the child. This is bunk. In fact, studies show that children of gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of hetero parents (here) and in fact, that children of lesbian parents (because more studies exist on lesbian parents) are more likely to be less aggressive and nurturing (boys) and the girls are more likely to aspire to traditionally male-based professions (article here). Some objectionists decry the bullying that may result for a child of gay parents. Well, amazingly, bullying exists, and you know what? That’s not the parents’ problem. That’s society’s problem. Bullying and discrimination occurs because of race, socio-economic status and gender anyway – and yet nobody says that only white people should be allowed to marry and have children, or only wealthy people.

I was raised with every advantage – a child of hetero, married parents, with jobs and education, who are intelligent and raised me to think intelligently, with a comfortable socio-economic background. And I was bullied in school. This is society’s problem because society teaches us to be competitive and critical, to form elitist groups and exclusionary practices, to lower someone else’s status in order to elevate our own. Children emulate their parents’ behaviour, and if a child is raised with love and understanding, is taught ethics and morals, is shown to be kind and accepting by example… then what does it matter if those parents are a Mummy and a Daddy, or two Mums, or two Dads? In fact, wouldn’t same-sex couples, having probably been discriminated against themselves at some point, raise their children with tolerance? Don’t we all want to raise our children to be better than the previous generation? And exactly how does same-sex marriage make that ideal crash and burn…?

And if marriage is only for protection of the family unit, what about couples that never have children? I mean, you have to give childless couples leeway, at least until the female passes child-bearing age – but do we revoke their marriage licence the minute she hits menopause? Does that mean that the elderly couple, both widowed, who find love and comfort again in their old age, should be denied the right to marry?

I’m sure we all know single parents. What about them? The truth is that marriages break down. Or pregnancies happen unexpectedly, and sometimes one of the DNA contributors chooses not to stick around. Single parents aren’t single-handedly destroying the notion of family – they’re loving and raising their kids as best they can. We all make do with what we’ve got – we have kids, and fumble around in the dark trying to make those kids happy and healthy, and some parents find that their relationship break down and staying married would do their kid more harm than good. It’s better to be from a broken home than living in one, and raised with tension and despair chipping away at the child’s sense of the family unit. Happy families make happy children. So if a couple are in love, and want to get married and have kids and raise those kids in a loving environment, who the hell cares what genitals they have?

And if a gay couple get married and choose not to have children, how is that any different from a straight couple getting married and choosing not to have kids? Why is it anyone else’s business at all?

But waaah, marriage and religion!

This is possibly the most infuriating argument against same-sex marriage. The 2009 in Australia the ABS showed that secular marriage ceremonies had overtaken religious ceremonies in frequency (here) at 66.9% – about two thirds (how do you like being in the minority NOW, religious anti-gay marriage folks?!)

And if religion gets such a dominant say in marriage, does it also get to influence legislation on slavery and women’s rights and so on? And if marriage is dominated by religious, primarily Christian, beliefs, then how is that marriage is older than Christianity? I’m sure Christ didn’t just wake up one day, see a bunch of people living in sin and start rounding them up to take vows. The institution of marriage used to be primarily about the joining of families for alliances and land and goods. Men married for children and heirs and dowries, women married for protection and children and households of their own. So do we return to these old traditions? Imagine if you could only marry your potential spouse if she brought a comfortable enough dowry, or if he possessed enough goats to ensure wealth. In fact, there is a long and comfortable history of nobody getting to choose who they married – marriages were arranged for political reasons, and suck it up if you didn’t like your spouse (here).

These ideas are antiquated, and so is the idea that marriage is centralized in religion, property or heirs. Modern marriage is product of love, trust and belief in your future happiness, and these ideas are not gender or sexuality specific. Gay marriage does not destroy the family unit, it simply expands its definitions.

I can choose to marry my partner only because he is male and I am female. Disallowing same-sex marriage is discriminatory, and therefore a matter of the human right for equality. This is the core of my beliefs right here: even if I am heterosexual, I am still human. Marriage is a basic human right for all adults as a matter of expressing love and commitment. Making same-sex marriage illegal infringes on my human rights. Making same-sex marriage illegal infringes on everybody’s human rights, even if you are straight or asexual or confused, because saying that one sector of the population has less rights as a citizen than another is to try to make them less than human.

Women’s rights are human rights.
Children’s rights are human rights.
Racial equality is a human right.
Equality for the disabled is a human right.

Gay rights are human rights.

And in summary… if you don’t like gay marriage, don’t get one.

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