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So, as people have no doubt heard, the Quad City Times recently reported that Vivian Boyack and Nonie Dubes married recently after 72 years together. The gay rights mainstream's obsession with marriage equality is problematic, as is the whole concept of romantic love. That being said, I appreciate [hah!] the photo of Boyack and Dubes holding hands in front of the officiant for several reasons.

For one, the photo represents aspects of queer culture that popular media likes to gloss over: a) women who are b) old, c) [visibly] disabled and d) at least somewhat invested in the butch/femme roles. Look! Two women in wheelchairs who are happy! ^_^

For another, the photo shows just how deeply Boyack and Dubes care for each other. Boyack reaches over to Dubes with a sort of protective air, while Dubes keeps Boyack's hand firmly within hers. They look calmly at the officiant; though this is a significant day for them, they also know that this is also a mere legality that does nothing to change their steadfast devotion to each other. That sort of mutual happiness always makes me want to cry. Sniff sniff.

Read more... )
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Implications to follow. Ruling here to be read at my leisure.

EDIT: The fucking off of DOMA does not apparently entail the fucking off of anti-marriage state-level biases. 

EDIT: Proposition 8 has fucked off too!

EDIT: The fuck off of Prop 8 only addresses the constitutionality of marriage in California, not the whole country in general. Meanwhile, the fuck off of DOMA addresses only those same-sex marriages that already exist, not, as I mentioned above, states without marriage equality.
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Looks like Obama has won a second term, even though the popular vote was very close. Good thing the evil bully didn't win.

In other good news, Maine will soon have marriage equality. I approve of the results, though I disapprove of the means; civil rights should not be granted or taken away by popular vote.

I think Maryland will soon have marriage equality too after another popular referendum, but I'm not absolutely certain.

We shouldn't even be dictating civil rights in this ridiculous, insulting, unequal, piecemeal fashion. Marriage equality needs to be legalized across the country on a federal level. Then everyone would have the option of marrying, no matter what their sex or location. Also some opponents' heads might explode, which would also be beneficial. :p
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Warning: Coercion, disregard for autonomy, objectification, misogyny, etc., etc., etc.

I just read about yet another one in Slate, wherein technology columnist for the New York Times David Pogue made a fake movie trailer about his relationship with his girlfriend. Then, as the Slate columnist L.V. Anderson writes,

"In case you don’t have the inclination to watch the video: He produced a five-minute movie trailer for a fake romantic comedy based on his relationship with Dugan (starring two good-looking Broadway actors in the lead roles), which he convinced a movie theater to play for Dugan (and all of their families, plus some unwitting strangers) before a feature-length film. He hid three cameras around Dugan’s seat before she sat down so that he could record her reaction. At the end of the trailer, he led her to the front of the theater, gave a short speech about how wonderful she was, and asked her to marry him."

Longer coverage [and the horrible video] here: http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/08/31/david_pogue_nicki_dugan_marriage_proposal_it_should_never_have_been_publicized_.html

So, not only was it a public proposal, but it was a secretly recorded public proposal. She was under SURVEILLANCE. Even ickier, as Anderson points out,

"Pogue timed the filming of his faux trailer in such a way that Dugan had to say yes in the span of about two seconds, or else the trailer would stop making sense. (He’d humbly pre-recorded a jubilant celebration.) "

There...the subtext has become the text. Pogue [and, by extension, all of the other guys who engage in this public proposal crapola] expects his fiancee to agree. At the same time, with Pogue's proposal, as with others, the assent from the fiancee is actually irrelevant. As the rigid structure of Pogue's fake trailer demonstrates, it's all about the happy day of the one who proposes. The expectation of the fiancee's yes gives her no room to say anything else. The show must go on! Let's have a party, for the guy has just acquired a new accessory [=wife]!

Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh.
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Apparently, this happened a while back, and the world didn't end! Imagine that. :p I doubt this will be allowed in the US any time soon.
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I'm active on 2 message boards for 1:6 scale figs. On one of them earlier this week, a heterosexual, married woman posted some pictures of her vampire dolls with an inexpensive Barbie subbing for one of the expensive vampire characters that she had not purchased, but wished to. She wrote, "Hubby says no more. At least until Christmas..." In other words, her husband told her that she can't buy any more figs till Xmas.

So her husband issued her an ultimatum about what she can and can't do in pursuit of her interests, and she just accepted it. That's not an interaction between equals; that's an interaction between a superior [husband] and a subordinate [wife]. Where does her husband get off, thinking he can control his wife's interests? Why does she accept his control without complaint?

I know why. Her husband probably earns and controls most of the money in their marriage. I bet she's financially dependent on him. Both of them think of the money as all his because it mostly flows from his job, his inheritance, blah blah blah. Both of them also think that, because it's his money, he gets to dictate its distribution. Therefore, he graciously permits his wife to have interests that involve spending money...well, until the interests become too expensive, in his estimation, at which point he forbids the continuation of his wife's interests because she is taking something away from him. She should be sacrificing for his preferences and wellbeing instead! I mean, God forbid the two approach their relationship from a standpoint of equality, mutual respect and support, rather than a standpoint of sexist, transactional manipulation.

I see the same type of interactions play out on DOA, a forum for people who like Asian ball-jointed dolls. I've heard the following story several times: a young, heterosexual woman writes that her boyfriend feels a deep, shuddering repugnance towards BJDs, not infrequently to the point of forbidding his girlfriend to get any more of them. The poster, of course, feels deep distress and wonders what to do.

Answer: Cultivate relationships with people who respect you and your interests. If a family member, friend or partner tries to control your interests, they're trying to control you because they don't like you the way that you are. They're trying to control you, especially if you're a woman and your interlocutor is a man, because they've internalized the sexist societal dread of autonomous, equal women. They're scared of you. They probably even hate you. Do the world a favor, and surround yourself with people who believe in and practice love instead of fear.

Anyone who says, "No more dolls till Xmas!" instead of "Let's work on our financial goals together" and "You do what you want with your hobby money, as long as you're happy and not hurting anyone" will be kicked to the curb. Anyone who says, "The dolls or me!" as an ultimatum will promptly be dumped in favor of the dolls. That's because I respect myself, while the other person obviously does not.
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A letter writer in her late 20s writes in Prudie's latest Slate column that she and her husband have negotiated the following boundaries: One time, they were drunk, and he was horny, but she did not want to have sex, so she shoved him away. They now agree, that, if they are drunk and/or sleepy, they should secure each other's consent before having sex. Good? Good!

Then they both got drunk. Her husband did not ask her consent, but she "went along," in her words. She concludes, "I can’t fathom how he could have ignored our agreement. Should I just drop it or am I right about feeling abused?"

In response, Prudie comments derisively on college codes of conduct that advise consent in sexual situations each time the participants start a new activity. She then contrasts such requirements to interactions in a married couple, where, she says, "implicit consent" can be assumed.

Prudie winds up by insulting the letter writer as "prim, punctiliious, punitive," while suggesting that the letter writer is abusing her husband: "Living in terror that expressing one’s perfectly normal sexual desire could end one’s marriage, and freedom, is itself a form of abuse."

Bloody hell, can we all see what's wrong with this response? The letter writer's husband forced himself upon her without obtaining her consent, as previously agreed. Why yes, in fact, that is rape. That's a problem!

Even if one has a hard time wrapping one's head around the fact that this interaction is rape [this is apparently Prudie's problem], one can at least admit that the letter writer's husband overrode a clearly stated boundary and thus disrespected the letter writer's autonomy and agency. This is also [at least] the second time that he has behaved in a similar manner. This is a red flag for, at worst, an abusive asshole and, at best, an individual so inculcated with cultural misogyny that he really needs to grow up and learn how to treat women like people before attempting further relationships. That's also a problem!

Prudie does not recognize these problems, however, because she is too busy making fun of the letter writer and talking out her ass about her ideal concept of marriage. Apparently, her vision of marriage includes unlimited license for one partner to rape the other. If the victim doesn't put out or even dares to feel disturbed about his or her agency being disregarded, the victim is being a poor partner. The victim's oversensitivity is stifling the rapist's "perfectly normal sexual desire." Don't you know that expecting a relationship based on mutual respect and enthusiastic consent "is itself a form of abuse?" The problem is all in the head of the victim, who should be lying back and thinking of Dan Savage. :p

That's rape culture right there: victim blaming, victim shaming and valorization of the rapist's feelings and experience over the victim's. And that's a problem!
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After my horrible experience with Clarke Demas and Baker's disgustingly heteronormative policies, I searched for an explicitly GLBT-friendly estate planner in Vermont, vowing to ask if this one had up-to-date forms. One of the few firms whose site clearly mentioned experience with same-sex couples was Unsworth Law.

Preliminarily, I can say that my experience with Unsworth has been much better than my experience with Clarke Demas and Baker. For one thing, the firm is clearly in touch with reality. For another, the legal assistant sympathized with my outrage at Clarke Demas and Baker. She could actually say the words "same-sex marriage," which shouldn't be that much to ask, but which made me feel very pleased. I'm going to a general seminar by Unsworth about estate planning next week. Further bulletins as events warrant.
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My financial advisor has been bugging me to make a will, power of attorney, health care agent, all that sort of thing, so I finally got around to scheduling an initial consultation. At my sister's recommendation, I chose Clarke Demas and Baker, a Vermont-based law firm, and scheduled an appointment.

I received a PDF intake form for a single person, but wanted a Word document so I could make notes on it. When I received the Word intake form, I noticed that it was for married people, but I decided to use it anyway.

Then I looked closely at the married intake form. It was divided into 2 columns, one labeled "Husband" and the other labeled "Wife."

Outrage overcame me. [It does that a lot these days.] We've had marriage equality here in the state since 2009, but Clarke Demas and Baker apparently refuses to accept reality by simply changing their forms to read "Spouse 1" and "Spouse 2." They may have experience doing estate planning for same-sex couples, but their forms betray what they really think of us: we don't exist.

I refuse to patronize a law firm that thinks I don't exist. My business is going elsewhere, and I'm telling them why.

EDIT: I just explained to the legal assistant my cancellation and my reasons. I said that they should update their forms. She said, "I apologize; we do have a form for that."

Now I'm really glad I'm not using their services. My God, if the legal assistant can't even say the phrase "same-sex marriage" and if, for some reason, there's a separate form [separate but no doubt "equal!"] for same-sex spouses, the firm clearly devalues me and my ilk.
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Following up on my entry earlier this year about sexism on a customer service line, I present the following conversation, which happened between me and the dental hygienist this morning. I was actually finding the poking, scraping and drilling much less annoying than usual, thanks to the hygienist's sense of humor and skills. Then we started talking about mouthwash.

I asked for recommendations of alcohol-free mouthwash. I mentioned that "my fiancee" used mouthwash with alcohol, which I did not like because of its strong odor.

Hygienist: "What kind does he use?"

Me: "I don't know what SHE uses."

Conversation continued with recommendations.

So she automatically assumed that I was engaged to a guy because a) I look like a woman and b) the majority of marriages are between a man and a woman. However, given that spouses are not always 1 man + 1 woman, people should know better than to make that assumption, especially in Vermont, which is on the vanguard of marriage equality in the US. The definition of marriage has changed yet again, people. Get with the program!

P.S. My FIANCE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? What fiance?

P.P.S. Holy crap, the hygienist was not the only one behind the times. Just out of curiosity, I typed "define marriage" into Google.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary says:

"(1) the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage"

FAILURE. Just say "the state of being united to a person as a husband or wife...blah blah blah."

reference.com/dictionary.com says something similar:

"1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation."

FAILURE. It's all the same institution.


Google's first dictionary result has the same problem:

"1. The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife
2. A similar long-term relationship between partners of the same sex"

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT. It's not "a similar long-term relationship." It's the same thing!

Not until Wiktionary do we get a more accurate definition, talking about an exclusive union between two or more people. Subdefinitions clarify that, in some jurisdictions, marriage is defined as being between 1 man + 1 woman, while other jurisdictions allow 2 partners of any sex to marry. But the main thing is the exclusive union.

I actually like the Wikipedia entry the best, as it seems to capture the concept and purposes of marriage that have remained stable over time: "Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship." Marriage is a grouping of people to create social units. Everything else varies. If you don't like that, you're on the losing side of history.
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We watched The Muppets last night. It was a pretty cute movie, with most of the humor at no one's expense, but I was continually bothered by the rampant sexism on display in the plot between the 2 human leads, Gary [Jason Segel] and Mary [Amy Adams].

Gary and Mary have been dating for 10 years, but they don't even live together. They're not engaged either. Mary wishes that Gary would propose to her, but he does not. In fact, their 10th anniversary trip to Los Angeles ends up including Gary's Muppet "brother," Walter, in spite of Mary's obvious displeasure. Gary constantly privileges adventures with Walter over adventures with Mary, who acquiesces by trying to put on a brave face. When Gary forgets his 10th anniversary dinner with Mary, Mary goes back home, leaving a note that addresses the source of her upset only obliquely: "Are you a man or a Muppet?" Gary follows Mary back home and proposes to her. She says yes, blah blah blah, whoop de doo.

This entire plot could have been avoided if Gary and Mary had just had one single solitary stinkin' conversation about their expectations and desires. On a deeper level, it also would have been a much shorter movie if Mary hadn't been trapped by expectations about feminine passivity. If she loved Gary so much and wanted to marry him, why didn't she propose to him years ago? Why does she suffer Gary's callous, clueless behavior in silence, without speaking up for herself? Why is Mary such a spineless, retrograde drip? Why is Gary such an inattentive, uncommunicative clod? Does anyone really think this relationship is going to work out?

My favorite character was '80's Robot.
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The New York Times has an article about women going on crash diets in preparation for their weddings. This, of course, represents nothing new or even unusual. It's still sad, frightening and self-hating, though. The women interviewed internalize a cultural hostility toward women and toward a diversity of body sizes, shapes and masses by literally cutting themselves down to a societally acceptable size. Like the horrible "giving away of the bride," which transfers ownership of the woman from her father to her husband, these wedding crash diets and other modern traditions for heterosexual marriages literally diminish participants and bodily reformat them into transactional currency to be objectified. "The greatest day of one's life," indeed.

P.S. Diets don't work anyway. At least 95% of people who diet gain the lost weight back.

P.P.S. Don't even get me started on how this article [along with so many other articles in the NYT that concern women, queers and trans folks] appears in the Style section. We're not good enough for the main paper?!
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So today I called Dental Dental of Illinois' customer service hotline to try to find out which type of Delta Dental I had. One of the first questions that the rep asked me, even before my name or ID number, was, "Who's the holder of the policy, your husband?"

Let's break that down...

The rep knew nothing about me, not even my name or my ID number, no personal information, except for that I sounded stereotypically feminine. He therefore automatically assumed that:

a) I was a woman.

b) I was heterosexual.

c) I was married.

d) I did not have insurance under my own name.

I can understand assumption a), but were any of the others warranted? NO! What stupidity!

P.S. MY HUSBAND?!?!?!?!?!? What husband?
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Via Shakesville, I learned today about the "surprise wedding." What is this wretched idea? Apparently, according to the Windsor Star, this man's idea was to plan an entire wedding behind his fiancee's back, with friends and family keeping her in the dark until the moment that he proposed, at which point he said that the wedding would occur within hours.

So let's get this straight...
  • One partner willfully deprives the other of any input in planning a significant, life-changing event, assuming that he knows best for the both of them.
  • The depriving partner even brings the other partner's whole social and familial circle into collusion, basically trapping them in a lie of omission.
  • Finally, as if this weren't enough, the depriving partner sets up a highly public event at which the other partner may be embarrassed, shamed or coerced into submitting.
Such a series of events is not romantic and loving. By degrading and ignoring his partner's agency and input, the depriving partner is saying, in so many words, that his plans matter more than hers, that he matters more than she does. No matter how many of her preferences he incorporates into the wedding, the mere fact that he set everything up without her consultation, basically leaving her only a slot in which to insert her "yes," devalues his partner in general. It's arguably abusive!
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This is not anything new. I've been writing it for about two years now. To be fair, I should more accurately say that I'm collaborating with Mary Elizabeth Collins, an ancestor of mine [1866-1938]. She wrote a diary of her high school years in Plattsburgh, New York between 1884 and 1887, which I have transcribed. I'm in the process of annotating it. Since she writes a lot about her various courtships [and repeatedly turning down marriage proposals!!], most of my introductory material concentrates on dating and marriage in the late Victorian era.

Anyway, for my book, I was reading Nancy Cott's Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation. It's an overview of marital practice and law on both state and local levels in the United States from colonial times to 2000. A cursory scan of the book shows American marriage as a fluid concept that steadily expands to include people of different races, married women's property rights, no-fault divorce, parties of the same sex, etc. Though I'm still hurting from the fact that 53% of Californian voters personally hate me, I take heart from the long view proposed by Cott. Using the U.S. as a case study, she shows that marriage is an almost infinitely elastic institution. Those who campaign to stretch it always, always, always win out over those who try to keep it restrictive.

Even though Public Vows is not very relevant to my book, it's relevant to my life, so I feel a tiny bit better.

Mneh.

Nov. 5th, 2008 08:59 am
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Obama won the presidency, which is good, assuming that a) he actually delivers on some of the liberal tendencies he's been talking about and b) no one tries to assassinate him. Also, Massachusetts keeps its income tax, decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana and bans dog racing. That's also good.

More depressingly, California passes Prop 8 to outlaw gay marriage; gay marriage bans are also passing in Arizona and Florida, while, in Arkansas, unmarried couples are now banned from being foster or adoptive parents. Ah, the good ol' USA, home to lip service of equality and practice of segregation. Why do these country's institutions hate people so much if they're not straight, white, rich, non-disabled men? No...seriously...why do this country's institutions so venomously and murderously despise most of its citizenry? I'm exhausted.

Assignment: Convert hatred to understanding and acceptance. Prognosis: Doubtful.
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California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban!!! An excerpt from the decision reads:

In Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco (2004) 33 Cal.4th 1055 (Lockyer), this court concluded that public officials of the City and County of San Francisco acted unlawfully by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the absence of a judicial determination that the California statutes limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman are unconstitutional.

So, because California has no heteros-only marriage amendment in the constitutional, marriage, full civil marriage with all state-granted rights and privileges pertaining thereunto, is now LEGAL in California! Having one of the trend-setting, largest, most influential states on our side will surely increase the pressure for recognizing the constitutionality of gay marriage on the state level AND the national level and thus, by extension, the unconstitutionality of the stupid, illegal DOMAs on the state and national levels. Excelsior, people! Excelsior!

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Now making the rounds on the Net is the BBC2's docu on the Westboro Baptist Church Cult.

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