Why don't we just ban parenthood?

So, Kerri said something in the comments a few days ago that had me thinking about Identity Politics and the way that sexuality has been co-opted by those who view “who you fuck” as something other than just that—who you fuck. It reminded me of a discussion I had with a classmate in an intro-Women’s Studies course in college, where I argued that gender always means woman. Men have no gender, at least in the common parlance, because their gender is the norm. Only women, being deviant by patriarchal standards, are the defined by gender. Race is a similar construct. Referring to yourself as a member of the white race is often a pretty clear indication that you are an unrepentant racist asshole. At the very least, that is how you will be perceived. Constructs like race, gender and sexual orientation are social markers used to identify those who do not live up to the cultural norm—white, male, heterosexual.

And, as is the nature of patriarchy, what begins as a tool of identification becomes a tool for oppression. Take for example this account about a woman who testified before the Massachusetts Judiciary Committee about being raised by a gay father:

The Massachusetts government heard testimony last week from a young Canadian woman, Dawn C. Stefanowicz who had been raised from infancy by her homosexual father and his various “partners” in a “gay” household. She told the Massachusetts Judiciary Committee that her life submerged in the homosexual subculture had left her scarred psychologically and morally.

Stefanowicz made her statement during hearings, held April 11 by the Massachusetts government to consider establishing an amendment to the state constitution that would define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Describing her father’s homosexual lifestyle as a culture without “boundaries and principles of morality and monogamy,” Stefanowicz said her upbringing was characterized by confusion and lack of affection, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

I’m not a psychologist, but I have a feeling that any psychological scarring this woman experienced had more to do with “lack of affection, domestic violence and sexual abuse” and the revolving door of daddy’s sexual partners than the fact that said partners were men. If this was truly going on in this child’s home, then Canadian social services failed her. They allowed her to remain in a home where abuse and violence were the norm, and I am sickened that any child could be treated so cruelly by her own parent. But so far as I know, child sexual abuse and domestic violence are not the sole province of homosexuals. Actually, I’m fairly sure that’s the case, since the vast majority of pedophiles are heterosexual men. And kids were routinely abused in homes prior to the Stonewall Rebellion, so I’m pretty sure we can’t blame that on “teh gays” either. But, from a sociological perspective, it is paramount that we conflate this father’s actions with his sexual orientation. Ms. Stefanowicz’s father was, by her account, a monster who never should have been allowed near children, but in a world were sexuality were simply defined by “who you fuck” his sexuality would barely be a footnote in this story.

To use one woman's account of abuse at the hands of a gay father to justify the denial of basic rights to an entire segment of the population is, at best, a terrible means of determining public policy, and at worst, an offensive means of codifying hatred. But let's assume that the Massachusetts Judicial Committee's intentions are pure, and they just want to protect children from abuse--why not ban heterosexual marriage* then? Since most pedophiles are straight men and I'm sure that most kids in foster homes came from heterosexual parents, why not use that statistical evidence (as opposed to Ms. Stefanowicz's anecdotal evidence) and ban straight people from getting married or having kids? If protecting children is really your concern.

*And can we stop with the ridiculous argument that the only justification for marriage is to make lots and lots of little babies? Seriously, it's getting on my nerves.


annamaria at 1:00 PM

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