June 16, 2014


Gay marriage is not about equality but a way of keeping us quiet : Historically, women have suffered most from matrimony. Why are so many lesbian couples in favour of such a conservative institution now? (Julie Bindel, 6/16/14, The Guardian)

[I]n recent years there has been a distinct lack of debate about marriage as potentially problematic for women. In contrast, there seems to be an almost total acceptance of it by lesbians today.

I wanted to find out whether I was a lone voice objecting to gay marriage and if so, why. Last September I posted two surveys on the Guardian website (and a couple of other publications) to find out what was behind the widespread desire to wed, as well as a number of other issues. In total, 5,492 participants completed a poll aimed at lesbians and gay men while 4,036 completed another aimed at heterosexuals, making it one of the most meaningful surveys of attitudes to homosexuality ever undertaken in the UK. An overwhelming 89% of the 9,528 responses (roughly split between male and female) supported equal marriage, meaning that the majority of straight respondents, as well as lesbians and gay men, support marriage for same sex couples.

The survey also found that many gay respondents have a desire for "ordinariness" and do not want to be seen as living "alternative lifestyles". A number of respondents who said "yes" to the question: "Do you support gay (equal) marriage?" added comments about how marriage will make them equal to heterosexuals, and that they were looking forward to being viewed as "the same".

Civil partnerships and marriage offer that; the latest Office for National Statistics figures show that civil partnerships in the UK reached an all-time high in 2012, with 7,037 tying the knot, and equal numbers of gay men and lesbians opting for formal coupledom.

This heavy support for gay marriage comes in spite of the fact that 93.01% (gay survey) and 93.69% (straight) were aware of feminist arguments against marriage.

Nicola Barker, a senior lecturer in law at the University of Kent and the author of Not the Marrying Kind: A Feminist Critique of Same-Sex Marriage, says that she is sometimes misunderstood as being against equality as opposed to marriage. "What gets lost in the celebrations about 'equal marriage' is that marriage is not about equality; it's about perpetuating privilege," she says.

"Few feminists would have been surprised by David Cameron's assertion that to support gay marriage is conservative. Same-sex marriage fits comfortably within the conservative ideology of the self-sufficient family and contributes to the politics of state austerity." [...]

There is, within this overwhelming support, an assumption, as some of my survey respondents and interviewees argue, that lesbian marriage somehow subverts the heterosexual, patriarchal narrative - but does it?

Isn't marriage merely a clever ploy to keep us quiet...

Posted by at June 16, 2014 8:18 PM

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