Sunday, March 2, 2014
Barefoot And Pregnant
Booman rightly notes that the center of Douthat's position is his definition of "traditional marriage". This is what needs to be unpacked.
Throughout his column he refers to the "older definition of marriage," but he doesn't mean by that what you would think. For me, the older definition of marriage was that it is necessarily between a man and a woman, not that it was all about procreation. I've known too many childless couples or exclusively adoptive parents for me to ever have had Douthat's view of marriage. For me, marriage is primarily about commitment. Two people take a vow involving certain promises. If they then procreate, that's their choice.
The centrality of gender difference in Douthat's "traditional marriage" is for procreation. People get married in the "Catholic" manner of being fruitful and multiplying. And there is tradition and some scriptural support for that, I guess.
But there are also 6 billion people on the planet. Maybe enough of the multiplying, people!
The problem is the overlap with other positions, especially on the "religious freedom" front. The other big issue involving "religious freedom" is the requirement to provide contraceptive coverage on the health care exchanges.
The same people who are freaking out over same sex marriage are the same people who seem to think that birth control pills are "slut pills". These are also people who run around yelling "Freedom" like they were Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart.
One would think the right's intersection with libertarianism on guns and taxes would extend to marriage, but it doesn't, and for the same reason they oppose birth control mandates.
They see women as vessels for child birth.
Seem extreme? Consider this: a GOP legislator just referred to pregnant women as the "host" of the fetus. OK, that might be "nutpicking", but the overwhelming opposition to abortion rights is founded on the principle that women are not morally able to make a difficult decision on whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term. The right wing position is simply to remove that decision from them. The fetus is more important than the woman.
Similarly, women who want to have sex without pregnancy, should pay for their own contraception.
And marriage can't be marriage if there is no conception involved.
This "tradition" of women's roles within a marriage is indeed an old one. Women are urged in the Bible to submit to their husbands. Hindu women were expected to climb on their husband's funeral pyre, her life literally ending with his.
I am certain that the theocons - like Douthat - would reject this interpretation. They are defending a certain privileged position of motherhood.
But when you dig down to bedrock, you get the fact that conservatives seem to want every ejaculation to get birthday cake.
Douthat admits something profound, even if I'm not sure he understands what he's admitting.
"Now, apparently, the official line is that you bigots don't get to negotiate anymore."
Well... yeah. You don't get to base marriage on gestation. You don't get to deny services to LGBT Americans. You don't get to deny women the right to control their reproductive choices.
Women aren't vessels for babies. Marriage is about who you love, not how your plumbing fits together.
I'm ambivalent about a Hillary Clinton presidency. But I imagine it will rip the cover of the subtext within the GOP, just like Obama exposed the racism at its heart.