Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gay Rights As a Conservative Movement?

I've never been big into Ani DiFranco's music. I tend to like my songs a little more.... sung. That being said, though, I do greatly respect her politics and her outspokenness about being a feminist.

Those who are fans, though, might appreciate this interview. In it, she quotes and elaborates upon one of her lyrics:

“'Feminism ain’t for women / That’s not who it is for / It’s about shifting consciousness / It’ll bring an end to war.'

I feel like we need to understand feminism more as a tool to mediate, counteract, to ultimately defeat patriarchy and restore balance to our government, our culture and our ways of thinking and structuring the world. I think we’ve had a very 'masculine' sensibility for a long time, and I think we need to go back to the roots of social imbalance. I think we have to try to right that first, and from there and all these more pressing issues will follow."

This quote brings to mind an issue that I go back and forth about myself.

Namely, is the mainstream LGBT rights' movement push for assimilation into marriage and the military a conservative goal or a radical one?

Both institutions have, historically, been imbued with gender essentialist stereotypes, male dominance, and the oppression of women. And yet, by (arguable) legal necessity, gay rights litigation has traditionally been premised on, to paraphrase, arguments of the "we're just like you and we were born this way" type.

So, rather than pushing to make flawed institutions and flawed ways of thinking about gender and sexual identity better, the push seems to be to keep flawed structures intact while allowing more people into these structures.

Upon the legalization of same-sex marriage and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," will there be or has there been, to use DiFranco's words, a shift in consciousness about our ways of structuring the world?

I think it is reasonable to argue that same-sex marriage subverts some of the gender stereotypes and expectations associated with marriage, but it's not clear what effect, if any, this subversion will have on different-sex marriages.

[Cross posted at Alas]

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