Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rome Hosts Conference on Complementarity

Last week, several offices of the Roman Catholic church held an event in Rome called The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.

Many American opponents of marriage equality were thrilled by this conference and some, such as Rick Warren, were even speakers.

I guess, if you're looking to better understand what is meant by "gender complementarity" that is at the root of many people's opposition to marriage equality and, oftentimes, anti/non-feminism, the conference site would be good to check out.

What I'm so often struck by is the almost childish, emotional, romanticized way that complementarists talk about "man and woman." And yes, they often use the singular versions of these terms - which speaks to the belief that little variation exists within each gender category.

Anyway, from the conference's Affirmation about marriage and gender:
"See man and woman together. They are not just two people. He is for her, and she for him; it is inscribed in their bodies. Their union will bring life that binds and mingles families, encourages faith to flourish, and brings humankind and the world’s diverse cultures to flower again."
So, it's fine to be emotional about this stuff - but this Disney version of reality shouldn't be the determining basis for whether same-sex families deserve equality rights, protections, and dignity.  And, people are right to call out this thinking as irrational, unfair, and yes bigoted when it's consistently put forth to erase and marginalize non-heterosexual, non-cisgender, and gender non-conforming individuals.

A final note is that complementarists often talk about how "man and woman" are "different but equal."

7 out 32 speakers at this conference were women. Unlike their male counterparts, it is impossible for any of these women to be at the top of the hierarchy within the Roman Catholic church.

Just like within the US anti-equality movement, which is grounded in complementary thinking (at best), male voices, perspectives, and opinions are amplified and prioritized, even as they simultaneously tell us how important both "man and woman" are to life and marriage.

That is what gender complementarist "equality" looks like.

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