Yesterday we hashed and rehashed the Salon.com article I keep meaning to get back to and this morning we talked about the Republicans making another effort to let gay people know that they’re really, really unwelcome in Tennessee.
And I just want to put this question and answer from Rodriguez along side of the House Republicans’ website:
You said recently the real issue behind the anti-gay marriage movement is the crisis in the family. What do you mean?
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn’t declining, it’s increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.
The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.
Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people — it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.
In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women’s movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually — even form our sense of what a sex is — sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers.
Now look at the things on the Republicans’ lists to promote “strong families and communities”–reinforcing the community power of the church, reinscribing the traditional gender roles of marriage participants, and limiting women’s rights to control what happens to our own bodies. They’re exactly the things that Rodriguez points to as being the tenents of the male-structured society. (Woo hoo! Yes, I’m going to say it–the Patriarcy!!!!)
What I wonder, and I’m wondering from my own specific position, is when it occurs to the Patriarchy that it has sown the seeds of its own destruction. How many of us have heard our fathers say, “It’s my way or the highway?” And how many of us have seen the traditional male-structured society say something similar to women of all sexual persuasions and gay men–“it’s my way or the highway.”? Look even at what the Tennessee Republicans are up to here–“If you’re not going to hook up with someone from the group of people we tell you to hook up with and under the circumstances we tell you to do it, you can’t do it at all.”
And what’s happened?
Did we meekly return to the kitchen or the closet? Yeah, some of us, but a great many of us hit the highway. And we didn’t fall apart without the “traditional” men. Would we have rather they come along with us? Yes, of course. Who wants to leave behind the people they love?
But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and if that means leaving behind the folks who kicked you out in the first place? Well, there you go.
So, what we see is that women of all stripes and gay people have been working to find something other than traditional roles that they might fit in. And we see the Republicans continuing to insist that the only acceptable roles are those traditional roles.
The Republicans will lose this particular war, eventually, though. They’re already losing it. Because it’s not about gay marriage or women killing babies or whatever. Rodriguez is right. It’s exactly about anxiety over changing gender roles.
And yes, the world changes quickly and the dramatic changes can be alarming. But even Republicans want in on some of those changes. Dolores Gresham, Beth Harwell, Susan Lynn, Debra Maggart, and Donna Rowland aren’t at home raising children or helping raise grandchildren. In what universe of “traditional gender roles” does the woman pack up and head to the state capitol to make laws?!
And yet, there go those Republican women, defenders of traditional values, flaunting the fact that some of those values aren’t good enough for them. Ha, ha, ha.