Monday, July 11, 2011

My least favorite part of that marriage pledge

I'm sure you've heard about that marriage pledge from the Iowa group Family Leader. The group asked politicians and political candidates to sign on to the pledge, calling it a fidelity vow, so they could ascertain which candidates they should support. Of the Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, so far Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have signed on.

First, the pledge made a stir for some very unfortunate remarks Bachmann made about gays while speaking in support of the pledge. Clearly, the pledge is about opposing same-sex marriage and promoting the social conservative view of the "traditional" family of head-of-the-house dad, nurturing stay-at-home mom, and sheltered kids raised to be perfect little citizens. And so Bachmann made some comments about gay men being less healthy, etc. They were appalling remarks, of course, but they're almost expected from someone like her so didn't much attention.

The most recent flap has been about language not actually in the pledge but in the introduction to the pledge that suggests children born into slavery were actually in some way better off than African-American children born today. Because these children were born to two parents, unlike many children today. The cluelessness of such a comment is astounding. I don't know how far removed you must be from poverty, a life of servitude, or just humanity to think there's any way in which being born into slavery is better than not. (Really, did it not occur to the drafters of this language that being born with mommy and daddy there doesn't do you any good if you, mommy, or daddy can be sold away at any moment?)

So the Family Leader folks have acknowledged that poor choice of language and have removed it from their pledge. So all's hunky dory now! But, folks, there is so, so much more in this pledge to complain about. There's the comment that "enduring marital fidelity" protects vulnerable women and the rights of fathers. (Do I really need to explain that for the vast majority of our nation's history fathers had all the rights?) And there's the line about humanely protecting women from being "seduc[ed] into promiscuity." Egads! We need to protect women, and women alone, from being lured into promiscuity, which I'm guessing these people would define as having more than one sexual partner in a lifetime. But we don't need to protect men from seduction? What a backwards, 19th century view of sexual inequality. I think there's a lot of blog material to find in this part of the vow.

But here's my favorite, that no one else seems to have caught on to:

"Recognition that robust childbearing and reproduction is beneficial to U.S. demographic, economic, strategic and actuarial health and security."

Ok, so clearly seems objectionable from those of us with female reproductive systems who haven't chosen to spend our 20s and 30s barefoot and pregnant. But did you see the nugget in there that really set me off? Go back and re-read it if you didn't. I'll wait. Demographic. Robust childbearing is beneficial to U.S. demographic health and security. Did anyone else catch that? Did anyone see the same sly meaning to that that I'm seeing? Come on, WASPS! Have more kids. Have 'em quick because the Hispanics are gaining on us! Isn't that really what that line means?

I don't think it surprises anyone that I don't like any part of this pledge. I don't need political candidates to pledge marital fidelity to me. They don't owe that to me. And if they owe it to their spouses, presumably they've already made those vows. I disagree with the economic points of the pledge. And I strongly disagree with the point about appointing only judges who are "faithful constitutionalists." Not because I disagree with fidelity to the Constitution by any stretch, but because I disagree with what I know these people think that phrase means. I favor same-sex marriage and making divorce easy and keeping abortion safe and legal and I'm not opposed to pornography or a little casual (but safe) sex.

But this thing about the "demographic health and security" of the U.S. really pisses me off. That is one of the most insidious calls to racism and white power I have ever seen. And it seems to be working because I haven't heard anyone else mention that line. If there is some other explanation for what Iowa's Family Leader means when it urges Republican candidates to engage in robust reproduction to promote the "demographic" health and security of this nation, I would love to hear it. But I sure can't think of one.


BellsforStacy said...

On the record I agree with all your points. Though I like Michelle Bachman I think the gay marriage "argument" is ridiculous. Let them get married. Let them get divorced. Let them pay taxes and live there lives and leave me alone about all of it already!

Seriously the only thing I want my politicians in Washington to do is pass a budget, dole out federal funds, and protect the nation. Social issues like this just BOTHER ME.

Off the record - I do think there is a national crisis of absentee fathers. I don't know how you fix it, but there are so many single moms (and most of those are minorities or impoverished) and it's bad. Very bad. Being a single mom is sexy, honored, heroic these days. If you ask any single mom (who isn't getting a salary from MTV) she will tell you there is nothing sexy about it. It is impossibly hard.

But these ridiculous "pledges" or "pushes" for morality don't acheive their goals anyway. Did we learn nothing from DARE?

I was joking all weekend long with one of our friends who jokes that he's a bad dad that "the sad truth is the first step to being a good dad is showing up - so you're already on your way." And it's so true.

A Teacher said...

I've hit the point where I long for the day when we can split Social issues from "Real Government" issues. I hate being a fiscal conversative and a social liberal/ moderate because it's like I can't win.

And frankly I'm ~done~ with some social issues being the single issue. I have a friend who once made clear to me that she only does one thing each election: She finds the pro-choice candidates, ignores every other fact, and votes. And if there isn't a pro choice in a given race, she skips it.

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