Sunday, November 02, 2008

the myth of 'traditional marriage'

in the quest to discriminate against others who are different, supporters of prop 8 are constantly referring to a 'traditional marriage' that same-sex marriage is threatening to destroy. for them, a 'traditional marriage' is perhaps best exemplified by the cleaver family pictured above - where ward provided for the family, disciplined his children, and offered bits of advice to the troublesome beaver; june, on the other hand, was the ideal wife and mother who spent her day at home cooking and cleaning as every good woman should.

but how traditional is this 'traditional marriage'? it all depends on how far back we want to call something 'traditional.'

before there was marriage men and women simply began cohabiting and raising children together. the institution of marriage began when women became seen as commodities that could be bought and sold in a fashion very similar to slavery. a man who wanted a particular girl to own would approach the girl's father and purchase her from him for a certain price. this is depicted in the mormon classic johnny lingo where johnny purchases mahana from her father with 8 cows. relics of this 'traditional marriage' are found in our traditions (no pun intended) of wedding rings (originally signs of slave ownership), taking the groom's name (a slave practice), and asking the bride's father for permission to marry.

'traditional marriage' was also used as an economic and political trade between familes and groups. instead of trading his daughter for money or goods, a father would barter his daughter away in exchange for trade agreements and political treatises. this form of 'traditional marriage' can still be seen in some eastern countries where arranged marriages are often performed for business purposes.

and of course, let us not forget the mormon hypocrisy of calling for 'traditional marriage' when just a hundred years ago, 'traditional marriage' looked like this:

while the 'traditional marriage' of a man and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman and a woman was done away with just before the 20th century, 'traditional marriage' was redefined as marriage between a man and a woman of the same race. it was not until the mid-late 1960s that all prohibitions of interracial marriages were finally lifted in the united states.

until just recently my white father and japanese mother could not legally wed in certain states because it went against 'traditional marriage.' in fact, even though it was legal when they did get married, many friends and family of my father tried to dissuade him from marrying my mom because it went against 'traditional marriage.'

after 'traditional marriage' finally began to include interracial marriages, it really wasn't until the late 20th century that equality within marriage began to be an accepted part of 'traditional marriage' - and it barely even is today. still so many hold a view of 'traditional marriage' where the wife is considered inferior and submissive to her male partner, a relic of the very first form of traditional marriage.

and so today, proponents of prop 8 somehow have managed to have the audacity to think that within the last couple decades we have finally reached the pinnacle of what 'traditonal marriage' is, and want to hold this relatively young version of this myth to discriminate against others who think that our view of marriage should not be tied to its past conceptions.



  1. Good point. Sad but true.

  2. typical right-wing hatemonger11/03/2008 10:15 AM

    please stop the spin i think i am going to throw up

  3. what is this? another criticism from hatemonger lacking substance? why are we not surprised?

  4. well since this is my blog and i find your substance-less criticisms just awfully annoying, i'm asking you not to leave comments anymore. future comments like these are just going to be deleted.

  5. My argument has always been that heterosexuals are doing a pretty good job of "destroying" the traditional family without any help from homosexuals.

    When I was teaching sociology I would always show a video about hate crimes and the main story was about a gay man who was murdered. One of my students asked to be excused from watching the video because she thought homosexuality was evil. The video wasn't about homosexual relationships. It was about all of the things we had been studying in class: stereotypes, subcultures, mores, folkways, socialization, language, criminal behavior, etc. She asked to be excused for religious reasons. I gave her another assignment to make up for the points because no matter what I said she was convinced the video would be offensive because there was a story about a homosexual in it. Some people are convinced that the sanctity of marriage is about a proposition on a ballot about homosexuality rather than kindness, respect, sacrifice, selflessness, commitment, fidelity, communication, and generosity.

    Your post was an excellent illustration of socialization. I would always give my students a writing exercise in how opinions are formed. This would be an excellent lead in to that assignment. Too bad I'm not teaching right now.

  6. i loved that show growing up.

  7. both leave it to beaver and jonny lingo! mahona you ugly! always a favorite

  8. New to the site11/10/2008 2:33 PM

    I must disagree with your assessment: "before there was marriage men and women simply began cohabiting and raising children together." IMHO, there was no "before marriage." And, in the opinions/faith/belief of billions born to this world over the last several thousand years, there was no "before marriage." The story of the first man and the first woman (belive you it to be Adam and Eve, or Adam and Lilith, or whomever) states that God (Elohim, or Alah, or whomever) married them in the Garden of Eden. So any cohabitation that occured happened AFTER marriage.

    I also question your reporting of wedding rings as slave symbols and taking the last name of your spouse as a slave practice. I would be interested in reading your sources on these and other matters you've mentioned.

    That being said, I, a native Californian (though no longer living there), and a life-long LDS heterosexual married parent of 5, do not agree with the idea of limiting legal rights to heterosexual couples only. Nor do I support the idea of using State Funds to change text books, law books, and the like to reflect that. I just wish people would look at every issue on every ballot as a legal and fiscal issue, not just an emotional one.

  9. new to the site,

    the biblical timeline places adam and eve at about 4000-5000 bc. humans have been on the earth for at least 200,000 years. your humble opinion about the origin of marriage is just wrong. sorry.


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