Thursday, November 13, 2008

MFA not MRS.

I've been on my high horse this afternoon, leaving long comments on various blogs. I had a grueling week of exams which are all done now and went fairly well, so I feel tremendously relieved tonight and still full of useless nervous energy. When J gets home from yoga, I think we'll smoke some weed and watch The Bicycle Thief which came from Netflix today.

I'm so tired of studying!

I was telling my sister in an email yesterday that I'm kind of over this undergrad thing. I'll have to summon some energy from god-knows-where to push through the final semester and a summer I have left before I get my Bachelor's degree. I'm sure this feeling is brought about this fall by the process of applying for grad school, which reminds me what this whole expedition was about in the first place and I can't wait to get into filmmaking! I do love reading and learning etc., but memorizing pages and pages of arcane science facts is getting a tad tedious. Now except for finals, I'm done with exams. I have two papers to write. Writing papers stresses me out a bit too, but it's a very different stress than exam stress. It's a type of stress I enjoy because I feel like something is actually being accomplished. Whereas, 80% of what I memorized for the Biology exam I took this morning, I have already forgotten.

Anyway, back to my high horse. Adding to the general feeling of irritation the last week has been all the complaining about how we shouldn't really be too happy about Obama's election because after all California voted to take marriage rights away from homosexuals. I'm not totally insensitive to the fact that this is in some way a serious civil rights defeat. But as you know, I'm not a fan of how the marriage fight now dominates the gay and lesbian rights movement. There was a good post on The New Gay, one of the blogs I read, which provoked me to be maybe a little more articulate than I usually am about this issue, so I thought I'd paste my comment here for you. But I recommend reading the post and the comments there to get a good idea of how this issue flies lately in "the community."

Here's my comment:
Thanks for this post. I hope it provokes some good discussion. I feel like, when people start talking about gay marriage there's this assumption that of course it's what we all want or should want, and I'm always the one in the room going, "Um..."

Some time in the 90's the gay and lesbian movement took a really sharp right turn. First we were fighting for a bigger definition of family, then suddenly we were fighting to make it as narrow as possible. I think the reason marriage captured the imagination of the gay civil rights movement is that it touches on a very basic human insecurity, a fear of being alone. A fear which is exacerbated by growing up homosexual, especially for older generations whose only queer role models were reststop trolls. (I use that expression with the utmost affection!) We all want to believe in the myth of Mr. Right or Ms. Right, Prince Charming, we all want to flip through bridal magazines and dream about a fairy tale life full of sweet love, and oh my god how will I ever get to wear a white dress and marry the man of my dreams if it's illegal!

I think it would be more fair, more progressive (and, just as importantly, more palatable to the mainstream) to be fighting for the rights of ALL families, unmarried heterosexual partners, homosexual partners, and all the varieties of families that aren't structured around a sexual relationship (elderly sisters who share a home, a disabled person and his or her caretaker, friends who live together communally long-term, single parents with kids ...). All these relationships should have the benefits and societal support that civil marriage has now.

I say it all the time to my friends (who usually just roll their eyes at me) and I'll say it again. Marriage is a fundamentally conservative institution. It is conservative people who promote it (Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage, etc.) in order to create a world in THEIR image. But as an institution, it's been broken for a long time. It doesn't even work for straight couples. Why do you want it?