Really Long Comment, In Which I Disavow the Cow Part

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So, I would be happy to live my life without anyone ever again bringing Ben Christensen to my attention, but as I continue to write about the damage done when gay men court and marry straight women (particularly in the context of Mormonism, with all its attendant ideas about what an ideal family should be like), and as he continues to be a gay man married to a straight woman and to find it hard to understand the patriarchal bent of our culture and his own privilege, that seems unlikely. In a recent post, I mention that his name kept turning up in google searches that led people to my blog; MoHoHawaii left a comment there providing a link to what Ben was writing that prompted people to do the specific search I was seeing. I wrote a long comment in response, longer than a lot of the entries I've posted lately, and thought about posting it as an entry of its own, but it seems better as a comment. If you're interested, click on the link and read it; if not, well, it's relegated to the comment section of the blog and you don't have to deal with it.

3 Comments

Many of us find the LDS encouragement of mixed-orientation marriage to be morally indefensible (and that's being polite).

It's clear that the benefits of passing as heterosexual can be substantial, especially inside orthodoxies like Mormonism, so it's easy to see why a mixed-orientation marriage might be what a gay man seeks. On the other hand, what possible benefit or advantage does a gay husband provide a woman over a straight husband?

Here's how I wrap my mind around it. As a parent I would never, ever advise my daughter to marry anyone other than a fully heterosexual man who loved her in all the normal ways. Could anyone in good faith tell their own daughter otherwise? Seeing my bright and gregarious daughter become quiet and withdrawn after facing years of emotional distance and sexual rejection from her young husband is not something that I, as a parent, would ever want to witness. I would do anything in my power to spare her having to go through this.

The LDS church does not really care about its women as much as the men. This is repugnant. I really do wonder if the leaders of the Mormon church who are pushing mixed-orientation marriage would tell their own daughters to follow this path. I really doubt it.

Ditto what MoHoHawaii said. I just went back and read most of your series on this topic, and -- like you -- I'm astonished by the backwards reasoning of that paragraph you deconstructed, particularly the idea that having a woman to reproduce with and run your household for you has historically/traditionally been denied to men who are attracted to other men. an equal-partnership marriage is the model that has been traditionally harder to find (for male, female, gay, and straight alike), and that is the model that I'm willing and ready to fight for. As you point out, he and his wife have the right to make the choice they've made, but the fact that he's gay doesn't automatically make his choices progressive (any more than the Concerned Women for America are progressive just by virtue of being women).

(That said, I don't want to be too hard on the gay men who chose to marry women several decades ago when it was far less clear that being gay is permanent and cannot be changed through therapy.)

Personally, I stand by my original technique for avoiding this problem. ;)

Hi MohoHawaii and Chanson--thanks for the comments and elaboration. I think you're right, MHH, that most parents would not want to see their daughters' happiness sacrificed to bolster some man's (tenuous grasp on his) priesthood authority, if they realized that was really the choice--but I think a lot of parents tell themselves that's not what's really going on and so miss a lot of ways in which they do tell their daughters that they need to put their husbands' priesthood ahead of their own desires; I've heard women among my friends and family talk about setting aside something they really care about because "I need to honor Joe's priesthood."

ugh!

Chanson--thanks for the links back to your blog, first of all; I'm always glad to have someone give me their greatest hits, especially when the posts are from a time when I was neglecting my duties in the blogosphere! Like you, I think time and context make a difference in how we respond to gay men who married straight women. A gay man who married a straight woman in 2004 (which I think is when Ben Christensen got married) is far more culpable than a gay man who married a straight woman in 1964 or even 1984. It's also really important to look at the men's behavior after the marriage: do they write bullshit essays explaining why men should continue to have this privilege, like BC? Do they (like a couple of men I could name, particularly in Mormondom) divorce, then become focused on writing about, counseling and advocating for greater rights for gay men, with scarcely a mention of lesbians or of the wives sacrificed on the alter of patriarchy? Or do they actually stand up as feminists and announce their belief that equality is equality and women deserve it just as much as gay men? If they take the final option, I can view their marriage as a tragedy or a mistake rather than a wanton act of selfishness.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 6, 2007 3:49 PM.

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