Archives for category: Essentialism and Constructivism

Okay, so both “epistemology” and “binaries” are big words—if not in the sense that they contain a lot of letters, in the sense that they have a great deal of meaning, especially to the field of gender studies. I’m not going to lie, I definitely pretended to know what they meant for awhile before I actually started to get an idea about what they even begin to signify. So, I hope this isn’t too rudimentary, but I thought I’d start my post with the definitions of these terms…

Epistemology: “a branch of philosophy that investigates the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge.” (Thank you, dictionary.com.) When I read this word in a sentence or phrase—like the book titleEpistemology of the Closet—I insert the words “history of knowledge or understanding. (So, [History of knowledge or understanding] of the Closet, for example.) This helps me to break down this word and all the meaning behind it.

Binary: A set of two opposing ideas from good/evil or bad to man/woman, male/female, masculine/feminine, or gay/straight—or “mind and body, thought and extension, reason and passion, psychology and biology,” as Elizabeth Grosz brings up in Refiguring Bodies, for example (3). The overall premise is that the opposing ideas in each set are sort of separate but equal. However, deconstructionist thinkers have brought to light that binaries are, in fact, anything but equal. The two terms in a set are, in fact highly hierarchical, and they are so closely intertwined as to depend on each other for their very meaning[s]. As Grosz explains, “The subordinated term is merely the negation or denial, the absence or privation of the primary term, its fall from grace; the primary term defines itself by expelling its other and in this process establishes its own boundaries and borders to create an identity for itself” (3).

So, the epistemology of binaries would be a sort of history of human understanding of this system of ideas that appear to oppose one another—a key component of Grosz’s argument, if I hadn’t mentioned that yet! Grosz also provides some other great, destabilizing ideas about binaries: Binaries have a tendency to come off as absolutes, as a set of two opposing truths; however, they are actually constructed ideas. In fact, the whole method or way of thinking in this binary fashion is constructed. It developed relatively historically recently; its development can be traced back to Descartes.

Destabilization, as I have actually come to realize quite recently—again, I’m not ashamed to admit it!—is, in and of itself, often one of the goals of feminist and queer theorists. And, what a goal it is! Never blindly accept any piece of knowledge! Always question! Never reduce people or ideas because the world is endlessly complex!

After methodically taking apart the concept of binaries and looking at their subtleties, such as how the poles of binaries often come to be conflated or, at least, related—nature or emotion with femininity and civilization or rationality with masculinity, for examples—Grosz cites another theorists thoughts on such knowledge-production. Earlier I suggested that accepting binaries, or any way of thinking, at face value could lead to oversimplification. Ironically, in conceptually opposing this, thinker Baruch Spinoza postulates a model of philosophy in which “‘soul’ is granted to animals, plants, and even inorganic matter” (12). In other words, we are all connected/united/one.

Speaking of binaries…

The idea of the way that poles of binaries overlap reminds me of a cell membrane. See the little ball things with tails? The way the electrical charges of these molecules are distributed force them into together into this configuration—the cell membrane, itself. This is actually what makes a cell somewhat impermeable, what helps control what comes into and out of it. (A metaphor for how binaries and their overlapping poles can affect knowledge-production?)

A depiction of a cell membrane from a bit more distance.

Okay, hope you all didn’t fall asleep at the end there.

Thanks for reading!

Lynn Beavin

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For many of us, completely accepting the notion that our gender, sexuality, and even sex are culturally constructed, is very challenging. Many of us have grown up in our sexed bodies feeling that the gendered roles, characteristics, and rules that mark masculine and feminine genders were natural. After all, we don’t often wish to think of ourselves as abnormal and the socio-cultural process that occurs during engenderment happens consistently and from such a young age that it seems to go unnoticed. Julia Serano, however, takes issue with the idea of complete cultural construction. Like many, Serano questions the existence of those with “exceptional gender expression.” If our genders are completely regulated by social construction, how do you explain the existence of highly masculine females, feminine males, people who change their social gender through performance, or those who opt for a complete sex change? If the forces of culture regulate our gender, how did these individuals come to be?

Disagreeing with both social constructivists and gender essentialists, Serano proposes a new model for understanding the array of gender and sexual expressions. Her model is based around the rather complicated notion of intrinsic inclinations. Serano describes intrinsic inclinations as:

“Any persistent desire, affinity, or urge that predisposes us toward particular gender and sexual expressions and experiences.”

These inclinations are not of a biological nature, but they are intrinsic in that they are seeded deep in our subconscious.

According to Serano, we have separate, multifactorial intrinsic inclinations contributing to our gender and sexuality expression, which work independently of one another.  She also suggests that these inclinations are so strong, they may persist through social pressures placed on an individual by society. Lastly, she explains that these inclinations are loosely associated with sex.

This model of understanding gender and sexual difference is very agreeable in that it allows every individual recognition and legitimization for who they feel they are. It is a positive step forward in a greater goal of social acceptance of variety and difference. If this model was accepted on a large scale and social pressures to conform to certain gender and sexual roles subsided, the resulting variations in human gender embodiment and sexuality would be rather amazing.

Thinking towards a future that would tolerate such deviations from the current heteronormative culture of the west, it is interesting to think about current cultural changes in favor of a more diverse future. This current article about two lesbian mothers who decided to give their transgendered child hormone blockers to ward off the onset of puberty narrows in on a crux of the issue of gender and demonstrates the large cultural backlash to challenging such norms:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/10/17/controversial-therapy-for-young-transgender-patients-raises-questions/

 

Jennifer Peper

The views of essentialism and constructivism have been in debate within the literature we have been reading. In “Intrinsic Inclinations: Explaining Gender and Sexual Diversity”, Julia Serano gives us more of a twist on things. She believes that both social constructionists (who believe that we assume the roles of female and males based on what society expects) and gender essentialists (belief that we are born with out female or male traits) are wrong. Or as she puts it, not completely correct.

To pick apart the gender essentialist argument, she presents the fact that not all men are masculine and not all women are feminine and that many children begin to show the “expected” signs of females or males at a young age. People all have different views but each way of thinking has their own kinks to figure out.

Before this class, all I knew about Gender Studies classes is that they focused on something about the difference between sex and gender. I am a straight female and I have never taken the time to stop and observe all of the social constructs that I come into contact with everyday. I have to say that I am guilty for not taking more time to understand how people who are homosexual or trans may view the world completely different from me. This class has opened my eyes to questioning the certain aspects in my life (ex. how people dress, act, react, etc.) which are formed to this constructivism and essenstialism views.

To me, I believe that these two theories go together to develop who people become. The more people understand how different everyone really is when you strip away the aspects that have socially constructed us to be similar, the better we will appreciate and embrace the fact that we are all different human beings in our own unique ways.

Elizabeth Kasbeer

What makes us women? Theorists have debated between the essentialist and the constructivist way of thinking for many years. An essentialist believes that to become a “woman”, one must have the certain traits and qualities that are expected of someone who would be in this category. To belong in this group, you must be a certain way. On the other hand, a constructivist would argue that the society that we grow up in shapes and molds us into who we are “expected” to be.

The feminist theorist Monique Wittig argues that the category of “women” has been produced by our environment instead of the idea that we are born as “women”.  Monique Wittig argues that the group that we call women shouldn’t be thought of as a natural group at all. When we are born, we are expected to become a part of the male group or the female group. She takes a constructivist approach to establish that these two groups aren’t based on biology but are based on the categories that society sorts us into. “In the case of women, ideology goes far since our bodies as well as our minds are the product of this manipulation” (Wittig, pg 9).

We are all victim to society’s manipulations which work to better understand us as humans. In reality, humans are very complex creatures and anyone who attempts to “understand” or categorize humans will be left in the shadows of confusion. We aren’t easily categorized because we are all created to be different.

Elizabeth Kasbeer

So, when I started to read the assigned reading for this week, I was extremely confused. Didn’t I just read that somewhere else before?

To understand my confusion you should know that I also take a CMCL class on Cold War Cinema. And right before I read the first two chapters of Janice Irvine’s Disorders of Desire: Sexuality and Gender in Modern American Sexology I did my reading for that class, namely the chapters Explosive Issues: Sex, Women, and the Bomb and Baby Boom and the Birth Control: The Reproductive Consensus from Elaine Tyler May’s book Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. As it turns out, the reading dealt with almost the same topics just with a slight different focus: the suburban American nuclear family, the most important American icon of the Cold War period in the 50s and early 60s.

 A very interesting, at the same time disturbing concept is the notion of “Momism”, which Irvine only touches on in chapter two Science, Medicine and a Market, but which is in my opinion a notion worth taking a closer look. “Momism” offers a good insight in America’s mindset at that time.

During WWII women entered the workforce. Their work was very much needed in order to keep the war industry and thus the War running. Regardless of this necessity, women’s primary task was still to be a well-functioning homemaker raising America’s future. Being a good mother meant being a good patriot. This, of course, was a lot of responsibility. In the eyes of many, this responsibility could not be met when working outside the home.

Philip Wylie addressed this concern in 1942 with his book Generation of Vipers. The book was re-released after the War and became a best-selling book, since it fed into hysteria and Red Scare controlling the US public opinion and worldview around that time anyways. “Momism” described Mothers who due to their frustration of any kind were over affectionate and over protective suffocating their children with their love. The result was, above all, weak and passive sons – something no American prospective trooper should embody under any circumstances. Wylie argued that then “Momism” would lead to a weak and vulnerable nation.

Blaming Mom did not stop there; they were also responsible for their sons’ sexual pervert behavior. The strong bond with their domineering Moms, which was forced on the innocent boys, would make them incapable to have relationships with other women. In the mindset of the 50s and early 60s, bachelorhood or homosexuality would make them more vulnerable to Communist ideas and subversion.

Looking at the greater picture – no nuclear family, no strong nation.

A very convincing realization of “Momism” in popular culture is to be seen in the movie The Manchurian Candidate (1962). Angela Lansbury portrays a picture book “Mom”. In the setting of the Korean War, Lansbury’s character, a Soviet subversive, uses her son, whom she had ordered to be brainwashed by Soviet scientists, to install her husband as the new US President in order to achieve ultimate Soviet power over the USA.  Throughout the movie, the audience realizes that she had always dominated her son to meet her goals. I will not give away any more details, though the movie does not only grasp the hysteria around “Momism” and Red Scare perfectly well but is also a very fascinating movie with a very intense plot.

So, if you find the time, go and watch it, and you will know what brings this country down – “Moms”.

– franziska krause

Before I started reading Refiguring Bodies by Elizabeth Grosz, I was watching CNN. One of the top stories was entitled “Slutwalk.” I found that to be very intriguing since the term did not seem to be politically correct.  An organizer for the protest against sexual violence proclaimed “Its not about the name, its about the message.” The first paragraph of Grosz reminded me of the Slutwalk protest.  “The body has remained a conceptual blind spot in both mainstream Western philosophical though and contemporary feminist theory. Feminism has uncritically adopted many philosophical assumptions regarding the role of the body in social, political, cultural, psychical, and sexual life and, in this sense at least, can be regarded as complicit in the misogyny that characterizes Western reason.”

The global movement was sparked by a comment made by a Canadian police officer to a group of college women after a rash of sexual assaults on their campus that in order to not be victimized they should stop dressing like sluts. A diverse group of women marched down the streets of New York chanting “Stand up! Fight back! Stop the violence!” in solidarity. Many protesters wore “provocative clothing” or lingerie during their march. A protester declared that rape has been used as a form of torture and genocide and that clothing is not an excuse to rape an individual. You don’t have to look like Pamela Anderson to be a victim of rape. An organizer’s reply to the officer’s ignorant comment was as follows, “Not only was this a ridiculous and inaccurate statement (women wearing trousers get raped. So do women wearing tracksuits, t-shirts, jeans, jumpers, skiing jackets and burqas), it was incredibly damaging to women around the world, painting them as perpetrators — rather than victims — of a disgusting, violent crime.” Another protestor said that she was “marching because her best friend still thinks that her rape was her fault, because the authorities never looked into it, and because it will always haunt her. And that is not OK.” And another remarked: “We live in a society that ranges from publicly shaming the victim of an honor-rape to insinuating that a rape victim may have somehow ‘led her attacker on’ through her clothing or demeanor.” There is much truth in these statements and that is disgusting to say the least.

“SLUTWALK” Video: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2011/10/09/baldwin-ny-slut-walk.cnn

The amount of rapes that go unreported are astounding. As stated in class, IU has a very low conviction rate in rape cases. According to the annual Security Report with Crime Statistics by IUPD, there were less than 30 sex offenses both forcible and non-forcible reported to IUPD or BPD in 2010. It would be hard to convict offenders if the offenses go unreported.  However the judicial system also brings difficulty when trying to convict rapist. Only recently, did the law change in favor of women.  Before 1974, the law required corroboration. Many men (who were also law makers) thought that it was abhorrent that a man could be convicted solely on the unsupported testimony of a woman. The law upheld the man and the man’s honor. Unlike robbery or burglary, when a woman has been raped they may never get over it. Women are entitled to special considerations by the judicial system.

A rape case that was close to my hometown as well as extremely disturbing was the case of Katie Autry. She  was raped, sodomized, beaten, stabbed and left to burn in her dorm room at Western Kentucky University by two men, Lucas Goodrum and Stephen Soules. Both were indicted on several charges but only Soules was convicted.(He was a minority!) Lucas Goodrum, the son of a very wealthy man, was acquitted of all charges. If it weren’t for the extremities of this case and the resulting death of Katie, I do not believe that this case would have made it to trial since she was supposedly drunk and knew the two men.

Other cases that I found to be upsetting were the cases of Marguax- an IU student, Jeanne Clery and Laura Dunn. According to NPR, their stories are far too common for many women who are sexually assaulted on their college campuses. Another far too common  story is the failure of universities to investigate a criminal matter such as rape and then punish it. The Center for Public Integrity and NPR News Investigation found that colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault- only 10 to 25% of perpetrators are expelled. The U.S Department of Education has failed to aggressively monitor and regulate campus response to sexual assault. They have the power to fine universities and to find that a school has violated a law that prevents discrimination against women. Colleges are also ill-equipped to handle cases of sexual assault. In most cases alcohol is involved and prosecutors are reluctant to take on these cases causing the cases to fall to campus judicial systems to sort through conflicting claims of whether the sex was consensual or forced. Campus discipline systems do not enforce criminal laws and lack the ability to collect evidence, interview suspects and call witnesses.

IU Rape Case: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124052847

Dunn Rape Case:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=124001493&ps=rs

Moreover,  both cases involved alcohol and acquaintances. Both women were raped in their dorm rooms. The victims were in and out of consciousness thus “discrediting” their accounts without physical evidence or witnesses. It then becomes a case of he said she said where the man’s word is worth more. Both women were reluctant to report the assault and were discouraged from further prosecution by local police. Both women were embarrassed. Both did not get the justice or protection they deserved. Not only should the men who assault women feel deeply ashamed but the men and women who uphold our judicial system that fails to protect women from violent crimes. These cases further prove the need to further the women’s rights movement as well as the feminist movement.

Melissa Brake

You’re sitting at home, munching on Doritos, watching shitty re-runs of CSI; it’s a Saturday night. You had plans with your best friend, but she has decided to hang out with her boyfriend of 3 months. Guess it happens? WAIT (the sound of screeching breaks)! What. The. Hell. The feeling that envelops your stomach is one, which is deep, yet fittingly placed as if it was a natural reaction. And this is what is problematic, that “naturalness”, that seeming “order of life”, because after all if she doesn’t hang out with her boyfriend, she may never get married, may never have kids, and will surely not fulfill this imposed “circle of life”. That reminds me; maybe I should watch The Lion King, instead of shitty, overplayed CSI re-runs….

Familiar?

This has all happened to us, and we are taught that this sort of behavior is excusable because of what’s at stake; we wouldn’t want to shake the heterosexual matrix or reproduction. However, it is never excusable to be late to class, to break an appointment, or not show up for work, so why is this behavior acceptable? The Fallacy of the Misplaced Scale as created and described by Gayle Rubin is to blame. We, as a society, put an over-emphasis on sex, but specifically heterosexual sex. This causes symptoms including, but not limited to, lonely Saturday nights, overeating, pregnancy, and even the loss of a friend.

I have always been mind boggled as to why this behavior was acceptable. My friend, who is a serial dater, has not been single for more than 6 months in the last 9 years… We are 22… Needless to say, her dating habits and boyfriends have always been problems within our friendship. However, when I learned about the fallacy of the misplaced scale in class, I began to feel sorry for her, our society, and myself. Love comes in all different forms and this misplaced scale undermines these relatonships. When one challenges the use of the misplaced scale, one is seen as overbearing, protective, jealous, and even accused of being a lesbian. Oh, no, not a lesbian. This scale is a complete outrage and completely under values same-sex friendship. It says to people, “You can only be in fulfilling friendships until you find a partner or until you can reproduce”. Say what? Personally, I think friendship is one of the most important parts of my life, and I think it is unjust that this scale has any power.

You can also see this scale in place when one is in the relationship for a while. An air of “I’m more important than you (and so is he) because I have a dick to latch onto” exudes from them. The power relations are then seen and in action. Their plans take precedence, their opinions matter most, and, you, the single, pathetic one are never to complain. You are forced to watch, CSI, no wait I decided on The Lion King, on a Saturday night; or worse, the couple overpowers the television and makes out during your movie until their lips are sore. The fallacy of the misplaced scale needs to be exposed for what it is; a heterosexual creation, which favors the reproduction of two human beings and gives them unearned privileges and an endless amount of “get out of jail free cards”. Mostly though, it needs to be exposed because I am running out of movies to rent and patience for those who participate and take advantage of this scale. I, for one, am sick and tired of being accused of being jealous, overprotective, displaying mother-like behavior, and of being a lesbian, when I do not describe nor think of myself in any of these ways; the scale needs to go, and behaviors need to be altered.

-Katie Schaffer

I hate being told that I chose to be gay. Absolutely hate it. It doesn’t help that the majority of people who claim this are clutching to a Bible and never question their logic. Infuriating. As far back as I can recall, I’ve never made a conscious decision to find attraction to men. Of course I remember labeling my feelings as gay, but these feelings go further back than accepting that sexual identity.

This has also been a consistent peeve with a lot of gender studies classes I’ve taken. Of course I believe that gender roles, sexual identities, and meanings ascribed to the sexed body are socially constructed, but I never understood how we can talk about strict constructivism and not once question it. For example, strict constructivism would say my sexuality is totally molded by society and gender norms. But I’ve always known these feelings and I certainly wasn’t raised in an environment that endorsed it.

When Lady Gaga’s cd Born This Way came out, I remember a good chunk of my gender studies friends having a tizzy because it’s an essentialist claim and no one is born a said way but society creates it. I agree to an extent that the social meanings, labels, and even dichotomous understandings of gender are all socially constructed, and in that context my fury echos theirs. But I always think back to when I was growing up, knowing nothing about sexuality and attraction, and having the same feelings that I do today. I wasn’t born labeling myself gay or knowing the meanings and connotations behind queer attractions, but I knew there was something about the other boys that interested me.

This being the case, I dislike the essentialist/constructivism binary I’m presented with to explain gender and sexuality. It seems like we’ve left the problematic claims by essentialism in favor of constructivism without considering the potential limits it presents. How does constructivism explain these feelings? How do they validate the trans experience?

The relief I felt reading about Julia Serano’s intrinsic inclinations to explain human gender and sexual variation was great. It was the acknowledgement from a scholarly source that my feelings weren’t a result of ignorance or lack of understanding. Finally, there’s a way out of the the essential/construction binary that seems to suit me. Though the intrinsic inclinations can seem relatively simple and applicable to everything, at least it’s a start and I can sleep better tonight.

 

-Lucas Zigler

American culture likes to situate things in opposition to one another. Yes or no, on or off, open or closed, day or night, black or white, man or woman. This just makes sense to us, it’s not complicated. But what about the times between day and night, or the grey area in between black and white? While our society chooses to focus on variations within “common” places of opposition, American culture has continued to ignore particular human variations that exist between men and women, while highlighting on the variations that provide evidence to emphasize opposition between them.

We all have been exposed to it. “Man, quit being a little bitch…” or “Stop being such a pussy…” could commonly be heard while walking past a group of college guys perhaps listening to one of their fellow friends talk about his “woman issues.” But why does it bother us so much when a man lets his guard down? Why can’t men be emotional about another woman? This is because it is thought of as feminine. Some become uncomfortable when we are faced in a situation when a man doesn’t act masculine, or a woman doesn’t act feminine. But why? Why does our culture have exceptional gender expectations for all of the exceptional gender expressions? Whether we are asking these questions or not, the strict binary system that gender lives within is so ingrained within us, further explanations for why we are so uncomfortable with it need to be explored. I will highlight an example of this strict binary gender system functioning within pop culture, while continuously referring to Julia Serano’s “Intrinsic Inclinations: Explaining Gender and Sexual Diversity,” to further my point.

It’s about time that this has been brought up, and I’m glad to be the one to do it. The Jersey Shore. Whew, what a show. The level or trashiness  positively correlates with the level of addiction you have to watching it, and it is just so difficult to escape it despite how badly you want to. But The Jersey Shore isn’t completely useless. Several of the cast members can be easily be situated and potentially problematic within the binary gender system in our society. Ronnie, for example, is potentially problematic within this system because of the ways in which his gender is evaluated and expressed through his emotions. Despite the fact that big and buff Ronnie looks like he could punch a hole through your head, he continuously displays his “softer” and “more emotional” side when it comes to his love/hate relationship with Sammi…he tends to cry more then she does.  Ronnie is so (disgustingly)  exaggerated with his expected gender appearance that we stigmatize him even more so for his expression of his emotions. What we see through Ronnie’s actions, translate to us as unmatching of his looks: we except the complete opposite. Serano says, “This idea of “opposites” creates expectations for femaleness/femininity and maleness/masculinity that all people are encouraged to meet, and simultaneously delegitimizes all behaviors that do not fit these ideals” (Serano 103).

We expect this from Ronnie.

But we sometimes get this.

And boy, could he not get more shit for it. Not only is he hysterically crying in front of millions of people on national television, but he is crying in front of his closet guy friends. The people you expect to be the most understanding, are really the one’s who just give you the most shit. Notice in the video clip how Pauly-D says, “Ronnie has got big muscles or whatever but big muscles doesn’t mean you can fight…you gotta know how to punch” and he also says “…because he was sick of dealing with the Ron and Sam bullshit.” Pauly- D is definitely giving Ronnie shit for not being masculine.

Serano says, “Sometimes these exceptional behaviors are further dismissed as illegitimate and unnatural through the use of gender-specific insults (e.g., an aggressive woman might be called a “bitch”;an emotional man might be called a “wimp” or a “sissy””(Serano 104). Because we expect Ronnie to behave in a strictly masculine way, when this expectation is not met, he is berated. This is to ensure he knows, “Hey hey hey! You can’t do that! You can’t cry and become too emotionally involved in a relationship! That’s girl stuff.” Ronnie is a prime example of human variation because culturally, his emotional expression of gender is opposite from his expected expression of gender, allowing him to become an exceptional gender expression within the binary gender system.

Serano acknowledges that as a culture we polarize men and women and exaggerate our differences, and she says “…we regularly buy into this way of thinking despite the fact that we all encounter countless exceptions that prove these assumptions incorrect: women who are aggressive, tough, practical, and/or big, and men who are passive, weak, emotional, and/or small” (Serano 103). As a female, have I ever felt aggressive? Definintely. Have I ever once felt practical? Hmm, obviously yes. As a culture, we need to stop placing such strict expectations onto individuals expressions of gender. It’s known that we’re all vulnerable to a wide range of emotions. We all have those days; no matter if you are a man, woman, or anything in between.

Once our society can accept this, maybe Ronnie can cry with a little less shame, but only a little.

– Sophie Reynolds

Upon reading the Rubin: “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality,” a common thread of belief was again introduced; this is the Domino Theory of Sexual Peril.  The belief states that if one type of “sexual deviance” is allowed, then it opens up a vast array of deviances that naturally have to be allowed for “fairness and equality.”

At first I just read this argument and immediately thought Reductio ad Absurdum – a logical fallacy.  This is to say that to allow same-sex marriage, one must automatically let people marry animals or paper towels.  While many people would consider this absurd, as the leap from same-sex marriage to bestiality is quite a large gap, we must remember that to some people homosexuality and bestiality is equality wrong.  To many people there isn’t so much as sex hierarchy but just what is right and what is wrong and to cross the line is to open up the field for all that is wrong.

While I may laugh at some of the ignorance (perhaps especially Rick Santorum who I can contribute paper towels), when looking back at history and some of the arguments to support same-sex marriage, their Reductio argument has a semblance of truth.

There were many marriage debates in the history of mankind on what is allowed in marriage and what is not.  Looking back to the Ancient Greeks, marriage was supposed to be between a man (usually in his 30s) and a young woman (probably in her early teens).  We may look at this now say this is a sexual deviance but this is “tradition.”  However, when Americans say tradition they usually mean Christian tradition so let’s go back to early Christians were women were property.  No, that’s too far back, we don’t believe in that tradition anymore.  Moving forward we see that mixing religions was not allowed, a Christian shouldn’t marry a Jew without someone converting or receiving a blessing from a clergyman.  I’m sure many people at that time argued against the sanctity of marriage and argued that allowing any deviance is against the natural order of things.  But this involves a voluntary choice of religion so let’s move forward to something more concrete.  Oh yes, race.  Along with not being able to mix religion in couples, you’re not supposed to mix the races.  While this could be more backlash from slavery where people of mixed races were actually marrying property, items not people, and that was wrong.  Well, slaves were freed and the stigma stuck.  It wasn’t until 1967 with Loving v. Virginia that the Court legalized interracial marriage in all states.

1967 wasn’t too long ago and some of the same people who were against interracial marriage are probably still alive today.  They have seen marriage redefined in their lives and are seeing it again today.  LGBT groups have not, and no doubt will continue to cite Loving v. Virginia in the case for same-sex couples to be wed without government intervention.  This is a very obvious case where allowing one deviance will lead to allowing another.  For many (hopefully a majority) of Americans that can see that a same-sex couple is not equivalent to bestiality, for the people who only can see deviance as right and wrong they have to believe that allowing any marriage deviance will lead to all the others.  In this case Reductio ad Absurdum holds up.

However, as a self-described intelligent individual, I can see same-sex couples as two consenting adults who’ve committed themselves to each other.  This is nothing unlike “normal” marriage.  Other such deviances such as bestiality or pedophilic marriages I can see as not meeting that condition and should thereby never be allowed.  Even extreme cross-generational marriages such as a couple made up of a 18-year-old and a 60-year-old is legal, which admittedly may make me cringe a bit, but I’m not about to argue that their love isn’t valid.  While arguers of Reductio ad Absurdum believe that the line has been crossed and the line can never be drawn again because it will continue to shift, I have faith that rational individuals can see where the line REALLY is and this will always hold up.

–Brian Falatko