Monday, May 25, 2015

Equal Marriage is a Feminist Victory

For those of us who remember the power of the Catholic Church in Ireland before the last 20 years, the Yes vote for equal marriage can't be anything but astonishing.

In a secularising society accustomed to a slew of Church scandals, it's hard to remember how unusual it was a generation ago for anyone Irish not to go to mass. The country was effectively a theocracy, with Church representatives checking on you from the highest levels of government to your own living room.

Whereas now, the referendum emboldens LGBTQ status in Ireland. It helps make homophobia the thing to be ashamed of rather than homosexuality. In a generation's time, when most people have had out LGBTQ people running their pubs, on their board of school governors or whatever, people will be incredulous that it was ever criminalised.

It's a reaction already to be found among young adults in England, where homosexuality was decriminalised a generation earlier. It was still criminal in Ireland until 1993, a mere 22 years before Friday's equal marriage vote.

Complaints from the No campaign that they lost because Yes was well funded are risible. You guys have the backing of the Catholic fucking church. You are never in need of a fiver until Friday. This wasn't about publicity campaigns. This is about a huge change in social values far beyond marriage.


'We're getting married because we love each other' is a non-sequitur. What is romantic about saying 'I want you to sign a contract with the state so if you ever leave me it'll be an expensive process involving lawyers and stuff'?

But nonetheless, the institution of marriage continues to have great social significance. To exclude any group is not just to ban them from marriage, it demonstrates and entrenches the fact that they are not allowed autonomy or equality. So, even for those who don't merely choose not to get married but actively oppose it, the advent of equal marriage is something to be welcomed.

I fucking hate Fleetwood Mac. Their mogadon music is a waste of ears. But I wouldn't ban their gigs, and if there were laws preventing non-whites from going to Fleetwood Mac gigs then, even though it reduced the number of people hearing that execrable twaddle, we should oppose such legislation. In the same way, even those who challenge marriage can support the Yes vote.


Musical comedian is a profession teeming with mediocrity. It is a real challenge to be anything more than a passing chuckle-raiser. Whilst Mitch Benn - perhaps best known for his songs on Radio 4's Now Show -  is consistently worthwhile and puts social comment into his material, it's still nonetheless a largely superficial trade.

But social media changes our understanding of public figures. For every Billy Bragg who disappoints with their conservatism, there is a Mitch Benn who's actually even better on Twitter than the stuff they get paid for. He's not only a savvy thinker but his comic training gives him the pithiness needed to make Twitter come alive.

His series of tweets on Saturday as Ireland counted its votes were frankly the most insightful thing I read all day.

It's amazing just HOW much of the misery in the world, on every scale from personal to international, is all about men's need to OWN women.

When you unpack most religions, that's what you find; the codification and justification of the ownership by men of women.

It's no good blaming "religion" for everything; they're all human inventions. We created our gods in our own image. WE did it to ourselves.

Oppressive religious rules aren't the work of cruel gods; men wrote the rules and invented cruel gods to blame them on.

And it's not just religious cultures; every society finds ways to justify misogyny, whether it's women's "vulnerability" or "emotionality".

This is why feminism might actually be the most important movement ever; breaking that ONE bad idea would solve so many problems.

I think a lot of homophobia's tied up with misogyny; the idea that a man who has sex with a man is feminising - ie DEGRADING - himself.

Anyway, fuck all that today. Go Ireland!

This idea - that once you act on feminism then the patriarchal religions and associated values like homophobia inevitably start to crumble - is startling, huge, and rings true. It points to the victories we are heading towards, it acknowledges that the equal marriage referendum is a key milestone on that road, but also says that rather than letting this victory make us sit back, it should spur us onward.

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