Always Cheering for the Breeders

Us queer people and single people spend a lot of time and money supporting our breeder friends. We support their search for a mate, we’re there for them when their relationships hit rocky points, we travel to weddings, we give wedding gifts, we celebrate their children. There may even be bridal showers, bachelor parties, baby showers, anniversary parties, bar mitzvahs and the like to attend along the way.

Single people and queers are there on the sidelines, always cheering.

Well, who’s going to celebrate my life choices? Who’s going to travel across country and wear fancy clothes and bear gifts for my relationship choice if I chose to remain single, or if I chose a same-sex partner? Are my choices as valid or aren’t they? Am I making worse choices? If my choices are just as valid as breeder choices, why are mine uncelebrated? I’m asking these questions rhetorically, not petulantly, BTW.

11/25/08 UPDATE
Look what’s being discussed on Feministing today! Super!

New discussion on the possible offensiveness of the word “breeder”.

11 thoughts on “Always Cheering for the Breeders

  1. Well, from an evolutionary standpoint the choice to remain single is a dead-end, and so inherently not so much something to celebrate.

    HOWEVER, since I am one who believes that societal evolution derailed the natural selection version long ago, your question has much merit. By celebrating coupling so much do we devalue a life of singleness?
    Clearly. As a culture we value the family unit more than anything, and that is certainly reflected in what we choose to celebrate. So thoroughly indoctrinated am I that it’s hard to think of what we would celebrate about being single.
    I don’t mean there is no value to being siingle worth celebrating, but what occassions would we drape those celebrations over?
    Engagements, weddings, births, anniversaries, divorces – these are all quasi-formal things that call for celebration.
    What is the single equivalent?
    I don’t think there is one, really. Perhaps we need some new holidays and occassions that provide the opportunity for celebration — any suggestions?

    Of course the odd corrollary to that is that I would guess the majority of single people are not that way by choice, so a holiday celebrating their situation could be quite painful.

    Now settle down and pop out some babies so we can give you some societal Worth!

  2. Yes, the argument that reproduction is what gives marriage meaning is a straw man. We are all familiar with the socially-approved marriages that are not intended for reproduction: marriage between elders, or marriage to an individual of the opposite sex who is infertile. It is clear that love makes a marriage. So the illegality of same-sex marriage prevents same-sex couples from being celebrated in the way their opposite-sex counterparts are.

    I disagree that there is no “single equivalent” of marriage, i.e. celebration of a life choice made out of love and desire. Marriage happens (in the West at least) at an arbitrary point in a relationship. It just so happens to also have a legal component. Same-sex couples also choose an arbitrary point in their relationship, which is ongoing, to publicly celebrate their commitment, if they wish. Why couldn’t single people also choose an arbitrary point in their singlehood to call for a celebration of their commitment to remain independent? I will never marry, and I want to celebrate my independence with my friends.

    Single people and queer people are often highly reproductive, albeit in (usually) non-biological ways. Their procreation comes in the form of political involvement, community service, and cultural reproduction at higher rates than breeder types (because without children they have more time). The cultural contributions of queers have been disproportionate considering their relatively small numbers in society.

    Of course the odd corrollary to that is that I would guess the majority of single people are not that way by choice, so a holiday celebrating their situation could be quite painful.

    Don’t believe the hype.

  3. As a culture, we celebrate engagements and births but we also celebrate concocted non-occasions such as Valentine’s Day. Apparently, we don’t need a formal occasion or event to celebrate coupling up, so it doesn’t seem like we should need a formal occasion to celebrate singlehood and independence and refusing to submit a dominant culture that tells us we should be sad about our life choices because, for some reason or another, those choices do not benefit society.

    It is truly shameful that same-sex couples are forbidden to celebrate their unions to the extent that heterosexual couples celebrate their unions. Breeder friends can support their non-breeder friends by, I don’t know…working to repeal bans on same-sex marriage or maybe even hanging out later than 10:00 PM every once in a while instead of holing up at home with the better half.

    The point is, we SHOULD celebrate these choices, whether it be remaining single or making a lifetime commitment to someone who happens to be of the same sex.

  4. Ok, hold up.

    I think a distinct separation needs to be made here:

    LGBT parnters of whatever stripe, to my mind, still fit under the umbrella of couples, and hence many of the couple-specific celebrations apply to them. Just because we live in a bigoted state that doesn’t allow, ahem, non-breeders (nice contempt in that phrase, BREEDERS) to marry under the law does not mean I wouldn’t fly across the country should one of my dear friends get hitched, even if unofficially. To not celebrate those relationships is to be a bigot. Period.

    Singleness as a life choice is a different cup of tea, though. Not to say it’s invalid; I’m blessed with a few friends who prefer to be single and it works for them. I like the idea the mollusk brought up that single people contribute more to society because they’re not in an insular, closed-circuit relationship.
    However, I don’t think one should get too fired up and angry at people for not immediately recognizing this. Every facet of our culture celebrates coupling: from painting to poetry, beer commercials to telenovelas, it’s poured into us from before we can walk. Can you blame people for not seeing being single as a reason to celebrate?
    Don’t believe the hype? My own life experience has shown me that most single people I know are not happy and content to be that way. The sheer profligation of internet dating sites shows that most single people have not gotten out of the pool (so to speak) intentionally. Add to that the sheer evolutionary pull towards coupling, and it seems ridiculous to get too offended that people think of paring up as pretty standard procedure.

    For those of you who have, more power to you. I don’t think it’s crazy or wrong, and I think you should continue to push for societal acceptance of the idea of celebrating singleness. Just don’t be too hurt that not everyone gets it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with polyamory either, but I’m aware it’s way outside the social norm, and I don’t particularly expect it to be accepted by ‘normal’ people.
    So it goes. Maybe I’m just beat down cause I live in TX, and equality for singles is pretty far down the list of injustices to heal down here.

    Oh, and if you ever do have a Singling (instead of Wedding??) I’ll fly out and rent a tux and everything.


  5. I think you just answered your own point. Society shoves the idea of being in a couple down our throats. It is painted as the only way to be fulfilled and happy. So would it not make sense that some single people may feel lonely/sad in their single state because society has told them over and over that surely they must be sad in their singledom? That until they partner up, they are of less value.

    And while life experience is of course important and informs us, just because you happen to be around certain individuals or interpret their actions in certain ways, does not make it the case for the rest of the population… (false consensus effect and confirmation bias – yay sociology!)

    This is definitely a subject I relate to and one which frustrates me. I will try to contain my irritation with the traditional celebrations of breeders…

  6. Pingback: Breeder: a Bad Word? « The Czech

  7. I will add one last cliarification, cause sometimes I just can’t let things go :D.

    Coupling (BREEDING, if you will) is a constant of our race from the get-go. It is THE WHOLE FUCKING ENCHILADA. You cannot get any more basic on a genetic level than this. We do not learn to celebrate coupling just because our society says so (like gender roles, nationalism, consumerism, racism, etc) – we are pre-programmed to celebrate this from the beginning.
    From an evolutionary standpoint the breeding is all that mattters, PERIOD. Any argument against that can step right into the ‘extinciton’ line. You might as well get pissed at how we celebrate eating at Thanksgiving, at least from a perspective longer than your own lifetime.

    Again, we humans have side-stepped evolution and taken control, which is what makes wonderful concepts like vegetarianism and conscious singleness a possibility. These leaps of idealism give me hope for the future of the human race, but don’t get too impatient for the last few million years of our past to fade out.

  8. And I still say breeding is only one, no matter how essential, way that we continue our vibrant society and human race. And therefore “breeding”-related activities are not the only ones that deserve celebration, even from a “continuation of the human race is the ultimate purpose of life” perspective. It’s culture that separates our species from others.

    Thanks for all the comments, btw!!!

  9. Just because we must physically reproduce in order to keep the species going, it does not follow that we would celebrate breeding or that we would celebrate it in certain ways. As a classic piece of literature points out, everybody poops. I do not recall celebrating this outside of as a young child being potty trained. So while there are somethings that as a species we do for survival, we still decide whether or not to celebrate it and how to celebrate it.

    Additionally, there have always been individuals who can not breed or decide not to breed for a variety of reasons. The way breeding (both coupling up and having children) have been looked at differently in different time periods and in different cultures. We can not assume it has been and currently is always celebrated at all or in the same ways.

    Also, for some, coupling and breeding is not a source of celebration. Abusive partners, complications in relationships and pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, and so forth… You may be in a relationship that is extremely lonely while a single individual may not be lonely. Coupling up does not always mean it the individuals are fulfilled, happy, or want to celebrate their relationship status.

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