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This is the title of Saudi journalist Nadine Al Bedair’s Dec. 11th article in the Egyptian independent daily newspaper Al Masry Al Youm. Interestingly, their English language site does not include a translation of the article, but Muslimah Media Watch provides the first couple paragraphs in English, and after which the story was apparently picked up by the LA Times, nearly a month after the original article was published.
Al Bedair’s words have caused quite a stir, as you can see at Muslimah Media Watch.
Allow me to choose four, five or even nine men, just as my wildest imagination shall chose.
I’ll pick them with different shapes and sizes, one of them will be dark and the other will be blonde. Tall or maybe short, they are to be Chosen from different denominations, religions, races and nations. And I promise you there will be harmony.
Create a brand new positive law for me, or may be a divine one. Make me a new law under the umbrella of the fatwa and fantasies, those which you unanimously agree on suddenly and without any advance notice.
Other media coverage of this story (note that America was a tad late on this boat):
The Guardian: Polygamy for all (Written by a male, starts out with a sexist cliche, and continues on to miss the entire point of Al Bedair’s article. But shockingly he isn’t against her. Whatever.)
Elan: Polygamy for Chicks: Saving Spinster Men Everywhere (I see they borrowed their idea for their news graphic from shitty gay marriage news stories.)
Al Arabiya: Egypt paper promotes polygamy for women (One article subheading is “Destroying Society”.)
Pennsylvania court clerks are tired of issuing marriage licenses to opposite-sex couples who aren’t orthodox Christians.
Quakers, the non-religious, and Muslims have been targeted by righteous county court clerks upset by non-(traditional)-Christians exercising their rights.
They have also complained about US citizens daring to marry non-citizens.
To fight back against this brazen assault on marriage and Jesus, some of Christ’s warriors and marriage gatekeepers in PA have started demanding Social Security numbers (which they know immigrants don’t have and which law doesn’t require), photo ID (which they know some Muslims won’t have), made “self-uniting” (i.e. minister free) marriages more difficult to obtain, and warned some couples that their choice of minister may not be “religious enough to count”.
Feel our pain, straights! FEEL IT!
UPDATE 3/21/09: I feel that I have more to say on this post, because the bit above doesn’t get to the main point I wanted to make. Which is that everyone’s rights are linked – we can’t stand by and watch one group be denied their rights without allowing our own rights to be threatened. The Christianists who fight to deny marriage rights to LGBT people are the same ones who now would like to push that battle further and deny certain “unfit” straight couples marriage rights. Straights who stand by and act all ho-hum, who think to themselves that asking for gay marriage is “too much” or who assume this is “not my battle” are putting themselves and their own rights at risk by their inaction.
Those who fight to deny rights to one group will probably find cause to fight to deny rights to another. If we don’t resist human rights abuses against any given marginalized group, we can’t really go complaining when our own rights get stepped on… we set a precedent.
In a weird tangential way, my ruminations on this subject reminded me of that old poem by the awesome priest Martin Niemoller. In a much more dramatic sense, he is talking about the same concept.
Bella DePaulo writes a blog about being single, called Living Single.
Wow, a whole blog about us boring, unimportant single people? I’ll try to keep my head from swelling.
Of course, writing this blog for years has given DePaulo a bunch of super interesting insights. Here is some of her writing from Why Don’t Friendships Get What They Deserve?:
In our laws, politics, religions, and in the cultural stories that we tell, it is the married couple relationship (and secondarily, the parent-child relationship) that is honored, protected, and sentimentalized. Friends are marginalized as “just” friends. The model that celebrates the marital relationship and dismisses friendship, though, no longer corresponds to the way we actually live.
Now that Americans spend more years of their adult lives single than married, friendship is more important than it used to be. As family size decreases, so, too, do options for family care in old age or any other age – fewer people have siblings or adult children to care for them (or if they do, those family members may live many miles away). Again, it is friends who come to the rescue.
Legal scholars are beginning to take note, and they are raising questions about whether the place of friendships in law and public policy needs to be reconsidered.
So fascinating. Protecting friendships with the law – what an interesting idea and a nightmare at the same time. What would it look like if friendships were respected by the law? You know, for such purposes as hospital visits, inheritance, stuff like that. If these relationships are significant and valuable, why should the law ignore them and place all importance on blood and marriage?
I think it makes a lot of sense to think realistically about how real Americans structure their actual relationships, instead of focusing on tradition or ideals. Since adults spend more time single than not, and have smaller families, the importance of friendships must certainly be rising. I don’t think dominant social discourse addresses this at all. There is serious silence surrounding adult friendship and the way these relationships improve quality of life and form a non-familial safety net in rough times.
One could correlate the devaluation of friend relationships with the dismissal of singlehood as a valid adult choice. Mainstream discourse says when you marry (or commit to a life partnership) you are to forsake all others and cleave only to your spouse. Married people focus their attention on spouses and children. Single people focus their attention on friends and other family relationships. Or, so sez the mainstream discourse. I can think of bunches of coupled people in my life who would attest to the value and importance of their friendships.
This post is just a starting point – I think I’m going to want to spend more time thinking about this topic.
Your thoughts on singlehood and friendships are humbly requested.
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.
Look what’s being discussed on Feministing today! Super!