Saturday, June 01, 2013

The War on Gender: Should we promote same-sex relationships because they DON'T work very well?

We have observed here at Vital Remnants the amusing penchant among liberals to invoke Scandinavia in their arguments about social issues. If the Scandinavians do it, then it must be good. Let's call it the "Swedish Syllogism." It is the argument that ends all argument. It goes like this:
Any program that works in Sweden should be instituted here
Program X works in Sweden
Therefore Program X should be instituted here
If anyone contests that some social program is really a good idea for America, the liberal simply pauses, clears his throat, and exclaims, "Sweden."

Quod est demonstrandum.

I have amused myself in quiet moments by wondering what would happen if, the next time one of my liberal friends said, "Well, you know, a new study from Denmark has found ..." I simply responded, "Yes, but have you seen the most recent statistics from East Timor? And are you aware that they have been corroborated by similar research that has just been released in Togo? In fact, new findings from Madagascar conclusively disprove your assertion."

I imagine myself sipping the last of my drink, smiling victoriously, and walking away.

In any other context, holding up a European countries like Sweden or Norway (constitutional monarchies which both have established state churches) as cultural models would be thought completely unfashionable in the same circles in which the Cult of Diversity holds sway. In fact, liberals only give lip service to the idea of treating other cultures equally. When it comes to their model for what a perfect society looks like, it turns out there isn't any equality at all. When they get all dreamy about their social utopia, it isn't the Kingdom of Swaziland they are thinking of. Or Equatorial Guinea. No. They cast their adoring eyes on one of the most lily-white regions in the world.

But now their obsession with all sociological things Scandinavian has taken a new and disturbing turn: Now it isn't only the things that work in Sweden and Norway and Denmark that we are to emulate: It is also the things that don't work.

Check out the case for gay marriage now being made by writers like Liza Mundy of the Atlantic, who thinks gay marriage could "haul matrimony more fully into the 21st century." And that means changing those out-of-date "assumptions and stereotypes that create stress and resentment," like, I don't know, trust and faithfulness. And changing those hoary old "expectations at odds with the economic and practical realities of their own lives," like, oh, commitment.

In her Atlantic cover story, "A Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss," Mundy waxes sociological:
Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers. From sex to fighting, from child-rearing to chores, they must hammer out every last detail of domestic life without falling back on assumptions about who will do what. In this regard, they provide an example that can be enlightening to all couples.
Yes, it's a Brave New World. One in which there are no rules. Particularly about gender. And we all know how much better things operate without rules.
Beyond that, gay marriage can function as a controlled experiment, helping us see which aspects of marital difficulty are truly rooted in gender and which are not. 
Experiment? Is that where children come in? Will there be requirements that these children sign consent forms before they are consigned to be Guinea pigs?

Mundy (who should not have been released from whatever women's and gender studies department she came from without the proper papers) leads the reader through a journalistic hall of mirrors designed to make the manifold problems associated with same-sex relationships look like some kind of list of virtues. Mundy, says Glenn T. Stanton, "highlights some of the most important research on same-sex marriage, presenting much of its critical findings. What’s curious is how she spins the evidence she presents."

You can say that again.

Mundy admits that gay relationships have "higher dissolution rates" than married heterosexual couples in Scandanavia (See what I mean?). As Stanton notes:
This study, published in Demography, found that even though same-sex couples enter their legal unions at older ages—a marker related to greater relational stability—male same-sex marriages break up at twice the rate of heterosexual marriages.
And the break-up rate for lesbians? It is a stunning 77 percent higher than that of same-sex male unions. When controlling for possible confounding factors, the “risk of divorce for female partnerships actually is more than twice that for male unions.”
Mundy notes the problem of "bed death" among lesbian couples: The cessation of sex within the relationship. Meanwhile, Stanton points out, male homosexuals couples are having the opposite problem:
One study that she cites asked those in various relationships whether they had any agreed-upon rules permitting extra-curricular activities. The differences were astonishing. Only 4 percent of male/female couples had them compared to 40 percent of gay men in legally recognized unions and 49 percent in long-term cohabiting unions. 
... In fact, it found that in the openly nonmonogamous relationships, the frequency of sex outside the relationship from its start ranged from two to a whopping 2,500 separate incidents. The median was 41.5 extracurricular incidents since the relationship’s beginning. Frequency in the last year ranged from zero to 350 occurrences of outside sex, with a median of eight incidences in the last twelve months. Even those who pledged true monogamy, the range was from one to sixty-three “slip-ups” with a median of five. The corresponding numbers for men in heterosexual marriages are microscopic in comparison.
So if relationships between two women result in not enough sex within a relationship and relationships between two men result in too much sex within and without the relationship (and apparently a few other places), then what if we had relationships between one man and one woman ...

... Oh. Wait. I guess that's what we've been doing since (Let me verify this) ... Time immemorial.

But Mundy puts his finger on the real issue here:
In the face of all this negative evidence, Mundy bases her case for the superiority of same-sex marriages on the pure assumption that such relationships are better because they are not clouded by stifling gender stereotypes.  
One of the things too little recognized is that, if we take these people at their word about "gender stereotypes," we are forced to the conclusion that they don't just want "marriage equality." Traditional heterosexual relationships are essentially bound up in "gender stereotypes." If "gender stereotypes" are to be seen as inferior to those that are not, then relationships based upon them will need to be subordinated in some way to those that are not.

Furthermore, all this makes me wonder: What exactly do "gender stereotypes" stifle? I can think of at least one thing "gender stereotypes" do not stifle: the propagation of the race. In fact, no one seems to have noticed that one significant problem with the ideology of those now prosecuting this War on Gender: If we actually put it into practice, it would result in the extinction of our species.

Now I don't know what criteria modern sociologists currently employ to determine the viability of a cultural theory. But I'm thinking that one essential component of any sociological thesis should probably be that it doesn't result in the complete annihilation of humanity.

Including Swedes.

Now I fully realize that this assertion will get me into big trouble with the Cultural Authorities since it makes the now controversial assumption that heterosexuality (and hence "gender stereotypes") has had some positive cultural role--now and in human history.

Stanton finishes off his commentary on Mundy's piece by returning to facts, most of which are mentioned in her own piece, which, with any other sociological phenemenon than homosexuality, would be considered fatal:
No doubt some same-sex couples are happy, but the kinds of social science lessons Mundy seeks to draw are a matter of unforgiving averages. With more relational instability and divorce, less sex in marriage and more sex outside it, it would appear that same-sex couples do have something to teach us, if only by counterexample.


KyCobb said...

I wonder if this means Martin's favorite presidential candidate last year, Newt Gingrich, should be banned from marrying because his marriages have a higher dissolution rate than average? In any event, children of homosexuals turn out fine, thany you very much:

Lee said...

Martin, why not start using the Mississippi Syllogism? If they do it in Mississippi, it must be right for us?

After all, the weather there is warmer than Sweden's.

Lee said...

Also, Martin, you forgot to mention the Bonobo Syllogism. Bonobo chimps are naturally peaceful and inclined to homosexual behavior; therefore it is natural; therefore we shouldn't hate it.

Of course, chimps kill and eat each other too. But don't look behind that curtain, please.

As for me, I figure homosexuality is natural. I also think heterosexual dislike of homosexuality is also natural. Therefore we can't look to the natural as the final arbiter of all that is good and right.