Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Just What is This Fabric Made of, Anyway?


Sorry, I try not to do this too often, but it’s time to drag out the old soapbox from the dusty corner where I keep it hidden.  It’s kind of heavy … can you help me by lifting up the other end? OK, here it is, front and centre.  Now I’ll just climb up on it and let loose.

There are certain cultural phenomena that I know exist but try to avoid, just as there are certain political and religious viewpoints that I am aware of but try not to expose myself to.  In both cases, it’s because I get all angry and flustered, and I hate feeling like that.  Occasionally, though, I get to a place where the clash of things I’m ignoring rises to the level of a train wreck, and I can’t shut up anymore.

So consider with me, if you will please, these two scenarios:

1) Two women (they could be two men, but let’s take two women for example) love each other very deeply.  They live together faithfully in a committed relationship, sharing a home, paying the bills together, perhaps raising a child, putting up with each other and laughing together and loving each other through the thousand and one daily stresses of sharing your life with another human being.  They get irritated with each other and argue and cry and one or the other sometimes thinks about leaving, but they stick together because they love each other and believe in committment.

One day, the law of the country changes to allow these women to go through a ceremony of committment that legally recognizes the bond they’ve been sharing for many, many years.  Now they have the same status in the eyes of the law as me and my husband, you and your wife, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and any other married couple on the block.

2) A young man decides to find a wife.  For reasons unclear to me, but which doubtless have to do with significant financial incentives, he chooses to do this on national television.  He is introduced to a group of attractive young women.  He does not choose these women, nor are they chosen by his parents or the wise elders of his community.  They are chosen by the producers of a television show, presumably for their ability to be pretty and personable on television.

In a competition watched by millions of strangers across North America, the would-be bridegroom takes each of these woman on dates, followed by cameras, producers and make-up people.  The young man himself, the other women, and of course the audience, are all encouraged to judge each would-be bride and evaluate her strengths and weaknesses.  Competition among the women is strongly encouraged, as are backstabbing and gossip. 

At the end of this process, having eliminated one girl each week, the young man chooses a “winner” from among the last two women left standing, with the strong suggestion that he propose marriage to her (though in fact, of the fourteen times this bizarre ritual has been acted out in front of an apparently entertainment-starved public, only once has it resulted in a so-far lasting marriage, and that was between the young man and the second runner-up, rather than the originally selected winner).

Now, remind me again which of these two cultural phenomena is “destroying the fabric of traditional marriage”? ‘Cause, honestly, I’m having a little trouble remembering.

/off soapbox. Till next time.


9 thoughts on “Just What is This Fabric Made of, Anyway?

  1. Wow. Good point. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms before.

    I do want to point out that Ryan and Trista from Bachelorette are still married, and that was years ago. But they are probably the exception that proves the rule.

  2. Yeah, I didn’t even get into The Bachelorette, did I? I just have a lot of issues with the whole reality-TV thing … not the performance type shows like Idols, etc., so much, but the ones that make people’s personal lives, marriage, family, etc., into a public spectacle. “Temptation Island” was probably the bottom of the barrel, but I’m sure the TV executives have even worse horrors they can dream up …

  3. I don’t think the fabric you speak of exists. What is traditional marriage anyway? Is it where a man, if he is rich enough, has several wives who are considered property? Is it where a couple marries and cohabits for a few years and then get divorced (that’s 5o% of marriages, isn’t it?…doesn’t that make it at least as traditional as the one man/one woman forever?).

    You are right about the bachelor/ette. One upside to not watching reality television is that I no longer have a clue who or what the National Enquirer is talking about when I’m standing in line at the grocery store.

  4. Well, that’s part of it … the idea of “traditional” marriage is totally cultural and always changing. Yet people resist a certain kind of change by holding one version of “tradition” up as sacrosanct.

  5. After thinking more about Jamie’s comments and how they relate to what I’m trying to say, this is what I’ve come up with: we all know that the institution and definition of marriage has changed in the past and will change again. Right now we have something that, in the 21st century western world, we have chosen to define as “traditional marriage.” If we’re honest, we know that that definition will change with time, and I’d rather see it change in the direction of choosing to include gay and lesbian couples, than in the direction of making courtship and marriage into a game played out in the public arena for entertainment and money. And I wish people who seem to be hyper-aware about “protecting marriage” would be more aware of their own hypocrisy.

  6. Amen, sister!!

  7. The low might have been “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-millionaire?” uggghhh.

  8. Whenever my Sabbath School group gets together for a potluck, the topic of gay marriage comes up. These people are obviously very threatened by it and I don’t understand why. How does commitment threaten the fabric of society?

    How interesting that many of these people have no problem with so-called reality television (thank goodness my reality is nothing like that!).

  9. Very well said. Thanks for this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s