Same-sex marriage and its implications for the respect of difference and diversity within society
The Western world has considerably changed. My country has considerably changed. We have apparently become convinced, for the most part, that sex
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and gender no longer matter, that the feminine and the masculine are the very same.
In February 2013, the UK and France passed a law to change the institution of marriage which was initially supposed to be a contract binding together a man and a woman, the two elements necessary to the creation of another human being, male or female.
Now, marriage is no longer the union of a couple, but of pairs too. Yes, semantically it makes a difference, at least in the French language. A couple is a combination of two different elements, (often masculine and feminine) and a pair a combination of two similar elements (pair of scissors, pair of trousers, and so on.)
Therefore, from now on, French law considers that gender no longer has relevance, that masculine and feminine do not exist, and that two women and two men are just the same as a man and a woman. And this, despite the fact that science will never prove, not even support such claims. Now, you marry one person to another person, regardless of their sex, regardless of their gender.
There is no differentiation between the sexes and between genders, they are all the same. However they are still highly unequal. Women are still paid less for the same work, they are still doing more housework than men and still surfer more violence than men (and that is just the most cliché and basic social injustices).
I would have loved all these governments to be less demagogic and more pragmatic. What do we really need to build equality between the sexes for? Same-sex marriage? That’s what you think? For all that I know such useless law does not even strengthen equality between two men and two women. Instead, I would have loved to see them claim back the rule of law, the active implementation of all the brilliant laws that have been made to enhance gender equality, to protect the oppress, to share the wealth and promote social justice, all these laws that still remain poorly put into practice. Now we care more about silly and useless laws that for months distract our parliaments from the real issues, while also taking away the attention of the general public from what really matters. What’s wrong with us?
On top of it, it makes me feel that children are now even more considered as items and mere
merchandise in our societies. I am saying this because I have never been a big fan of growing humans in test-tubes in order to merely give satisfaction to the individualist humans who cannot accept the fact they cannot have children. As if people were saying “It’s my right to have children and no one can take this away from me…” Here goes the claim of the selfish individualist, the empty consumption-driven individual who makes up our “modern” and “civilized” societies.
But let us get back to the implications of the confusion around same-sex marriage… On the one hand, the government, and (apparently?) a majority within Western societies, consider that sex and gender no longer matter, that being male or female is in fact all the same, even though they remain highly unequally treated across societies and cultures.
However, on the other hand, other parts of society, often the conservative parts of society, the right-winged parts of the society and the religious parts of society have a problem with this and refuse to accept that sexes and genders are the same. These parts of society also reveal interesting facts.
Indeed, these various conservative parts are also the ones that call Muslims backward and unjust to women, and who want to see Muslims shackled and prevented from expressing their identities and from performing their acts of worship and other rituals. Yet, Muslims are considered as highly conservative regarding same-sex marriage, thus having more in common with those who reject them.
Conservatives believe that a family unit is composed of a couple
able (or not) to conceive children without a third person entering the unit. They believe that a man and a woman give balance to a family unit. In France in particular, when a couple gets married they receive a “livret de famille”, a family notebook, which proves that marriage is more than a civil union/partnership, it is the foundation of the family unity.
The usual argument against this claim is that a pair of men or a pair of women may be fitter to raise a kid than a man and a woman. Of course, all humans regardless of their sex are different (psychologically and intellectually for instance) and some may completely fail as parents. But that’s (really) not really what’s important here, and not what I am here to discuss.
The point I am trying to make here is that those who have been fighting Muslims for voicing out loud their belief that men and women are different, are now in the streets claiming the very same belief as Muslims. Indeed, please remember that French Muslims, and most Muslims in the West, consider that men and women are not the same, but they are equal. They can reach the very same intellectual level, the very same spiritual level.
Nevertheless, even though they may even experience the same range of emotions, or the psychological problems, we all know that for the most part men and women have different ways of experiencing, feeling, and coping, etc. And that’s due to physiological and biological mechanisms that are uncontrollable parameters, as well as due to the way the society we grow up in constructs us and upon which we have hardly any control, especially as a child.
To conclude, what I would like to stress is that Muslims and many non-Muslims in the West have more in common than they assume. So please, just stop the hatred on both sides. In addition, it is important for me to clearly voice that I do not believe men and women are the same. They are not and will never be. Gender sameness should be considered a myth. However, men and women deserve to be treated equally, but I am referring to an equality that acknowledges and respects their differences.
Mariana Dussin graduated with a BA in Applied Languages from University of Bordeaux III, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Languages from the University of Aix-En-Provence 1. She then studied a Masters in Global Politics and Intercultural Studies at Swansea University, where she is now completing a Phd. Her research focuses on investigating and documenting the full range of views, perceptions, stances, attitudes, orientation, values, problems and identities of Muslims in France. The thesis aims at challenging concepts and ideas about gender in Islam.