I see some of the regular FFB bloggers were over at secondo americano
(who’s the primo
americano?) ejaculating precious blogging fluids
into a discussion concerning the NJ ruling on gay civil unions/marriage, and on the topic of “heteronormativity.” Leave it to sex to arouse everyone. On the other hand, this is just one of those fucking topics that gets me off – on a rant. I really can’t understand why it really matters how two consenting humanoids spank their mature sexual organs and even less why this is the subject of politicking. I mean, if two sexually mature and consenting humanoids aren’t free to use their private parts as they privately see fit and choose their own life’s partner to whom they can bequeath, or from whom they can receive, property and have it recognized by the state, then what kind of fucking freedom do they really have? No, we need to regulate sex, why we even need to extend abstinence programs for singles in their late teens and twenties, cause we don’t want them to dirty their temples with sex before their holy day of heterosexual marriage. And as for the Foley affair, I am just so SHOCKED
that a Congressman wanted to have sex, especially with 16-year old boys. And while I’m happy that the Republican Party’s puritan attitude that homosexual sex is the abomination that causes desolation has been shown to be just hypocritical window dressing for the religious right wing nuts in their party, nevertheless I can’t help but feel this entire incident is just so overblown. It’s not like he’s a Catholic priest pretending to be a celibate holy man. Sure, this is an instance of poor judgment by Foley, and in some states it may even be criminal, but come on, this sort of sexual behavior is well within what you would expect of humans (and historically it is also within norms) and should not be on the front pages of our newspapers, much less a national factor in the election on November 7, especially given that the Republicans have been buggering the American electorate and world for the last 6 years on more serious and consequential matters. Hell, when I was 16, I seem to remember that I was perfectly capable of telling any randoid where he could put his tool and then get on with my life without worrying whether sulfur was going to rain down on the nation. Do we really expect that our politicians will not want sex with younger lovers? What unrealistic view of humanity’s silly vices of the flesh is this?
And as for a monogamous, heterosexual relationships in holy matrimony -- this has been anything but the historical norm. In fact, the entire freakin’ idea of monogamous matrimonium sanctum
in the West is just a Catholic Church construct. Before the Catholic Church took over most of the Roman Empire’s civil functions, the operating phrase was matrimonium iustum
-- legal marriage. So the Catholic Church, as it so often did, just took the inherited Roman Imperial construct and infused it with greater spiritual significance by making it one of the sacraments in order to, in my opinion, control
their flock. It’s no surprise then that marriage, birth and baptism records still persist in a parallel universe between the Church and State. Before the Catholic Church, the Roman Empire and the various Greek city states each propagated their own standards of matrimonium iustum
, not because of some spiritual sense that “legal marriage is only between a man and woman”, but to regulate the transfer of property and, more importantly, the transfer of citizenship. Yes, in the ancient world the biggest point of a legal marriage was to decide who was born a citizen of the state, and since “gay” men were automatically citizens and weren’t going to procreate anyway, they didn’t give a damn about it. And the converse was also true -- since the point of legal marriage was deciding who was a legitimate male citizen at birth, marriage only concerned heterosexual couples who procreated. In fact, in Athens it wasn’t until after about 450 BC, when Perikles passed new citizenship legislation, that both parties of a “heterosexual” couple had to be born to parents who were also born as “citizens”, in order to legally “marry”, which didn’t mean they couldn’t shack up with others, they just couldn’t produce a male offspring who could become a citizen (and thereby own property) and they couldn’t produce a female offspring who could one day give birth to a male citizen. Before Perikles, just the man had to be born an Athenian. And the point of Perikles’ new legislation was probably to restrict state welfare programs, which were becoming quite popular, to fewer citizens.
As for men, they could have one “legal” wife to bear a legitimate, male citizen and heir, but they could have many different partners, women, 16-year old boys or men, slaves as they chose. Zeus was the model citizen, with his many affairs, even with his boy-toy Ganymedes. Not that Hera or the other women were happy about this double standard, but as long as she remained the designated heir-bearer, it was probably better if he were off screwing someone or something else since there was no reliable contraceptives and childbirth was a dangerous business. The woman? Well, she had to be secluded in the house to guarantee that she gave birth to your
son of your own blood and not another man’s. But she too could have liaisons with other females (Sappho for instance was married, had a daughter, but also carried on with younger women). So, in many ways, bisexuality was the norm, at least it was in Greece. And a sexual purity didn’t exist as a concept for men, and for women it had nothing to do with some spiritual ideal, it was just a practical matter for a man to ensure that his son was really the son of his own blood and the one to whom he could hand off property in good conscience.
That brings up the issue of inheritance. The property passed to the eldest, male heir of your loins or the eldest male relative closest in kin, never to your wife (who was not of your kin/blood). If you had no male heir but you had a daughter, then the daughter just became a place holder until she gave birth to a male, at which point the property reverted to the boy upon his 18th birthday. So, to pass on your property you needed a male heir, whether you were gay or straight. And since about 20% of couples were infertile or didn’t produce males, and some males never wanted to marry women, they created the system of adoption. So many men never married – they’d pick their main squeeze (didn’t have to be a citizen, could be a him or her) and they just adopted a male heir to pass on their property. Once the Romans changed the law to allow for women to inherit property, then the issue of wives (and thus non-blood relatives) inheriting their husband’s property arouse, and this complicated matters, but this was late in the game.
But of course there was a time when the state didn’t exist so citizenship didn’t exist. From time immemorial the tradition was just to hand off one’s property to one’s eldest son, and naturally one could only hand off property to a son if one had one, which required heterosexual sex or adoption. But that didn’t stop men from doing it with other women, men or adolescent boys or slaves or sheep. I seem to recall those ancient Israelite Kings had a lot of action going on. And there isn’t even a special Greek word for “husband” or “wife”. If you designated a woman to be the mother of your intended male heir, then she became “your woman” and you became “her man.” Of course the ones who got to be the match-makers were the two fathers. They’d get together and say, “Hey, my boy could father an heir with your daughter, if you provide her with an adequate dowry, what do you think?” And the other one would say, “That sounds good. I’ll throw in a few cows.” And the other would say, “When should we do this?” And the other would say, “Oh, I dunno know. How about today?” “That sounds good to me.” “Let’s hire a cook and throw a party. It’ll give the women a chance to dance.” “Yes, we’ll make it an all nighter.” And at the party the father would give his daughter away and the newlywed woman, or really girl of 14-16, would enter her new husband’s house and live there with her in-laws.
Where does that leave us? Well since we have universal rules governing citizenship and we’ve broken the tradition of only
passing on our property to a male heir of one’s blood or to a son by adoption, and now men and women who are not related by blood can become the heirs of their spouse’s property including Social Security, then I see no reason why gays shouldn’t be able to go through matrimonium iustum
to designate one person of their choosing to be their legal heir..., including state benefits afforded to heterosexuals (who get such state benefits regardless of whether they have children or not). As for Churches, if they don’t want to marry gays in matrimonium sanctum
, let them discriminate as they wish. But matrimonium iustum
should be available to all, equally.