Today sees Vancouver’s 36th annual Pride Parade, and I’m about to write about family values.
Full disclosure: My parents divorced when I was young, and I was raised by a single mother. To be honest, I’m not sure what my views on the subject of family values would be if my circumstances were different from what they were, but, as it stands, my actual circumstances colour my views on the subject, which are as follows:
-Attraction can’t really be controlled; sexual orientation and identity can’t be controlled. People should not have to live a lie just to be considered socially acceptable.
-One size does not fit all in terms of family composition; there is not one type of family which is better, or worse, than others. As with everything else in life, people need to do what works for them, as individuals and as collectives. P.S.: Even nuclear families can be bad, even abusive and toxic.
-Certain segments of the population should not be denied rights just because other segments don’t approve of the way they live; eg. the LGBTQ community shouldn’t be denied the right to marry, and/or raise children, just because social conservatives of all types and stripes don’t approve of how they live.
-Gender, and gender roles, are social constructs among the human species. Humans invented the concept of gender, and that of gender roles. Nature has nothing to do with it.
-Comprehensive sex education and access to contraception and abortion are necessary for a stable society, as ways to curtail overpopulation and putting a strain on resources, which are finite. Ignorance–oops, I meant abstinence-only education, especially on its own, has been proven to not only not work, but to be counterproductive.
The thing is, with everything else that effects society at large, staunch social conservatives of all types and stripes have hijacked the terms ‘family’ and ‘family values,’ to promote their shared agenda of turning the societies they live in into dictatorships in which they run the show, and the rest of us just fall in line and blindly follow the leader. The social-conservative version of ‘family values’ promotes rigid gender, race, and class roles, and race and class, if not gender, divides–in short, a re-adoption of Victorian attitudes about gender, race, class, and everything else that forms society, under the guise of protecting and preserving the ‘traditional family.’ In this manner, ‘family values’ is a euphemism for kyriarchy (where all forms of oppression intersect), or what scholar bell hooks calls white supremacist capitalist patriarchy–in short, another tool of social control.
More full disclosure: Both of my parents were born into nuclear families, in the 1950s. My paternal grandparents were Quebec-born Roman Catholics, and stayed together until my grandmother’s untimely death, after which my grandfather never remarried. My maternal grandparents were Jehovah’s Witnesses, and raised my mother and uncles as such. Neither of my parents finished high school; my father was a trucker for most of his life, and died in debt and without leaving a will, while my mother moved from one low-paying job to another, mostly in customer service. I am now an antitheist, who finished high school, and I have a university education, and all the while managed to stay on the right side of the law–though I was borderline anorexic and bulimic in my early adolescence. It just goes to show there are no guarantees in life, for anyone; not even the type of family one was born into provides certainty about anything, including one’s future.
It is rather maddening, isn’t it, that it’s 2014, and we’re still arguing about issues such as gender, sexual orientation and identity, and family composition?