Some of us wander to strange corners of the web and since primary school I have had a fascination with archaeology, so I stumbled on two posts destroying the American uber-Catholic politician Rick Santorum’s highly conventional view of traditional marriage, as he rubbished the idea of marriage equality for LGBT people.
So here’s the world’s anthropological expert on sex, gender and archaeology, Rosemary Joyce, Professor of anthropology at University of California, Berkeley, who is definitely on the side of the LGBT angels. She rips apart Santorum’s claim that ‘“marriage” has been a relationship between one man and one woman since “the beginning of human history’, in two blog posts.
Start with her first response to his orthodox Catholic defend-traditional-marriage views at Psychology Today, What Makes Us Human:
Coupling and Culture – What has marriage been “since the beginning of human history?”
There is a slogan that I find inspiring: “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.”
Sometimes, though, it is hard to uphold this: trying to challenge the way that politicians, in particular, attempt to ground their policy arguments in claims about what is natural for humans can seem impossible.
And you do it knowing that the politicians involved, and their followers, are going to continue to insist that they actually are entitled to their own “facts.”
something that has existed since the beginning of human history as an institution where men and women come together for the purposes of forming a natural relationship as God made it to be…
Two people who may like each other or may love each other who are same-sex, is that a special relationship? Yes it is, but it is not the same relationship that benefits society like a marriage between a man and a woman.
This post is, instead, for anyone who, reading that quote, might disagree with it but think that, even taking away the poisonous argument that only procreative couples “benefit society,” Santorum has history on his side.
He does not.
Now read her second take on Sanctorum’s Catholic traditional marriage nonsense, at her own blog, Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives where she discusses and explores the polygamy that so frequently appears in the Bible but is so completely ignored by proponents of “traditional marriage”, using her world-class anthropological expertise.
Debatable Terms: “Marriage”
In response to a provocation from a politician with a loose hold on historical facts, yesterday I posted (on What Makes Us Human) a deconstruction of his claim that “marriage” had been a relationship between one man and one woman since “the beginning of human history”.
I think the post worked for its purpose.
But it has gotten me into a side exchange with a critic who has accused me of giving ammunition to opponents of gay marriage in the US today by mentioning that polygamy was a valid form of marriage in “human history” aka the documentary record in Mesopotamia and the Levant, and the ethnographic record pretty much all over the place.
Reflecting on the sidebar conversation, I realize that one of the problems with the original post– one I decided to sidestep on purpose– is that it doesn’t tackle head-on the question that has, up till now, made it impossible for me to write anything like this: what is “marriage”?
Read the rest of Debatable Terms: “Marriage”