Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The WHM Supremacist Celebration of the Decade: The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate: husband and woman, not man and wife

image of Britain's Kate Middleton and Prince William is from here
This post has been revised with portions and a link added, on 29 April 2011, prior to the wedding ceremony.

With a tad under ninety years left to this century, I think it's rather presumptuous, and totally in service to corporate media ratings, to term this event the "wedding of the century". What about the weddings of Kate and William's culturally hoped-for and presumably heterosexual children and their children in turn? Those next two generations of royal weddings will all likely happen before 2100 ECD. So, for now, I'll call this the media wedding of the decade. And that's with nine years to go. I fully accept this is likely to be a "where were you when" non-tragic event remembered and reflected on many times over the next couple of decades. After that, corporate media--if it still exists--will need something else to make money off of.

What does that media tell me I am supposed to feel about the upcoming wedding of Prince William to Kate (Catherine) Middleton? Given the ubiquitous hype, at a fever pitch this week especially, I know for sure that I am supposed to feel happy for them, excited about the event, eager to watch the excessive coverage, and hope the day goes well and that they live happily ever after.

I'd have to say all of that is true. That is how I feel. (And some say media has no effect on people: where else would I have learned not only of the event, but how to feel about it?)

I will be among the billions watching very early Friday morning. Almost thirty years ago, I got up early to watch the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana Spencer, who would become the parents of two sons: William and Harry.

What I am most happy about is that Kate and William are friends, took time to get to know each other, have a solid foundation under them for a partnership, and seem to genuinely love each other. Charles was only really ever in love with Camilla, his current wife. And it is sad and ageist that the Royal Family would not have welcomed Charles to marry Camilla to begin with, instead picking some teenager he didn't love to call his wife. (Diana was all of sixteen when they met and was only weeks out of her teens when they wed.)

I feel sorry for what Diana had to endure being married to him, even with all the privileges afforded her. By most accounts it was a very unhappy life for her, in so many regards. And an obviously tragic and terribly premature death.

It is said their may be rain over London on Friday. I hope not. I want it to be sunny and not too hot or too cold. I want things to go well. I am also not supposed to think much about anything else--certainly not any other dimensions of the human event other than the fashion, perhaps.

Somewhere in my brain and body are buried the anti-woman lessons of fairy tales, which told me that heterosexist romance among white people was to be held as an ideal, and which resulted in plenty of self-loathing, shame, and disgust for being gay. They also taught me a lot about over-valuing non-Jewish European cultures, including some of the British Isles. I was not taught to admire and respect the traditions of any of the thousands of cultures of Africa, Asia, and Indigenous people. I was not taught that gayness and lesbianism exists. I was not taught that women do not have to exist in relation to men. I was not taught about the dangers of het romance as the West promotes and protects it.

There are obviously many issues available to be analysed here. This is, after all, presumed to become the largest viewed electronically broadcast event in human history: the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Piers Morgan is the sleazy, pasty, physically unmemorable middle-aged white het man with short brown hair who has a nightly chat show on CNN. Formerly one of three judges on America's Got Talent, he revealed himself, along with the far more sexist and sleazy David Hasselhoff, to be a big fan of young white women who strip on stage. Today he called the British monarchy "sexier" than the elected politicians in the US.

A recently added co-anchor on Entertainment Tonight, a very Aryan-looking thin, young-looking white woman named Nancy O'Dell, with long, flowy straight blond hair, made a remark I'll closely paraphrase shortly. She was reviewing the footage of the last 24 hours: the rehearsal of the royal cavalry's street route in London to and from Westminster Abbey and to Buckingham Palace: "And look at the bayonets on the ends of the rifles of the soldiers. Pretty sharp!" She unquestionably meant the men who comprise the cavalry, who she thought looked good in uniform with weaponry.

Why does the glimmering blade of an implement intended to stab people to death become a glamourising and sexualising accessory of men already trained to kill offensively as well as defensively? Is the cavalry's gun and knife the "sexy" equivalent of the female citizen's hat and shoes? Are women allowed to carry such weapons (not hats and shoes) and use them against men who attempt to assault them and have that violence be considered "sexy" and attractive? These bayonets are not symbols of pacifistic regal "British tradition". They really do get bloody from time to time. Not with blue blood, either.

image is from here
I will continue to discuss several of them following this very pertinent commentary by blogger Celie's Revenge:
Please correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t “The Royal Family”
the DIRECT DESCENDANTS of the British imperialists who
colonized Africa, Asia, & the Caribbean? Aren’t these
the people who raped, robbed, enslaved, and converted the
so-called natives? Aren’t they of the blood line of folks
who are proud because the sun never sets on the British
Empire? Doesn’t their wealth come from white supremacy
and theft? Isn’t all the pomp and pageantry surrounding
the wedding about European superiority backed by its
domination of black and brown and even Irish folk?

And weren’t there royal families in Africa? Where are
those royal families now? Weren’t they made slaves and
subjects of the crown?

And if I’m correct why should I care about a royal
wedding? Does might make right all of a sudden? I mean,
dumb question, of course it does but I’m just trying to
get to the facts, the truth even if those things are
meaningless and powerless to the seductions of
domination: aren’t Prince William & Kate the direct
descendants of the Imperialists?

I must admit I enjoy British accents, humor, and I love
British rock and pop bands (and lately their Hip Hop too)
but I’ve never bothered to take the royal family
seriously. The time when monarchs mattered was a time
that should bring Brits collective and national shame
not pride! Blood defining ones destiny as either
colonizer or colonized, master or slave, royalty or
commoner, is hardly something we should circulate
globally as in our symbols of love and beauty. If you
are white like Kate at least you can escape one’s
class/stock and marry into a superior one. So maybe
that’s what the common working class white Brits holds
onto. But what of black Brits? All of whom are British
because at some point they belonged to a nationality
that made them colonial subjects of the British Crown.

Of course this all makes me very sad personally because
unfortunately I know that even those who share my rage
and confusion at how fucked and dangerous this
celebration of domination under a cloud of
heterosexual romance and European aesthetics of beauty
still refuse to get how a whole lot of other things we
applaud are just as harmful and fucked.

And let's not forget to mention this Nazi crap the
younger prince pulled off: 

It is Yom HaShoah, beginning on Sunday night at sundown. So for me it is an appropriate time to ask: what WAS Harry thinking? How funny is it to dress up as a Nazi when you, yourself, are a very public member of a family of racist colonisers and genocidalists? I mean it's one thing for Mel Brooks to attempt it, as a Jew of European descent trying to poke fun at something he knows damn well was an atrocity against his people. But when someone dresses up in a Nazi uniform who is not Jewish, is not of color, and is a royal white heir to fortunes made on the lives and labor of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian people, that's something else entirely.

Let's not forget Harry and William have both been trained as a soldier in the British military, and have each been taught to value and practice the acts which result in the mass murder of people of color in many parts of the world. You will not likely ever hear either fellow speak against a British war against various regions of Asia, or anywhere else. What follows is partially from Wikipedia:
He was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry Regiment — serving temporarily with his brother — and completed his training as a tank commander. He served for 77 days on the front line in the ceaseless white man's war on Afghanistan, although he was pulled out following publication of the story in an Australian magazine.
As for William, we have this from Wikipedia:
Prince William of Wales KG FRS (born William Arthur Philip Louis on 21 June 1982) is the elder son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and third eldest grandchild of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. He is second in the line of succession, behind his father, to the thrones of 16 independent states, while he resides mostly in, and is more directly involved with, the United Kingdom, the oldest of these realms.

He was educated at four schools in the United Kingdom and obtained a degree from the University of St Andrews. He spent parts of a gap year in Chile, Belize, and countries in Africa. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals regiment of the Household Cavalry—serving with his brother Prince Harry and, two years later, earned his wings by completing pilot training at Royal Air Force College Cranwell. In 2009, the Prince transferred to the Royal Air Force, was promoted to flight lieutenant and underwent helicopter flying training in order to become a full time pilot with the Search and Rescue Force. In Autumn 2010, he completed his generic and special-to-type helicopter training and he is now at RAF Valley on No. 22 Squadron performing co-pilot duties on the Sea King search and rescue helicopter. On 16 November 2010 it was announced by Clarence House that Prince William and his long-term girlfriend Kate Middleton are going to marry, and it was subsequently confirmed that the wedding ceremony would take place at 11 am on 29 April 2011 in Westminster Abbey, London.
Guards, police, and the armed forces; imperialism, colonialism, and militarism; white Christian, het, and male supremacy. How these are part of one another is not something dominant media will discuss. Each, instead, will be glorified more or less separately. But glorious or inglorious, these are the themes of the wedding days and of the British Royal Family. And the lives of royals exude the power and privilege they are born into.

William is royal patron of an animal preserve and conservation project in sub-Saharan Africa, it is a recipient of his charitable help. Charity is the publicly "good" side of colonialism. The U.S. can be "charitable" to Haitians, for example. Or wealthy whites can be charitable to Black people living (and dying) in poverty in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. It's a way to promote the non-existent overall goodness of the ruling classes.

"Charity" implies one has economic and political power over the group or individuals being "helped". For much more on how this racist idea expresses itself in contexts of allegedly pro-feminist discussions, please see *here*. William's role maintains a colonial and imperial position over part of the African continent. He also proposed to Kate in Kenya, as "Africa" is very special to him. How does a continent get to be special to someone who only sees it in terms of being an over-privileged and tremendously entitled visitor and heir of  the wealth acquired by pillaging so many regions of the world? This reminds me of how whites in the U.S. speak of the Caribbean, which is promoted only as a destination location for vacations, or as a place for very wealthy white people to purchase islands. Rendered invisible in all of this are the many people who live there, who are not white, whose ancestors were slaves, many of whom remain imprisoned in paradise by economic poverty made probable by the World Bank and IMF's policies and practices which are fully supported by the US and the UK.

This is the "sharp" militarised force of patriarchal, imperialistic, and racist Nation-States and of this British Empire in particular. This is what Nancy O'Dell and corporate media generally is sexualising, romanticising, and covering for profit. This is a central part of the history and function of England as an oppressively racist ruling G8 nation-state in the world; this must be centrally celebrated on Friday. If the Brits weren't involved in military actions designed to murder people of color as I type this, there would be less of a need to celebrate British militarism as a way of promoting social denial about what the military is for and what it exists to do. It would still be "tradition" if Britain were not at war. But we must always ask, as Celie's Revenge does above, what "traditions" are being honored and celebrated?

These officers and soldiers are the people who keep "order", meaning WHM supremacist order. Meaning: white, het, men ruling and determining the degrees to which they will exploit and loot the lives, cultures, and nations of everyone else.

For more, please see this post from Censored News:
Royal family's wealth is from the blood and genocide of Indigenous Peoples

Another obvious theme I'll focus more on is the not-so-covertly celebrated misogynist heterosexism of Friday morning's event. And the celebration of an institution--heterosexual marriage. This institution has been the political site and source of untold atrocities against women and girls for centuries, with the social, cultural, religious, and legal support of the nation-states in which the marriages have been occurring often due to the compulsory and coercive nature of both patriarchal heterosexuality and het marriage.

Women, until relatively recently, were considered the chattel property of their husband-owners, and this remains the case in some countries. Children who are born into such unions, if any, are "his" not "theirs". His rape of her is legally impossible, because he is said to have rights of access to her body, with our without her will and welcoming. Rape cannot happen, within this (un)ethical framework. What can happen is him having what he is awfully lallowed to have: full control and possession of her. The celebration of heterosexual marriage is a celebration of misogynist atrocity and het male domination. The making of het marriage into a fairy tale fantasy is steeped in male supremacist traditions, not ever equality or mutuality between women and men. I am grateful that Kate refuses to say she'll "obey" William. His mum Diana started the pro-woman change in Royal Wedding tradition. I'm glad Kate and William are continuing it.

Girls, not women, are still chattel brides of men, not boys. Internationally, white men from North America and Europe procure trafficked girls and women to be their brides, wives, and "lovers": which too often means men's objects of gross sexual exploitation, and slaves for rape and labor.

Classism and status of royalty is another theme: Kate arrives in a car as "a commoner" and returns in a carriage as a member of the Royal Family. He status is forever changed. She gets a title. She rises in importance and prominence as a role model and figurehead, as a setter of fashion trends, only because she is the spouse of the future King of England. She ceases to be her own person separate from him. This is what they mean when they say "man and wife": she exists as a thing who is gendered relative to him, a full human person whose own gender is assumed to be synonymous with humanity (mankind, or Man).

The heterosexism, racism, and classism combines to reinforce and romanticise both white male hetness, Christian white families, and white wealth: cornerstone values and ideals in the contemporary U.S. Empire.

The bride and groom will be socially required to kiss--wait and see--in front of millions or perhaps billions of people watching them greet the public at Buckingham Palace. They must prove they are heterosexually involved and active. When will a lesbian or gay couple's newlywed kiss be this demanded by the media and public as a source of celebration among millions or billions watching? When will lesbian romantic love or gay romantic love be this joyfully observed and validated with this much media and pageantry?

I'll leave you with this, to underscore the political parameters of the marriage: Can Kate or William object to British involvement in military wars? Can she or he call for an end to discrimination against lesbian women and gay men? Can she or he promote feminist causes? Can they adopt a child rather than bearing one or more from their own genes? I suspect she has already been carefully coercively "coached" not to speak out against any of the political matters discussed in this post. As, of course, has he. Her refusal to say "obey" will be about as feminist a statement as she'll be allowed to make, and that will be an act of omission.

Now, let's all wait and get a look at that dress! I am genuinely curious to know what she will wear. If you've been following the media hype, you already know what the groom will wear: his military uniform.


lauren said...

Julian, this is a great post. You tie so many things together. I can not understand the fascination with 'stars' of any kind and their lives, be it Brittish Monarchy or Hollywood actors. It also helps that I don't have a television!

lauren said...

As a femninist, I abhor weddings. Hetero weddings, that is. When I was a little girl I always said I would never get married or have children, and I was right! Somehow I knew that marriage was oppressive and limiting. I didn't learn about the violence in marriage until a decade later, when I saw my best friend's mother with a black eye she tried to hide with foundation. Her husband punched her during an argument.

lauren said...

My best wedding memory was the day that Porltand Oregon legalized gay and lesbian marriage. I took the day off work and took the bus up. When I got to the courthouse, I saw two women holding hands, saying their vows. The tears started streaming down my face. I never cry at weddings - and I didn't even know their names!

A pastor saw me and called me over.
They needed witnesses. I got to be a part of four couple's weddings, and sign their marriage licenses.
Then a group of highschool students showed up with roses and made a receiving line. They had Kool and the Gang's 'Celebration' playing from a boom box and passed out roses to all the newlyweds.

Julian Real said...

Thanks for your comments, Lauren!

It's truly frightening how the many forms of interpersonal and institutional violence which both comprise and coalesce in marriages results in such a romantic obsession with them. I'm honestly beginning to think that the more we, as a society, insist that something is "Good" and "Right" and "Holy" the greater the likelihood that it is covering up or simply in denial about it's own acts of inhumanity, wrongness, and horror.

I've always thought that the term "patriotic" which got used quite a bit during coverage of the Royal Wedding, is a contraction for "patriarchally psychotic".

That there's still a rule in Britain that the first born child of a current king or queen (for example, the probable future of Kate and William) will not necessarily inherit the Crown--and all the extravagant material wealth that comes with it). Rather the rightful (ahem) ruler is to be the the grown up version of the first born MALE. This is enough to tell you how profoundly patriarchal the British monarchy is to this day, despite it being ruled by a woman for the last 60 years or so.

Woman-ruler does not equal anti-patriarchal, and the history of Margaret Thatcher and present Sarah Palin prove that well.

But it might help if such male supremacist rules disappeared. I'll also note that in the press such obviously patriarchal rules, customs, and laws are only allowed to be criticised as "old-fashioned". Apparently, the CRAP-loaded media must never utter (which is to say: socially acknowledge) the term "male supremacist". Ever.

Goddess help us. Women and girls first.

BellaVida said...

I did not find myself the least interested in this event in any way, shape or form. I didn't get up early because I knew the highlights would be repeated over and over on every network.

I did notice the media frenzy telling everyone they must watch because it's the greatest event ever and everyone else will be watching. The media manipulating the masses again to focus on trivial matters rather than important issues that have direct impact on our lives.

On the point of marriage. I do believe in marriage if that is your choice. Not every marriage ends with violence and control.

I think the formal union of two people in love is beautiful. To me it signifies a partnership, a union. And each individual should have the freedom of making their own choices.

I was surprised to read that you subscribe to a religion. I find religion oppressive want nothing to do with. I'm not judging you, I'm stating my personal opinion.

I think it's great to think about and figure out how we feel about so many issues that's why I like reading your blog.

lauren said...

I wrote about my thoughts on marriage on Reclusive Leftist and probably offended everyone. The moderator wrote that she dislikes patriarchal marriage, but even if a woman can have an egalitarian marriage, that does not change the institution under male supremacy. If a close friend were getting married of course I'd be happy for her but watching her ceremony I can only think of all the other women who have to marry or who are brainwashed (by the culture) into marriage.

My point: until we end male supremacy there can be no equal marriage between a man and a woman. Individual cases do not change the majority.

Julian Real said...

Hi BellaVida,

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and perspective on the wedding and related matters.

I'll respond particularly to this portion:

On the point of marriage. I do believe in marriage if that is your choice. Not every marriage ends with violence and control.

I think the formal union of two people in love is beautiful. To me it signifies a partnership, a union. And each individual should have the freedom of making their own choices.

I was surprised to read that you subscribe to a religion. I find religion oppressive want nothing to do with. I'm not judging you, I'm stating my personal opinion.

I certainly love to see people be loving to one another. I'm not so much for the privileging of some forms of relationship, civilly or religiously.

For example, I'll give you some examples of relationship that I value:

--best friendships or best friends, bffs, or "besties"

--two people who live only as neighbors, helping one another out when needed and sharing time when wanted

--queer friends who are "chosen family" to one another

--elderly non-lesbian women who are widowed from men now gone, who gather to keep company, share intellectual lives, enjoy one another's company

--a favorite aunt and niece, who were always close, across decades

--two people who share a home and have a romantic and sexual relationship that is loving and caring

--a woman and her dogs or cats, living together for a decade and a half

Julian Real said...

I've known many non-lesbian women whose closest confidants and best friends were not their male spouse.

I've known lesbian women who share deep connection with women friends across decades, but whose female romantic partners come and go. Same for het, bi, and gay people. We often are the first people who are called in a crisis, and the crisis is often enough about the "primary" relationship.

In the U.S. and in many other places, there is a way of organising society relationally that dovetails well with capitalism and patriarchy, keeping misogynistic institutions alive and well--except for women and girls collectively. Individually the experience runs the range of human experience: joyful and caring to hideous and terroristic.

I'm all for people finding happiness, comfort, support, care, and regard in whatever ways and forms make sense for them. If the relationship is with another adult human being, then I'm not concerned about whether or not it is sexual, "primary", romantic, or involves people living together.

Julian Real said...

I'm concerned about whether the relationships are oppressive or loving, humane or not. I'm concerned about whether they support or don't support larger systems and social values and practices that do, in reality, harm lots of girls and women because the forms of relating are intricately and inextricably tied to very damaging and dangerous activities.

I've only ever lived in societies where the most dominant and statused ideas and practices regarding relationship were and are accompanied by thick, misogynistic propaganda and inhumane hype. In my experience, some women may find something approximating happiness, or security, or support. But the social practices that are socially compulsory, on the macro level, lead most girls and women (I have known) to feel inadequate if they don't find or have that one special primary successful het relationship as the dominant and very oppressive and lethal society defines it.

I'm not for socially privileging one form of relating over all the many others in terms of form. But I am for promoting humane values in all relationships. In the capitalist patriarchy I live in currently, adult people are very encouraged to sexually or romantically pair up, live together, and buy one set of "everything" to keep materialistic, consumerist economies strong--or not. Collectivist or communal ways of living are actively discouraged and are almost impossible to create and nurture in most parts of the U.S., with very few exceptions.

I'm certainly not for keeping alive ideas-in-practice like the one that tells female human beings (and males) that females belong to their fathers and one day, hopefully, he gets to "give" her to a younger man, if he's not keeping her for himself. And, in this old and current tradition, she is expected, to varying degrees, to obey him, clean for him, cook for him, attend to and anticipate his many needs.

Julian Real said...

Kate, in 2011 ECD, was "given" to William by her own father in a "modern" wedding. Her hand, symbolic of the whole of her, went from her father to the priest, to William. Then William forcibly pushed a ring on her finger to show the world that she is his; she belongs only to him. No ring for him.

What's so modern about these ideas and traditions? She was dressed to show off her figure; he wasn't. In a (gorgeous) Christian cathedral, she was veiled and then "revealed"; he wasn't. These are terribly old and terribly anti-woman traditions that are viewed by many conservatives and liberals as romantic and endearing when they occur in het weddings.

Why doesn't the mother give her het son to the woman who chooses to marry him? Why aren't the males draped in flowy or see-through fabrics which hug parts of their bodies, so we know, for example, the size and shape of the het men's buttocks or chests?

At the Royal Wedding of Kate and William, David Beckham was reported--in the television media by male commentators and correspondents across sexual orientation--to look very, very handsome. Only the skin of his face and hands were visible. The specifics of his form were not being overtly displayed or thinly veiled for others to scrutinise or fetishise.

Men are not expected to display their flesh and the specific form of their bodies, such as the approximate shape and size of their genitals, at celebratory events honoring loving relationships.

To focus so much attention on the attire and figure of the woman in a het marriage is, I believe, to invite all het women to hate their bodies more, to starve themselves before the wedding day, to be berated by the husband for gaining weight post-wedding--even while he does too.

It also puts enormous pressure on the couple to remain a couple who pretend to live one way--happily and contentedly, while in private they might be miserable, or she might be raped and battered.

In direct response to part of what you stated, I surely do not believe every marriage ends in violence and control. I've known several that did not. But in none of them were the women free to ignore all the social pressures and prejudices placed on females to take care of men in ways that men do not take care of women--such as emotionally. And those social pressures and prejudices do, necessarily, negatively impact and explicitly harm the lives of millions of girls and women globally.

Also, I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I practice or value a particular religious institution: there are none I value politically, spiritually, or personally. I am ethnically and politically a Jew, but not religiously. I have studied Buddhism, but am not a Buddhist.

So I just wanted to clear that up for you and any other readers who came away from this post believing as you did, that I am part of an organised or institutionalised religion. I'm not. (Nor am I part of any disorganised or non-institutionalised religion.)

And thank you again for contributing your thoughts to the conversation here.

Julian Real said...

Hi Lauren,

I'd be interested in seeing those comments from the Reclusive Leftist. Shall we make a separate post of them here at A.R.P.?

Julian Real said...


I have some follow-up questions for you. I welcome us engaging on these topics.

You wrote:

On the point of marriage. I do believe in marriage if that is your choice. Not every marriage ends with violence and control.

I think the formal union of two people in love is beautiful. To me it signifies a partnership, a union. And each individual should have the freedom of making their own choices.

Do you see how my critique isn't generally about "individual choices" so much as it is about an institution that is welded to many ideas, values, practices, customs, and traditions--many of them enforced with great brutality--that harm girls and women in real life, in many if not most cases?

Because to me, to miss that is to miss the whole point of this post. I acknowledge that I'm happy for Kate and William, for example, if they are happy together. But to ignore what their union represents, and what the deeper meanings of it are beyond the two of them as individuals--or, even, to not see what is required of each of them to even enter this union, is to miss a lot about reality. That's how I see it.

William HAS to live a certain way. So too does Kate. From the waving of hands to the way she greets people, her life is not so scripted, socially, that when asked, most women in Britain said they would not wish to be a princess. Why? Because they get how, even with all the extraordinary privileges, the life is not a free one. It is lived in a kind of luxury prison called "the real lives of the British monarchy". Harry has more freedoms because he is not expected to be king. But William and Kate, while privileged now more than almost anyone else on Earth, do not live freely at all.

Would you agree? It's important, I think, to look soberly, not idealistically, at reality and to see into it and to see the hidden pain there, the suffering, the lack of freedom, the harm done to most for the benefit of the very few.

Would you agree that the kind of relationship you speak of--a formal union of two people who are in love; a relationship that me signifies a partnership, a union--is not what marriage is, most of the time?

Would you agree that in reality, not in imagination, het marriage, most of the time, is sexist to women--that het marriage burdens women unfairly with expectations and pressures to take care of men in ways men are not expected or required to take care of women?

If the institution never had such sexism and misogyny in it, as well as racism and heterosexism too, I wouldn't have a critique of it. But "marriage" is not just an idea that we can each define in our own ways. It is a culturally bound term. Marriage--the social meaning of the word based in how married people behave generally and usually--is different in different regions. But in no regions that I'm aware of is "heterosexual marriage" socially designed to be an equal experience for the woman and the man. And my point in commentary above is to demonstrate that even in the wedding ceremony of two VERY privileged people, are roots and branches of misogyny. Even in a ceremony that costs upwards of 30 million dollars US, the idea that a woman is a possession of men--either of her father or a priest or her husband--MUST be reinforced. The wedding could not happen without doing so. That's my point: the wedding couldn't happen unless it reinforced those ideas and values. I do personally believe that William doesn't want a slave for a wife. I believe they do love each other and want love to flourish between them.

But the media was selling two billion viewers several damaging institutions (militarism, patriotism, royalty and wealth, heterosexual marriage, whiteness, and more) under the pretense that they are "only good".

Julian Real said...

But those institutions are very, very far from "only good".

Getting to how the Royal Wedding is racist and heterosexist.

William and Kate also HAVE to have children. Yes, they both want children. But how free are they to have children when they don't have a choice? They HAVE to have their own children and they CANNOT adopt. If she or he is infertile, there will be a massive panic in the Royal Family. Does that matter? Does it matter that the media will show us something like a Royal Wedding and only make it seem lovely and wonderful, and not tell us the whole truth about it?

If William was sterile, and he and Kate wanted to adopt a baby--a girl baby, let's say--from Kenya, or from Lesotho, where Harry has done "charity"--a Black baby with AIDS, for example, which is a population of children Harry spent time with there, do you think the Queen and Prince Charles would allow that baby to be Queen as long as she lived, if she got all the medications she needed to live a good long life, assuming she had the immune system to cope with all the medications as well as the ravages of the disease? Can Harry pick out a dear, sweet baby with AIDS from Lesotho and say to Willim, "Look, brother. See how this baby looks at this photograph of you and Kate so adoringly! She's clearly meant to be your baby!"

The answer is "No way in hell." There's NO WAY IN HELL the Royal Family would allow a Black or Brown or Indigenous person to be Queen or King, even if they were born in England. Why?

Because the Royal Wedding is about bloodline. First and foremost, even before it is about love, it is about "preserving a bloodline". Would you agree?

And the bloodline is supposed to be largely blue, meaning "aristocratic" or "royal". Meaning, "white". Not "common" white--or brown or black--like most of us. That's why Kate has been one of only a very few "commoners" allowed into the family, to become the spouse of the future King, perhaps.

And should Kate or William discover they are lesbian or gay, they'd not be able to come out without scandal and loss of royal status.

Julian Real said...

I mention all of this because it seems so often that when a profoundly racist, heterosexist, and misogynistic institution is critiqued--like marriage or the military, or an industry--like pornography or McDonalds (with all four examples being all of those things: racist, heterosexist, and misogynistic)--there must be a response from someone that declares in no uncertain terms that "some of us like it" or "it works for some people" or "when there's no harm in it, I'm for it" as if that's related to the argument being made.

My arguments here, generally, have little to nothing to do with what individuals do that they wish and want to do--if they are genuinely free to do them. And my arguments refuse to ignore the harm and the suffering that these institutions cause to millions of people, to non-human life, including the Earth.

I'm critiquing the media and public practice of promoting idealised forms of institutions like het marriage as "good", when it, specifically, actually causes so much heterosexist, racist, and misogynistic harm. It is the "home" of so much rape, so much battery. And the status of being a man in a het marriage serves to protect those married het men who use girls who are trafficked--most of whom are not white and who are not at all free. Their use of these girls is protected behind this facade of being a het married man.

White, Western married middle-aged or older men who rape impoverished, enslaved girls get to appear to be socially "good" because they are married middle aged men.

There's also so much devaluation and degradation of queer people, by making--forcing, actually--some women live very private "heterosexual" lives behind closed doors with men who rape and batter them.

Promoting the ideal of the institution (here, now: het marriage) without squarely facing the harm that must happen for it to exist at all, is to covertly promote the rape and the battery too, not just the idealised version of the institution that media and the public conspire to present as "what it is".

Your thoughts about this?

BellaVida said...

Hi J,

In response to:

Do you see how my critique isn't generally about "individual choices" so much as it is about an institution that is welded to many ideas, values, practices, customs, and traditions--many of them enforced with great brutality--that harm girls and women in real life, in many if not most cases?

Yes, absolutely. You did a wonderful/thorough job of it.

I have seen and heard about these cases that break my heart to think about them. I'm reminded of the young girl 10 or 12 seeking a divorce in France. I'll start crying if I think about it too long. That right there, should not be allowed to happen in 2011 anywhere on this planet.

So I almost agree But the rebel in me automatically jumps to the other side of the issue. Why should these savage abusers of the institution ruin it for myself or anyone else who wants to get married? If this is something I and anyone else feel or need to do so they should be able to. As a free adult this choice should be mine and no one should stop me.

BellaVida said...

and in regards to:

Promoting the ideal of the institution (here, now: het marriage) without squarely facing the harm that must happen for it to exist at all, is to covertly promote the rape and the battery too, not just the idealised version of the institution that media and the public conspire to present as "what it is".

I would never ever ever ever promote any ideal/cookie cutter of anything.

That's the biggest turn off to me from the likes of religion, politics and corporate owned media, corporate owned government, etc. I equate them all with aggressively controlling masses for selfish gain.

I believe & crusade for individual rights. That is what feminism means to me:

That each individual should have equal opportunities, choices, rights . . .

And I need to think more about what feminism means to me because I need to include how strongly I feel that the children of the world need to be protected and educated.

There is so much the civilization of 2011 has to accomplish for humanity to reach a higher level.

in regards to:
But William and Kate, while privileged now more than almost anyone else on Earth, do not live freely at all. Would you agree?

Yes, but they still had the choice not to accept those roles. They could have 'run away' fr them.

in regards to:

Would you agree that the kind of relationship you speak of--a formal union of two people who are in love; a relationship that me signifies a partnership, a union--is not what marriage is, most of the time?

No, not for me. Then we'd also have to look at how imperfect humans are and how a partnership requires comprise. Those compromises would then depend on what would make each individual happy. and that could go on to infinity.

Would you agree that in reality, not in imagination, het marriage, most of the time, is sexist to women--that het marriage burdens women unfairly with expectations and pressures to take care of men in ways men are not expected or required to take care of women?

This again is what I was referring to when society succumbs to the cookie cutter ideal of anything be it motherhood, career, marriage, etc. this causes damage to people.

This also reminds me that society needs to change so each individual is responsible for the consequences of their actions and not hide behind religion and blame others.

I would say it's mentality/attitudes that must change.

And to Lauren, I'm not offended by your opinions. In fact I respect your right to them. Maybe it's the writer in me that likes to see/imagine things from other angles. And I know I am free to agree or disagree.

I also think that young people should be exposed to various sides of an issue so they can make future decisions that will be favorable to them. Do they teach debate in high school anymore?

Again the only solution I can come up with is educating the children of the world so they can counter all of the brainwashing aimed at them.

Wow, I hope this all made sense. :)
Great convo.

BellaVida said...

PS. I would like to suggest/request an article that talks about the blog title: Radical Profeminist

because when I came to the blog I thought: "okay I'm a feminist but why do I have to be radical?"

Then when you open yourself up and realize how big the problem is, it requires a large amount of energy/action to counter it.

I think there is alot I can learn here and would be an interesting debate.

Julian Real said...

Hi BellaVida,

I'm so appreciative of your contributions to this conversation. Truly. And to Lauren too.

This is what I hoped might happen but it rarely does, although there have been some notable exceptions--occasionally there are some really good conversations here, and some very welcomed contributions by regular visitors and commenters. That makes me happy.

So how did you come to think I adhere to an organised religion, or, more specifically, that I am or might be religious?

I've had my fill of a few groups of alternative (read: self-identified as "progressive") people who fuse their identity to their beliefs and sometimes also to their actions--not that I don't!! lol

But in my experience, far too many--but not all--anarchists, atheists, and vegans, seem to be religious fundamentalists, just for their own causes, making anarchy, atheism, or veganism into some kind of god to worship.

So I make sure I don't present myself here in false ways--as some sort of rigid ideologue. I'm not a fan of rigid ideological stances that don't make room for the complexities of people's lived realities, which of course means I appreciate what you are saying here.

This probably makes many patriarchal men who stop by here scratch their heads, as they see me doing only that--being ideological. But that's not what I'm doing--I hope.

What I think I'm doing is reminding people that for all those "good" things out there to exist, that C.R.A.P. promotes and protects, there's a lot of abuse and harm, so much soul-crushing, that has to happen on atrociously large scales almost beyond belief.

I think denial and defensiveness, and also, for some, privilege and entitlement, are some of the reasons why so many people won't engage with the horrific things that are going on the world over. Also because the most privileged don't have to engage with them: the systems are working well enough for them. But not for most people, who will never be heard from because they aren't literate, don't type on blogs, and are too busy caring for others and trying to survive.

Julian Real said...

Oh, and BellaVida, here's a link to a piece I did a couple of years ago, on radical profeminism:

And there's this one too about men calling themselves "feminist" or "profeminist", back before I began identifying as intergender. I'd never felt comfortable identifying as a man, but was told by some people in my life that I had to, so I did:

lauren said...

'Kate was given to man by her father in 2011' this whole comment is poignant, so is the one about the roles they must play and that they must have children.

That woman are expected, prompted, socially coerced into showing their bodies while men are not infuriates men. Look at the difference between male and female clothing! The women in tight, short, form fitting the men in loose baggy, you can not tell if they have a gut or ten or even twenty extra pounds. And who runs the fashion industry dictating the styles for women?


lauren said...

And this on televsion with millions of viewers. That Kate will have a role to play and it had better not be a feminist one! Tell me that William was not coached (at the very least) about the kind of woman to marry. One who will uphold the crown and not make waves.

lauren said...

'They must have children' means that they must have intercourse. No room for whether Kate wants this kind of sex or even likes it. What if she decides she does not want children?

This is a strong point about marriage. It was made so that the men control women's fertility. He will know that the child inside her is his. That chid will belong to him. That the children do not get the woman's last name proves it.

Some women keep their names (and may have to suffer inumerable arguments with their fiance to do so) but the children get his name.
They are made from her raw materials but he is the man they are his, they carry his name.

I do not buy the argument some women give, that they don't like their last name, so they're happy to take his. In an egalitarian culture, both the man and the woman would hyphenate their names, or choose a new name together, or the child would get her name. What I do believe is that women are taught that if you want too much he will leave (which is often true) so they agree to give the children his namew to appease him. It's called 'being a family unit'.

lauren said...

Just so you know, I'm writing this standing up at the computer at the local co-op. They think I'm researching native seeds or something...

Kari Johnson pointed out to me in 2004 that we need to preserve women's right not to marry. This was shortly after I came back from that incredible day in Portland. Hetero women who do not marry are never given the respect in society or in the family that married women are. People always look at us as if there's something wrong with us.

Not marrying often means being passed over for material and financial gifts that go instead to married siblings. The daughter who is married is seen as responsible, stable, serious, trustworthy, a real adult. The one who chose not to marry is at best - at the very nicest - a mystery.

lauren said...

Men keep women separated from each other. Marriage is the main way they do this. Although a woman's best friend or confidante may be another woman, her energy and loyalty go to her husband, a man. I see this in the very best of male/female relationships, whether married or not. The woman always gives up more. She moves to live with him, leaving friends and community and an exciting job behind. She has children because he wants them. She gives up her spiritual life, or keeps it quiet, because he's atheist. And I could write extensively on this. It is the line that divides me from every single straight woman I know.

Which is very strange, because I am one.

lauren said...

One more point - and I hope I'm not repeating myself. To prove that marriage still favors men, look at what happens to women when they divorce. So many women are brought into poverty, having to enter the work force after years of doing the unpaid labor of childbearing, childcaring, and maintaining a household. Child support is minimal; often enough to live on the cheapest most unhealthy food, buy only second hand clothes and shoes, and live in a neighborhood that the man would never dream of living in. He becomes single, she becomes a single mother.

Fathers are often given custody of the kids even if they have abused or abandoned them for years. If they want custody of the children, even years after the divorce, they can ofen get it despite a horrid track record, simply because it is seen as so 'wonderful' that a man wants his children.

Most of the women I know who went through a divorce, if they have children, are either living in poverty or were saved from it by their generous birth family.

If marriage had changed, as some feminists say, we would not see this. And not in such huge numbers.

Julian Real said...

Het marriage is only allowed to shift in terms of interpersonal choices, but not on the institutional level at all. This is one reason there's so much resistance to lesbian and gay marriage: the institution, a profoundly patriarchal one, demands that one man must rule/own/possess one woman. A good way to colonise an oppressed group intimately and privately, eh?

Defending U.S. marriage is like defending the U.S. military: it means being in denial about the gross horrors and the normalised oppression, and the inhumanity which is the foundation: the skeletal structure, as well as the very tough muscle, of the het manstitution that is marriage.

Julian Real said...

I'll add that the service made it very clear that patriotism = belief in a Christian god = being heterosexual (naturally and because a Christian god wills it--both) = having babies = being a good human being.

It was conservative, not at all modern. Just not using the word "obey" doesn't make it not conservative. It was a deep insult to all lesbian and gay people--a smack right in our faces, stating in no uncertain terms that our love is not god-willed and cannot be god-ordained.

Given that they honor and worship a very white male god, who they think is heterosexual--but who wasn't because such a designation didn't exist then--I simply reject all of it. Gladly. Gayly. But there are many of my lesbian sisters and gay brothers who struggle a great deal to find homes in Christian churches which remain staunchly and unapologetically heterosexist, as well as misogynistic.

Who should take whose name in a lesbian wedding? In a gay wedding?

A white lesbian feminist I know took her husband's name early in her life before she decided--and she did decide this--to spend the rest of her life living only with women, intimately, in love.

I asked her once why she took her husband's last name and why she kept it--through to the end of her life. She answered that women in the U.S. do not have their own last name--ever. They either have their father's or their husband's, if they marry a man. Those are the social choices--which means two choices neither of which regard women as independent of men, as not belonging to a man.

She said, "I didn't choose my father. I chose my husband." So of the two misogynist/sexist choices, the more self-determined one was taking her husband's name. So she kept that one.

As a gay male, I cannot attend het weddings without feeling like I'm being told there's something wrong with me--perhaps because the services inevitably do tell all lesbians and gay men that there's something more natural or more holy about hetersexuality--especially if it expresses itself in the political confines of het marriage. (Not that I see unmarried het women as at all free in the West.) I know many single heterosexual women feel the same way about attending het weddings.

And I know many heterosexual women who totally reject the institution of marriage as not defensible or worthy of protection, Lauren.

You are not at all alone!


Lauren you are certainly not the only straight woman who refuses to believe the lies WHM tells us women about marriage.

I too as a child knew that marriage for women was not good for women and I was told I was wrong for challenging male supremacy. This 'royal' marriage is not an egalitarian one because Kate even before she married knew she has a number of compulsory duties and they are all about putting 'her man first and herself last.'

The marriage ceremony says it all - women are still men's sexual property and we do not have ownership of our bodies or minds because they are always for men.

WHM refuses to accept children are not the property of men and neither do men alone create a foetus. But women continue to be viewed as vessels carrying a man's child!

lauren said...

But I am alone, or at least don't know any other hetero women who have chosen not to give most of their time or energy to men. I will never live with a man. I decided at a very young age that I would never marry, and the more I learned growing up the stronger that decision became. I have not been 'intimate' with a man for years.

This means that radical feminism becomes very clear. I can see it and act on it much more clearly than I could if my energy were physically and psychically entangled with a man's. The downside is that there is no alternative 'community' for straight women the way there is for lesbian and bisexual women. While some lesbian women may admire my lifestyle and actions, almost all straight women are threatened by them.