Marriage: Better than getting raped all the time

Via Amanda, I found the most…let’s say interesting take on the recent Prop 8 decision.  Lots of people have been talking about Ross Douthat’s bizarro justification for why same sex partners should be discriminated against (Adam Serwer’s take down was perhaps my fave), but this was the first I heard of Sam Schulman’s piece in the CS Monitor.

Schulman argues that folks who want same sex marriage to be legal because it’s fair, right and promotes equality don’t understand what marriage is really all about: protecting women.  For reals.

As a species, we need to protect female sexuality in order to assure ourselves of a future…Marriage is a necessary defense of a woman’s sexuality and her human liberty from determined assault by men who would turn her into a slave, a concubine – something less than fully human. Human communities need to give women some additional degree of protection – through law, custom, religious decree, or sacrament – generally some combination of all three, neatly summarized by the plaintiffs, who demanded the sacred and the eternal from the state of California.

…Marriage is not about couples or lovers – it’s about the physical and moral integrity of women. When a woman’s sexuality is involved, human communities must deal with a malign force that an individual woman and her family cannot control or protect.

So basically, as Amanda puts it, marriage is necessary because “it’s the kindest, gentlest form of male dominance over women.”  If it weren’t for hetero marriage, women would be getting sexually attacked all the time. And we all know that marriage is like a magical shield against rape (and that husbands never, ever rape their wives).

But you do have to hand it to Schulman for completely drinking his own Kool-Aid.  He just swears that people fighting against same sex marriage aren’t “concerned with homosexuality at all.”

We are merely voicing a sensible desire to preserve an institution that recognizes and protects the special status of women. If marriage becomes a legislative courtesy available to everyone, like a key to the city, it will be women who will lose.

(Well, excepting the lesbians I guess.)  I’m sure all the women in America feel much safer knowing that Schulman is protecting their “special status.”  Sigh.

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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    This sounds straight out of the Victorian Era.

  • http://feministing.com/members/redbean/ RedBean

    I think this guy is correct. Despite all its various manifestations, there is one purpose that all forms of marriage have always had in common–control of female sexuality. Making gender an irrelevant factor really does fundamentally change the nature of marriage, perhaps more than any other development in the institution’s history. That’s why I’m so ambivalent about gay marriage (not legalizing it–I’m for that–just the idea of it). On the one hand it seems like a very regressive thing to want to do because of the inherent sexism of the institution of marriage, but at the same time it also undercuts the whole gender basis of marriage . It’s kind of like Portia taking Ellen’s last name–radical but oddly retro at the same time.

    • http://feministing.com/members/alita/ Alita

      i saw this posted on shakesville yesterday and my reaction was this article pretty much shows how society still sees female sexual autonomy, or indeed just female autonomy, as a threat. i would however disagree with your generalisation, unless you know of all forms of marriage across the world and what they entail, its a very arrogant assumption to make even if your hypothesis can be applied to the majority of marital ceremonies.

  • http://feministing.com/members/jstein/ Joshua Stein

    Yes, because, as we all learned in Sunday school, the moral integrity of women is contingent upon her chastity. And that female sexuality is the most dangerous social construction since… communism!

    Jessica, I like your points about the implicit stupidity of the assertions, but the explicit stupidity was just so glaring I couldn’t get past it. I don’t see the rape issue as present in this argument, rather a stupid, hyper-moralistic, Madonna-Whore complex delusion about the nature female sexuality.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sarah801/ Sarah

    Oh God, this is so incredibly offensive! First of all, there is nothing sacred about a woman’s sexuality that needs to be “protected” by men. My sexuality is my own and I will do with it as I please. Second, this is also incredibly insulting to men, basically saying that they all just can’t help themselves and need to be raping and assaulting women at all times. I can’t even explain how angry I got reading this BS article.

  • http://feministing.com/members/gaia8uranos/ Muna Anazodo

    At first I think what the hell, is this man completely mad!?! And then I think he may be mad but I’ve always suspected society’s pretty mad too and though most of us may be about the love as units, isn’t this the subliminal idea and what I fear?

  • http://feministing.com/members/tashabunny/ natasha

    This is screwed up an all kinds of levels.The thing i am wondering the most about is: If people are getting married for this reason(which is just wrong and has such a flaw in logic),how does gay marriage take away from that? I guess the article is really saying a marriage isn’t a marriage unless it involves a woman, which gets confusing when it comes to lesbians. But if it was about keeping women safe, why would gay couples marrying make heterosexual wives less safe? This article isn’t just sexist, it’s so illogical and incoherent.

  • http://feministing.com/members/thecheesegirl/ Brie

    …Because gay men will start raping women now, because they can marry their boyfriends? Or, wait, what? Straight men will rape their girlfriends because… they can’t marry them anymore? …And who cares what women think if you’re not legally bound to them until death do you part? Or something? What?

  • http://feministing.com/members/athenia/ athenia

    This is why I’m so excited about gay marriage–these people aren’t so worried about the gay sex as they are about gender roles. This is what they mean when they say gay marriage will affect heterosexual marriage–they will no longer have an excuse for sexism and gender stereotyping.

  • pdxhopeful

    You know, he’s totally right. The protection of marriage is why, 100 years ago when marriage was virtually obligatory, no women were raped, assaulted, or even sexually harassed. Oh, wait… they WERE!

  • http://feministing.com/members/orgostrich/ Sara

    You missed the best quote. “What protects women, ultimately, is that marriage laws and customs confer upon her independence something extra – dignity, protection, sacredness – that others must respect.” Single women don’t have diginity, apparently. Also, I just learned that a wedding ring is a magic rapist repellent…

  • http://feministing.com/members/haleynagy/ Haley Nagy

    I have to disagree. THIS is the best quote:

    “Human communities need to give women some additional degree of protection – through law, custom, religious decree, or sacrament – generally some combination of all THREE, … ”

    In addition to being a consultant on the protection of the female sex, Schulman is also a mathematician and an expert on counting.

  • http://feministing.com/members/hollynichols/ Holly

    So let’s make sure that men don’t marry men, because then there are less men to protect women against rape. And don’t ever let a woman marry a woman, because women can’t protect themselves, especially another person for that matter.

    I laughed out loud when I read that. It doesn’t make any sense, and I like how a woman’s sexuality is for her to get married and not get raped. So single ladies, sorry you don’t have any sexuality.

    Marriage: stopping rape for hundreds of years!

  • http://feministing.com/members/rachelsholiday/ Rachel

    Marriage is not about couples or lovers, eh? I thought that was a fundamental part of what marriage is! Yes, marriage is about a lot of things (even including keeping each other safe), but the idea that getting married isn’t something special that people do because they love each other (yeah, I know that sounds stupid, couldn’t find another way to say it) is just crap!

  • http://feministing.com/members/gladysp/ Gladys Parks

    Marriage is nothing more than gender oppression.

    A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.

    Any woman who marries a man is exchanging a world of fulfillment for a lifetime of oppression.

    Why, Jessica? Why?

  • http://feministing.com/members/senge4/ Sarah

    Aside from the fact that I fully understand the concept of marriage & that it’s intention was not a union between two people who love each other, but instead the control of female sexuality & reproduction- but seriously…let’s not forget that it has nothing to do with the BENIFIT of the woman. The concept of marriage unquestionably has to do with the male dominance of women and therefore the male dominance of sexuality (something that is naturally controlled by women). Not to mention, I am so sick of any defense of oppression by equating our society to a ‘human species’ or saying that ‘it’s unnatural’ or ‘it’s always been like this’. Alright we get it. But we were also given a brain and the power of critical thinking and logic for a reason. We have the power to evolve.

  • http://feministing.com/members/delightfulsprite/ Judy

    While this guy clearly sucks, I have to say I used to feel much “safer” when I had live in boyfriends. I now live by myself and it takes some getting used to. I’m sure if I had a roommate I might feel safer, no matter what the gender. I don’t think I am suited for relationships because I find monogamy too difficult to adhere to, and it seems nearly impossible to find a guy who is cool with that. It seems they are cool with that for themselves, but they certainly don’t want “equality” on that level- a woman who is just as non-monogamous as they are! That dreadful double standard…

  • http://feministing.com/members/michael418/ Michael Richardson

    Anti-gay-marriage activists, being largely without principle, will resort to the most ludicrous arguments to defend their position. Due to increasing societal acceptance of homosexuality as a moral and natural sexual orientation, and also due to the spread of legitimate scientific data on this issue via the internet, they’ve had to adjust their tactics. A popular way of defending what amounts to an almost rationally indefensible position is by redefining the meaning of marriage. Marriage, you see, is about:
    – the protection of women
    – the protection of children
    – the protection of families
    – ensuring healthy psychological adjustment in children
    – etc. etc. etc.
    These people have no respect for ideas or for the truth of things. Arguments are merely blunt instruments for them, to be used in the service of legitimizing anti-gay bigotry.