Ick

John Holbo knows what’s up:

What do the [National Review] editors, and Gallagher, really think? The ick argument, I’ll wager. They want to stop same-sex marriage as a way of sending a message of ‘ick’ to gays, and about gays. But they also don’t want to be labeled homophobes. That is, although saying ‘gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed because I believe gay sex is icky’ is actually a less terrible argument than anything they’ve got – hey, it’s not flagrantly internally incoherent, it’s basically honest (I’ll wager), and who doesn’t believe that on some level people steer, morally, by emotional attraction-repulsion drive? – it’s considered embarrassing. (Homophobia: the yuck that dare not speak its name.) And, even if it weren’t embarrassing, it’s obviously not strong enough in the current environment. So what do you do? You end up thoughtlessly backing into something that’s frankly orders of magnitude worse than just saying gay sex is icky. Namely, gays are un-persons, so far as the state is concerned.

What makes these arguments so weird is the mildness of the underlying opposition to homosexuals and homosexuality – the implicit inclination to be basically tolerant. ‘C’mon, gays, you know you’re ok, and we know you’re ok, and you even know that we know you’re ok, but we don’t like it, so can’t there be some way that we can insist on us being a little better than you? It can be a small thing. Symbolic, but slightly inconvenient for you, so people know it’s also serious?’

Yup.

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17 thoughts on “Ick

  1. No, I read her comments refocusing marriage as an institution on 'child raising' rather than contemporary 'self-actualization.'Disagree with the premise? Fine. But, is that 'ICK?'

  2. What's with all the armchair psychoanalyzing? I support gay marriage, but I don't have an fMRI to truly know why many people oppose it. They claim it's because their religions say it's wrong, and maybe they really believe that.

  3. Christopher- If some of your best friend is indeed a ______, then that does let us know that you are less anti_____ than most bigots, who won't even hang out with a ____, as a rule, let alone consider her smart, kind, and interesting enough to be a best friend.

  4. Yeah, I think this sums it up really well. Basically, her argument seems to be gay marriage is bad because it casts marriage as basically like a business arrangement, rather than a societal institution for bringing men and women together to raise children. Now, I have issues with that argument (in particular, I'm not convinced that, as far as the state is concerned, marriage *shouldn't* be just a contract, and not an institution), but it is a valid argument, and it's definitely more than just “ick”.This kind of resonates with 'cause, as someone who's always supported gay marriage, I used to pretty much just agree with the argument in the post, that people opposed to it basically just feel like gay marriage is icky. Now, having read other arguments, I can understand why people are opposed to gay marriage. I still support it, but I can recognize that the opposition isn't totally ridiculous.

  5. Holbo's passage should be listed as an example next to the dictionary definition of “straw man argument.” Doesn't dignify a response

  6. That last, ungrammatical sentence should be: “it doesn’t deserve to be dignified with a response.”

    God, I’m a moron.

  7. Marriage has an existential relationship to reproduction and resource sharing that cuts across cultures through recorded history. The institution of marriage forms the basis by which many cultures (including our own) deal with potential fertility and the consequences thereof. I personally believe that the discomfort most people have with same-sex marriage derives less from homophobia than it does from the required and explicit “divorce” of marriage from fertile potential. Conceptualized as the “pinnacle” of courtly love (i.e. “I love you enough to do paperwork if we break up.”), there is no reason to question the wisdom of legalizing same-sex marriage. Yet, legalizing same-sex marriage so thoroughly embraces this conception of marriage that potential fertility cannot be considered foundational to the institution. This is not without consequence, and those consequences bear careful consideration.

  8. Reproductive technology already allows us to create embryos using an ovum from one woman, and genetic material from another woman. One of the women can then have the embryo placed implanted and give birth. A child has already been born with Mitochondrial DNA from one woman and nuclear DNA from another. These lesbians have potential fertility. Should we let them get married? Should we continue to let 90 year old women get married. Should we let known infertile women (or men with vasectomies) get married? Or is it just the illusion of “potential fertility” that matters to you?

  9. First, I am not hostile to homosexuals, their formation of long term pair bonds, or their legal and spiritual union. I have not yet heard the argument which requires those unions be considered marriages. Second, your example of a child born with mitochondrial DNA from one woman and nuclear DNA from another is at least incomplete. Either that baby was a clone or there was more nuclear DNA involved.Third, I was referencing the pan-historic pan-cultural institution of heterosexual marriage. The reference to fertile potential was imprecise but referred to the potential for reproduction through heterosexual copulation within the marriage. Although I did not explore all of the boundary cases in my argument, I acknowledged them when I said that discomfort with homosexual marriage flows largely from the “_explicit_ 'divorce' of marriage from fertile potential.” My larger point was that discomfort with homosexual marriage need not be rooted in homophobia or “ick.” Instead, it may derive from the traditional rooting of the institution in heterosexual reproduction and resource sharing. An institution like marriage, with roots extending beyond recorded history, is likely to resist separation from its existential relationship to heterosexual reproduction. I suspect that the cultural norming of marriage to heterosexual couples will persist so long as homosexual reproduction not requiring genetic material from outside the relationship remains experimental and rare. Either that, or marriage will be wholly re-defined. If marriage is explicitly re-defined as separate from reproduction, how can we maintain legal prohibition on consenting adult relatives getting married? Is that prohibition not rooted on the potential harm that would befall their progeny? If considerations of reproduction and progeny are wholly external to the institution of marriage, upon what basis can that prohibition persist? It seems that supporters of homosexual marriage find this logic in poor taste, but why? Is it not a fair question that flows from the logic required to extend marriage to homosexual couples?Again, the point is that skepticism regarding the wisdom of re-defining marriage need not flow from homophobia or “ick.” There are reasoned considerations which merit debate surrounding the raison d' etre for the institution of marriage and the consequences of its re-definition.

  10. You know what is ick?Marriage.Having sex with the same person, animal, vegetable, mineral, day after day, week after week is a sick thing.Screw all you marriage perverts. I don't care if you are flaming queers or raging fundamentalists, you are all sick fucks in my book. Perverts every single one of you sick, sick people.

  11. Some thoughts.The first thing I'll say is that it doesn't seem likely that relatives getting married is much of an issue. There's not much of a lobby nor are there serious issues involving sexist oppression and so on of people who want to fuck their sister. That said, if both parties consent I have no issue with it.Anyways, I'm not convinced that redefining marriage in broader terms will mean anything for breeding heterosexuals. I'll tread carefully since you make such a calm argument, but often there comes along an unconscious homophobia, to put it mildly: Straights so vastly outnumber gays that claiming a fraction of the two percent or so of gays (who are not, for the most part, reproducing) will undermine the marriages of the rest of the society strikes me at best paranoid and at worst unbelievably arrogant. A bit unrelated, but important: Opposition to same-sex marriage often goes in tandem with other forms of anti-gay sentiment (which is what it is), exclusion from the military, discrimination in home and at the workplace, etc. There's also a near prohibition of gay literature and art by the public that is less *formally* restricted in the U.S., although there is a just below the surface dislike of it — the “ick” factor.This comes from a fear (when reasoned, although it is almost invariably simple bigotry) that the public visibility of same-sex relationships will act as an alternative to the “traditional” avenues of heterosexual bonding and so on. By opening up the public realm to gays, it seems likely that many people would feel less compelled to conform to heterosexual roles. And of course, to stamp down public visibility of homosexuality requires a great deal of coercion by a heterosexist society, often brutally and with traumatic consequences for gays. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, then, is only one form of oppression, and it's a political issue because reform through public pressure is quite likely. It's as much the focus of the gay civil rights movement, as part of a broader campaign to end heterosexism, as the fight for desegregation was about ending racism. Smashing heterosexism completely is another thing and is much more complicated, and we'll probably never be rid of it entirely.Ending that (and marriage is a very important step) is a greater matter for me than whether a straight couple — out of the hundred or two hundred million (who knows) in this country — choose not to do something they're biologically wired to do because of a change of heart there's not a lick of evidence they'll have.

  12. You know what is ick?Marriage.Having sex with the same person, animal, vegetable, mineral, day after day, week after week is a sick thing.Screw all you marriage perverts. I don't care if you are flaming queers or raging fundamentalists, you are all sick fucks in my book. Perverts every single one of you sick, sick people.

  13. Some thoughts.The first thing I'll say is that it doesn't seem likely that relatives getting married is much of an issue. There's not much of a lobby nor are there serious issues involving sexist oppression and so on of people who want to fuck their sister. That said, if both parties consent I have no issue with it.Anyways, I'm not convinced that redefining marriage in broader terms will mean anything for breeding heterosexuals. I'll tread carefully since you make such a calm argument, but often there comes along an unconscious homophobia, to put it mildly: Straights so vastly outnumber gays that claiming a fraction of the two percent or so of gays (who are not, for the most part, reproducing) will undermine the marriages of the rest of the society strikes me at best paranoid and at worst unbelievably arrogant. A bit unrelated, but important: Opposition to same-sex marriage often goes in tandem with other forms of anti-gay sentiment (which is what it is), exclusion from the military, discrimination in home and at the workplace, etc. There's also a near prohibition of gay literature and art by the public that is less *formally* restricted in the U.S., although there is a just below the surface dislike of it — the “ick” factor.This comes from a fear (when reasoned, although it is almost invariably simple bigotry) that the public visibility of same-sex relationships will act as an alternative to the “traditional” avenues of heterosexual bonding and so on. By opening up the public realm to gays, it seems likely that many people would feel less compelled to conform to heterosexual roles. And of course, to stamp down public visibility of homosexuality requires a great deal of coercion by a heterosexist society, often brutally and with traumatic consequences for gays. Prohibition of same-sex marriage, then, is only one form of oppression, and it's a political issue because reform through public pressure is quite likely. It's as much the focus of the gay civil rights movement, as part of a broader campaign to end heterosexism, as the fight for desegregation was about ending racism. Smashing heterosexism completely is another thing and is much more complicated, and we'll probably never be rid of it entirely.Ending that (and marriage is a very important step) is a greater matter for me than whether a straight couple — out of the hundred or two hundred million (who knows) in this country — choose not to do something they're biologically wired to do because of a change of heart there's not a lick of evidence they'll have.

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