How to rebut all the moronic arguments against gay people marrying each other

You know what it is? I am pissed off. And tired. And need a good ol’ rant.

This post has nothing to do with research or academia (well actually, with research, yes, but that’s not the point), but I had to get it off my chest. I have been compiling this list in my head for a while and finally decided to post it because, seriously people, get a move on and legalise gay marriage ALREADY. (Australia, I’m talking to YOU). Also, a couple nights ago I happened to watch the Louis Theroux episode where he visits the Westboro Baptist Church and is met by a big fat dumbfounding pile of crazy, so I remembered that I had this huge bone to pick with the bigoted fascists of the world and thought this was a good a time as any.
So this post is for when you voice your informed, compassionate, libertarian gay marriage-friendly opinion at a party and there’s that moron (there’s always one) that decides to argue with you–first of all, ask yourself what kind of people you are surrounding yourself with. Time to make new friends, like, yesterday–you can respond as follows.

I have tried to list the arguments in order of increasing idiocy.

(NOTE: This is a long post. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, just read the parts in bold. That’s pretty much the gist of it).

Moronic argument #1: Gays shouldn’t be  allowed to marry [or exist] because if everyone was gay, humans would become extinct. 

No rebuttal. That is completely correct. The logic of this argument is flawless, much like if everyone was blonde, brunettes would become extinct. However, the likelihood of everyone in the world being, or turning gay at the same time is about the same as 60 Minutes making actual investigative journalism: Null. This may come as a surprise, but people are just born what they are, gay people are not made by  married gay people. (Trust me on this). Sleep tight, ’cause if human extinction is your biggest worry, you are safe and snug as a bug.

Moronic argument #2Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry because that would threaten the institution of marriage.

How?? First of all, you know chicken shit about what kind of institution marriage is. Marriage has always been a contract designed to ensure the origin of a man’s offspring, and thus the lawful transmission of title, property, name, and so on. Daughters were practically sold to the highest, or most convenient bidder. For the woman, it simply meant financial and societal protection.

The registration of marriages by a legal OR religious authority – let’s point out, here, that religious ratification is just ONE option – is about 500 years old, and marriage based on love is a quaint novelty about two centuries old. Nowadays, people can be married (legally) in Vegas by some old dude dressed as Elvis. They can marry their childrensiblingsthe Eiffel Tower, or their pets. They can get married in front of half of the world’s media, and be divorced less than a year later. And there’s that nagging statistic of one in every three marriages ending in divorce anyway. Basically: people have very different ideas about what marriage is and what they want out of it. In any case, it has no impact whatsoever on other people’s marriages. If you’re one of those people with a happy, white, middle-class, saint marriage – well, is it so flimsy that just the notion of two consenting adults of the same sex getting married risks to destroy it? If so, you have a bigger problem than a couple of queens tying the knot, methinks.

Moronic argument #3: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry because that would threaten the family/ because what about the children????

Sure, because you have people who love each other, want to live together, commit and support each other, who want to have children and have Chrismukkah dinners and summer vacations and first days of school and nights at the table doing homework and recitals and football games. Poor children!! I MEAN, VOM, RIGHT? This stuff is NASTY.

If you’re worried about children from gay families growing up in a malicious environment, being bullied and whatnot, well, what about YOU don’t behave maliciously to begin with? Children will learn from the adults around them, they’re not born homophobic. Also, you’ll find that children’s resilience is a lot higher than adults expect, and that adult attitudes toward childhood are generally reflective of adults’ own hangups rather than children’s actual ability to withstand and understand social situations.

Moronic argument #4: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry [or exist] because homosexuality is a sin, you’ll burn in hell forever if you don’t stop and every time a penis touches an asshole an angel loses its wings.

Firstly, I would like to express my gratitude for your fervent, if not a bit creepy, concern with the state of my soul. So, according to your religion, being gay is wrong. Noted. However, if you don’t mind I’ll take this issue up with the Lord myself, when the time comes. And, as you are so sure that gays are undoubtedly going to be punished, then what’s with the need to manifest, picket, and generally troll around about it? Hasn’t it basically been already taken care of?

Also, and just because I like precision, I would like to point out that Jesus Christ never said a word about gays being bad. There are Paul’s letters, sure. And there is that bit in Leviticus. But there are several versions and translations of versions of the Bible and the text is hardly plain to understand. Also, if you do want to understand it plainly, how come you are so righteous about those two pages of the Bible and you happily forget everything else? Leviticus in the same place also condemns wearing clothes made of two different types of fabric, having sex with a woman when she has her period–are you proposing we do the same? [If they say yes, nod and STEP AWAY IMMEDIATELY].

Moronic argument # 5: Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry [o exist] because homosexuality is not normal/because Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve (or similar theme variations).

Firstly: If you mean not normal as in unnatural, you’re wrong. Homosexual activity has been found in over 1500 animal species and extensively documented in at least 500 of them, including swans, penguins, monkeys, dolphins, hyenas, elephants, giraffes, dragonflies and bedbugs. It has also been common in human societies since the beginning of recorded history, in ancient Greece, Egypt, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

Perhaps you meant not normal as not the norm, or, “the majority of people is straight, why should I bother about a few individuals with a penchant for glitter?” Well, this argument doesn’t hold either, because the fact that something is infrequent doesn’t make it wrong. Case in point: left-handed people; gingers; albinos; people with eyes of different colours; people with an IQ of 140; people who can curl their tongues. Psychopathic serial killers are also infrequent, but that fact alone doesn’t make it wrong either. It’s the killing people part.

Could it be that you’re just UNCOMFORTABLE??

Seriously, though. Most of these “arguments” simply come from the unquestionable fact that some people find the idea of gay sex revolting. Look, duckies, don’t take it personally. It’s their prerogative. I’m sure if you think about it long enough you’ll be able to think of at least ONE sexual practice that makes you go “eeeeeewwwwww”. (Like golden showers, for example). So, to each their own. In this case, just reassure them that once married, all the dirty, sweaty, rowdy gay sex becomes tame, vanilla, PG-13 sex, just like for the heteros.


A (thankfully) brief hiatus…

This goes again in the life post PhD category. Truth be told, I am sick of even saying  the word. And now I am going to (partly) blame it for my erratic blogging habits, which really gives the Bloody Thing a lot more credit than it deserves…

First, I graduated. With dress and everything. I felt really nervous, and kind of uneasy, for most of the day. Then when it was over, I had a good cry–the kind with really loud sobs but not so many tears, if you know what I mean. At the time I thought it was just the nerves, although for no apparent reason – in this country we don’t even have the viva, the public defence of the thesis, so graduation is basically hours of sitting on a stage and remembering which hand to shake the Chancellor’s with. Nevertheless, I was completely spent afterwards, tired, and sort of empty. But I had been feeling like that for a while.

I had some trouble in the past few weeks. I found it extremely difficult to do simple things like getting up, eating, going outside. I managed to get to work but hardly noticed it. I felt hollow. I just didn’t care about anything, while at the same time feeling a desperate yearning for something to happen to me, for me to feel some spark, some passion, some fucking enthusiasm for any aspect of my fucking blessed life.
This is not the first time it has happened. A couple of years ago, in the midst of my candidature, I had a similar episode, and for a few weeks life was just uninteresting. I don’t know how else to explain it. It ended with a few counselling sessions in which we discussed my parents’ feelings towards me being with a woman. Then I went overseas, so I healed, or something.

But anyway. It happened again. This time, no counsellor yet (although I might still see someone. In case). It took me a long time to figure this out and I am not even done yet, but I think I had underestimated the consequences of finishing something like a PhD. You focus so much on getting the Bloody Thing done that you don’t think much about its aftermath. In short, I just found myself deprived of the one thing that had been giving purpose and structure to my life for four years. I have never done anything else, learnt another trade, pursued another talent or passion. (In retrospect that wasn’t so smart). It didn’t matter what job I was doing at the time because I had this bigger, brighter goal I was pursuing…and now that it is over, and it has sunken in, I sort of have to reconfigure my life. Now it’s up to me alone to try and make something out of it, and I am just terrified. What if I screw up? What if I drop the spirit stick????? What if I just end up being average? (Wait. WHAT?)

It’s taken some time, some pills (only herbal for now), a lot of tears, and the support of friends and family to slowly try to make sense of me again. I don’t think I was anywhere near the edge, but that’s because I was able to catch it in time. I shudder at the thought of how many people go about their daily life carrying a similar listlessness inside and shaking it off, or bottling it up, until it’s too much and the cocoon of apathy takes over. Warm, paralyzing, and suffocating.

Honestly, I think I have some depressive tendencies. It just comes back. And with major life events, well, the risk is obviously higher. I don’t know that I’ll ever beat this thing for good, and maybe it shouldn’t even be a goal. I know that there are gestures and motions I can go through to reclaim some sense of normality. There are things that genuinely make me happy, like writing. And others that I do because I have to, like taking care of loves and friends. So I guess that’s the best I can do. So here we go.

Guilty as charged

Interesting read today. A friend whose procrastinating habits are much more refined than mine* posted a link to this post from GradHacker and, as I had been debating for a while about posting on the very same topic, thought that it would be very appropriately timed of me to do so now. I read the post smiling and nodding sagely with a very knowing air.

I am glad that someone said that out loud – that grad students (or postgrads, in my corner of the world) are experiencing guilt at all stages of their candidature. Obviously, then I went and looked and found a few (very impassioned) more, and noticed (ta-dah!) that actually most of the articles and posts dealing with ‘research life’ are actually strategies to avoid the omnipresent guilt. (Actually, there are several types of guilt – found this very funny list with a few examples).
Really: do the exercise. Google “graduate student guilt” (you have to put in the keyword ‘student’ or else you have to wade through 12-step program sites) and have a read. The comments especially. This one I like very much.

I have been living with guilt for about as long as I have been enrolled in a postgraduate degree. I tell you, they should put it on the Selection Criteria for research degree applications: Ability to cope with constant, overwhelming feelings of guilt (others may include Willingness to renounce old-fashioned notions such as “working hours” and “public holiday” and Proven track-record in self-flagellating techniques…). Guilt doesn’t abandon you. It is always there, nagging, when you’re doing something else instead of…oh, I don’t know, furthering your academic career. I don’t even know what that entails specifically, yet I’m here beating myself up for not doing it: networking, introducing myself to scholars I admire, asking people for advice, recruiting friends and colleagues to read over my work, write, revise, submit, publish, present….anyone else feeling hot in here?

So. I went out and proactively borrowed books about academic publishing, having given up on the idea that now I have a PhD, writing should be easier. They have titles like Writing your Journal Article in 12 Weeks: A guide to academic success (I know, right? Right out of the self-help section. Might as well get He’s Just Not That Into You, while I’m at it).
But the fact remains that I am guilty (no pun intended) of all the most common mistakes: leaving things to the last minute, procrastinating like an addict, avoiding to talk about my research, not sharing my writing with anyone until it’s just so….Then, since my epiphany (or, rather, the realisation that I will never be able to afford a converted warehouse with water views unless I really get cracking on that Professorial contract…) I have been in a total slump. Princess Pumpkin had to stage an intervention with tea & tears to get me to admit that I was scared shitless of the whole academic shebang. I mean, one thing is writing to get a degree, and another is to demonstrate afterwards that you deserved it. But one thing emerges from all this reading academic self-help books and blog posts about guilt: that most people feel the same, and status, seniority, or DIISR points under the belt don’t seem to be significant variables. The other thing is that writing – all sorts of writing – help. Small chunks. Writing for an audience.

Et voilà, there you go, so I’ve been here feeling guilty when I really shouldn’t have because I was doing it all along! I knew this blog would be a good idea….

*She reads PhD Comics, The Thesis Whisperer and InsideHigherEd to pass time. I (used to) just YouTube funny cat videos and makeup tutorials.

Research. The job you love to hate

I admit I have been very naïve in this respect.

I have tried so hard not to do things just because it was expected of me, and I have ended up following a trajectory that could not be more obvious. Today someone was saying how ‘pathways’ is a much more apt word to describe people’s movements and knowledge flows, because the routes of life are rarely straightforward and, more often than not, they are characterised by detours, U-turns, and other changes of direction.

Well…the pathway of my life has come to resemble very much a desert highway, I’ll tell you this much. Straight like an arrow. No detours right now for me, it seems. I thought that I really was not suited to academia; I got my degree, sure, but it was so painful, so lengthy, such a drag that I simply was not jumping for joy at the thought of doing research for life. I am not good at waffling. I am not particularly sure that what I have to say is of any interest to a room full of people. I have cold sweats every time I have to teach, at every conference, hell, every time I have to SPEAK UP. Even writing is becoming excruciating (hence the blog). So forgive me for thinking that becoming an academic was somewhat of a masochistic goal.

But today I have finally realised that despite being terrified and disheartened, I also would never be completely happy if I didn’t get to do research – to think about the stuff that makes your brain explode like popcorn (a felicitous expression copyright of Princess Pumpkin), and to get to say your two cents about it. It’s a tremendous privilege.

Being a privilege, I guess it’s only fair that so many feel kind of guilty about it -after all, my PhD candidature was a (ok, not so quick) expedient to avoid being deported, hardly the admirable feat of a determined mind. So. Me = feelings of guilt, inadequacy, being undeserving, etc etc. I considered several alternatives, which sounded all attractive, except that I could not see myself just doing that. While research – well, that allows you to do anything else you want; heck – it demands it!

So I decided to simply own it: I am CurlySquirrel, Ph.D. and researcher in the making.

[Despite being currently wedged in an admin position with little-to-none career prospects. But that’s another story].

And here I am, after months of internal dilemmas, doing exactly what I had set out to do a few years ago when I started this thing. Hence the desert highway. I surely sat by the road quite a bit and seriously considered turning back a few times or taking shortcuts, but here I am back on….

Please refrain from sending unsolicited manuscripts

In the movie of my life, these past few weeks would be the part where the protagonist takes charge of the situation and, to the notes of a sassy, uplifting pop song, makes the necessary steps to turn around their life (think Woods-comma-Elle, buying an orange PowerBook in a Playboy Bunny suit – mental image courtesy of Princess Pumpkin).

I have been struggling with decisions to make about my life, and one of my resolutions is to actually DO translation work. I have the credentials, I have experience, I believe I have the skills – I just need to find work. I decided that it would be good for me to pursue the goal of obtaining a literary translation contract, and have spent weeks researching the most suitable authors to be triumphantly introduced to the Italian readership. I thought I had the perfect candidate in a trendy, yet controversial writer with a varied range of publications – novels, essays and anthologies, which presumably could keep me going for a while if all goes well.

First though, I have to convince myself I actually like the books. Because, well, I don’t.

On the plus side I don’t think it’s her books in particular, I just don’t agree with them. They are  “chick lit”. This, so I learn, is the genre that gave us Bridget Jones and Carrie Bradshaw. I am a devotee of Helen Fielding, and have seen all episodes of Sex & The City back to back. Problem is, I think I have totally grown out of the genre and I don’t find it as compelling as I used to – possibly because it usually appeals to a very Westernised and heterosexual image of womanhood, which was new and fabulous in the nineties but I feel is a bit naive these days. And sometimes just outright foolish. Men needing to be interpreted like tarot cards, deciphered like Morse messages, and relationships navigated like a game of Jumanji. Women being absolutely irrational bundles of hormones most of the time, except for the fact that they have high-responsibility jobs and stellar careers and seem to drink themselves into oblivion every other day.  I mean, it’s escapism, and it’s all good, but at any rate, I have moved on.

Now though I find myself with this book – one of several – which I, personally, wouldn’t pick, but that many other people would probably love it and should read it because it has characters that are not common for books of this type. It really would be a great translation project. As for the genre, oh well. Women – apparently – like this stuff, so who am I to judge? I would only be the translator. And ultimately I believe that the themes she introduces and her characters should be known. And this is more important  than personal taste…

So I will take this on, find a publisher, and then bang my head against the wall. But I really, truly think it’ll be worth it.