Tag Archives: Debate

The Case for Getting Married If You Want to and When You’re Ready

694px-PolyloveThis post was inspired by a tweet from Grace: “‘The Case for getting married if you want to and when you are ready.’ Someone get on this.” Originally posted on March 28, 2013.

Marriage isn’t only for opposite sex, monogamous couples who want to have kids. It should be an option for any constellation of consenting adults for the following reasons:

Symbols matter. Of course you can have love and commitment without marriage (or marriage without love or commitment) but the act of reciting vows or slipping a ring onto your finger is a powerful reminder of your emotional bond.

Longterm relationships are difficult. Sometimes you’ll be so frustrated with your significant other(s) that you wonder why you ever fell for them. Marriage is a public proclamation of your love and commitment that invites your community to share your joy and pain. A promise spoken out loud in front of everyone carries more weight than one you think but never say because it transforms an intention into a tangible demonstration of your emotions.

OttersHoldingHands
Photo by Penyulap.

Sympathetic friends and family members can also pull you through these tough times by reminding you why you married your spouse(s). Don’t underestimate the value of listening to outside opinions when you find yourselfhashing over the same issues with your significant other(s). Not all of this advice will be useful, of course, but sometimes a fresh point of view can help you understand the parts of your marriage that aren’t working well at the moment.

It protects you legally. To give just a few examples, if your spouse becomes extremely ill you automatically have next-of-kin status at the hospital. Upon their death you automatically inherit their assets if there isn’t a will. You can foster or adopt children jointly. Sponsoring a spouse for residency or immigration is faster and easier than sponsoring other relatives.

Should these benefits be constricted to married people? The answer to that question would fill its own blog post but right now marriage comes with a long list of benefits that aren’t available to the legally single.

 Married people have more satisfying sex lives. Ignore all of the TV shows and movies that portray marriage as an instant libido killer. Statistically speaking married couples have more and better sex than the single folks we assume are having much more fun than us. Trust and communication are incredibly sexy once you’ve been together long enough to know exactly how to turn your partner(s) on emotionally and physically.

The institution is evolving. Almost everyone living in the west chooses their own spouses and marries for love. The system is far from perfect but we are slowly creating a society that accepts a wide variety of ways to live. I believe there is great value in  changing our cultural expectations of marriage to a more inclusive and egalitarian form of it.

In no way does this mean that everyone must get married. What makes me happy might make you miserable but it can be a beautiful experience if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing.

Respond

Do you agree with me? What have been your experiences with marriage?

People Aren’t Projects

Originally posted on March 11, 2013. 

“Let’s go talk to the street preachers!” Drew teased this past weekend. I raised my eyebrow and glanced over at him, trying not to roll my eyes.

Muslim, Jewish or Christian, street evangelists in Toronto share the same goal: to convert you. Certain groups loudly berate (female) strangers they think are too scantily clad. A handful are mentally ill, arguing with people who aren’t really there or exhibiting disorganized thought patterns if you listen to what they have to say. Others are quite friendly and knowledgable, especially if you can get them to discuss something other than religion.

After a year or two of living here I began avoiding all of them because people aren’t projects. It’s just as inappropriate to yell at strangers that they’re all going to hell as it is to take advantage of an existing friendship to push the issue.

Evangelism isn’t just a religious phenomenon, though. I’ve seen people use forms of friendship evangelism to convince others to:

  • Eat certain foods
  • Avoid other foods
  • Lose weight
  • Gain weight
  • Own a car
  • Use public transit
  • Get pregnant 
  • Raise your kid my way
  • Switch to reusable shopping bags*
  • Vote only for candidates from party X 

Regardless of whether those around them actually needed advice or had any intention of considering unsolicited input.

Do some of these urges come from a good place? Yes. Wanting other people to experience the same joy you do from a certain experience or decision is completely understandable but adults are responsible for their own lives.

Attempting to transform a friendship into a situation in which one person knows best for another taints every interaction. Am I asking about your latest doctor’s visit because I’m genuinely concerned or because I want you to buy megadoses of a particular vitamin that is sure to fix your incurable disease? Are you wondering for whom I voted in the last provincial election because you are thinking about voting for someone new or so you can make sure I’m not a Pauper?

It comes down to this: debating differences of opinion is healthy. By all means question the why and what of other people’s ideas and identity’s but condensing another human being to where they stand on one issue and then trying to “fix” that part of them doesn’t build trust. It erodes it.

*Yes, I have actually seen so-called grown ups get snippy about this one.

Free Speech Isn’t Only for Ideas You Like

Someone (thanks, Mel!) sent me a link to this story about Daryl Banther and his 8-year-old son. The poor guy. He just wanted to hand out pamphlets and religion “surveys” to unsuspecting festival-goers in Georgia. But the cops chased him away….

He thinks he should be allowed to pedal God. In a way, I agree with him. But there’s an appropriate time and place for that.

– From Evangelizing.

It was difficult to condense this topic into a short quote. I highly recommend reading the original article and Deborah Mitchell’s response to it in order to understand the nuances of the story.

Raising Kids Without Religion is a fantastic blog, but I disagree with Deborah’s assertion that it is inappropriate to pass out tracts at a public event. If anything, public events are an incredibly appropriate place to discuss your beliefs so long they don’t fit into the short list of exemptions to free speech.

After all, free speech isn’t only for ideas we like. In order to work properly it must apply to people we vehemently disagree with as much as it does to our beliefs. No one is guaranteed the right to never hear ideas they find offensive, heretical, or just plain objectionable. Daryl has just as much right to pass out pamphlets and discuss his beliefs in public as the rest of us have to ignore him.

After living in Toronto for eight years I’ve become quite adept at quickly walking past the too-friendly smiles of preachers, performers, and salespeople while in the busier parts of town. 🙂

Assuming the accusations are true, should Daryl have been asking children he’d never met before for their home address and telephone numbers? It might be legal, but I have serious ethical issues with anyone attempting to extract such private information from minors. Any adult who tried that in my city would be perceived as incredibly creepy. No one approaches strange children here without getting permission from their parents or caretakers first, although I acknowledge that this sort of thing may be more socially acceptable in Daryl’s community.

If he broke the law he should be ticketed or arrested, of course, but I cannot support the officer’s decision to pressure him into going home that evening if he wasn’t doing anything illegal.

Ideas aren’t inherently dangerous. What matters is what we do with them and how we treat people who see the world through other lenses.

Is It Ok to Not Like Kids?

A response to I Don’t Like Kids. There, I Said It

I actually agree with much of what Nissa has to say on this subject. Many years ago I decided to never become a mother for the same reasons she mentions: a complete lack of interest in parenting, a strong preference for a quiet, orderly adulthood and a desire to not add to the seven billion+ humans already in existence. To be honest I don’t think life on earth is going to be pleasant for anyone in 50-100 years and I’d rather not be responsible for creating one or more people who would still be alive if and when ecosystems collapse.

It makes me cringe when other Childfree adults say they don’t like children, though. Let’s substitute a few other groups in that sentence. Is it ok to say you just don’t like black people? Bisexuals? Women? Mormons? New Democrats?

Any group will include members who do things others find irritating but it’s counterproductive and unethical to punish everyone for something one person said or did. Not all children are noisy or distracting. My favourite activity as soon as I learned how to read was picking a good book and curling up to read behind the couch or underneath my grandmother’s piano while the adults talked.

Occasionally new grown-ups treated me like a nuisance because they assumed I couldn’t sit still and be quiet. Nothing could be further from the truth and being treated differently based on their pre-conceived expectations hurt. Now that I’m an adult I see no reason to say, “I don’t like kids!” (Or the equally inane, “I love kids!”)

Specific behaviours may be annoying or endearing but there will always be children in this world who are nothing like your ideas of them.

A few years ago a romantic dinner with my husband was marred by a table full of demanding, shrieking…businessmen. Every man at that table was so drunk he didn’t realize how loud their table was or that not everyone found them amusing.

Kids are individuals. I adore some of them, like others, and have met a small handful that I never want to meet again but the same can be said for Christians, lesbians, bloggers, cyclists, and librarians . 😉

 

Grammar Matters

Scrabble_tiles_enGrammar matters.

Fourteen years ago when I first joined in on Internet conversations I was surprised by how often the people I met online ignored basic punctuation, capitalization and spelling rules. Over time this lax approach to the English language has only grown worse.

When I read a blog post or article riddled with errors I assume the author doesn’t take his or her work seriously. If the author won’t take five minutes to proofread his or her words I’m probably not going to finish reading them. The written word is one of the most powerful tools humans have developed over the past five thousand years and we should strive to preserve its rich history, not ignoring the rules in order to save a few seconds.

It’s more difficult for me to read articles, blog posts and emails that don’t follow the basic rules of grammar than the ones that at least try to obey the rules of standard English. Sometimes commas save lives, and I’d much rather keep reading than pause to figure out if a certain word is purposefully misspelled or if it’s a new slang term.

Of course we all make occasional mistakes. I don’t expect perfection from myself or anyone else but it’s troubling to see such a rich, beautiful language morph into endless abbreviations and ambiguous meanings.

I’ve known people who learned English later in life and take the memorization of irregular verbs and plural nouns quite seriously. Someone else I know has a mild learning disorder that makes reading and writing difficult. They still try to communicate effectively.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask everyone else to do the same thing.

 

 

It’s Not a Debate if Everyone Agrees

This series of essays about whether women should wear makeup caught my eye. Of the seven entries three say we should wear it. The other four think it’s a personal choice but all but one of them either regularly wear makeup or are married to women who do. No one seriously questions why women feel… Read More

Why We Need More Books About Forbidden Fruit

A proposition for 2013: we need more stories about forbidden fruit. In Love and Other Perishable Items Amelia, 15, and Chris, 21, fall in love while working together at a grocery store. They’re both trapped in unfulfilling lives for different reasons and find kindred spirits in one another. Of course, acting on their feelings is illegal until… Read More

Haircuts vs. Human Rights

  Faith McGregor walked into the Terminal Barber Shop on Bay St. in June to get a haircut…Shop co-owner Omar Mahrouk told her his Muslim faith prohibits him from touching a woman who is not a member of his family. All the other barbers said the same thing. Local readers have no doubt already heard about… Read More