TaraElla Themes 2017-18

A Liberal and Truly Intersectional Feminism, no GLIF
Only Liberal Feminism is Truly Intersectional Feminism. Learn more here.
Both the Ideas Lab and The TaraElla Show aim to advance liberal intersectional feminism.
To learn more about how other 'intersectional' feminists are doing it wrong, read The Disappointment of G.L.I.F.

More Music
More new work will be added to the catalog of TaraElla's Music.

A Moral Liberty
Contrary to popular (American) belief, real liberals are not Left (or Right), but pro-liberty.
The Ideas Lab is on a campaign to revive Moral Liberalism.
For more about Moral Liberalism, read TaraElla's book Liberal Revival Now.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Marriage Equality: A Case of Gays Saying 'Look At Me Now'?

To many observers, gay couples campaigning to be included in marriage seems like yet another 'Look At Me Now' moment. We have long repealed any laws against gay behaviour, we have given them couple rights in society, in many places we have given them the option of civil unions, and yet they are screaming for more. Aren't we fed up by now? Won't they take what they have and go away quietly?

Once upon a time I thought like that too. Then I studied the topic carefully, and I found out just how wrong I was.

The gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage and a family life, even if they do not have children to raise, are actively seeking to join the age old tradition of marriage and commitment. They have actively rejected the 'liberation' movement, which has promised them a life of endless hedonism, lots of sexual freedom and no institutions to rule their lives by. Just like us, they have chosen to reject the postmodern promise of endless freedom and have chosen to embrace instead the tradition of commitment and family values. Not many people out there are aware of this, but for choosing to side with tradition they often face the ridicule, disdain and outright discouragement of more 'liberation' orientated gay and lesbian people. For choosing to adopt our values and join our lifestyle, they have been derided as asssimilationists, people who are ashamed of who they are and seek conservative society's approval at all costs. We, the people who embrace family values, are their natural home. To reject them here too would be far too cruel and indeed inconsistent with our compassionate family values. To reject them would also be to confirm that their critics are right, that being gay means you cannot embrace family values, that you must embrace 'liberationism'. I really don't think that is the right message to send.

The fact that gay and lesbian couples are actively rejecting 'liberation' and embracing the tradition of marriage is another thing we should take heart to, and may even be able to use as a starting point for a general return to family values in society. The fact that gay and lesbian couples, who live in a culture where just a decade or so ago 'liberation' was the norm, have come to reject it so decisively, can be a great conversation starter for a wider societal discussion on marriage and family values, and why they represent a superior lifestyle to 'liberation'. Again, it is an opportunity we can only take if we first embrace the idea of marriage equality first.

A related argument is that gay marriages will never be universally accepted as real marriages, not by many churches at least. So why should they bother? Well, I personally still see an ideal for the future where divorce rates go back down to 1950s levels for all couples - again this is not universally accepted as a goal. Shall we just give up on everything then? I guess not. If it's good for family values in the end, we should embrace it. Others may take a longer time to do so, but we should be part of the process to help along any idea that may bolster family values for our future generations. Letting go of this (or any other) opportunity is not something we can afford to do, when the future of family values is already looking this shaky.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What Marriage Really Is, and How it Relates to Marriage Equality

One major concern of modern times is that marriage rates have declined, generation after generation. Non-marriage births have risen all over the West. Another concern with marriage right now is the sky high divorce rates. A society with divorce rates above 40% really is not sustainable in the long run, I believe.

The proposed solution is to restart a conversation about what marriage is and what the commitment means. Remake the case about marriage, procreation and family - specifically how marriage is a commitment that is not just about the 'love' and desires of adults, but rather a stabilising institution that forms a good foundation for a family. I totally agree that this would help a lot. As a society, we should discuss and hopefully come to a conclusion that marriage is not just about love or adult desires, but is about the formation of families and providing for them a stable structure.

Some people have suggested that including gay couples in marriage would take us further away from the above consensus. In fact, some have even suggested that it is because society has lost the above consensus regarding marriage that the idea of gay marriages has become appealing to young people in society. I disagree with all of this. In fact, I not only disagree with all of this, but I will take the opposite view: embracing marriage equality is the first step in having the public conversation about marriage, in getting the public to be receptive of our arguments, and the only way in which a consensus about the nature of marriage can be re-established.

Honestly, if the arguments about marriage, procreation and stable families are tied to necessarily excluding gay couples, it wouldn't work. It would severely turn off at least a significant proportion of society - many of which will be young people, the very people who the conversation ought to engage to be successful. Many young people now believe that excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage is unacceptable, period. Through these lens, any argument purporting to make a case to exclude gay people from marriage will be seen as bigoted.

I propose an alternative: we need to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married as a matter of equal compassion and inclusion. Once this issue is sorted out, the clean air then lets us deal with the matter of what marriage is. No longer will idea about marriage, procreation and stable families be associated with bigotry. My critics say that including gay couples necessarily defeats the procreation and family idea of marriage. I strongly disagree. We already do include infertile and childless couples in marriage - as a society, we have long believed excluding them will be too cruel an act, whilst including them will not affect the function and ideal of the majority of procreating marriages and families. Whilst the older generation may be used to the idea of marriage excluding gay couples, for much of the younger generation, their exclusion is just as cruel as excluding infertile couples. Including gay and lesbian couples, who are by definition infertile couples, would not really distract from the idea of marriage being for procreation and for the stability of families resulting from the procreation act, any more than allowing heterosexual childless or infertile couples to marry (as we currently do) would. In reality, being rigid rarely works. I believe it would make perfect sense to say that marriage was meant to help couples set up family by encouraging procreation and then providing a stable structure for the resulting family, but being an inclusive society, we also extend this institution to cover those couples who unfortunately cannot procreate but are living in similarly committed arrangements.

There's No Way Back to the 50s, but There can Still be a Bright Future for Family Values

Many defenders of family values, especially older ones, tend to think like this: marriage did not include gay couples a few decades back, and family values functioned well. We want to go back there. Therefore, we must oppose gay marriages.

However, this is a faulty argument. I do acknowledge that the decline of family values since the 1960s is a sad thing. However, there are many reasons for that, and gay people are not part of the reason. There is simply no way 2% of the population can cause or significantly contribute to a society-wide decline in family values. Things have gone wrong in mainstream straight society, and it is there things must be fixed. Scapegoating gay people and gay rights will only blind us to the real problems that need to be fixed.

Meanwhile, things have changed. In the past, many believed being gay to be a lifestyle choice. This is because they haven't seen many gay people around them. When everyone around you is straight, many people naturally believe that being straight is the only natural way of being, and being gay must be a choice some people in a very different segment of society make, for twisted reasons. In turn, this homophobia has kept gay people closeted and underground for centuries. Today's younger generation did not grow up this way, however. They see gay people everywhere in their lives. They have gay friends, and often have gay family members. That being gay is a characteristic of a person and not a lifestyle choice is a clear thing for the majority of the younger generation, and gay couples today live openly amongst us.

As the situation has changed, we cannot just hope to go back in time by refusing to accommodate the new situations. Excluding gay couples from marriage was just natural in the 1950s, as gay couples were generally closeted and excluded from every sphere of society. Excluding gay couples from marriage in the 2010s when they clearly live normal, integrated lives amongst us is rightly seen as a form of apartheid by many young people. Withholding rights and respect from gay people in the 1950s was just natural, as it was accepted that they have a deviant and criminal lifestyle choice. Withholding rights and respect from gay people in the 2010s feels like an injustice to many people, because it is hating people for who they are. In the 1950s marriage was a society-wide brand even as it excluded gay couples, because gay couples were out-of-sight, out-of-mind anyway. In the 2010s, if marriage excludes gay couples, it is by definition no longer a society-wide brand, and therefore would be seen to be very optional even amongst straight couples. In general, if we continue to hold the line that marriage should exclude gay couples, marriage itself is being demeaned in the eyes of many people, particularly younger people. This is clearly not a good way to encourage family values.

A re-implementation of the 1950s playbook is not feasible. The 1950s never will be again. But what we can hope for is a future implementation of family values that will make the whole concept popular society-wide again. Marriage equality is part of the work that will get us there. It renews the idea that marriage should be a society-wide brand, and that it is about family and commitment, rather than exclusion. Without embracing marriage equality, the public image of marriage can never be healthy enough for us to successfully then embark on further campaigns of marriage promotion and public conversations on marriage, which are what will bring in a new golden age for family values.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Conservative Case for Marriage Equality

By the time this is being written, there are many articles entitled 'The Conservative Case for Marriage Equality', written by many people. The points are now well established and repeated again and again by now. I am not going over all of those points again. I am going to provide a fresh perspective on the matter: my own perspective, from my deep study in recent years into the topic.

I want to talk about marriage itself first. We all need to recognise one thing: marriage is in crisis. Marriage rates have been declining for many years, and the decline has not halted unfortunately. If the trend is not reversed, I am afraid that many of us will live to see a time when marriage will have become a minority concern. It's a tough reality, but it's one that we need to face. In response to this phenomenon, there have been efforts on marriage promotion. However, these have been very limited in their success. Still, we keep doing it because it's the only hope to keep marriage alive. Just why marriage promotion is not working very well needs to be studied, and programs will need to be improved upon. I suspect that opponents painting marriage as outdated, hierarchical and elitist, amongst other things, have had at least some effect. I don't believe in any of that rubbish personally, but I know people who do. In the long run we need strategies to defeat comprehensively the 'liberation' ideology that has torpedoed marriage.

However, right now, perhaps more urgently, there is one clear threat to marriage promotion: that much of the younger generation are starting to see marriage as an exclusionary, bigoted institution. And whilst that may not mean they will all refuse to get married, I suspect few of them would be too happy to get on board marriage promotion when it is promoting an institution excluding and hurting their gay and lesbian friends, and in many cases, family members. When marriage clearly excludes gay and lesbian couples, every word of marriage promotion will hurt their feelings - this is literally true, and something that cannot be said any milder. As a result, marriage promotion will rightly be seen as a hurtful exercise by many young people. Even I, a supporter of marriage, have had trouble explaining to my friends that whilst I support marriage I don't support the exclusionary aspect of the marriage laws out there. I simply have given up on talking about the matter most of the time.

Another concern with marriage right now is the sky high divorce rates. A society with divorce rates above 40% really is not sustainable in the long run, I believe. The proposed solution is to restart a conversation about what marriage is and what the commitment means. I totally agree that this would help a lot. As a society, we should discuss and hopefully come to a conclusion that marriage is not just about love or adult desires, but is about the formation of families and providing for them a stable structure. However, it wouldn't work when people are using the 'what marriage really is' argument to exclude gay and lesbian people - again the important message would be lost in accusations of bigotry. A better way would be to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married as a matter of equal compassion and inclusion, which actually lets us then deal with the matter of what marriage is, without all the noise. Including gay and lesbian couples, who are by definition infertile couples, would not really distract from the idea of marriage being for procreation and for the stability of families resulting from the procreation act, any more than allowing heterosexual childless or infertile couples to marry (as we currently do) would. In reality, being rigid rarely works. I believe it would make perfect sense to say that marriage was meant to help couples set up family by encouraging procreation and then providing a stable structure for the resulting family, but being an inclusive society, we also extend this institution to cover those couples who unfortunately cannot procreate but are living in similarly committed arrangements.

The gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage and a family life, even if they do not have children to raise, are actively seeking to join the age old tradition of marriage and commitment. They have actively rejected the 'liberation' movement, which has promised them a life of endless hedonism, lots of sexual freedom and no institutions to rule their lives by. Just like us, they have chosen to reject the postmodern promise of endless freedom and have chosen to embrace instead the tradition of commitment and family values. Not many people out there are aware of this, but for choosing to side with tradition they often face the ridicule, disdain and outright discouragement of more 'liberation' orientated gay and lesbian people. For choosing to adopt our values and join our lifestyle, they have been derided as asssimilationists, people who are ashamed of who they are and seek conservative society's approval at all costs. We, the people who embrace family values, are their natural home. To reject them here too would be far too cruel and indeed inconsistent with our compassionate family values. To reject them would also be to confirm that their critics are right, that being gay means you cannot embrace family values, that you must embrace 'liberationism'. I really don't think that is the right message to send.

The fact that gay and lesbian couples are actively rejecting 'liberation' and embracing the tradition of marriage is another thing we should take heart to, and may even be able to use as a starting point for a general return to family values in society. The fact that gay and lesbian couples, who live in a culture where just a decade or so ago 'liberation' was the norm, have come to reject it so decisively, can be a great conversation starter for a wider societal discussion on marriage and family values, and why they represent a superior lifestyle to 'liberation'. Again, it is an opportunity we can only take if we first embrace the idea of marriage equality first.

Finally, many people, especially in the younger generations, are supportive of marriage equality as an idea. However, they are nowhere as passionate and committed as me in seeing this reform get done. The difference is because I believe in the essential conservative values of commitment, the importance of marriage, and the importance of family values for the future of our humanity, beliefs that have become too rare in our generation. Marriage equality will not fix all the problems surrounding marriage and family in our society, but it is where we must all begin. Sending the wrong message on this matter means not just that gay couples suffer - it gives a huge boost to our opponents in our long running battle for hearts and minds. This is why marriage equality cannot wait - it is an urgent priority. Ten years down the track, we may have lost a very good opportunity to change things indeed.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Other Side of the Entertainment Industry - There's Plenty of Hope Still

The Hollywood shock value scene is getting more disgusting by the minute. It's in the performances, it's in the music videos, it's even in the lyrics of some songs. My 'boycott list' is growing larger by the year. Fortunately, there are still plenty of artists who would never do things like that.

Taylor Swift is perhaps one of the best examples of a genuine artist who doesn't get involved in the crazy side of Hollywood, and Demi Lovato wants to follow in her footsteps.

“She's like, 'Well, I don’t go out.' I don’t go out to clubs and I don’t party and to me, it says more when you don’t have to do things for shock value. You're more respected as an artist. And that’s what I want to be, I want to be respected as an artist and not a tabloid headline," Demi told Entertainment Weekly recently.

I think being real and having decency standards are a large part of Taylor Swift's popularity. In this regard, Demi Lovato is definitely on the right track. I am pleased to see that she will continue to follow this path faithfully into the future.