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09/06/2011

'Convenient sex, warm meals, and maid service': Man's definition of marriage?

by Jeremy Hooper

Despite us already knowing he sees homosexuality as "a particularly evil lie of Satan," Focus on the Family's Glenn Stanton managed to avoid both gays and Beelzebub in his "Friday Five" interview with his employer. However, this little snippet would seem to apply to our interests, as its wooden gender roles and contrived marital definitions surely says something about Stanton's (and much of the same-sex marriage opposition movement's) fundamentally limited view on marriage itself:

FOCUS: What do men lose by cohabiting [relationships]? What do they gain by being married?

Stanton: Well, they gain easier and more reliable access to convenient sex, warm meals and maid service. And they have to offer less overall commitment for it all. And it would seem in all this, this is perhaps one of the reasons why wives are happier than live-in girlfriends no matter how you measure such things. So that is one thing husbands get: happier women.

But they also are not as likely to be getting into trouble with infidelity, carousing, fired from work or unemployed at all. They are healthier, happier, more likely to finish college and be content in their careers. They are more likely to enjoy higher levels of sexual satisfaction than their buddies who shack up. The only real benefit men get from cohabitation is being the kind of man who gets better access to sex, food and cleaning services without having to give much for it. And no real man worth having really aspires to that.
Friday Five: Glenn T. Stanton [FoTF]

Now I don't know about you, but I know any number of heterosexual women who, if it was suggested to them that their relationships provided "easier and more reliable access to convenient sex, warm meals and maid service" for the man they are either seeing or marrying, would immediately provide the suggester with easier and more reliable access to her cold shoulder, "you've got to be kidding me!" eyes, or Ms. magazine subscription. So that Glenn so casually suggests this sex, meals, and cleaning entrée not once, but twice in this short little snippet, in a way that makes it sound as if it's a given? A female duty, even? To my eyes and ears -- born, as they were, into a post Title IV era -- this supposed marital meme comes across as jarring.

This kind of view is exactly what someone like Stanton brings to his work against same-sex marriage. For mostly religious reasons, the majority of folks leading the anti-equality movement on this issue have adopted extremely rigid, concretely gendered, limitedly defined boxes of acceptability, which they then demand everyone else also accept as gospel. Whether it's a woman's expected role in the kitchen or a man's expected role inside a vagina, the religious right's prevailing expectation is for this rich, diverse, glass-ceiling-shattering society of ours to stop bending or shaping. And if it should bend or shape, they want to be the kiln that will restore rigidity anew.

This is one reason why they fight for marriage equality is much more than a "gay rights" fight. The whole brouhaha, at its root, is not really over Portia and Ellen's anniversary celebration (check local listings). For many of those standing in the way, the sought-after roadblocks are much bigger, formidable, and hetero-inclusive. The resistance should be must be equally so.

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