on kim davis and marriage shaming

We can shame Kim Davis for a lot of things, chief among them not doing the job she swore to uphold. What we should not be shaming her for, however, is her multiple marriages. Yet across social media platforms, you can see a plethora of tweets and posts doing just that. She’s been called a slut, a hillbilly and many other things in deference to the fact that she’s been married four times. People are looking down their noses at her for all the wrong reasons. And while I understand their anger toward her and their need to lash out at Davis, what I don’t understand or condone is the need to ridicule that one aspect of her life.

Oh, yes. She’s a hypocrite. That she purports to stand for the sanctity of marriage while not exactly adhering to the Christian ideal of marriage makes that so. She misunderstands the law. She misunderstands or misinterprets the bible. We got that. She deserves whatever comes at her for those things. But what she’s not is a slut. What she’s not is a failure of a woman or a terrible wife or bad person because she’s been married four times.

Full disclosure here: I’m on my third marriage. Yes, my third. Third time’s the charm, as they say. So I take it personally when people, instead of attacking the many things you can attack Kim Davis for, attack her for her multiple marriages. When people slut shame her, or marriage shame her, you shame everyone who has been married more than once. And there are a lot of us. But guess what? We’re not bad people. We’re not failures. We’re not even bad wives or husbands. We’re just people who have been in less than ideal marriages and for whatever personal reasons, felt the need to move on for them. You don’t know. You don’t know about our personal lives. You don’t know what went on behind our bedroom doors or in our kitchens. You don’t know our turmoil, our despair or how we agonized over ending our marriages. And you certainly don’t know the feelings of hope, renewal and optimism that occurred when we entered into another marriage, hoping it would be better than the one before it.

Things happens. Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes there’s no happily ever after and your knight in shining armor turns out to be something else entirely. Sometimes their are days, weeks of silence and a shroud sets over your marriage. Sometimes history repeats itself. Sometimes it’s simple, sometimes it’s not. But if you haven’t been in the situation, you don’t know. You can’t — or shouldn’t — judge another person’s marriage because you have no idea of the intimate details surrounding it. You just can’t know another person’s life fully enough to disparage their marital choices.

That Kim Davis has been married four times does not make her a slut. It makes her human, it makes her vulnerable, it makes her have a history she probably doesn’t want and you probably wouldn’t covet.

What Kim Davis is, is a bigot. It’s possible to call her out on that without calling out her marriage status. It’s possible to call her out on not doing her job without calling out her lifestyle or her looks. I understand that she is supposedly standing up for the bible’s definition of marriage while she herself isn’t exactly upholding the gold standard for marriage, and we can well attack her for hypocrisy without attacking her for her relationship choices, because we have no idea what led up to those choices, what kind of situations she was in.

Kim Davis is putting her god before the law. Kim Davis is trying to force people to adhere to her religious views. Kim Davis is practicing discrimination. Kim Davis is a bigot. Kim Davis is an elected official who is not doing the job she swore under oath she would do.

See, there are a lot of things we can take Kim Davis to task for. There’s lots to shame her for. Let’s leave her multiple marriages out of this. Or at least not use them as an excuse to slut-shame or class-shame. We’ve got plenty of other stuff to work with.

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