The Art of Losing — Marriage Inequality
A year ago I was presented with the opportunity to start up a project of mine: The Art of Losing Gender. I had an idea of a utopian world where the labels and stereotypes of gender did not exist, where we would all be identified as humans with different anatomy that had no impact on our social lives. I struggled with how I could get this idea off the ground and turn it into something meaningful. Aside from a few cool Instagram posts and interviewing a handful of people, I got nowhere and swept my idea back under the rug. It is now a year later and I am drawn back to consider my motives for wanting to lose gender with the Australian plebiscite for marriage equality being a hot topic. If gender played no role in our lives, if we genuinely saw one another as humans, would we be presented with the issue of gay marriage? Marriage would simply be a legal commitment between two humans (oh shit, isn’t that what it is anyway?). Well not quite, with the marriage equality plebiscite looming I’ve been doing some reading to try work out how we got here (and why the fuck we are even here).
In 2004, the John Howard government of the time introduced the Marriage Amendment Bill which ‘updated’ the definition of marriage according to the Marriage Act of 1961. Now while I was earning my pen license and playing handball in primary school during 2004, Prime Minister John Howard was achieving just as little as I was, by updating this definition to the following: “Marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life. Certain unions are not marriages. A union solemnised in a foreign country between: (a) a man and another man; or (b) a woman and another woman; must not be recognised as a marriage in Australia.” Well done, John.
Now let’s fast forward to 2013 where I was hopelessly in love with a few different women, bought a cat, moved in and out of my parent’s house, fell in love with a gorgeously handsome American boy, and put on 10 kilos (what a year, nearly as good as 2004). Almost as importantly that year, the High Court found that the federal Parliament has the ability to pass legislation on marriage equality. As the Constitution reads “[marriage includes] a marriage between persons of the same sex” and “under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal Parliament”. So what does this all mean? It means that the federal Parliament has the power to enact marriage equality but aren’t doing so because… well I’m not sure. Australia is now the last developed English-speaking country not to allow same-sex marriage, and in doing so look almost as stupid as I did during my Evanescence phase.
So here we are in 2017. I’m spending more time watching Girls than I am studying for the last year of my undergrad, and our government is spending more time (and money) on a postal plebiscite rather than making waves in our country’s history. Just as watching Girls will make no difference to my life, the redundant postal plebiscite will also make no difference other than show the public’s opinion on the matter — which the government are already aware of, and if they wanted to just triple check that one they could do so through opinion polls that don’t cost an obscene amount of money.
All of this information came together for me last week as I was driving along Mt Alexander Road busting out to HAIM when the song slowly faded out and a discussion on marriage equality took over. One comment struck a chord in my mind, ‘if it isn’t hurting anyone, then you should be able to love who you love and marry who you want to marry.’ I find this to be a common statement in the debate of same-sex equality, as long as no one is getting hurt, then it’s all okay. Well gee, no relationship whether heterosexual, homosexual, romantic, platonic, family, and the list goes on, can be free from hurting someone else. I have dated both men and women, and through each relationship people internally and externally have been hurt (this could be due to the fact that my dating record isn’t outstanding, but that’s besides the point). Love is love, and love hurts.
And so this all brought me to back to gender and why I want society to lose gender so we can achieve complete equality. If we lost our definition of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman, and rather redefined what it means to be human, I think we could create a beautiful society full of humans who can be masculine and/or feminine at any given time or simultaneously. So consider this, if we shed stereotypes, if we aren’t afraid to think differently about ourselves and our peers, if we could consider gender to be fluid, could we be done with the struggle for gender equality and marriage equality?
The art of losing isn’t hard to master. Next time you look in the mirror or the next time you see your friends, try to find what makes you, and them, human. Lose gender and see what you can find.
Love and Happiness.