EDITORIAL. On November 9th, former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, a Socialist, said he’s reluctant to open marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Feminist writer Virginie Despentes replied to him with this open letter, which made a big splash in public discussion of the topic in France.
On Canal+ television, former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, a progressive socialist, recently weighed in with his reservations about opening marriage to gay and lesbian couples. «It’s my party’s position, so I respect it,” said the former Prime Minister. “But it wasn’t mine to begin with. What I think is that the fundamental idea must remain – for marriage, for couples, and for life in general – that humanity is structured between men and women.”
Response by Virginie Despentes – Translation: Jennifer Gay
So, now it’s Lionel Jospin who’s having a go. He thinks we haven’t heard enough bullshit as it is, about gay marriage, so he’s going solo. Don’t worry, OK? There’s no homophobia involved. He didn’t say we have the right to fag-and-dyke-bash or to make baby dykes miserable in junior high or anything, no. He just wants to say: watch it, with this marriage thing, you’re pushing it. “Humanity is founded on the man-woman relationship.” Dykes and fags aren’t really part of humanity, that’s all, no homophobia intended. That doesn’t mean they’re sterile, of course – but since they don’t live in couples, they’re not human through and through, not human-human like Mr. Jospin. It’s not very sensitive to single people and those without children, his schtick, but that’s how Jospin is: he’s got a clear idea of what humanity is, and humanity, it’s women and men who live together, copulate, and produce children for the homeland. It’s a shame for women, since, ultimately, that particular humanity, it’s basically the story of how they’ve been fucked over for millennia, But hey, it’s humanity, what can you do? You can’t change it. So you’d better just admit it: on the one hand there’s the greater humanity, the one that can aspire to official institutions, and on the other there’s a less noble caste, less human. The one that should consider itself lucky not to be persecuted, so don’t come asking, on top of that, for something like rights from the state. But he says it without animosity, hey, no homophobia intended. It’s only that, well, when it comes to humanity, some of us are less part of it than others. Proust, Genet, Leduc, Wittig, out of a hat: less human than breeders. So, according to Lionel Jospin, I just need to understand – and I shouldn’t take it badly – that ever since I stopped sucking dick, I matter less. I shouldn’t be demanding the same rights anymore. It’s basically a matter of common sense.
But he says it without homophobia, that’s what’s so nice about it. Like all the hetros who have something to say against gay marriage. It’s common sense that makes them speak up, not homophobia. In this debate, no one’s a homophobe. They’re just against equal rights. And from Jospin’s mouth we understand perfectly: not only against equal rights between gays and straights, but also against equal rights between women and men. Because we all agree that as long as we cling to those categories, we’ll never be equal.
It had already occurred to me that I’m not a “woman” like the “women” who sleep with guys like him for free, but until his declaration, I hadn’t yet thought of no longer defining myself as part of humanity. It’ll take me a while to get used to it. It’s probably because I became a lesbian too late. I’m not yet used to being put in my place every five minutes. My new place, that of the tolerated.
At first, this marriage business, I basically couldn’t give a damn – but since I have to keep listening to them, all of them, no homophobia intended, remind us that we’re not worth what a straight person is worth, I’m starting to take an interest.
I’m not sure what Lionel Jospin means by humanity. Not that long ago, a woman who got pregnant out of wedlock was a pariah. If she got pregnant by a man married to someone else, she was made – in the name of human dignity – to lead a life of hell on earth. One could even consider burning her as a witch. More than a few were tied to the stake for less. She could be run out of town, stones flying. The child would be a bastard, a nothing. Then a few decades on, we didn’t have much to say about it anymore. Does that mean we’ve become less human, in Jospin’s eyes? Has humanity really lost that much? At what point in evolution should we block the cursor of tolerance?
Jospin, like a lot of opponents of gay marriage, is divorced. Like right-wing Copé, Le Pen, Sarkozy, Dati, and all that lot. That little arrangement with wedding vows is one of many happy evolutions. The children of divorced parents get loaded with step-parents, so for them its not one daddy and one mommy anymore, they get a whole community. We know that heterosexuals divorce more easily than they change cars. We know that adultery is a widely-practiced sport (reading online comments from French straights after Petraeus stepped down for having cheated on his wife will clue you in right away about how important monogamy is to heterosexuality – they don’t believe it for a second, they cheat like they breathe, and they find it unacceptable that anyone should interfere), and we know from experience that they don’t think having children outside of marriage is a problem. They can even have children outside of marriage while being married, and everyone thinks it’s great. Fine. I’m in favor of everything that’s punk rock, so the idea of a gigantic, amicable free-for-all, frankly, I find it pretty appealing. But why such moral flexibility when it’s straight people who wipe their asses on wedding vows, and that indignant rigidity when it comes to homosexuals? We would soil the institution? We would lead it astray? Hey boys, even if we even if we grunged it up to the max, we could never soil the institution more than you’ve already done. In the condition it’s in, what’s amazing about marriage is that anyone agrees to use it. The Vatican brandishes polygamy – which goes to show that when it comes to dykes and towel heads, it’s one-size-fits-all, though it’s not racist or homophobic, of course (how unsubtle!), even though we do know that girls with headscarves aren’t part of humanity as that brand of left defines it, but anyway – don’t worry about polygamy: you’re doing it already. Old guys paying three rounds of child support? What is that if not a form of polygamy? Let the Catholics deal with excommunicating everyone who doesn’t respect the institution, let them deal with the behavior of those married within the church – they’ll be so busy sorting it all out that they won’t have time to waste on couples demanding to get married at city hall.
The same goes for children. Don’t get all upset about that: we couldn’t possibly behave more wickedly than you do. Parents even more sordid, more inattentive, more selfish, more I-don’t-give-a-damnish, more neurotic and toxic? Impossible. Take it easy. The worst, you’ve already got that covered.
That’s all very nice, but meanwhile humanity is subjected to other outrages just now, and much worse, that dykes and fags have nothing to do with. I find Lionel Jospin pretty disorganized in his uptightness priorities. There are, in 2012, offenses to morality far more brutal and difficult to accept than the idea that two women want to marry each other. What harm can that do? I get it – I do! – that it makes the oppressor uncomfortable when two bitches forget the collar. It makes it harder to keep them under the yoke of heterosexuality. It’s annoying, and they’re harder to control. Sometimes the victim doesn’t want to just take, and thank her torturer at the same time. I thought a socialist grouping would get that. But no, certain socialist groupings encourage the division of human beings into two categories: real humans, and those who should hide and shut up.
I get the feeling that by falling in love with a girl (who, in any case, refuses to see herself as a woman, but I’m just gonna leave that out of this so as not to derail Lionel Jospin’s human/less human sorting machine) I lost half of my citizenship. I get the feeling I’m being punished. And I don’t see how to take it differently. I’m being punished for not being a straight girl anymore, one hundred percent human. For thirty-five years, I had full rights, and now I have to be content with half. It upsets me that the state is taking so long to let Lionel Jospin and his Catholic friends know that they can think what they want, but that the law shouldn’t be on their side.
If I were told tomorrow that I have a brain tumor and in six months I’m a goner, I have no easy contract I can sign with the person I’ve been with for eight yearsto make sure that everything in our house will be hers. That if death does us part, everything that belongs to me belongs to her. If I were straight, it’d be settled in five minutes: a trip to city hall, and what’s mine is hers. And vice versa. But I’m a dyke. So, according to Lionel Jospin, it’s normal that my inheritance be difficult to arrange. That it can be contested. That she pay a sixty percent tax in order to get it. A little non-homophobic tax, but we’re the only ones who have to pay it even though we live as partners. That anyone in my family can contest her right to manage what I leave is normal, it’s the price to pay for non-heterosexuality. The person I’ve been living with for eight years is the only person who knows what I have in my computer and what I’d like to do with it. I would like, if something were to happen to me, to know that she is the person in charge of what I leave. Like straight people do. Mister Jospin, like other straight people, if tomorrow the heat of the night stirs him and fires up his blood, can arrange for any straight girl at all to get her share of the inheritance. I want to have the same right. I want the same rights he and his straight girls have. I want exactly the same ones. I pay the same taxes as a straight human, I have the same duties, I want the same rights. I couldn’t give a double goddamn whether Lionel Jospin and his colleagues, non-homophobic but aware that faggotry must have a social price, include me in their conception of humanity. I want the state to tell him I’m a human, same as the others. Even without a dick in my cunt. Even if I don’t supply kids to the nation.
The question of inheritance is central to the institution of marriage. The deaf, the blind, and the malformed were long deprived of the right to inherit. They weren’t human enough. I think it’s fortunate we’re done with that. Women didn’t inherit either. They didn’t have a soul. Their reproductive organs prevented them from dealing with the affairs of the city. I want to live in a country where they don’t let the Jospins sort out who accedes to humanity and who has to rot in shame.
I can’t think of any word other than homophobia to describe the hostility I feel directed at me in the few months since this debate began. I grew up straight, finding it normal to have the same rights as everyone else. I’m growing old as a dyke, and I don’t like the feeling of those hairy old men examining my case and declaring me “deviant.” I liked being able to marry and not doing it. It’s no one’s business to be scrutinizing who I sleep with, who I live with. I won’t feel punished because I’m escaping heterosexuality.
I leave you the fuck alone, all of you, with your rotten marriages. With your kids who’ll never again have a family Christmas, with the whole family, because it’s split in two, in four, in ten. Sort out your damned heterosexuality however you want, find stupid cows who’ll suck your pricks, saying it’s great doing it for free before getting you to cough up the alimony. Live your shitty lives as you choose, and give me the rights to live mine, as I choose, with the same duties and the same alimony you get.
And while you’re at it, for Pete’s sake, stop with the shrink crap about adopted children who have to be able to imagine that their two parents conceived them. For children adopted by a single parent, it’s foul to hear you ranting away. But above all, stop believing that little Koreans or little Haitians look at their two Caucasian parents imagining that they came out of their bellies. They’re adopted. It works out well or it doesn’t, but they know very well they are not the child of that couple. Stop boring us with the father and mother model when we know that most children grow up in other arrangements, and that it’s always been that way. When our leaders declare war, they don’t give a damn whether they’re preparing a generation of fatherless children. Stop telling yourselves stories about how western heterosexuality is the only way to live together, that it’s the only way to be part of humanity. You’re up on the backs of dykes and fags making yourselves look good. But forget it, that’s not what this is about. Your lives, overall, are pretty pathetic, your love lives basically calamitous, and stop thinking it doesn’t show. Let dykes and fags handle their own lives as they see fit. No one wants to use you as a model. And how about building more homeless shelters instead of prisons, that would really change people’s lives. Sleeping on a cardboard box and not having a place to piss is not a lifestyle, it’s political terror. I’m amazed how obsessed you are with marriage, be you Jospin or the Vatican, while misery is so tolerable to you.
Crédit photo: Jean Luc Bertini
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