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. Lire le reste de cet article »