Standing on Feminist Side in Same-Sex Marriage

In the modern world marriages of the same sex are common in a few countries such as the US, Holland, Spain, and South Africa. Traditionally, marriage has been legally or socially recognized between people of the opposite sex. This kind of marriage has resulted in a heated debate between those supporting and those against same-sex marriages. Supporters argue that granting same-sex marriage rights would ensure equality whiles, those against suggesting that recognizing same-sex marriage will change the original meaning of marriage. “Religious groups are the main opposer of same-sex marriage; they believe that, giving same-sex marriage rights will undercut the original purpose of marriage as stated by their individual religious understanding.” (National organization for women)

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Now, two men are marrying each other, and also two women are marrying each other to form a family. California state supreme court had legalized gay marriage since 2002. Proposition 8 was a constitution amended initiative aimed at removing the right to same-sex marriage from California’s constitution through balloting. There was an intense campaign for and against same-sex marriage in California State over the political campaign period. The preposition defined marriage as between a man and a woman but not people of equal sex. Voters were supposed to place California’s constitution amendment in last month’s ballot to define marriage as between people of the opposite sex. Amending the constitution requires majority votes to be enacted. During last November’s general election, preposition 8 was overwhelmingly supported and thus the clause in the California state constitution granting the right to same-sex marriage was amended.

Lesbianism, a marriage between two women has taken center stage, as more women are advocating for same-sex marriage. As women advocate to be granted same-sex marriage rights, some human and civil rights groups and few religious churches have come up to support them. In America for example, “the liberal church support legal and religious respecting of lesbian claiming that, it promotes equality and sexual orientation either between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is God’s gift.” (Deakin) Recognizing lesbians is seen by many women as an avenue to promote gender equality. All women civil and human rights activists have been involved in fighting to have the same-sex marriage recognized. These groups believe that acknowledging lesbian rights is part of recognizing women “independence rights and self-determination.” (Deakin) The groups want couples of same-sex marriage to be accorded equal opportunities in employment, education, and other economic benefits like any other marriage.

Gay/ lesbian communities advocate that denying same-sex couples their rights and responsibilities entitled through their marriage would hinder the groups from full participation in society. An attempt by society to discourage same-sex marriage has resulted in the filling of suits in courts by lesbians and gays as they seek the right to marry. Women believe that granting them the right to have same-sex marriages is part of affirmative action as society and government tend to recognize the place of girl child in modern society.

Women complain that for a long time they have been oppressed and mistreated by their male husbands: they urge that men take advantage of their weakness and violate their rights especially in the marginalized groups. Further, they suggest that men have always evaded household duties in view that they were made for women only. These are some of the reasons why women suggest that granting them the right to have same-sex marriages would recognize their presence and their roles in society. In some countries like the UK, “same sex partners have been recognized as other marriages, and are granted same benefits such as tax relief, sharing of parental responsibilities and joint property owning.” (Donovan, p. 580) Proponents of gay and lesbian marriages hold that the state grants rights to freedom of association, and defining marriage as between people of the same sex, automatically contradicts constitutional laws.

Although the practice of giving a right to same-sex couples at the country level is important in promoting equality, many believe that it does not carry the cultural significance of the marriage and even the state’s benefits. Those against same-sex marriage suggest that having same-sex marriages is not different from the inability to marry because; it does not carry the benefit granted to opposite-sex marriages by the state. They believe that the benefit of equality is outweighed by the problems of discrimination against same-sex marriages and the children of same-sex marriages. With such different opinions on whether to legalize same-sex marriages or not, we should not ignore the fact that the existing same-sex couples have children and will continue to have children, and granting them the rights and benefits like other marriages would strengthen them. “Championing for same marriage rights is a feminist issue, because women will only be equal if they are left to pursue their endeavors without discrimination.” (Eskridge)

For a long time now, women have been used on television and billboards more than men. Adverts are made to convey messages to society and such adverts might have a varying impact on the same group. Socialists suggest that, although adverts are made to promote goods and services, they have a lasting effect on people’s beliefs, attitudes, behavior and values.” (Baker) For example, researchers suggest that continuous exposure to sexual adverts promotes problems such as gender violence against women. In past advertisements focused on the properties of the products that were sold. This approach was realized not generate enough revenue and business people turned attention into comparing people’s emotions and desires with products.

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The issue of women in an advertisement has caused a lot of debate among those who support the involvement of women in adverts and those who disagree. Although there is little negativity associated with how women are portrayed in adverts we should appreciate the benefits accruing to their participation. One thing that those against women’s participation in adverts should realize is that we can not use men while advertising women’s products. If we want to rouse women’s desires on new women perfume in the market, it will not be logical to use an image of a man to sell that perfume. Thus using women to sell women’s products will make the product more relevant to the targeted consumer. I agree with the fact that many women appearing in billboards adverts mostly appear naked which is not moral, but we should also realize that those pictures are not real and not all adverts have got naked women. Many people suggest that “seeing is believing”, hence when a product use is demonstrated by one of the end-users, then other users will not find difficulty in using it because they already saw somebody using it in the advert.

Apart from the obvious objective of adverts, that is, selling a product; adverts also portray an image of the ‘perfect woman and man. “Advertisements are known to build cultures rather than just reflecting them.” (Lavine et al 1050) Our gender concepts are drawn from the culture and hence advertisement helps to create them. Since adverts present a very small percentage of the woman population, we should not generalize the negative effects of that small group to be the whole group. Some of these images we see on adverts are not actual but, doctored to look perfect through plastic surgery. In reality, women can not look like this. She can only be like the person portrayed in the adverts only when she buys the product. Hence before reacting to the images seen through media, women must ask themselves whether the fake pictures are weakening them or making them happy.

Another benefit of women participating in adverts is that advertisement is a form of employment hence those who allow themselves to appear in adverts are intending to earn a living. Today a good number of rich women in the world have acquired their wealth through participation in advertisements. Companies and corporations pay millions of US dollars to people on whom they use their faces to sell their products. Therefore we should treat advertising as a career because it earns people a living. Therefore as we consider the negative effects of advertisements on women we should not forget it comes with advantages. “Again television adverts creates popularity of the person appearing in the advert: the person in the advert gets to be known by many around the world hence promoting positive self-esteem.” (Hill) Furthermore, some adverts portray women in progressive domestic chores which are not a negative impression but a lesson to be learned by other women.

Conclusion

Marriages are formed out of love. Although same-sex marriage is a new concept in minds of many, we should give the proponent of the marriages the chance to enjoy themselves if to them is right. People have rights to freedom of association hence denying proponents of same-sex marriage their rights is unconstitutional. Again we should recognize the place of women in an advertisement from, not always the native sides but we should also appreciate the positive effects. Modeling in the advertisement is a well-paying career, and we know everyone is after money, thus we should not discriminate against women who engage in the advertisements.

Works cited

  1. Deakin B Michelle. Gay marriage, real life. Unitarian universalities association of congress, 2006.
  2. Donovan, James, “Rock-Salting the Slippery Slope: Why Same-Sex Marriage is Not a Commitment to Polygamous Marriage,” Northern Kentucky Law Review, 29 (2002): 521-590
  3. Eskridge, William N., Jr., The Case for Same-Sex Marriage: from Sexual Liberty to Civilized Commitment, Free Press, 1996
  4. Hill, Delis Daniel, Advertising American Woman, Ohio states university press, 2002.
  5. Lavine et al. Depicting Women as Sex Objects in Television Advertising: Effects on Body Dissatisfaction, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 25, (1999) :1049-1058
  6. National organization for women, 2004. same-sex marriage is a feminist issue.
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