A Household of Equality and Freedom

Thanks George for bringing this report to my attention, and for your thoughts on the report. I am limiting my remarks. When you write “All I can say to this is: WHAT?” you should have stopped there. That paragraph you pulled contains the kernel of the report’s error. I’d like to go on about this, but I think it’s important to keep comments short and to the point. (You can see already I have difficulty with this…)

In the service of brevity of comment, I’ve reduced your post to three lines.

This exclusion of Love being a component to Polygyny is a fundamental fault of the whole report.

On an even larger note, what right does the State have to “modify the social and cultural patterns of the conduct” of anyone?

…their sheer bias, Militant Feminism and lack of an objective approach to the subject does undermine the report validity.

It might be my Militant Feminism firing up but I tend to agree with the report. I think you might agree with it as well, but for your sheer bias and lack of an objective approach to the subject. What is the object/subject of the report? And what is your object/subject. Your subject is Love-based “well-functioning, equal, consensual and healthy Polygynous relationships.” This is not the subject of the report. The report is dealing with patriarchal religion-based unions. There is nothing equal or consensual about the subject/object of the report.

I would argue that the states right to modify the conduct of anyone is reciprocated and validated by anyone’s right to modify the conduct of the state. I recognize that we do not currently live in a democratic state, but the goals of this report are conducive to a future democracy. The goals of the report are the practical exercise of equal rights. Their argument is that that actually practiced polygyny (many wives) is unequal and should, in the interest of equality, be prohibited. I , in my militant feminism follow their argument to it’s logical conclusion.

I also recognize their bias toward monogamous marriage when they write:

“In addition to interfering with the right to private and family life, polygyny as practised in many cultural contexts also violates women’s rights to be free from all forms of stereotyping. Article 5 of the Women’s Convention requires States parties to: take all appropriate measures to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.”

Their cultural bias blinds them to the stereotyped roles for men and women in traditional western marriage. A truly militant feminist would call for the abolition of marriage in all forms. We are opposed to domination in all forms mutual or otherwise.

I wonder if the household you seek to see legalized might not conform to the conditions sought in the report? Again the institution of marriage, even in Canada, is a bastion of inequality, and stereotypical roles, so the scapegoating of polygynous cultures, smacks of Muslim bashing. We have our own problems to deal with before outlawing African practices. I do not defend these practices, but to go after others before dealing with the inequality and cultural roles enmeshed in our own practices, seems more like dodging responsibility. But I was saying that the household you seek might conform to the equality and role-based freedom called for on the international stage.

“It is this commitment to a real transformation of institutions, such as polygyny, that provides the greatest protection for women within the family. Where States parties legally encourage, condone, or simply ignore unequal familial practices of polygyny, they perpetuate male paradigms of power, resulting in women’s de facto and de jure inequality. In striving to achieve this transformation, particularly within the familial realm, Article 16 of the Women’s Convention requires States parties: To take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations and in particular [to] ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women:

(a) The same right to enter into marriage;

(b) The same right freely to choose a spouse and to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent;

(c) The same rights and responsibilities during marriage and at its dissolution;

(d) The same rights and responsibilities as parents, irrespective of their marital status, in matters relating to their children; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

(e) The same rights to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to the information, education and means to enable them to exercise these rights;

(f) The same rights and responsibilities with regard to guardianship, wardship, trusteeship and adoption of children, or similar institutions where these concepts exist in national legislation; in all cases the interests of the children shall be paramount;

(g) The same personal rights as husband and wife, including the right to choose a family name, a profession and an occupation;

(h) The same rights for both spouses in respect of the ownership, acquisition, management, administration, enjoyment and disposition of property, whether free of charge or for a valuable consideration.

The only problem here is the “both” in (h), but ignoring that, if the man can choose a second wife, and the woman can equally choose a second husband, the household would conform to the call for equality. And if all living within the household, regardless of sex, had equal rights and freedom to choose roles, the household would not perpetuate male power and female inequality. And such a household, which may even conform to Aristotelian ethics, should not be illegal.

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