Tuesday, August 8, 2006


Here's another rambling collection of incomplete thoughts based on one word. Today's word is:


Family. A loaded word that generates a wide variety of conflicting responses in many people. The notion of family is a cornerstone of society, a sacred cow, that many of us have a love/hate relationship with.

Family is supposed to be the place "where they have to let you in", but simultaneously, "you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives". Family is ideally a "haven from a heartless world" but, for some, the reality is quite different.

We are expected to love our family members simply because they are family, and many times this works out well. But sharing common DNA with certain people is no guarantee that we'll get along and/or have compatible personalities. I've heard many people admit, vaguely ashamed, that they "love" a particular family member (mainly because it's expected), but they don't like that person. I don't have that problem. I don't love anyone simply because we have common ancestors -- I see no shame in admitting that I have relatives I'm incompatible with.

Right wing religious conservatives are big on "family values", "family friendly" entertainment, and even have an organization, "Focus on the Family". But the word "family" used in this sense is a code word for "censorship" and for a repressive anti-sex worldview. (Violence is apparently "family friendly", as fundamentalist Christians took their children in droves to see Mel Gibson's gory Passion of the Christ).

But the idea of a sexless "family friendly" world begs the question: where do these people think families come from in the first place? That's right, SEX!

The conservative idea to whitewash and airbrush real life; to pretend that sex does not exist until the day one gets married does children no good. It's far better to present sex as a normal, natural part of life, giving out information incrementally in age appropriate doses.

And, make no mistake, "Focus on the Family" means just what it says, Focus on THE Family. To these people there is only one kind of legitimate family; a legally married, monogamous, heterosexual couple with children living as a male-headed nuclear family. No other kind of family need apply.

I'm not for THE family; I'm for families in whatever diverse forms they take -- gay/lesbian families, nonmonogamous families, extended families, egalitarian families, unmarried families, childless families, friends as family, in addition to the "traditional" family. Variety is the spice of life and I'll be damned if the government or religion will tell me who and what my family is or who I "should" be close to.

I could go on and write more about this, but that would make a book, so I'll leave it at that.


No comments: