I never thought I would see a book in favor of same-sex marriage that I disagreed with, but Jonathan Rauch managed it.
His basic premise is that marria...moreI never thought I would see a book in favor of same-sex marriage that I disagreed with, but Jonathan Rauch managed it.
His basic premise is that marriage is the fundamental institution of society; it provides the main mechanism for harnessing the recklessness of young males, provides the most stable environment for raising children, and is the gold standard of commitment in a relationship. In the process, he puts forth an argument which is racist, classist, sexist and profoundly homophobic, all in the pursuit of homosexual “equality”.
He asserts that it is marriage, or the promise of marriage, that allows young men to “settle down” and temper their impulses towards aggression and promiscuity. He points towards the gay male culture of the 60s and 70s, and the advent of AIDS, as an example of the consequences of denying gay people the right to marry. Not only is this homophobic (sounds a lot like what Jerry Falwell was saying back in the 1980s), but it’s deeply sexist. Are we to believe that men are so inherently flawed that, without an entrenched social institution to hold them in check, they’ll fight and sex themselves to death? I’ve heard that argument before, too-- from Andrea Dworkin.
Marriage is the most stable environment for raising children-- because social institutions systematically punish women who have children outside of marriage. Saying unmarried families are unstable is like saying homosexuals are liars: the oppressed group is blamed for the effects of their own oppression. It’s one of the most pernicious forms of bias, and it’s beneath the dignity of any serious social scientist. If you think marriage is the most stable environment for raising children, then find out *why*, and try to bring those advantages to children being raised by unmarried parents.
He states that marriage is the gold standard of commitment in relationships, again mistaking effects for causes. Yes, married people are less likely to break up, because divorce is harder than just moving out. But simply remaining married doesn’t mean you’re still committed to one another. Plenty of on-paper-married couples live separate lives, have separate lovers, and have no real “relationship” anymore. The gold standard of commitment is commitment. Marriage isn’t a shortcut to the real thing.
In all of these arguments, he largely ignores the case of lesbians-- who have been settling down, raising children, and maintaining long-term relationships without the benefit of marriage for at least 100 years now. Gay women need marriage for the same reasons all women need marriage-- to provide a safety net against lower lifetime earnings, especially if they devote some of their efforts to maintaining the home. In pushing the benefits of same sex marriage for men, he dismisses all the women in the marriage equality movement.
And marriage has always been a class privilege-- the barriers to marrying, staying married *or* divorcing to pursue a happier marriage with another partner, have always been substantial for people lower on the socioeconomic ladder. The benefits of marriage to happiness and health are most accessible to the rich. By maintaining the primacy of marriage in the social order, Rauch maintains the class inequality that marriage supports.
Reading this book left me hungering for real equality. The kind of equality that doesn’t care if you’re married or not, how many people you have sex with or what gender they are, whether you have children and with whom. The kind of equality that this sort of marriage “equality” only puts further away. I actually felt kind of ashamed to have married my wife, and supported such an unequal institution, which is defended by people with whom I disagree so profoundly.
I’m glad I read the book-- it was well reasoned and well written, and it was a spin on things I hadn’t seen much of. But since I disagreed with pretty much everything it said, I don’t feel like I can give it 4 or 5 stars.
All I can say is, with friends like this, who needs enemies? (less)
This book is not for a general audience; it's not a basic book. This is not a book about theology or magical theory. This book won't tell you who the...moreThis book is not for a general audience; it's not a basic book. This is not a book about theology or magical theory. This book won't tell you who the Gods are, or teach you how to cast a circle, do a spell to get more money, or read a tarot spread. And if you don't already know those things, this is not a book you should be reading.
This is a book of religious and magical rituals that may be useful for people who have been walking the path for a while, rituals that can be used by themselves or as part of a larger working. The rituals would best be described as "High Magic", theurgy rather than thaumaturgy in Bonewits's terminology. They're not explicitly religious rituals, though they could certainly be used in a religious context, and they're not directed at concrete goals, though they could certainly be adapted for this. But in the end, they're just tools or techniques-- the use is up to the individual. Most of the material in this book I have never seen any other place, and a truly original set of rituals is fairly rare in the small world of occult publishing.
Dominguez inspires me to go do some more research on topics I've been sorely neglecting for a while. I would recommend this book to any Pagans or ritual magicians who are interested in taking their magical and ritual practice to the next level.(less)
I really didn't like this book. It's basically a collection of rituals for life transitions, which is a fantastic idea and something we need more of....moreI really didn't like this book. It's basically a collection of rituals for life transitions, which is a fantastic idea and something we need more of. But it was poorly written, factually fuzzy, and painfully heteronormative. That applies to most stuff written on Wicca but, somehow, this got under my skin more.
While she says "the rituals in this book may be adapted to the circumstances of any group or family," the fact is that these rituals are predicated on the special sacredness of male and female gender roles, and heterosexual sexuality. The ritual for a blessing of conception includes such priceless lines as "through our love you have given me your seed to bring new life to this world". The puberty rituals are sex-segregated: the boys' ritual starts with a vignette about strength, the girls' ritual is introduced with an image of a little girl sewing, and being taught sexual modesty. And so it continues. Saying these rituals can be adapted for the queer, the poly, the non-biological parents, or even for modern life, don't make it so.
The book includes a ritual for emotional recovery from an abortion, but not one for emotional recovery from a rape.
Maybe it's that I know something about the author's life, know that she's *not* just presenting rituals based on her own experience. She's leaving a lot of her experience out, and a lot of the rituals she writes are for things she never went through or witnessed. Knowing that, the absolute way she presents her rituals falls a little flat.
I don't really have anything good to say about this book. I hope that, at some point, someone else will have a more useful review.(less)
This is one of the few books I have consciously decided not to finish in recent years. I agree wholeheartedly with Jensen's basic premise-- that we ar...moreThis is one of the few books I have consciously decided not to finish in recent years. I agree wholeheartedly with Jensen's basic premise-- that we are rendering the world uninhabitable and committing atrocities against its human and nonhuman residents, and that our ability to do this depends on our denial of reality and our disconnecting from the people around us. I cannot, however, support the belief structure he builds up around this premise. Jensen equates studying science with raping children, and treats public schools as analogous with genocide. He condemns all modern western social structures and sources of knowledge, and offers only eco-terrorism and unverified personal gnosis as alternatives. I was reading this book hoping for solutions I could apply in my own life, and I found only contempt for my not having found them already.
In my opinion, A Language Older that Words leaves the most important questions unanswered. If medical animal research can never be justified, should all the advances of modern medicine be reversed? If factory faming is never acceptable, must every person (including the entire continent of Africa and most of Asia) who does not have access to sustainable farmed staple foods starve? Does Jensen actually believe that every human whose children, pets, or livestock have been killed by a wild animal simply failed to communicate with the predator?
And if he believes that we participate in structures of oppression by participating in society, just how far has he dropped out? He owns a car-- how does he justify driving it? Does he wear clothing whose fibers were cultivated on industrial farmland or synthesized in a third world factory, whose threads were spun by children in China and whose pieces were assembled in a sweatshop? Or does he go naked? Does he use only products (silverware, cleaning products, furniture?) whose origins are ethical and verifiable? He turns such a condemning eye to everything he sees in our society, and yet never presents a viable alternative, or turns his scathing contempt on himself. Jensen's own fatalism, hatred and hypocrisy are as sickening to me as is the abuse he experienced as a child. Two wrongs don't make a right-- hatred and rage in the name of the environment is no less damaging than hatred and rage in the name of the ego.
In the end, one absolutist ideology is much like another. Jensen is an environmental fundamentalist-- he believes that there is no room for compromise or even discussion with conflicting viewpoints. As such, I see no reason to continue reading his opinions; he would have no interest in mine.
I give this book two stars because I think it has something to teach. I'll leave it at my local coffeehouse because I hope its ideas may be valuable to some people who can use them constructively. I, alas, wasn't able to find anything constructive here.(less)
This is a very useful book for individuals looking to move beyond "Wicca 101" and create a personal spirituality which brings them closer to the gods....moreThis is a very useful book for individuals looking to move beyond "Wicca 101" and create a personal spirituality which brings them closer to the gods. Sylvan includes several chapters with suggestions for ways to sanctify daily life, as well as a short section of devotional rituals for various occasions. It is the only book I have seen of its kind.
However, like everything I've read that was published by Llewellyn, it's fairly superficial. It says more about why Wiccans should be creating their own daily spiritual practice than about how to go about doing it. And like most things Llewellyn publishes, it is sometimes strident, and sometimes offensively anti-Christian and anti-male.
If I'd read this book five years ago, it would have had more to offer. At this point, I got more out of Galen Gillete's Books of Hours and Ceisiwr Serith's Book of Pagan Prayer.(less)
A straightforward presentation of the results and the implications of the results from a worldwide Gallup poll of the world's Muslims. I found this bo...moreA straightforward presentation of the results and the implications of the results from a worldwide Gallup poll of the world's Muslims. I found this book a much-needed counterbalance to the prevailing Islamaphobia in so much of the public discourse of the USA. Among the points that this books makes are: jihad doesn't mean holy war; radical militant Muslims are better educated, richer, and less religious than moderate Muslims; sharia is not inherently anti-democratic or discriminatory; Muslim men and women around the world favor democracy and women's rights and consider that these goals can best be met through a fuller understanding of Islam, rather than by moving towards secularism. In the end, this book presents a picture of terrorism as politically, rather than religiously, motivated and of the abuses of Islamic law as being miscarriages of justice, rather than products of an intrinsically barbaric justice system. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the perspective of actual Muslims around the world.
However, this book is based on a poll, and you know what they say about lies, damn lies, and statistics. So the facts in the book may or may not be considered objectively true, depending on how much you credit polls. I consider it at least as accurate as anecdote, assumption, and the Washington Post-- which is to say, as good as it gets. (less)
As far as I know, this is the only book of its kind, explicitly exploring the intersection of bisexuality and the same-sex marriage debate. It is a co...moreAs far as I know, this is the only book of its kind, explicitly exploring the intersection of bisexuality and the same-sex marriage debate. It is a collection of scholarly papers, of varying quality, some of which touch on the stated subjects only briefly. Several of the sections also address polyamory, non-dyadic romantic relationships, and bisexual activism. It's a fascinating look at a variety of topics, but some of the articles are poorly researched or poorly written. Still, I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the topic. (less)
This book is a disturbing read. It's based on the diary of a family medicine physician who returns to take a residency in Ob-Gyn, as she struggles to...moreThis book is a disturbing read. It's based on the diary of a family medicine physician who returns to take a residency in Ob-Gyn, as she struggles to balance work and family, and to find a place for herself as a feminist in a misogynist profession. Much of the book is outdated, but much of it still applies. I read it during my third year Ob-Gyn rotation, partially as an antidote to the mechanistic and misogynistic elements that I found in the profession.
This isn't a book for everyone. People who strongly disagree with the book's message are not going to be persuaded-- it's too strident for persuasion. Health care professionals who are believers in the medical model of childbirth will likely find the book offensive. For anyone involved in medicine, it's hard to face such strong criticism without reacting against it. But if you're able to read with an open mind, and balance what you read with your own experience, A Woman In Residence has a lot to teach.(less)
A good basic primer on spindle spinning-- briefer but more comprehensive than Top Whorling (which I flipped through before deciding on this one.) Alas...moreA good basic primer on spindle spinning-- briefer but more comprehensive than Top Whorling (which I flipped through before deciding on this one.) Alas, it's a bit short on advanced techniques.
I think this is a very limited printing-- I got it from the Earth Guild in Ashville NC.(less)
Five stars for concept, four for research, two for execution. This is a first-of-its-kind critique of the wedding-industrial complex from the perspect...moreFive stars for concept, four for research, two for execution. This is a first-of-its-kind critique of the wedding-industrial complex from the perspective of feminist sociology. Ingraham methodically examines the way the image of the "white wedding" is used as a gateway for power and privilege in US society, and the ways in which it excludes those that society keeps disempowered. Starting from popular culture and advertising to children, she traces the way that women in our society are conditioned to want the grand white wedding at any cost-- and the cost is usually high. She goes on to explore the ways in which the wedding-industrial complex itself is a tool of oppression for economically disadvantaged workers and those members of society who it excludes from participation. Through these lenses she exposes the way heterosexuality itself is organized in our culture, not as a naturally occurring form of sexual attraction, but as social institution in which participation is mandatory.
This book was eye-opening for me when I read it the first time; it makes many excellent points which I have incorporated into my understanding of culture. But I do disagree with some of the author's analysis of subjects and works of popular culture with which I am familiar (I'm not sure how anybody who's seen The Birdcage could conclude that its underlying message was the overriding importance of the straight wedding-- quite the opposite). My disagreement on these points does give me a bit of pause with respect to her analysis of subjects with which I'm less familiar. And the book is poorly formatted and redundant-- it reads like a paper meant for publication in a trade journal that has been expanded to book-length. It could hardly be considered an enjoyable read.
Still, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in a different perspective on the subject of weddings, who is open to criticism of this important, and ultimately oppressive, social institution.(less)