Sunday, January 22, 2012

What defines a family?

I've been pondering this question for a while now. It's no secret that anyone's sexual preferences isn't an issue for me. I don't really care either way if you are gay, bi or straight. It's what and who you are as a person that matters most to me. Sexual orientation has no bearing on what you are as a person either so to me it's a moot point.

Which brings me to this - What defines a family? Religion? Government? Humanity?

A definition at the online dictionary site Free Dictionary :

fam·i·ly (fm-l, fml)
n. pl. fam·i·lies
a. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
b. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.
2. All the members of a household under one roof.
3. A group of persons sharing common ancestry. See Usage Note at collective noun.
4. Lineage, especially distinguished lineage.
5. A locally independent organized crime unit, as of the Cosa Nostra.
a. A group of like things; a class.
b. A group of individuals derived from a common stock: the family of human beings.
7. Biology A taxonomic category of related organisms ranking below an order and above a genus. A family usually consists of several genera. See Table at taxonomy.
8. Linguistics A group of languages descended from the same parent language, such as the Indo-European language family.
9. Mathematics A set of functions or surfaces that can be generated by varying the parameters of a general equation.
10. Chemistry A group of elements with similar chemical properties.
11. Chemistry A vertical column in the periodic table of elements.
1. Of or having to do with a family: family problems.
2. Being suitable for a family: family movies.

The one that concerns this blog post is :

a. A fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.
b. Two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another, and reside usually in the same dwelling place.

Nowhere in the text above does it say what gender the parents are.

Does it truly matter what gender parents are when it comes to raising a child? Does my defined female body parts matter more or less than my partner's male parts when it comes to instructing our children and teaching them how to live their lives? Does my gender come into play when I teach my children right from wrong, ethics, morals? A sound basic start to life? Does my partner's?

If two parents have breasts and a vagina each, are they less equipped to teach those same things to their children? Does it matter that a child's two parents have penises and no vaginas or breasts in sight?

Does it matter in the greater scheme of things that some families are different? That their dynamics are not conventional? Is being gay or bisexual a moral sin that we should be outraged to find in our normal suburban lives? Or is it just another facet of the human race?

For me, personally, no. None of it matters. Rather, I'd look to the children in such families and ask are the children happy? Is their home filled with love? Is their home filled with peace and happiness? Are they being nurtured? Raised with a decent set of values that sees the best in human beings? If the answer to any of these questions is no then I'd have a serious problem with you raising children whether you are straight, gay or bi.

Being different (whether it is your sexual orientation, your skin colour, your nationality) isn't a disease. It isn't something that a gay or bi parent passes on to their children any more than being straight is. For all of us it's just a way of life. Why then must outsiders feel the necessity to interfere, to want to deny them the right to parent simply because they fear Teh Gay?

We (mostly) teach our children that skin colour doesn't matter. Why then do we insist on teaching them that being gay and loving someone who is the same sex is abhorrent, one of the greatest sins anyone could commit? We insist that teaching tolerance and acceptance of anyone that is different is how we should be raising our children yet at the same time many of us teach those same children it is ok to discriminate against those whose sexual preferences are outside the norm. How confusing for the child. Accept people for being different except if they are gay or bi. That teaches them nothing. It resolves nothing. Except sows confusion.

I saw this article in Rolling Stone yesterday after it was posted on Facebook. Read it. Then dare tell me that we are doing the right thing by stigmatising anyone who is different.

ONE TOWN'S WAR ON GAY TEENS A school district rocked by suicides of young teens, where teachers have no idea how to enforce blatantly anti-gay policies, where children are denied the right to just be, to explore themselves, figure out who and what they are, where other children are taught that it is ok to physically, mentally and verbally abuse those who are seen as different, where the adults in the situation stand back and ignore the shamefully hurtful things normal teenagers do to those who do not fit into the nice neat square box.

I dare you to read it without feeling anything. I dare you.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A roundup of the holiday

We left Joburg on the 20th, managed to do all our Christmas shopping on the 18th (bought everyone books). Hermanus was awesome, the weather just perfect.

We got back home on the 6th. C was not too impressed because that was her 9th birthday. We celebrated it on the 5th. J&C go back to school on the 18th.

1 - Christmas lunch was spectacular.
2 - Presents were opened and promptly played with, read or built by the 26th.
3 - New Year' that was an interesting one. The house across the road from The Inlaws was rented out to a bunch of young student types. They partied, not too loudly. At around 10 minutes before midnight, one of the bright souls got out a box of fireworks, those mostly noiseless but colourful sparkly things that go up about 3 stories before bursting in a shower of colours.

One of the other neighbours from down the road came lurching out of her house, glass of booze with ice clinking in hand. She planted herself at the front gate and proceeded to shout and swear in English (half incoherently) at the students (fair enough, she had a point to make about fireworks and animals). Which in turn set the students off swearing back at her. She threatened to call the police. Then proceeded to call someone all shouting out abuse at the students implying that it was them who'd started the noisy verbal abuse (as if! We were all standing on the balcony and would have set them straight anyway). She left and came lurching back with a man. Then left again. In the meantime the students had moved their fireworks to the back of the property, where she couldn't get at them. At midnight, one of the students came back out onto the upstairs balcony and shouted out HAPPY NEW YEAR YOU OLD BAG! (The dogs on the property only started barking when the woman started shouting and swearing. The fireworks had no effect on them.)

The house across the road but a few houses away....people spent the 31st coming and going, then more and more people arrived. They camped out. After the midnight wishes floated to us on the wind, we all trooped inside to go sleep. Himself couldn't and spent an hour watching 2012 while I went to bed and read. Just before 1am, I heard one woman shout to another YOU'RE PREGNANT??? YOU THINK YOU MIGHT BE PREGNANT! and a whole babble of voices chimed in.
4 - New Year's lunch was also spectacular.
5 - We had trifle both days. AWESOME!
6 - Don't eat anything at Sandpiper in Kleinmond. Not unless you want really shit service and an attitude to boot. We took C there for her birthday. Their fish and calamari is usually beyond belief good. New owners recently took over the place and it shows. A party with 6 adults and 4 kids. We ordered food, waited an hour for the first plates to come out. As the others slowly trickled out of the kitchen, they were either cold or looked terrible. Their chips sucked donkey balls. Seriously. Oil drenched, cold and looking like someone had made them last week. The fish inside the batter tasted good but the batter itself was awful. Nothing like the beer batter of previous years. Oh and the waiter argued with MIL about what she'd ordered. Seriously dude? You'd argue with a customer? Eventually Himself went off to find the manager to complain about the ice cold food, the crap chips, the shitty attitude from the waiter. He did take off the cost of the cold plates of food. But still, probably never ever going there ever again.
7 - When will the CEM driver ever learn that they cannot just pull out into traffic without actually looking to see if there are cars coming towards them?
8 - We had a lice scare. Big C's kids had been spending time with their other cousins and one of them was infected with the nasty little fuckers.
9 - J broke out in a rash, he started with 2 on Sunday but was mostly covered by yesterday. The doc confirmed chickenpox.

All in all a great holiday. We're hoping to do the same this coming December. Well, until the world ends on the 21st, or is it the 23rd? Wonder if the Mayan calendar is going to prove to be right?