(Informational guide for aspiring couples)
March 1st 2017.
O happy day!
Today is an exceptional day. Freedom has pulled out one more tremendous victory. The forces of love and kindness have overcome.
Congratulations my LGBT friends! You have won the right to marry. You now have the equal legal right to enter into the honored institution of marriage – a pillar of patriarchy! It is great news for you and an enormous advancement of your civil liberty in terms of the system as it is today. I wish you good luck with it! I hope you have better luck with it than most of us have had.
Time to celebrate in deed (?)
So let’s take a moment to feel that shaky vibe in our lower back: If all went as scheduled, 32 new non-conventional couples took their vows today in Finland. (not including civil partnerships that will be converted to marriages as soon as the bureaucracy is served)
But maybe it is also a good moment to put things to perspective. Now that 64 individuals are finally happily having their wedding night tonight.
When we talk about “equality” in general, there is nothing much to celebrate, either globally or locally. That what is being done to our sisters and our rainbow siblings around the world today we cannot even imagine seeing happening to us. But carefully! It happens so fast! I’ve seen it once in Yugoslavia. We cannot imagine either that police officer would laugh at the question of a beaten woman “why isn’t he removed from home but I have to be in a safe house?” Yet I’ve seen it.
Institutionalizing victims and, in most cases, not institutionalizing perpetrators, not even for a single day. Rape is something that one has 98% chance to get away with.… Decriminalizing domestic violence, criminalizing abortion: all these are unimaginable? Start imagining. Rape camps are not fiction.
Let’s hope and pray! (because decision-makers do not care)
Another really big day is approaching. On March 10th we will celebrate three years since the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (the CEDAW Committee) issued its “Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Finland” (pdf).
Among all other things mentioned the Committee has recognized some deficiencies in our family law and issued following recommendations:
39. In line with article 16 of the Convention and its general recommendation No. 29 on the economic consequences of marriage, family relations and their dissolution, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Undertake research on the economic consequences of divorce on both spouses, giving specific attention to the gender disparity regarding future earning capacity, pension rights and work-related benefits, and re-examine the matrimonial system that encourages separation of property;
(b) Consider revising the definition of matrimonial property so that a marital right would include pension rights and other work-related benefits, in addition to future earnings;
(c) Adopt measures to ensure that domestic violence is a factor to be systematically considered in child custody decisions.
Equal entrance fee, but on exit you get shit
Because being married is a right over which we fought forces of darkness and mindlessness and won, perhaps now is also a good occasion to consider marriage as such, with the awareness of the role marriage as an institution plays in the cycle of oppression and subjugation of women to this day.
Marriage is still, around the globe, an instrument of female oppression. We here in Finland wish to believe that for us that isn’t so, however our formally gender-neutral family law isn’t, as we see, neutral in outcomes at all. It is true that it doesn’t discriminate against a woman per se, but it discriminates against the female role and the types of labor women do and end up doing as a result of their gender. In Human Rights law it is called indirect discrimination, that is when apparently neutral measure has disproportionate effect to different individuals and groups.
“It’s because we here are so equal…”
Three years after the CEDAW Committee’s report, there is still silence.
We have SO MANY WOMEN in all spheres of government, women who even declare themselves feminists, and nobody is acting upon these recommendations or the obligations assumed by ratifying CEDAW convention.
So let me just mention this, for the occasion, by the way: Violence against women in Finland is destroying lives. It is ruining women’s social prospects for ever. It is the biggest human right problem in Finland and it is getting worse; it is the major cause of social devaluation and exclusion of women and the main obstacle to equality.
Violence is an instrument of oppression and as such goes down the hierarchy. Conversely the presence of violence indicates presence of hierarchy. Our family law in its current form protects the privilege of a man and provides a framework for the hierarchy to play out in a marriage, directly adding to the level of oppression of women and to the likelihood of being exposed to violence.
It is hard, lawmakers, I know
While recognizing the enormous value of the achieved equality to marry:
How do we, at the very end, regulate all that diversity of relationships with one normative? And now it is becoming even more complicated. Can we even imagine umbrella as big as to cover all the cases and provide for equitable justice? I don’t think so.
What needs to be done, and we will eventually get there no matter how fiercely we as a society wish to oppose it, is to deinstitutionalize marriage, replace family law with… guiding principles and a procedure of counseling for personal contracts.
How do we do that? Well, ask me – I’ll tell you 😃
Writer is a candidate in Helsinki municipality elections and the member the Council of Vasemmistonaiset. She has a Master degree from Belgrade University of Dramatic Arts and also pursues continuous independent studies in a wide field of humanities, including International Human Rights Law. In her artistic work two main objectives are to democratize access to art and culture as tools of expression and to promote conscious evolution in ways we relate to each other.