The Malta Independent 25 June 2018, Monday

Thank you Edwin…

Simon Mercieca Monday, 17 July 2017, 07:55 Last update: about 12 months ago

Now that the Law on same sex marriages has passed through Parliament, I have only words of admiration for Edwin Vassallo for having had the guts to stand alone in Parliament and vote against this bill. As academic, I wish to dedicate this blog to show why Edwin Vassallo was right to vote the way he voted.

First of all, I do hope that this new Marriage Law achieves what it set out to do  – true and universal equality - in Malta. My fear, however, is that it will make our society more misogynist than it already is. The fact that the term “mother/father” or “husband/wife” have been removed simply because ‘gays’ cannot face up to reality or become mothers encapsulates the inherent flaw in this law, which rather than being progressive, as we have been repeatedly told, spells regression. The message being conveyed through this Law remains that gays cannot accept that the unique biological experience that only women can conceive and conception is the product of a male and a female sexual encounter. What this law is doing is denying heterosexual women what biologically has been theirs from time immemorial. Such law far from enriching society only wins kudos for politicians from a new happy-clappy sector in society  

As for this Law’s regard for terminology and the use of words such as mother/father are  offensive for a section of the population since they are not gender neutral,  the new terminology being introduced in Maltese as a substitute is incorrect. At a language level, we are introducing the gender neutral concept that is not part of the Maltese language. Like all Semitic languages, Maltese is built on the binary concept of male and female (ragel/mara).  Government mistakenly believes that this new law will destroy what may be considered a culture prejudice that evolved over centuries.  

I agree with those who are claiming that this law has created a legal caveat for someone to drag a person to court because he or she dares contest that being defined neuter is not appreciated. From now on, the terminology mother/father, husband/wife on official legal documents goes against the spirit of Maltese law and therefore goes against the rights of the heterosexual at large who resents being defined as gender neutral when he/she is not. Indeed, for that matter, neither are any of the LGBTs gender neutral. They are something, whatever they choose to be either way and this new law is only going to increase animosity instead of eliminating hatred.

Furthermore, Government, in its intent to defend gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, transsexual, two-spirited,  did not feel duty-bound to defend the rights of those who object to seeing themselves being defined as gender neutral on legal documents and not referred to as wife/husband, mother/father and so on!

Parliament has passed a law that at best can only be defined as Kafkaesque. Government has deemed fit to render the concepts related to biological parenthood as invisible, unmentionable or dirty!  How passe’ is that?

Better still, these legal changes are rendering the whole concept of the family a mere commodity which is why these changes appear interesting to some but extremely worrying for the majority of Maltese.

While our economy is being led in a capitalist neo-liberal manner, we are trying to build a society on concepts that are the very antithesis of these same economic laws. The more our society is based, and relies, on consumerism, the more Parliament is creating laws that outwardly appear to be achieving equality, but in reality is managing to generate vaster inequality, by nurturing the ultra-privileged sectors at the expense of the underprivileged. On the contrary to what the LGBTIQ community is stating, the heterosexuals are not the privileged ones. Anyone who studies history knows that privilege is always related to social groups which are by their nature a minority in society. It is a big misnomer to call privileged those social groups which are representatives of a class majority. This law has turned a majority into the new underprivileged class of society.

As with all commodities, these absurdities are being depicted as positive. We have been badgered that this law offers equal opportunities; a sign of progress! In reality, all that is happening is leading to the absurdity where motherhood and fatherhood are being rendered a No-no.  With this law, Government and some members of the Opposition think that they can introduce Malta to the post-post Modern period. In truth, this law will render Malta still more insular at the risk of sending the country back centuries.

Irrespective of whichever way one speaks about equality, sexuality remains part of the human identity. Human beings fall into that species whose reproduction is of the K-type. Anyone studying biology will learn that organisms of this type colonize stable environments, albeit populated with competitors, predators and parasites who compete for survival. 

But sexuality is not only important for survival. Sexuality forms an important function in the formation of each and every personality of the individual.

If a clear proof that sexuality is not neutral as Parliament tried to portray it, this is to be found in the wording that the same minister, responsible for equality, used during her campaign to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. She declared that she is “mara magħkom” “a woman with [backing] you”.  Helena Dalli was certainly not being neutral in her choice of words. She stressed that she is female, which goes to confirm the importance of sexual identity for the heterosexuals and non.

The fact that sexuality is part and parcel of the intimacy to be found in every human being confirms it is never neutral. Marriage was not only created to protect sexuality but to regulate offspring and their rights of inheritance. This law will eventually have repercussion on these concepts and will open the gates to the introduction of all new models of family.

Worse, this law is now regulating and tying sexuality to the public sphere. But when sexuality is denied its dual function as we have known it so far in the west, it brings about a division between sentiment and knowledge. Jacques Foucault declares that sexuality is a social construct. Therefore, with this law, the legislator is attempting to change a situation built over time in order to legitimize a concept that is no longer based on two persons but on one, that is, both men and females are sexually neutral.

In the history of sexuality, this is known as the one-sex model. Introduced by Thomas W. Laqueur, this theory has its roots in the Middle Ages, when both the male and the female bodies were described as being the same in the medical world. It was the scientific discoveries during the Renaissance, in particular those linked to female sexuality, which led to a sexual revolution. One such discovery was the biological function of the clitoris. This was instrumental in the formation of a dual identity, as we knew it in Malta until this new law was passed by parliament. The sexuality of woman began being studied and to be conceived as different from that of man.

With this law sending us back in time, sexuality ends up being conceived as one type. In the process, male sexuality will end up taking on the dominating role that it had in the medieval times. In the one sex model, the male is the domineering one.

Therefore, those concepts, which during the Renaissance were considered as shackling sexuality and human dignity, have been re-introduced again in this law in the name of the liberal spirit of equality.

It follows that we do not have anything revolutionary here, even though it is being described in revolutionary terms. What we are witnessing is a legal attempt to accommodate a section of the population to the new conditions that this same section has created for itself.

This law is not about giving more rights or liberating a section of the population from its historical conditioning. It is a law attempting to create new powers. At the end of the day, these new forms of power will bring about the dehumanization of humankind, just as the element of extreme feminism dehumanized the female body. As is always the case in history, women risk becoming the first victims. Helena Dalli is a case in point! 

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