Monday, April 19, 2010

On marriage, flagging, and snooping

In responding to a "non-stereotypical-looking lesbian" who wants to know how to signal her availability, Dan Savage stumbles upon an idea I had about a decade ago.
... maybe all lesbians everywhere should start wearing a button. No words, just a solid color, something small and tasteful that could be pinned to the strap of a purse (popular with "not-stereotypical-looking" lesbians), the lapel of a jacket, or the belt loop on a pair of jeans. Thinking outside the lavender/pink/purple box, I think the button should be green—green for "go," green as in "Go ahead and hit on me, ladies. I’m a lesbian."
My version of this idea was not sexuality-specific, or gender-specific, for that matter. I just figured, at the time, that everyone should wear a button -- red, yellow, or green -- signaling their availability. Then I learned about flagging, which has the benefit of being uber-specific and the drawback of dying out, possibly for the same reason.

On the other hand, what's easier to interpret than red / yellow / green? Folks could even take the initiative to further decorate their buttons with the most vital specifics of their Match.com profiles.

Sadly, a flash-forward to a guy in a witness box protesting, "But she was wearing green!" and a lawyer retorting, "A button does not imply consent!" made me realize my idea had any number of flaws.

Still, Dan, if you're interested in sifting through my other youthful fancies, I once thought it would be brilliant to have marriage be a 7-year-long contract that could be extended. Sure, if a couple decided not to renew, they would have to figure out what to do with mutual children and property, but it could be a simpler and less vicious process than divorce.*

To the turn the tables for a second, though, Dan, I got kind of stuck on this, from your column a couple weeks ago:
A confession: I’ve looked through my boyfriend’s e-mail; I assume he’s looked through mine. I’ve scrolled through his text messages; I assume he’s scrolled through mine. Expecting your partner not to snoop is like expecting your partner not to fart or fantasize about other people. It’s a nice thought, JB, but knowing what we know about human nature—and knowing that we ourselves snoop, fart, and fantasize about other people—it’s a little unrealistic.
That's pretty strong language there. I would be upset if I found out Mr. Ben had gone through my email or my text messages. Dude, I don't even open letters that I know are intended for both of us if they're addressed only to him. To me, this is standard practice, because everyone is entitled both to privacy and to vent, whether in journals or by email or whatever. Also, the couple times in my life I have seen someone else's gchat conversation windows or text messages, I've had to deal with unwanted information, the kind I wished afterwards I could un-know.

Snooping is counter-productive: you think your curiosity will be slaked by just a little bit more information, but that's not usually the way curiosity works. If you feel like you're being lied to and can't trust the person you're with, the trust is probably gone and the relationship is probably over, no matter what exists in the other person's inbox. Right?

Or is there something here I'm not seeing? Has anyone ever had a positive snooping outcome?


*Turns out a German politician not only read my mind, she went public with the notion of a time-limited, renewable civil marriage. The only folks who took her seriously were the Catholics, who demanded that she be ejected from the Christian Social Union (CSU) party. Ah well.

1 comment:

Beccah said...

I love the marriage idea, I really think it solves a lot of problems to be forced to affirmatively renew something. I also like it because I think it shows that you were raised by 2 lawyer parents!