Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Our own family values

The polite manners of the South, including the social taboo against speaking about religion and politics, are dashed in some arenas, one of which is in actual politics. I am doing my master’s in political science at the moment, which is nice training in both the science of politics and in learning to live on fickle money, both of which will be mighty useful in my chosen field.

Political science folks tend to have their own opinions on politics and also happen to be predisposed to sharing them. This set includes the all too common aggrieved white man, whose opinions, as you will know, dominate every aspect of society, more common than nitrogen and more noxious than fart. Having grown up a white man during the years that apartheid fell in South Africa, I have been a purveyor of such whiny bullshit, but more contemporarily, an enemy of it.

A classmate not too long ago decided to assault my ears with his whole aggrieved white man opinion, adding that he was glad to be living in the “family values South,” which made me retch into my mouth faster than Seahawks fans stop caring about football.

Of all the insults thrown our way, the “family values” one grates my tits worse than Facebook during election season. It manages to delegitimize the full span of relationships we have without at all looking at them even the least bit critically. With one swing it dismisses the potential of the sexual revolution, on the basis that it exists outside the confines of the increasingly illegitimate gender binary. It axiomatically disenfranchises the parenting of lesbian and gay couples (along with single parents), the marriages and relationships that are not sanctioned by modern-day interpretations of holey (sorry I meant holy) texts, and rejects any sort of idea that transgender individuals may know a lot more about themselves than complete strangers, who outside not liking something, have absolutely no dog in the fight.

If we are going to be faced with this god-awful term all the time, perhaps it is time we appropriate it. Perhaps it is time we make clear that in same-sex relationships there isn’t someone playing a man and someone playing a woman, because our families can exist outside one singular principle. Sometimes our family values involve relationships with more than two people. And sometimes the relationships with two people involve sex outside the traditional confines (of only each other). Sometimes our sexual history before shacking up with one person was key in our readiness to settle down. Experiences dictate maturity, after all.

“Family values,” itself, is a ridiculous term. But the way WE consider family values is practical: we define them for ourselves because we know ourselves, and our implicit resistance to templates means we think about them for ourselves. What we do not do is try to squash our relationships into glass slippers left behind, that don’t fit.

It is time we proffer our own version of family values: where your beliefs are sacrosanct, and yours to hold, even if most strangers don’t back them up. The most common deities may not sanction our family values, but they are real, and they are considered, and they work for us. And most importantly, maybe we are better judges of our own lives than morals prescribed by a presumed majority of an arbitrary electorate.