Why is marriage equality so scary yet so important?

The China Post news staff

With the fight for marriage equality ending on a victorious note in 2016, it seems that the issue has quickly taken a back seat to other contentious economic and social issues making headlines. We are therefore putting the issue back in the spotlight to discuss the importance of marriage equality before further review of the amendment to the Civil Code picks back up in the next legislative session. Many have attempted to paint the issue as “the young versus the old” or “liberals versus conservative,” but at the center of the fight for marriage equality is the fight for gender equality. A fight that, when closely analyzed, most would agree with and all have a stake in. Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples does more than expand the institution of marriage. In reality, it deconstructs the age-old institution that not only enters a man and a woman into a legal contract but also assigns them specific, gendered roles to fill. When marriage is no longer limited to a union between a man and a woman, traditional gender norms and roles must be renegotiated. Men should be the breadwinners; women should be the caretakers. Are these natural roles that each sex is better suited to fill, or are these socially constructed molds that our society has instilled within us? Katy Faust, a notable children’s rights advocate who has spoken out at Taiwan Family’s (下一代幸福聯盟) anti-same-sex marriage rallies, has cited social science as evidence that men and women provide different, complementary benefits to their children. In one instance, Faust referred specifically to lessons in risk-taking that she claimed fathers could better teach their children than mothers.

A scroll through academic articles on the subject, however, generates just as many findings contradicting these claims. In fact, Doug Sundheim’s Harvard Business Review article on the topic states that women are just as likely to take risks as men are. Furthermore, in studies where men are shown to be more likely to take risks, Sundheim said that the definition of “risk-taking has been framed so narrowly that it skews our perceptions.” What this means is that these studies showing that men and women are different and therefore suitable for different roles are in and of themselves tainted by traditional gender stereotypes. When we look further at daily interactions, TV shows and the education system, we see that boys and girls are encouraged, almost from birth, to behave in a certain way that is both different and gendered.