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Red/​Blue, Strict/​Nurturing Families, and Inherited vs. Negotiated Commitments

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Civil Rights, Family, politics | Posted on 09-01-2008

2

I know that I read Red Fam­i­ly, Blue Fam­i­ly: Mak­ing sense of the val­ues issue by Doug Mud­er sev­er­al years ago.1 I clear­ly remem­ber post­ing a link to it in Suzette Haden Elgin’s blog, and hav­ing her pick it up and pass it on enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly.

A friend post­ed a link to it again this week, and I re-read it today. I don’t know why, but it made even more sense this time around. Mud­er uses the work of George Lakoff (Moral Pol­i­tics : How Lib­er­als and Con­ser­v­a­tives Think and Don’t Think of an Ele­phant: Know Your Val­ues and Frame the Debate – The Essen­tial Guide for Pro­gres­sives) and James Ault (Spir­it and Flesh: Life in a Fun­da­men­tal­ist Bap­tist Church) to explain things that have pre­vi­ous­ly seemed inex­plic­a­ble.

Why do peo­ple like my father and Sam’s father feel so strong­ly about the val­ue of lib­er­ty that they risked their lives in the Marines to pro­tect it, yet feel just as strong­ly that women must not be per­mit­ted to con­trol their own bod­ies? How can an intel­li­gent woman like my moth­er acknowl­edge that my rela­tion­ship with a woman had absolute­ly no effect on her mar­riage, or that of any­one else, and still insist that it was com­plete­ly wrong, a threat to “real” mar­riages, and that same-sex mar­riage must not be legal­ized? (Let’s not even get into the fact that I had a con­cur­rent rela­tion­ship with Sam, because legal­ly rec­og­niz­ing polyamorous rela­tion­ships is some­thing she can’t even begin to dis­cuss.)

Mud­er quotes Lakoff:

What does oppo­si­tion to abor­tion have to do with oppo­si­tion to envi­ron­men­tal­ism? What does either have to do with oppo­si­tion to affir­ma­tive action or gun con­trol or the min­i­mum wage? A mod­el of the con­ser­v­a­tive mind ought to answer these ques­tions, just as a mod­el of the lib­er­al mind ought to explain why lib­er­als tend to have the clus­ter of oppos­ing polit­i­cal stands.

Then he goes on to answer those ques­tions, far bet­ter than I can sum­ma­rize.

I still don’t know how it is Sam and I could come so far from our fam­i­lies of ori­gin in so many ways. There are so many ver­boten top­ics between me and my fam­i­ly that, while we love each oth­er, we can hard­ly have a con­ver­sa­tion!

I have a ridicu­lous urge to print out the entire arti­cle, dou­ble-space, in a big, easy-to-read type­face, and snail mail it to Dad­dy (he’d nev­er read it on a screen). I want to send the link to every fam­i­ly mem­ber for whom I have an email address. But I won’t.

Because the oth­er thing I still don’t under­stand, but that I absolute­ly know, is that they don’t waste any time con­tem­plat­ing these issues. As far as they’re con­cerned, they’re right, and we’re wrong. Dia­log is not valu­able. As I don’t think I’ve ever had even one tru­ly ratio­nal con­ver­sa­tion with any blood rel­a­tive, I have to agree with them regard­ing the lack of val­ue in try­ing to open this kind of dis­cus­sion.

Maybe I’ll under­stand the rest bet­ter when I read Lakoff and Ault’s books. They’re cer­tain­ly going on my “to read” list, and clos­er to the top than the bot­tom.


1 The web serv­er is hav­ing issues at the moment, but there’s a PDF of the arti­cle that you can still get to.

2 Our dear friend James is the sole excep­tion, and he’s a very dis­tant blood rel­a­tive!

Comments (2)

“I still don’t know how it is Sam and I could come so far from our fam­i­lies of ori­gin in so many ways. There are so many ver­boten top­ics between me and my fam­i­ly that, while we love each oth­er, we can hard­ly have a con­ver­sa­tion!”

Boy, I feel you there.

“Because the oth­er thing I still don’t under­stand, but that I absolute­ly know, is that they don’t waste any time con­tem­plat­ing these issues. As far as they’re con­cerned, they’re right, and we’re wrong. Dia­log is not valu­able.”

*nods

Boy, do I relate again.

I thought you’d under­stand 🙂