Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Great American Family - Why The Traditional US Perspective Is Wrong

American Families

I am so sick of hearing about the “decline of the traditional family”. People, let’s get something straight here. Politicians are so quick to talk about the “traditional family” but in truth, there is no such thing. That type of family - a father and a mother with children -  was created in the 1950’s as a means to uplift the country’s emotional well-being and as a means to increase commercialism. A quick look back in history shows that white families (European settlers) were focused on maintaining independent households. Women did little child-rearing – this was mostly left up to siblings or servants. Children were not seen as precious or important as they are today.

Not too much changed in regards to the roles of family members until the Great Depression hit. This “traditional family” phenomenon only caught on and spread like wildfire because the depression was so difficult on society that people were craving feelings of happiness. The government played their role in creating this phenomenon by making it economically easier to be married – most government programs were geared towards supporting the family, meaning a married couple with children. And advertisers began to realize the enormous power they had in influencing the American public to buy their brand! What better way to compel them to buy, buy, buy than to show pictures of a happy family using their products? Their trickery worked. Americans wanted that nuclear family they felt would get them out of their bad situations.

The government and commercialism created a false sense of nostalgia. Do you get what I’m saying? People longed to have something back that never even existed in the first place! There was no such thing as the “traditional family” when the forces-that-be began touting it. The mindset of what made a family was set. What’s most important to realize is that the status quo – meaning, those “in charge” – decided what does (and thereby what does not) define the American family.

What makes up the traditional family?

Alright, let’s talk about it. We have the breadwinner, the husband and father who goes out and works hard to bring home the bacon, the MAN. Then we have the caretaker, the wife and mother who cooks and cleans, the WOMAN who always looks pretty for the MAN when he gets home from a hard day’s work. They get married, buy a cute home and have the CHILDREN, a boy and a girl who are smart, polite and love each other. There’s usually a PET playing in the background, too.

If you look at the ads tailored to brand the American Family they are also white, blonde with blue eyes, successful, in their late 20’s or early 30’s and quite beautiful.

Where’s the rest of society? Where are the non-whites? The poor? The gay? The disabled? It was during this time period the United States experienced the height of forced institutionalization of people with disabilities. If anybody from an outside country were to make an assumption on us based on the “traditional family” they would have a very incomplete picture. We are not all white; we are not all well-off; we are not all healthy; we are not all heterosexual; we’re definitely not all beautiful. So why do legislators insist on trying to fit everybody into this tiny little box?

Why “tradition” sucks

Here’s why: because huge groups of people are left out, that’s why. Just because the government (or any other non-governmental group) labeled something as correct, does it actually mean that it is? Yes, pushing everything into that box makes for a neat appearance and easy marketing. It’s just one box; no need to worry about different styles or sizes. The problem is, the person in charge gets to decide what everything in that box gets to do and feel and anybody who tries to get out of that box is seen as an outside agitator and is met with severe resistance and oftentimes, violence. Eugenics was a practiced "science" in the United States with a goal of creating a master human race - one that the traditional American family would fit into perfectly. 

Let’s go over a few things we would still be doing if we relied on tradition and those neat little boxes:


Slavery - yep, if we kept on doing what we’ve always done just because that’s what’s always been done, whites would own blacks.

Blacks are not smart enough or capable of standing on their own; they’re so dirty that whites need their own entrances, water fountains and seating areas.
Suffrage – women wouldn’t be able to vote
Those crazy women and their irrational moods! How could they possibly form a thoughtful position on things as complicated as politics or the household budget?
Exploitation – kids would still be in our mines and factories
Their little bodies can fit in smaller spaces; their higher level of energy can produce more output; their level of intelligence merits less pay.
Institutionalization – anybody who was even slightly different would be locked up
Anybody with a physical disability cannot be a productive member of society; ADD & promiscuity would be enough to institutionalize someone today if we held on to traditional thought. Yes, really!
Interracial marriage – blacks were prohibited to marry whites
It would be the downfall to society as we know it if this was legalized. Those rapes committed by slave owners against their “herd” didn’t count though.


So, marriage was defined by one man and one woman at some point in our history; does that mean that that’s the ONLY way it could be? I know, I know, some of you out there are thinking that marriage is supposed to be between a man and a woman because God made it so. “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Adam”. So catchy; so brilliant. Before all you religious zealots get your feathers in a ruffle and start commenting on God and how I will burn in hell, let me tell you this: I LOVE Jesus. He is my savior, my Lord. I went through my religious revolution I talk about here and I haven’t looked back since. But we are not here on this earth to judge others; only God holds that power. In Romans 12:16 we read: Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. BOOM

So even if religion is the basis of your argument (which it almost always is), how is that a reason to put it into the LAWS of our country? I thought there was supposed to be a separation of church and state? One thing that really gets me is when Republicans want a smaller government, less intrusion, yet they want the law to control who can marry whom! (That’s not to say that Democrats haven’t traditionally been against same-sex marriage although the tides have been turning lately, haven’t they?)
You can’t have it both ways! Either the government CAN intrude into people’s private lives or it CAN’T; you can’t cherry pick in which area you want to stick your nose. I guess separation only applies when the status quo wants it to.

Which brings me to another point: Who the hell are you to tell anybody what they should do in their private lives? Listen, if Tina loves Shannon and they are happy together, how does that negatively impact MY life? Are they inciting a riot, spreading messages of hate or committing murder by being in a loving relationship? No. It seems to me that people who have a problem with same-sex relationships have some internal issues they are having difficulty sorting out.

And let me ask you this: what is the difference between “marriage” and “legal union”? Don’t they both give the same rights to the parties involved? It’s just another game of semantics played but when it comes down to it, you can call a rose a turd but it’s still a rose.

What do YOU think?


  1. Wow, quite a can of worms you opened; not mine. I will respectfully disagree about the roots of the decline of the traditional American family "that never was." It existed in appearance only, maybe.
    First, I have no issue with gay marriage. In fact most of my son's therapists over the past 14 years have been lesbians and they have hearts of gold...probably because they connect and intimately know the lack of empathy derived from marginalization of perceived minority status and religious bigotry.
    My traditional family image is a meme where parents and kids and relatives take care of each other and help each other out for as long as it takes and in whatever manner it takes. I could care if the kindness emanates from straight, gay, transgender or genderqueer folks. When Adam was disabled, family ran as if he had the plague. Despite the two parent, two kid and dog family, North American families often run (however, there are exceptions) from each other's adversity. This is totally the opposite of South America where their disabled, elderly and widowed are cared for at home by the extended family. Few institutions exist in Argentina and Chile where I have ABR friends.
    My bone of contention, and please, I do not mean to be disrespectful lies with organized religion. I believe that the mythic Abrahamic religions are social poison and have led the world astray. America as a Christian nation (false); marriage concepts; diabolic views of homosexuality; views that disability as either punishments from god or a mechanism of redemptive suffering; all fundamentalist myths which form the basis for inane beliefs about "family". For me, religion poisons everything. Scores more people have been tortured and killed in god's name than as the result of human neglect in horrific institutions.
    My goal in life is to be a loving, devoted parent and husband and good human without the need for an anthropomorphic god to guide me, explain anything or promote any belief. Religion, I have always believed, is for people who fear death (and what may or may not lie beyond) and I lost that fear long ago around 1998.
    Again, I do not mean to offend any one..I simply have a belief which I live by. Just sayin', and I'm a 65 year old dude.

  2. I can always count on you for an insightful comment.
    I welcome ALL comments, even those that don't necessarily agree completely with me as long as they are respectful. I know you are not a fan of organized religion from past exchanges & I know how you feel because I was very much so in that camp 5 years ago. We are the same in that I also do not agree with the things you pointed out that are so terribly wrong with many religions.
    But those things are not what MY God asks us to do. My God wants us to love and accept and support each other. I wouldn't say that I fear death - maybe I fear the pain of death if it is traumatic and of leaving my children, especially my daughter.
    It is sad that family, the ones we expect more than anybody else to be there for us, usually are the first to run or to be critical. I am sad for you & your wife that you found yourselves in that situation. Again I say, Adam is very fortunate (blessed) to have you as his parents!
    I suspect you have achieved your goals (and then some).