Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm Slacktastic

I learned a fun new word today: slactivism. According to, it's a pejorative term for the act of paying lip service to a cause without actually doing anything to further it. A much needed word and a portmanteau. What's not to love?
 The term was being applied to the deal on Facebook in which a bunch of sheeple changed their profile pictures to a modified version of the Human Rights Campaign symbol. To, you know, raise awareness and show solidarity as the Supreme Court hears arguments on allowing same sex marriage. I don't actually think these people are sheep, by the way, especially since I'm one of them. But I couldn't resist a second portmanteau. 

People on Facebook are always doing this sort of slactivism. Posting your bra color to raise awareness of breast cancer... somehow. Though I suspect everyone on Facebook is already pretty aware of the whole "cancer" thing; I think the awareness market is saturated. 
People always seem to be posting random crap to Facebook in the name of some cause. Changing your profile picture to a cartoon character raises awareness of child abuse. Because nobody knew that was going on. People post things like "repost this to show you hate cancer." "If you don't change your profile picture, you are a racist communist." Rarely do you see people posting things to Facebook about what we can actually do - where we can donate, how we can volunteer. It's just posted and reposted pictures of a rainbow's worth of ribbons. Slactivism. 
Now, I will point out that I also changed my profile pic to the HRC logo myself. It was just so heartening to see my whole friends list light up in red and pink. So hopeful to see democrats, republicans, preachers, teenaged kids all unified or something. Knowing how many people I care for support a cause important to me makes me feel good.
Know what the crazy part about this is? I don't technically believe in legalizing gay marriage - I don't believe that the government has any business legislating love. Marriage is a sacred compact between people their higher powers. Such a personal and holy thing can't be reduced to a notarized piece of paper. 
Let the government notarize papers for whoever wishes to enter the legal contract to whichever consenting adults have reason to enter such a contract.
Because here's the thing about the legal contract portion of the deal. There are no sacred texts that forbid a person from loving someone of her own gender, it's only the sex acts that are forbidden. So even if this were a theocracy in which religious folks got to decide what a person's allowed to do in their bedroom, there's not a thing in that contract about sex. And to think that marriage is a sin because gay sex is a sin is to reduce marriage to only one tiny fraction of what marriage is about. In fact, many people are of the opinion that marriage pretty much the antidote to sex. If you really wanted to prevent gay sex, you'd support gay marriage.
And one more thing. Marriage comes to us from the Latin maritatus, which also means marriage. So it was the heathens of Rome who gave the word marriage its definition. If the Romans created the foundation of modern-day Western marriage, and we wanted to be true to the word's definition, there would be animal sacrifices and livestock exchanges involved.
Side note: Jeremy and I may well have agreed to exchange livestock when we got married - neither of us has any memory of the actual ceremony. It's just sort of a blur of tears and hugging. 

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