Making it personal on the Forum

Zach Wiita

There’s an old phrase in feminist literature: “The personal is political.”

While the phrase originally applied to a somewhat different context, it would seem lately that the Daily Kent Stater Forum page might as well bear its inverse: “The political is personal.” Goodness knows the quality of dialogue lately is starting to resemble an episode of the Jerry Springer Show.

To start, the Forum page has been home to the issue of premarital sex throughout the last few weeks. I can only shake my head over this topic. Am I the only columnist who doesn’t have a stake in our readers’ sex lives? The furor over the “smut” issue is positively absurd.

What is “awesome?” Premarital sex or virginity until marriage? The answer seems obvious to me: It depends upon the person, and it is no one else’s business.

For Jane, becoming intimate with her boyfriend or girlfriend prior to marriage may be the most meaningful and fulfilling experience of her life. Bill, on the other hand, may feel a deep emotional need to enter into the institution of marriage with his wife or husband before he becomes sexually active.

Neither person’s choices are any more or less valid than the other’s. Each one has made the choice that is valid for that individual, and absolutely no one else has the right to tell them what they ought to do.

Perhaps I’m a bit old-fashioned, but much of the anecdotal content in this debate I find to be uncomfortably intimate. Others may be comfortable with it, but my personal life is exactly that – personal. I cannot imagine being willing to discuss my romantic life in detail in as public of a manner that others have done, and I have a great deal of difficulty imagining most students at Kent State want to read about it.

Whether I’m committed to celibacy, blatantly promiscuous, so unlucky in love that I’m halfway to a Steve Carell movie or had a good date the other night, I don’t want to impose this aspect of my life on readers – not directly and not indirectly. Surely there are better uses for the ink and paper that go into printing my columns.

There’s also an odd trend of late: false victimhood. To begin, functions like “Sextoberfest” or condom ads are not there to pressure anyone into engaging in premarital sexual activities. They exist to promote healthy and safe practices among those who choose to engage in premarital sex. One might as well argue that “Don’t Drink and Drive” ads pressure people to drink.

In addition, there are few things as irrational as hearing an argument (however distasteful) in favor of premarital sex and then choosing to interpret it as being discriminatory toward committed virgins. By this logic, one might as well say that anyone who attempted to persuade you to vote for John McCain was being discriminatory towards committed Obama supporters. It is the nature of this Forum that someone will attempt to persuade you to change your opinion; this makes it argumentative, not discriminatory.

Nor, for that matter, are you the victim of bigotry if someone accuses you of prejudice for defending the oppression of a minority group. An argument may be full of holes, and one of the most porous arguments out there is the notion that the marriages of a minority of people are a threat to traditional marriage.

To deliberately seek to steal the marriage rights of that minority group – be it interracial couples forty years ago or LGBT Americans today – is not an act motivated by a belief in traditional marriage. It is an act of oppression and fear joined with a refusal to accept that living in a free society means respecting the rights of others to do anything that does not “pick your pocket or break your leg.”

If someone hears your argument and points out its irrationalities and false premises, you are not the victim of bigotry; you are the victim of your own poor logic. To claim otherwise is to display a fundamental misunderstanding of what bigotry actually is and a transparent desire to start a fight rather than argue a cause.

I don’t know about you, but I’d like to read some columns next week that aren’t about attacking anyone else, insulting an entire political ideology, telling people how to live their personal lives or claiming false victimhood. So that’s what I intend to write.

Zach Wiita is a senior political science and theater studies major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].