Published on February 24, 2008
Penguins and Polygamy:The Essence of Marriage in Canadian Family Law : Penguins and Polygamy: The Essence of Marriage in Canadian Family Law Gillian Calder University of Victoria, Faculty of Law November 17, 2006 Feminism and Law Workshop Diversity Seminar University of Toronto Agenda: Agenda 1. So how can I look to a popular American film, made in France, for truths about marriage in Canada? a. Define my terms b. Film and Law as an Interdiscipline c. What We Do When We Do Law and Film? d. Documentary Film e. Two Discourses 2. March of the Penguins a. The story of the film b. Film Clip c. The Critics d. Ornithology 3. The Essence of Marriage: Do the Penguins Have it Right? a. What is the essence of marriage? b. Same-sex marriage c. Polygamy d. Monogamy 4. Conclusion Phoebe’s wedding: Phoebe’s wedding Phoebe: When I was growing up, I didn't have a normal mom and dad, or a regular family like everybody else, and I always knew that something was missing. But now I'm standing here today, knowing that I have everything I'm ever gonna need... You are my family. Miranda’s Wedding: Miranda’s Wedding Charlotte: Now go back to your people and we'll talk about this later. Miranda: You are my people and we’ll talk about it now. Critics: Critics … seized upon by the American religious right as a parable about monogamy and creationism Jack Malvern, Times on Line Slide8: … you have to check out March of the Penguins. It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things – the dedication of these birds is just amazing Rich Lowry, National Review Slide9: … it is hard not to see the theological overtones in the movie … beauty, goodness, love and devotion are all part of nature, built into the DNA of the universe. Even in the harshest place on the Earth, love will not only endure it will triumph Maggie Gallagher, AIMPP Why look to a popular American film, made in France for truths about Canadian marriage?: Why look to a popular American film, made in France for truths about Canadian marriage? 2001 Census: 2001 Census Married or common-law couples with children aged 24 and under living at home represented only 44% of all families in Canada Slide12: what is a feminist legal methodology? law-and-film as an emerging interdiscipline Slide13: “illustrate the tenuousness of law’s claim to privileged access to truth, the troubled relationship between narrative and truth, and even the limits of language itself” Johnson and Buchanan (2001) at 91 Slide16: documentary films and claims of objectivity law and film as meaning-making discourses Slide17: “film and law suggest that we may participate in maintaining current visions of deviance and normalcy through the simple act of neglecting to critically examine our assumptions about the family” Rebecca Johnson (2000) at 175 A story about love: A story about love In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family. This courtship will begin with a long journey - a journey that will take them hundreds of miles across the continent by foot, in freezing cold temperatures, in brittle, icy winds and through deep, treacherous waters. They will risk starvation and attack by dangerous predators, under the harshest conditions on earth, all to find true love. Anthropomorphism: Anthropomorphism … try going to a documentary film and accept its touching depiction of the natural world for what it is. And marvel at the beautiful, confounding mystery of it all. Not everything is political. And not everything is about us Andrew Sullivan, Times on Line Ornothology: Ornothology Bried, Jiguet and Jouventin study, September 1990 – March 1994 monogamy predominant mating system for long-lived birds Emperor penguins, low mate fidelity between years (15%) lack of a nest fat reserves The Essence of Marriage?: The Essence of Marriage? I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others. Hyde v. Hyde and Woodmansee, (1866), L.R. 1 P & D. 130 (H.L.) at 133 Slide23: I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of two persons one man and one woman , to the exclusion of all others. Same-sex marriage: Same-sex marriage Civil Marriage Act, S.C. 2005, c. 33. 2. Marriage, for civil purposes, is the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. PolygamyCriminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 293: Polygamy Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, s. 293 293. (1) Every one who (a) practises or enters into or in any manner agrees or consents to practise or enter into (i) any form of polygamy, or (ii) any kind of conjugal union with more than one person at the same time, whether or not it is by law recognized as a binding form of marriage, or (b) celebrates, assists or is a party to a rite, ceremony, contract or consent that purports to sanction a relationship mentioned in subparagraph (a)(i) or (ii), is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years. Monogamy: Monogamy “…like an ‘unmannerly wedding guest’ this article invites the reader to pause amidst the whirlwind of marriage talk and to think critically about monogamy and its alternatives” Elizabeth Emens (2004) at 278 Conclusion: Conclusion What can we learn from the Emperor Penguins and their movie story? Slide31: Thank you.