Friday, June 28, 2013

The Commitment by Dan Savage



Yep, I've been neglecting my poor blog again. I was actually kind of shocked when I looked at my reading stats for the year as we approach the halfway point of the year now to find that I've read as many books as I have! 44 books so far with two more almost finished! Not bad for a year where I've felt like I haven't been reading anything. I think that part of feeling like I haven't been reading much though is just because I haven't been blogging much. And because I haven't had much time to read. I don't get to read every day like I used to. Work has been so busy lately that most days I veg out on the couch with some mindless tv and then crash. But when I do read, it tends to be marathon reading or audiobooks.

The Commitment was the latter...an audiobook. And I thought it would be fitting to go ahead and review this one now even though I finished it about a week ago seeing as DOMA and Prop 8 went into the history books two days ago! I'm so proud of our country for that and I'm so happy for all of the people that those decisions will affect. We still have a long way to go until we have true equality, but these are big big steps in the right direction.

Fittingly enough, The Commitment is Dan Savage's book on marriage, which was published in 2006. I really, really enjoyed this book despite feeling like I was going to hate it at the beginning. You see, this book is about many things, but the weaving thread of the book is Savage's journey with his now husband, Terry, on deciding whether or not they would get married. The book starts with an emphatic "no" to that question and it was implied at the beginning that as of the publication of the book, Savage thought that marriage was stupid and not for him. With Savage being as big of a figure as he is, most people know that him and his partner are married with an adopted son, so it made me want to throw the book out of the window at first...though I wouldn't do this because I use my iPhone to listen to my audiobooks on....I felt like the whole book would be invalid even though I acknowledge that yes, people change.

And then I realized that THIS is actually what this book is about...a journey. People change. It's about many things actually. It's subtitled "Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family" and that's pretty accurate, but I thought that "On Marriage" would've been a perfect title for this book. What I liked about this book is that it didn't focus solely on gay marriage (though it certainly had more moments than not that did), it focused more on the concept of marriage in general...what it symbolizes, why it exists, why it's important, why it's not important...and THEN it focuses on why we should all have the same right to make the best or worst mistake of our lives :p

Savage also includes some really interesting chapters that reminded me a bit of Mary Roach's writing. Chapters that explored the history of marriage and where things like the little cake toppers originated from. He truly is a great journalist and I'm enjoying his work more and more. But where I love his writing the most is when he brings us into his life. Where he takes us into the life of his family...his relationship with his mother, "the clipper", who sends not so subtle hints through newspaper clippings that him and his partner should make a true commitment to each other and marry each other. And I found it truly beautiful when he let us into the mind of his son as he made arguments on why his dads should not get married and ultimately on why they should...and why he would not be attending either way (ultimately he has no say so in this :p).

There's a lot of heart and a lot of passion in this book and it's almost a piece of modern philosophy....something that looks at the new dynamics of the world and poses the question once again of what is marriage and why is it important and who is it important to? One more thing I want to point out that I loved about this book is that Savage fully acknowledges that couples can fully commit to each other perfectly well and be in perfectly happy relationships that last a lifetime without marriage as well. That marriage is a choice that some people choose because for some reason it is important to that couple and that all couples should have that choice. That's the essence of this book. And I loved that. It fights for equality...and it also shows something that you don't often see in a book like this which is the fact that it's not an argument for or against marriage. It's not saying "well your relationship is a farce if you don't marry each other" or "silly gays wanting to get married just because you can't". Very refreshing read and 7 years after it's publication date, I think it's more relevant than ever.

5 comments:

Beth F said...

It's been some week of news for personal rights, hasn't it? Having the right to a legal commitment -- and all that goes with it -- is fundamental. I'm celebrating that such a right is now open to everyone who wants it.

DesLily said...

little by little walls come down. For those who live thru it, they are watching history in the making...

I'm glad you went ahead and read the book . I guess most things are relevant if one keeps an open mind! xoxo

Debi said...

Sounds like a good book. :) Sounds like I'd agree with him wholeheartedly. There are a million and one different reasons people might have for wanting to get married and a million and one different reasons people might have for not wanting to get married. I'm sure few people's particular combinations of reasons for and against are the same, even within a couple. So I find it ridiculous when someone assumes they understand a couple's choice, one way of the other. Choosing not to marry does not mean two people are not committed to their partners in any of the myriad ways one can take "committed" to mean. And choosing to marry does not mean that a person doesn't value their independence in any of the myriad ways one can take "independent" to mean. It's just ludicrous to think you can judge anyone's feelings based on a decision to marry or not.

But all that said, EVERYONE EVERYONE EVERYONE should have the right to act on their own combination of reasons, desires, feelings as whether they marry or not. And how ANYONE thinks that they have the right to keep others from doing so is simply beyond me.

James Chester said...

Like you I came to this book reluctantly, though for different reasons, but ended up loving it. I'm glad to hear it's still relevant seven years later.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

This isn't totally on point but Dan Savage posted something today about the Supreme Court decision that I have not yet successfully reported to anybody without crying.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2013/06/27/matthew-shepards-dream

Also Dan Savage is the best the end.