Marriage is so punk-rock.
Say what? Excuse me, Anna, I believe you are confused. Marriage is all about the institution. It’s about Government and legality and his and hers towel sets! Punk rock is rebellion, and primal screams, and green mohawks and converse, and piercings, and definitely not so absolutely not government.
That’s probably what you are thinking. But hear me out. I think marriage and punk-rock are kind bedfellows. Because, like punk, the union of the two goes against everything from biology to the natural laws of the universe. No wonder it’s so difficult, right? I’m going to get a little metaphysical on you and a lot physical as I try and expound on why punk and marriage are hardcore.
To preface this, I’ll say that perhaps I’ve got no business talking about marriage or punk or love. Love and I have gone round and round over the years. I’d like to say we just ignore that the other exists and get on about our business, but most of the time I’m pestering love to show itself in every face and flower that I happen to meet. On the other end of it, I’ve been known to be the jackanape saying to any angsty pre-teen that will listen (not really choosy about my audience age though) that love is a chemical reaction, and not a “thing” at all. For the record, that’s got some truth to it. That aside, my connection of marriage and punk will perhaps help my fuck all attitude and yours too.
Inspiration comes from unlikely places. I think even Kevin Smith would agree that Kevin Smith is an unlikely place to find inspiration. In case you haven’t heard of Mr. Smith, he’s the man behind Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma, Chasing Amy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and others. He’s a self-proclaimed “fat, lazy slob who did good.” That’s from his autobiography title, which I’m currently listening to him read aloud via audiobook. I think Smith is honest, funny and intelligent and enjoying the “read” a good deal. He’s real, and encouraging when applying his philosophies to my own “get ahead” endeavours. The chapter that particularly got my brain buzzing today is the one where he is talking about his wife, Jennifer Schwalbach. He’s describing being married to this woman, and how much he’s crazy over her in a sweet and equally potty-humor way (not that I expect anything less from him). So he says that marriage, which he makes synonymous with the term monogamy (as will I for this post), goes against biology and nature, because we are hardwired to procreate with as many bodies as possible in efforts to create as many screaming, clueless replicas of self as possible. That last bit is my words, not his. But that aside, I see a lot of truth there.
We are fancy animals that wear clothes, season our food, and trim our various outcroppings of hair in an effort to appear a bit more refined than our mammalian family members. And perhaps we make decisions better than the apes because our brains are a tad more hardwired to keep us out of the anthills, but all the same, we have animal urges. One of these is to procreate in a way that produces multiple, healthy offspring. Perhaps, marriage was initially established to create a stability in choosing mates as related to ownership tendencies so that we didn’t get it on with someone else’s pick and get into fisticuffs on a weekly basis. But, I’m here to argue that now marriage is (or can be) a tool of punk rockers everywhere to fight against our biology and the world that is consistently working to bring us into a torpid whirlwind of chaos. I’m arguing that saying “I do,” is a promise to say “screw your inescapable forces of heredity, genetics, and entropy that are working to push my attempt at love into the dumpster fire that is miasma chaos.”
Or something like that.
Kevin Smith argues in “Tough Shit: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good,” that what holds two people together in a relationship is not love, it’s cum. His words, not mine. I’ll rephrase this by saying that “love” is such an abstract term, quantified by so many different factors, and pretty much doomed to ambiguity by its constant state of flux and inability to be defined that it’s not really what weathers rocky shores. I can agree with this that love is not responsible for longevity, it’s sex and sexual connection. And it feels weird to type that because my whole life, literally everyone else has said that love is what makes relationships go, and that it’s not about sex, or it shouldn’t be about sex, or that sex is certainly not supposed to be talked about in the same room as the sacred cow of love. Well, let’s just go ahead and slaughter that right here. Smith said, he’s loved a lot of women and lost them too. But the sex with Schwalbach is different because it’s what’s kept them together. That carnality (and sometimes fantasy attached to this) of wanting to be with someone is stronger than love. Disagree? Ponder this: you can be angry with someone and not feel like doing something loving for them, but you can still feel like fucking them. And you both feel better after getting it on after a big fight. Sex has staying power where love may fail. And sex can keep or rejuvenate that love chemical squall.
I’ve gotten a little off topic, so I’ll reign it in. Sex keeps a marriage together. I’m not saying it’s the only thing, but, from my observations, it really does help. And Marriage/monogamy/sex with one person goes against our natural way of spreading our genes. So marriage is fighting the system, and sex is its decorated war hero. Plus, punk is sexy. Punk is about liberation with your body and your emotions with a big ole helping of “don’t like what I’m up to? fuck you.” So when punk and marriage meet, they take on the mentality of “hey, I’m deciding that my body, my emotions, my being is dedicated to one person who appreciates their worth and so to hell with all the rest of you trying to get into my head, my bed, and my wallet.”
This is how I assume punk rock matrimony sounds. It probably has a British accent too.
True and lasting monogamy is a big ole “fuck you” to biology and theory. Perhaps it does still buy into the system of organized relationships, but even then you can elope or do something non-traditional enough to quantify your devotion to another punk-rock-style. The only thing making marriage a construct of “the system” is when you allow it to restrict you in the choices you make. Don’t want to wear a white dress and invite your brother in law to some classed up version of a high-school-invite-only birthday party? Then don’t. My monogamy is not in adherence to how They want me to behave, because, even though I claim one boy as my heartthrob, it hasn’t toned down my zest for doing what I want, when I want, with no questions asked. Monogamy doesn’t have to be about settling down. Indeed, if you find the right person, the only thing that will settle is your madness as they click the puzzle pieces into place on your imagined picture backdrop life board thingy. How’s that for mixed metaphor, Balazs?
Punk rock matrimony is also a slap in the face of the natural laws of the universe. The preference to share your seed or womb with one and only one, fights hard against one of my favourite concepts from physics: the law of entropy. Entropy is, in layman’s terms, the nature of the universe to devolve into a state of chaos, disorder, destruction; the path of least effort. You drop a plate and it reverts into its most relaxed and natural state, several sharp pieces of plaster. Holding things together is hard. It could be argued that marriage/monogamy are the definition of entropy, and perhaps in some cases they may devolve into these. But the intent behind marriage, as I’m often told, is security, structure, boundaries. Some nice concepts to seek when the world is on fire.
Punk plays with the ideas of chaos and messing stuff up, but mature punk uses the entropy of the universe to create change for a better consciousness. And punk can grow up into something valuable. If done right, that’s the goal anyway. Combining punk and marriage results in using an institution the Man thinks he owns to better your life in a partnership that benefits the two involved directly, and through their combined efforts of mind can ripple to make changes for a better community…world…universe. It doesn’t end after the wedding bells stop clanging though.
The struggle to remain in wedlock boils down to a battle against entropy and all its bedfellows. Entropy wants to revert us into separate beings, with messy rooms, not counting calories, slowing turning in our own filth. Heredity wants us to spread our legs to all viable candidates for a strong offspring, and then watch as we all fight each other over limited resources. Biology wants us act on impulse, fight or flight, do what feels good. And then Punk Rock Matrimony says, hey wait a minute, let’s do things my way; you seem cool, too many irons in the fire is going to result in some nasty burns, let’s connect in no particular tangible way and…here we go. Punk Rock Matrimony is about being a part of something for a larger cause but for a larger cause of SELF.
Maybe I’m just musing too hard. But if it got you thinking, I’m not sorry for it. Either way, I recommend checking out Kevin Smith, punk rock, and monogamy. This girl can vouch that they do good work.
-Anna R. Kotopple