Monday, October 31, 2011

You Go Tell Ol' Rich Mr. Chocolate Man, He Ain't Shuttin' Me Down

Not even 4 months ago, the performance of the US Women's National Team in the World Cup was touted as a Real Breakthrough For Women's Soccer/Sports.

Last week, the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league terminated one if its teams, the Boca Raton-based magicJack, which includes several key US team players were on magicJack including Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, and Megan Rapinoe.

Not much information has been released as to why the team has been terminated, but back in July, ESPN reported that the WPS banned magicJack owner Dan Borislow from the sideline for the rest of the season, installing Wambach as player-coach, after current and former players filed a grievance against him that alleged bullying and threats.

Another account portrayed Borislow as a millionaire who treated the team as his personal plaything, rather than as a professional business venture.

Whatever the case, I hope these athletes get the chance to continue playing on another team.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Is it just me....

....or are zombies the new bacon with respect to being the latest "it" meme?

I can't open my Google Reader without viewing at least 5 posts per day about zombies!!11! And, I assure you, this trend started well before Halloween.

I don't get it.

But for Halloween I'm totally going as a Sexy Zombie Wearing a Bacon Dress.

What are you going to be?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Harvey On Openly-Gay Health Care Workers

[Content/trigger warning: homophobia]

Via Rightwing Watch, Linda Harvey of the anti-gay group Mission America recently spoke out against "open homosexuals" working in healthcare settings. A fuller transcript is available here, but I thought this part was interesting:

"Here’s what parents can do: select your pediatrician very carefully, first of all. There are a few homosexual doctors treating kids, there are far more nurses, LPNs, technicians and other health care workers in these lifestyles so you may want to consider writing a letter that you file with your pediatrician that should your child ever be hospitalized, you do not want your child to be treated or cared for by one of these members of the Children’s Hospital gay employees group except in the case of an emergency situation. But for routine in-hospital care where contact with your child would be required, your values should be respected."

1. I love how she's all, "there are a few homosexual doctors treating kids, there are far more nurses, LPNs, technicians" etc. Sure, she's likely right about there being more "homosexual" nurses, LPNs, and technicians than pediatricians just because there are more of the latter than the former, in general. But, since we're not citing statistics or anything, I'm going to go ahead and reckon that more than "a few" lesbian, gay, or bisexual pediatricians exist in the US. (Ooogedy booogedy!)

In her claim, I'm sort of catching a whiff of homophobically classist thinking (is that a thing? I think it is): Of course very few depraved homos in "these lifestyles" have the necessary discipline to become doctors, that's why they're all "just" nurses.

2. Harvey's main complaint seems to be mostly with the "homosexuals" who dare to be open about their sexuality by participating in a "gay employees group." Although she likely still thinks it's icky for workers to be secretly gay too, she expresses concern about the possibility of openly-gay health care workers transmitting some sort of "homosexual" indoctrination into youth during treatment.

The "indoctrination" that threatens her?

The fact that gay people are, oftentimes, law-abiding, responsible, and professional contributors to society.

Likely knowing that actions speak louder than words, I would speculate that people like Harvey know that it's a challenge to indoctrinate kids with a Gays Are Evil message when those same kids see "homosexuals" in the real world who aren't, like, running amok and destroying society.

3. Despite the fact that Harvey makes an exception for emergency care (she'd give the "homosexuals" the privilege of treating her child if it was an emergency situation), I still say she's encouraging parents to elevate their anti-gay animus above the welfare of their children. Rarely, in a healthcare setting, is a provider's sexual orientation hir most relevant characteristic with respect to hir competence, ability, or character. I can think of many non-emergency situations in which it would be poor judgment to exclude a provider solely on the basis of sexual orientation.

What if the only hand surgeon in the area is gay and your child needs non-emergency surgery to fix a break? You're really going to go out of network or choose a less competent person? Okay. What if the bisexual nurse has 15 years of experience in pediatric care and the other nurse available to care for diddums is fresh out of school? What if the straight technician is more rough giving shots than the lesbian one?

The concerns and nuance that go out the window in favor of an Oppose Everything Gay agenda are really just amazing, aren't they?

4. Anyway, we'll patiently wait for all those Totally Nice Not-At-All Bigoted "Marriage Defenders" to condemn Harvey's statements.


5. *tap tap* Hello....?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Caution: NC Amendment Might Even Hurt Straight People!

North Carolina is currently mulling a constitutional amendment to define same-sex couples out of the legal definition of marriage. Governor Beverley Perdue recently issued a statement noting that she still believes "that marriage is between one man and one woman," but that she's going to vote against the amendment anyway.

I do appreciate that.

Yet, I have to admit, I'm not thrilled with her reasoning. I get that she has to play the political game that involves walking that fine line between explicitly stating her belief that marriage is "between one man and one woman" while also somehow still finding the appropriate, cowardly, and not-too-accepting-of-gay-people reason for voting against a constitutional amendment that would accord with her stated belief.

Maybe she's being pragmatic, but I'm just not sure great moral and political heroes are remembered for statements like:

"...I’m going to vote against the amendment because I cannot in good conscience look an unemployed man or woman in the eye and tell them that this amendment is more important than finding them a job. In addition, a number of legal experts have argued that this amendment, if passed, could eliminate legal protections for all unmarried couples in our state, regardless of sexual orientation. Right now, my focus, the General Assembly’s focus, and North Carolina’s focus needs to be on creating jobs."


Because anti-gay marriage amendments are totally fine when we're not in a recession and when they only hurt the people who don't matter (same-sex couples), but when they start hurting the people who matter ("all unmarried couples," even the straight ones!) then it's a serious problem?

Although, it is worth noting Maya Rupert's recent observation that black families comprise a quarter of the unmarried households in North Carolina. Since this amendment would strip legal protections from all unmarried couples, even the heterosexual ones, the amendment's devastating effect on black heterosexual families could rival or surpass its effect on LGB families. I'm sure the Hetero-Marriage-Will-Solve-All-Problems-For-Black-People crowd see no problem with this effect as it would, presmuably, "force" more unmarried couples into marriage.

(How's that united rainbow of bigotry working out for everyone, btw?)

While I find it unfortunate that Purdue only seemed willing to oppose the amendment because heterosexuals might also be harmed by it, it is also appalling that anti-LGBT forces are treating the rights of hundreds of thousands of heterosexual couples as acceptable collateral damage in their effort to harm same-sex couples.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Letter of the Day

From some dude's letter to the editor of The Kansas City Star:

"The left has elevated feminism to heights in which African Americans, Latinos and other minority communities can only wish for their cause of equality....."


Come on, you so know where this is going.

He continues:

"And yet, when a strong female personality emerges in the political realm they savage and eviscerate her like a pack of wild, starving dogs. I’m speaking about former Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann."


Allow me to suggest an error in his first premise re: "the left's" elevation of feminism. For, I do agree that "the left" is quite fond of "eviscerating" said ladies. However, if "the left" had truly elevated feminism to such incredible, awe-inspiring, and envious heights of utopian equality and love of women, we wouldn't see "the left" (or anyone) still continuing to "eviscerate" "strong female personalities" when they emerge in the political realm. Would we?

And as a tangential note, can we please stop dividing the world into these lazy false binaries like "the left," that is apparently comprised of mysterious, faceless "theys" who do Really Bad Things? Like, just state who specifically is "eviscerating" these conservative ladies and criticize the people who are actually doing it. Not only does doing that pin actual responsibility on actual people instead of vague political movements, but it's just more precise and less.... immature.

Unless, of course, your primary goal isn't actually to stop women from being harmed but, rather, to Totally Show How Hypocritical And Dumb the Leftists and Feminists* Are!!111!

*Dude didn't actually blame feminists, but you know we'll get blamed anyway. Even when we do actually stick up for the ladies "the left" "eviscerates."

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today in the Kyriarchy

Silly me, I always forget that gay rights are the only rights that matter these days. What with gay rights being The Last Great Civil Rights Movement and all.

LOL. Sure.

Despite the fact that I appreciate much of the work the writers at the pro-gay Box Turtle Bulletin (BTB) blog do, I took BTB off of my blogroll many months ago and no longer link to them in my posts. The reason why is because of posts, and the contributors' consequent and resoundingly anti-feminist defenses of them, like this:

[Description of post- Title: "Proof that Marcus Bachmann Is Not Gay." Underneath the title is a large photo of Michelle Bachmann smiling and waving. She is wearing some sort of business attire comprised of a white button-up pseudo-military jacket. Underneath this photo, Jim at BTB wrote: "No gay man would ever let someone walk out on stage before a nationally-televised audience dressed like that."]

Yeah, it's "just a joke." It's one that plays on the stereotype of gay men being Really Into Fashion and reduces a female politician to her ornamental qualities, rather than her intellectual ones. Worse things have been said about Michelle Bachmann. Yet, little thing that the post was, I still found it problematic. The Big Oppressive Things are often built upon little thing after little thing after little thing. (See also, microaggressions). And, unfortunately, all too often, opening up a discussion about how a "little thing" is problematic is revelatory of even more problematic views about privilege and oppression.

In general, I see little wrong with being a single issue blog that is good at talking about gay stuff, which BTB seems to be. What I take issue with is the attitude that people experiencing "-isms" other than homophobia are just whining about nothing, are ruiners of "harmless" un-PC fun, or that other "-isms" are less important that homophobia.

When people took issue with the BTB post I referenced above, and several people in the comment section did take issue with it, the response of Jim, who wrote the post, was incredibly disappointing. He begins:

"As long as some people are finding reasons to be offended, let me say that I, too, could be offended by what I could see as mysandry [sic] being voiced on this thread as evidenced by the argument that my being a male making a wisecrack about a female defines me as a misogynist."

Instead of listening to the actual arguments people were making, he creates a ridiculous caricature of other people's points and then goes out of his way to concoct an argument that it's he who is the victim of "mysandry" in the conversation. He then continues, hitting many an anti-feminist/MRA argument:

"...I did it and don’t feel the least bit sorry for it. Cracking a harmless joke from time to time — and I submit that this is a harmless joke — is, I think, a healthy diversion from the constant drumbeat of anti-gay sewage we all wade through every day....

As an aside and not as a main point, I would add that to say this is only, or mainly, about Bachmann’s gender and that men don’t fall under similar scrutiny is to live in a world divorced from reality. Pope Benedict’s Prada shoes, Donald Trump’s do, Ed Schrock’s Teal Belt, and Scott Brown’s non-belt-and-pants have all been duly noted and laughed at — and their policy positions has been dissected and scrutinized with the same diligence as Bachmann’s.....

So, with all that, I will say that I’m sorry if people are offended by this post and their feelings were hurt. But I am only sorry for that and nothing more. And I recognize that this probably won’t be satisfactory to those offended. And for that I am sorry as well."

So, yeah. Saying, "I did it and don't feel the least bit sorry for it" and then "I'm sorry if people are offended by this post and their feelings were hurt," is basically the crappiest non-apology apology ever. To paraphrase: It was just harmless fun, stuff is hard for men too, "sorry" to all you people who just look for shit to get mad about.

I also LOL'ed at the argument that it's not sexist to make fun of a female politician's outfits because people make fun of the Pope's clothes too. LOLOLOLOL. In the photo Jim posted, it looked to me like Bachmann was just wearing a lady's business suit like I've seen many women wear in professional settings. Is the notion of business attire on a woman really as ridiculous as Donald Trump's fake hair or extravagant shoes on a Pope? Really? I think there's some sexism in there worth exploring.

Although, like I said. The dismissive responses that trivialized sexism against women, in my opinion, were worse than the actual post precisely because Jim refused to de-center men from the conversation, refused to listen to women when we tried to tell him that something is sexist, and because his every comment demonstrates a pathetic failure to understand why people think his post is sexist. Instead, he spent most of his time in the conversation shutting his ears and defensively explaining to us how his post isn't sexist.

The responses of Timothy, another frequent BTB writer, were not better. When he wasn't trying to play You're-The-Real-Sexist Gotcha, he too, couldn't help but continue to keep men at the center of the convo. As he claimed:

"Ironically, [Jim's post] should be more offensive to gay men than women.....An [sic] yet no gay men got their undies in a bunch about it.

How odd. Someone call GLAAD."

Well, sure. Maybe "no gay men got their undies in a bunch" about it because Jim's "joke" was made at a gay-male-dominated blog and was not made by, say, the odiously anti-gay Peter LaBarbera. I have a hunch the fellas at BTB might view the offensive nature of the har har har, gay guys LOVE fashion! "joke" a bit less benignly had it emanated from the latter source. One has more wiggle room to make fun of oneself than one has to make fun of groups that one is not a part of.

So, what's always disappointing, but not surprising, is when it feels like you're talking to MRAs, except you remember you're really at a gay blog, a place that is presumably safe from "isms," or at least amenable to the idea that maybe even gay people can inflict "isms" upon other people. And you walk away like, "Team Tolerance, eh? Whatever." (See also, Why I'm A Feminist).

When I made the point that posts like Jim's, and his resulting defenses of them, are really good at alienating women and feminists from his blog, which should be a problem to him given that women and feminists tend to be supporters of equal rights for gay men, my point wasn't really taken. Although, interestingly, when I later noted that the post could alienate anti-gays and feed into that Gays Are Mean Villains narrative that anti-gays love to spread, Timothy called that "a good point."

LOL. Because who cares if we hurt women and feminist, let's just not piss off the bigots!

For me, the sorriest part of the whole discussion is that I'm highly doubtful that either Jim or Timothy could, without going back and re-reading comments, right now even articulate why people believe Jim's post was sexist. The knee-jerk defensiveness at having a post called sexist seemed to have occurred prior to any attempt at understanding. (See also, how stopping sexism against women might be a little important, but more important than that is men's feelings about having their work called sexist.)

It's amazing to me that people think they can adequately address homophobia and anti-gay rhetoric while simultaneously failing to understand, or even find relevant, gender issues.

In Totally Not At All Related News: Rachel Maddow recently went on Ellen to discuss how 100% of the hate mail she receives are attacks on her appearance.

Move along, nothing to see here. After all, people make fun of Jon Stewart's looks too.


Dan Savage: Please Stop

Stuff Progressives Do: Use Very Edgy Rhetorical Devices

Whose Rights?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Quote of the Day

"...[W]hen men choose to enter less-prestigious female professions, they often find rolled out for them a red carpet leading to better-paying positions within the field. The sociologist Christine Williams coined the term 'glass escalator' to encapsulate her discovery that men in (what are currently) traditionally female occupations like nursing, librarianship, and teaching 'face invisible pressures to move up in their professions. As if on a moving escalator, they must work to stay in place." -Cordelia Fine, Delusions of Gender

I know there are better reactions regarding this plight of men, but my honest gut reaction is: cry me a river.

In what I believe to be a noble effort to not alienate men from feminism and conversations about gender, I have heard it argued that sexism/patriarchy/kyriarchy/gender roles harm men in an "equal and opposite" way that they harm women. While that may be the case in some instances, I'm not convinced that's so in the majority of cases. Certainly not in this case.

Assuming we could adequately quantify and measure such harm, I think it is more likely that sometimes gender roles harm men more than women and sometimes they harm women more than men. And so, when talking about sexism, I think it really trivializes and erases the unique experiences of men and women in sexist, stereotyping societies when we try to force these fictional narratives that say Don't Worry Guys, We Totally Know That You're Just As Oppressed As Women In Every Single Instance Of Sexism.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Too Close To Home

[content/trigger warning: violence]

On October 12, 2011, a gunman walked into a beauty salon in Orange County, California and began shooting people. He killed 6 women and 2 men. Police have not yet released the motive of the shooter, who was apprehended, but many speculate that he acted out of a desire to harm his ex-wife, whom he was in a custody battle with.

Even though media narratives imply that gender is irrelevant in crimes like these, whenever I catch snippets on the news of a "shooter" going on a "rampage" in middle-America, my mind automatically fills in the blanks: It was probably a man**, and he was likely pissed off about women.

I'm often right.

How often do we hear "the gunwoman entered the supermarket and....."?

How often do we explore, through a gendered lens, where this entitlement to unleash violence comes from?

Sure, the media provides insinuations and quotes regarding possible motives, and "we profess to be shocked." But we're not, really. We expect such acts of violence from men. Even if this gendered expectation isn't uttered aloud or even noticed.

But, with their clumsy "explanations" of motives, the media often creates sympathetic portraits of the killers, invisibilizing the very real pain they have inflicted on societies, and obscuring other relevant details that might be pertinent to a killer's motives. Like gender. For instance, in many articles regarding this latest shooting, we learned:

"Dekraai’s neighbors described him as an outgoing man who invited them over for pool parties at the house he’d lived in for about six years. They said he doted on his son, playing catch with the boy in his yard.

Neighbors said they were aware Dekraai was in a custody battle with his ex-wife over their son, who neighbors said is 7 or 8 years old.

'It was a very difficult battle and he was trying to get more time' with his son, said Jo Cornhall, who lives across the street from Dekraai.

Next-door neighbor Stephanie Malchow, 29, said she was shocked when she saw the photo of the stocky man with thinning hair being detained by Seal Beach police.

'I’m like, no, not this neighbor, no way, he’s the nicest guy ever,' Malchow said.
Dekraai married his current wife two or three years ago in his backyard, said Malchow, who attended the wedding.

'He seemed very happy, he was just so happy he found someone new who loved his son,' she said.

Dekraai walked with a limp after a tug boat accident that killed a fellow tug boat operator about two miles off the coast in 2007. Cornhall said he uses a brace for his leg."

Awwwwwww. He was a super nice guy who just loved his son and walked with a limp. And he was in a custody battle. That explains everything.

Well, no.

What we do know is that this man somewhere picked up the notion that other people's boundaries and human integrity don't matter when he feels like acting out certain feelings. What a responsible observer might do is note how this notion might parallel other notions in society regarding certain people's entitlement to traverse other people's boundaries.

Like, say, as women, we receive many mixed messages regarding what to think and what not to think about violence, boundaries, and men. On the one hand, we have to maintain vigilance lest we dangle our meat in front of the proverbial tiger's cage (ie- we have boundaries, but it's stupid to expect men to respect those boundaries).

But then again, it's totally sexist, misandrist, and akin to racial profiling to assume that all men are capable of raping or killing us (ie- we have boundaries, but men's feelings about our defense of those boundaries is more important).

But, watch out, ladies! even Nice Guys can commit heinous acts of violence against you! (ie- we have boundaries, but we basically can't win no matter what we do).

When compiled, these messages are not exactly helpful.

And, each time we learn of yet another man going on yet another violent spree, I again wonder: What are the complementary PR messages that are aimed at men? What are boys and men learning about setting and respecting boundaries?

In the US, we're very good at policing the behavior of women, to keep women "safe" from men (see also, "slutwalks"). But the ways society seem to best police men is to reward them for living up to certain ideals of so-called Real Manhood. How might this form of policing be complicit in entitling some men to violence? Or... do we want to keep (dare I say politically correctly?) calling such inquiries "misandrist"?

Browsing Internet, at sites which I refuse to link to, I saw a scary large number of men sympathizing with this latest killer. As they said things like, "well, if the courts ROBBED this man of his kids, what do you expect?", they totally ignored the fact that maybe if dude was capable of going on a shooting spree, maybe the courts "robbed" him of his kids for good reason.

I also saw a lot of, "Well, if people WON'T LISTEN to men, we'll just take matters into our OWN HANDS! [insert threat about turning the US into the Middle East and taking away women's rights]".

I don't have enough information about this killer's motives to be able to say whether it was an act of terrorism on his part, but when men's rights types "sympathize with" incidents like this and hold them out as threats and a-taste-of-what's-coming to "the family court system," uppity women, feminists, and ex-wives everywhere, we need to call it what it is.

It's not just dudes blowing off steam. It's political terrorism. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. Maybe we don't call it what it is because, seeped in it as we are, the thought processes of such terrorists too closely parallel our own.

My condolences and sympathies to the victims, their families, their friends, and all who are affected by this tragedy.

**[Note: I am not suggesting that all men are violent, that no woman can perpetrate violence, or that no man can be a victim of violence. I instead contend that we live in a culture that is better at training men to engage in violence than it is at training women to engage in violence as a way of "solving problems."]

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And May Our Balls Be Plentiful

David Fleming over at ESPN, wrote a bizarre article about balls. As in testicles. And how you don't have to actually have testicles to be totally brave and stuff (but really, you actually do need testicles).

I don't know. The whole thing is a bit confused and conflatey.

Now, I'm hardly squeamish about body parts. So, I didn't find the first few paragraphs of his piece, which relays a story about a pro football lineman's seeming obsession with showing off his testicles to other men, gross or anything. I was more just... bored by it.

Testicles. About half of humans have them, and most of the people who have them were born with them and didn't exactly, like, put conscious effort into obtaining them. So, when dudes like to show them off and act like it's a big huge accomplishment to have them, it's like... big whoop.

But it's an interesting display, psychologically. Indeed, Fleming let's us know right off what the ball exhibitionism is all about:

"They weigh less than an ounce each, are barely 1.5 inches long, and -- let's face it -- ain't much to look at, but thanks to the testosterone contained therein, testicles are no less than the symbolic plumbs of masculinity and dominance in our society."

Oh? So it's just an unarguable given that we think people with testicles are biologically destined for societal dominance?

Erkay. Maybe stick to sports writing, Mr. Fleming?

He continues:

"They're like precious little crystal balls, revealing answers to many of the mysteries behind the physiology and sociology of sports.They are about fearlessness and recklessness more than bravery. They're about power, aggression and control more than gender, accolades or money. They're about the eagerness to fight more than they're about the outcome itself. Ultimately, balls are about the willingness to risk it all. 'A lot of having balls has to do with what's above your shoulders,' says MMA legend Dan Henderson. 'It means you'll do whatever it takes, go through any kind of pain, to get the job done.'"

I think I get it: While people with testicles are automatically in the Ball Club (until they prove otherwise by not being into dudelydudeman stuff like dominance and aggression), even some people without testicles can sometimes be in the Ball Club if they're lucky and they prove they're into dudelydudemanstuff like dominance and aggression.

(But, really, it's actually about literally having testicles.)

See, Fleming even interviewed several WorldWide Notable Experts On Balls, like Brendon Ayanbadejo, a football player for the Baltimore Ravens, who ballsplained:

"Balls literally determine winners. Nothing else does that. Not just on a molecular level, but the personality needed to win. Balls come down to this: Running down the field on a kickoff, headed for two 300-pound blockers, do you go around or do you speed up and try to hit them as hard as you possibly can? Anytime you see a touchdown on special teams, it's because of one thing. Balls."

Or, you know, courage. Or poor judgment. (Srsly, running as hard as you can at 300-pound people for sport?)

But then, if we just called it any of these things we couldn't pretend that courage was an essentially male trait that proved male dominance, could we?

I have written before of how America's love of football is a glorification of toxic, violent, and nihilistic hyper-masculinity. What the cult of Ball Worshippers call "fearlessness" and "recklessness," many in the medical community call "poisonous" and "too dangerous for its own good." After all, due to repeated blows to the head, ex-pro football players have been found to be 50 times more likely than the general population to have memory-related disease and 19 times as likely to be debilitated.

But, the violence that is celebrated in football is clung to precisely because it symbolizes a separation of the men from the women- a separation that's getting more and more difficult to delineate.

What I found to be an apt metaphor in Fleming's piece was his discussion of the fragility of balls. Citing a doctor, who probably actually is some sort of ball expert, he acknowledges that "severe testicle trauma" is actually very common in sports due to the testicles' location outside the protective skeletal structure.

Mariah Burton Nelson once said, "The stronger women get, the more men love football." In a world where women are equaling or outperforming men in previously all-male or mostly-male pursuits like college and many white collar professions, the fragility of male "dominance" and the concept of "manhood" itself becomes more exposed.

After all, if women can do the things that men can do, what does it even mean to be a man anymore?

As Fleming admits:

"...[T]here is a strong and unique link between balls, sports and the modern-day definition of manhood in America. With fewer ways to prove and celebrate masculinity, one set of balls has become profoundly connected and dependent on the other set of balls -- the baseballs, basketballs and footballs."

So, sure. It's silly and fun to write an article in ESPN about balls, telling cute little anecdotes about men exposing their balls to other men and so forth. But, more than anything, I found the piece to be incredibly sad.

Rather than exposing some natural, biologically-ordained "male dominance" or superiority, it exposes a very real, very visceral fear of gender neutrality and the resulting notion that maybe being a man isn't the super-duper most importantest type of human to be anymore. In addition to invisibilizing female heroism, courage, and athleticism, Fleming's piece is a celebration of men brutalizing other men for the symbolic purpose of proving that they're not women.

I read Fleming's article, and one image comes to mind. Not a fearsome gladiator. But a dude waving a "Men Are #1!" foam finger around in a homosocial sports bar, trying really hard to rally the insecure-in-their-manhood teammates and assure them that, despite how much damaging it can be to batter your brains into other Big Tuff Guys, doing so will totally prove men are still better than women.

I predict an increase in TruckNutz when the US elects its first female president.

[Tip of the ballret: Thanks to A.B. for passing this story along.]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just Some More Conservative, Anti-Feminist Misandry

(The misogyny, of course, is a given)

Penny Young Nance of the anti-feminist Concerned Women For American opines over at Fox News about the so-called "Peter Pan" syndrome of the Modern American Man-Boy:

"...[A]re women contributing to the demise of the man? Feminism has been detrimental to the identity of the American male. Men have been rebuked if they pull out a chair or open a door for a woman. If they offer to pay for dinner (which they should), their date may be offended and demand to split the check because she can pay her own way. -- Ladies, it’s not such a bad thing to be treated to dinner unless that meal comes with sexual expectations, which is another column."

And really, why write that column when there are women and feminists to blame for shit? She continues:

Yes, men should man up, take on the responsibilities of an adult, get a job, have a family and be a contributing member to society. The benefits to being a married man are huge. According to Men’s Health magazine, married men make more money, have more sex, get promoted faster, and are generally healthier than unmarried men.

But women also need to let men be men. Men don’t have to linger between college and well, college, forever. They can make choices to take control of their lives and be the men they are called to be if they just put down the game controls and choose a better direction. Sadly, at the moment, American women are apparently still in need of a few good men."

Misandry: Nance suggests that men are incapable of turning into grown-ups unless women let men be chivalrous. This is hateful toward men because many men are actually capable of becoming and being adults even if women do not pretend they cannot open their own doors or pay for their own meals. Many men have egos that can take such slights. Really. Indeed, I would argue that the man who insists that he can only "grow up" if women pretend to be weak is and dependent is the man who has a lot of emotional maturing left to do.

Misogyny: Despite the fact that millions of women "take on the responsibilities of an adult, get a job, have a family and be a contributing member to society" (and apparently are better at doing so than men, if current Man Crisis narratives are to be believed), Nance refers to these activities as "man[ning] up." This is hateful toward women because it conflates full adulthood with manhood, thereby defining women out of adulthood.

Notice too how Nance's view on gender roles encourages artifice, rather than sincerity, in human interaction. Rather than letting each individual person decide how they want to interact with other humans, Nance divides the world into two halves and encourages gender role indoctrination: Women must learn to better display inauthentic weakness and men must learn to expect it from women.

Although feminism can help address such nonsensical, sexist, and hateful views, Nance's Bash-All-Things-Feminist agenda counter-productively leads her readers away from feminism. Well played, gender essentialists. Well played.

Related: Anti-Feminists Condemn Feminists For Condemning Maher's Sexism

Monday, October 17, 2011

Perfectly Valid Alternatives?

I read this Q&A with a 30 year-old self-described gay Mormon man who is married to a woman and have had it in my queue of things to write about for a while. [Update: The original article is no longer available, but I did find it reproduced in full at another blog. For copyright reasons, I will not link to the reproduction. It is entitled "I was married to a gay Mormon."]

I remembered this interview when I posted "Not Born This Way," linking to a woman who admitted that she chose her same-sex relationship.

In the interview, the man says:

"Gay-rights activists would do well to admit that same-sex relationships are a choice for gay people, and opposite-sex relationships are a perfectly valid alternative for gay people. Mormons are OK with same-sex relationships being a choice. A core of Mormon doctrine is to allow men [sic] the privilege of acting according to the dictates of their own conscience. They can respect a person's choice to be in a same-sex relationship. Like I said, we do not oppose civil unions. The problem comes when they tell Mormons it is not a choice, and that their family and friends who have made another choice are either lying or not being true to themselves.

I have felt enormous opposition from the gay community for getting married to a woman. Many people in my situation don't want to deal with the pressure, and they hide their sexual orientation. If they try to come out, they get accused of not being true to themselves, and are pushed back into the closet. The closet is a horrible, awful place and no one should be forced to be in it."

There's a bit of muddling going on in this statement. Many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people are fully aware that we generally choose our romantic partners. Yet, the people we are attracted to, however, is not something we generally choose.

So, sure. I have made a choice to be in a relationship with my partner. I tend to consciously choose something that important. That choice is not really the point of contention in this debate. The point of contention is that, for me and many other people who identify as gay or lesbian, marriage to a person of the other sex is not, actually, "a perfectly valid alternative" to a same-sex relationship.

I mean, even as I self-identify as a lesbian, I wouldn't completely rule out the possibility of falling in love with a man. For starters, though, he'd have to be a progressive radical feminist. So there goes like 97% of the male population. And then, he'd also have to be somewhat androgynous, like sports, play video games, and like hanging out with my queer friends. I'm also not sure the sex thing would work out so well for us. Nor am I interested in physically bearing children with my hypothetical hubby-to-be, something many "marriage defenders" tell us is basically the whole point of marriage. It would also be nice if he'd be cool with letting me hook up with women. Um, instead of him.

So, once that Venn Diagram gets drawn, I wonder how many men would be left for me to have my "perfectly valid alternative" with.

So yeah. I'm happy that this gay dude's heterosexual marriage seems to be working out for him. More happy people in the world is a good thing. But that his hetero marriage is working out for him doesn't mean it can work out for all gay people. Nor does it mean it's a stellar idea for all gay people to give that lifestyle a whirl. I think he would do better to use more "I" statements instead of deigning to speak for all gay people.

Also relevant, of course, is what it might be like to be the heterosexual partner of a gay man or a lesbian. One woman recounts, ironically in the very same media outlet, what it's like to be a woman married to a gay Mormon man.

"I stuck it out and stuck it out until I found out my [gay male] ex was meeting men on the Internet for sex. At that point, I wasn't going to stick around to wait for him to bring HIV home to me. I didn't care what my priesthood leaders said anymore. My male Mormon leaders and their male Mormon God could go to hell...

When I saw that my own father contributed money toward Prop. 8, it broke my heart. My own parents opened their wallets and paid money toward a cause that will guarantee that more women will end up like me, unhappily married to a repressed homosexual who felt deception was the only option."

Are we surprised by outcomes like this, when marriage is framed as existing for "responsible procreation" and when gay people are so-helpfully informed that we're already free to marry (someone of the "opposite" sex, of course)?

It just makes you wonder.

To those who believe that a partner's homosexuality is a trivial detail, and less significant than, say, the requirement that one partner be a biological man and the other a biological woman, how do you really feel about the prospect or your daughters marrying gay men and your sons marrying lesbians?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anti-Gays Seek Special Right to Not Perform Their Jobs Yet Still Keep Them

Via a ridiculous press release from the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM):

"New York Town Clerks Lose Jobs for Defending Marriage"

Oh pulease.

Let me fix that for you:

"2 New York Town Clerks Lose Quit Their Jobs for Defending Marriage Because They Don't Want to Perform Certain Occupational Duties, Like Issuing State Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples. Another Clerk Who Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Has Delegated Her Licensing Duty to a Deputy; Cites Book of Myths, Rather Than State Law, as Final Authority on Matter."

The so-called "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance" is, naturally, all over this case, claiming:

"All three women are examples of why MADA was established: to create a supportive community for those who have been threatened for standing for marriage."

Excuse me, "threatened"?

These public officials are refusing to do their freaking jobs, people!

So what about, say, a fundamentalist DMV clerk who has religious reasons for believing women shouldn't vote. Does he have a special right to only give men the voter registration forms?

What about a Christian judge who has Strong Personal Beliefs about the immorality of inter-racial marriage? Is the "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance" totes going to come to his defense and protest his resignation? What about his religious feeeeeeeeeeelings?

How many times are we going to carve out special little exceptions for religious people who hold public positions and who refuse to fulfill the duties of those positions in accordance with the law?

It's a slippery slope, my friends! (LULZ)

I maintain that anti-LGBT advocacy is, at times, an affirmative action program to help people keep their jobs when their bigotry prevents them from actually performing their jobs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Men Need MAN SODA!

OMFG. People are so weird invested in creating artificial distinctions between men and women.

Via The Mary Sue, I learned that Dr. Pepper is marketing its new low calorie soda specifically to men.

[Description of ad, which I refuse to post here: Image of a silver "gun metal grey" Dr. Pepper Ten can that has the words "10 BOLD tasting calories" on it. Next to the can is the helpful hint: "It's Not For Women"]

Ooga booga grunt grunt! Dr. Pepper Ten: For all you fellas who prioritize not being associated with girly shit over not getting diabetes.

And don't you worry, ladies:

“Jim Trebilcock, executive vice president of marketing for Dr. Pepper, said he’s not worried that [women will] be offended by the campaign. The drink and marketing were tested in six different markets across the country before being rolled out nationally, and women weren’t offended, he said. In fact, about 40% of people who have tried the soda so far are women.”


But do these totally-not-offended ladies know that they were actually drinking a processed, liquified sugar-water mixture of trucknutz, ammo, and footballs*?

*That's not true. Product may actually contain ingredients similar to the products that ladies drink. But we can't acknowledge that and let men in on the fact that they enjoy products that are sullied by the inferior taint of femininity and women. Shhhhhhhhh! The gender complementary myth will be our little secret.


Men Need Manland!

Man Food

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thinking Bigger Picture

[TW: Homophobia]

What's a nice, civil Family Scholars Blog (FSB) doing promoting a piece like this?


Over at FSB, where I sometimes comment (and genuinely enjoy interacting with some of the bloggers, who tend to lean towards opposing marriage equality), blogger Karen Clark recently posted a link, without commentary, to a *clears throat* problematic piece over at conservative Christian news source OneNewsNow.

In the OneNewsNow piece, entitled "Don't Drink the Kool-Aid**," Marcia Segelstein bemoans the fact that LGBT characters get to be on television too. She says that it's "not enough" for parents to homeschool to avoid having their children become "infected by the culture." No, what is essential, according to some book she's read, is that anti-LGBT parents "staunch the flow" of shows like "Glee," "Modern Family," and The Kids Are Alright that observe the reality that LGBT people actually exist in reality.

She offers no concrete suggestions for how to staunch this alleged flow of "infection," but she promises her readers that further advice would be forthcoming.

In the comment section at FSB, I noted that it was difficult for me to see the piece as anything but bigoted. The piece's premise was that the representation of people like me on television was an "infection" that needed to be stopped. Frankly, most of the blogposts over at FSB are not as blatantly or virulently anti-LGBT as this piece was. I was surprised to see it promoted there.

Karen Clark quickly responded to my comment by citing a quote from the OneNewsNow article and adding her own defense of the piece:

"'[Segelstein's quote from OneNewsNow:] Yet the media endlessly mocks traditional families (to say nothing of traditional values) by providing entertainment that, as Hicks writes, 'relentlessly promotes the idea that traditional families are obsolete, unnecessary, hypocritical, and even a little absurd.'"
[Karen's quote:] "I think this is the main take-away point from this article but of course it all depends on a lens we are reading though. 'Bigotry' can go both ways but it’s really a useless word when thinking bigger picture."

Here, Karen seems to suggest that from her point of view, shows like Glee are actually bigoted toward "traditional families." But, really, it's not entirely clear what she means here, especially the part where she says that bigotry is a "useless word when thinking bigger picture."

Nonetheless, it was a somewhat informative exchange.

Some Christian "traditional family" folks believe, however ignorantly, that shows featuring "non-traditional families" are totally centered around mocking "traditional families." Yes, this claim feels a little project-y to me. At the very least, it is inaccurate. Having watched all three of the programs Segelstein cited, I suspect that Segelstein has not actually watched any of them if she thinks they "relentlessly" promote such horrible notions about the "traditional family."

While these programs depict a handful of lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters (and no transgender characters, to my knowledge) and non-traditional families, this depiction in and of itself doesn't "mock" traditional families. So, I noted that in my reply to Karen:

"....'Modern Family' certainly depicts non-traditional families, but in so doing, it doesn’t mock traditional families or paint them as absurd. If anything, the show depicts all types of families as being absurd at times. All of the characters in the show are caricatures (eg 'the flamboyant gay,' the 'young, hot Latina 2nd wife,' 'the bumbling hetero man,' 'the nerdy daughter, v. the popular daughter' etc.). The show is hardly a celebration of anyone or any single family form. It simply depicts the reality that different types of families exist.
And, rather than The Kids Are Alright being a celebration of sperm donation, the show itself actually raises the question, 'Are they really alright?' Both kids in that movie sought out the identity of their biological father, without their moms knowing, and established a relationship with him because they yearned to know him. It depicts the messiness of such situations, and that’s pretty evident to anyone who watches it."

Another commenter then politely asked Karen to further clarify her "bigger picture" comment in light of the apparent bigotry of the piece she was promoting.

Karen's response? An unfortunate, dramatic, and defensive accusation:

"Who the heck cares what 'Karen Clark' thinks – really. Who cares? Other than ppl who want to spin my words and intentions to their benefit."

Er... okay. That came from left field. I thought we were just having a convo.

Karen then threw a grammatically incomprehensible word salad into her comment and several (unformatted) links intended to be "thought food" for her critics to gain "a better understanding of 'the bigger picture'" (Note: One of these links was to the highly-problematic National Organization for Marriage's so-called Marriage Anti-defamation Alliance, which I've already written about).

She then she promptly closed down the comment thread, as though it somehow would constitute her "winning" the "conversation" if she got the last word in by throwing a bunch of even more bigoted links at us, putting her fingers in her ears, and ordering everyone else to become more educated by reading her hardly-impartial sources.

So yeah. I found Karen's behavior to be really problematic.

For one, it seemed to fall into that classic, pearl-clutching How dare you try to talk to me about spreading bigoted propaganda about you!? category of Internet discourse. That's always fun. Good on you, Karen, for having the privilege to just walk away from hostile conversations you initiate that end up making you feel like you might be acting problematically.

Two, Karen has a history of linking to bigoted or provocative pieces, but she often keeps the comment section following such promotions closed. Or, as in this case, she will quickly close down a thread when people are like, "what's up with that bigoted piece, Karen?"

Three, about those links she threw in to "educate" her critics about "the bigger picture." As a lesbian blogger, yep, I'm pretty sure I'm already familiar with what NOM and company are saying and accusing equality advocates of. While many of us are highly familiar with NOM's theatrics re: How The Big Bad Mean Gays Are Oppressing The Nice Marriage Defenders, Karen seems to have chomped down on that hook, line, and sinker.

In her efforts to bring it to the attention of LGBT people, she assumes ignorance on our part, rather than considering that maybe it's she who needs to "think bigger picture" than what NOM and company are telling her. For instance, while I regularly and deliberately put myself in hostile anti-LGBT blog territory, how many LGBT-written blogs does she regularly read and comment on? Does she listen to LGBT people at all? Can she adequately and informatively explain our viewpoints, fears, and concerns? Or, is most of her information coming from groups like NOM?

Four, I found it strange that Karen backed up with her hands in the air and demeaned herself by asking, "who the heck cares what 'Karen Clark' thinks"?

She posts at Family Scholars Blog, a project of the Institute for American Values, which is an institution opposing same-sex marriage and that, presumably, runs a blog for the purpose of an intellectual exchanging ideas with others. I think the bigger question is why Karen Clark, the Family Scholars blogger, would think people wouldn't care what she thinks? I mean, is it really fair or realistic of her to not expect debate about what she posts?

And really, my beef is not even about her, it's about the hostile pieces she (a) promotes and (b) then proceeds to shut down conversations about. The OneNewsNow piece she promoted, to me, looked less embiggening to a scholarly discourse, and more about a propagandic attack on LGBT representation in the media. A good conversation could have been had about it by people of differing viewpoints and yet, Karen acted as though it was totally out of line that people might take issue with the piece she promoted.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Internet 'Asplosion with Stacy, the Catholic woman who wrote a cruel, intolerant, and hateful screed about how awful it was for her to see a same-sex couple at a public park. Later, Stacy too, reacted with that "why does anyone even care what I think anyway" attitude. Stacy, too, reacted to polite criticism by perceiving it and framing it as a violent infringement on her rights.

So, here I would encourage Karen to stop reactively framing every bit of criticism or requests for clarification as an aggressive, hostile attack on herself. When I noted that, as a lesbian, it seems bigoted toward me when someone writes about what an awful "infection" it is that there are lesbian characters on television, it is a strange thing to be told that bigoted is a "useles word" and that I should, instead, focus on an alleged "bigger picture"- especially when that "bigger picture" is painted by a group like NOM.

When we truly think about the bigger picture, I will against suggest that some anti-LGBT people have fundamental misunderstandings of (1) the aggression, cruelty, and hostility inherent in their words; and (2) the fact that when one person shares their opinion in public, other people might then share their opinions about that opinion.

[TW: suicide]

** Regarding the title of the OneNewsNow piece, "Don't Drink the Kool-Aid": Not only is Segelstein's article bigoted in its content, her title wantonly compares LGBT representation in the media to an unbelievably tragic instance of cult-induced mass suicide. First, can we please stop with the metaphors that trivilialize tragedy? Watching Kurt Hummel sing stupid showtunes on Glee is actually nothing at all like drinking cyanide-laced sugar water.

Two, the phrase is used in the article to imply that believers in LGBT equality have an unquestioning adherence to some ideology. In this instance, it implies that the larger society uncritically accepts LGBT people as "evidenced" by the fact that 35 LGBT characters exist on TV out of, like, thousands.

Could anti-LGBT Christians be any more project-y here? Not only do many of them have an unquestioning, uncritical, and unwavering religiously-based devotion to the idea that being LGBT is horribly wrong, homophobia and transphobia are still incredibly pervasive in society. As evidenced by Segelstein's article, which somehow gets promoted even on nice, civil, "scholarly" blogs.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Is awesome.

In Corner 1, we have a liberal dude telling us that the ladies (all of us) are too precious for combat (see also, the frailty myth, blah blah honk), and in Corner 2 we have a conservative dude telling us that ladies will totes ruin the brotherhood of manly warriors (see also, the longing for male-only space that is super-special precisely because it excludes women).

And giving the liberal-conservative-brotherhood-of-sexist-bigotry a solid feminist smackdown is Van Badham.

Leftist Gender Warrior salutes you!


Related: United They Stand

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Fun!

For the past 20 years, a man on Prince Edward Island has been littering the oceans with plastic putting messages in a bottle in the ocean that ask the finder to send him a letter in return. Of the 4,800 he has sent out, he claims to have received more than 3,000 letters in response.


One time, circa 1986, I wrote a letter to Madonna that included my phone number and a drawing of a cocker spaniel, put it in an empty RC cola bottle, and threw it in the lake behind my house. The letter also let her know the name of my elementary school. Just in case she was in the neighborhood and felt like doing the dance from the "Papa Don't Preach" video with me in front of the whole school.

I never heard back.

That's all.

Aren't you so glad you read my blog today?

Consider this an open thread to talk about whatevs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Theory of His Own

[TW: Transbigotry, homobigotry]

There's a new theory coming out of amateur anti-equality blog Opine Editorials: Same-sex parenting causes kids to become transgender.

Citing The Daily Mail [Note: the article's pronoun usage and headline are clusterfucks], Opine ran a brief story about an 11-year-old diagnosed with Gender Identity Disoder whose parents are allowing her to take hormone blockers to prevent her from going through puberty. The child, Tammy, began transitioning at the age of 8 after, by her account, having always felt like a girl.

The parents don't seem to understand Tammy's desire to transition, but they support her. Although the hormone treatment is controversial, they are concerned that not allowing Tammy to transition before puberty could put her at a higher risk for suicide later.

Oh. And also...

The parents are lesbians.

Did I forget that part?

Well, don't worry, because Opine Editorials is All Over It! Let's hear it from Esteemed and Notable World-Wide Expert on Transgender Issues "On Lawn," who makes the connection:

"The untold story is also one of sex-segregation. A boy at an early age sees two mothers, and says he is one of them -- as a girl. The two women who's [sic] own preference is for women naturally go along with their son being a woman. This isn't about homosexuality the activity in the bedroom [sic wut?], but it is about about oppression of the other gender. He'll be happier that way, no bias here."


His poorly-written paragraph of course cites no study, no evidence, and no research. It's nothing but his own conjecture that womanliness so imprints itself onto suggestible baby boys who don't have fathers that it causes them to want to become girls. As though transitioning into a girl would be, like, a totally easy, simple, and not-at-all stigmatized natural outcome of not having a father figure.

I'm not trans, but.... I don't think that's how it works. And, if you read the actual story that "On Lawn" actually cited, you quickly learn that that's not how it worked in Tammy's case, either.

But being accurate and informative isn't really what "On Lawn" cares about, is it?

Despite the fact that the actual article "On Lawn" cited states very clearly that the lesbian parents (oogedy boogedy wooga booga!) were quite ambivalent about Tammy's transition, didn't understand it, and were mostly concerned with her mental well-being, "On Lawn" claims that they were totally enthused by Tammy's transition, because they're lesbians, and thus were also motivated by a desire to "oppress... the other gender."

By being lesbians, "On Lawn" says they're engaging in "sex segregation," as though they're are out to neuter their sons as part of their grand scheme to Not Have Any Men Around. (Although, for some reason, the lesbian parents didn't neuter their other two sons, who are cisgender. Oh well, that doesn't fit into On Lawn's "theory," so I guess we'll just all ignore that tidbit of information too.)

At this point, a good first step for "On Lawn" would be to stop talking, stop cismansplaining, and do some more listening and understanding. On Internet, a person can find a myriad of testimonials written by actual transgender people recounting their actual experiences and transition processes. One can also find studies and entire books about the issue, if one is truly interested in learning more!

All that considered, when a cis heterosexual anti-LGBT blogger whose profile puts his area of expertise as being an IT guy tries to "explain" what "causes" transgenderism you can be 99.6% sure it's not going to be embiggening to the discourse.

[I would suggest against engaging "On Lawn" in discussion, at least at his blog. But if you do... well, you'll see. LULZ! #MassiveWasteOfTime, #EvenTheBigotWhispererCan'tWinOverAllTheHaters].

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Citations Needed



[Note: It's a link to Conservapedia's "Feminist style" entry. LOL not only at the content of the entry itself, but at "feminist style" actually having an entry in an "encyclopedia.]

Anyway, we'll all just take their "trustworthy" word on all those claims.

Seriously though, whenever I feel like reading crappy writing and unsupported, reactionary claims about feminists, I peruse Conservapedia. I know, it's a joke of a site. And, nearly every article on that site that's in any way related to feminism demonstrates a miserable failure to understand feminism, let alone to "counter" feminist claims.

However, even though you might not really know if the whole site is a big parody, it does reveal what certain segments of society probably believe is "truth." So, the site is useful in a "know thy enemy" sort of way.

And, naturally, the articles about feminism seem to be the usual MRA fare of throwing-wet-noodles-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks approach to trying to discredit all of feminism. Like, gawd forbid they concede that, even though women now have the right to vote, people still might have good, legitimate reasons for being feminists today. It's all, this one feminist one time said x, therefore all feminists ever suck!!!!

And then, well, whenever a critic is citing what Phyllis Schlafy says The Feminists Say, rather than bothering to cite what feminists actually say, you can take it as a big clue that the person is basically just throwing ping pong balls into the Making Shit Up Bucket of Bozo the Clown's Grand Prize Game.

I'm not entirely sure why, but the site continues to amuse me.

Especially the poor souls on the talk pages who try to be like, "Dudes, can we clean this up and try to be a little more objective here?" and are either totes ignored or ordered to "LEAVE THE PAGE ALONE!!"

Oh, Internet. You silly goose.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rights We Can't "Contract For"

Many anti-equality advocates claim that they oppose same-sex marriage, in part, because same-sex couples "can just contract for" the rights of marriage. So, you know, no bigs. Marriage bans don't actually prevent gay people from obtaining any rights of marriage and apparently, everyone has access to and can pay for an attorney.

Well.... not quite. Not in the reality-based world.

Many rights actually cannot be "contracted for." Obtaining a green card marriage, getting social security survivors' benefits, and suing for wrongful death of a spouse are a handful of such rights.

[TW: Accidental injury/death]

In August 2011, a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair, killing a woman who was in a civil union that is legally recognized by the state of Illinois. Her partner was also injured in the collapse, and she survives.

Had they been a heterosexual couple, the surviving partner could have filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages for the death of her partner. Had the accident occurred in Illinois, where same-sex civil unions are granted the same state-level rights as marriages, the surviving partner could have filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages for the death of her partner.

But, Indiana doesn't recognize same-sex civil unions or marriages, even if those unions are legally recognized in another state. So, the surviving partner doesn't necessarily have the right to file a wrongful death suit in Indiana. She has to try to sue for that right since same-sex couples can have full state-level rights of marriage in one state, but when they cross the border, they can still be considered legal strangers to states that refuse to recognize same-sex unions. (I have discussed this scenario before, and articulated that, if possible, I will avoid such states in travel and vacation).

I wonder.... what do all of those nice, civil "marriage defenders," who we are repeatedly told exist, think about situations like these?

Well, we do know what one leading voice against marriage equality, Liberty Counsel's Matthew Staver (who was quoted as the "other side" to this issue) thinks:

"It is essentially something that is creating a relationship that is parallel to marriage for same-sex couples, and we don't believe that that is a good policy."

After taking a few minutes to seeth, fume, and rage at the utter lack of empathy, sympathy, and concern for the dignity of same-sex couples evidenced in this statement, I was led to a more peaceful question.

Given that same-sex couples aren't going away and given that we actually do exist in society, what does Mr. Staver suggest we do to better protect our relationships given that we can't, actually, "contract for" all the protections and rights of marriage? What is a specific compromise that will protect our rights while also not supposedly constituting "bad policy"?

I'm serious.

To all the "marriage defenders" out there who definitely-aren't-bigots-and-haters, here's your big chance to put up or shut up about how civil, respectful, and nice you are to LGBT people while denying us rights:

Given that people like you, amateur and professional "marriage defenders" and bloggers, are what stands in the way of a real-life woman's ability to have her relationship legally recognized and receive benefits she would be entitled if her partner had been a man, what's your solution to cases like this?

Or, maybe you don't see anything wrong with some couples getting "more equal" rights to sue than others.

Please elaborate.

[Note: Since this is a sincere challenge to anti-equality advocates, readers are welcome to direct anti-equality advocates here for them to outline their solutions.]

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Problem With the "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance"

The National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage ("NOM") and professional anti-equality advocate Maggie Gallagher have a new project in the works called the "Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance" ("MarriageADA").


I'd like to be able to report that this project truly appears interested in provoking an exchange of civil dialogue about the marriage debate, but alas.

The "About" section starts promising enough:

"We recognize that marriage is an important issue, about which people of good will can and do disagree. We believe America should be a place where passionate moral disagreements about important issues such as marriage are expressed with respect, thoughtfulness and civility—and without fear.,[sic] or threats of retaliation, on both sides."


People on "both sides," if they're being honest, should be able to concede that both equality advocates and "marriage defenders" have acted aggressively, violently, and inappropriately at times with respect to the debate. And, reasonable people on "both sides" should be able to agree that people should be able to express "passionate moral disagreements" without fear of threats of physical violence.

As a point of clarification, and also illustrative of the first problem with this campaign, it's not clear what NOM means by "retaliation." In the past, "marriage defenders" have characterized legitimate, non-violent protesting and boycotts as unfair "retaliation," "censorship" and "hate." Yet, historically, non-violent protestors such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi recognized that a key component of non-violent protesting was accepting the possibility of jail time, the loss of a job, and/or the loss of business due to one's advocacy.

Many "marriage defenders," while trying to paint themselves as Gandhi-esque paragons of peace and civility, do not tend to accept these consequences of their political activity. Instead, they ask for the special right to engage in political discourse leading to the denial of other people's rights without any consequence to themselves. In fact, that seems to be the very point of this "MarriageADA" campaign.

Furthermore, and hypocritically, NOM has recently forked over money to put up gigantic billboards in New York threatening the imminent removal from office of politicians who voted in favor of marriage equality. The billboards target specific politicians and boldly exclaim, "You're next." Sure, I see the billboards as a legitimate means of advocacy, but let's call it what it is: a threat of retaliation. I guess the "MarriageADA" is okay with such threats coming from "their side."

Moving on, the very next paragraphs fall prey to the very vilification this project condemns- unfairly demonizing the "other side":

"Since Prop 8, we have grown concerned about the increasing number of reports from people whose persons, property, and/or livelihoods have been threatened because they oppose-same sex marriage.

These incidents, we have come to suspect, are not neither isolated, nor mere thuggery, but are the fruit of a very bad idea relentlessly promoted by gay marriage elites: there is no reason why marriage is the union of husband and wife, opposition to same-sex marriage is just like opposition to interracial marriage, and that “anti-equality” views are therefore the moral, legal, intellectual equivalent of the hateful dogmas of racism." [emphasis added]

The site then encourages "marriage defenders," but not LGBT people or allies, to submit their stories of having been threatened and harassed for their views about marriage.

So. Right. Okay.

Let's talk about the the very phrase "gay marriage elite." For a project extolling the virtues of civility, that one's incredibly inflammatory. It is suggestive of rich, beret-capped "leftists" twirling their mustaches while inventing a "myth" that anti-equality advocates are bigots even though, apparently, anti-equality advocates are actually perfect paragons of civility.

But, well, anyone who even tangentially follows this debate knows that that would be an incredibly dishonest portrait of the debate. People call many "marriage defenders" bigots and the equivalents of racists because many "marriage defenders" actually are bigots and the equivalents of racists.

An important step in demonstrating civility and a sincere concern about dialogue on "both sides" is to concede that hardly-controversial point, especially when many of the regular commenters at NOM's very own blog actually are bigots and the equivalent of racists.

Yet, if we're to believe this project's running narrative, it's incredibly out of line, and possibly a severe human rights violation, to acknowledge that some people oppose marriage equality because they "think anal sex is icky" and/or they just don't like gay people. (Don't forget, equality is important! But more important that that are anti-equality advocates feelings about being anti-equality advocates!)

So, while I can agree that "both sides" should be able to express their views without fear of violence, I cannot agree that "marriage defenders" are entitled to the right to demand that society treat them like special snowflakes of civility for their opposition to equality, when it's the rare "marriage defender" who actually earns that treatment. See, the best way for people to be treated as though they're civil is for them to start actually being civil.

Lastly, the cited report that this campaign relies on is the Heritage Foundation's "The Price of Prop 8" which has "documented" some of the real and imagined harms that "marriage defenders" have endured post-Prop 8.

This report, which reads more like propaganda than a scholarly study, has been widely critiqued for relying on anonymous and unsubstantiated accusations, for recounting incidents that were only questionably linked to Prop 8, and for conflating legal protesting methods and impoliteness with illegal acts of violence. Example: One John Doe received a book of the "greatest homosexual love stories of all time" while another reported receiving a phone call where he was called a "bigot." These acts were conflated with the mysterious "white powder" that was sent to a Mormon church (and that the FBI was never able to link to Prop 8).

Without acknowledging the aggression, bullying, harassment, threats of violence, and acts of actual physical violence that LGBT people regularly endure, it is difficult for me- a lesbian equality advocate- to take the project's professed concern for "both sides" seriously when it only encourages "marriage defenders" to submit their stories of fear, threats, and violence they have experienced.

This post, I suppose, was a long way of explaining why I question the sincerity of this project's purpose.

*I have intentionally not included links to the MarriageADA's website. It can be easily found with the Google.

Marinelli: NOM Sought "Crazy" Pictures of Equality Advocates