Friday, November 22, 2013

Illinois Bishop Exorcises the Demons!

In response to Illinois Governor Quinn signing Illinois' marriage equality bill (woop!), some absurd Catholic Bishop staged an exorcism, saying:
"I exorcise you, every unclean spirit, every power of darkness, every incursion of the infernal enemy, every diabolical legion, cohort, and faction, in the name and power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Be uprooted and put to flight from the Church of God from souls created in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine lamb."
Now, 90% of what I know about Catholicism I learned from Sister Act, Wikipedia, a Catholic ex-girlfriend, and feminist critics, but does this Bishop think that gay people are actually possessed by demons?  Doesn't that literally demonize us?  Or, is it a super important, totally civil distinction to clarify that gay people aren't demons, it's just that there are demons inside us. Making us be gay.

And, is it at all considered unbecoming or, say, a breach of confidentiality and boundaries to exorcise people publicly without their consent? I mean, trusty Wikipedia notes that an exorcism should "never be broadcast in media but treated with the utmost discretion," so.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Blue is the Warmest Color"

My partner and I took the opportunity to watch Blue is the Warmest Color recently.

People seem to have lots of thoughts and feelings about this movie which, if you haven't heard, seems to be particularly notable for its long and graphic sex scenes between its two main female characters.  That's really all I knew about the movie before watching it, as I didn't read actual reviews of it beforehand so as to not taint, prejudice, or color my view of the movie before seeing it.

Of course, when I got home, I immediately got on Internet and scoured the blogs and media for reviews.

My short synopsis of the movie is that it follows several years in the life of a young woman, Adele, from her last year(s?) of high school until about her mid-20s? I'm not really sure, actually, on that time frame both because the passage of time in the movie is subtle and I think schooling maybe works differently in France?  One day Adele is in high school and has a blue-haired girlfriend but then gradually she is a teacher and has the same girlfriend, who now has blondish-brown hair and who (*spoiler alert*) just isn't that into Adele anymore.

I'm sure there's supposed to be a tie-in with the hair color and the English-version title of the movie, but Fannie's Room is not the blog to read for that sort of deep metaphorical analysis, I guess.

Anyway, to continue my "short" synopsis, Adele basically really seems to likes spaghetti, which we learn through several up-close clips of her slurping it down and getting a really messy face from it, and this hunger seems to be related to her hunger for sex.  Hence, I suppose, what has necessitated the graphic sex scenes?

Now, I'll just cut to the chase here. I don't mind sex scenes, particularly those involving women. And, prior to reading any reviews or backstory about this movie, I did appreciate the sex scenes for maybe the first 30 seconds or so.  But then, I quickly found them absurd.  (I say "them" because I'm remembering two sex scenes, but it might have just been one long one? Wev). If you've seen the movie, you might understand this confusion better.  Basically, I walked away thinking that the scene(s?) consist of a lot of moaning, a lot of position changing, and a lot of impressive acrobatics and reaching.

And, they were long.

7 minutes of straight-up sexual moaning is awkward in a movie, especially in a theater of what seemed to be mostly heterosexual couples.  I started turning my head sideways, like, "Wut? Really?"  I had the urge to stand up and announce to the theater, "Can I just clarify that not all lesbian sex is like this?"  As the scene continued on and on and on, it seemed like it was maybe trying to be a voyeuristic "Joy of Lesbian Sex" manual showcasing all of the positions available for two women, to an audience that Really Wants To Know What Women Do In Bed Together. That notion, to me, far eclipsed any other message the male producer of the movie was trying to make with these scenes.

And on the point of the male producer, Michelle Juergen has critiqued the "very distinct male gaze" behind the camera, while referencing how the two actors expressed feeling exploited by the producer.  Which yes, totally problematic. So, my main point is somewhat related - namely, that I'm struck by the critical accolades this movie has received and the implication that it has been a man that has practically invented the portrayal of lesbian sex and love in the movies.

Because, um, no.

Other than that, the story itself is sweet. Adele, in my opinion, is a likeable, flawed character muddling through life learning hard lessons and finding out who she is. At the same time, though, the love and coming-out story is nothing that about a gazillion lesbian and women producers haven't already told and that I haven't already seen before since I have watched every lesbian movie ever made no matter how bad or good, so.

My final note is kind of meta and has two parts. First, this video of lesbians reacting to Blue is pretty funny:

Secondly, I'm not even going to go down the path, myself, of saying "lesbians don't actually do that!" as some folks have.  How would I even know what all other people do in bed? That's certainly not in the Homosexualist Agenda newsletters I get.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), a day dedicated "to memorializing those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice."

Transgender women, particularly trans women of color, are disproportionately likely to be victims of violence and murder. In 2012, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs noted that 53% of all anti-LGBTQ hate crimes were committed against transgender women and that 73% of homicide victims were people of color.

I'd like to first start by linking to Monica's posts on TDOR - 238 names and Thinking About the Girls Likes Us Who Didn't Get a TDOR Memorial.

Second, I'd like to note that even as society in general more readily acknowledges that overt bigotry against gay men and lesbians is unacceptable, anti-trans bigotry continues to be pervasive in both overt and subtle ways, both within and outside gay and lesbian-dominated, cis-dominated LGBT communities.  As marriage equality for same-sex couples becomes more readily accepted in the US, I think we will see a shift in anti-LGBT organizations devoting more resources toward actively opposing measures that could benefit transgender people.

That's not to say that anti-gay groups have never targeted or disapproved of transgender people, but rather, that they usually have done so somewhat flippantly with an air of, "Transgender issues are obviously so absurd we don't even have to rebut them in any serious, measured way!"

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), for instance, has now gone beyond the scope of marriage-related issues and has involved itself in opposing California's law detailing the rights of transgender students (AB 1266). NOM is promoting the so-called "Privacy for All Students" coalition, which is working hard to repeal the law.

Rather than working with equality advocates, transgender individuals, and allies to come to a better understanding of the issues facing transgender youth, the coalition's approach as far as I have been able to ascertain from its "FAQ" section is to scare the masses into thinking that maybe thousands of cisgender boys will pretend to be trans so they can stare at girls in locker rooms and play girls volleyball.

NOM even wrote an absurd blogpost called, "Time is Short to Stop the Bullying of Children in School Showers and Bathrooms," warning people that kids are at imminent risk of being bullied by transgender and, I don't know, maybe fake-transgender kids in bathrooms if California's law goes into effect. (I think that people who think that kids will choose to pretend to be trans to get all of the awesome special benefits that trans people get are maybe not super informed about how the real world works!)

I reference NOM's and this coalition's activity today on purpose.

Anti-gay organizations largely oppose same-sex marriage while offering same-sex couples, gay men, lesbians, and bisexual people no viable, realistic, alternative ways to protect ourselves and our families. In their ideal world, we would either assimilate into heterosexual marriage, just not exist, or exist on the margins of society and not utilize the social institutions that are supposedly for the Normal People.

In a similar way, anti-trans advocates seem to implicitly (and, often, explicitly) take a similar approach to trans people.  The "Privacy for All Students" coalition claims to be against bullying of any student, but by showing a general lack of concern for coming up with actual solutions for trans students, my god by even failing to acknowledge that trans kids and adults are at so much greater risk for being bullied and assaulted than cisgender people!, they fail to show any understanding as to how adults implicitly condone and pass on information about who is and isn't an acceptable person to bully and hate.

Friday, November 15, 2013

"Toxic Forced Optimism"

I read Amanda Marcotte's recent article at Slate featuring a website dedicated to having honest conversations about death, mourning, and grief.

The website itself, Modern Loss, includes resources and forums to talk about and deal with the often-taboo-to-talk-about topic of death.  From the site, what you will not get is:
• Judgment
• Tips to help you “get over” or “get past” it
• Anything associated with the idea of a “valid” loss. If you feel it, it’s real
• The phrase “Everything happens for a reason.” Just … no
I find this refreshing.

More than two years ago, I lost a good friend in an accident (which I wrote briefly about here), and found that not only was the loss itself difficult, but the way many people talked about it was often invalidating and included common phrases like, "She's in a better place," "She's an angel now," and "Now she's watching over us."

I guess some people find comfort in thinking they 100% know what their loved ones are doing after they've died, but all I could think was, "No!! How do you know that?!?!?"  I'm more the person who needs to live in that brutal uncertainty, and pain, for awhile because that feels more honest and real to me.

Marcotte's article, above, includes the phrase "toxic forced optimism" in reference to American culture, and I found that incredibly resonating.

10 years ago, when my grandmother was in hospice care, I had further experience with toxic forced optimism. The day we found out she had terminal cancer, a good friend of mine picked me up from the hospital and spent the next hour or so trying to cheer me up with jokes and other light-hearted conversations.

It was truly exhausting to be so sad and yet to have this external pressure to appear happy and carefree.  It was its own version of gaslighting. I finally turned to my friend and said, "Just stop. I need to be sad about this. You don't have to be sad with me or for me, but I need to feel this."

Spiritually, I was raised a Christian although I now lean towards Buddhist agnosticism. Buddhism, at least as I practice it, is not always a comforting practice. Pema Chodron writes that life is like rowing a boat into the middle of a lake knowing it's going to eventually sink.

Yet, in that reality, dark humor can sometimes exist. And, I am a fan of dark humor. Dark humor that is not cruel or contemptuous, but that comes from people acknowledging brutal realities and our sometimes-helplessness in the face of them.

Near the very end, my grandmother took one last bath. We all, even her, knew her death was imminent. She was awake less and less and had been having dreams, visions, of relatives long gone. It was an emotional time as we all were in various stages of working through various family conflicts that seem to often arise in families during deaths.

As my mom helped her dress after that last bath,my grandmother looked up and said, "You know, whatever happens, I won't come back and haunt you." And, it was fucking hilarious at the time and paradoxically comforting. It was her way of saying, "Yes, I'm going to die, and you all are going to have to work everything out without me."

That, I could work with. Far more than, "everything happens for a reason" or us all repressing the reality that she was dying.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dick Morris Concerned About the Homospectacular TV People

Conservative commentator Dick Morris opines on "the real gap" in American politics, which he claims is between married versus single adults, rather than between men and women.

It's a silly, stupid article, really, but I want to highlight this snippet:
"But it is more the Democrats’ allies in Hollywood and the media who foster a lifestyle that does not include marriage. They rarely depict marriage, except to mock it (the Runaway Bride or Father of the Bride). Love flourishes in Hollywood but not much marriage. 
When Hollywood — and the TV people — wants to sell something, they certainly can. Look at how the constant pounding of shows featuring gay couples has melted public aversion to gay marriage in record time. The fact is the Hollywood has declared war on straight marriage for decades."
Er, okay.

You always know a dude has his finger on the pulse of Hollywood when he cites two dorkwad movies from the 1990s as though they're totally representative of an apparently marriage-invisibilizing media culture these days.

I generally like reading thoughtful critiques of movies and TV shows but when one's argument is that all of Hollywood is anti-hetero-marriage because Father of the Bride happened, I walk away being mostly irritated that someone who is apparently a semi-popular political commentator can be so fucking lazy about crafting an argument.  I mean, isn't like 75% of Julia Roberts' filmography alone kind of a one-woman hetero marriage PR campaign to some extent?

In fact, I can think of not even one currently-running TV show that invisibilizes marriage in the way that Morris suggests is rampant in all of Hollywood. I can think of no movie or TV show I've recently seen in which at least some of the characters are not heterosexually-married.

So, I'm not sure what Dick Morris expects from the media.  For all LGBT characters to STFU and go away? For the creation of a special hetero-affirming station in which the plots of all shows are centered around straight people courting and eventually getting married while everyone waives around "hetero marriage is #1" foam fingers 24 hours a day?

And.... "the TV people"? I don't even know, but it's impossible for me to see that phrase without thinking of this.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts on The X-Files

So, I've been re-watching The X-Files, lately, and I'm currently on Season 7.

Does anyone know of any good feminist critique of the series? I have had a lot of thoughts marinating around in my head about it, like:

  • At first it struck me as a gender role reversal that Scully, the female lead, is presented as the rational, science-based skeptic and that Mulder, the male lead, is the more emotional, conspiracy-minded character. However, because The X-Files is based in a universe in which the supernatural is real, it seems like Mulder is right about his theories, and Scully is wrong in her skepticism, most of the time.  Depicting a man having a better grasp on reality compared to his female counterpart is hardly subversive. 
  • Mulder is such a mansplainer. He, unlike Scully, is portrayed as knowing a little bit about nearly every conceivable issue that the two encounter, no matter how obscure and unlikely, because.... ummmm?  I swear that in about 70% of their interactions, Scully is an empty vessel into which Mulder pours his knowledge and theories.  And sure, Scully is often skeptical of his knowledge, but when Mulder is so often correct, Scully ends up seeming stubborn and highly irrational for never believing Mulder despite the fact that he has a 7-year history of so often being right!  Plus, is it kind of a fantasy for many men in these days of the so-called Man Crisis to, for special lucky reasons, still be smarter and more knowledgeable than even very smart, educated women like Dana Scully?  (Or at least to think they are?)
  • Side note, but Mulder's near-omnisciece is similar to my critique of Peter in Fringe, and now that I think about it what kind of doctor is Walter anyway? A medical doctor? A physicist? A chemist? All of the above? I can suspend my disbelief about a lot of things for entertainment purposes, but his science expertise seems both incredibly broad and deep. Like, he seems to have a pretty solid Ph.D-level understanding of space/time travel as well as human anatomy and physiology.
  • Like I said, I'm currently on Season 7. So far, Scully has only spoken to another female character about something other than a man like 5 times ever, and I can't even picture if those conversations have happened devoid of the presence of men. Meanwhile, man-to-man convos happen all the time, and the many men Scully encounters get to be FBI agents, villains, geeks, hackers, mutants, shadow men, and more.  
  • Similarly, I'm pretty sure that more aliens and supernatural entities exist in The X-Files universe than people of color.
  • Male characters are regularly conventionally unattractive (in this lesbian's subjective opinion, I guess) and older, but female characters tend to be conventionally attractive and younger.  I don't mind unattractive characters, but I am irritated by the gender discrepancy.
I guess when the series started (1993), it was a bigger deal to have a female main character who was intelligent, physical, and more than a romantic interest for the male main character.  I guess that's maybe a first level of progress for women. A good next step is having those women have people in their lives who aren't almost solely a variety of white dudes. 

In other news, I've been trying to get into Warehouse 13 and it seems somewhat promising.  Any fans of that show?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NFL Player Speaks Intelligently About Gender and Bullying

Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall recently addressed the bullying culture in the NFL:
“Look at it from this standpoint. Take a little boy and a little girl. A little boy falls down and the first thing we say as parents is ‘Get up, shake it off. You’ll be OK. Don’t cry.’ A little girl falls down, what do we say? ‘It’s going to be OK.’ We validate their feelings. So right there from that moment, we’re teaching our men to mask their feelings, to not show their emotions. And it’s that times 100 with football players. You can’t show that your hurt, can’t show any pain. So for a guy to come into the locker room and he shows a little vulnerability, that’s a problem. 
"That’s what I mean by the culture of the NFL. And that’s what we have to change. So what’s going on in Miami goes on in every locker room. But it’s time for us to start talking."
I added emphasis in those final sentence because, wow, what a refreshing change of pace!

Maybe I read too much Men's Rights Activist (MRA) stuff, but a typical MRA would replace those final sentences with a non sequitur along the lines of, "... and that's what's why feminism must die."

Instead, Marshall acknowledges that the culture of bullying in the NFL is a result of both how boys/men are socialized and of how football culture exaggerates those expectations associated with masculinity.  Instead of chiding feminists for not solving this issue for men, by using the words "we" and "us" he also implicitly proposes that those who are largely responsible for this issue, and who have actual power to make changes, in the NFL - men - begin to seriously address the problem. After all, it's men who are 100% of NFL players, the vast majority of coaches and managers, and who are marketed to as the target audience of authentic football fans.

Well done!

Also notable is that a commenter following the article, a man, immediately begins ridiculing and gender policing Marshall's statements:
"All NFL teams should be mandated to have Gay Pride Parades on the field during halftime along with periodic announcements on the PA as the game is played encouraging group hugs.

We'll also need an extra month of all the players wearing pink equipment to make sure the message gets across. One of the root causes of all of this bullying is the tackling. It encourages bad manners and feelings. The NFL should replace tackling with wearing flags -- if a flag is taken off during the play, the play ends -- and we need strict enforcement on that. 
Moreover, yelling and shows of emotion should also be banned and enforced with 15 yard penalties.

And let's be honest, the team uniforms and logos aren't gender-neutral enough, can't we tone those down with some pastels and fuscias?"
Here, the male commenter aptly demonstrates how oftentimes it's other men who, through their contempt for femininity and women, create many of the roadblocks toward solving some of these issues that uniquely impact men.  MRAs rarely, if ever, take such men to task.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NOM Makes Another Prediction - Illinois Marriage Edition

In response to Illinois' recent move to approve marriage equality for same-sex couples, Brian Brown of the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) chimed in with a prediction:
"It’s disappointing but not surprising that the House has voted to redefine marriage. The losers will be the people of Illinois who will see that redefining marriage will unleash a torrent of harassment toward those who believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman/ Once the law goes into effect in June of next year, we will see individuals, businesses and religious groups sued, fined, brought up on charges of discrimination and punished simply for holding true to the traditional view of marriage. 
The legislation that has been adopted contains no meaningful protections for religious liberty. We will see a torrent of actions aimed at people of faith and religious groups."
It's not super clear exactly how many incidents qualify as a "torrent" here, and I personally wouldn't have made the editorial decision to use a noteworthy word like that twice in the same prediction, but I'm guessing a "torrent" means more than a handful here.

Now, just for some historical context, before President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act into law in 2009, anti-LGBT groups like the American Family Association, the Traditional Values Coalition, and Concerned Women for America predicted that this hate crimes law would give special protections to pedophiles and other, what they dubbed, "sexual orientations."  Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber also predicted that Christians would be on "high alert" and that pastors would begin to be "prosecuted" for anti-gay speech.

Welp, 3 years later and NOPE. Nope nope nope nopedy NOPE. That hasn't happend, nor does it seem likely or realistic any time soon.

But wow! NOM sure loves its nature catastrophe-based predictions, yeah?  

Remember this, from Prop 8:

Now, if what's happened in other states is any indication of what will happen in Illinois, I have a prediction of my own.

Let's see here, maybe a few employees in the Secretary of State's office will refuse to do their jobs, citing their "sincere religious beliefs," by refusing to process the marriage licenses/applications of same-sex couples. These employees would likely either be transferred to a different department, given a special workplace accommodation to discriminate against some Illinois residents, or they would be fired.

Likewise, maybe a handful of business owners will likely, say, refuse to rent space, bake a cake, or sell rings to a same-sex couple for their wedding and will consequently be sued or reported to a government entity like the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

Certain anti-gay groups will monitor these incidents and subsequently cast these individuals as martyrs who have practically been subjected to horrific human rights abuses and unfathomable religious persecution because of their "sincerely held religious beliefs" about homosexuality.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Seems Legit

Via Skepchick, here's a list of reasons that could get you locked up in a mental institution in the late 1800s. It purportedly comes from the former-known-as "Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum," which is now open only for tours.

I could have been admitted for multiple reasons, although I won't divulge which ones ("novel reading" - really?).

It's notable that one could be admitted for "masturbation for 30 years" as well as for "suppressed masturbation."  I guess the key was to find a happy medium.

In all seriousness, the list shows a sad, disturbing focus on sex, masturbation, and female bodies that perhaps said more about those categorizing and treating these patients and "illnesses" than about the patients themselves.

Anti-gay bigots like to bring up the former classification of homosexuality as a mental illness and claim that it was only due to pressures of the powerful gay propaganda that got homosexuality declassified as a mental illness. However, I think historical evidence like the above absurd list serves an important role in reminding us to question how homosexuality got framed as a mental illness in the first place.

A Conversation on the Word "Hysteria" 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Friedman Piece on MRAs

Over at the liberal-leaning American Prospect, Jaclyn Friedman has written a great profile on Men's Rights Activists (MRAs).

In addition to critiquing mainstream (often male) reporters who assume way too much good faith on the part of MRAs, she aptly notes:
"The list of grievances for MRAs is long. It includes the elevated rate of suicide for men, educational discrimination against boys, economic and workplace conditions for men, violence against men, false rape reporting, fathers’ rights in custody battles, rates of male imprisonment and prison conditions, and the horrors of war. Many of these issues deserve a thoughtful response and the force of an organized movement for address them. It’s too bad that’s not what men’s rights activists are offering. 
Case in point: Last month, AVFM and CAFE (the Canadian Association For Equality, an MRA group) held a 'historic' rally in Toronto. Attended by a few dozen people, the rally featured speakers airing grievances about violence against men, and men’s unfair treatment in family courts, the workplace, and educational institutions. 'Men matter,' the crowd cheered. One speaker, who was quickly ushered away from the mic, called for violent uprising against communism. But what was most notable about the rally was that not a single speaker proposed a solution to any of the problems they identified. 
Instead, no matter what the issue is, the response from Men’s Rights Activists is the same: blame, threaten, and harass women, mostly online."
Even, I guess what I'd call, softer man-focused gender websites such as Feminist Critics are disturbing in their monomanic focus on critiquing feminism at the expense of actually doing tangible things to address any of the issues they claim to care about on behalf of men.  At this particular blog, for instance, feminists are criticized for things like not initiating shitstorms on behalf of men, for writing in a "gynocentric" manner, and for, no joke, not expressing sufficient enthusiasm for upcoming male-centered movies.

Unlike large feminist blogs that regularly give readers ways to organize and advocate (ie - contact your legislators here!), many of these manosphere sites include no similar action items for men. The sites, at their most benign (which isn't saying much), seem to mostly be compilation of ways that feminist (usually) women should change our writing, thinking, and advocacy to center men and, at their worst, are ways for men to angrily vent about, and threaten, bitches and sluts.

Indeed, a key premise of the MRA movement more broadly is that there simply aren't enough people critiquing feminism so dudes better get the word out that feminism sucks, man.

Which really, is just darkly hilarious, right?

Because what's too bad for men, and women, is that what's lacking in the world is not people who criticize feminism, but large numbers of men who will roll up their sleeves, organize, and find productive, non-misogynistic ways to address, and even speak about, the issues that uniquely affect men.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marriage Equality Passes Illinois House and Senate



Illinois, which passed a civil union law a couple of years ago, is poised to allow marriage equality for same-sex couples. Yesterday, the bill passed 61-54 in the Illinois House and has already passed in the state Senate. Governor Pat Quinn has indicated that he will sign the bill into law.  The law would go into effect June 1st of next year.

This is a big loss for the New Jersey-headquartered National Organization for Marriage, which has involved itself in advocating against the Illinois law.

It's also a big loss for some pretty vocal, prominent Illinois-based anti-gay voices, who are among some of the most virulent in the nation. Laurie Higgins' Illinois Family Institute has been monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center  and Right Wing Watch for, among other things, comparing homosexuality to Nazisim.

And, of course, Peter LaBarbera's organization Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality is headquartered in Naperville, Illinois. LaBarbera has also been monitored by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has been a notorious, vocal opponent of LGBT rights for at least the past 20 years. [Update: LaBarbera tweeted his reaction to yesterday's news: "Arrogance of Liberals: #Illinois becomes 15th state to defy God by creating legal "marriage" based on the perversion of homosexuality. #tcot." -- Just putting LaBarbera's note in here for the historical record, for when Team Anti-Equality tries to whitewash the bigoted history of their movement.]

How sad for them that they're on the wrong side of history and so damn self-righteous and unapologetic about it.  When same-sex couples won equality through the courts, the big comeback of bigots was that judges were imposing their will on "the people" and that it was so tyrannical that it wasn't legislatures that were passing marriage equality laws.

I'm sure a new talking point will be how awful it is that legislatures are imposing their will on "the people" and how it's so awful that every marriage law in the nation isn't decided by a voter referendum.  These people just constantly adapt to try to make themselves relevant and enriched by their advocacy.

But, lest you think I end on a sour note, most importantly, congrats to same-sex couples and allies!  Time to convert my separate-and-unequal civil union into a marriage!  I believe my feelings at this time can best be expressed by a gif of Tina and Amy:


Did you know that studies indicate that you improve your celebration of LGBT-related victories by pressing the "cornify" button in Fannie's Room and watching some magical things happen?  I highly recommend it, and bonus points if you know what I'm even talking about.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Richard Dawkins Bemoans Loss of "Little Jar of Honey" at Airport!

I find this really funny because of Elevator-Gate.



And they say feminists don't have a sense of humor.

The not funny part of Dawkins being the butt of a joke here is the false moral equivalence it somewhat sets up. Richard Dawkins having to throw away his little jar of honey prior to boarding a plane is not actually just like Rebecca Watson gently suggesting that men maybe should not proposition her in elevators after talks about the objectification of women in atheism.

Dawkins is being made fun of on the Internet for him publicly complaining about a trivial inconvenience to himself. Watson, on the other hand, received rape and death threats and aggressive male semi-stalkers, for taking issue with something that Dawkins framed as a trivial problem.

Monday, November 4, 2013

NOM Peddles Gender Stereotypes in Illinois Marriage Fight

In its meddlesome post regarding my home state of Illinois' upcoming vote on marriage equality for same-sex couples, the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) reminds us that the conversation is not just about anti-gay bigotry it's also fundamentally about gender, claiming:
"Men and women make unique, irreplaceable, contributions to parenting. Both genders are needed for human flourishing."
With it being more of a PR liability for anti-gay organizations to be more explicitly homophobic, NOM has taken this more subtle gender-based approach for opposing equality.

The New Jersey-headquartered NOM's thesis rests in that mythical notion that men and women are complementary beings, with each spouse in a man-woman duo providing something the other lacks, by sheer virtue of their gender alone, thereby creating a sum that's somehow greater than the whole of its parts.  So to speak.

The argument is that same-sex couples are inferior to man-woman couples not because of sexual orientation, but because of their gender composition. NOM does not articulate, of course, what all of these "unique, irreplaceable, contributions to parenting" a woman makes that a man cannot, and that a man makes that a woman cannot.

I'm sure I'm not alone, however, in being super interested in seeing such a list should NOM ever take the time to think beyond soundbite-level and make those gender-based "contributions" available to the public.

In my experience, when gender traditionalists answer this question, their answers are absurd and make me think their circle of actual men and women they know must be like 5 people who are exactly like themselves. They will say things like, "Dads do rough and tumble stuff with their kids," as though no woman on Earth does or is even capable of such things!  Or they rely on weasel-words like, "Women tend to" - as though if women as a group do one thing less than men as a group do, then no individual woman ever in the world does that thing.  It's just such sloppy thinking that it seems almost like willful ignorance in service of privilege.

In fact, I reckon the details to NOM's gender soundbites don't matter much to the group's core supporters who are looking for that nice, civil, gender stereotype-y reason to oppose equality for a group it used to be much more popular to overtly hate and ridicule.

Doug Allen Study on Children of Same-Sex Couples
Same-Sex Marriage, Feminism, and Women

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Fun and Wikipedia, Again

Things have been busy, so I've been less able to do blog writing during the past week.

However, some stuff I've read recently includes this article on the so-called decline of Wikipedia, which the Tom Simonite attributes to the male-dominated based of editors who "operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers."

I've long been interested in contributing to Wikipedia, myself, and have contributed to a few articles over the years.  However, I can relate to feeling as though the barriers to consistent writing at Wikipedia have seemed insurmountable to someone like me with both limited time to learn the rules upon rules upon rules of editing at the site and limited interest in getting into editor wars in a space where those running it are estimated to be about 90% male.

I've contributed to a few articles related to women in sports and remember one of my first contributions being deleted by a user who said that Wikipedia wasn't about "political correctness." His comment was a total non sequitur in the context of my edit, and really just a lazy way to say "I don't care about women's sports, therefore no one else in the world does either," but this guy had power in the forum so that was that. I walked away from the site thinking, fuck it, and lost interest in volunteering my time, energy, and writing skills to the site at all.

I say that absolutely believing that Wikipedia needs more female editors. And, I can appreciate that the site has rules about civility and contributions even as I think those rules in practice are unwieldy and a real barrier to making the site better in terms of breadth of subject matter beyond what its current editor base finds interesting and noteworthy.

Those who enforce the rules in any given forum decide everything, and when those enforcers replicate traditional power structures their editing of content can be a real problem when that forum is a purported encyclopedia.

Anyway - what have you all been reading?