Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Men: How Not To Do Feminism

[TW: Rape culture, threats]

Oh. Yay. A fledgling Nice Guy.

Because why wouldn't an 18-year-old young man get his very own forum in a newspaper to set the feminist agenda and order women to watch their tone? I mean, if there's one flaw I see in modern feminism it's that we just don't have enough Dudely Devil's Advocates. Lulz.

He begins:

"Do I consider myself a feminist? Absolutely."

Years of hearing men preface shmarmy, entitled, and privileged pontifications with this question (and answer) have conditioned me to brace myself whenever I hear this beginning. Indeed, after admirably stating that he agrees that women can be doctors, lawyers, and whatever else arouses our adorable passions "just as all human beings should" be able to, he bemoans:

"However, being a feminist is tough these days."

Tell me about it, brother. We're always assumed to be feminists only because we're fat, ugly lesbians who don't shave our legs and have had, like 15 abortions (with the assumption that these are all bad things, of course).

For caring about stuff like sexual harassment and rape jokes, we're constantly told we Ruin Everyone's Fun, Have No Sense Of Humor, and Are the PC Police.

For advocating against rape culture, dudes regularly threaten feminist bloggers with rape and others forms of violence.

Even though social conservatives create narratives that men are violent rapists, a stereotype many feminists are working to counter, feminsts are nonetheless blamed for the creation and perpetuation of this stereotype and then assumed to be man-haters.

A movement with creepy, aggressive, and eliminationist elements exists with the sole purpose of categorizing feminists as "parasites" and eradicating feminism/feminists.

Misogynists and their anti-feminist ilk accuse male feminists of being man-ginas (because vaginas, gross!) and of Only Being In It To Score With the Ladies.

Surely, these are some of the tough things of which our Young Feminist Man (YFM) is referring, right?

He continues:

"One minute I'm being reprimanded for referring to a female as an 'actress' and the next I'm being interrogated about whether I support breast cancer awareness. Let me explain."

Let's not.

In fact, allow me. See, YFM isn't actually talking about how hard it is to be a feminist, but how hard it is to be sexist around feminists.

For one, YFM finds it hypocritical that, on the one hand, Woman objects to gendered terms like "actress," but on the other hand, she also embraces the cultural phenomenon of associating pink with breast cancer.

Yes, dear readers, YFM has apparently not yet learned that the categories "women" and "feminist" consist of multiple persons, all with widely diverging views about stuff and so he mistakenly thinks that if one feminist, say, opposes gendered words like "actress" but another feminist embraces pink shit, then the entirety of feminism has just 'asploded from hypocrisy and inconsistency (ker-pow!). Thus, Daddy's Little Mansplainer writes as though his Logical ManBrain is here to objectively observe and point out our womanly feminist silliness.

It's understandable, really. He's merely taking a cue from our larger society which puts forth these "truths" on a daily basis. So, like I said, why wouldn't he get his own forum in a newspaper to echo the Common Sense?

His second complaint is that he found a recent Facebook phenomenon where women promoted breast cancer awareness by posting where they put their handbags (Sample- "I like it on the table") to be "coarse" and "juvenile." Indeed, this crass tone almost made him be totally against breast cancer awareness. But in the end, he decided to still be for it. Because he's "absolutely" a feminist. But still:

"[The campaign] causes me to hesitate the next time I support the promotion of breast cancer awareness, even if it is for only a moment....

There is no winning for males in a world where calling a woman an actor or actress can result in being labeled a sexist, nor a world where men must take breast cancer awareness completely seriously, while some women downplay its importance with crass insinuations."

Note that he appears less concerned with how and why gendered words like "actress" might be sexist and more concerned with his own discomfort at being called out for using words like "actress." So, do we really expect him to pick up on the fact that these Facebook women are merely reflecting the double-bind that our society puts women in: Hey ladies, your ability to sexually titillate men gets you validation and attention! Hey ladies, how do you expect us to take you seriously when you're dressed like that?!

So, in a fit of hyper-defensive angst, he throws his hands up into the air, taking another cue from the larger society by blaming this situation on the irrationality of Woman, what does she want anyway, whaddaryagunnado?:

"Many [women] are sympathetic to my pleas for some rationality in modern feminism, which has overcompensated to pose men as the eternal antagonist. This should not be an issue of solidarity against men. Women do not need to unite against men. They need to unite with men, especially with those who support ideals of equality and social and economic freedom."

Let me suggest that, due to the subject matter of YFM's post, he might not be thinking rationally about the topic of "modern feminism." For, a rational person might concede that persons who "absolutely" identified as feminists would not suggest that the way men and women could best unite to "support ideals of equality" would be for feminists to stop labeling sexism when they see it because it makes lots of men uncomfortable.

They also might familiarize themselves with modern feminism enough to know that most of us don't, actually, see or "pose men as the eternal antagonist." And, well, they might save their condescending pleas for "unity," when what they're really talking about is Women Being Sufficiently Smiley About Sexist Stuff.

But alas. The way YFM sees it, it's he who's being treated unfairly by the irrational feminazis:

"A certain percentage of women think I am a sexist."

Oh, a "certain" percentage. Lulz. How very... informative. He continues:

"Perhaps it is because I am white, male and aggressive in my demeanor."

Nah, I'd go with your It's Worse For Women To Call Me Sexist Than It Is For Me To Be Sexist bit or your Treating Feminism Like Its Primary Concern Is Men's Feelings. (Anyone else wondering what he means by "aggressive in demeanor"? Let me guess. Men are entitled to aggression. We ladies need to watch our tone.) He continues:

"So, I apologize in advance if I accidentally call you an actress when you prefer actor, or if I forget to steal one of my sister's headbands for the next 'Pink Out.' All I ask is that you cut men a break and make the world a little friendlier for the male feminist."

You know, aside from being skeptical of the notion that hoards feminists give two shits about whether or not YFM dons his sister's pink headband, the thing about these tsk-tsk tone arguments is that there's always that implicit (and oftentimes, explicit) threat. Watch it ladies, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Like, men can't be feminists just because it's the right thing to do. A man's feminism has to be contingent on women coddling him and never calling out sexist stuff that makes him uncomfortable, a tact that, when you think about it, is somewhat self-defeating to the goals of feminism, no? I mean, if dude can't handle the "actor/actress" thing, how in hades is he going to handle the radical concept that even though he's (a) a man and (b) thinks he's a feminist, he might still have a lot to learn about feminism and male privilege?

I strongly believe men can be, must be, and often are, part of the solution. But fellas, if you're looking for a primer on how not to be, I daresay we've just witnessed it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Being the Sex Class, Again

[TW: Misogyny, body policing]

Previously, we've seen how some men deem mere photographs of women in public to be distractingly immodest, thus causing them to remove images of women from photographs.

Well, via Jezebel, we learn that the presence of a woman in public can also be distractingly immodest, thus causing some men to try to remove the woman from the public space itself.

Writing in a pre-trial motion, a Chicago defense attorney claimed:

"Defendant's counsel is anecdotally familiar with the tactics and theatrics of Plaintiff's counsel, [redacted]. Such behavior includes having a large breasted woman sit next to him at counsel's table during the course of the trial. There is no evidence whatsoever that this woman has any legal training whatsoever, and the sole purpose of her presence at Plaintiff's Counsel's table is to draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings before this court, obviously prejudicing the Defendant's in this or any other cause. Until it is shown that this woman has any sort of legal background, she should be required to sit in the gallery with the rest of the spectators and be barred from sitting at counsel's table during the course of this trial."

Of course.

Even though the only evidence "whatsoever" of the opposing attorney's alleged plot to disract the jury via boobs is the presence of a "large breasted woman" next to him in court, why shouldn't lady attorneys and paralegals from now on be required to put forth affirmative evidence of their non-sexual motives and professional training when they presume to exist in public spaces and do the things that men generally do in public, like sit beside lead counsel during proceedings?

Why would a woman be in a courtroom for any reason other than to distract men with her large breasts?

In all seriousness, as much as some Enlightened Western Men like to view the oppression of women as Something Other Men Do, we see once more that the difference between oppressors is often only one of degree rather than substance.

The "large breasted woman," for the record, is a paralegal.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Letter From a Central American Beach House

"Through the centuries, Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience than the one offered by Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God Himself."
-Manhattan Declaration

Back in January 2010, I speculated that, given the anti-gay, anti-choice Manhattan Declaration signees' threat to engage in "civil disobedience" for purposes of denying LGBT and reproductive rights, "it would be interesting to know whether any individuals or entities [were] aiding and abetting" Lisa Miller's alleged abduction of the child she conceived while with her former partner, Janet Jenkins.

For a brief background on the Miller-Jenkins case, Lisa Miller separated from her female partner, became active in Jerry Falwell's anti-gay church (Falwell also founded Liberty University), renounced her homosexuality, and sought sole custody of the child she conceived while with her former partner. A lengthy custody battle ensued involving the pro-LGBT Lambda Legal and the anti-LGBT Liberty Counsel and ended with a court declaring that both women were legal parents of the child.

Afterwards, however, Miller purportedly denied Jenkins access to the child and then fled the country.

Writing in a Religion Dispatches (RD) exclusive, Sarah Posner writes of a Liberty University Law School exam hypothetical that bears a striking resemblance to the Miller-Jenkins case (and by "bears a striking resemblance," I mean the names in the "hypothetical" are the same, although the "facts" are presented in a bit of a biased manner).

According to an FBI affidavit, Miller fled with the child to Nicaragua and has been "living in the beach house of Christian Right activist and businessman Philip Zodhiates, whose daughter Victoria Hyden works as an administrative assistant at Liberty Law School." Posner writes:

"Students at Liberty Law School tell RD that in the required Foundations of Law class in the fall of 2008, taught by Miller’s attorneys Mat Staver and Rena Lindevaldsen, they were repeatedly instructed that when faced with a conflict between 'God’s law' and 'man’s law,' they should resolve that conflict through 'civil disobedience.' One student said, 'the idea was when you are confronted with a particular situation, for instance, if you have a court order against you that is in violation of what you see as God’s law, essentially... civil disobedience was the answer.'

...That semester’s midterm exam, obtained by RD... included a question based on Miller’s case asking students to describe what advice they would give her 'as a friend who is a Christian lawyer.' After laying out a slanted history of the protracted legal battle, the exam asked, 'Lisa needs your counsel on how to think through her legal situation and how to respond as a Christian to this difficult problem. Relying only on what we have learned thus far in class, how would you counsel Lisa?'

Students who wrote that Miller should comply with court orders received bad grades while those who wrote she should engage in civil disobedience received an A, the three students said. 'People were appalled,' said one of the students, adding, 'especially as lawyers-to-be, who are trained and licensed to practice the law—to disobey that law, that seemed completely counterintuitive to all of us.'"

It would be, I believe, unethical for an attorney to order or assist a client in disobeying a law or court order. And, depending on the state, grounds for disbarment as well. At the same time, I do think this case raises some of the complexities involved in being a licensed attorney, who is an officer of the court sworn to uphold the US Constitution, who also believes that a law, constitutional provision, or ruling is unjust or immoral.

As an attorney, I tend to view the general role of counsel as an informative one- to educate a client of all the options available, as well as the legal consequences of, taking each option. Since the client is the one who must live with hir choices, I find it more appropriate for the client, rather than the attorney, to be the one to actually make the big decisions after being fully informed.

So, hypothetically, I would find it ethical for an attorney to say something along the lines of "if one chose the route of civil disobedience, ze would go to jail." In this case, the attorney wouldn't be advising the client to break the law, but would be explaining what would happen if the client chose to break the law. Yet, it sounds like the "right answer" to Staver's exam was predicated upon the "Christian lawyer" advising Miller to engage in civil disobedience.

Now, Staver didn't respond to RD's request for comments, but Posner cites a New York Times article in which Staver claims that he has had no contact with Miller since the Fall of 2009 and that he did not advise her to break the law.

In Liberty Law School's Revolutionary Hall, "...alongside likenesses of [Dr. Martin Luther] King, Reagan, Ghandi, Mother Teresa and others, the school has installed a painting of Staver arguing before the Supreme Court." Like many who have written of civil disobedience, Dr. King understood the tactic to be a public, non-violent violation of a law for which the actor accepts punishment willingly.

Given that the Manhattan Declaration signees and supporters have publicly boasted of their incredible courage for opposing LGBT and reproductive rights, it will be interesting to see which, if any, wrongdoers in this case courageously admit to wrongdoing and then willingly accept their punishment.

Or, unlike Dr. King, maybe anti-equality advocates are expecting to receive the special privilege of their civil disobedience not having consequences that are inconvenient to their professional and personal lives.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Concerned Women [For Some of] America

[TW: Body shaming]

"It takes a really weak, insecure, and spineless man to attack a woman on television....All women, regardless of their political persuasions need to speak out against these kinds of attacks because they harm everyone who is female from age 2 – 92." -Penny Young Nance, CEO, Concerned Women for America (CWA), writing of Bill Maher's sexist attack on Sarah Palin

Quick! Somebody alert the Concerned Women for America (CWA) that their buddy bud Glenn Beck, Famous Mormon Dude, recently attacked a woman on his radio show. And by attack I mean, in response to a skin cancer public service announcement featuring Meghan McCain visibly naked from the shoulders up, Beck reacted by pretending to repeatedly and violently vomit. And, as a presumed dig at her weight, Beck and his pals repeatedly called her "luscious."

I guess Beck doesn't find McCain, who supports same-sex marriage, sufficiently human or conservative enough to be treated with respect.

Other than supporting my maxim that patriarchy exists to give men, attractive and otherwise, the authority to declare women Obectively Out Of Compliance With What Constitutes True Beauty, Beck's display mostly provides evidence of his own immaturity, incivility, and sexism. And, well, no big surprise there. Keeping women in the sex class is basically the point of the religion and politics that men like Beck subscribe to.

I condemn Beck's actions and place the blame solely and squarely on his shoulders. As Naomi Wolf observed in The Beauty Myth, our society's Skinny Mandate for women parallels eating trends in developing countries where food is reserved for the most important members of society- boys and men. Nothing pisses off misogynists in the US more than a woman who unapologetically refuses to starve herself.

At the same time, unfortunately, the prevailing view among female collaborators in patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny- that would be, organizations like CWA- is that some women don't deserve to be defended. Indeed, unlike liberal and progressive feminists who regularly take liberal and "progressive" misogynists to task, those so-called Conservative Feminists who are BFFs to male anti-feminists are usually nowhere to be when their male political allies are sexist.

We get the message loud and clear, ladies. Some of us don't deserve to be defended because we really are ugly or fat or queer or liberal or leftist or socialist or pro-choice or what-have-you, and so the attacks inflicted upon us because of our gender or sex are deserved. And, being attacked for our looks is fair game because, of course, a woman's looks are the most important feature about her.

McCain herself, puts it well, in responding to Beck, many women- including Beck's daughters- "are probably dealing with the sexist, body-obsessed media environment that is difficult for all women. Is this really the legacy you want to be leaving for yourself?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ladies: You Too Can Work Out!

So, hoping to add some variety to my weight-lifting routine, I turned to Internet. Since a friend of mine suggested trying a kettlebell workout, I googled that term to find some ideas.

That's when I came across the following helpful bit of advice:

"Kettlebell workout is not for men only. Today, more and more females are discovering that kettlebell workouts for women can work for them too. Kettlebells aren’t just exercise tools for athletes and soldiers."

Helpful Hint To Writers of Workout Routines For Women: Excluding women from the class of athletes and soldiers is not only condescending, but also inaccurate. Believe it or not, many women have the gall to consider themselves athletes and soldiers too! Also, 40 years post-Title IX, I wonder how many women need to be informed that Working Out is not a male-only endeavor.

It continues:

"Before you perform any of these routines, make sure you have a wide clear area for exercise. Here are a few routines that are especially recommended for women."

The suggested exercises focus on the "abs," "hips," "legs," and- get this- "the entire body's muscles." Because those are, apparently, the groups of muscles that women, and not men, "especially" want to work on. Although, careful ladies:

"Kettlebell workouts for women are also best performed with light weights."

In fact, it's probably best if you don't do kettlebell workouts at all. Because, unlike athletes and soldiers, we can't have women getting too strong. /fart

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unhelpful-Yet-Scary Health News of the Week!

In addition to recently learning that a diet high in salt might not actually be bad for people after all (although there is disagreement! controversy! about that claim), the Daily Mail presents the following helpful bit:

"Drinking coffee, making love, getting angry or even blowing your nose can significantly increase your chances of having a deadly type of stroke, scientists have warned.

Seemingly harmless everyday functions such as going to the lavatory, drinking a can of cola or jumping when you are surprised, all trigger a sudden increase in the blood pressure.

This can lead to a subarachnoid haemorrhage, a type of stroke which is fatal."

Not that the article is going to present any tips on how to avoid such a thing. Not that tips are even necessarily available. In which case, if we can't do anything about these types of fatalities- other than completely avoiding going to the lavatory and blowing our noses for the rest of our lives- does this health information add to our well-being or detract from it?

ps- But what if a headache is involved?

pps- I give up. /barf

Friday, May 20, 2011

What's Cuter Than Cute?

Sleeping corgis

Scientific studies show that there is, in fact, nothing cuter.

So that's how I'm spending my last blog post before tomorrow's upcoming Rapture. Just looking at corgis.

There is a little known clause in The Bible known as the "I don't accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I think dogs are cute" exemption to being raptured. (Although, truth be told I'd rather stay on earth drinking apple martinis with all you sinners instead of going to wherever all those judgmental sticks-in-the-mud are going to end up.)


So, what are ya'll doing before the big day?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Another Bad Abortion Analogy

Male conservative anti-feminists sometimes make bizarrely bad analogies about abortion.

What makes these analogies so poor is that they often totally eradicate the perspective of uterus-humans, a perspective one might believe to be a tiny bit relevant given certain reproductive truths. By failing to take into account the fact that babies do not spring forth from the aether fully-formed, that is, they gestate inside the uterus of another human being, these folks fail to render adequately-parallel analogies.

For instance, one fellow put forth that a woman having an abortion was just like a drunk driver getting into a car and killing someone. In his analogy, a woman was the drunk driver and the fetus was the drunk driver's victim. So, okay. If we're going to go the slut-shamey route, that analogy would almost work. That is, up until we consider the third element of the analogy: the uterus, and its analog, the vehicle through which the "murder" is committed.

But, is a car really sufficiently similar to a uterus to make the analogy work?

When we consider the differences between a car, something one can enter and leave at will, and a human uterus- something that is inside a person- indeed that is part of a person, we see that the analogy becomes much weaker. For, might the pregnant person that is harboring the uterus that is harboring the fetus have rights that factor into the moral equation that, say, a car does not?

The abortion/drunk driving analogy would work only if a driver and the car were inseparable in the way that a human and the uterus are.

Nonetheless, the bad-ass shades-wearing bros of anti-feminism tend to inexplicably applaud each others' woman-eradicating, fetus-centric abortion analogies as genius.

Case in point: Over at his (mis-named) "Self-Evident Truths" blog, "Euripides" bemoans:

"It's a felony to steal or damage bald eagle eggs. Human babies don't get the same respect."

So, Euripides doesn't actually mean "human babies" here. By "human babies," he means either a zygote, embryo, or fetus that is inside a human person's uterus (words, they have meanings!). Notice how it's only by eradicating the female perspective that the rather large difference in location between a human baby (different developmental stage/outside someone's body!) and the zygote/embryo/fetus (different developmental stage/inside someone's body!) become irrelevant.

In Euripides' analogy, a bird's nest is a human's body, the bird's egg is the zygote/embryo/fetus, and the hatching process is the human gestation process.

Yet, in what ways might relevant differences exist between these three features of his analogy? Sure, I can buy that a bird's egg is somewhat similar to a human embryo. But, is the egg hatching process sufficiently similar to the human gestation process for the analogy to work? Can, say, a pregnant woman just leave the embryo at home when she feels like flying around looking for prey?

And then, well, starting from the radical proposition that a human person with a uterus might have more rights than an eagle would be a helpful beginning point from which Euripides can observe his rhetorical weaknesses.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Is What Being the Sex Class Looks Like

A One-Act Play

Setting: Our hero, Leftist Gender Warrior (dun dun DUN!), is at a cocktail party. Her arch nemesis, Patriarchy (in a bad disguise as Dan Splainer), spots her.

Dan Splainer: [Ogling Leftist Gender Warrior's Strange costume] Hey baby!

Leftist Gender Warrior: [raises eyebrow and looks him up and down]

DS: [pointing at tray] Want a cocktail weiner?

LGW: I don't eat meat.

DS: That's what she said!

LGW: It is. And do people still say that?

[Awkward lull in conversation]

Leftist Gender Warrior: So anyway...Internet's been talking about that Hasidic newspaper in Brooklyn that edited Hillary Clinton out of that Situation Room photo where the Important People were monitoring the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Dan Splainer:...And?

LGW: That just seems...sexist and propaganda-y.

DS: Well, the Hasidic religion has modesty rules.

LGW: So, Clinton was, like, gyrating on men's laps while wearing assless chaps and nipple tassles?

DS: No, she was wearing Business Attire.

LGW: Oh, so she was existing in the presence of men, doing the things that men typically do at meetings, except, she was doing these things while being a woman?

DS: You clearly don't get it. Photographs of women are sexually suggestive.

LGW: Suggestive to who?

DS: To people. Men.

LGW: But... Hillary Clinton is kind of a feminist and I thought all feminists were ugly and couldn't attract men?

DS: Now let's be reasonable here. Even Hillary Clinton has a vagina. Presumably, amirite?

LGW: And? Men have penises, which are also sexually suggestive to some people.

DS: Look. You don't dangle meat in front of a tiger's cage. That's just common sense.

LGW: I see. Men are wildebeests and we can't expect them to be better. Got it.

DS: Whoa there, are you familiar with the term misandry?

LGW: Ye-

DS: In layman's terms, it's "the hatred of men."

LGW: I kno-

DS: You need to check your misandry.

LGW: What in hades are you talking about?

DS: You just said all men are wildebeests.

LGW: I was re-phrasing your argument.

DS: Tut. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

LGW: Ummm, srsly? Well, anyway. My point about the photo is that it seems sort of dishonest to distort a photo so as to make it appear to readers that no women participated in an important meeting.

DS: Your argument is what is called "PC Gone Awry."

LGW: I like to think of it Presenting True Facts As They Actually Exist In Reality.

DS: [Ducking] Don't kill me or anything but I'm going to suggest that because of the subject matter, you're a little too emotional to talk about this rationally.

LGW: To clarify the Official Truth About Things, it's officially irrational to expect men to act like civil human beings whilst in the presence of photographs of people with (presumably) vaginas. Got it. I will update the lesbianfeminaziradicalsocialistcommunistvegan agenda accordingly. [Rolls away on sporty roller blade, leaving Dan Splainer in a cloud of farts].


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love Between Men Is Good.... Sometimes

"Christian had a thing for Tony Curtis so he brought over Some Like It Hot and Sporadicus."- Cher, Clueless

So, if you've been hanging around these parts for awhile, you know that I love subtext.

Like many a non-heterosexual gal, I live for finding it in the most intentionally-heteronormative of shows, movies, video games, and books. If two female characters are in a story, oh yes I will find a way to ship them: Xena/Gabrielle (doy), Buffy/Faith (yes please), Meredith/Christina ("person," mm-hmmm), Alex/Olivia, Quinn/Rachel, Kate/Claire, Starbuck/Laura, Tempe Brennan/Tempe Brennan, and I could go on.

And I will. Let's just say that pretending Jordan Catalano is a brooding, butch lesbian can make some TV shows way more interesting.

Naturally, then, I was amused to come across this post, written by an anti-gay fella calling himself "Magister Christianus" (MC). Entitled "A Love Between Men," MC writes of showing Spartacus to his Latin students:

"Toward the end of the movie, chief bad guy Marcus Licinius Crassus (Olivier) orders Spartacus (Douglas) and Antoninus (Tony Curtis) to fight to the death, with the promise that the winner will be crucified. To spare his friend the agony of crucifixion, Spartacus plunges a sword into Antoninus' chest. As he draws his final breath, Antoninus gasps, 'I love you, Spartacus...as I loved my own father.' Spartacus replies, 'I love you, like the son that I'll never see.' My students never hear that line, however. They are still laughing over the words of Antoninus. The gasping pause in Antoninus' line unfortunately leaves the words 'I love you, Spartacus' hanging for a moment, long enough for the students to assume a homosexual reference and begin howling in laughter."

Now, I'm not as into snail-on-snail subtext as I am into the oysters, but from what I understand of those who harbor such proclivities, Spartacus is a classic in the male homoerotic/subtext movie canon. And, understandably so since the "chief bad guy" in the movie had sexual relations with and attractions to other men. As did other male Romans dating back at least 100 years prior to Spartacus' time.

So, regarding that "gasping pause" in the movie, I think it's entirely plausible to read sexual tension into it. It's a tension that, in 1960, directors wouldn't necessarily make explicit but could insinuate with a wink and nudge to certain receptive audience members. Of course, one could stay on the surface and interpret the moment only as an expression of non-romantic love. That's the thing about subtext. If you don't want to see it, you can pretend it away. (Much like can be done with gay people, in Tennessee!)

But let's see how MC sees it. After noting that his students' laughter at the gayness of this "gasping pause" moment indicates that "the gay agenda" has "failed spectacularly" at promoting tolerance of gay people, a failure MC undoubtedly sees as a good thing, he then claims:

"What the gay agenda has accomplished instead is the obliteration of any notion of proper love between men. Perhaps now more than ever, men are at a complete loss for genuine male-to-male companionship, interaction, and, yes, even love."

I mean, at this point, aren't you wondering if there is any problem in the world not caused by the Gay Agenda?

Anyway, what MC's statement means in non-bigot speak is that "the gay agenda" informed modern society that homosexuality and bisexuality are real things that exist in the real world and, consequently, that not every embrace between, say, two men is necessarily non-romantic in nature.

And while MC attributes to the Gay Agenda men's alleged inability to form deep non-homo bonds with each other, it is more accurately attributed to the stigma attached to sex and romantic love between men (you know, like calling such things "improper"). Men who are scared of being called fags for giving another guy a hug are going to miss out on a lot of male-to-male companionship, interaction, and yes, even love.

So, contrary to MC's bizarre claim, men have Team Anti-Gay and Team Real Man to thank for that one. Because guess what, you stop telling dudes that it's gross, immoral, sinful, and improper to love other men and they might get better at loving other men!

Just Another Helpful Deep Thought brought to you free of charge from the radicalesbianfeminazi brigade!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Divided, We Fall

Team Inequality is positively thrilled when people of color are opposed to equality for LGBT people. Take the National Organization for [Hetero] Marriage (NOM), for instance. NOM's Brian Brown boasts:

"More good news: A new Marist poll released yesterday shows the majority of New Yorkers oppose gay marriage, 53% to 46%; and it is New Yorkers of color who are leading the way, since 63% of them oppose gay marriage.

Plus, the poll shows 76% of New York Republicans think marriage should be only between one man and one woman."

Hey, you know what else about Republicans? Before President Obama posted his long form, 58% of Republicans doubted or outright denied that our first African-American President was born in the US.

Anyone else wondering what the Venn diagram looks like of those who oppose same-sex marriage who also doubt President Obama legitimately holds the office he was elected to? I suspect the answer to that would be "a lot."

So forgive me for being suspicious of the motives of the predominately white "marriage defense" movement's newfound alliance with "the New Yorkers of color." For, as Nezua so eloquently put it at Shakesville regarding the birth certificate fiasco:

"That shout, that demand to show papers, that insistence that you duck your eyes, it hisses You can even become President, but you still are not White. Which means you are not really the President. Don't go dreaming that somehow you are now more powerful than me, darkie."

To borrow from Critical Race Theorist Derrick Bell, whites aren't going to support anti-racist ideologies that may threaten white social status.

So while the white-dominated anti-gay movement paints an image of themselves skipping hand-in-hand with leading people of color through the daffodils in order to "save marriage" on the backs of the queers, where exactly was Team Anti-Gay when they and/or their Republican buds were reinforcing the racist notion that a black man didn't deserve his position in the political hierarchy?

And, where do these white Republicans and anti-gay folks come down on anti-discrimination laws, racial profiling, our unfair criminal justice system, deterioting and unfunded public infrastructures, and the state of public schools? What did they think or say about anti-gay Bryan Fischer's eliminationist rant against Native Americans? What does Team Anti-Gay say about the nostalgic Southerners who hold "secession balls" and pretend it's still 1860?

Let me take a gander:


Heterosexual conservative white people who don't give a rat's ass about social justice have the luxury, the relative privilege, of their opposition to same-sex marriage being Their One Big Political Cause. After all, it's easy to blame a demonized group, rather than millionaire capitalists, for the troubles of society, even though it is in, reality, an issue that, win or lose, is of no actual consequence to them.

Yet, as if on cue, the NOM anti-gay commenters, when hearing that they are politically-allied with some people of color, began ridiculously hyperventilating over their newfound alliances. For, apparently, some white people think that Having Black Allies automatically makes one right about oppression-related stuff. Take "John Noe," a frequent commenter, who opines:

"I hope we get footage of this wonderfull[sic] rally [against same-sex marriage in New York]. Imagine Americans from all races getting together to defend the institution from the SSM radicals hell bent on destroying it.

If Senator and Reverend Diaz gets blacks, hispanics, and whites together this can make a difference. The liberal Democrats think they have the people of color in the bag. But a unity across racial lines will get attention."

But...why don't Asian-Americans get to join the United Colors of Bigotry?

Seriously though, I am continually amazed at how, whenever people of color express anti-LGBT views, organizations like NOM and their supporters seem to think it gives their side an extra-special dose of moral credibility and righteousness. Leaning conservative on many social and fiscal issues, many of the white people within the predominately-white anti-LGBT movement are often found opposing policies and programs that would support, say, African-American communities, Hispanic communities, and immigrants.

The white-dominated LGBT movement is far from perfect on racial issues and there's a lot of white privilege denial happening in some circles, but I also read a lot of anti-gay conservative blogs, and well, let's just say I'd love to see, say, the (white, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, conservative) Playful Walrus have a little public conversation about race, white privilege, "illegal aliens" (check out his screed!), and bootstraps(!) with his new "marriage defender" BFFs of color.

White heterosexual, cis-gender, anti-LGBT Christians are some of the most privileged people in the US as their identity is codified by racism, heterosexism, and Christian privilege as what it means to be a Real American. Sure, there are intersections of oppression with respect to class and ableism and body size. But, through this group's silence (at best) and participation (at worst) in perpetuating social injustices, they use the same-sex marriage issue as a wedge to divide minority groups, alienate LGBT people of color, and preserve their own privileges.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Word of the Day



Marginalize: "to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group"

Fun fact: "Majority" and "marginal" are not synonyms.

How not to use marginalize:

"No, I do not agree that homosexuals are a 'marginalized' group of people. Any group which makes up less than 2% of the population is definitely a minority."


I'm actually not writing this to poke fun of this person or to ridicule hir ignorance. I'm noting the irony of this particular person running a blog dedicated almost entirely to opposing the Homosexual Agenda yet who is ignorant of a basic word that is integral to that agenda.

Today's Word of the Day is actually a twofer. For, of course, another word exists to describe how an anti-gay heterosexual Christian living in the US wouldn't have to be familiar with what marginalized means.

That word, of course, is privilege.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Procreation: A Necessary Marriage Requirement... For Some

In an unnecessarily-long version of that strange, circular "marriage is a thing that exists in nature like a tree or a flower" argument, Christopher Wolfe explains, in The Public Discourse, how same-sex marriage isn't Real Marriage:

"...[H]omosexual unions are essentially—of their very nature—incapable of procreation. There are, of course, many instances in which a heterosexual union is incapable in practice, by reason of age or physical defect, of leading to procreation; but the nature of the union remains the kind of union capable of producing children. In ways that many people, unfortunately, fail to understand, conjugal intercourse between a couple that is infertile or past childbearing age still has an inherent procreative significance—one that homosexual sexual activity inherently lacks." [emphasis added]

On the one hand, Wolfe claims that procreation, or the capacity for two spouses to procreate with one another, is an essential part of Real Marriage. Yet, as many equality advocates often note, this claim means that male-female relationships that cannot procreate together also do not constitute a Real Marriage. In trying to explain why such relationships, unlike same-sex relationships, still count as Real Marriages, Wolfe claims that infertile male-female couples' "conjugal intercourse.... still has an inherent procreative significance."

Now what on earth does that mean, to have "an inherent procreative significance"?

Wolfe seems to be saying here that coitus between an infertile male-female couple looks like, or signifies, the kind of sex that in other couples sometimes results in babies and so therefore an infertile male-female couple has a Real Marriage. Whereas, sex between a same-sex couple doesn't look enough like penis-in-vagina sex for the marriage to count as Real. (Hmm, I guess if Wolfe would have just said that, his argument wouldn't have had the same intimidating pseudo-intellectual ring to it.)

Yet, under Wolfe's own definition of marriage, a Real Marriage is "intrinsically or essentially oriented toward mutual love-giving and life-giving." And, applying his own definition of Real Marriage, the infertile heterosexual couple fails to meet this second criterion just as surely as does a same-sex couple, no matter how much the former's coitus looks like a procreative sex act.

This double-standard, of course, lends credence to my theory that the "procreation is an essential part of real marriage" argument is nothing but an invented, after-the-fact requirement of marriage added precisely to exclude same-sex couples from the Cool Kids' Marriage Club while trying not to look bigoted about it.

Also, so much for Team Anti-Gay not caring what goes on in people's bedrooms. I mean, here they've built an entire Nice Guy argument against same-sex marriage that is predicated entirely upon what specific sex acts between two people look like. Like, they've really thought about sex and penises and vaginas and what goes where and how and with whom, like, in great detail.

Look, I personally don't care what male-female couples do in the privacy of their own homes, but do we really have to talk about it use it to justify discriminatory laws all the damn time?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mean? Freedom To Not Be Friends

Conservative anti-gay, anti-feminist blogger "Euripides" who writes at his (mis-named) "Self-Evident Truths" blog doesn't like that he's losing friends because of his writing.

In a bizarre post entitled "Mean To Me: Freedom From Being Offended?", he references a supposedly-pervasive "modern leftist mindset" that takes "offense at anything they [sic] disagree with." (I presume the "they" he's referring to are those mysterious "leftist" hyper-PC offended-at-every-little-thing elves who are perhaps second-cousins to those mysterious feminazi gnomes who scream at men for holding open doors.)

Anyway, Euripides says:

"I do not understand people, which [sic] I was proud to call friends, taking umbrage with my political views and ending our friendship over them instead of ignoring them."

Fun fact: Euripides once said that "99% of gays give the rest a bad name."

It was one comment, yes. But as a gay person, it's not exactly a comment you forget. Being part of a group that one categorically defines as being comprised almost-entirely of Horrible People tends to be a memorable experience. Especially when such a claim is touted before a following of Yes Men as a self-evident truth.

Yet, despite his irrational generalizations (or perhaps because of them) I still read his blog now and then. I am interested in seeing whether he has changed his mind on being open to dialogue with those he holds such misperceptions of. See, I tried dialogue with him a couple of years ago until he freely admitted that he was "not trying to create dialogue" at his blog- a position I find to be both sad and limiting.

For, perhaps because of this insularity, his views of gay people, progressives, feminists, and liberals, seem to be lazy, childish caricatures of reality. For instance, as he continues his "I'm losing friends" victim narrative, he claims:

"Apparently, writing a political blog against leftist thought is enough to break up long-time friendships. Apparently, the only way to get along with leftists is to 'shut up' or agree with their political views."

And apparently, we can infer from Euripides highly-scientific sociological study (n=1) that it's entirely a "leftist" phenomenon to not want to be friends with people who hold radically different views from oneself. Notice how he frames not wanting to be friends with negative, disagreeable, or generalizing people not as a human thing, but a "leftist" thing. It is, to Euripides and some of his like-minded readers, just yet another trait indicative of the suckiness of "leftists."

Now, I certainly don't attribute this insularity-induced misperception to some huge attribute of the Rightwing Personality. No matter what political opinions you hold, anytime you're talking about groups of people rather than with them, you're going to start viewing them as black-and-white caricatures rather than as the Special Snowflakes you and your allies of course are.

At the same time, given the caricatures that Euripides constructs, I don't find it at all odd that a "leftist" would not want to stick around, endure, and ignore such slights that, "self-evident truths" that they apparently are, are not even up for dialogue. For, also notice that Euripides doesn't say he seeks dialogue or engagement with his "leftist" friends. He seems to want to say his thing and then have those who disagree ignore what he writes.

Writing in the Religious Dispatches, Cody J Sanders noted that "when entering dialogue, how we construct the 'other' (our dialogue partner) will determine just how much dialogue is possible."

With that maxim in mind, I think Euripides might have a better understanding as to why he is losing some of his "leftist" friends.

When dialogue is closed, is real friendship even possible?

*FYI, when Euripides speaks of this leftist phenomenon of un-friending, what he means is that three of his "leftist" friends have unfriended him on Facebook after he was apparently promoting his blog on that platform. He ends, ominously:

"It is indeed a Brave New World we live in where friendship hinges on taking offense instead of merely ignoring those words from whom we disagree."

Indeed, if there ever was a more sure symbol that we live in an oppressive dystopia it's the ability to freely pick and choose one's Facebook friends.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We the Feminized Men

[TW: Sexual assault, rape culture, misogyny, homophobia]

My Google Alert for feminism sends me the strangest articles. And by strangest I mean the most "bizarre, offensive, and unfunny anti-feminist writings by people who think they are much more funny and clever than they are."

Like this bit of attempted "satire or parody."

The writer, "mikewadestr," apparently drew his satirical inspiration from an announcement by Action Comics that Superman was renouncing his American citizenship. Apparently, that travesty is indicative of Multiculturalism Gone Awry and so, extending the audacity of the world's bestest hero no longer being an American man, mike satirically writes that "Dysfunctional Comics announced the creation of two new American superheroes which they believe will be much more beneficial to today's American society than Superman."

These two heroes, natch, are "Dyke Woman" and "Feminized Man," two figures he mockingly calls "more reflective of the US society." And, by "more reflective" mike means his creations are the most reactionary, stale, uninspired stereotypes of feminist men and women that have been circulating for, like, the past 40 years.

Take Dyke Woman, for instance. Get it? Because all. feminsts. are. lesbians! /farting noise

Anyway, mike's piece is probably low-hanging fruit, but I highlight it because it, perhaps unintentionally, reveals quite an... er... revelation. See, in mike's scenario, Dyke Woman's main superpower is the use of her dildo to "pound" feminism into men in order to de-masculinize them.

This attribute, interestingly and probably unintentionally, is a subversion of "corrective rape" that, in the real world, men use on LGBT and other gender-nonconforming people to police and enforce gender conformity. The phallus, when used in this way, becomes a threat, enforcer, and symbol of power. It threatens "stay in your place, or else." In mike's "satire," he has embued his fake hero, Dyke Woman, with a phallus and, accordingly, the power to police and enforce a particular gender ideology.

When coupled with this theme of This Is What Happens When Feminism Goes Too Far the satire implies that being an agent of corrective rape is most naturally and suitably a male role. That is, a satire of a man who went around raping women in order to "pound" femininity into them wouldn't work, because it is too close to what actually happens in the real world. Mike's subversion, then, rather than challenging rape culture, reinforces it as the Natural Order Of Things.

Dyke Woman's phallus symbolizes feminism and the patriarchalist's biggest fear- the ability to take away men's power in rape culture. Which brings us to mike's second fake hero, Feminized Man (whose wife, naturally, is a "dominatrix"- har har har):

"Feminized Man, on the other hand, has absolutely no super powers what so-ever. He is a stay at home dad who spends his days cleaning the house, taking care of his wife's kids and running errands, all while being dressed in a French Maid's outfit and carrying a feather duster."

Just as many MRAs refer to feminist and/or gender non-conforming men as "manginas," mike figuratively castrates his male feminist hero. Feminism, to mike, seems to mean a total reversal of patriarchal gender roles where women hold all power and men exist as a powerless sex/domestic class.

Notice the costume of Feminized Man: a French Maid's outfit. This choice is the classic presentation of "men who like to parade around in women's clothes" as ridiculous. For, what supposedly makes it so ridiculous (and degrading, unserious, and powerless) is the purported incongruity between a man (masculinity!) and what the French Maid outfit represents- femininity (frivolity, weakness, domesticity, woman!).

Meanwhile, a French Maid outfit is a supposed perfect fit on a woman because there is no similar incongruity. For, a satire of a "powerless" woman who stayed at home wouldn't work. It would be too real, too close to what people think women are naturally like. Mike's satire relies on the self-evident given that it would be ridiculous for a man to waste his talents on Just Staying Home With The Kids.

But wait!

Don't conservative anti-feminists insist that the feminine gender role is merely Equal But Different to the masculine one? Why yes. Yes they do. A lot.


Let's re-read mike's mocking description of Feminized Man. Oh, except while replacing the genders:

"Feminized [Woman], on the other hand, has absolutely no super powers what so-ever. [Sh]e is a stay at home [mom] who spends [her] days cleaning the house, taking care of [her husband']s kids and running errands, all while being dressed in a French Maid's outfit and carrying a feather duster."

Because she can't do anything else, goes the subtext. After all, she has "absolutely no super powers." Unlike men.

So, now tell me again that the male and female roles, under the anti-feminist "complementary" gender binary, are still Equal But Different.

We see here that mostly, one role gets to be more equal than the other, although both are sucky when you think about it. See, one is framed as a rapist super-hero and the other is framed as a powerless baby-raising maid. (It's always double-your-offensiveness when it comes to anti-feminism, folks!)

But that's how mike did something unintentionally brilliant here.

With his characters "Dyke Woman" and "Feminized Man," mike simply switched the genders of the two classes of people in the anti-feminist ideologues' gender binary, traditional marriage, and rape culture: Authentic Man and Authentic Woman. And in so doing, he revealed the atrocious nature of these artificial gender roles.

Leftist Gender Warrior says, "I couldn't have done it better myself!"


Monday, May 9, 2011

Men On Religiously-Based Sexism

Over at the Washington Post's "On Faith" forum, 14 men and 6 women recently weighed in on the following question:

“'The discrimination against women on a global basis is very often attributable to the declaration by religious leaders in Christianity, Islam and other religions that women are inferior in the eyes of God,' former President Jimmy Carter said last week. Many traditions teach that while both men and women are equal in value, God has ordained specific roles for men and women. Those distinct duties often keep women out of leadership positions in their religious communities. What is religion’s role in gender discrimination?"

6 of the men, and none of the women, spoke favorably of religiously-based notions of the "equal hierarchical" and complementary relationship between men and women that, in non-oxymoronic-speak, is otherwise known as inequality. Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the class of persons who get to be more equal than others in such an arrangement were most often found supporting complementarism.

Anyway, in general, I wasn't much impressed with the arguments of the complementarists. Their pieces were short and simple compared to many of the other pieces, and they largely glossed-over, white-washed, and simplified their respective religions' male-centrism and misogyny. Some, like Charles Colson's (a drafter of the anti-gay, anti-abortion Manhattan Declaration), were laughably absurd and childish:

"In the church and in marriage however, they are complementary roles, just as nature assigns complementary roles. Only women, for example, can bear children. Only males can provide the necessary sperm for procreation.

So in the church, the male assumes a teaching responsibility, but that does not make the woman’s role less significant or less meaningful. It is simply different."

Erm, wow. Men have the sperm, ergo they should of course do the church teaching. Because of the magical teachy sperm stuff. That's one of the most fantastical exaggerations of biological sex difference ever!

I mean, as a feminist it's not so much that I deny that male and female humans have certain biological differences, it's more that I deny that those differences imply differences in, say, leadership capacity. Indeed, how a male human's superior leadership ability "naturally" follows from the fact he creates sperm is, I'm sure, a self-evident truth to some such as Colson, but I need more elaboration on that if I'm to take that proposition seriously.

Moving on, John Mark Reynolds was ridiculous (again), first beginning his piece with an ad hominem against Jimmy Carter and then letting his silly, overly-ornamental writing style get in the way of his message:

"Christianity celebrates the common humanity of men and women, but also rejoices and allows for difference.
Romance withers in the face of modernity, but justice dies if romance rules. This side of paradise men and women must live justly, but also allow for the romance that creates healthy human beings. Man as man and woman as woman each have an irreplaceable role in the order of things."

Pew. Reynolds' eau de essentialism is sort of like that bathroom spray that succeeds only in convincing everyone that you've just crapped into a can of pot-pourri. The gist of his essay, which by the way reads just like the above excerpt, is that our legal system shouldn't discriminate, but religious institutions should be able to. Because men and women are different.

Bonus Hint: Whenever complementarists tell us that men's and women's "natural" roles in The Order Of Things are "simply different" but "no less significant," what they really mean is that men get to be more significant-er than women as evidenced by the gendering of god as male, the male-centric "historical" accounts of their religion, the gendering of the default human as male, and the adherents' insecure need to confine women to the pedestal of motherhood.

The ladies were a bit less charitable toward religiously-based sexism. Especially Paula Kirby:

"In the eyes of the Abrahamic religions, the archetypal woman is Eve: disobedient, unreliable, easily led astray, and a seductive temptress of man – man being more noble, yet easy prey to the wiles and seductions of his weaker mate. Woman is the source of danger, the one who corrupts him, the conduit for all that is evil in the world. She is dangerous … yet irresistible; and this very irresistibility makes her more dangerous still. But you will notice that the dangers of sexual temptation are not to be faced equally by men and women: no, religion demands that it is the woman who bears the burden. Solomon, we are told, had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and David had a more modest yet still energy-sapping five wives and 10 concubines, yet neither of these has become a by-word for male insatiability.

Hey Reynolds, I'll see your "romance," and raise you a "patriarchal projection" and "hetero male fantasy."

Friday, May 6, 2011

Deep Thoughts With Angela Chase

So, when I was in high school, I was a little into My So-Called Life. And by "a little into," I basically wanted Angela Chase to be my girlfriend.

But now, as an adult? I'm, like, not sure why.

Today's bit of Random Friday Fun:

(Link) View more My So Called Life Sound Clips and Angela Chase Sound Clips


[Angela Chase voice-over]- "Walking into someone's house for the first time is like entering another country. Not that I've ever been to another country.

But cheerleaders...can't people just cheer on their own, like..to themselves?

You know, the karma in this house is like ridiculous. Really. Yeah, it's really low...dark. Whatever it is that happens to karma."


Talk about whatever you like in the comments.

[Special shout-out to my friend, Erin Jeffreys Hodges, for laughing about this with me! HAR HAR]

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It's NOM For the...Win?

After the Obama Justice Department announced that it would no longer defend the discriminatory Defense of Marrica Act (DOMA), Rep. John Boehner hired the law firm of King & Spaulding, for a cool $500,000 of taxpayer money, to represent the House of Representatives' effort to defend it instead.

But then, in yet another dramatic twist to the Prop 8 debacle, King & Spaulding announced that it was withdrawing from the case. (DOMA is now being defended by another firm).

King & Spaulding's decision came after (a) the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) insinuated that the law firm's equality rating would suffer and threatened to launch a "full-throated educational campaign" aimed at clients and law school recruits, and (b) it was revealed that the King and Spaulding contract forbade all employees from publicly or privately advocating for the repeal of DOMA.

Now, like many legal commentators, I am critical of King & Spaulding's decision to drop their client after having signed a contract. Although, I will admit that I'm less critical than many commentators, given that the contract clause forbidding employees from advocating against DOMA might have conflicted with a California law prohibiting employers from forbidding political activitiy in their employees.

At the same time, I am critical too of the notion that any law firm or attorney that signs on to defend DOMA must be pressured into dropping that defense. DOMA is a horrendous law, yes. But let it have its day in court after both sides present their best cases. Unlike "marriage defenders" who want to forever conceal their legal performances before the open tribunal in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, I say let the world see our best case for equality (as well as the best case for inequality).

Nonetheless, with King & Spaulding's withdrawal, I believe the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage's (NOM) running narrative about The Incredible Power of the Gay has been a bit of a PR victory.

But just a bit, especially after Team Anti-Equality's repugnant gay-baiting attempt to get Perry vacated on the basis of Judge Walker's same-sex relationship.

That being said, I question whether NOM staff understands the difference between winning a battle and winning the war. For, NOM staffers keep boasting on their blog about the many commentators who oppose DOMA yet who also believe it was wrong for King & Spaulding to drop their client.

It's as though they believe support for the principle of zealous legal representation translates as a substantive win on the marriage issue.

And, well, let me remind them of what these commentators that NOM has linked to are actually saying about DOMA:

Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post: The Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from accepting same-sex marriages recognized by state law, is repugnant and, I believe, unconstitutional. The Obama Justice Department did the brave and correct thing in deciding it could no longer defend the law.

Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic: As I have consistently written over the past nine months, there are plenty of legitimate legal reasons to think that the DOMA's dubious message of unequal rights for same-sex couples ultimately will fall at the Supreme Court.

Jonathon Capehart, The Washington Post: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has more pressing things to do — debt, deficits and “Where are the jobs,” Mr. Speaker? — than prevent a gay couple from the joys of filing joint tax returns and availing themselves of the other rights and responsibilities that accrue to federal recognition.

Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker: DOMA is a discriminatory piece of legislation, made even more problematic by its disrespect for laws enacted by the states: it prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages that are legal in the states in which they occurred.

LA Times Editorial: DOMA is a regressive law.

The New York Times Editorial: We strongly oppose the federal statute known as the Defense of Marriage Act, which bans recognizing same-sex marriage. House Republicans should not have used taxpayer money to hire outside lawyers to defend it.

Repugnant. Dubious. Regressive.

It's suddenly becoming clear why "marriage defenders" seem to want to keep the substantive debate in the closet while they up the vilification of LGBT people.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Stretch

From a CNN portrait of former cult leader David Koresh:

"In 1981, [Koresh] moved to Waco to live at Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidian compound. At the time, the Davidian sect was controlled by Lois Roden, one its early self-proclaimed prophets. Roden had just started preaching to followers that she'd found references in the Bible that suggested God was a woman. Survivor Clive Doyle had trouble buying her interpretations, he told CNN.com.

'I looked and looked and just could not find those feminine parts in the Bible,' he said. 'Lois liked to stretch it a bit.'"

Koresh, of course, infamously ended up becoming the cult's new leader:

"Among Koresh's teachings were the 'New Light Message' and a philosophy he equated to 'winning' in the bedroom, according to Reavis' book. The teachings set forth that 'spiritual weddings' would take place between Koresh and any female follower he felt that God had ordered him to bed. That included underage girls and legally married women. The men should observe celibacy."

Of course.

The notion of god being a man who allows One Special Man to fuck any woman or girl he wants is so much more grounded in reality than mere "suggestions" of god having "feminine parts."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bigot Accidentally Makes Our Case

[TW: Homophobia]

Opining away at the totally-not-at-all-bigot-fostering National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) blog is "John Noe." John, from what can be gathered by his commentary, seems to be an Esteemed Armchair Constitutional Scholar. He lectures a gay man:

"...[W]hat if some of us like me told you that we were against [same-sex marriage] because it is a civil rights and constitutional issue....

(2) The Constitution does not grant equality of results. This is why their [sic] is unequal earned income in society. I have the same right to play golf like Tiger Woods. I do not have the same right to his results. Has anyone ever noticed that married people get benefits that single people do not.[sic] Thus singles and married people are not treated equally. As usual the homosexuals ignore this point."

"The homosexuals." I love it. 1985 called and it wants its mental disorder back. And, of course, just like Woman, all of us homosexuals download our single consciousness from the same hub.

The Tiger Woods bit is also strange as John's analogy likens sexual orientation to a skill that is learned. As though, through some combo of good luck, hard work, and genes, heterosexuals are really good at being heterosexual and gay people, who are sucky at it, just need to practice harder at heterosexuality in order to achieve the same benefits that heterosexuals get.

Anyway, perhaps counter-intuitively I agree with John on one point. People who are legally married do indeed get benefits that those who are deemed single do not. So, by "the homosexuals ignore this point," I think what John means is that "this point" is basically the crux of "the homosexuals'" argument for marriage equality. In most jurisdictions, the law treats individuals in same-sex relationships as though we are singletons. And that, in a nutshell, sucks.

Which reminds me, I once had a most bizarre, erm, "conversation" with a "marriage defender" who was trying to play Socratic Question Master with me. (They try that a lot, see also "Illusory Superiority"). In an attempt to get me to admit to some underlying hypocritical intolerance, he asked me how I felt about the fact that single people didn't receive marital benefits. As a hypothetical, he said he wanted to marry himself and asked if I opposed such a thing.

My reply, which seemed to go over his head, was that I wouldn't be opposed to a man marrying himself if that was his cup of tea, but the purpose of a marriage license is to create legal rights and responsibilities between two people such that the legal identities of two people are effectively merged into one for certain purposes. For instance, heterosexual married couples can combine their finances and file taxes jointly. Yet, it would make no sense to speak of a single man filing his taxes "jointly" with himself. In his case, only one set of finances exists, meaning that even if he were legally married to himself, he would still essentially be filing taxes as one person- a right that already exists.

As another example, heterosexual married couples can receive Social Security benefits from deceased spouses. And, unlike, say, the surviving partner of a same-sex relationship, I'm not sure a deceased man who was married to himself could put such benefits to use.

I think, in trying to construct hypothetical "gotchas," some anti-gays are missing a few common-sense chips. Which brings us back to John Noe, who continues:

"(3) Their [sic] is the concept of equality. Homosexuals are simply not equal. Science and biology says [sic] so. You cannot reproduce. You have a higher mortality rate and higher chance of sickness and disease."

Ouch. (Although, note to John: Lots of "homosexuals" still have reproductive parts).

So.... remember when Ted Olson said California's ban on marriage licenses for same-sex couples has stigmatized LGBT people "as unworthy of marriage, different and less respected" and Team Anti-Gay was all, "it defames not only seven million California voters, but everyone else in this Country, and elsewhere, who believes that the traditional opposite-sex [sic]definition of marriage continues to meaningfully serve the legitimate interests of society" to infer that animosity is behind same-sex marriage bans?


Let's summarize John Noe's deep thoughts: (A) Heterosexual married couples receive benefits that same-sex couples, who are legally treated like "single people," do not because (B) "homosexuals are simply not equal" to heterosexuals according to natural and scientific law. And because of AIDS.

Quick, somebody call this guy as an adverse witness. Preferably just in time for him to start referencing Gay Bowel Syndrome and how that somehow makes lesbians crappy parents.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Vatican Notices Trend Of Some Mysterious Unspecified Attacks on Anti-Gays. Somewhere. Sometimes.

[TW: Sexual abuse, child abuse]

In condemning a UN resolution expressing concern at sexual orientation-based violence, the Holy Mothers expressed their concern that opposition to LGBT rights is increasingly recognized as bigotry.

From Vatican Radio, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi first stated that:

"A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings. But states can, and must, regulate behaviours, including various sexual behaviours. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviours must be forbidden by law. Paedophilia and incest are two examples."

First, let's note the irony of a Catholic leadership that appointed a known child abuser to one of its Sexual Abuse Advisory Boards lecturing us on the forbiddenness of pedophilia. In a logical world this particular institution would have already exhausted its moral capital regarding sexual morality. But sadly, no.

Then, let's note that Tomasi is telling us that a state should not punish people who harbor homosexual feelings but that it should punish "certain kinds of sexual behaviours." In the context of a debate of a resolution pertaining to sexual orientation, it is clear that the Vatican is implying that nations are free to punish homosexual behavior. Yet, perhaps fearful of the bigot label, the Vatican seems to lack the courage to make that statement explicit.

Tomasi continues:

"Third, the Holy See wishes to affirm its deeply held belief that human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage. Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension : it is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an 'identity'. In other words, it comes from the action and not from the being, even though some tendencies or 'sexual orientations' may have deep roots in the personality. Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and undermines ultimately his/her ontological dignity. This belief about human nature is also shared by many other faith communities, and by other persons of conscience."

So a few things are going on here. First, just because they and "many other faith communities" say so, it is apparently an objective truth that human sexuality is only "genuinely expressed" within a lifelong heterosexual marriage.

Secondly, notice how the Vatican says that some "tendencies" or "'sexual orientations"' might have "deep roots in the personality." One is led to wonder if the Vatican considers heterosexual desire to be a "tendency" in this sense, or if Tomasi is, without explicitly saying so, only referring to homosexual desire as a "tendency."

This matters because isn't it true that it is more than just "some" tendencies that are deeply rooted? As in, most people, even those who are primarily attracted to the other sex, also have "tendencies"- tendencies that are deeply rooted and not chosen.

Yet, if the Vatican is suggesting that it is only "some" tendencies that are "deeply rooted," the Vatican implies that for most people, sexual attraction is a choice and that people are basically born without an orientation and then become heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or bisexual via their actions.

My point here is that the Vatican, without perhaps even realizing it, invisibilizes the heterosexual sexual orientation by conflating it with an non-sexual "blank slate" sexual orientation. In this way, while appearing to concede that "some" "tendencies" "might" be "deeply rooted" in one's personality, heterosexual attraction is presented as genuine, natural, moral, and not a tendency at all.

Both that and the notion that heterosexuality-within-marriage is the only genuine expression of sexuality are heterosexism. But don't tell that to the Vatican. That would be persecution:

"And finally, Mr. President, we wish to call attention to a disturbing trend in some of these social debates: People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behaviour between people of the same sex. When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature, which may also be expressions of religious convictions, or state opinions about scientific claims, they are stigmatised, and worse -- they are vilified, and prosecuted. These attacks contradict the fundamental principles announced in three of the Council’s resolutions of this session. The truth is, these attacks are violations of fundamental human rights, and cannot be justified under any circumstances."

I guess, when Tomasi claims that "people are being attacked," I want to know what exactly he means by that. Are states enacting laws where those who do not support "sexual behaviour between people of the same sex" are subject to execution? Are equality opponents being stoned? Are mobs of people with homosexual "tendencies" lynching opponents of LGBT equality?

Or, are LGBT people and supporters being rude to equality opponents? Are we criticizing them for their complicity in an unfair legal regime? Are we telling them that their religiously-motivated denial of our human dignity is hurtful?

I'm not naive to the fact that some LGBT advocates are abusive and mean, but because Tomasi fails to note specific events, I'm wary of any general sweeping claim about how people are supposedly being "stigmatised," "vilified," "prosecuted," and denied their "fundamental human rights."

I mean, those are pretty grave charges to make without presenting evidence, right?

So, on that note, I'd like to call attention to a disturbing trend I've noticed in these debates. On the one hand, some Christians can't tell us enough how awesome and courageous they are for opposing same-sex marriage in this era of "hyper-political-correctness." But on the other hand, they also can't tell us enough how receipt of criticism, or being called a bigot, is a ginormous violation of their human rights, religious freedom, and/or First Amendment rights.

Yet, what they fail to understand is that human bigotry, like any voluntary activity, is not an identity. In other words, it comes from the action, not the being, even though some bigoted tendencies have deep roots in religion. Denying the chosen aspect of bigotry, leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter.

It's simple really. If you don't like being told that you're a bigot, stop choosing to be one.