Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Public Discourse Continues to Disappoint

Like their peers at the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM), writers at The Public Discourse* blog (oh, I'm sorry "online journal") continue to wail about the evils of same-sex marriage.

There, Melissa Moschella writes:
"A crucial aspect of liberty is respect for subsidiarity—in particular, recognition that the family, based on marriage, is a pre-political community with natural and original authority over its internal affairs, especially the education and upbringing of children. Redefining marriage in law to include same-sex couples undermines the principled basis for the primacy of parental childrearing authority by obliterating the link between marriage and procreation as well as the norm of conjoined biological parenthood that conjugal marriage laws help to foster."
First things first, I'll address that argument regarding "the link between marriage and procreation" being severed by same-sex marriage.  Sorry-not-sorry but, allowing infertile couples to marry "obliterated" that connection long before same-sex marriage was a twinkle in anyone's eye.

Secondly, this is your semi-regular reminder that, in many conservative circles, anti-feminism and anti-LGBT advocacy go hand in hand.

Did that phrasing, that particular longing for the days of ye 'olde when families (i.e., fathers) had dominion over the "internal affairs" (i.e., women and children), send a shiver down anyone else's spine?

Yep, me too.

The thrust of her argument is that "conjoined biological parents" (adjectives in all my years of writing about this stuff I've never seen combined before and which are now inducing interesting mental pictures) should have dominion over their children and that the state should not be able to interfere with that. The state, let me repeat, should not be able to interfere with the internal affairs of child-rearing.

Incidentally, I'm guessing she would be, however, in favor of allowing the state to force someone to give birth.

Moschella goes on to reference a litany of, well, nothing that hasn't already been said by her allies about a gazillion times already, including comparing the public education system in the US to Nazi Germany and claiming that pro-LGBT folks are practically kidnapping children of Real Families, soooooooo I'm going to slowly. back. away. from. the computer and see if I can get the latest American Horror Story on Netflix instead.

*The Public Discourse is run by the conservative Witherspoon Institute. For background see, here.

Related: Same-Sex Marriage, Feminism, and Women

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Talk

As some of you may know, I'm currently reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.  I started this series many years ago, made it through the third book, and then lost interest/found other things to read in the publishing lag between the next installments.

I have now just finished the second one. As much as I'm enjoying it, for as much as one such as myself can enjoy a series that has thus far failed The Bechdel Test, I'm in need of a short reprieve from the series.

What should I read next?

I'm looking for good fantasy or speculative/science fiction that has a lead female character.  The character doesn't have to be strong or perfect, but if she was lesbian, bi, or queer that would be preferable.

And, of course, feel free to share what you all reading these days.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fun with "Devil's Advocates"

Okay friendly readers, I have a debating experiment for you today:

Step 1: Witness a debate about gender and feminism.

Step 2: Witness a man jumping in with a statement like, “Look, I’m all for equality, but [insert anti-equality/anti-feminist statement]” or “I consider myself a feminist, but let me just play Devil’s Advocate here, [insert anti-equality/anti-feminist statement].”

Step 3: Respond by asking him what, specifically, tenets of feminism and equality for women he supports and what injustices primarily exist today for women. Like, ask him to actually delineate them for all to see.

Because, well, what I often find is that those men who feel compelled to both assert that they support equality/feminism while simultaneously articulating an anti-equality/anti-feminist statement often don’t actually have, when pressed, all that many pro-equality/pro-feminist opinions.  They’re like the “definitely not racist or anything, but” white people who will admit that slavery and saying the n-word are wrong, but when pressed those are pretty much the only two things that count as genuinely racist by their authority.

In fact, oftentimes, the majority of Devil’s-Advocate-Male contributions to conversations about gender and feminism are against equality and feminism.  The blubbering “I’m all for equality” intros are a diversion, whether intentional or not, meant to instill in feminist participants a glimmer of hope that he might, this time, be able to make reasonable contributions to the discourse that go beyond being there to “teach” and dismiss the female perspectives.

Recognize it for what it is. Put him on the spot to delineate his actual points of agreement and disagreement. From there, you can better ascertain the worth of engaging.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Christian School Denies Entry to Child of Same-Sex Couple

A Christian school in San Diego is not allowing a 5-year-old girl to attend kindergarten because she has two moms.

Via MSN:
"When asked by the news team if it was discrimination to stop the child from attending because of her mothers, a woman who described herself as the school's director, said, 'The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. We don't condone any sinful lifestyles.' 
KGTV got a copy of the school's parent and student handbook which was revised over the summer. Under the school's statement of nondiscrimination, the handbook declared the school's right to "refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student." 
'This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school,' the handbook continued, according to the news station."
I have two items of note here.

One, I highlight how the conservative National Review frames the situation only because it's indicative of a mindset held by many anti-LGBTs. There, David French asks, in a piece entitled, "Lesbian Parents Try to Force a Christian School to Educate Their Child":
"Here’s a question for the secular left — when religious liberty collides with the desires of LGBT citizens, is there any case where religious freedom should prevail? How about when a lesbian couple tries to force a private Christian school to educate their child?" (emphasis added)
Ah, note the use of the phrase "desires of LGBT citizens," a word that, oh, maybe suggests that a lesbian couples' simple, decent wish for their daughter to attend school is in some way related to sex.

But, more pertinently, notice how French centers the beliefs (and prejudices) of adults in this scenario when, in fact, it is the child who is actually most profoundly impacted by the discrimination. How different does it sound when we ask:
Here's a question for all - when religious "freedom to discriminate" collides with the rights of children to attend school, when should religious freedom to discriminate prevail?
This case isn't one of Christians v. LGBTs, or even the Christian right v. the secular left.  It's one of Christian anti-LGBTs v. children who happen to have same-sex parents. That is, grown-ass adults punishing a child because they disagree with the "lifestyle" of her parents.

Two, notice the moral code in the handbook which specifically calls out homosexuality.  Yet, does the school also prohibit children of divorced, adulterous, or single parents from attending the school?

Of course not. Nor should it.

But that's how it so often is with the Christian bigot crowd, isn't it?

In the debates about marriage, many opponents of allowing same-sex couples to marry held that marriage was about "procreation," yet they had no issue with allowing infertile heterosexuals to marry. It's LGBTs and same-sex couples who these sorts of folks so often single out for their special brand of entitled, discriminatory treatment that they rarely reserve for other groups.

Bigot Kim Davis doesn't deny marriage licenses to people on their third, fourth marriage. No, her hill to die on is same-sex marriage. For special lucky reasons, I guess.

Even as these folks wail that it's LGBT people who constantly seek "special rights," these are the folks who seek both the special right to discriminate against LGBT people without consequence and to in no way face public shaming (or being called a bigot) for doing so.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Serena Williams and the "Smile" Command

I first saw this via Sociological Images:
"Serena Williams, the winner of 21 Grand Slam titles and arguably the greatest living female athlete, was understandably exhausted after defeating her sister and best friend Venus Williams in the U.S. Open earlier this week. So she wasn’t having it when, during a post-match press conference on Tuesday, a reporter had the gall to ask why she wasn’t smiling. 
Williams looked down and gave an exasperated sigh before shelling out the best response an athlete has given in an interview since football player Marshawn Lynch’s “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” trademark phrase. 
"It’s 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice and I don’t want to answer any of these questions. And you keep asking me the same questions. It’s not really … you’re not making it super enjoyable.""
Ha. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stonewall Movie and the Gay White Male Hero

Via Richard Lawson, in Vanity Fair:
"Stonewall is ultimately yet another cartoonish fantasy about white saviors and square-jawed heroes; it should be called Independence Gay
Maybe it’s asking too much to get a smart, accurate Stonewall movie. After all, a heck of a lot of straight history has been schmaltzified by Hollywood, neatly edited and tidied up, so why shouldn’t gay history get the same shitty treatment? But that this film was directed by a gay man, written by a gay man, with an obvious intent to educate, uplift, and inspire, in this particular political climate, and is still so maddeningly, stultifyingly bungled serves only to show us how ridiculous the concept of a monolithic “gay community” really is. Stonewall at least does that bit of good: it illustrates how systems of privilege and prejudice within a minority can be just as pervasive and ugly as anything imposed from the outside. And that’s an outrage. So how long until someone throws a brick through the screen?"
Isn't this movie, though, a mainstream narrative of the "LGBT community"?

Gay white men disproportionately put themselves in the highest-level, highest-paid positions in LGBT nonprofits, creating White Men's Clubs that alienate those who don't share their privileged identities.

To hear some of them talk, Andrew Sullivan practically invented same-sex marriage.

As I have written before, the most prominent national conversations about same-sex marriage have been, with the exception of Maggie Gallagher, largely also same-sex conversations among (white) men often talking to other (white) men, but sometimes also to the American public, about the topic. Jonathan Rauch. David Blankenhorn. Brian Brown. Evan Wolfson. Dale Carpenter. John Corvino. Robert George. Andrew Sullivan. Dan Savage. Peter LaBarbera.

All of this is true even though other people have also been doing important advocacy and writing work in less prominent ways that don't get them the same level of attention, recognition, and credit.

With the gay white male focus on "we're just like you" assimilation while presuming that they - and they alone - are the key protagonists in the LGBT struggle, I continue to suspect that the real goal for many is not a revolution, but merely "a change in management."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Women Pass Ranger Program: Internet Misogynists Flip Out

Perhaps you've read about the 2 Army lieutenants who have become the first women to graduate from the US Army's Ranger program, a physically- and mentally-intense training course from which women have historically been excluded.

I've read several articles about this and have of course noted the misogynistic whinging in various comment sections.  Hilariously, the US Army has addressed some of the misogyny directly to those oh-so--courageous purveyors of misogynistic attacks on Internet.

I've noted before that those who identify with toxic masculinity define themselves largely by what they are not: women. In their minds, women and men are "opposites" in which men are supreme and women are …. not.

They take great pride in the activities which are, they claim, "inherently" "male," and if women end up engaging in these activities, these men view the activities as having become  imbued with the taint femininity.  "Women ruin everything," they bawl, as they see women too showing interest in things like sports, military, science fiction, comedy, geekdom, and other interests and activities that some men try to stake out as No Girls Allowed Land.

Thus, the comments by such men, in relation to the Rangers issue, fall into predictable categories:

  • The system was somehow rigged to help the women pass, because no woman could actually pass on the same terms as men. This claim allows the man to continue believing that there are still Important Things that men can do that women cannot (In truth, the women passed the same standards as the men); 
  • If it is admitted that the women passed on the same terms as men, their femininity is called into question by mocking their appearance and calling them "manly." While the man may concede that the woman did the thing that men do, he implies that she's not a real woman and therefore it doesn't count;
  • The man gripes about "political correctness" and "social experiments." By uttering these meaningless phrases, the man believes he can magically waive away the accomplishment as though it didn't happen and isn't a thing that exists in reality, but rather is Social Justice Warrior fabrication.
All of these attempt to preserve the man's masculine identity As A Man (and not a woman).

Although, then there's my personal favorite:

The man who was concern trolling about male Rangers having to share humvees with "menstruating females."  Dude,  I'm gonna stop you right there.  If a man isn't tough enough to be around a menstruating person, that guy probably isn't tough enough to be a fucking Army Ranger, which might also mean that the Army has bigger problems, yeah?