Friday, May 30, 2008

Random Fun Shoutouts!

1. Feminist Law Professor Ann Bartow deserves a shoutout for compiling various articles regarding The Sexism in the Democratic Primary. Even to many of us who voted for Obama, the overt sexism and misogynistic comments directed at Clinton have been disturbing, distasteful, and indicative of how feminism is still relevant. Hateful comments and personal attacks were to be expected, of course, from the usual suspects. But this compilation documents the particularly gendered nature of the attacks on Clinton uttered by those who call themselves "liberals" and "progressives."

2. My latest contribution to Stuff Lesbos Like is up.

3. Sort of proving my latest Stuff Lesbos Like, a few months ago Lesbilicious humorously pointed out the Straightest Lesbian Films of all Time. Take a gander.

4. A loud talker on the red line recently inspired Grace over at Law with Grace to create a sidekick for our brave-yet-lonely hero Leftist Gender Warrior. I can't wait to see what Les Bionic Woman looks like!


"Deep" Thought #14: Children of Gay Parents are "Robbed"!

I simply love it when the bigotry that is always brimming just below the surface of one authoritarian homophobe's every writing rears its ugly head. Recently, in his article discussing the importance of genetic counseling in cancer screening, our always-respectful-and-definitely-not-bigoted buddy "On Lawn" threw in this gem:

"Children who are robbed from part of their heritage so that two mommies or two daddies can pretend to be a complete marital unit might not have that benefit."
For starters, "Lawn's" latest reminds me that June 2 is official Blogging for LGBT Families Day the purpose of which is to honor families who do not fit the traditional model of one mother and one father. I look forward to showing the world how I pretend to have a family.

Because the bigotry in "Lawn's" statement is likely not apparent to him, let's walk the fellow through it. "Lawn" indicates that children of gay parents "are robbed" of their "heritage" in order for gay parents to create make-believe families. Using the un-incriminating passive voice, it is unclear who "Lawn" believes is doing this insidious robbing, but I'll venture a guess that it's probably the gays.

But aside from this mystery robber, the most deafening indicator of "Lawn's" bigotry is his silence with regard to heterosexual couples who raise non-biological children. While informing us that children of "two mommies or two daddies" are robbed of their genetic heritage, he makes no mention of whether non-biological children of heterosexuals are robbed as well. Perhaps in "Lawn's" world, it's just a fact that only children of gay parents are "robbed" of their genetic heritage. For magical reasons, non-biological children of heterosexual parents are not.

If it wasn't so obviously mean-spirited, "Lawn's" insistence on relating every article, study, and blog he reads to opposing gay marriage would be amusing. I mean, if he truly is concerned about the lack of cancer screening opportunities for adopted/donor-conceived children, I sincerely hope he improves his "analysis" and expands it to include children raised by heterosexual couples. I think it's pretty clear to anyone who isn't "Lawn" that all he's doing here is opportunistically showing concern about cancer screening, something that affects children of gay and straight parents, for the sole purpose of taking a swipe at gay parenting.

I mean, let's think this through. Is "Lawn" suggesting that children should remain in orphanages rather than be raised (and robbed!) by non-biological parents? Does he mistakenly believe that all gay couples use anonymous donors to conceive children? Is he advocating a ban on the use of egg and sperm donors? If so, would such a ban only apply to same-sex couples? What is the solution? Oh my! I think I've thought this through more than "Lawn" himself did when he whipped up his latest ignorant "blog post."

In fact, if "Lawn" would remove his anti-gay-marriage goggles for a quick second, he could perhaps see how merely blaming this "problem" on selfish gay couples constitutes a woefully inadequate analysis. For, access to birth certificates, genetic information, and data of biological parents is part of a much broader discussion involving a complicated, thoughtful weighing of individual rights, confidentiality laws, health law, and civil rights. While in "Lawn's" head, the issue is a simple (to paraphrase!) "gay parenthood robs children of their genetic heritage," the reality is that it is confidentiality laws that "rob" children of their genetic heritage- whether their parents are gay or straight. Why "Lawn" has blamed this complicated issue, with his flippant comments, on gay parenthood is strongly indicative of bigotry. It is also indicative of how he so willingly settles on "easy"-yet-ignorant explanations.

The second key indicator of Lawn's bigotry is his word choice. First there's his laughable use of the word "robbed," which invokes images of greedy gays stealing children in some queer Raising Arizona scenario. Such inflammatory word choice and obvious attempt to appeal to emotions pretty much automatically discredits a person's argument. And that goes double for the for the rightwing's creepy tendency to use baby talk in their anti-gay-parenthood "analyses." It's cute and all that grown men still call parents "mommies" and "daddies," but it'd be refreshing if they would at least try to speak in a non-emotionally-manipulative manner. Speaking of which, let's look at "Lawn's" use of the word "pretend" in reference to same-sex families. In true authoritarian fashion, "Lawn" lets us know that our relationships, families, and parenthood are just make-believe. I mean, he's only telling it like it is. He knows the truth, after all. Especially when it comes to "defending marriage on the firm ground of reason and respect for human dignity."

[Insert laughter]

That's right, everyone. Children of gay parents "are robbed" and gay families are just "pretend." Deep thoughts, buddy. Deep thoughts.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dog Poop Awards

One of the... "fun" things about writing a blog is that you encounter all sorts of people and internet personas. I have written before about the internet fuckwad phenomenon whereby anonymity plus audience magically turns "normal" people into "fuckwads."

Well, a related blog phenomenon is where a person anonymously or, more interestingly non-anonymously, leaves a comment that is the internet equivalent of lighting a paper bag of dog turds on fire, leaving it on someone's front porch, and running away. Just as a note of full disclosure, I read this analogy in a comment thread at another blog but can't for the life of me find it. I suck. But I'm going to expand on it and turn it into an award. See, dog poop commenters have no intention of engaging in actual dialogue or debate on an issue, rather, they just want to drop off their asinine statement(s) and then hide in the bushes watching people frantically try to put out the fire.

So, here are the first annual (or monthly, whatever) Dog Poop Awards.


May I present second runner-up "Ian":

After my post about a recent denial of death benefits for same-sex partners in Illinois, "Ian" valiantly said "The injustice would be requiring taxpayers to pay more of their hard earned money to support immoral homosexual behavior" before scurrying away.

Neat-o. When "Ian" was pressed for more of an argument, we were met with resounding silence. Good talk, good talk.

The first-runner up goes to "Sparky," author of this witty question after my post about Mike Huckabee winning the Iowa primary:

"Is this a dyke blog?"

It's an understandable question. Most heterosexual women write as much about homos, lezzies, sports, and feminism as I do.

And now, may I present the super-duper grand champion Dog Poop Award winner to "John Lofton" for the longest string of non sequiturs, irrelevant comments, and condemnations to Hell after one of my book reviews. What this commenter did was a fun variation on the dog poop game called "let's light a bunch of sequential bags of dog poop, leave them in Fannie's Room, run away, come back, ignore the little fires that Fannie put out, leave more little turds, run away again, and so on."

Beginning here with his irrelevant spam-like proclamation "Bulletin! This just in! All of us are creatures, not the Creator. We live in God's world governed by God's Law. To deny this is not to change this fact-of-life. You do not have to believe in Hell to go there" and ending 60-some comments later by bringing sexy back with a John 3:36 quotation, this "interaction" was a dictionary definition Dog Poop experience. Although this man quoted many Bible verses, his irrelevancy and troll-like behavior failed to distinguish him from those men who come to your door trying to sell you Christianity.

*Sigh* I love the internets and, dear winners:


Congratulations all around.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Deep" Thought #13: Re-Naming Marriage

Now that heterosexuals in California have to share marriage with gay and lesbian couples, some sore losers want to take their ball and go home.

The always-entertaining bigot Jose, for instance, decides that no, the word marriage isn't so important after all. He didn't want it anyway. In fact, he brilliantly proposes that we should start calling a married heterosexual relationship "The Husband Wife Relationship" instead of "marriage" now that marriage isn't special anymore.

Yeah, Jose, let's get wild and call married straight couples The Husband Wife Relationship. That will definitely prevent the total and utter destruction of the universe that is certain to happen if we just keep calling it marriage. Yeah, deep thoughts.

Girl Too Good for the Boys

In hilarious sports' news, Jaime Nared, a 12-year-old girl, was banned from the boys' basketball team for being too good. As FOX sports reports, she had been playing on this team since second-grade but "curiously, the timing of her ban came in the wake of a 30-point effort against an all-boys team."

Honestly, I'm not too worried about the girl. It's a shame that she has to go back to playing on a less competitive girls' team in which her coach likened to "having Shaq on a high school team." But at the same time, she's a phenom and college recruiters are probably already licking their chops at this 6'1" prospect. If she can keep from getting bored in the meantime, she'll be fine.

What's most funny about this story is the explanation given for banning her from the boys' team:

"[The parents of boys on opposing teams] said the problem was the boys were playing differently against her because she was a girl. They'd been taught to not push a girl, so they weren't fouling her hard, and the focus had shifted from playing basketball to noticing a girl was on the floor with them."

Alright. Just keep telling yourselves that. I mean, it's simply not possible that a mere girl would be embarrassingly better than any of your little darlings.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Whistle Blowing or Windmill Fighting?

Today, I want to take a brief moment to thank WorldNetDaily for so reliably being on the constant lookout for danger to Society, America, the Family, and the Children. I myself am part of society, America, and a family, and so it makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that my being is safely nuzzled within the vigilant watch of WorldNetDaily. This media machine is so concerned for the public interest that it even has a special (subscription-only!) magazine called Whistleblower that calls itself "credible, independent, and fearless." And we all know that if a magazine calls itself credible and independent it logically follows that it must be credible and independent because, of course, it's credible and independent.

But more importantly, this magazine is fearless!

First, there's the title of the magazine. The term "whistleblower" allegedly "derives from the practice of English bobbies who would blow their whistle when they noticed the commission of a crime. The blowing of the whistle would alert both law enforcement officers and the general public of danger." I like that explanation, so I'm going to go with it. See, surely we can rest assured that a magazine calling itself Whistleblower alerts us to danger, especially danger that the mainstream media is too scared to report.

And folks, danger is lurking everywhere, didn't ya know?

For instance, the latest edition proves- that's right proves- "once and for all" that Hillary Clinton has more in common with the fictional "malevolent cyborg" in Terminator than she does with the fictional protagonist in Rocky. Why? According to Whistleblower, Clinton is a "pathological liar," she has a "foul mouth," and basically she's just sort of all-around scandalicious. (Disregarding the fact that a strong case could be made that the distinction of resembling said Cyborg more appropriately belongs to a certain governator,) Oh dear god, America, did you hear that?! Do you know what this means? If Clinton is elected, a future in which evil cyborgs take over the military and launch a war against humanity is all but inevitable.

Hold me.

And lest you think that other Democratic contender is any better, another issue toots its whistle about Barack (Hussein) Obama's "secret life." This issue explores the question of whether Barack (Hussein) Obama, a man who one day might command "the mightiest military in world history," harbors "an ominous secret agenda few understand." Highlighted articles include forays into Obama's alleged "Islamic youth," Reverend Wright-gate, and Obama's alleged support for the "gay agenda." All of this reveals, that's right reveals, Obama to be "one of the most dangerous men ever to be considered for the presidency." Oohhhhhhhhh mama.

But the danger is not limited to politicians. The March 2006 edition, for instance discusses the "endless streams of female schoolteachers having sex with their underage male students" and how this "problem of school teachers molesting students dwarfs in magnitude the clergy sex-abuse scandal that rocked the Catholic Church." Wait, did Whistleblower just conflate the few man-bites-dog cases of female teachers having sex with male students with the much more prevalent dog-bites-man cases of male teachers molesting female students? *PEDOPHILE PEDOPHILE PEDOPHILE* What's that, you say? It doesn't matter. What matters is, oh dear god, the world is a scary place!


Cost of a 1-year subscription to Whistleblower magazine: $49.95

Learning about threats on which the mainstream media is too "scared" to report: priceless!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Danica Patrick's Skillz

Kudos to sportswriter Ian O'Connor for saying this:

"Danica Patrick will not change the world by winning the Indy 500. She will change it by becoming an agent of reform, by using her victory to convince men to start measuring a woman by her skill instead of her bra size."

Alright, so O'Connor's quote reflects a concept that many female athletes and their fans have been saying for years. But I'm glad the boys are finally picking up on it. For, if if this concept is to become a reality, it is a necessary step for male sportswriters like O'Connor to begin writing as though women are, in fact, legitimate athletes.

See, while O'Connor speaks the truth in the quote that follows, what is largely missing from his piece is an acknowledgment of the responsibility that the sports' media has in insisting that female athletes be measured by their skills rather than bra sizes:

"[I]f Patrick's first post-race move is to jump her barely dressed self into every magazine that hasn't already packaged and sold her killer bod, she will be sending an awful message to young girls and the young boys raised to equate their worth with their sex appeal."

Patrick does have a responsibility not to market her sex appeal if she's going to be seen as a legit athlete. While men have the luxury of marketing both their skills and their bodies while still being seen as legitimate athletes, women do not. Would the same numbers of men, for instance, read a Sports Illustrated article about Patrick that did not include photos of her in swimwear? I want to think so. But I don't know so.

Furthermore, while Patrick certainly bears much responsibility for the photo shoots in which she participates, agents, editors, photographers, and sportswriters have responsibilities as well. After all, someone who knows the average American male mind came up with the idea to package Patrick's "killer bod" and I'm betting it wasn't Patrick. And I'm certainly betting that it wasn't the idea of bikini-clad women to create the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Those in the sports' media have a responsibility to demand more from their male readership. They have a responsibility to show that women are more than their sex appeal- that women too can be athletes.

The industry sees a beautiful and talented woman and they see dollar signs. But at the same time, O'Connor's right. Too many successful female athletes play right into this market. As these athletes are in a no-win situation, it's hard for me to fault them too much. If they refuse these shoots, will they still get the big bucks? Will they still get the ads, the articles, and the photo shoots that men have been getting for years?

It's hard to say. But it's time they start demanding more. It's also time that publishers start giving us more and that male readers started demanding more. It's time to start valuing women for their impressive accomplishments more than their beautiful bodies.

Friday, May 23, 2008

RightWing Roundup #6: Conservative Hate, Slippery Slopes, and Paranoia

1. Being Peaceful is, Like, So Immature

If you remember, my biggest qualm with Washington University in St. Louis' granting of an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly is not because she espouses anti-feminist views, but rather because she perpetuates an angry, divisive, us versus them, simplistic way of thinking that distorts feminism rather than informs. So, kudos to the students, faculty, and family members who peacefully and silently protested WUSTL's conferral of the degree. When a speech honoring Schlafly was read:

"about a third of the graduating students draped in the school’s green and black robes turned their backs to her, along with some faculty members sitting on the stage behind her. Many family members in the audience also took part.

Three faculty members made the extra point of walking off the stage and then turning their backs from the audience."

Unlike other protests where students have disrupted free speech, silent protest is a respectful way to demonstrate that you oppose a person or his/her views while still letting that person have a platform. Phyllis Schlafly, unsurprisingly, takes another view. Of her detractors, she said:

"I’m not sure they’re mature enough to graduate."

And the culture of hate lives on!

2. It's All a Slippery Slope, My Friend!

Now that same-sex marriage is legal in California, we can all take a deep breath and focus on our true ultimate goals of legalizing polygamy, man-on-goat marriage, and incest. Okay, seriously. After the California decision, we can pretty much cue a revival of these shrill slippery slope "arguments" from those opposed to gay rights. It's Only a Matter of Time (TM).

Legal Commentator Dale Carpenter gives a good rundown of arguments as to why same-sex marriage does not, contrary to the scare tactics and misunderstandings of others, automatically lead to polygamous nuptials. One of the strongest arguments, I believe, is that "there is nothing in principle that necessarily leads from the recognition of a new type of monogamous union (same-sex unions) to the recognition of polygamous unions."


3. When Your Inaccuracy and Paranoia Automatically Discredit You

Speaking of the slippery slope, read what the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC) says is the true goal of same-sex marriage advocates:

"Homosexual activists are now beginning to openly admit that they don't want to marry just to have a normal home life. They want same-sex marriage as a way of destroying the concept of marriage altogether-and of introducing polygamy and polyamory (group sex) as 'families.'"

The TVC is a Christian organization and, because it's un-Christian to lie, what the TVC says must be true.

[Insert laughter]

But seriously, what's most funny about this TVC "fact" sheet is that most of the "homosexual activist" quotes they provide don't even support TVC's conclusion that the gays are really out to legalize polygamy. For one, the quotes are largely taken out of context. And secondly, since when is one person the spokesperson for any minority group? Sure there are gay people who have no problem with the legalization of polygamy, just as there are heterosexuals who have no problem with it, but they don't speak on behalf of "the gay agenda." No single person or group does.

But, of course, any thinking person knows all of this already. Contrary to its stated goal of empowering "people of faith through knowledge," TVC woefully misinforms its members- many of whom are probably decent, trusting people. Unfortunately, I think many Americans swallow the lies hook, like, and sinker. For instance, in the past "Reverend" Sheldon of the TVC has stated,

"A dangerous Marxist/Leftist/Homosexual/Islamic coalition has formed – and we’d better be willing to fight it with everything in our power. These people are playing for keeps. Their hero, Mao Tse Tung is estimated to have murdered upwards of 60 million people during his reign of terror in China. Do we think we can escape such persecution if we refuse to fight for what is right?"

That quote is uncannily similar to the paranoid comments of our blogger friend "Fitz" (two-time winner of Fannie's Room's Red Scare Awards) who never fails to discuss this alleged Leftist/Marxist conspiracy in virtually any comment or article he writes. Here, for instance, he "informed" me that Critical Race Theory has Marxist roots (a-der), dismissed the theory on that sole basis rather than substantively addressing it, and as if reading a TVC script he repeated the "50 million people [who] were slaughtered and countless more held in bondage" bit. Continuing to show that he's eaten up the Commies Are Under Your Bed theory of what's wrong with America, Fitz is also responsible for inspiring the Leftist Gender Warrior Chronicles, as he believes "leftist gender warriors" are pretty much ruining everything.

I don't write this to pick on the fellow. Rather, he's the perfect example of a real person who lets these vague conspiracy theories do the thinking for him. Pretty much whenever I hear someone "warning" us about the commies, the only thing red I see is the warning light telling me that I'm not dealing with a rational thinking person.

In short, it's unfortunate that groups like the TVC are seen by some as legitimate and trustworthy sources of news and information. No news source is completely objective, but when one regularly lies and misrepresents, that has tangible consequences as it affects the thinking of real people.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Real Life Affirmative Action for Boys

Time magazine had an interesting editorial recently regarding the "gender gap" in college education. In it, the author discusses how as the numbers of women entering college has outpaced the numbers of men, colleges have begun admitting less qualified men over more qualified women.

How this situation gets spun in the media will be interesting to watch. Will those opposed to affirmative action (for minorities) support such affirmative action for men? Interestingly, I have a hunch that at least some of those who oppose affirmative action for women and minorities are in favor of affirmative action for men on theory that some alleged "war on boys" is occurring.

And similarly, will those in favor of affirmative action (for minorities) support affirmative action for boys?

Historically, affirmative action has been used to redress the effects of past discrimination. As the general class of males (as opposed to specific classes such as African-American males) has not been subject to past discrimination, the justification for admitting less-qualified men over more-qualified women must come from somewhere else. For instance, the Time article alludes that the justification for affirmative action for boys rests in the need for "gender balance" on college campuses. While I strongly believe that the purpose of anti-feminism is to justify affirmative-action-like ideas for men, here we have an acknowledged program that grants preferences to boys using some other justification that does not involve telling us how women are less "fit" for education than men are.

In light of this program granting preferences to less-qualified males, it's really very tempting to argue, riffing off of misogynist Vox Day's anti-Title IX tirade, that admitting unqualified boys to colleges in the interest of this fluffy thing called "gender balance" may very well lead to the total and utter destruction of our society!

But alas, such a claim would be a "bit" hyperbolic. All this affirmative action program for boys really means is that less-qualified boys will be given a step up while more-qualified girls will have to go to less prestigious schools or forego college altogether. Although that won't have dire consequences for society as a whole, I find this affirmative action program unsettling in light of the fact that men continue to dominate leadership roles in virtually every social institution and are, arguably, better paid for the same work. When it comes down to it, doesn't real life begin after college?

As Kim Gandy for the National Organization for Women puts it:

"It's true that more women than men are enrolled in four-year colleges, but they're still outnumbered at Ivy League schools. And because the average woman with a bachelor's degree makes about the same as a man with only a little college, the degree starts to look like an economic necessity for women."

Second, take a look around. Are we in danger of women taking over society? Only a handful of women are Fortune 500 CEOs. Of 535 members of Congress, just 84 are women. Women working full-time make only 77 cents to a man's dollar. When NOW was founded in 1966, it was 58 cents. Forty years later, we have closed the wage gap by less than half.

With odds like these, it's no wonder more women are earning degrees. After all, education is about building skills, developing knowledge and gaining credentials that allow you to compete in the working world — a world still dominated by men."

For those who are so concerned about this emerging "boy crisis" in higher education, I can only ask where is the "concern" about the concurrent "girl crisis" in equal pay and leadership positions? It is odd, but not surprising, to me that girls and women have been fighting for equal rights in education and the public sphere for hundreds of years and yet at the merest hint of a "boy crisis" in education steps are immediately taken to save the males.

Don't get me wrong. If there are structural reasons why boys fail to attend college in the same numbers as girls, those reasons should be addressed and rectified. But in light of the fact that most women need a college degree just to break even with the earnings of a man who has no college degree, affirmative action for boys is troubling. For, the end result of affirmative action programs for boys, whether based in genuine concern for boys or in some anti-feminist theory, is the same: Fewer women in higher education means fewer people that less-qualified men have to compete against once they get out in the real world.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stuff Lesbians Like Alert

Not to brag but my latest addition to Stuff Lesbos Like is up.

And You Too Can Be a Useless Politician!

Walter Bayes, a 70-year-old "retired blue-collar worker" running for a seat in the Idaho House of Representatives, has odd priorities. For instance, in his campaign literature he wrote:

"It is absolutely wrong to force any student to share the same bathrooms and showers with homosexual teachers or students."

Oh look, another guy whose status as "blue-collar average joe" apparently qualifies him to spout ignorant "I'm-afraid-of-teh-gay-sex" ideas that pass as "traditional values" of "the people." Lest anyone be mistaken, having blue-collar roots myself, I'm not mocking his socioeconomic status. Rather, I'm mocking how his less-than-well-thought-out bright ideas for saving the world pretty much turn him into a flannel-wearing-twangy mountain-man caricature of a bigot.


After stating how wrong it is to "force" homos and heteros to share bathrooms and showers, he continues:

"I don’t really have an answer for it."

Oh dear god, whatever shall we do! Bayes just told us about this ginormous problem, but he doesn't *gulp* have an answer. I hope those Idahoan schoolchildren will somehow muster up the courage to go on living. Don't worry, kiddies, Bayes is on top of it. He continues:

"But we’re going to have to do something if there’s going to be a considerable number of our people who are going to go that way (homosexual). We’re going to (need) some kind of separation."

Yes, we have to do something about this newfangled gayness. It's a big problem and I don't know what we should do, but we best do something!

Now, to be fair, maybe Bayes just brought up the gay wedge issue as a way to let his voting base (assuming he has one) know that he disapproves of teh gays. If so, he should re-think his strategy 'cuz nothing says "you too can be a useless politician" like telling us about a "problem," admitting you don't know how to solve it, and then offering no solutions for it.

Weirdly, Bayes also gives us an extra special glimpse into his worst nightmare by stating that it would have been "an absolute catastrophe" for him to have showered with girls when he was 18. Cool beans. My first question, of course, is in what universe does a heterosexual 18-year-old male not want to shower with "the girls"? But more to the point, how does his statement relate to having separate bathrooms for homos/heteros? Um, if gay people shower with straight people, then boys and girls will have to shower together? I dun't get it.

In related news, none of Bayes' Republican opponents agree with him about the dire need for hetero-only facilities. As another candidate, Jeff Justus, says:

"We have a lot more important issues than that."

Hmm, ya think?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Breakable Literal Bible Rule of the Week: Soothsaying

One time, I went to Provincetown for a vacation. Being from a small town in the Midwest, Provincetown was quite the change of scenery for me. For those of you not in the know, there are a great number of.... fortune-tellers in Provincetown.

Back when I went to this charming city by the sea, I was not as concerned with living a holy life as I have been in recent days. Had I known then what I know now, I would have never drunkenly ventured into that soothsayer's dimly lit cavern of sin. For, the Lord tells us in Leviticus (20:6) that

"Should anyone turn to mediums and fortune-tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people."

My first important question is whether this rule even applies to me as a woman. The Lord, as he does so frequently when declaring his rules, speaks as though only male humans must follow his rules. Does this mean that women are free to be wanton?


Well, assuming that I, a mere woman, am also a human being and therefore subject to God's rules, I seek further clarification. Specifically, is the law telling us that we should not turn to fortune-tellers at all or that we can go to fortune-tellers but we cannot follow their bawdy ways? This is of vital concern to me. See, I merely had a single tarot card reading. Surely that is not rule-breaky enough to warrant God completely turning against me and cutting me of from God's people.


Perhaps most importantly, though, the Lord tells us in Leviticus 20:27 that the fortune-teller is a bigger sinner than is the one who seeks the services of a fortune-teller:

"A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortune-teller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death."

Well, one thing is clear, unlike many rules this one clearly applies to both male and female human beings.

That being said, should I travel back to Provincetown and stone the fortune-teller myself or is it acceptable to have a friend who lives in Massachusetts do the deed for me? Or, perhaps the Lord envisioned the stoning to be done by local law enforcement officials. In which case, thus far, the Massachusetts law and order has neglected this duty. Once I receive the go-ahead from the Lord on this issue, I will definitely remind them. I am an attorney at law, after all, and it's my duty to uphold the law of the land.

Ugh, the Bible is so hard.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Note on "Activist Judges" (TM)

One can pretty much guarantee that 90% of those blathering in the bigotsphere about the recent California marriage decision have not actually read in any great depth the actual opinion. In their heads, all they know, hear, or say is that because of "activist judges" who overturned "the will of the people," gay people won a culture battle in California.

But wondering whether bigots have actually read judicial opinions with which they so adamantly "disagree" is sort of tangential to my main point. See, I'm more interested in observing the phenomenon whereby pro-gay judicial opinions are hypocritically and/or ignorantly labeled as the actions of rogue "activist judges" overturning the "will of the people." For instance, those opposed to gay rights are particularly up in arms because the California opinion held that "Proposition 22," a referendum directly decided by voters, was unconstitutional. Ironically, and this is the important part, I'm pretty sure we heard the crickets chirping from these same opponents when the (activist?) Governator of California vetoed a democratic piece of legislation that also reflected "the will of the people." The only relevant difference was, of course, that this law was one that legalized same-sex marriage. Remember that?

Observe the hypocrisy in action.

First off, uber-bigot Jose Solano's latest rant against the decision predictably reminds us that the world gets a little bit more stupid whenever he writes a "blog post." After hysterically declaring that "Judicial Tyranny Runs Amok in California," he gets all ranty while displaying his usual ignorance of civics. Specifically, he "teaches" us how, and I quote, "certain courts have decided to ignore the US democratic principals of separation of powers and simply create whole cloth legislation out of thin air" and how the court has decided to "be an advocate for homosexualist interests." Oh wait, Solano doesn't actually teach us anything as he provides no arguments or legal reasoning to back up his bold conclusions. Superb "analysis." See, in Jose-land, one's conclusions can be stated as fact with no supporting evidence added. But aside from his ignorance and question-begging conclusions, let's observe the hypocrisy.

While he decries the California Court for overturning "the will of the people," this blogger who is so very "concerned" with upholding "democratic principles" is the same man who once said that he thinks it's a "problem" that all people in our nation are allowed to vote. Secondly, and most importantly, in this other priceless blog post, Solano urged the Governator of California to veto (again) the pro-same-sex marriage bill that was, via California's elected representatives, the will of the people. He says:

"Hang in there Arnold! Just give it the same old nay you gave it the first time"

Number of times the elected California legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage: 2. Number of times the Governor of California overturned the will of the people by vetoing the bill: 2. The rancid smell of Jose's and other bigots' hypocrisy: priceless.

Perhaps the poor lad thinks that "democracy" means "people can only vote how I vote, legislators can only pass laws that I agree with, and judges can only make decisions I agree with." Sorry Jose, but that's not how it works.

Ed Brayton points out further hypocrisy by first duly noting that the Family Research Council is "outraged" over this California decision because it overturns "the will of the people." Then, remembering that when, in 2006 "the people of Oregon passed a law authorizing voluntary assisted suicide for the terminally ill" the Family Research Council filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down this law. Even though it was "the will of the people." Judicial activism, conveniently, is acceptable as long as the judge is making decisions with which one agrees.

This hypocritical attitude reflects how "the will of the people" argument is nothing but a rallying cry to get the masses on whatever side the speaker wants them to be. We Americans love our democracy, and so nothing upsets us more than to hear that "elite" and "tyrannical" judges are eroding it. Pretty much all one has to do to get the masses to dislike and oppose "the other side," is to label the other side some sort of enemy of American democracy.

Yet, at its heart, the "tyranny" cry is simply erroneous and extremely problematic.

For, if the judicial branch is not "allowed" to protect minority rights and if the legislative branch is not "allowed" to protect minority rights, then who will? Surely not the people, as many of "the people" regularly show that they don't care about trivialities like equal rights. Are equal rights and minority protections something that we, as a society, value? All of this, of course, leads me to ask: Why have a judicial or legislative branch if their purposes are merely to rubber stamp the mentality of the mob?

Do we really want our nation to be ruled by the popular biases of the day? That always works swell in nations brimming with diversity. Shall we rid ourselves of the pesky concept of separation of powers and instead put every issue facing our nation up for a popular vote? (Or are only issues about gay people and "morality" up for popular vote?)

It is here that I'd like to note a few things about "judicial activism." One, these days the phrase is mostly used by those obsessively opposed to gay rights to describe, denounce, and discredit any judicial opinion with which they disagree. Two, when those opposed to gay rights invariably cite the fact that "thousands" of people voted for the law that the "activist judge" overturned, all that really tells me is: Neat-o. Thousands of people, likely misled by hateful propaganda, voted for a bad law. That point, of course, leads me to point three. In light of the fact that so many are led by propaganda ("gay people are worse than terrorists," really?), it is the duty of the court to ensure that the rights of minorities are upheld. Also, in light of the fact that various studies reveal how ignorant voters really are, that my rights, or anyone else's, rest on such ignorance is a scary thought.

There are pretty good example of this backlash all over the bigotsphere. Yet, I believe that much of the backlash comes from serious misunderstandings and/or a lack of wanting to understand the other side. A lot of anti-gay propaganda and misinformation is out there and, coupled with prevalent homophobia that exists in many communities and faiths, it is easy for people who are generally decent human beings to become ignorant at best and bigots at worst.

For instance, one young student in a ministry school (nonetheless!), after implying that the California judges are "tyrants," states:

"I am firmly convinced that this fight is more about people attempting to stick their thumb in God’s eye and not about their rights....If you already have all the rights and priveledges [sic], why on earth would you still need to get the state to recognize it as a “marriage”? "

First, note how it is necessary to this young man's position to "other-ize" gay people by turning them into immoral heathens who are just out to anger god. Sadly, his writing indicates that he believes gay people care more about smiting god than they do about the human dignity that comes with being recognized as a legitimate family.

Heterosexuals, good. Gays, bad. What a simple world we live in.

Secondly, and most importantly, he doesn't even try to understand where gay people are coming from. Nor has he, I'd bet, even read the opinion he so eagerly denounces. So here's a hint for the young lad: Get out of the echo chamber which you inhabit and figure out "why on earth" same-sex couples seek "marriage." Actively search out positions contrary to your own. Even if you find that you don't agree with other opinions, you will at least have a better understanding of where other human beings are coming from and then you can at least make an argument that does more than reveal your laziness, ignorance, and possible bigotry.

You could start by reading page 11 of the California marriage decision that explains "why on earth" same-sex couples want their unions to be called marriage. It will explain how referring to same-sex unions as inferior-to-marriage "domestic partnerships" imposes harm on same-sex couples and their children by sanctioning the view that same-sex unions are of lesser stature than marriage. It creates a situation where same-sex persons and their families are second-class citizens. I am confident that even if you, in fact, believe that same-sex couples are inferior to heterosexual ones, you can at least understand that such a characteristic is damaging to same-sex couples.

I don't have much sympathy for those who "fail to understand" the key motivations of the other side when the other side's positions are out there begging to be discovered. Because really, those who declare that gay people seek equality out of some desire to smite god and who simultaneously admit ignorance as to the motivation of gay people doesn't particularly show that one is acting with good faith. In fact, those who act in such a way succeed only in telling the world that they're perfectly fine being ignorant.

And why should ignorant voters tell me what my rights are, again?

See, this "gay marriage" culture war demonstrates precisely that our US brand of separation of powers/checks and balances is working as it should be. The judicial branch just declared that a law was unconstitutional. If "the people" don't like it, they will utilize other tools in our democracy to overturn this decision. For instance, they may or may not choose to amend the constitution to make laws banning same-sex marriage constitutional. Whatever "the people" choose to do, these so-called "tyrant" and "activist" judges do not automatically have the last say on the issue.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Marriage Debate: On Relevantly Framing the Issue

In honor of the recent California marriage decision, I think it is a fitting time to re-visit this particular debate.

This California opinion[PDF] was particularly interesting as this case took place in a state relatively accepting of equal rights. California law, for instance, already afforded essentially the same legal rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples that it granted to opposite-sex couples. (Although same-sex couples still were not eligible for any federal benefits of marriage. Thanks DOMA!). What was unusual and contested about the legal setup was that California law referred to same-sex unions as "domestic partnerships" while referring to opposite-sex unions as "marriage." In other words, it was taken as a given under California law that same-sex couples deserve the exact same legal rights and benefits of marriage that opposite-sex couples enjoy. The general issue at hand, therefore, was whether it was constitutionally-permissible for the state to confer, based on sexual orientation, separate-and-unequal labels for what amounts to the same legal arrangement. The court answered in the negative. Same-sex unions are are as deserving of the label "marriage" as opposite-sex unions are. The reasoning is that calling gay unions "domestic partnerships" is odd, discriminatory, and reinforces the notion that gay people are second-class citizens in light of the fact that the state is treating them like it treats married couples.

Contrary to the beliefs of some "marriage defenders," this decision is rather unremarkable. If a state is granting two groups of people the exact same benefits yet for magical reasons calls the conferral of these benefits two separate names, there is nothing particularly "spurious" or "tortured" about striking that practice down. Of course, anyone who actually reads the case is able to discern as much, which is why it's necessary for anti-gay propagandists to cue the ignorant whining about "elite activist judges" overturning the "will of the people"(tm) in 5-4-3... In fact, I find it quite telling that a rather large number of anti-gay blogs and websites immediately denounced this "activist" and "immoral" decision while simultaneously admitting that they had not yet read the decision.

Take note, however. The semantic argument regarding what we label certain relationships is, unfortunately and unnecessarily, the crux of many a "gay marriage" debate.

1. Goodridge

For instance, back in 2003 when "marriage defenders" were vaguely insisting that "marriage is between a man and a woman because only a man and a woman can get married," the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court articulated an important distinction between civil marriage and religious marriage. "Simply put," they said, "the government creates civil marriage.... [It is] a wholly secular institution" in which a religious ceremony is not a prerequisite to obtaining a marriage license. Further, the marriage license is what signifies a state's recognition of marriage. For "the [state- and federally-conferred] benefits accessible only by way of a marriage license are enormous, touching nearly every aspect of life and death." (I talk about some of these benefits here).

A religious institution's recognition of a marriage is distinct from a state's recognition of one. Oftentimes, in the US, couples who marry also engage in some sort of religious or spiritual ceremony recognizing their relationship before their god, family, and/or society. But, and this is the key part, that ceremony by itself does not grant the legal and economic benefits, protections, and rights that coincide with having a marriage license even if that couple considers themselves married.

As I alluded to above, so-called marriage defenders often support their claim that gay people should not be allowed to marry by arguing as though one single definition of marriage exists. Circularly, they "argue," only a man and a woman can marry because marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. From here, they argue that this man-woman definition of marriage is universal and timeless- and conveniently, this definition is the definition that accords with their own personal beliefs on the matter.

The American Family Association, for instance, states that "marriage, like life itself, was not created by government." That is a position that many "marriage defenders" agree with. What they fail to grasp is that what the definition of marriage is is exactly the issue about which we are arguing. In other words, don't tell me what you believe marriage is, tell me why it should be that way. It's nice, you see, that you firmly believe marriage has magically sprung up from some non-wordly source, but our reality is that our government confers benefits on something that it also calls "marriage." You can have your magical-definitely-not-created marriage, but when our shared state gets involved and starts doling out benefits, rights, and protections it must do so in a fair and equal way. And when it excludes people from the protections of a legal scheme, it must justify as to why it does so. Explanations like "marriage was not created by government" are not sufficient.

For, just as "marriage defenders" can argue ad nauseam that The Definition of Marriage Is One Man/One Woman, I could just as easily argue ad nauseam that The definition is some variation of the Two People Who Love Each Other definition. At the end of the day, where does that get us? I'm no more likely to accept the Marriage Defenders' definition than they are likely to accept mine.

Of course, many "marriage defenders," with their inability to concede any point, rarely let a debate take this turn. Rather, they continue insisting that "elite" judges shouldn't overturn The Will of the People (tm), by which they really mean, of course, that a gay-sex-is-icky majority should be allowed to tyrannize minorities. And when they're not making this argument, they continue with their question-begging "argument": The Goodridge articulation of civil versus religious marriage is wrong because we all know that the state doesn't create marriage. And how do they know this? Because studies show that marriage defenders are right about everything, of course!


A recent news event that nicely illustrates the distinction between civil and religious marriage, is the polygamy that occurred at the recently-raided Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound in Texas. This fundamentalist Mormon sect includes members who practice plural marriage. (A discussion as to the merits and demerits of polygamy are for another day.) As the practice of polygamy has long been banned in the US, you may be wondering how this religious sect is getting away with practicing it.

One, the offense is rarely prosecuted.

Two, part of the difficulty in prosecution lies in the fact that polygamists are rarely married under state law, even if they're considered married by their society and/or religion. Before we delve into what this means it should be noted that the phrase "polygamous marriage" is actually a bit misleading as those who engage in polygamy of the FLDS variety are not typically considered members of a giant group marriage. Rather, as fundamentalist Mormons aren't so much down with the woman-on-woman action, the man is considered to be married to each wife separately. The women are not considered married to each other but are, instead, "sister-wives." These multiple marriages are non-state-sanctioned marriages that are nonetheless recognized as marriages within that particular religion.

What this means is that a man (obviously) may legally marry one woman and have that marriage recognized by the state. To skirt the ban on polygamy, however, an already-married man may engage in a religious marriage ceremony with a different woman who will also be considered his "wife" in the eyes of his religion (but not in the eyes of the state).

In short, a fundamentalist Mormon man who engages in a religious marriage ceremony with one or more women is "religiously" married to these women. At the same time, each marriage in which he lacks a state-issued marriage license is not considered a civil marriage. And further, lacking a marriage license from the state, the state or federal government does not recognize these additional marriages for purposes of legal benefits, privileges, and rights.

In light of this very real example, we can see that the Goodridge distinction between civil and religious marriage is hardly "tortured" or "spurious." But more importantly, "marriage defenders" should concede this reality as it does not necessarily lead to the demise of their position.

See, what marriage "is" is up for debate. There exists no universal, standard definition of the institution with which everyone agrees. No single person, religion, or state is The Single Authority on what constitutes marriage. In light of that fact, debates around this issue should be framed around the policy reasons for excluding and including certain groups of people rather than endless bickering as to the definition of marriage.

We should at least be able to agree on that much.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Review: Feminism & Religion

Reading about religions, their histories and the methods of studying them, is sort of a hobby of mine. The latest book I have read in this genre, Rita Gross's book Feminism & Religion, was the exact mixture of scholarship I was looking for in a book about religion. Most previous books I have read about religion have not discussed, or discussed at length, the male-centrism that is inherent in most (all?) mainstream religions. To read a book dedicated to examining, critiquing, and discussing male-centrism is extremely validating.

So, here we go (all quotes are from Feminism & Religion):

1. Objectivity and Religious Diversity

To begin, Gross talks a lot about the idea of religious diversity and how that relates to a scholar's ability to approach the study of different religions in a neutral or objective manner. Understanding different religions can lead to the challenging of "monolithic or universalistic presuppositions about the world" (13). In a world brimming with religious diversity, I see this as desirable because, as Gross says, we take these different religious beliefs for what they are rather than viewing them as "undesirable deviations from truth." (Ibid.) This doesn't mean that the religious scholar believes that other religions are necessarily "true," but rather, "claims that one's belief is the only truth are no longer as attractive or compelling" (Ibid.).

My main thought on this idea is that, clearly, many religions profess to reveal the ultimate "truth." This religious certitude often becomes problematic in a pluralistic society. Dominionists, for instance, justify their goal of Christian dominion on the basis that fundamentalist Christianity is "true" despite, and perhaps because of, the fact that other people feel just as strongly that their particular beliefs are true. Although it is questionable as to whether any human being has a firm grasp on true objectivity, many religious extremists believe that they alone have special insight into objective reality.

Gross acknowledges that the study of objectivity in religion is complex, perhaps because "all scholars speak and write from a particular point of view" whether or not they admit it (14). Yet, for a scholar to acknowledge that s/he has a viewpoint is an important step in the study of religions. Historically, scholars of religion have held male-centric viewpoints that were passed off as "neutral" or "objective" points of view. The unquestioned, and oftentimes unspoken, assumption was that scholars decided that data about women did need to be included in scholarship. Yet, this limited objectivity has historically been inaccurately conceived of as completely "objective." (14). For, "claims of objectivity from a scholar who is relatively unaware of his biases and perspectives do not obviate or negate his actual standpoint" (15). In other words, just because a male scholar tells himself that he's being objective, it doesn't mean he actually is. What is most ironic is that, because male-centric scholarship is erroneously thought of as completely "objective," scholarship that intentionally includes information about women is often thought of as "biased." (Ibid.).

Anecdotally, I have seen various anti-feminists and "men's rights" advocates oppose feminism in part because the word "feminism" is a gendered word that refers only to women. While I sort of understand the concern, I think the idea behind the word feminism is that it consciously brings "the feminine" into objectivity in a way that challenges the invisible male-centrism that too often passes for neutral "objectivity." Unfortunately, some men insecurely believe that the word "feminism" means that feminists seek to elevate women above men, or make "objectivity" be inherently female-centric in the way that it is currently male-centric.

To conclude this section, Gross makes a valid point with regard to objectivity. In her view, "gender-balanced and gender-inclusive scholarship is far more objective than androcentric scholarship, simply because it is more complete" (16). In the interest of coming closer to true objectivity, as much as that's possible anyway, it is imprudent to discount the experiences and humanity of half of the world's population- whether the exclusion is of men or women. It's unfortunate that so many are threatened by that concept.

2. Application of Feminism to Religious Studies

One of the most fascinating parts of Gross's book are her memories of being a graduate student in the late 1960s as she was trying to develop feminist methodologies to study religion. Not surprisingly, she was met with resistance. She writes:

"A number of female graduate students, myself included, were struggling to develop feminist questions and methods of study. However, our mentors and graduate institutions were usually uninterested in, unsupportive of, or even opposed to our efforts, for feminist scholarship threatened not only the male monopoly on the field, but also its androcentric methodologies, which were even more sacrosanct to the establishment" (46).

Throughout this chapter, Gross describes how she reinvented the wheel with regard to some ideas because of this lack of support and lack of a network of feminist scholars. A network was created after 1971, however, upon the advent of a recurring meeting of a women's caucus in the American Academy of Religion at which people made contacts with each other, distributed scholarly papers, and held discussions (47). Just as the larger area of feminism and women's studies is not monolithic and encompasses many varied opinions, the ideas of feminist scholars have grown in several different directions. Those interested in these detailed discussion, should definitely read the book!

For purposes of this book review, it is clear that the combination of feminism and religious studies has proven to serve the important purpose of challenging male-centric ideas that were, and still are, taken for granted in many religions. And, importantly, feminism has challenged and continues to challenge the male-dominated religious academic establishment.

3. God-dess

Religions in societies where male human beings are viewed as "the norm" tend to take for granted the maleness of the divine and supreme being. In fact, as Gross writes:

"Probably no topic of study has been more profoundly shaped and changed by feminist scholarship than goddesses and estimates of their prevalence. Before the feminist paradigm shift, theologians never discussed the possibility of feminine symbols of the divine, and comparative and historical scholars of religions generally regarded goddesses as exotic, primitive, and unimportant " (85-86).

Let's just all take a collective moment to think about how and whether the feminine divine is depicted in our own religions (if applicable). Personally, having grown up a Christian, it was taken for granted by everyone (yes, everyone!) in my church and community that God was a male being. I cannot think of one single instance growing up where the depiction of god as male was ever questioned. Now, as I have written before, I realize that the presumed maleness of the super-duper supreme being was profoundly isolating to me as a young girl. I definitely felt "less than"- less important, less spiritual, less worthy than- the little boys in my Sunday school classes. I suspect that many women and girls have had similar feelings and, in fact, Gross recounts such feelings of her own.

Feminist scholarship, particularly in the area of comparative religion, "has now erased the possibility of seeing goddesses as an aberration from the norm. More and more people are beginning to realize that if anything needs to be explained, it is not the presence of goddesses in almost all religious traditions, but their relative absence in Western monotheistic traditions" (86). (Emphasis added). Numerous times, I have read expressions of outrage from Christians upon hearing someone refer to "God" in female terms. That outrage, I believe, needs to be seriously addressed and explained if we are all working from the assumption that women are beings just as important, special, and divine as men. For, as Gross recounts, historically and in other faiths, goddesses have existed alongside gods with great importance. And further, there is evidence even in monotheistic faiths of a feminine divine that has been suppressed.

I know. It's probably really difficult to believe that gaggles of religiously powerful men who formed secretive boys-only clubs in which they adorned themselves with fancy titles and robes, worshipped a male deity, and adamantly explained to the rest of us that it was said male deity's idea that women couldn't join the club would suppress the feminine divine.

What could possibly be male-centric about that?

But seriously, feminist scholarship, as Gross recounts, has been useful in demonstrating that male deities are not the universal norm even though the Western monotheistic idea is that the gendered-male "God" is an objective truth. Interestingly, Gross cites an anthropological study of 156 societies noting the strong correlation between a society being male-dominated and its acceptance of its "god" in exclusively male terms (97).

As (say it with me now) "correlation does not imply causation," I don't think Gross is saying that conceiving of "god" in male terms "causes" a male-dominated society. Rather, it's that in such traditions it is also likely that men are thought of as spiritually superior to women, more likely to be thought of as the "ideal believer," the "birth of males is preferred to the birth of females," males hold "most of the roles of authority or prestige in organizations," and women's participation in key rituals is severely limited (106). When males are seen as having spiritual superiority, of course, it sort of makes it easier to make the case for giving men power of women in the home and the rest of society (Ibid.). One effect of the "stranglehold of male language and imagery" with respect to "God" perhaps makes "male domination appear normal and legitimate" (144).

In light of all this, it's not difficult to see how established religions often fail to speak to many people, especially in a post-feminist world. Gross, in fact, discusses how she and other female theologians did not realize how left out of monotheistic religions they have been until they tried to conceive of a female "God." Upon doing so, many of them felt for the first time fully included in human be-ing (144).

To sum this all up, after reading this book, one thing that is becoming more and more clear to me is that even when religions have useful nuggets of moral teachings (which they often do), those who hold power in perpetuating the religion are human beings with all the faults of human beings. Belief in the moral or spiritual superiority of one sex over another is a human failing, not a divine one. If there is a "God," it certainly would not dehumanize and alienate half of its creation by insisting on male superiority via male-only ordination and family/societal domination. As I have said before, any god that would do so is not worthy of devotion. And, any suggestion otherwise is, I believe, more a reflection on flawed and biased human ideas rather than any divine "truth."

For these ideas, I thank scholars like Rita Gross who, even though she was largely unsupported, developed methods that help explain why many religions fail to speak to large numbers of people. If religion is indeed something worth saving, it must be done by those who have the tools to critically analyze how present systems are humanly flawed.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lesbian Recruiting Activity Alert: Grace the Spot

I am honored to announce that Grace Chu, webmistress of Grace the Spot (of "Stuff Lesbians Like" fame), has asked little old me to join the Grace posse and contribute to the site.

I will still be regularly ranting writing here in Fannie's Room, of course. But if you want to catch a glimpse of my lighter side, check out "Grace Fannie's" articles over at Grace the Spot. And, for some other generally fun reading, check out the articles of Grace Chu, Grace Rosen, and Grace Yip!

RightWing Roundup #5: Psychics, Herbs, and Homo Militias

1. Call Now For Your Personalized Psychic Reading!

WorldNetDaily commentator David Kupelian wrote an "interesting" article predicting with absolute certainty the chaos that will ensue upon Mrs. Bill Clinton's presidential victory. Within this article, Kupelian discusses the "sins" of Bill Clinton, the eveel-ness of liberalism, and a magical theory whereby the president is the "father" of our nation whose actions "invisibly shape the character and worldview of the country, with a particularly profound effect upon the young, since they are the most impressionable."

Now, since the title of this article is "How Hillary will lead American into hell," I whipped out my monocle and began searching for evidence as to how all of this psychic talk and theorizing related to "Hillary." Upon inspection, it's clear that the article contains no actual criticism or rational argument against Clinton. Sure, Kupelian does insinuate that the "father" of our nation could not possibly ever be a woman (har har). And yeah, he references her "chameleon"-like personality. But, I had a quite difficult time making the logical jump from that personal attack and irrelevant statement to Kupelian's conclusion as to what would happen upon Hillary Clinton's election:

"You could expect a radical increase in shocking, self-destructive and criminal acting-out by lost souls lashing out blindly in a desperate expression of revenge toward the contemptible society that could dare elect such a person as president. Perhaps a huge upsurge in mass shootings, such as we've seen recently. Or maybe more "bug-chasing" – that's where people actively try to get infected with AIDS. Maybe homegrown suicide bombers committing horrific terrorist acts – not for Allah, but just for kicks, for non-specific revenge against the human race. No one can say what form it will take, but expect more and more weird, destructive behaviors designed for maximum shock."

Ah, Hillary Clinton is a flim-flammer so people will go out and try to get teh AIDS. That make sense.

But hold on, this impressive display of extra-sensory premonition continues:

"Of course, nobody would be able to prove any cause and effect. But remember these words: Elevating a person like Hillary Clinton to the presidency of the United States will unleash hell in America in a way very few of us can even comprehend, let alone remedy."

In other words, no one can prove that Hillary Clinton will unleash hell on Earth, but Hillary Clinton will definitely unleash hell on Earth.

Perhaps the most useful part of this article is that it allowed us to identify who we should really vote for come November: the obviously psychic WorldNetDaily commentator Mr. Kupelian. With a vigilant psychic being as our president we simply can't lose! U-S-A, U-S-A!

2. Confessions of a Sinner

In this article, I pondered the Biblically correct way to grow an herb garden. Well, I think I did something wrong. My cilantro went flaccid and died. Note to everyone: Do not mingle your seeds!

dead plant


3. Just Because Gay People Have That Much Free Time

It's old hat that those opposed to gay rights accuse gay rights advocates of having a sinister agenda. A new idea and phrase (that should definitely be added to the Language of Bigots Dictionary) comes from a comment thread following this blog article. (Click on the link after the article if you want to view the comments, they are un-linkable on their own). While this particular article is a regurgitation of the "gay people are intolerant for not tolerating my hateful intolerance" game, the pertinent very first comment adds a fun twist to that theory. Break out the tinfoil hats ladies and gents, didn't ya know there's a vast concerted conspiracy whereby homasexuls seek to "take over" anti-gay sites and shut down discussion boards all over the world wide webs? Oh, but it's so much more than that, and I quote:

"Members of the Homosexual Internet Militia roam the boards for victims -- a Krystalnacht -- a cleansing of the boards of all opposition."

Oh dear god, it's a conspiracy! Other commenters seconded and thirded that theory, and someone even threw in a trusty ol' argumentum ad nazium for good measure.

But for real, what is the bigot to do these days when he can't even voice his opposition to everything gay? Wait... wait just a minute... how are we reading the comments on this anti-gay blog anyway? Why has this anti-gay blog not yet been shut down?!

Off to the batcave my fellow homasexuls, it's time to roam the internets.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Phyllis Schlafly's Feminism: Good Enough For Her, But Not For Other Women

I was perturbed upon learning that one of my alma maters, Washington University in St. Louis, is about to bestow an honorary doctorate (in Humane Letters!) upon the anti-feminist, anti-gay Phyllis Schlafly at this year's commencement ceremony. I suppose it's only fitting that shrill NBC commentator Chris Matthews, who has a pattern of making sexist comments when referring to women, will deliver the commencement address and also receive an honorary degree of his very own.

But enough about Chris. I suppose the world won't come to a crashing halt now that WUSTL is going to honor Schlafly who, after all, is a well-known alum. Honestly, I can't say I'm surprised by the decision (which the university is standing by despite threats of protest.) I'm sure there's a special penthouse in Heaven reserved for those who reserve honorary doctorates from [insert elite accent] Washington University, but in the grand scheme of things here on Earth, who cares? Honestly, I would have been none the wiser about the "honor" had I not read about it all over the blogosphere.

Likewise, I would like to bestow my own little honor on Mrs. (definitely not Ms.) Schlafly: Induction into Fannie's Room's H Hall of Shame.

H stands for hypocrite. And Schlafly, as she will tell you, knows full well that liberals and feminists call her the H word. And wait, let me guess, I suppose "the feminists" call her names because they don't have genuine arguments against her.

Not quite. As we will see, Schlafly's arguments (as much as stereotypes, overgeneralizations, and caricature-creating can be deemed arguments anyway) are faulty. It just so happens that in addition to her irrationality, she's also a hypocrite.

1. "The Feminists" (tm)

First, as some background, Mrs. Schlafly touts herself as a conservative, "pro-family," "articulate and successful opponent of the radical feminist movement." Her anti-feminist schtick over the years has been to blame most social ills on "radical feminist" caricatures while adamantly trying to convince us that women are mothers and wives "first." Yawn. It's an old song and dance, really, so I'll refrain from analyzing Schlafly's "husbands are allowed to rape their wives" quotes. Although speaking of which, aren't "pro-family values" fun?

This general misogynistic jig is one that Schlafly choreographed and one in which the likes of Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham continue to dance in all their woman-against-feminism glory. It's a simple, black/white, right/wrong, and good/evil world as far as these ladies are concerned and pretty much every polemic they write is a massive clusterfuck of stereotypes and generalizations about "feminists" and "liberals" that reflect this angry bipolar worldview. What's that? "The feminists" hate men? Wow. What's that now? "The feminists" lack common sense? If you say so.

See, how this hate club discredits people is, first they decide they don't like someone's position on an issue, then they label her a "feminist" (or sometimes a "liberal"). I mean it's pretty clear that for magical reasons, the very definition of a "feminist" is pretty much anyone who disagrees with Phylis Schlafly, Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham.

But seriously, reflecting a fundamental misunderstanding of feminism, these women in their typical un-nuanced manner (disingenuously?) speak of feminism as though it's a monolithic radical ideology in which all people who call themselves feminists hold the exact same "anti-family" beliefs. In logical terms, it's a fallacy of composition: What Schlafly does is imagine that "the feminists" are a ginormous amorphous blob. From there, she reads some writings of more radical feminists. Then, she believes that these beliefs are true of all feminists simply because they are true of some feminists. Does she do this on purpose, or is she simply ignorant?

What is both funny and sad is that I'd take a gander to say that if these anti-feminist ladies would stop drawing cartoons for an iota of a second, they would find that they and teh feminists actually agree on quite more than they would care to admit.

So, what disappoints me most about this "honorary degree" fiasco is that an institution of higher education is set to honor a founding mother of the conservative hate culture whose writing distorts rather than informs. Schlafly is notable because she notoriously contributes to this simplistic and pervasive "us" versus "them" framework of thinking about social problems that divides our nation rather than unites it toward realistic solutions.

I could end my complaint of her there. And for those women and men against feminism who will immediately discredit me for calling Schlafly a hypocrite, you can just stop reading now.

2. Hypocrisy

The rest of us will continue by wondering how Mrs. Schlafly became worthy of her honorary doctorate while at home raising her children and being a little wifey-poo, as she gave other women permission to do. (Because, didn't you know, women weren't allowed to "just stay home with the kids" before Phyllis Schlafly came along. What's that, Phyllis? Women can just stay home and raise the children!? How very revolutionary.).

Unfortunately, it is time for the ginormous elephant in the room that is socioeconomic class in America to rear its bloated head. For, while Phyllis Schlafly has spent her life arguing in strong terms that the feminist claim that women can have it all is a lie, Phyllis Schlafly was simultaneously living the feminist dream of having it all. It's true that Schlafly put herself through undergrad by working full-time. Kudos. And yet, for those who dare to be poor and have babies, the plot thickens. Schlafly, for instance, opposes government-funded daycare programs, programs that would help all women, especially low-income ones, advance in their careers and educations, on the ground that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for "babysitters" for other people's kids. See, Phyllis, some women don't have the luxury of choosing to stay home with the kids. Whether they're single moms or one-half of a low-income family, some women by necessity must try to "have it all" no matter what feminists or anti-feminists say about it.

It's understandable that Schlafly's anti-feminism would be as imbued with the same class privileges with which some feminism is embued. See, by the time Schlafly had children, she was married to a wealthy attorney and didn't have to worry about juggling a career, continuing her education, and paying for childcare. Sitting next to 2001's welfare reform, which pretty much tells low-income women with children that they are lazy for not working, Schlafly's message is unrealistic and problematic. We get it: Women who don't raise their children are "bad," but poor women who don't work are also "bad." A gal can't win.

But back to Schlafly. In between admirably rearing 6 children and having a 44-year marriage, Schlafly somehow found the time and money to get out of the kitchen and receive a BA from Washington University, a JD from Washington University, and a Master's degree from Harvard University. As her biography on The Eagle Forum's (an organization she found time to create) website attests, supermom also found time in between changing Pampers to write or edit 20 books on a variety of subjects. During her accomplished life she has been a lawyer, a presidential appointee, and a three-time candidate for public office (she lost). These days, she writes a monthly newsletter, a syndicated column, and has a weekly radio talk show.

Minus the, erm, content of Schalfly's books, articles, and speeches, these are admittedly admirable accomplishments. Yet, none of these accomplishments would have been possible without at least "some" influence from feminism- as long as we're defining feminism as what it really is (a myriad of different ideas united by a commitment to seeking equality for women), rather than what Schlafly tries to tells us it is (insert extreme 1960s radical feminist claims and pretend they are representative of all feminists).

All of this brings me to why she's a hypocrite: Because while Schlafly insists that feminism is not good for other women, society, or The Family(tm), she has proven it to be necessary and infinitely valuable to her own life and ambitions. Ironically, just as Coulter and Ingraham do today, she takes advantage of the opportunities that feminism has afforded her by making a career out of misrepresenting feminism. It's smart, I suppose. After all, is the profitability of assuring males in a male-dominated society that there's something pathological and scary about women seeking more power and equality really all that surprising?

Thank you, Mrs. Schlafly for showing us that, thanks to feminism, (upper-class) women these days really can have it all! In fact, Leftist Gender Warrior salutes you.


Monday, May 12, 2008

And Gracefully and Grandly... Gracefully and Grandly

Apparently, part of the WNBA's new player orientation now includes instruction on the very important basketball topic of how to apply makeup. It's sort of a new strategy to make men interested in the WNBA because, you know, God forbid men view female athletes as athletes rather than babes. And Goddess forbid only little girls and lesbians like the WNBA.

Kudos to anyone who actually wants to wear makeup during basketball games. But, this marketing ploy smacks of the idea that female athletes must be "women first" and real athletes second in order to be successful or recognized. Professional female basketball players, as the WNBA admits, are a "tough sell." To be honest, I sort of think that really means that they're a "tough sell" to men, many of whom explain away their lack of interest in women's sports by enlightening us all as to the suckiness of women's sports in general. Why should they, they argue, pay to watch the equivalent of high school boys play basketball? These men, dear WNBA, are who you are trying to entice to games by slapping lipstick on your players? Do you think that by turning female athletes into sexy ladies, men will magically begin to see them as legitimate athletes?

In addition, rather than confronting the pervasive homophobia that is still rampant and accepted in the sports' world, the article took for granted that women being thought of as unfeminine or as lesbians were negatives. One sports psychologist, for instance, quoted in the article had this to say:

"No. 1 is, of course, the need for the image of WNBA players to be seen as real women. That comes from the lesbian homophobia that surrounds women in sports in general."

And she's right. The subtext of this article indicates two things: (1) That "real women" are those who know how to put on a mean eyeliner and (2) The WNBA is concerned with the lesbo image.


There's at least one catch with this "concern," as the sports psychologist continues:

"The problem is if only 8 percent of the coverage is on women, and the vast majority of the time we're talking about who they're married to, what clothing they're wearing, what kind of parents they are, there's not much room left to say, 'What a great athlete.'"

While watching women's sports, I have sat perplexed many a time as a "highlight reel" of a particular female athlete veered into off-topic territory of the woman's husband, family, and children. Neat-o. How often does that happen in a Derek Jeter highlight reel? But I think we all get the point. Lest anyone dare to think otherwise, female athletes are not gay, they're not gay, they're definitely. not. gay.

Now, I can understand that heterosexual female athletes don't want to be associated with the rampant lesbianism that exists in female athletics. And yes, hel-lo everybody, lesbians are and always will be rampant in sports no matter how much makeup you slap on people. But rather than feeding into the anti-gay bias, shouldn't we be attacking the pervasive assumption that being a lesbian is something bad to be?

Well, if that's too controversial how about we start by ridding ourselves of the assumption that one must wear makeup to be considered feminine, to be thought of as beautiful, and/or to please men?

It speaks to the still-sorry state of gender equality in sports when female athletes are constantly expected to convince the masses, especially men, that even though they're good at sports they're still feminine "women." Can't female athletes just be taken for what they are, whether they're DYKEY, un-feminine, feminine, or whatever?

What is unfortunate is that, with the obsession on pretty female athletes, female athletes who are not considered "bombshells" yet who are still great athletes, go largely unrecognized in the sports' media. In order to get recognition as a female athlete, one pretty much has to be beautiful and great at sports. Which is sad. I'm pretty sure that for every Jenny Finch (who, yes, is an amazing player) who poses for Sports Illustrated in a bikini, there's an unheralded Marla Hooch quietly hitting home runs and waving to the camera from a distance.

But alas, then the article just started to get silly:

"You don't want to be caught without your game face on," makeup artist Faith Edwards said as she applied foundation to Charde Houston of the Minnesota Lynx.

Does this remind anyone else of the scene in the greatest movie ever where Betty Spaghetti is touted as also being an accomplished coffee maker?


You can have your pretty ball-dropping Dottie Hinson. When the game is on the line, I'll place my bets on her tomboyish-probably-lezzzbian kid sister Kit.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sally Kern, "Truth," and the Culture Wars

I'm going to jump right into this article with a statement of the obvious: The recent threatening and name-calling emails that Sally Kern has received in response to her recent "gays are worse than terrorists" rant are wrong. Assuming the emails are legitimate (Kern reported them as "death threats," but investigators reported that they were not), they are wrong on a personal level with respect to Sally Kern's humanity and they are problematic with respect to the struggle for equal rights.

1. The Sympathy Factor

To begin, as much as a we disagree with other people, it is not acceptable to wish them physical harm or death. What was particularly troubling about some of the comments were the gendered nature of the attacks whereby Kern was called a "cunt," "bitch," or "dyke." Reading those slurs, as a woman who has been on the receiving end of such words, I couldn't help feeling sympathetic towards Kern in spite of her lies and hateful message. How many Americans who are not as engaged in the "culture wars" as I will read those attacks and feel similar feelings of sympathy? How many people who don't know any gay people will read those emails and come to believe that gay people are hateful, bitter people who attack women?

Sally Kern said horrible, unwarranted things about us, but let's face it, many Americans believe those lies and they don't understand our outrage. Even in the face of the Sally Kern's of the world, our job is not to attack but to fight ignorance with knowledge. The right-wing feeds on and perpetuates a culture of hate and untruths. Those who wrote the hateful emails to Sally Kern have fed right into that culture.

2. A Culture of Misinformation

Sally Kern is a public figure who has used her position of leadership and authority to hyperbolically state that people like little old me, gay people, are worse than the terrorists who crashed into the World Trade Center. Every time so-called religious people and "leaders" spread misinformation about gay people, I'm pretty sure that an angel loses its wings and the baby Jesus cries cold tears of sorrow.

What Sally Kern said is not right because it was full of lies, whether Kern knows that or not. That fact is something she and her supporters are missing. What "American for Truth" Peter LaBarbera says and prints about gay people is not right. What "Concerned Woman for America" Matt Barber says and prints about gay people is not right. It's not that I disagree with these people that makes what they say "not okay," it's that these people lie, spread anti-gay propaganda, and foster a culture of hate that makes this speech "not okay."

We are all entitled to disagree. But is it too much to ask for those on the other side to play fair and in accordance with the fundamental principle of morality that is honesty?

3. The "Truth"

So, when you combine the poor-Sally-Kern sympathy factor with the conservative culture of misinformation we sort of end up with a clusterfuck of a play on people's emotions.
And predictably, the anti-gay industry is having a field day with it with their I-simply-don't-understand-why-homos-hate-us victimized attitude.

As I've said, and it bears repeating in case any comes here and misquotes me, the death threats and personal attacks against Kern are very unfortunate. Those on all sides of a debate should accord to another fundamental principle of morality: The right to state your opinion without the threat of physical retaliation and violence. We do receive our share of attacks too, you know. But I wouldn't say that all Christians are hateful just because some Christians are.

Yet, what is also unfortunate about the situation is that the usual suspects are responding to these threats with the expected propaganda. Of the thousands of emails and messages Kern has received, anti-gay groups have cherry-picked the violent ones in order to imply or outright state that gay people are not, after all, very loving. In fact, just as everyone knew all along, gay people are violent anti-social creatures. I guarantee not one party within the anti-gay industry would link to or acknowledge me, or any other gay person, acknowledging that threats to Sally Kern are not okay.

These groups neither seek nor present truth. When facts come up to counter their version of how the world is, it's more convenient to ignore it, suppress it, or tout it as somehow flawed. Acknowledging peaceful responses to Sally Kern conflicts with the message that their industry depends on: Gay People Are Bad and Hateful.

And, any criticism of the anti-gay industry's tactics or messages is automatically (mis)labeled as "fascism" or a "homosexual smear campaign." Apparently, it's okay to smear the queer. The queers, you know, are just supposed to silently take it offering no rebuttal lest they be involved in a "smear campaign" or defamation.

What does this all lead to?

In the eyes of those who know no real gay people, gay people (and they're almost always conceived of as men) aren't neutered little queens like Jack from Will and Grace. They're faceless, vicious, and sinister members of the Gay Agenda who molest innocent children. The "masses" hear that message, that lie, despite the fact that most of us are law-abiding, peaceful, and loving citizens. But you'll never hear that "truth" from Americans for Truth [sic] About Homosexuality which has an entire section on its website devoted to "Homosexual Hate".
(For those unfamiliar with this "truth" organization, it is a propagandistic "single-issue group" dedicated solely to negating the lives and rights of gay people)

As far as organizing goes, as far as contributing to society goes, as far as advocacy work goes, as far as writing goes.... I can't think of many things more sinister, more disingenuous, and more divisive to our society than a group doing what this group is doing. They're doing it in your name, my name, and in the good name of everything that America stands for, including using the misappropriated image of the Statue of Liberty in its logo. By magically turning non-"homosexuals" into the victims of hateful aggressive homasexuls, they are redefining basic concepts like freedom, equality, and oppression.

At some point, I hope that people will find better, more useful ways to contribute to society than to dedicate themselves to "single-issue" causes like negating the lives of entire groups of people. But as long as they are around exercising their rights, we will be around exercising our rights to oppose them and trying to set the record straight, so to speak.

Fortunately, to many who actually know real-life gay people, these anti-gay groups and characters come off as sort of a joke. I just don't think enough heterosexuals care enough right now to call these groups out on their bullshit. I don't know if they get that many people don't know gay people and so they believe the lies of Sally Kern and the like.

What do I think? I think it's time we start, um, recruiting more people to join our cause.