Thursday, April 23, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1. An Inspirational Protest

Previously, I wrote about a proposed law in Afghanistan that would give men the right to rape their wives, restrict women to the home, and marry children (57% of brides in Afghanistan are under the age of 16). The UK's Times Online has reported that a group of about 200 women took to the streets to protest this law:

"The rally, staged by mostly young women with their faces exposed, was a highly inflammatory act of defiance in a country as conservative as Afghanistan. It provoked a furious reaction from local men and a rapidly expanding mob threatened to swamp the demonstrators as they tried to approach the Afghan parliament....The baying mob tore down banners, spat on demonstrators and hurled stones."

I think this is the perfect illustration of the dangers and contradictions inherent in patriarchal cultures that over-value masculinity. Those in favor of "traditional sex roles" often claim that they are doing nothing more than putting women on their deserved pedestals, yet the instant women begin making demands and standing up for their individual rights, they are treated like animals. In short, neither the proposed law nor the dominant male class's reaction to divergent ideas speak very highly of the "masculinity" that festers in extremist societies.

2. Oogedy-Boogedy!

Same-sex parenting isn't the theoretical abstraction that opponents turn it into. It's real. Gay men and lesbians do it every day. Many do it very well. Mary Liz Thomson at the Huffington Post reflects:

"My 8th grade nephew won a 'Metropolitan Mayor's Top 20 Outstanding Students Award' a couple weeks ago in Denver, CO. He's now going into a prestigious High School program for gifted college bound students. I'm very proud of him, and he is exceptional, but this wouldn't be big news were it not for the fact that he never would have accomplished this if my gay brother and his partner had not adopted him."

That's not so scary now, is it?

3. Gays Don't Like Karoake?

I read this story in a Chicago paper, but one of my friends downstate also text messaged me a photo of a sign when she saw it:

"In bright yellow capital letters, the sign on the karaoke bar in downtown Peoria was clear: "WE ARE NOT A GAY BAR!! [WE ARE A KAROAKE BAR!!! 7 Nights Per Week. Diesel is down the street.]"

Diesel is Peoria's gay dance club, just so you know. While I personally take the opinion that LGBT people shouldn't spend their money at anti-gay venues and businesses anyway, I do think it's important to make a point that anti-gay discrimination and bigotry is not acceptable. So, kudos to the brave gays in Peoria:

"In a flurry of forwarded Facebook, MySpace and text messages, a coalition quickly mobilized and dozens of gay rights supporters lined up last weekend outside The Elbo Room to express their outrage. The sign, they said, might as well have read, 'Gays are not welcome here'....The group held three protests last weekend, one of which drew the attention of paintballers, who fired on the crowd. Police had no suspects in that attack" [emphasis added].

Downstate Illinois is the more conservative, more Republican, and more, um, white part of Illinois. It's not easy to be openly LGBT down there. So, while your average-but-outnumbered bigots might not have the courage to shoot paintballs at a protest in Chicago, it's not at all surprising that people would do so in Peoria. Let's hope anti-gay activists come out quickly in publicly denouncing such violence.

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