Friday, July 31, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1. "The area from which you pass urine" is not a medical term

Via Feminist Law Professors, Ann Bartow posted amusing(ly annoying) real-life photos of male and female versions of instructions on how to collect urine samples.

Bartow notes the contrasts in the directions to women versus the instructions to men. Namely, unlike references to the male's "penis" and "foreskin," whoever wrote the instructions prudishly failed to mention female genitalia by name. Instead, women were directed to "spread [them]selves." Labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia labia.

Whew. Pardon me. Now that that's out of my system, the failure of these signs to mention female anatomy by name is really sort of a minor annoyance. What is more striking, as Bartow notes, is that the author of the signs also assumed that women are less competent at collecting a urine sample "from themselves" than are men. For instance, while the Man Sign contains only 8 steps, the Lady Sign contains 12. It also informs women to remove their "panties" and "panty hose completely" and then to "swing one knee to the side" so the women do not piss on their undergarments. Men were given no instructions regarding how not to soil their panties.

Now, I know it is a little more difficult for women to collect urine samples than it is for men, given anatomy and all. But, given the fact that Vagina-Americans are used to having vaginas and all, I also think that most ladies are able to figure out how to piss in a cup without soiling their "panties" and "panty hose." And furthermore, given the state of some toilets I have entered after men have used them, I do have serious doubts about the competence of men to do the same.

2. Erasing Lesbians, Again

A woefully inadequate and uninformative AP release demonstrates the problems with conflating "gay" and "lesbian." The headline first informs us that "Lesbians in China petition to donate blood." The first sentence continues "Lesbians in China have organized an online petition calling for gay people to be allowed to donate blood." Taking the headline and this first sentence together, it is not clear whether lesbians in China are petitioning to allow lesbians to donate blood or whether they are petitioning to allow all gay people, men and women alike, to donate blood.

China's policy with respect to banning "gay people" from donating blood differs from policy in the US. China bans anyone involved in a same-sex relationship from banning blood, including women. The US, on the other hand, bans the more statistically relevant "men who have sex with men" category as opposed to "gay men." After all, one can be a gay man and never have had sex with another man; and, a man can consider himself to be heterosexual or bisexual and still have sex with men. Those involved in HIV prevention and care know that "men who have sex with men" is a much more informative category, from an HIV risk standpoint, than is any category of sexual orientation.

Furthermore, given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to identify a single instance of woman-to-woman sexual transmission of HIV/AIDS, the US does not ban women who have sex with women from donating blood. It is unclear as to why China would do so. The policy seems to rest, if not in bigotry, than at least in an ignorant grouping of lesbians into the default category of "gay person," which we know really means "gay man."

For the sake of accuracy, too, journalists should be very wary of conflating the category of "gay men" with the category of "lesbian."

3. More Anti-Gay Lies

The Box Turtle Bulletin recently documented anti-gay Christian pastor Miles McPherson, of The Rock Church in San Diego, making the following claim:

"Recently in Pennsylvania, a woman was arrested and sentenced for 47 years in prison because she had the following bumper sticker: God loves homosexuals, but homosexuality is a sin. This is only one of the many current and shocking examples of Christian prosecution presented in today’s message."

That is a lie. It is a blatant, un-Christian, outrageous lie. No judge on Earth would sentence a woman to 47 years in prison because of her bumper sticker slogan. Really, it makes me incredibly frustrated that so many so-called Christian leaders would lie so obviously and that neither their flocks nor their own consciences hodl them accountable for saying such things.

Although, I find it absurd that anyone would actually believe such an audacious claim. I really think some of these "pastors" give their sheep no credit at all.

But, cookies and shout-outs to anyone who can actually produce this case.

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