Thursday, October 8, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1) Lebanese Feminist Conference

This week, a "groundbreaking" conference, which took 3 years to produce and brought in "46 leading academics and researchers," on Arab feminisms was held in Beirut. This article demonstrates that the challenges facing women in the Arab and Muslim world are much more complex than Western Feminists Aren't Doing Enough.

For one, within some segments of Arab feminism, the domination of Western feminism is not particularly welcome. As one organizer said:

"It was important that many of the non-Arab speakers and participants come from other countries in the South in an effort to move away from the dominance of Western feminist thought."

It's sort of ironical that some people think we're doing too much, while others think we're not doing enough.

Two, the reaction against Western feminists is amplified by the message that advocacy for women's rights is a Western notion that should not be copied. While concerns of cultural imperialism are legitimate, when this message is spread by anti-feminists who truly have no concern for improving the status of women, it acts as a tool to keep women and feminists complicit in their own subordination. Organizer Jean Said Makdisi speaks of efforts to silence feminist movements in the Arab world:

"'We are often told to wait for the right moment and that now is not our time,' Makdisi told a crowd over around 300 people. 'We are told to be patient and that our moment will come when ‘this’ or ‘that’ crisis ends. We are also constantly told to stop copying the ‘West.’ We are accused of complicity with cultural imperialism or of undermining the family and its warmth. They – and sadly sometimes ‘they’ includes other women – address us feminists as if we were children with no mind of our own, no history or culture of our own.'"

No word on the role that critic-of-Western-feminists Heresiarch played in this conference.

2) The Cost of Gay Couplehood

The New York Times recently ran a piece, called "The High Price of Being a Gay Couple," examining how a same-sex couples' inability to legally marry increases their health, legal, and other costs. The journalists created a hypothetical lesbian couple and compared them to a similarly-situated hypothetical heterosexual couple and concluded that the couple's lifetime cost of being was $41,196 in a best case scenario and $467,562 in a worst case scenario.

The article explores some of the issues I have explored in previous blog posts regarding the tangible benefits and protections of marriage.

Also of note, the authors have interacted with commenters in the comment section and have, I believe, done a pretty responding to opposing arguments and countering some of the stereotypes of gay people. One sentiment that repeatedly came up was that same-sex couples do not have children at the rate that heterosexual couples do and, therefore, the extra benefits of marriage were to compensate heterosexual for childrearing. The journalists responded by acknowledging the statistics regarding same-sex parenthood but then suggested that the numbers of same-sex parents could increase if marriage, and its associated legal and financial benefits, were available to them.

To add to that, if one of the key purposes of marriage is to provide benefits to those who are raising children, then current law is not narrowly-tailored for that purpose. Heterosexual couples can marry and receive benefits even if they do not raise children, while same-sex couples who do raise children are entirely excluded from receiving those benefits. As it stands, those who advocate the Marriage Is To Provide Benefits To Those Who Raise Children should begin advocating for a more adequate law. Namely, one that prohibits married couples from receiving any of the legal and financial benefits of marriage until they have children.

3) US Lands Games!

The Gay Games that is. They will be held in Cleveland in 2014.

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