Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh. Wow. Really?

Of all the bizarre, asinine argugments against same-sex marriage, it is perhaps the following that I love the most. Brought to us via commentary at, where else, the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage blog:

"[Legalizing same-sex marriage] also means that marriage will cease to have any real meaning - so ultimately any number of animated creatures of whatever gender can marry any number of animated creatures of whatever gender. It is a mockery of true marriage."

Under this view, drawing a new boundary around the legal definition of marriage to include two men or two women as a couple is so absurd that of course it means we're dissolving the boundaries around marriage altogether. Followed soon thereafter by my nuptials to SpongeBob SquarePants, a praying mantis, and my girlfriend.


Goooooo Team Anti-Gay!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

For Whose Own Good?

[TW: Discussion of rape culture, sexual assault]

I've been watching the debate about Saudi Arabia's ban on women drivers.

In response to one Saudi woman's online project called "We the Women," which she started in order to start a "real, public conversation" about the ban, some fellas gave their patronizing input:

"Mac Moo says:

'lol….my dear….u are goood [sic] at writing,,,[sic] but its [sic] for your own safety… women must not left alone…in islam…and thats [sic] for good of both man and women…. you know how exactly west world is…..i think the government is doing it rite [sic].'"

There we see that sense of illusory superiority that gets instilled in many men when pursuits in the public sphere serve as ginormous affirmative action program for the class of real human beings- men.

Moving on to another brilliant insight:

"Mr. Nice 2009 says:

'....not driving does not mean u r denied right, but means u r well cared of. Thank ur creator for that.'"

There we see the notion that sex apartheid is actually a benefit for women. Just like Catholicism, Saudi women are put on a pedestal that's supposed to serve as a substitute for equal rights and active, adult-sized participation in society.

In a nation where women also cannot leave their homes without male permission, are banned from voting, and must be covered in public, this is what being the sex class looks like. The men in charge cannot fathom men fathomoing women as being something other than, first and foremost, penis receptacles.

From Al Jazeera:

"There is no written Saudi law barring women from driving - only fatwas, or religious edicts, by senior clerics following a strict brand of Islam known as Wahhabism. They claim the driving ban protects against the spread of vice and temptation because women drivers would be free to leave home alone and interact with male strangers.The prohibition forces families to hire live-in drivers or rely on male relatives to drive. "

I guess male relatives or drivers never ever rape women.

For those who don't understand why feminists get so pissed when people engage in victim blaming and slut-shaming of women who are sexually assaulted, let me lay it out here.

The situation in Saudi Arabia is a gross exaggeration of the notion that women must restrict their lives and choices in order for them to not be raped. In the US, some people say that women shouldn't wear slutty clothes in public because doing so is like Dangling Meat In Front Of A Lion's Cage. In Saudi Arabia, the idea is the same. The onus is still on women, rather than men, with the primary difference being that the men in charge in Saudi Arabia just take away a woman's choice to dangle the meat in the first place.

The bans in Saudi Arabia are only a difference of degree, not of substance, with respect to gender essentialism at play. But make no mistake, in both societies, if a woman doesn't follow the Rules On How Not To Get Raped, she is deemed to have been acting stupidly and is at least partly to blame for her assault.

Like, how this Saudi woman was lashed and sentenced to prison after 7 men ganged raped her. Her fault? Well, she was in public with a man who was not her male relative. What else did she expect to happen?

According to these alleged truths about the inherent natures of women and men, women can't fulfill their human potential because of men and their alleged inability to control their violent sexual impulses. Yet, rather than putting restrictions on male movement in the public sphere since they are the ones who disproportionately commit violent acts, it is women whose lives, freedoms, clothing choices, and careers must be controlled, scrutinized, and limited.

All men don't have to unfairly limit their lives because of the actions of a Few Bad Apples. Instead, society gives that burden to all women.

After all, men have Important Things To Accomplish In Public Life and, well, what else is a woman for anyway, if not for a man's use?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Anti-Equality Blogger: Gays Totally Powerful, Straights Rule!

Sometimes, you really just have to laugh at stuff on Internet.

Anti-equality blogger "Playful Walrus" is totally pissed about Tina Fey's statements condemning Tracy Morgan's homophobic stand-up act. At his hoppin' namesake blog, he quotes Fey's statement where she expresses hope that "30 Rock's" gay and lesbian employees will accept Morgan's apology because without gay people he wouldn't have "clothes to wear, sets to stand on, scene partners to act with or a printed-out paycheck from accounting to put in his pocket."

In response, Walrus claims that "30 Rock" must be engaging in illegal discrimination for, apparently, only hiring gay people.

Like, it's really not at all clear if he's joking or if he thinks there's some sort of "30 Rock" hiring ban on heterosexuals. I wouldn't put it past some people, steeped in frothy paranoia about the homofascist agenda, to actually think Hollywood only hires gay people. For, Walrus goes on to conclude:

"...Morgan is just another example showing that the general public is not 'anti-gay', nor are homosexual people powerless (as marriage neutering advocates have argued). They are obviously extremely powerful."

Oh, I see.

The homosexual people can hold regular jobs as writers, costume designers, set builders, and accountants just like the Normal People can. I can't think of bigger sign that the homosexual people are taking over the world than this.

And who would know better about these allegedly non-existent anti-gay attitudes among the general public than a dude who devotes almost his entire blog presence to monomanically opposing gay equality and writing smart-ass, sloppy-minded retorts to the slightest positive media coverage of LGBT advances in society?

His parting non-sequitur:

"By the way, if it weren't for heterosexual people, none of us would be here."

Geez, why doesn't he just buy some of those giant foam #1 hands and organize a Straight Pride Parade already?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Anti-Feminism's Illusory Superiority

[TW: Victim blaming, slut-shaming, rape culture, violence]

Dudely college students who try to critique feminism from their Learned and Totally Objective Devil's Advocate Viewpoints are my favorite. Take this enlightened take on the Slutwalks:

"Most men that 'blame' women for being scantily clad are not blaming women. They are making a comment regarding those women’s intelligence. I am a religious Jew. If I walked through the streets of Gaza City donning my yarmulke and were lynched, I would not in any way be morally culpable. The criminals, in every crime, are the only morally guilty party. But I’d still be stupid for putting myself in that situation."

Wow, what a Very Helpful Sexual Assault Awareness Message: Raped women- Not guilty, just stupid. As though rape could be prevented by banning bikinis.

Aside from his non-fact-based assumption that rape only happens to scantily-clad women, dude's analogy tells us that men are just as dangerous to a sluttily-dressed woman walking down the street in the US as Palestinians are to an obviously-Jewish person walking down the street in Gaza City.

Yet, despite Woman's precarious situation in public spaces due to the alleged inherent violent nature of men, dude then proceeds to tells us that the status of men and women in the US are, like, totally the same:

"...[F]eminism has been weakened by the non-sexist realities of the past several decades. Women de jure have as many rights as do men. Women are making remarkable gains in the workplace and in corporate America. Feminism has become a mostly-useless how-to guide for women who wish to be proud females."

One would think that this alleged non-sexist reality would be proof of feminism's power, rather than its uselessness and weakness. Such is never the case to those dudes in their early 20s who love telling women what's really up with the world.

Indeed, just to complete the trifecta of logical contradictions, dude asserts that it is feminists, rather than dudes like himself, who indict all men as being evil:

"The first strategy [allegedly used by feminists to retain relevance], described by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd as 'Men are dogs', asserts that females are inherently superior to males because they feel less of a desire to sleep around and impress the other sex with their physique. Granted, male nature is far more inclined than female nature towards sleeping with as many attractive women as possible. 'Men like beauty, women like power' is true. But the weaknesses of male nature are no more an indictment of all males than are the weaknesses of female nature an indictment of females."

Notice that dude takes it as a given that "male nature" is at once "far more inclined" to certain proclivities while at the same time takes it as a given that not "all males" possess this inherently, essentially male nature. I guess some men are maybe from, like, Saturn instead?

Also notice that dude blames feminists for framing men as having certain inherent weaknesses that are particular to their sex, when it's actually he and conservative anti-feminists who tend to do that quite a bit.

Dude's piece is helpful, however, inasmuch as it illustrates some core tenets of rape culture:

1) Anti-feminists frame it as a biological/hormonal/evolutionary/natural given that men will rape women and are Just Telling It Like It Is. Feminists who expect men to rise above this alledged "male nature" "indict all men."

2) Given that male nature (but not all men) seeks to rape, a woman must take certain steps to prevent men from raping her and, if she is not aware of these steps or ignores them, she is "stupid."

3) Then, we pretend that because we have some gender discrimination laws on the books, the position of men and women in this culture is the same even though some humans have to take more steps to be free from sexual violence than others and have less freedom to move about the public sphere without having their intelligence called into question if other humans rape them.

4) At no point is it mentioned that we live in a culture that spends far more time telling women how women can change their behavior to keep them safe than we do telling men how they can change their behavior to keep others safe.

5) When feminists suggest that we live in a culture that entitles men to violence, we are called man-haters. Men respond to critics of rape culture with threats of violence to make their point that men are not, actually, violent.

7) Feminism is dismisssed as an irrelevant, man-hating, egotistical pile of irrational horse shit. Just so we're still not talking about male violence and how to reduce it.

So yay. Go dude! Thanks for your help in articulating these tenets.

To end, I don't usually write about blogger's personal descriptions of themselves but, given dude's seemingly cocksure conviction regarding his intellectual superiority over women and feminists, I thought his stated big hope and dream in life was a gem:

"[Dude] hopes to one day have enough money to own a large cigar cabinet."

Lulz. Of course he does. And may it be chock full of "long and strong ones"!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

Via Kate Ragen at Dances With Fat:

"I’ve said before that I’m much more concerned with fat people realizing that they deserve respect than with other people realizing that fat people deserve respect. It turns out that the same goes for posting pictures or videos or numbers. Don’t like what I post? Don’t believe me? I don’t care. This isn’t about you or for you, I’m done making that mistake.

This is about refusing to be hidden by society. This is because fat people deserve to see themselves represented as more than just a headless picture carrying a fast food bag and I can help with that. When it comes to athleticism, there are fat people of all stripes – some are couch potatoes, some are active, some are hardcore athletes. Lots of us are healthy and happy. This is about showing an example of that."


Check out her post for photos and video of her being sporty, strong, flexible, and dancy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Every Girl In This League Is Going To Breathe Like a Lady

Pull out the fainting couch for Ian Ritchie, the chief executive of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. He is not okay with lady tennis players who grunt. In a recent interview, he said:

“'We have discussed it with the tours and we believe it is helpful to reduce the amount of grunting.'

Although spectators may find the noise off-putting, 'we are one tournament in a global circuit,' Ritchie said. 'But we have made our views clear and we would like to see less of it.'”


I love the vagueness of the complaint that something a woman does is "off-putting." It's like people think, hmmmm, how can I voice my disapproval of strong women without outright saying I have issues with strong women? It was the same thing with how some people Had No Problem with Hillary Clinton running for president, it was just, like, her voice was so grating. Like fingers on a chalkboard, really.

Anyway, as a lifelong athlete, it's been my experience that grunting can be used to generate more power in a myriad of sporty endeavors (and some scientists agree that it enhances performance). In some martial arts, for instance, a kiai- or yell of spirit- is used to unite the mind and body, to generate explosiveness in board-breaking, and to protect the body's core during sparring. A grunt in tennis is that sport's kiai.

So, when I see some dude clutching his pearls about the impropriety of female athletes grunting, I see both a literal and figurative attempt to rein in a woman's power, strength, and athletic ability. In this proposed stifling, we see how gendered expectations imposed upon female athletes work to impede their athletic performance.

An athlete who is a girl or a woman is always female first, an athlete second.

What's next, Charm and Beauty School? Workshops for the lady athletes on make-up application? Mandatory skirts for the ladies?

Athena forbid we just let athletes play their sport and present their gender however the fuck they want to present it.

[Tip of the beret: Shakesville]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some Patriarchal Common Sense

[TW: Sexual assault, rape culture, misogyny]

Shorter Heather Macdonald:

Women are incapable of being Navy SEALS because some feminists have objected to a Yale fraternity's chant of "No means yes, and yes means anal!"

Her basic argument is that the fraternity chant is just a "juvenile frat-house prank" designed to provoke and that feminists should just roll their eyes at "the immaturity of boys," buy the brothers Viagra for their alleged "performance problems," or start a "sex boycott" of the frat until the brothers send "every freshman girl roses and chocolates."

Now, how it's rational to give frat guys who chant rape slogans Viagra, I haven't yet figured out. But, of course, we can't really except the apologists of rape culture and patriarchy to be rational, can we? Not when the "logic" behind the apologism often consists of the entitled whine of it's so mean of the feminazis to expect male humans to be civil men instead of boys who forge bonds over sexual violence.

Yes, somebody call the wahhhhmbulance for Macdonald and her bros because the feminists are being so mean and irrational.

It's the classic woman-hating tact, you entitle men to sexual violence and then tell women who criticize that entitlement that their criticism only proves that they're weak, self-absorbed, spoilsports, overly-emotional, and/or frail and thus undeserving of the same rights that men get. But, if women don't criticize male entitlement to sexual violence, then "No means yes, and yes means anal!" remains fixed as society's neutral level of Objective Discourse.

But let's hear it straight from the source. Macdonald writes:

"Anna Holmes [writing in the Washington Post] claims that women are fully capable of the self-abnegating warrior ethos, willing to bear up stoically under crushing physical and mental adversity [of Navy SEAL training]. The Yale fiasco suggests otherwise."

Of course.

Because if some women don't possess, or are deemed by anti-feminists to not possess, the "self-abnegating warrior ethos," then no woman on the planet does. As a class, we women are all pretty much the exact same. (See also, downloading our consciousnesses from the Woman hub).

I mean, really.

Aside from the irrationality, just as a general rule, I know that if I found myself siding with people who were literally advocating rape, I'd probably back up, take a deep breath, and re-think my priorities.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Illinois Catholic Charities' Debacle

Via The Christian Post:

"Illinois Gay Civil Unions Law Picks On Catholic Charities"

Okay, four things.

1) Headline. Fail.

The Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act allows two people of the same sex or "opposite" sex to get civil unioned. Being gay isn't a prerequisite to enter into one, hence, Illinois' civil union law is not a "gay civil union law."

And, even if the law restricted civil unions only to same-sex couples, heterosexuals would be just as free as gay, lesbian, and bisexual people to get civil unioned to a same-sex partner. It's the perfect definition of equality! Lulz.

2) The civil unions law isn't a sentient being. Thus, it's incapable of actually "picking on" anyone or anything.

3) "Marriage defenders" have their tighty-whities in a twist over Catholic Charities' leadership's choice to continue discriminating against same-sex couples in their adoption/foster care programs while receiving state funds. But, of course, this is how The Christian Post frames it:

"Three Catholic dioceses in Illinois have gone to court over a new law that requires charities to place children with gay or unmarried couples, alleging authorities are harassing Catholic agencies."

The harassment alleged is that the Attorney General's office sent Catholic Charities a letter saying that they had received complaints about discrimination and then asked Catholic Charities to produce documents so the state could review their practices. Apparently, the Attorney General and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services are set to prohibit state-funded agencies from discriminating against same-sex couples.

Catholic Charities attorney Tom Brejcha from frames the situation like this:

“Religious and faith-based entities need not check their beliefs at the door when providing vital social services for the benefit of the needy and vulnerable children and families in Illinois. Catholic Charities has a clear right under Illinois law to pursue its charitable good works in the true spirit of the Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount, faithful to the essential tenets of its Catholic faith."

Of course they need not "check their beliefs" when providing services in accordance with [some of] the "Gospels and the Sermon on the Mount." They just can't do it on the taxpayers' dime with the assistance of a state contract. But far be it for The Christian Post to mention that little detail.

4) Catholic Charities places children with married heterosexual couples and "committed singles" only. I always find it telling when anti-gay organizations do this.

"Marriage defenders" can't tell us enough how Every Child Deserves A Momma and a Daddy and how it's Common Sense and the Bestest for each child to have a married male and a female parent but, even though studies consistently show that children do very well when raised by same-sex parents, agencies like Catholic Charities intentionally deprive some children of two parents.

Through policies like this, they show us that adherence to their "sincerely-held" anti-gay ideology and the fetishization of heterosexual marriage trump the best interests of children.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

"The entrenched conviction that children need both a mother and a father inflames culture wars over single motherhood, divorce, gay marriage, and gay parenting. Research to date, however, does not support this claim. Contrary to popular belief, studies have not shown that 'compared to all other family forms, families headed by married, biological parents are best for children' (Popenoe, quoted in Center for Marriage and Family, p. 1)....

In fact, based strictly on the published science, one could argue that two women parent better on average than a woman and a man, or at least than a woman and man with a traditional division of family labor. Lesbian coparents seem to outperform comparable married heterosexual, biological parents on several measures, even while being denied the substantial privileges of marriage.

This seems to be attributable partly to selection effects and partly to women on average exceeding men in parenting investment and skills. Family structure modifies these differences in parenting. Married heterosexual fathers typically score lowest on parental involvement and skills, but as with Dustin Hoffman's character in the 1979 film Kramer v. Kramer, they improve notably when faced with single or primary parenthood. If parenting without women induces fathers to behave more like mothers, the reverse may be partly true as well. Women who parent without men seem to assume some conventional paternal practices and to reap emotional benefits and costs. Single-sex parenting seems to foster more androgynous parenting practices in women and men alike."

-Biblarz, T. J. and Stacey, J. (2010), How Does the Gender of Parents Matter?. Journal of Marriage and Family

Just something to add to the Rebutting Overly-Emotional "Marriage Defense" Soundbites toolkit.

(Tip of the beret: Alas, A Blog)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Just An Update

President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Act in October 2009, which expanded federal hate crimes legislation to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.

'Member how when before Obama signed the Act, the American Family Association warned that the expansion of the federal hate crimes law was set to give "special protection status to pedophiles" and "30 different sexual orientations"?

And how anti-gay outlets such as the Traditional Values Coalition, Liberty Counsel, World Net Daily, Concerned Women for America, and the Digital Network Army also echoed this claim regarding the, what they referred to as, the "Pedophile Protection Act"?

And how Liberty Counsel's Matt Barber warned that the passage of this law would "muzzle" Christians and that it raises a "red flag" because "[r]enegade prosecutors and politically correct leftists" would get to "subjectively determine what is or is not a hate crime" and then move on to prosecution?

So, just for shits and giggles, I like to give a little status re: those claims.

So far, not a single pedophile or rapist has successfully used this law as a defense against hir crime. Although, who knows, maybe the Catholic Church is whipping up some sort of defense in that arena.

Nor has even one single Christian been prosecuted solely for uttering anti-gay speech.

I know, I know.

The law has only been in existence for 1 year and 8 months.

Given that The Leftists These Days are apparently prone to un-friending their rude right-wing Facebook friends, a sure sign of imminent dystopia, I suppose it's only a matter of time before the renegade prosecutors start rounding up the anti-gay Christians.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What the Frak?

[TW: Threats]

I suppose I'm not really surprised about this:

'Paula Brooks,' editor of Lez Gets Real, also a man."

The "also" is in reference to the other straight married dude who was recently exposed as pretending to be a lesbian blogger in Syria.

Good times. I mean, why wouldn't the "lesbian bloggers" most in the news be in the news for being straight men pretending to be lesbians on Internet? OMG, where are the women bloggers?!?!?

For the record, I really am a lesbian, a woman, and a blogger.

Shocking! Daring! Jazz hands!

Anyway, why I think these two dudes suck is that it puts pressure on pseudonymous lesbian bloggers like me to authenticate that we are who we say we are. And yes, I've already seen some gay bloggers boast about how they use their real identities on their blogs. Yet, given that this blog is not a money-making endeavor for me, I don't see many gains in doing so.

People have many legitimate reasons for writing under pen names, including threats, fear of violence, possible professional/career retribution, real-life stalkers, and/or a simple wish for privacy.

So, before they conducted their Edgy Blogging Experiments, I wish these two straight married men who don't actually live in the real world as women and thus experience violence, harassment, and rape culture differently than, say, someone like me, would have thought about shit like that before they took a piss on the credibility of lesbian bloggers.

And, I wish bloggers writing under their real names wouldn't build themselves up by casting aspersions on the motives and morals of all bloggers who choose to write under a pen name.

On a lighter note, I read Lez Gets Real only a handful of times, although I had often seen it referenced and linked to around Internet. Honestly, I could never get past the name of the blog. I've just can't get into calling myself a "lez." That right there should have been a big clue that the editor was a straight dude.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Two Marriage-Related Victories

Some good news today!

1) DOMA Ruled Unconstitutional. Again.

A federal bankruptcy court has ruled (PDF) that "no legally married couple should be entitled to fewer bankruptcy rights than any other legally married couple."

For some background on this case, two men who were legally married in California and who remain so since they got married before the discriminatory Prop 8 was passed, filed a joint bankruptcy petition under a law that allows married couples to file jointly. The United States Trustee, which oversees the administration of bankruptcy cases, sought to dismiss the joint petition because the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines "spouse" as a person of the "opposite sex."

The court in this case applied rational basis review to each of the reasons Congress put forth for enacting DOMA back in 1996: "the governent's interest in defending and nurturing the institution of heterosexual marriage; the government's interest in defending traditional notions of morality; and the government's interest in preserving scarce government resources." Some snippets:

"...[T]he joint petition of the Debtors will have no effect on procreation or child-bearing. It would not appear to be fair or rational for the court to conclude that allowing the Debtors to file a joint bankruptcy petition will in any way harm any marriage of heterosexual persons....

This court can conceive of no fair, just and rational basis to conclude that DOMA will contribute to the achievement of the goal of preserving scarce government and finds no basis in the evidence or record in this case to credit such a proposition.

Although individual members of Congress have every right to express their views and the views of their constituents with respect to their religious beliefs and principles and their personal standards of who may marry whom, this court cannot conclude that Congress is entitled to solemnize such views in the laws of this nation in disregard of the views, legal status and living arrangements of a significant segment of our citizenry that includes the Debtors in this case."

Finding no valid governmental basis for DOMA, the court concluded that DOMA fails even the least stringent rational basis test.

I've said before that if the "marriage exists for procreation" argument were anything other than an attempted after-the-fact argument against allowing same-sex couples to marry, the "marriage defenders" would put their money were their mouth was and de-link all rights, privileges, and benefits of marriage that were not directly linked to procreation. As Judge Walker noted in Perry: "There are support obligations and there are a host of other obligations that flow from a marriage that have nothing to do with the sexual conduct of the parties to the marriage."

The right to file joint bankruptcy petitions is, of course, one of many such rights. I'm glad this court recognized that.

In general, DOMA has not stood up to judicial scrutiny and as a Supreme Court battle looms in the near future, the irrationality of the law probably explains why organizations like the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage are focusing on everything but the substance in that debate.

2) Judge Walker's Perry Decision Not Vacated

Because we allow gay people in gay relationships to be judges even on gay issues, a court found that Judge Walker did not have to recuse himself from California's Prop 8 case Perry v. Schwarzenegger even though he is in a same-sex relationship.

I'm sure this decision will disappoint professional anti-gay Matt Barber, who believes "practitioner[s] of the homosexual lifestyle" can't judge marriage cases, as well as the folks at Protect Marriage, who filed the motion to get Perry vacated.

This decision appeared to have been a no-brainer for the court, which I'm sure will also come as a shocking revelation to the anti-gays who are convinced of the Utter Genius it took to argue that it wasn't so much the judge's homosexuality that was the problem, it was his being in a homosexual relationship that was the problem. The court cut right to the chase in articulating:

"The fact that a federal judge shares a fundamental characteristic with a litigant, or shares membership in a large association such as a religion, has been categorically rejected by federal courts as a sole basis for requiring a judge to recuse her or himself."


Gee, I wonder if the motion was mostly We're-Victims-Of-A-HomoFascist-Tyranny posturing intended to rile up frothy anger and a sense of heterosexual persecution?

Anyway, in addition to echoing the concerns that I (and other commentators) raised about the precedent vacating Walker's decision would have set with respect to minority groups' ability to, like, ever rule on civil rights cases, the court noted:

"Among other things, this means that if, in an overabundance of caution, [Judge Walker] were to have disclosed intimate, but irrelevant details about his personal life that were not reasonably related to the question of disqualification, he could have set a pernicious precedent. Such a precedent would be detrimental to the integrity of the judiciary, because it would promote, incorrectly, disclosure by judges of highly personal information (e.g., information about a judge's history of being sexually abused as a child), however irrelevant or time-consuming."

I think undercutting the integrity of the judiciary is actually, no joke, a big part of the Anti-Gay Agenda. So, cue Team Inequality's whining about the judiciary in 3....2.....1.

Sigh. So predictable.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Brilliant" Warning Flaunts Animus

[TW: Homophobia, gender policing]

Reacting to Gay Days at Disney World, Christian group Florida [Heteronormative] Family Association (FFA) recently paid for an aircraft to fly near the theme park pulling a banner that read: "Warning Gay Pride Day@Disney Today"

David Caton, executive director of FFA then boasted that, according to his group's observations, "[t]here was a defininte, drastic reduction of mainstream families there." The Christian Post article doesn't provide a statement from Disney confirming this alleged reduction. The article also fails to provide a statement from Caton saying what his group's ultimate goal was with respect to the sign. Apparently, why "mainstream families" require such a warning is a self-evident bit of common sense that requires no further explanation.

The head of another "family" group, however, shared his insight. John Stemberger, who called the warning "brilliant" and who is president of the Florida [Heteronormative] Family Policy Council, explains:

"For Stemberger, his problem with Gay Days at Disney is how attendees 'flaunt' their sexuality when children are around, and that Disney allows the event to take place during normal business hours when other groups have to come in after hours to hold their events.

'No one is saying they don’t have a right to do it. The issue is why doesn’t Disney warn the parents and say this is Gay Day? We do that with movies, we do that with records. Why not do it with a theme park?' questioned Stemberger. 'Or they can just close the whole thing off and do it in the evening and let them have unbridled debauchery. They don’t have to do it during the day … where there are thousands of children around that have to be exposed to this behavior.'”

Unbridled debauchery. Lulz. I think anti-gays think most gay people's lives are much more exciting than they really are. Stemberg continues:

“'It’s not just the fact that it’s gay,' asserted Stemberger. 'You have to understand that it is the activity that is going on, the kissing, the inappropriate dress, the immodest and purposely provocative cross-dressing that goes on at the park.'”

Oh, so it's not just the kissing, it's the kissing that's gay that's the problem. And, it's not that the gays are prancing around naked or that the lesbians are engaging in competitive carpetmunching contests on Space Mountain, it's more that some of the people are wearing the clothes that have been arbitrarily assigned by society to the "opposite" sex.

Got it.

On a serious note, I think the FFA did a real service to the LGBT cause with their warning. For one, it warned away homobigots of the "I don't have a problem with gays, I just don't want to see them flaunting it by holding hands, pushing strollers, or kissing each other like how straight people do all the time" sorts of bigots from Gay Days- ensuring a more tolerant atmosphere for LGBT attendees.

And two, it perfectly illustrates the animus behind bans on same-sex marriage and other anti-gay measuers, an animus that professional "marriage defenders" deny exists in the real world.

By their own words, actions, and very large airplane banners, these Nice Civil Christian groups make it abundantly clear that the driving force behind many of their activities is the notion that, because we're immoral, depraved, dangerous, and unworthy of the same human dignity they grant to "mainstream" families, same-sex couples and LGBT people must be stigmatized and avoided by normal people.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Odds 'N Ends

1) Martial Artist and self-defense instructor Susan Schorne has an interesting take on the juxtaposition of male violence with the female "princess" role, as illustrated by the costumes on display at the Royal Wedding:

"William's brother, Prince Harry, also wore military dress, as did the princes' father, Prince Charles—likewise the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Gloucester and the Duke of Kent. Maybe a few other gentlemen as well. Somewhere among the 1900 guests there surely was at least one woman with military experience who was entitled to wear a uniform, but if so, no one took a picture of her.

Everyone seemed to think it quite proper, and not at all odd, that Kate Middleton's fairytale dress should be paired with Prince William's military couture. The nod to the Irish Guard was approved by all. Certainly the troops in Afghanistan should be remembered, even in the midst of a national holiday—especially in the midst of one. And it's not like anyone carried weapons (they were in church, after all).

Still, the mix of sacramental romance and codified violence struck me as a little peculiar, if only because everyone else seemed to think it was so natural."

Yet another face of traditional marriage.

2) Last week, I wrote about the alleged kidnapping of (alleged) Syrian-American lesbian, political blogger Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari. Soon thereafter, The Washington Post reported that questions had emerged about whether the blogger's identity was real:

"Syrian activists maintained Wednesday that they were sure Arraf existed, that she had been detained and that she had been using a fake identity to protect herself, as do most of the activists engaged in covert activity against Syria’s government at a time when the country is in the throes of a widespread popular uprising."

Then, on June 12, a strange apology was posted to "Amina's" blog by Tom MacMaster, a heterosexual married man claiming to be "the sole author" of all blog posts on the Gay Girl In Damascus site.

I hesitate to even link to it as I'm not sure what MacMaster's motives were in creating the persona and writing the blog. However, because the blog and "Amina's" situation manipulated many people's feelings, perhaps including some of yours, I wanted to bring this new information to your attention.

3) Over at Women in Theology, Elizabeth aptly compares an experience with a mentally-intrusive male dentist with being told to smile in public. In part, she writes:

"I do not contend that this kind of exchange in and of itself has a parity with the kinds of unspeakable violence men perpetrate against women all day, every day, but I do think it is noteworthy as a kind of 'microaggression,' or minor exchange expressing and reinforcing sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, age-ism, able-ism…and any other kind of ‘ism.’ These exchanges function as microcosms of larger patterns of subordination and control and are rendered by even supposedly benevolent agents. They also seem so minor that when people discuss them, these people are often perceived as “whiny” and complaining about something that doesn’t matter. That’s pretty clever, if you ask me. Namely, finding subtle ways to marginalize and stigmatize those who perceive themselves to have been belittled by others. For sure, there’s the danger of people becoming overly-sensitive, but in my opinion, we haven’t done enough to examine to the quotidian and minor-league forms of oppression occurring in our lives. (And it’s complicated; we’re both agents and patients of microaggressions all the time, in complex and often interlocking ways. So we have to learn to name microaggressions both rendered to and by us.) Here’s the truth: we cannot combat the forces of sexism and these other -isms unless we are willing to look at the nitty-gritty details of human interchange. The devil is in the details, and it’s all of a piece."

Although it happened more frequently when I was younger, I too am familiar with the experience of having men I don't know order me to smile. It's as though some men don't realize that women are beings with our very own internal lives and that we therefore might have reasons to not be smiling at any given moment.

So, I'm going to echo Elizabeth's call: Men, if you do it, and no matter how pleasant you think you're being, stop commanding women to smile in public.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Quote of the Day

I didn't know her personally, but gawd I miss Molly Ivins.

She died in January 2007 and, still, every now and then I find myself wondering what Molly would think.

Sarah Palin. Married famous dudes prone to texting photos of their genitals. Snooky and The Situation. The relentless attacks on reproductive rights and Planned Parenthood. Slutwalks. Boobquakes. Vajazzling.

I want to know.

Her classic takedown of Camille Paglia is one of my favorite pieces of hers, but as far as shorter quotes goes, I've always remembered this:

"It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America."

I think, in general, that people of privilege who don't like that [Insert Minority Group] Studies classes exist don't understand that this struggle is a real thing that really happens.

If you're a fan, what are some of your favorite Ivins' quotes/pieces?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The People Previously Known As Women

[TW: Gender policing, body shaming]

A radical notion:

"That is what I like about women. They don’t give a damn. Their neck bulges over the back of their collar? So what? Their ears are hairy, their hands are rough, they snore and make noise and take up lots of space. That is what women are supposed to be like, and if they are going to start frowning into the magnifying mirror and getting all teary when bathing suit season comes around, then we might as well just call it a day. Good night, America. Sorry, Ben Franklin. It was a pretty good country, but it’s over now.

So how did we get here? The generation of women who were perfectly at home with homeliness hasn’t even completely died off yet, for pete’s sake. Wrinkles, rough skin, bow legs, calluses and crow’s feet—these used to be the signs of femininity, the evidence that a life had been lived. It was in the late 1950s that things began to change....Now leg and chest waxing, manicures, and highlights are commonplace for people previously known as as women. Botox? Why not? They don’t even feel the need to make discreet appointments anymore, because everyone’s doing it."

Of course, Catholic writer Simcha Fisher was actually talking about men, above, and specifically, men who opt for cosmetic procedures.

Yet my gender reversal is interesting, no?

In Fisher's bizarre piece about how vasectomies have apparently led to the de-masculinization and metrosexualization of men, we see yet another instance of the conflation between masculinity and authenticity. Even though many women naturally possess wrinkles, deviated septums, rough skin, bow legs, calluses, crow's feet, hairy ears, and fat, Fisher frames these characteristics as masculine ones. She claims "these used to be the signs of masculinity- the evidence that a life had been lived."

And in women, these are signs of what, then?

That some of us are men? That we are manly?

The truth in plain sight becomes apparent when the genders are reversed in Fisher's piece: Many women- cisgender and trans- actually have to do a lot of work, including engaging in multiple surgeries, in order to be seen as Real Women precisely because authenticity is conflated with masculinity.

For, the logical extension of her idea that the traits of being hairy, fat, bow-legged, etc. are endearing in men precisely because they are essential to men is that women are then excluded from the class of persons who are able to possess such traits and retain our femininity. Under her reasoning, wouldn't any woman who is hairy, fat, and/or bow-legged be by definition manly? It's as though she takes the man-as-default to a literal extreme: Women are actually men until we shave our legs, reduce our body fat percentage, stop farting, put on make-up, and go to etiquette school.

Now, if Fisher's goal is the eradication of beauty standards for men, I am with her. There are many ways to be a man. Including, ahem, being a man who has gotten a vasectomy.

Yet, one gets the sense that it's not so much the application of beauty standards to humans that she is objecting to here. Rather, to her, what's unfair is the application of certain beauty standards that have long and unfairly been applied to women now being applied to men as well. Criticizing women's bodies is just treating women like how we're supposed to be treated. But men, they are entitled to exist in their natural, hairy, fat, wrinkled states of being without objection because that's just part and parcel of being a Real Man.

Under Fisher's criticism, a man's compliance with beauty standards is loathsome precisely because that compliance is coded feminine. A man's compliance, according to her, turns him into an artificial man. A girly boy.

And, rather than acknowleding the many industries that promote and create beauty standards for women, she takes it as a given that a woman's compliance with whatever arbitrary beauty standards are in fashion at the moment is evidence of women's naturally vapid, vain, and shallow natures. Thus, by association, a man's compliance with "feminine" beauty standards becomes infected with this taint.

We see that what might, to some, on the surface appear to be an article about liberating men from beauty standards is actually a piece that further entrenches both women and men into them.

(Leftist Gender Warrior tips her beret to Personal Failure)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is Gaydar a Thing?

Personal Anecdote Alert!

I recently attended a friend's wedding. Although it was a same-sex wedding, those who attended were primarily heterosexual. There were also lots of kids around! But I digress (mostly to annoy any rightwingers reading).

Anyway, upon being seated at the dinner table, I took a look around the table and thought, "I guess this is the lesbian table."

Yet, over the course of dinner, all of the other women at the table began talking about their male partners.


Anyway, I thought of that story when I read of the following study:

"[Cognitive psychologist Erik Tracy] asked seven gay and seven heterosexual males to record single-syllable words (including 'mass,' 'food' and 'sell') and then played the recordings for listeners. The study participants were then asked to identify the sexual orientation of the speakers when hearing only the first letter sound of those words, the first two letter sounds, or the entire words.

The listeners were unable to determine the sexual orientation after hearing the sound of the first letter in the spoken word, for example, just the 'm' sound in the word 'mass.' But, 'when presented with the first two letter sounds [for example 'ma'], listeners were 75 percent accurate,' Tracy said. 'We believe that listeners are using the acoustic information contained in vowels to make this sexual orientation decision,' he explained."

"Seven gay and seven heterosexual males" were studied. Lulz.

On a serious note, feminism, to me, means acknowledging (a) that it is often inaccurate to make assumptions about a person based solely on hir genitals, while also acknowledging that (b) we are strongly socialized to perform gender according to what genitals we have (or are thought to have), which then often becomes a Men-Are-From-Mars-Women-Are-From-Venus self-fullfilling prophecy.

I extend this line of thinking to sexual orientation. Obviously, I think attraction to women, for me, is a real and natural thing. My attraction to women is something I have always had and not something I ever consciously chose. It is, indeed, the only thing that is essential to my sexual orientation. For as much as I might joke with my friends about stereotypically lesbian behavior, there are many ways to be a lesbian, only a few of which involve looking sporty and wanting to wear slacks and sensible shoes at weddings.

And, there are many women, like "30 Rock" character Liz Lemon, who out-lesbian actual lesbians. Except for the sleeping with women part. Which, of course is my point.

Studies like the one, above, about acoustics run a risk similar to that posed by studies about sex and gender. By lazily interpreting such studies in a "Gays and Straights speak differently! This proves EVERYthing!" manner, the media can artificially create discrete categories of people, categories that obfuscate all of the people who fall into gray areas.

Related: Bisexuality in TV/Film

Monday, June 6, 2011

Faces of Traditional Marriage

Foreign Policy recently featured a slide show on "the strange world of Afghan weddings and the dark side of early marriage."

According to the feature, which cites UNICEF data, "more than 50 million girls under the age of 17 in developing countries are married" while "millions more are at risk of being forced into child marriages." In Afghan society, where women have limited opportunities to obtain economic independence, "daughters are often seen as an economic burden." So, girls are forced into marriages as a way to "pay debts or create social alliances between families."

The article doesn't make it explicit, but the payment the bride's family offers a man in exchange for providing for his member of the sex class' basic subsistence is sexual access to the girl and her presumed ability to procreate, preferably, male children.

Although, I find it strange that Foreign Policy refers to forced child marriage as "strange" rather than, say, the more accurate "abusive" and "misogynistic," I don't highlight this slide show to demonstrate how "backwards" Afghan society is compared to Western "enlightened" societies. Indeed, the "traditional values" forces in the US, relying on their own patriarchal religions to define marriage, differ only in degree to their Afghani counterparts.

Marriage, USian defenders of marriage tell us, is not a loving supportive relationship between two adults, as that definition apparently diminishes the institution and what it means to be a "husband" and a "wife." It greatly offends them that LGBT advocates refuse to view marriage as an institution that exists primarily for procreation and only if heterosexual coitus is possible between the spouses.

And yet, of course, if ability to procreate and engage in heterosexual coitus constitute the very core of Real Marriage, it would be illogical under their own reasoning for USian "marriage defenders" to object to weddings between a 40-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl who has begun menstruating.

In fixating on the biological realities of human sexual reproduction, "marriage defenders" exaggerate biological sex differences and create ethereal, unequal gender, spousal, and parenting roles that bear little resemblance to many people's experiences actually living out those roles. The message, reinforced, is that men and women are very very different and, in this difference, lies a natural hierarchy- whether that is explicit or only implicit. Although, of course, in many religious marriage ceremonies, women still literally promise to obey their husbands.

If we could disregard for the moment the issue of the benefits associated with the institutions, would it be more feminist for the state to issue civil unions and domestic partnerships to all couples? For, these non-marital institutions lack the sexist, abusive, and hierarchical "traditionalist" baggage associated with the word marriage. Instead of we same-sex couples clamboring to get into an institution tainted with a strong legacy of inequality should progressive heterosexuals be clamboring to domestically partner one another?

Friday, June 3, 2011

But Bootstraps!

From The New York Times, this one hits close to home for me. In an article entitled "Top Colleges, Largely For the Elite," David Leonhart writes:

"Does more economic diversity [in elite universities] necessarily mean lower admissions standards?

No, it does not.

The truth is that many of the most capable low- and middle-income students attend community colleges or less selective four-year colleges close to their home. Doing so makes them less likely to graduate from college at all, research has shown. Incredibly, only 44 percent of low-income high school seniors with high standardized test scores enroll in a four-year college, according to a Century Foundation report —compared with about 50 percent of high-income seniors who have average test scores....

Well-off students often receive SAT coaching and take the test more than once, Mr. Marx notes, and top colleges reward them for doing both. Colleges also reward students for overseas travel and elaborate community service projects. 'Colleges don’t recognize, in the same way, if you work at the neighborhood 7-Eleven to support your family,' he adds.

Several years ago, William Bowen, a former president of Princeton, and two other researchers found that top colleges gave no admissions advantage to low-income students, despite claims to the contrary. Children of alumni received an advantage. Minorities (except Asians) and athletes received an even bigger advantage. But all else equal, a low-income applicant was no more likely to get in than a high-income applicant with the same SAT score. It’s pretty hard to call that meritocracy."

This is one reason why, in general, I tend not to be impressed by those with Ivy League pedigrees. Even though the US has a running narrative that there's something Really Special about people who graduate from the elite universities, the graduates of these schools are remarkably uniform with respect to the economic and class privileges with which they grew up.

As a high school junior in a rural working class town many years ago, I scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT while studying on my own, during my lunch breaks at Fast Food Restaurant. I applied to one elite university and got in, but even with a financial aid package couldn't afford the out-of-pocket costs to attend. Instead, like many of my classmates, I opted for a community college. That's just what people did. Going somewhere "better" wasn't an expectation for most of us. After two years, I then transfered to Pretentious University (PU) with an academic scholarship.

I can't say I fit in very well.

My introduction to PU was overhearing a fellow student say, "I don't understand why people's parents don't just pay the full four years of tuition at once, since it ends up being cheaper that way." One 20-year-old had a sports car with the license plate "CEO 2 B." Another student was dating the offspring of Famous Politician. Because doesn't everyone just hang out in those circles?

Yes, I was surrounded by rich kids who were convinced that their attendance at PU proved that they were the nation's Best and Brightest, the creme de la creme, entitled and blissfully unaware of the fact that for every one of them, there were dozens of other equally bright (or brighter) students at state universities, community colleges, or in the working world who didn't want to incur student loan debt, didn't have parents who could pay their six-figure tuitions, and/or didn't have much guidance or coaching on the whole Going To College Process.

Another interesting point from the Times article that I wanted to delve into a little more was the "Minorities (except Asians) and athletes receive an even bigger advantage" than low-income students as it seems to sloppily assume that minorities and low-income students are two separate (rather than overlapping) categories. I went to the Century Foundation report (PDF) cited in the article for a closer look:

"Many believe that race no longer matters, and that socioeconomic disadvantages, otherwise known as class, have become the universal barrier to equal opportunity. Our analysis of the NELS does not support the notion that we could use income or other socioeconomic characteristics as a substitute for race. Race and ethnicity have effects all their own, and we find that socioeconomic status is no substitute for race or ethnicity in selective college admissions."

That is, class differences don't "explain away" race-based differences in educational attainment. The report found that the "educational disadvantages of low socioeconomic status are more onerous for minorities, especially African-Americans."

Interestingly, gender wasn't examined with respect to educational differences.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NOM Commenters Question Utility of Homosexuality

[TW: Homophobia, eliminationist rhetoric]

On May 24, 2011, the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) criticized an ABC piece featuring a waitress who was rude to a lesbian-headed family. Although, of course, lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men have such encounters with rude, intolerant folks in the real world all the time, NOM called this piece "outrageous" and "prejudiced stereotyping" implying that we don't actually ever have these experiences.

Again, to be clear, NOM was criticizing not the waitress' behavior, but ABC, for portraying an instance of lesbians being abused. NOM actually didn't denounce or condemn the waitress' behavior.

No surprise there coming out of The-Gays-Are-Oppressing-Us HQ.

So today I'm going to suggest that turning a blind eye to the odious treatment of LGB people, especially when it happens at NOM's own blog, might be a bit problematic to NOM's victim narrative. It's a problem that is likely transparent to anyone who doesn't already agree with NOM about stuff and, honestly, reasonable people who might actually agree with NOM about the marriage issue.

Following a post about the Minnesota marriage amendment, some of the usual National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage commenters suggested that homosexuality does nothing for society except spread disease.

Mike Brooks, for instance, opined:

"I don't think there's a coalition of hate [opposing same-sex marriage], but I do think that heterosexuality and its procreational capacity is pretty special in contrast to homosexuality and its capacity to do nothing. Oh, wait, it's pretty good at spreading disease."

Commenter Mary Ann added:

"I'm trying to honestly consider social and natural benefits that homosexuality contributes to society...and I can't think of one. Interesting. I never thought about it that way."

While Michael Ejercito joined the chorus:

"...[I]f gay people were belittled for over a thousand years, they must have been doing something wrong, otherwise they would not be belittled."

Let's see here. Homosexuality contributes nothing but disease to society and gays deserve whatever abuse they get. Got it.

First off, here's a Helpful Hint for those definitely-not-bigots who question the social utility of homosexuality: Given the fact that homosexual behavior has existed among humans (and animals) for thousands of years, I encourage those who are genuinely interested in How Homosexuality Contributes To Society to do some basic research, perhaps using the Wikipedia article on the topic as a starting point. I don't necessarily agree with everything in that article, but if one were sincere in wanting to know whether homosexuality has social utility, one might do more than expect gay people to show up at anti-equality sites to present evidence for that proposition.

Two, my main point with this post is that what conversations like these do is put lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people in the position of having to justify our existences and relationships. If we think about the larger implications within this conversation, things can become quite scary for LGB people rather quickly.

Imagine- LGB people typically view our sexual identities as integral to our identities and often view the right to enter into same-sex romantic and sexual relationships as a large part of what it means to possess human dignity and autonomy.

Yet, here, within this nook of Internet, we have folks expressing a view that is, frankly, quite common among those who oppose equal rights for LGB people: The notion that who we fundamentally are does nothing for society except produce negative outcomes.

I have written before how it doesn't take a huge leap of logic to go from "x group of people contribute nothing to society except disease" to "and that's why they have to die."

And, whether or not the typical anti-gay person favors the literal extermination of LGB people, I do strongly believe that many anti-gay people believe the world would be a better place if homosexuality did not exist and, accordingly, if LGB people denied who we were and instead opted for a heterosexual lifestyle.

As a case in point, on May 24, 2011, NOM also posted its own helpful hint, with little additional commentary that: "We already know that there are still gay people entering opposite sex marriages, at least sometimes even after identifying as gay."

Yes, and? No one at NOM brave enough to make that implication explicit?

Probably not. For, the idea that LGB people should Just Enter Into Hetero Marriages, of course, also constitutes extermination, albeit of a different type- the eradication of homosexual behavior rather than persons, from society.

Because of these regular slips of the civility mask, I continue to believe that it would be unwise and unsafe for LGB people and our allies to assume that the majority of anti-gay folks would oppose measures as drastic as imprisonment or death for homosexuality. That's why I think it's important to express disappointment in what is perhaps the most prominent and active opponent of marriage equality in the US- the National Organization for Marriage- for fostering an online atmosphere where such conversations about the social utility of homosexuality are accepted as just a regular part of civil dialogue.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Hello readers,

I am going on a much needed vacation so, although I have posts lined up for the rest of the week, I won't be around in comments much to check in or moderate. But, like I always say, what could possibly go wrong on Internet?

Have a good rest of the week!

Gender Roundup of the Week

1) Over at the Women In Theology blog, Katie writes an excellent critique of the Catholic notion of sexual complementarity. A snippet:

"...[T]he theory of sexual complementarity is situated as inherently irrefutable and any experientially based challenges to this theory are dismissed as lamentable distortions of the real truth about masculinity and femininity. Thus, when church teaching asserts that men are X and woman are Y and it is pointed out that men are not always X or that X does not have the meaning assigned to it, then magisterial authorities are able to evade critique by claiming, 'well, men should be X.'...

The central problem with the magisterial theory of sexual complementarity is not that it asserts that bodies matter, (they do), or its claim that motherhood and fatherhood embody parenthood differently, (they do). Instead, the problem is that the theory of sexual complementarity imposes a certain construal of sexual difference upon persons without sufficient consideration of lived experience."

The piece is a relatively long read for Internets, but I appreciate that it's a bit more thought out than the usual run-of-the-mill complementarist big idea. Sample, Charles Colson's Brilliant Notion:

"In the church and in marriage however, they are complementary roles, just as nature assigns complementary roles. Only women, for example, can bear children. Only males can provide the necessary sperm for procreation.

So in the church, the male assumes a teaching responsibility..."

Errr. Yeah. Because of course the ability to create sperm also causes teaching competence.

2) The ACLU has filed a class-action lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Public Health for its policy of refusing to change someone's gender on their birth certificate unless they have undergone genital reformation surgery.

A psychologist was quoted in the article, and I like the statement because it really ties into the complementarism piece, above:

'Living in a particular gender is what really determines it, regardless of surgeries,' said Randi Ettner, an Evanston-based clinical and forensic psychologist specializing in gender conditions. 'Genitals don’t make a person who they are. We don’t check a person’s genitals before we make a decision of whether we’re talking to a man or a woman.'”

As Katie wrote in the Women in Theology piece, the primary problem with the ideology of complementarism is that it isn't an accurate description of reality. Genitals, contrary to "self evident truths" and "common sense," do not make a person who they are and it's innaccurate to make a broad set of assumptions about a person based solely on what their genitals look like.

3) But alas, from the moment we are born (actually, before, but anyway), entire industries exist to tell us that our genitals actually do make us who we are. See, eg, Sociological Images' display of "Gendered Products For Kids."

Boys and girls even need different colored asthma inhalers! Because of penises and vaginas. Who knew?