Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lady Bicycle Faces

I have no idea if this is real or not, but I find it amusing.

It's a list of don'ts for women on bicycles from 1895.

Note that it's not a list of "dos and don'ts." Just a list of don'ts. Like it was threatening enough for women to ride bicycles at all, so Gawd forbid they ride bikes on their own terms.

Some of my favorites include:
  • Don’t criticize people’s "legs." [Not sure why "legs" is in quotation marks! Were they called something else back then?]
  • Don’t cultivate a "bicycle face."
  • Don’t appear to be up on “records” and “record smashing.” That is sporty.
Note, too, if you read the entire list, how the list polices gender so that a woman's bicycling behavior would accord with stereotypes of femininity. The lady biker is ordered not to boast, not to wear a "man's cap," not to refuse assistance, and not to race. Society granted that women could bike, as long as they remained humble, non-competitive, the opposite of men/masculinity, weak, and in need of help. That is, as long as they remained different from, and not in competition with, men.

Femininity, the conventional narratives tell us, is a woman's "natural" state of being. And yet, look at all these rules that women have to learn so that they may properly display traits that are allegedly inherent in them. Doesn't the existence of these lists beg the question of how inherent "femininity" is in women? Wouldn't women, being women, Already Just Know how to properly Bicycle While Woman?

Perhaps the most amusing part of the whole thing is that, within this list of commandments telling women what kind of clothing and accessories not to wear, how not to wear their hair, what kind of faces not to make while biking, we also see the following order:

"Don’t imagine everybody is looking at you."

I can't imagine why a lady biker would ever think that.

It's just so classic, isn't it?

Women are excessively body policed, gender policed, and judged and then implied to be self-absorbed for being aware of that fact. Women have to know what the Special Lady Rules are, but we can't let on that we know that the rules exist and that people are holding us to those rules.

Can't. Fucking. Win.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Book Review- Daughters of Zion: A Family's Conversions to Polygamy

[Content note: Religiously-motivated abuse]

A month or so ago, I finished the book Daughters of Zion: A Family's Conversions to Polygamy, by Kim Taylor.

In all, I found the content to be somewhat difficult to get through. Taylor's family circumstances, of converting from mainstream Mormon faith in the US to a fringe Mormon polygamist sect living primarily in a poor Mexican colony, are mostly sad.

She presents the social structure as one in which many of the men had multiple wives, many children, and inadequate means to support their families, while the women lived in poverty and dedicated almost their entire waking lives to child-rearing and performing household tasks. Many of the houses in the colony, for instance, lacked plumbing and running water. And, because the colony lacked jobs, the men were often away from their families for months at a time. Many of the women who still lived in the US, meanwhile, were living in government housing projects and surviving partly on government benefits as "single" women with children.

While the men were biological fathers, many of them did not seem to actively father, or parent, their children in any meaningful way. And how could they, having sometimes 30 or 40 children and not actually living with their families? Taylor recounts a story of one of the male church leaders who, in particular, had many children. Once, one of this man's wives was shopping at the colony store. While she went to pick up a few items, she placed her child near the storekeeper's chair. The man walked into the store and saw the baby:
"He stopped to admire the child. 'What a cute baby,' he told the storekeeper. 'Whose baby is this?'

He was started to see [one if his wives] appear as if out of nowhere shouting furiously, "It's yours, you idiot!'"
With that background, I was struck by two inter-related themes throughout this book:

One, polygamist societies where it is men, and only men, who take multiple wives, with the man having a "separate" marriage with each woman, while the wives are married only to him, are incredibly male-centric.

That may be obvious to note, but I think it needs to be noted since some people compare same-sex relationships to polygamist relationships like these. These relationships are not relationships of equals. Nor are these families child-centric or family-centric. They are about entitling men to sexual and marriage partners, so they can have as many biological children as possible while doing the least amount of parenting.

Women, unlike the men in this sect, were supposed to transcend the human emotion of jealousy and were "expected to share their husbands willingly," sometimes "actively court[ing] new wives for their husbands." Taylor describes some of the women, whose husbands were more like visitors than husbands or fathers, as "unhappy" and "love-starved," Causing Taylor to observe:

"Yet the men would be treated to the best that their families had to offer during their rare and coveted visits. I wondered: Was this why so many of the otherwise good-natured men, like my brother-in-law Paul, seemed to be growing steadily more self-centered and egotistical as they became less aware and considerate of the hardships and suffering their women and children faced each day?"

In my conversation last year with Vyckie Garrison, a woman who left the patriarchal Quiverfull movement, she echoed a similar sentiment, noting that while some men build themselves up within a religion as being like Jesus/God, "it is the wife and children who end up doing all the Jesus-like self-sacrificing … to the point of self-abnegation and burn-out." Over time, because of the way her religion "enshrined the supreme importance of males," Garrison lost the vocabulary for being able to name and recognize the abuse her husband was inflicting upon her.

Taylor, too, was taught (and, for some time seemed to believe) that, while men played central roles in Life and After-Life, she was kind of just "along for a timeless journey - making sacrifices necessary to be included in [her] husband's kingdom in which he reigned." She, like many of the women, seemed to see herself as a supporting cast member in a Big Man's Big Story.

How could men not get power trippy, egotistical, and abusive with that narrative framing their lives?

The second, and related, theme is that one of the best ways to entrap women and girls into this lifestyle seemed to be for much older men to "court" and then marry teenage girls and then to quickly impregnate them, which would solidify the girls' ties to this religion and society.

Imagine a 16-year-old girl with 2 new babies and no job experience, living in poverty in a remote Mexican colony. What are her options to "escape"?

Taylor recounts that she was 15 "the first time that a man of the church had shown interest" in her, and the man was the already-married father of one of her friends. The men, by the way, seemed simultaneously tacky and predatory, as they gifted the female friends of their own children with chocolates and cards, expecting the girls to be receptive and totally-grown-up.

Sadly, because this male-created religion/society granted men the near-total entitlement to view all girls as potential sexual and marriage partners, Taylor didn't seem to recognize the potentially-abusive power mismatch between herself and the man. Nor did her family or her society seem to have taught her many strategies for deflecting this sort of attention, which she did not seem to want, from men.

Taylor articulates the religious beliefs of this faith, throughout, only in general terms.

For instance, in reference to women's role in this religion, Taylor writes that as soon as her sister recovered from her near-fatal experience of giving birth, she was soon "well enough to continue on in her mission of bearing children to be raised in the church." More specific beliefs, the ones that the male church authority figures bickered over, debated, and killed others about (seriously), were left un-articulated in this book.

As a reader, I wondered if such omissions were intentional or if Taylor was even aware of, or fully knew, the specific beliefs of her (former) religion. It did not seem to be women's place to fully understand the religion, as many of the men seemed to make the beliefs intentionally esoteric in order to build up and maintain male power while the women handled all of the menial, day-to-day affairs of, you know, ensuring the continuity of the society.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear Internet,

So says Pema Chodron, in When Things Fall Apart: 
"Opinions are opinions, nothing more or less. We can begin to notice them, and we can being to label them as opinion, just as we label thoughts as thoughts. Just by this simple exercise we are introduced to the notion of egolessness. All ego really is, is our opinions, which we take to be solid, real, and the absolute truth about how things are. 
To have even a few seconds of doubt about the solidity and absolute truth of our own opinions, just to begin to see that we have opinions, introduces us to the possibility of egolessness. We don't have to make these opinions go away, and we don't have to criticize ourselves for having them. We could just notice what we say to ourselves and see how much of it is just our particular take on reality which may or may not be shared by other people.
It's up to us to sort out what is opinion and what is fact; then we can see intelligently. The more clearly we can see, the more powerful our speech and our actions will be. The less our speech and actions are clouded by opinion, the more they will communicate...."
From a spiritual standpoint, I would refer to myself as an agnostic, non-dogmatic Buddhist-leaning person. And, the above quote is a pretty good example as to why that it is, for me.

Here, notice how Chodron isn't telling us what The Truth is for All People Everywhere. In fact, she (and this spiritual leader is a woman, imagine that!) advises that we notice how we think, that we observe reality, and that we figure things out for ourselves.

Neither is her advice a commandment issued from upon high. It's a suggestion, and it's one in which she doesn't claim that something Very Bad will happen to us in our eternal afterlife if we do not heed it.

In encouraging free thought and questioning, Chodron's writing is devoid of the insecurity, the lack of trust in humanity, that mars so many religions, especially those of the fundamentalist type.

Welp, anyway, your regularly-scheduled opinion-sharing will resume tomorrow, here in Fannie's Room.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Today's Random, Deep Thoughts

So, while I was away a couple weeks ago, I wondered if I would miss Big Things on Internet.

When I returned, about 949 blog posts had added up in my Google Reader. But that's okay because about 412 of them all repeated that Obama had "come out" in favor of marriage equality. I actually started to become annoyed at hearing it over and over, if you can believe it. (#ungrateful?)

Then, when I chimed in, like everyone else, about that North Carolina pastor who opined about sex-segregating the "lesbians and queers" inside an electrified fence, a commenter here chimed in to tell me I was being "dishonest" about calling his Big Plan eliminationist.

Dude was, after all, going to drop in food for us.

*blink blink blink*

One hears a lot of, um, interesting ideas on Internet. And, well, you know how progressive feminist types are often accused of Looking For Things To Get Mad About. The above comment kind of struck me as Looking For Things To Not Get Mad About.

There's a time to give one's opposition the benefit of the doubt. However, when a pastor is opining about removing a group of people from society, and ensuring that they can neither inter-mingle with the Normal People nor procreate, that is not one such time.

Then, over at Family Scholars Blog, I got into my approximately 357th Internet conversation with a commenting n00b in which I had to explain that setting boundaries around what types of blog comments I find hostile and, thus, unwelcome following my posts, does not actually constitute a violation of one's precious Free Speech Rights.

The more I engage with people on Internet, the more I come to question the ways in which I have historically divided people with respect to political issues.

I have a sincere appreciation for those on the other side of any given issue who share the same values I do regarding civility and respect. At times, I feel more allied with, say, SSM opponents who are civil than I do with SSM proponents who are hostile.  Sometimes I feel as though it isn't Team Equality versus Team Bigotry, but Team Civility versus Team Hostility.

In addition, the more I do this blogging and Internet thing, the more it is reinforced in me that it is nearly impossible to have a productive or worthwhile conversation with someone on the "other side" if I have to spend the bulk of my time defending myself against hostility and/or continual accusations of bad faith. Generally, I have good intentions. I write exactly what I mean to say and only what I mean to say. I try to be clear, direct, and assertive. And still, people continually tell me what I'm intending or suggesting or Really Saying. They accuse me (and others) of being "disingenuous" or "out to deceive" or "insincere." As though they know.

Many people do not seem to know how to set boundaries in conversations, or don't know that they can, while many disregard other people's boundaries once they are set. Many people are surprised when others, especially women, do know how to set boundaries and actually expect them to be respected. Many people view boundary-setting as hyper-sensitivity or, at the other end of things, as hostility.

(I don't know. People aren't logical).

Given that the political landscape in the US is such that individual autonomy and boundary-setting/respecting are very low priorities, it does not surprise me that those who set boundaries are widely mocked, ridiculed, and told that they're hyper-sensitive by Bad-Ass Tough Guys (And Sometimes, Gals) Who Don't Care About People Abusing, Harassing, or Violating Them.


Even though I know how Internet is, I continue to be disappointed by it at times.

I enjoyed my time away.

A part of me questioned whether to come back at all, largely because of all of these thoughts I've shared with you today. I don't say that fishing for people to compliment me into continuing to blog. Mostly, I wrote this post just to share what's been on my mind lately and to let you know that my tolerance for jerks has been severely decreased. My tolerance for unwarranted accusations has been decreased.

So many people think they are owed space, on their own terms, to vent their oftentimes hostile opinions in Internet venues that other people have created, put work into, and built. And so they likewise think that it's a human rights/free speech violation for, say, a blog owner to set boundaries around what kinds of communication is and is not welcome in the spaces they/we create.

And, frankly, that entitlement pisses me off. If one is capable of writing dozens of comments on someone else's blog within the span of 24 hours, then it's likely ze is capable of starting hir own blog. A blog where they can build up their own audience through their own efforts, rather than other people's efforts, and say whatever the hell they want.

My blog is not an affirmative action program for jerks.

So yes, to those looking for a "gotcha!" (and aren't so many people on Internet looking for those?), this makes me "intolerant."

I'm okay with being intolerant of jerks.

Anyway, talk about any of this, or whatever, today!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Quote of the Day

"Listening to MRAs talking about feminism is a bit like sitting in on a book club in which no one has read the book." -David Futrelle

Oh, come on now, David. 
It's not that they haven't read... something. It's that they're basically the only ones still poring over and parroting selected quotes from The SCUM Manifesto and The Women's Room, neither of which they've actually read in their entirety, and pretending that these two books represent today's Feminist Canon.

I see this MRA ignorance repeatedly.

Aside from their aggression and entitlement, the biggest failing of the MRA movement in particular, and so many anti-feminist personalities in general, isn't that they disagree with feminism. It's that they don't even know feminism well enough to render informed, thoughtful critiques of it.

Which is why the mental image that comes to my mind whenever I hear "MRA" is always a picture of a toddler closing his eyes, putting his head down, and windmilling his arms through a crowd of grown-ups in order to show everyone how very angry he is.

He just doesn't have the tools, discipline, or know-how to engage his strong feeeeeelings in a more civilized, productive manner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Both Sides Are Just As Bad?

[Content note: eliminationist rhetoric]

So says North Carolina's Pastor Charles Worley, after the passing of the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage*:
"I figured a way to get rid of all the lesbians and queers, but I couldn't get it passed through Congress. Build a great, big, large fence — 150 or 100 mile long — put all the lesbians in there, fly over and drop some food. Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out…And you know what, in a few years, they'll die out."
Just like when, right after that ban on practicing Christianity passed, that one Gay Rights Organization Director gleefully told his members that next on the Gay Agenda was a plan to round up all the Christians, put them on a ship, and sink it to the bottom of the ocean, all to a chorus of "amens" by LGBT people.

In all seriousness, I am fully aware that many people who oppose full equality for LGBT people do not agree with, and might even publicly condemn, Worley's statement.

My point here is twofold.

This sort of rhetoric is not rare. They way homosexuality is discussed at Family Scholars Blog (where I guest blog) is simply not the way it's discussed and debated in the vast majority of venues that I, and many other LGBT people, have participated in.

And two, it is a false moral equation to compare this sort of eliminationist, hostile rhetoric, backed as it sometimes is by religious organizations that cry "anti-Christian bigotry" whenever the state grants even the tiniest concession to LGBT advocates, to when LGBT people and organizations call anti-equality advocates (accurately or inaccurately) bigots.

*If you watch the linked video, note how the newscaster warns that the video of the preacher speaking "might be offensive to some." 

Might be.

To some.

Ah yes. All of us over-sensitive PC Gone Too Far types who object to things like exterminating groups of people.

Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Knowing When To Walk Away, Again

Over at Family Scholars Blog, where I occasionally post guest blogs, I encountered a fellow using a quite out-dated term.

In the comments following my "Not a Christian, But" post about how homosexuality is turning young people away from Christianity, Darel referred to LGBT-affirming churches as "homophile:"
"What is so funny about this post is that there are plenty of liberal Protestant denominations that are homophile — the United Church of Christ and The Episcopal Church being the leading edge — and yet have the lowest levels of youth membership of any church in the country. Or consider Unitarian Universalism, which is both homophile and 'unChristian' and yet cannot attract any young people at all."

While true that if one looks up the word in a dictionary, the word generally means something along the lines of "gay or lesbian" or "concerned with the rights of gays and lesbians," use of the word by those within gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities largely stopped by the 1970s in the United States.

When I see folks using certain old-timey words, it sets off alarm bells.

For, when a person comes into contact with people who belong to oppressed groups, it is typical for members of that group to say something like, "Hey, many of us prefer to be called ____ now. 'Homophile' hasn't been used since, like, 1972." So, when I see people using out-dated terminology to refer to groups that they themselves likely do not belong to, I see it as demonstrating an ignorant insularity (at best) and/or an intentional, callous disregard for how people within that group prefer to be named (at worst).

They either don't come into regular contact with the people whose rights they oppose, they do and members of that group don't feel comfortable pointing out the error, or the person using the (mis)label just don't care that they're mis-naming the targets of their judgment.

We all have our moments of ignorance. And that's okay. What matters is how we react to these moments. 

There was a time, for instance, when I referred to transgender people as "transgendered." As in, "Tom is a transgendered." I just didn't know what the preferred term was. But, when a transgender person pointed out to me many transgender people prefer that transgender be used as an adjective and not a noun, it was embarrassing, but also not a Big Deal for me to incorporate into my language.

Calling people by their preferred names and labels is a pretty small concession that those with privilege (or relative privilege) can make when engaging in dialogue with, or about the rights of, members of a systematically-oppressed group. When people bunker down and refuse to do even that, it's been my experience that dialogue with such a person is neither civil nor productive.

Just a little tip I use in identifying when it might not be worthwhile to interact with people on Internet.

Monday, May 21, 2012

What, Exactly

is the point of making single-occupancy restrooms gender-specific?

It always seems to me like mindless adherence to unnecessary gender marking.

I mean, really.

I walk into a gas station and, oftentimes, there are two separate restrooms, each having exactly one toilet, fully-enclosed by a locked door, and each marked, respectively, "men" and "women." So, you know, the whole set-up can't even be explained by Trans* BaThRoOm PaNiC!!!11

Why the need for the distinction with these restrooms?

Does man-piss require separate disposal than woman-piss?

Why can't anyone use either toilet in either room?

What, exactly, do people think is going to happen if a woman uses the "men's" toilet, or if a man uses the "women's" toilet?

I see it as just another small way we're taught to artificially create, mark, and distinguish gender. Just another small way we're told that Men And Women Are So Different We Are Incapable of Pissing And Shitting In The Same Hole.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quote of the Day

So says John Scalzi, after his post entitled "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is":

"I should note that I’m planning to Mallet anyone who decides to start a debate on the word 'privilege' in this thread. I’ve already established that straight white dudes often cannot deal with the term rationally; there’s no need for a) any of them to prove it, b) anyone else to reiterate the fact." (emphasis added)
People on Internet can talk about privilege in rather clumsy ways, for sure. Even progressives.

However, I've often found that nothing shuts down a conversation with a person of privilege, or of relative privilege, faster than an "accusation," or what I like to refer to as an observation, that the person of privilege possesses privilege. Well, unless you're accusing the person of privilege of also being sexist, racist, homophobic, and/or otherwise bigoted, that is.

A prime way that privilege is preserved, after all, is to become Gravely Offended, Contemptuous, and Mocking of the notion that it exists. When threatened with the loss of one's hierarchical position, it is not unexpected that one would react in a frightened, irrational, and emotional state, rather than with reasoned discourse.

Which of course, makes it ironic that it's feminists, women, LGBT people, people of color, and persons lacking in privilege or relative privilege in any given conversation who are regularly accused of Not Being Able To Talk Rationally About The Matter At Hand.


Since this post is tangentially talking about games, don't you hate it when your damn dog-walker plays your Dragon Age 2 game and accidentally erases your progress right when you have sweet armor, awesome weapons, and are just about to finish the game and run off with your pirate lover?


Onward, to Mass Effect 3.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Not A Christian, But

Many feminists who have been active in the movement for even brief periods of time are familiar with the refrain, "I'm not a feminist or anything, but [insert feminist statement]." Feminism has been so maligned, often unfairly in my opinion, over the years that even some people who are feminist are reluctant to self-identify as feminist.

An article by Rachel Held Evans, entitled "How to win a culture war and lose a generation," has me wondering if younger people will begin echoing a similar refrain with respect to Christianity.

Evans reports some findings:
"When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was 'antihomosexual.' For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : 'judgmental,' 'hypocritical,' and 'too involved in politics.') 
In the book that documents these findings, titled unChristian, David Kinnaman writes:
“The gay issue has become the ‘big one, the negative image most likely to be intertwined with Christianity’s reputation. It is also the dimensions that most clearly demonstrates the unchristian faith to young people today, surfacing in a spate of negative perceptions: judgmental, bigoted, sheltered, right-wingers, hypocritical, insincere, and uncaring. Outsiders say [Christian] hostility toward gays...has become virtually synonymous with the Christian faith.” 

Later research, documented in [David] Kinnaman’s You Lost Me, reveals that one of the top reasons 59 percent of young adults with a Christian background have left the church is because they perceive the church to be too exclusive, particularly regarding their LGBT friends.  Eight million twenty-somethings have left the church, and this  is one reason why."

Aside from the harms anti-LGBT rhetoric does to LGBT people, does the bigoted, exclusionary, and alienating rhetoric rendered by some Christian leaders and followers of the Christian faith make it embarrassing for some heterosexuals to self-identify as Christian?

Are we going to start hearing, "I'm not a Christian, but I do accept as Jesus as my personal savior?" as people become reluctant to associate themselves with Culture War Christians? Do we hear this already?

As a member of the LGBT community, I know what many Culture War Christians are against (much moreso than what they are "for") as they wield their religion like a weapon to negate the lives, choices, and dignity of people like myself. Although such people often profess to love their LGBT neighbors, their words, actions, lies, and aggressions repeatedly demonstrate otherwise.

I also know that many LGBT people are Christians, and that a good many heterosexual Christians exist who are accepting, affirming, and loving toward LGBT people.

Personally, I vacillate between thinking that Christianity can and should be redeemed versus thinking that such a thing is impossible, given so many of its followers' entrenchment in violence, male supremacy, and anti-LGBT bigotry. If it is to be made better, if it can be made better, it will be through the work and reconciliation of LGBT/feminist Christians and allies, rather than through Culture War Christians rendering inflexible, absolute condemnations of other people's lives from upon high.

And sure, I can already hear some retorts from Culture War Christians: "It's not us saying these things about homosexuality. It's God" or "We can't change God's law to placate a selfish minority group."

In which case, they should prepare themselves to lose a generation. And when that happens, they can blame the cruel god they choose to worship for that too.

[Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Statistics of the Day

Paul Campos continues to write about the law school scam. This time, in Salon:
"Approximately half of the 45,000 people who will graduate this year from ABA-accredited law schools will never find jobs as lawyers. (The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next decade 21,000 new jobs for lawyers will become available each year, via growth and outflow from the profession.) 
Most of those who do find jobs will be making between $30,000 and $60,000 per year. People currently in law school are going to graduate with an average of $150,000 of educational debt. 
This debt will have an average interest rate of 7.5 percent, meaning the typical graduate will be accruing nearly $1,000 per month in interest upon graduation. Unlike almost every other form of debt, these loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy."

Related: On the Law School Scam

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chicago Tribune: Let Churches Decide, Repeal DOMA

The Chicago Tribune opines on Obama's coming-out in support of marriage equality, and I agree:
"Government recognition of same-sex marriage shouldn't infringe on faiths which teach that marriage is reserved for the union of a man and a woman. Religious creeds would, and should, remain free to identify what they do or don't choose to consecrate as marriages. The tolerance and acceptance we're advocating should reach beyond this religious realm — and should flow in two directions: Remember, for many Americans, opposition to gay marriage isn't synonymous with opposition to gays. It is, instead, rooted in their belief of what should constitute marriage.

Obama was sensible to say the issue should be decided at the state level. Over time, it's safe to bet, more and more states will embrace the idea.

What should be done at the federal level is to repeal the provision of the Defense of Marriage Act barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages. That policy deprives same-sex spouses of the benefits of marriage in everything from Social Security to immigration to income taxes. Washington ought to let states decide who may marry — and then treat every spouse as a spouse."
If a religious organization chooses not to solemnize a same-sex marriage, the state shouldn't force it to.

DOMA should be repealed and the federal government should recognize same-sex unions that are legal in the states where they were performed.

Just as a fun fact, this position contrasts sharply with Mitt Romney's position on marriage. He has signed the pledge of the anti-equality National Organization for Marriage (NOM), vowing to support a federal marriage amendment, to defend DOMA, and to establish a commission to transform "marriage defenders," who are apparently being bullied by the big bad mean queers, into a class of special victims investigate "American who have been harassed or threatened for exercising key civil rights to organize, to speak, to donate or to vote for marriage and to propose new protections, if needed."

No word on whether Romney will support a commission for people who are bullied for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or gender non-conforming. But he guesses he's sorry if any people are offended by that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What If, Like, A Key Moment In The Game, Her Shirt Pops Open And Her Bosoms Come Flyin' Out?

A high school baseball team in Phoenix, Our Lady Of Sorrows, has chosen to forfeit its championship baseball game because the opposing team has a female player.

Apparently the school, which is run by the conservative Catholic group Society of Saint Pius X, has a policy prohibiting co-ed sports. A written statement from the school said "the school teaches boys respect by not placing girls in athletic competition, where 'proper boundaries can only be respected with difficulty.'"

Or, as I like to call it, the school teaches boys that it's okay to create all-male spaces where boys don't have to compete with girls as equals, because girls are too dainty, inferior, and Other to be treated as equals.

Just as an anecdote here, I've played co-ed sports my entire life, including a close-contact combat sport. It's really not. that. difficult. for people to maintain "proper boundaries" so long as open communication, autonomy, and respect are truly valued. Someone tells you they don't like something you're doing to them? You don't do it. There.

Given the Catholic Church's problematic history living out those values, I can see why some leaders in some Catholic sects might have trouble believing it's possible for "proper boundaries" to be respected when people relate to one another not as equal human beings, but as "equal hierarchical" beings that are only capable of relating to one another in a sexually "complementary" manner.

Anyway, I liked the quote by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, from the Women's Sports Foundation:
"In real life, these boys are going to be competing against the girls for jobs, for positions in graduate programs or in trade schools. In every other area of their life, they are going to be competing side by side."

Stick that inability to compete with women in your "boy crisis."

Friday, May 11, 2012

Argentina Passes Gender Rights Law

Via npr, Argentina's Senate, with a 55-0 vote, passed a law this week allowing anyone to change their legal and physical gender without having to undergo judicial, psychiatric, and medical procedures beforehand.

The article claims (and I believe it is an accurate claim, although others can chime in here) that no other country in the world currently allows that to happen. In the US, for instance, state laws regarding changing one's legal gender vary, but a person is often required to undergo sex affirmation surgery (also sometimes called sex reassignment surgery) prior to changing the gender on one's birth certificate.

Some quotes from the article:
"'The fact that there are no medical requirements at all — no surgery, no hormone treatment and no diagnosis — is a real game changer and completely unique in the world. It is light years ahead of the vast majority of countries, including the U.S., and significantly ahead of even the most advanced countries,' said [Justus] Eisfeld, who [is co-director of Global Action for Trans Equality and] researched the laws of the 47 countries for the Council of Europe's human rights commission.
Marcela Romero, who was born a man but got a sex-change operation 25 years ago, spent 10 years arguing in Argentina's courts before a judge ordered the civil registry to give her a new identity card listing her gender as female. 
'It's something humiliating ... many of us have had to endure psychiatric and physical tests," she told The Associated Press on Thursday. 'With this law we'll no longer have to go through this.' 
'This law is saying that we're not going to require you to live as a man or a woman, or to change your anatomy in some way. They're saying that what you say you are is what you are. And that's extraordinary,' said Katrina Karkazis, a Stanford University bioethicist who wrote 'Fixing Sex,' a study of the legal and medical boundaries around gender identity issues in the United States. 
'Rather than our more sedimented ideas about what it is to be male or female, this sort of throws all of that up in the air in a really exciting way,' she said."
Indeed. This new law seems like a win for human autonomy and self-determination. 

Argentina also passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage two years ago.

*Cue the bigot slippery-slope panic*

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chronicle of Higher Education Blogger Attacks African-American Studies

So, White Lady reads a couple of dissertation titles in a university's African-American Studies Department and concludes that these dissertations constitute the "Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies." Lady admits she is ignorant as to the topics of those dissertations, simultaneously mocks these topics, and peppers her piece with contentious, provocative phrases like "left wing victimization" and the always hyper-defensive accusation that these dissertations do nothing but "blame the white man."

When folks rightly, intelligently, clearly, and sincerely take issue with her incredibly-simplistic piece, she "defends" herself by saying, basically, what you expect her to actually read those dissertations before using them as proof as to why an entire field of study should just STFU and go away? Gawd, her critics are, like, SO unfair!


Is assholery, for sure.

And it's an assholery born of pure, unadulterated white privilege and racism.

The kind that entitles a person in a privileged class to engage in abusive, uninformed, petty, Dunning-Krueger-esque attacks on minority interests and then to back up with her hands in the air as though it's other people who are So Out Of Line when they render assertive and apt critiques upon her "work."

We'll see if The Chronicle of Higher Education, the forum (incredibly) where the blogpost was published holds the author, Naomi Schaefer Riley, accountable in any way.


Grad Students Respond to Riley Post on African-American Studies

Faculty Response to  Riley Post on African-American Studies

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blogging Update

Hello all, Just as an update, blogging here will be somewhat sporadic over the next couple weeks. Everything's okay with me, I'm just extremely busy. That also means I don't have much time to moderate or interact with comments.