Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 Year in Review

Welp, as 2013 comes to a close I thought I'd reflect a bit on blogging over the course of the year.

1) Thanks!

Whether you're an "old regular" or a new visitor, thanks for checking in here now and then to read my writing.  And, relatedly, I appreciate that some of you take the time to comment or email me to say hi or let me know my writing has had some sort of impact on you.  For this blog being on Internet, the majority of you who comment here are friendly, reasonable, and funny people and I'm grateful for that!

2) The 2014 Reading Experiment

Secondly, I've decided to go ahead with the experiment to read, for pleasure, only books written by women in 2014. I'll post periodic updates with what I'm currently reading and what's in my queue, and other readers can feel free to chime in with recommendations and what they're reading as well.

I'm starting with:
  • Excluded, by Julia Serano (I've technically already started this book, but I know I won't finish it until January!)
  • The Broken Kingdoms, by NK Jemisin (Book 2 of her Inheritance Trilogy)
  • Kushiel's Dart, by Jacqueline Carey
  • Rape is Rape, by Jody Raphael
Thanks to all who participated in that conversation the other day and who gave reading recommendations.

I've had the Raphael book in my queue for a long time, and actually received a review copy of the book from the publisher.  However, I think the book is going to be an intense rape culture read, and well, sometimes, a person just doesn't have the will to read about sexual assault, even for purposes of writing a book review.

I'm going to tackle the book in 2014, however, because some Penn State fans have harassed Raphael online, including sabotaging her Amazon reviews, because she purportedly made what appears to have been a minor error in her book related to a detail in the Penn State sex abuse scandal. (I say that without having read the book yet and knowing all the details, so Penn State fanboys can just hold off on starting a shitstorm here).

3) Top Fannie's Room Posts in 2013

Here were the most-read posts in Fannie's Room during 2013, by month:
I'd like to add that Melissa McEwan from Shakesville included many of these posts in her recommended reading posts, directing a lot of traffic my way.  Much appreciation to her! *fist bump*

4) Family Scholars Blog and Thoughts on Guest Blogging

Another thing that happened in 2013 was that the Family Scholars Blog (FSB), where I had been a guest blogger since 2012, was abruptly placed on, what the owners of the blog called, a "hiatus."  I still remain mostly in the dark about what all prompted that decision and whether the blog will ever resume again.  

About a year ago, I had actually tried to resign from my stint there, but was talked out of it by David Blankenhorn.  I won't divulge the details of that conversation, but I will say much of the experience has left me with a somewhat-bad unresolved taste in my mouth. I guess that's fine. Not everything in life ends up being resolved, so these days I've thought of the experience in terms of what I've learned from it.

I've guest written at many sites during my time blogging, and with respect to my time at FSB, I learned some valuable lessons about conditions/questions I would need answered before I accepted another guest blogging gig anywhere, but especially at a site run by those with whom I have large, fundamental disagreements about LGBT and gender issues.  These lessons might be helpful to others who might be considering guest blogging, so.

For one, I would ask for control over how my posts were moderated. If a couple people consistently showed up to steer comments in a toxic direction, would I be allowed to ban them from my posts?  Would the owners support me in, or resent for, drawing these boundaries?

Relatedly, I would request a bit of transparency in how comments were moderated "behind the scenes."
I would want to know, for instance, whether moderators moderated conversations under their usual blogging identities or, say, whether they commented under one identity while moderating comments under a different "Moderator" identity.

I would also want to know who is actually doing the moderating and/or running of the blog and what qualifies them for that role?  Are they a college kid, an intern, a paid staff person?  I've been doing this a long time and I've developed a good instinct now for when someone shows up who's likely to be A Problem.  Am I going to be gaslit by less experienced moderators when I recognize problematic patterns?

And, importantly, I would ask the blog owners how much they have thought about the comment moderation policy at their site, and try to assess if the site had a semi-workable one.  I've written several posts over the course of the year discussing how running a site that strikes a reasonable balance between freedom of expression and participant safety actually takes a lot of work and actual resources.  So, I'd want to know, for instance, whether the blog owners had a belief that contentious conversations would somehow end up being mostly civil on Internet, or whether they were fine with their blog being an "anything goes" forum where hostility is implicitly sanctioned.

TL;DR version - I have high standards for guest blogging gigs, especially when I'm volunteering my time and writing skills.

Anyway, a big positive of my time blogging at FSB was having been able to maintain a friendship with Anna, also a former FSB guest blogger, who runs The Feminist Librarian blog.  *waives*   It's also her copy of Excluded that I've been reading for a few weeks now, and I promise I will finish it soon!

5) NOM's Thomas Peters In Serious Accident

National Organization for Marriage (NOM) employee and blogger Thomas Peters was injured, in July, in a very serious swimming accident that fractured his vertebrae.  I knew of Peters mostly through his public opposition to same-sex marriage and LGBT equality.

His family keeps a blog, updating it with notes on his recovery, and I actually have it in my blog reader.  His recovery has sounded arduous and it seems he has little ability to move his body below his neck. In November, Peters was back in very limited capacity, reflecting on his time away from his advocacy work.

I've thought several times about sharing my thoughts on his post, and each time have stopped. A part of me was hoping his experience would have given him greater compassion for LGBT individuals, maybe an "Upworthy" inspirational change of heart about things. But, *spoiler alert* , he's back Tweeting:


Most of all, I'm sad that he'll continue opposing my equality, as he has vows to "come back and fight harder than ever" for all of his beliefs about marriage, a vow he makes while typing with only the knuckle on his pinky finger.

This past year, I had to have a surgery that has a notoriously uncomfortable recovery period.  My partner was with me, similar to how Peters' wife has supported him, every step of the way. She was with me in the hospital, in the waiting room, and when I woke up in the recovery room. She brought me home, made me meals, kept the household running - none of which I would have been able to do on my own.

Perhaps the Peters family would cringe at me even daring to compare our relationships, but Peters' wife sounds similarly wonderful - devoted, caring, and loving.  We do have this common shared humanity, whether they acknowledge it or not.  And, even if Peters doesn't see our commonalities, I do.  I wish he did too. And, I wish him healing and peace.  We disagree about a lot of stuff, so I'll just leave it at that.

6) A Good Year for LGBT Rights!

Lastly, on a more upbeat note, 2013 was actually a pretty good year for LGBT issues in the US (although, content note for the first item on that list - Aziz Ansari doesn't actually "take down" homophobia, he really just makes a fat joke. Not sure why that item is #1 on the list when so many things that were actually cool happened last year and are depicted on the list).

Multiple states, including my home state, legalized same-sex marriage.  And, as soon as same-sex marriage is officially legal this Summer in Illinois, my partner and I will be upgrading our civil union to a marriage so we will be treated equally under federal law! We will have been together 8 years, and will be keeping our civil union certificate just to show future generations what it was like in the "old days."

Also, Laverne Cox, in Orange is the New Black, became the first trans woman of color with a leading role on a relatively mainstream TV show.  And, national organization GLAAD affirmed its commitment to supporting trans and bisexual people, in addition to gay men and lesbians, which is a big step for Gay Inc.

Welp, I guess that wraps up this Year in Review Post.  See you next year (har har har)!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Robertson as a Symbol of Waning Patriarchy

Let me preface this post by saying sorry for keeping this story somewhat in the news/blog cycle - this will be the last time I blog about this Duck Dynasty shit (at least this year, LOL).

But, I have a contention.

First item of note is that always on the lookout for a new Christian martyr, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has created a petition to "Tell A&E to Apologize and Reinstate Phil Robertson."  No surprise there.  But, it gets better.

Robertson's suspension, NOM goes on to claim, is just further evidence that the HRC, GLAAD, and equality supporters are "brutal bullies."  Even more recently, NOM has written a long-winded fundraising appeal comparing the incident to the threat of nuclear war.

Moving on from my point that NOM seems to grow more vile and extreme every week, the second item of note is that I've been pondering this Robertson incident and the resulting rage that so many white heterosexuals are expressing about this man experiencing consequences for his speech.

They seem to think that while his views may have been expressed in a "coarse" manner, he's really doing nothing more than expressing his Christian beliefs.  In addition to this belief being one of the worst PR campaign's for Christianity ever, I do believe that if we poke a bigot even just a little bit, it really doesn't take much for the really indefensible views to surface.  A dude who rants about vaginas and anuses likely has a shitload of other, ahem "problematic" views and stereotypes about queers dancing around in his head.

Third, a man writing for a site called Tea Party Nation said something that really stuck with me. He led his rant about the incident with:
"Aside from the silliness of A&E putting Phil Robertson in time out like he's a mis-behaving 5 year old..."
Contrast that characterization with the very literal way that the family calls Robertson their "patriarch." 

My contention here is that what seems to be lurking behind the rage and backlash to Robertson's suspension is anxiety about the impending dethroning of the heterosexual, white, male Christian - the very symbol of patriarchy in the United States - from his position as purported objective authority and superior human in the world.

Many folks upset about "what happened" to Robertson seem to view him as an upstanding Christian American man's man. And, although this man has had more of a public platform than 99% of Americans will ever get, such a man losing that platform due to his bigoted expressions really stirs shit up as though it's evidence of the plight of the downtrodden, oppressed True Christian in the United States today.

People seem anxious about this incident in the way that children are anxious when they see daddy get in trouble. Daddy is supposed to be the one who barks at other people to stand in the corner, not the one who's disciplined himself.

He's supposed to be the one who gets to say what's rude, what's moral, and what's bigotry.  And, although he only knows what it's like to live as a privileged white heterosexual man, daddy still thinks he's the ultimate authority on everyone else's lived experiences in the world. He has lots to teach everyone else, you see, about what's smart. What's stupid. What's logical. What's sexually appealing.

Historically in the US, being seen as an authority and the definer of truth was almost the sole prerogative of the privileged white Christian heterosexual man.  This -what I like to call - fauxbjectivity is what convinces many men that they're closer to god than women, that they have special insight into what is and isn't objectively sinful, and that black people were mostly happy during Jim Crow just because they personally heard no black people complain about it.  It's what convinces them that everyone else gets upset about stupid little things, but whoa whoa now when their prickly pride and concerns are on the line, watch out the fuck out!

But, the ground is shifting.

Their privilege is being lost. Their voices are no longer imbued with as much unearned authority as they once were. The louder Robertson and his supporters scream about being bullied by the homo mob, the more they lose a generation of Christians.

With his bratty, arrogant, poorly-thought-out rants, and his seeming ignorance that the rest of the world doesn't see him as the authority he thinks he is, the white, anti-gay, Christian man is finding that lots of people disagree with his moral compass and have good reason to do so.

With their anger and over-the-top persecution complex, this type of man and his allies are being revealed for the entitled people they are.  For, what we are witnessing here is not the "brutal bullying" of the white heterosexual, anti-gay Christian man, but rather his demotion from superior to equal.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

[Content note: homophobia]

"It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical." -Phil Robertson

I've never heard of this Robertson gasbag before zillions of raging white heterosexuals leaped to his defense earlier this week, but lord, this statement is precisely the sort of I'm just a common folksy folk guy just telling it like it is tone that I find so irritating.

I mean, even the way CNN frames it invites a false dichotomy:

"Is this man simply expressing his beliefs or spewing bigotry?"

Like, a person can't be doing both things at once?  As though if one is "simply" expressing one's beliefs, those beliefs should be immune from criticism?

Nope. Nopedy nope nope nope!

Robertson is part of a show on a TV network that, since his above commentary and also-abhorrent commentary about black people, has put him on hiatus indefinitely.  

According to the same CNN article, there's a petition at change.org to bring Robertson back, along with a pro-Robertson Facebook page that now has at least 200,000 likes.  It's so neat how the mainstream is so very forgiving of white men and boys who fuck up.  It's almost like there's a whole culture entitling them to do so.  

On the.... upside? I have been a little entertained by the more than a handful Robertson Internet Defenders who are saying things like, "All he did was quote the Bible! A man can't even quote the Bible anymore?!?!"  

*stops to re-read Robertson quote*

And today's post was brought to you by one of the worst PR campaign for Christianity, ever.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Patterns in Commenting

So, after 7 years or so of blogging, it turns out I've picked up a pretty good sense for when commenters here, and others I encounter on Internet, are going to be not great for me to interact with.  It also turns out that in my older and wiser years, I care less about falling into The Tolerance Trap wherein, in order to be a Good Blogger, one must allow all opinions and voices just because people have them and that's the tolerant thing to do.

See, although it might not seem like a big deal if it looks like a commenter strolls by and "slightly" mischaracterizes what I wrote in a post, for a commenter to come right out of the commenting gate with something like "First of all, [insert mischaracterization, proceed to write a novel rebutting it]", signals that they're reacting more to what they think I said than what I've actually said.  Which is rarely fun for anyone.

In my experience, engaging with such people often means having to be on guard against repeated mischaraterizations, having to continually correct people's interpretations of my arguments, and ultimately having to try to decipher what I think they think my argument is so that actual conversation can happen. It's a tedious process and, honestly, I'm not always up for it.  It can be infinitely easier for me to be like, "Welp, it looks like we disagree about some stuff, how about we just leave it at that, yeah?"

Secondly, I've previously discussed sock-puppeting with respect to Internet commenting and entitlement.  So, "two people" showing up to comment on the same site, both of whom are in pretty much 100% agreement with one another and who have the same IP address is suspicious.  It tells me, wow, this person probably really wants to appear to be right and that there's a good chance it's one person pretending to be two different people or two people sitting together manufacturing support for one another.  

Yes, two friends or roommates can both be in agreement about stuff (and likely often are) and both be posting on the same site from the same location, but I think a less suspicious course of action to take when two people in the same household are engaging in debate in the same forum would be for them to make substantive contributions to the conversation beyond merely rubber stamping what the other has said.  An important consideration when commenting with a friend is, I think, "What we're doing might be 100% innocent, but how might it appear to others and how can I/we appropriately clarify and engage?"

Saying something like, Well, uh gee, my roommate's computer was broken and, um, she used mine and must have found your blog too and decided to comment, is.... entertaining, I guess.

Third, in my experience when someone says something akin to how they consider themselves a feminist although, really, they prefer the term "equalist" because feminism should really be "about equality," I know that said equalist and I are likely at fundamentally different places in how we understand and think about feminism.  Which, you know, fine.  Lots of feminisms exist, and people are at lots of different stages in their feminism.

I'm just not always super interested in having the same conversations I've had about zillion times before about how stuff is hard for men too, so can't feminism focus more on men.  I mean, there's a place for that convo to happen for people for whom it's new and stuff, but I don't really see Fannie's Room as the place for that Important Convo at this moment in time.

Fourth, I never know quite what to do with the commenter who will just drop a link into a comment with something like, "See, read this, these people agree with me," and meanwhile, the content they've linked to is like novella-length.  It's just, like, really lazy and I'm always wondering, which damn part of this piece am I supposed to respond to?  Do I just drop everything I'm doing and rebut the entire thing? 

I just find it more conducive to a conversation when people formulate their own arguments and then link to other content or arguments to support a specific argument they themselves are making.  "Go read this whole thing" is just too broad for me to work with given the other constraints on my time and, frankly, my interests. 

Lastly, if I've asked a commenter to not comment here, then don't fucking comment here.  When someone does so, especially if they claim to be a feminist (or "equalist") despite me directly asking them not to do so, that's a big signal to me that they and I have fundamentally different understandings of feminism and boundaries.

Relatedly, I mostly skim those Parting Last Words (ie, insults) banned commenters so often feel the need to leave.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A 2014 Reading Experiment

I myself am contemplating reading books only by female authors in 2014.

I thought about posting that experiment on Facebook, but envisioned a tedious conversation with mansplainers telling me how sexist and misandrist such an experiment would be and why was I trying to ban all books written by men ever!

Perhaps that imaginative scenario appears to have escalated quickly, but really.

I've been doing gender blogging for a long time. I know how it goes.  You make one comment about how making a sexist joke in the midst of a tense conversation about gender isn't the best timing and suddenly, some dudes are all, "Why are you trying to ban comedy from the whole entire world?!?!"

Anyway, last week a male friend posted a list of the 10 books that have had the greatest influence on him.  9 of them were written by men.  His friends followed suit and a similar pattern emerged.  None of them seem to have noticed or cared that 90% of their fave books ever were written by men.

So, I argue.

If I consciously choose to read books only by female authors in 2014, in recognition of the fact that women's writing has long been undervalued and suppressed compared to men's, doing so is not "reverse sexism."  It's certainly no worse than what these men, who aren't even aware of their preferences, are doing. In fact, it's not even sexism.

It would be a choice I'm making for me because the list of books in my to-read queue is damn long and I reckon I have a lot of making up to do given that at least 80% of the books I read growing up, thanks to the educational system I traversed, were written by men.

Oh yes, I have heard from a lot of men.

I also know that the rebuttal to anyone noting that, say, 90% of the books on any given "best of" list are written by men is that "we" should "just read whatever we like" and "so what if that just so happens to be books written entirely by men, maybe their writing is just the best."  Like, there's rarely any acknowledgement of the extent to which being socialized to overvalue men's writing and opinions might maybe influence people's reading choices throughout their lives.

Just as many white people claim they "don't even see race" when in reality that often means they don't see racism, it's as though these "gender blind" book fans' privilege of not thinking regularly about gender issues somehow insulates them from being influenced by living in a sexist society.  It's also as though people think that evaluating the quality of a book is a simple, objective matter that can be determined by, perhaps, a computer program that will give them a binary answer as to whether or not a book is good and that therefore the Official Judges Of Books are not also influenced by sexism.

See, it also turns out, 9/10 Book Guy is a member of the clergy in a religion that doesn't ordain women and from which he primarily reads male voices purporting to be moral and spiritual authorities. It would seem almost willful for us to collectively pretend that the book choices he makes are 100% due to men being better writers than women and that he's not at all influenced by the constant drumbeat he hears everyday about the spiritual superiority of men compared to women.

My point here isn't to tell people what books they should read or what books they should or shouldn't like. Clearly, books written by men resonate more with 9/10 Book Guy. My point here is that it would be a mistake to think that that which resonates with men is objectively better than that which resonates with women.

That seems obvious to state, but it also seems like it bears stating.

Monday, December 16, 2013

NOM Offended By Legal Realities

The increasingly-irrelevant National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) has its knickers in a twist over a rather benign article that merely reports how the US Department of Education will now treat same-sex married couples the same as heterosexual married couples on student loan applications.

NOM snarks:
"On the one hand, this isn't really 'news.' It's a natural progression required by the Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down part of DOMA. On the other hand, it's an opportunity for the media to keep advancing the same-sex marriage agenda by keeping it in the spotlight and giving it undue attention. Harken back to the study from this past summer showing extreme media bias in coverage. This is just another example."
What a remarkably privileged and self-centered claim to say that the Department of Education's statement isn't "news" and that this sort of article constitutes excessive reporting about same-sex marriage.

The legal realities for same-sex couples are still quite complex with some government agencies recognizing our unions and some of this recognition depending upon what state a couple was married in and whether their state of residence recognizes such unions. For instance, the Social Security Administration will grant benefits to a married same-sex couples if they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex unions AND if they live or lived in a state that recognizes their union. However, the IRS will allow same-sex married couples to file jointly if they were married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.  The couples do not also have to be residing in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.

These legal realities are complex and varying in part because the federal government now recognizes same-sex marriage while many states do not - a situation that NOM helps to perpetuate through its opposition to same-sex marriage.

To many same-sex couples, the sort of clarification offered by federal agencies about how they will treat same-sex couples is a welcome source of information.

NOM's snide anger here is actually a good example of what I like to call the "conservative politically correct mindset" that chalks up to conspiracy what is actually reality.  That, of course, and undiluted, unexamined privilege and assholery.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Updates to Suspension Story

The boy, who I wrote about earlier in the week, who was suspended for kissing a girl in class had the allegations on his record changed from "sexual harassment" to "misconduct."  The linked-to Fox News article doesn't really explain why this change occurred, other than that the school district had been "inundated" with calls defending the boy.

Of fucking course.

Because missing from like 99% of reports were any statement made by the girl or her parents. Like, it wasn't even he-said, she-said, most of the media reports were almost entirely what the boy's mom said.

And, really, when I'm honest, few gender issues infuriate me more than a woman coddling rape culture entitlement in boys - because when women do it, with all of the associated "Can I just say as a female" bullshit prefacing, it does lend more credibility to whatever pro-rape-culture shit they're about to promote. Pretty much the only time sexist men will listen to women and believe women is when what we're saying validates their sexist, pro-rape-culture beliefs.

This one article, however, did bother to interview the girl's mother. And, she presents a quite different story of the situation than the OMG this poor, cute, innocent BOY got suspended for, like, NO REASON!! media hype.

She claims that in addition to the boy engaging in this behavior multiple times, including sneaking up on the girl, two boys "kept her (daughter) from playing with other kids and fought with each other." She adds:
"After they got in trouble, one boy stopped but the other boy apparently didn't get it. I had to put restrictions on her about which she was allowed to be around at school. I've had to coach her about what to do when you don't want someone touching you, but they won't stop."
The boy's mother, on the contrary, claimed that the boy and girl "like each other."

The girl herself told Fox News that she wanted the boy to "knock it off."

But, you know, I really don't want to get into litigating what happened. What's notable is how the boy being suspended at all is largely, widely viewed as CrAzY and Totally Out of Line, even though most people haven't even heard from the girl or her mother.

It's also really unfortunate that this instance really parallels what so often happens when men and boys are accused of rape or sexual harassment. Melissa at Shakesville notes:
"It's amazing (not remotely amazing) that this defense looks precisely like the rape apologia we see after every other case in which a male student breaches the consent of a female classmate. It was mutual. It was no big deal. There's nothing wrong with it. It's normal. It's natural. It's just a boy being a boy. To call out this behavior, to punish it, will have negative consequences for the boy who breached a girl's consent. It will ruin his life."
Boys and men have a lot of power, a lot of stereotypes, a lot of so-called common sense truths about gender, on their side working to validate their words and actions and minimize any resulting harm they might cause girls and women. It's almost like, gee, a whole culture exists, surrounding us all with the notion that girls and women exist in a state of perpetual consent to have our bodies touched, and that not getting a boy in trouble is more important that our bodily autonomy and integrity.

And, if people raise enough of a shit-storm, make enough phone calls whinging about PC Run Amok, then even the smallest disciplinary measures - like accurately calling sexual harassment sexual harassment - can be reversed. And, that's quite a lesson for girls to take in, yeah?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

News: Boy Punished For Sexual Harassment!

I suppose because this incident made it to the news we are supposed to be outraged or something about PC Feminism Gone Awry?

In this very brief news item, we learn that a school suspended a 6-year-old boy for kissing another student, a girl, on the cheek. We also learn that "school officials" purportedly want some sort of sexual harassment charge placed on the school record.


For, we also learn that the boy was suspended a previous time for kissing the girl. So, he apparently didn't learn his lesson. We also learn that the boy's mother claims that the girl "did not object to being kissed."

Regardless of whether a girl expressly "objects to being kissed" or not, I'm having difficulty contriving situations in which it would be appropriate for one student to kiss another student in the classroom.

By sheer virtue of this boy's punishment being a "news item" at all, the default working assumptions going on seem to be that (a) a girl consents to being kissed by other students in school unless she explicitly states otherwise, and (b) a boy is entitled to kiss girls in school multiple times without being punished for it.

These are the lessons people seem to learn at a young age, especially when society largely frames it as "cute" and "innocent" when little kids violate each other's boundaries.

When I was in grade school, I remember a boy used to regularly harass me during class movies. Whenever the lights would dim, he would sit next to me, stick his hands in his shorts, pull out his penis, and start jerking off.  I didn't know then how to tell him to stop, because I was like 7 and because I felt like it was me who was a bad person for having that happen to me. I ended up telling my sister and, together, we told on him and he did end up getting in trouble, although from what I remember he only got a stern talking to, rather than a suspension.

He, like the boy in the above news piece, learned his behavior from someone, sadly.  And, the way that adults respond to these situations can further entitle the behavior or stop it.  That includes the asinine pro-rape-culture commenters who Strongly Disagree with boys getting suspended for sexual harassment.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Update

I reckon that the number of atheist secular types who go into raging screaming fits when someone tells them "Merry Christmas" this time of year is the same as the number of feminist types who go into raging screaming fits when a male stranger holds open a door for them in public: 2.  Maybe. Ever. In the world.

The whole "Merry Christmas" versus "Happy Holidays" thing always strikes me as having so much baggage to it, as though whichever one people say to me, they're anxious about it, gauging which "side" I'm on, and/or they're seeing what they can get away with.  I almost feel like some Christians intentionally say, "Merry Christmas" whilst just daring all of their mythical PC Gone Too Far Acquaintances to call them out on it so they can then go off on a tangent about the goddamned War On Christmas.

It's like saying Merry Christmas to someone isn't even about actually wishing them a Merry Christmas anymore. It's about "winning."  The same people who feel super self-righteous about the Merry Christmas thing are the same people who are Very Loudly say the "under god" part in the Pledge of Allegiance. Like, they're just making a point, and "beating" their atheist, secular foes.

And blah blah blah some stuff about god, maybe. But the real point is cultural domination and moral superiority.

In other news, blogging has been light, and I've been slightly cantankerous, because I recently had a surgical procedure. I say surgical procedure because that makes it sound trivial, when in fact, it's had a bit of a recovery process to it.  I'm feeling well and not in pain, but I haven't been up to keeping my regular ol' blogging schedule the past couple of weeks.

I'm also not supposed to raise my blood pressure too much during this time so I don't spring any leaks in my stitching, so reading MRA bullshit and getting into Internet Kerfuffles with assholes, has intentionally not been a big part of my recovery process.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Conservative Writer Advises NOM to Change

Over at The Washington Post, conservative commentator Jennifer Rubin suggests that it's time for the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) to adapt to the reality of same-sex marriage and to begin actually promoting marriage.

She suggests some action items for the group:
"Campaign for marriage, not against gay marriage. Root out marriage penalties in the tax code. Enlist religious and secular groups to tout marriage and inform people about its physical, psychological and economic benefits. Promote private marriage counseling. If MADD can change attitudes on drunk driving, the environmental movement can make recycling delinquents into social pariahs and a conservative talk show host and Democratic senator can set out to raise awareness of adoption, NOM can certainly lead a cultural movement to promote marriage."
Well, we'll see, I guess.

Though, I always find it notable that conservatives are so willing, so able, to give individuals and organizations who oppose same-sex marriage the benefit of the doubt.

When I was a guest writer at the now-defunct Family Scholars Blog, writing regularly about the antics of NOM and other professional opponents of same-sex marriage in this conservative-dominated forum, I was often met with incredulity on the part of some of the conservatives there who, unlike many LGBT folks, actually do seem to operate on the assumption that NOM doesn't harm, whether intentionally or not, LGBT people. As though, sure, it makes 100% good, rational sense, and not even an iota of bigotry, to say you're all about saving marriage while focusing primarily on preventing same-sex couples from marriage.

Good grief, some would opine, what's so wrong about NOM seeking to drive a wedge between gays and blacks, anyway? Or, it's just a small but vocal group that actually hates gay people. Or, my personal fave, "both sides do it too!" whenever any evidence of anti-gay incivility was brought up.

I bring up these issues mostly as a reminder that many LGBT people and allies have a quite different perception of NOM and its purported goodwill and intentions with respect to saving marriage than do, apparently, many conservatives. The organization itself was formed in 2007 specifically to put Proposition 8, banning same-sex marriage, on the ballot in California. And, recently, NOM has increased its anti-trans advocacy, suggesting that it's moving toward a more sinister adaptation to the reality of ever-increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage: opposing transgender rights and equality.

For the organization to begin activities like promoting private marriage counseling and rooting out marriage tax penalties would seem to be quite a drift from its original, monomanically-gay-related purpose and history.

Frankly, I don't want NOM to lead a cultural movement. I would be very wary of folks at that organization being widely asked or expected to do so. The organization promotes hetero supremacy and asinine, bumper sticker thinking about gender essentialism. I question how many Americans even could look past its problematic anti-LGBT history and truly believe that the organization possesses the moral capital to "lead" a cultural movement around marriage at all.

Personally, I will not respect the organization or its leadership until they look within, ponder their losses, and publicly apologize to the LGBT community and acknowledge any harm caused through its advocacy and campaigns. I'm confident I'm not alone there.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The "Erin Brokovich" of Internet Harassment

This story is pretty incredible as it illustrates the endurance and determination that's often required to take on Internet bullies, harassers, and abusers when law enforcement largely ignores this pervasive problem.

The whole thing is not an easy read, as it documents case after case of Internet bullying and harassment of women.  But, people are developing ways to fight back and the resources to do so will continue to evolve.

Also, FYI, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative does seem to provide some support and resources to those affected by online harassment.