Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Welp, This Happened

This one's from The Fall, featuring Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Dr. Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi). To set the stage, the two characters, who are just friends/colleagues at this point, have agreed to meet for drinks. Dr. Smith is waiting at a table by herself, when a man walks up.

Then, Stella enters, and helps a friend out:

 

It is a scene to launch a thousand fanfics, as lesbian/bisexual fandom collectively thinks: "Turn baaaack! You've made a huge mistake!"

I kid.  For, in all seriousness, Stella is cool, chill, and knows how to take "no" for answer.  She made her move and if Dr. Smith isn't comfortable with the one-night-stand, that's fine, She's Stella freaking Gibson. There will be no cajoling.

Anyway, I hope you all have a safe and fabulous New Year's!

Peace out, 2015.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Movie Review: Carol

So, I saw the movie Carol over the weekend.

Honestly, I think my better movie reviews are when movies are bad, so I don't have a ton to say about this one. (Flash movie review by gay guy sitting in front of me at the movie theatre: "Too much talking, not enough scissoring!" To that I would just recommend a different movie.)

My take on things is that Cate Blanchett is divine in practically everything she does, and her portrayal of 1950s lesbian/bisexual Carol Aird is no exception. To be looked at by Carol, let alone loved, would be everything.

Why yes, I would come visit you Sunday. Thank you for asking.

Secondly, for a film featuring love between two women in the 1950s, I was pleased both by the non-tragic ending and its avoidance of making the heterosexual male romantic interests in the women's lives complete jerks. I mean, Carol's husband, what's-his-face from Friday Night Lights, was a jerk, but in the end seemed didn't turn out to be 100% jerky.

It always feels cheap and easy to get an audience to hate people who are unsympathetic and who have no redeeming qualities. For instance, some lesbian/bisexual movies will feature the women engaging in really awful sex with men, which is then contrasted with eventual fulfilling sex with women (as well as soft lighting and camera angles on unidentifiable body parts).

Yet, in my opinion, the best films and TV show people not as pure monsters or angels.  I don't want to be told who the villains are, I want to decide first if there are villains at all and second who they actually are, for myself.  Life and love are complicated, you know?  So, it feels more rewarding when heterosexual men in lesbian/bisexual films are shown as more nuanced while still inviting the audience to root for the women to end up together anyway (obvs).

That being said, the queer female gaze was strong with this one. Ultimately, I found the most sympathetic characters to be Carol and Therese, and it was their story that was central. Their responses to one another unfolded slowly and both Blanchett and Mara's understated performances seemed to mimic an era when same-sex love had to be subtextual, brimming below the surface, by necessity.

In sum, I thought Carol was an epic A+ lesbian/bisexual movie. And those, as we know, are rare.

Other than that, my next comment is 100% shallow.

At one point (*spoiler alert*), Carol's love interest Therese (Rooney Mara, also fantastic) wakes up in a hotel room to find that Carol has left her alone in a strange city. Instead, Therese finds Carol's best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) sitting in a chair next to her bed.  I had thoughts about that, as I Twittered last night:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

So, Rod Dreher Seems Nice

Here, Dreher, the Christian conservative writes:
"The 'Status Update' episode of of This American Life was one I almost didn’t listen to. Why? Because the first segment is a discussion of among the most annoying people on the planet — young teenage girls — talking about the most boring subject on the planet: their social media habits."
Oy. Adults bullying teen girls as a class is not a good look on anyone, least of all a middle-aged male blogger with a relatively large following. Petty.

Image result for mean girls gifs


Then here, Dreher has a bee in his bonnet about the TV show Transparent (a) existing at all, and (b) being featured in The New York Times. He hyperventilates:
"A political response is necessary, but a political response alone is radically insufficient, in part because it’s nothing but a delaying action. This Weimar America madness has to run its course. We religious conservatives had all better do everything we can to protect our institutions and our families from it. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not going to get any easier as the years go by, no matter who sits in the White House, and we had better prepare ourselves."
In comments, Dreher explains his Nazi allusion "Weimar America": it's "shorthand for an unstable and decadent state and culture marked by left and right extremism, in which the center could not and did not hold."

The suggestion seems to be that Transparent is a herald of the US turning into a Nazi-like state in which the rounding up and murdering of conservative Christians like him is imminent.

I chose both quotes to highlight here because, to me, they demonstrate the Christian Persecution Complex well in its current post-marriage-equality incarnation.

Out of one side of his mouth, Dreher and his people are victims, he claims. Yet, out of the other side of his mouth, he uses his voice to belittle teenage girls. "Transgenders." College kids. Black Lives Matters activists. Take your pick at the Dreher blog. When people such as these advocate for themselves, it is "decadence." They are being whiny "titty-babies."  Yet, take away a religious school's "right" to discriminate against gays, let a show featuring trans people be featured in a major newspaper, and watch out everyone it's a human rights violation of the first order.

The problem with Christians such as this is not that they are being persecuted in any meaningful sense of the word. It's both that previously-excluded groups are gaining platforms and visibility while conservative Christians are losing their previously-privileged standing and disproportionate power in US society, law, and culture.  It is akin to Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) who interpret gains for women as the sexism/oppression of men.

There is literally no threat to anti-LGBT Christians in the US right now that merits comparisons to either Nazi Germany or its precursor conditions.

As I noted back in June, when Dreher was given space in Time (because.... ummm?) to share his histrionics about the SCOTUS ruling, "The chief harm to opponents of equality is not that it impacts their own rights or liberty, but that the state no longer officially agrees with their moral and/or religious views about the matter. The state not being a Christian one is framed, not as neutrality, but as aggression and unfairness."

Yet, unfortunately, to paraphrase a quote, when God is a man, some men see themselves as God.

Many white Christian men are used to being authoritative overlords - indeed grow up with their scriptures affirming that status for them. They have it ingrained in them that their - our - voices don't matter, that our voices are, say, "the most annoying on the planet," unworthy of listening to, dangerous, a beginning to the end times.

In a recent essay, Rebecca Solnit makes an observation about that peculiar group of white guys who, because of the way society has long centered them and their voices, now demand constant coddling (while of course claiming it's others who need to be coddled):
"A group of black college students doesn’t like something and they ask for something different in a fairly civil way and they’re accused of needing coddling as though it’s needing nuclear arms. A group of white male gamers doesn’t like what a woman cultural critic says about misogyny in gaming and they spend a year or so persecuting her with an unending torrent of rape threats, death threats, bomb threats, doxxing, and eventually a threat of a massacre that cites Marc LePine, the Montreal misogynist who murdered 14 women in 1989, as a role model. I’m speaking, of course, about the case of Anita Sarkeesian and Gamergate. You could call those guys coddled. We should. And seriously, did they feel they were owed a world in which everyone thought everything they did and liked and made was awesome or just remained silent? Maybe, because they had it for a long time.
And so it goes. When men like Dreher are offended by, say, Transparent, we are to take it as a valid, serious, important concern. His delicate sensibilities - the priggish way he talks about trans people and "SJWs" -  demand coddling. Other people's sensibilities are seen as political correctness gone too far.

In all, it's a profound failure of empathy.

In her essay, Solnit goes on to note that, indeed, art can be dangerous. It can change the world. It can make us or break us.  It can elevate other voices. And, in the case of something like Transparent, can shift the female gaze from the margin to the center, and tell the previously-untold stories of people who have previously been marginal to the white male protagonist's story.

Only under the mindset that one particular group's story is the only one worth centering can the telling of other people's stories be framed as "decadent."  I mean, let's really take a step back and examine the self-absorption inherent in that claim: telling stories that center trans and female individuals is a sign of decadence, it is a luxury and sign of decline; unlike say the telling of cisgender white male stories, which is a social necessity, and a social good.

Perhaps to a conservative white Christian man with such a mindset, the celebration of other stories, perspectives, lifestyles feels akin to - for him - genocide.  If in metaphor only.

Make no mistake, though, it's not.

What a world.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Car Wash and an Ice Cream Cone

Today was brought to you by the opening of Lost Girl episode "Groundhog Fae."


Happy weekend!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Lady Love Actually

All I want for Christmas this year is the movie Love Actually to be re-made so that all the romance plot lines are lesbian/bisexual in nature.

Is that too much to ask?

Imagine for a moment:

Jane Lynch would replace Billy Bob Thornton as the swashbuckling US President. Obviously. Archie Panjabi would play the UK Prime Minister and Zoie Palmer, perhaps, her nerdy-yet-charming new foreign policy advisor. After a falling out in which Palmer's character quits, Panjabi's character would go on a charmingly-funny door-to-door search for Palmer's character. On this search, two little girls would ask her to sing a Christmas carol and there she would find out that her bodyguard (portrayed by Abby Wambach, making a cameo) had surprisingly good vocals. She would, of course, end up with Palmer’s character, and being a gay Prime Minister would be a non-issue.

Ellen Page would play a character with an ex-girlfriend/best friend, played by Taylor Schilling. Schilling's character would be newly-married to a character played by Jamie Clayton, with whom Page's character is secretly in love, and for that reason overcompensates by being nasty to Clayton's character. One night, Page and Clayton's characters would run into each other at a karoake bar. Page's character would push the nastiness too far. As Clayton's character left the bar, Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" would come on. Page's character would grab a microphone and, tragically but beautifully, sing to Clayton's character, now gone. She would have given her all the stars. But also, she would never actually tell that to her best friend's wife, because that would be an emotionally-confusing, asshole move.

Gillian Anderson would play a character mourning the loss of her wife. To her young son, she would casually mention her longstanding crush on actress Lucy Lawless. By the end of the movie, Lawless would eventually make a cameo as a single parent at her son's school. It would be implied that Anderson and Lawless's characters end up together, effectively resolving the fantasies of many lesbian and bisexual women of a certain age.

Ruby Rose would play a character who travels to "Wisconsin" to engage in genderqueer advocacy at a university. While the advocates ze meets would be entertained by zir accent, and engage in many sexual escapades, it would be zir smarts and personality they truly admire. Zir friend, played by Samira Wiley would immediately join zir from across the pond.

Cate Blanchett would play a character in a longstanding and lackluster marriage to her husband. At her design agency, of which she is the CEO, she would develop feelings for her new secretary, played by Naya Rivera. Realizing that she has long denied her bisexuality, Blanchett’s character would leave her husband and go for Rivera's character. To be honest, she's always been a little bit of a cougar and there's nothing wrong with that.

Jenny Shimizu and Kate Moennig would play two characters who are playing two characters in a sex-positive feminist film featuring two strong female leads. In their movie-within-a-movie roles, they would embark on a sexual relationship, in consensual, empowering ways. Although mutually attracted to one another, both characters would be entirely too cool to ask the other out.

Kerry Washington would play a thoughtful writer who leaves for the French countryside to finish her novel. While there, she would fall in love with her Portuguese housekeeper played by Lucia Moniz (she can stay in the movie). She would have complicated feelings about the power differential between herself and Moniz's character, so she would not make her move until after the employment relationship has ended. Showing that U-Hauling perhaps is a universal language, Washington's character would quickly propose. "Yes" would "being" the answer.

Amy Rae and Emily Saliers would play two folk musicians who have mixed feelings about how they "sold out" by writing a popular Christmas song for a contest, fame, and fortune. At the end of the movie, they would come to the realization that, although both are lesbians with an inherent sexual tension between them, they prefer their platonic companionship. They would celebrate the Solstice by reading to one another aloud, by the hearth, from Virginia Woolf's diaries.

Lastly, Wanda Sykes would replace Mr. Bean and there would be no storyline that involves an irritating cell phone ring and sexual frustration.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What the Ever-Loving Hell Am I Looking At

I was browsing Internet recently when an obtrusive pop-up ad for a movie called The Ridiculous 6 barged onto my screen.

Perhaps you've heard of this.... this movie, as well. But if you haven't, here's its IMDB description:
"An outlaw who was raised by Native Americans discovers that he has five half-brothers; together the men go on a mission to find their wayward, deadbeat dad."
And, if you will, its Wikipedia plot description:
"In the Old West era, a calm man named Tommy Stockburn (Sandler) is raised by Native Americans, where he is named 'White Knife,' due to his tendency to use knives. He is due to marry an Native girl named Smoking Fox (Jones)."
No.

I mean, what? Why?! Nonononononononono!

In case you haven't noticed, the fact that self-indulgent, caterwauling, adolescent-manboy-humor Adam Sandler movies get made, while so many other stories don't get to be told, absolutely presses all of my rage buttons.

Netflix is/was disrupting the TV/film industry. It has brought us Sense8, Jessica Jones, Master of None, and Orange is the New Black. It is/was awesome because these all seem like shows we wouldn't have otherwise seen via the more traditional route of being pitched and created through the established networks.

I hope to all the gods above and below that The Ridiculous 6 is not a signal of Netflix now backsliding to the re-centering of the racist and sexist white male gaze and his travails with his wacky buddies and token stereotypical female love interest.

[See also: Brian Tallerico's review at Ebert. Since I refuse to watch this damn thing ever.]

Monday, December 14, 2015

Explain a Film Plot Badly

I had some fun on Twitter this weekend with the above-headlined trending hashtag. Although, to be honest, I don't think I was so much describing film plots "badly" as I was "explaining them accurately but shortly." Oh well.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In Which I Agree With NOM For First Time Ever

Yesterday, the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM) endorsed Ted Cruz for president of the United States.

Obviously, I don't agree with that endorsement. But, in the organization's press release about it, they wrote:
"The decision to endorse in the Republican primary race was a very difficult one," [NOM's Brian] Brown said. "There are many tremendous candidates remaining who have made support for marriage a pillar of their careers in public service, including Sen. Rick Santorum, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio. We realize that our endorsement of Sen. Cruz will be very disappointing to them. Should any of these candidates emerge as the Republican nominee we would enthusiastically support them. However, there is a real danger that conservatives will split the vote allowing someone like Donald Trump to emerge from the crowded field, which would be disastrous."
Yes, it's like a "who's the worst person ever" contest as judged by the worst group ever, but I bolded the part I agree with.

And at the same time, I have absolutely no sympathy for bigots and Republicans who are now seeking to distance themselves from Trump and acting appalled that he says out loud what they only dog whistle and imply. For decades, Republican and conservative leaders have fostered bigotry for their own political gain, thereby creating this very base of millions of people for whom Trump is their un-PC hero. As a result, they (and we) are all reaping what they've sown on that front.

What even is this country right now?





Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Clementine Ford and Backlash Against Consequences for Men

On the Internet Civility front, Clementine Ford has posted a piece explaining her decision to report misogynistic abuse she received online to the man's employer.

For brief background, a man left a single word comment "slut" on Ford's Facebook page.  As his Facebook page included his employer, she took a screenshot of his comment (along with his agreement/approval of racist jokes) and shared it on his employer's Facebook page. The employer ended up firing the man. Some additional context here is that Ford is an Australian feminist and reports receiving ongoing abusive comments/emails, as one does when one is a feminist online.

I have said repeatedly that advocacy for the Internet to be an "anything goes" free speech "utopia" works as its own silencing mechanism. For, such an environment doesn't mean that all people are actually participating freely. It primarily means that people like the man Ford reported can bully lots of people into not actually participating.  Thus, the voices that end up sticking around are those who are, by and large, not targeted, threatened, and harassed to the extent other groups are (or who accept the abuse as a condition of their participation).

The issue is made worse by application providers who do not adequately address abuse or who treat the issue as "not their problem" even though they create these platforms (and make huge sums of money off of them).  Ford writes:
"Facebook's methods for responding to abuse are useless, and the company has made it pretty clear that their scope for community standards lies squarely on the side of free use of sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and ableist slurs. The only recourse possibly left to the women ritually targeted by gendered harassment is to try and create consequences for people in their everyday lives. The alternative is for women to remove themselves from the online world - a space which is not separate to the 'real world' but now intrinsically enmeshed with it - and be silent. And while I know that's the preferred outcome for the boys and men who have never been made to take responsibility for their actions, it's also complete bullshit."
Ford also notes that, because the man she reported has been fired, some of his defenders are claiming that she's ruined his life or taken away his ability to support his wife and kids (that he doesn't even have).

Well, I don't know about that. I'm sure there's a spot for someone like him in Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

I say that only half kidding.

For, it seems Trump's very popularity is largely due to (a) the general assholishness of many Americans, yes, but also (b) the raging backlash against the idea that white men and bigots should be held accountable for their words that offend nearly every group other than white men.

Anyway, this is not a new thing - this idea that male reputations and livelihoods outweigh women's. I'm glad to see the pushback.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Workplace Rules #3: On Seeking Staff Opinions

To continue my completely sporadic series on Workplace Rules, today I'd like to reference the management practice of seeking staff input on things but then never actually using that input.

Let me start with an example.

At a former Horrendo Fucko Workplace, I was on a team with a supervisor who, within his first 3 months on the job, asked us to rate his performance. His Super Scientific way of measuring his performance was to find an employee review template from the Internet that included a series of questions with a 1-5 agree/disagree scale. At the end, he included some blank space for "other comments."

My co-workers and I had some rather specific concerns with this supervisor's behavior, two of which were an apparent anger management issue and constant phone usage (as in, during all meetings, whenever he or the CEO were not the ones speaking, he would be tapping away at his phone, ignoring other people's contributions).

In short, we felt both unsafe and not listened to by this person. So, in the "other comments" section of his feedback form, several of us delicately and as constructively as we could noted these concerns. At a later team meeting, which he led, he gave us the numerical "results" of his "performance review," claiming that he "got a pretty good grade." Nevermind that, as he was the only person being reviewed, no basis for comparison existed for whether or not his grade was, actually, good or bad.

When he then addressed people's "other comments," all he said was, "Yeah, I've been told these things my entire life and, well, I'm really going to look to you all to keep me in check on those."



Thus, rather than changing his behavior on his own, he put the onus on his direct reports to "call him out" when we thought he was acting rude. As a reminder, one of our concerns was his anger management issue.

So.

My points in sharing this story are (a) it's somewhat cathartic to get it out, to be honest; and (b) here was a clear example of a manager seeking out staff input and then completely dismissing it.  And, the whole thing was completely demoralizing.

His sole purpose of the performance review was theater. He wanted to appear to give us a say in team and morale matters, but he didn't want to actually do so. (In fact, he took his review score to a senior team meeting with the CEO and bragged about how much we all liked him. Flash forward three months later, and every single person on his team had quit).

My point here is people in management positions have to be really careful about how they seek input from staff and how they communicate with staff regarding how the workplace will or will not use that feedback. It's obvious as hell, and completely destructive to morale, when managers make a big show of "getting stakeholder buy-in" on matters but then do whatever they fuck they want anyway.

For those who aren't managers, and who feel comfortable doing so, perhaps when staff feedback is sought, it would be worthwhile and enlightening to ask a manager you trust how staff feedback will or won't be used.  I think just asking that question can sometimes prompt management to think, "Oh, shit, we might have to actually address/use what they say."

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Root

When I was kid first watching The Neverending Story (1984), little-me thought that Atreyu was a girl.

This, even though, male pronouns were probably used to describe Atreyu. To be honest, I was at an age where I mostly followed along to movies by the pictures rather than the dialogue.

Thus, in my head, the story was cool adventure girl character something something what amazing flying dog! something something magical book something something cute princess girl.

And, I thought this Atreyu girl was the greatest.



For, I thought that Atreyu was not just any girl, but that he was, perhaps, a lesbian girl. Not that I even knew what a lesbian was, back then. But, I thought Atreyu was a girl that was different from other girls portrayed in movies. Maybe, say, a girl like myself. (And, mind you, imagine a child assuming that of course a girl would be central to a child's fantasy adventure story! Ah, the innocence of youth, before Hollywood had disabused me of that notion).

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is that I identified with this gender non-confirming "girl" Atreyu. And that, perhaps, the movie was one of my lesbian "roots."

Discuss this, or other things.

Like, Jessica Jones. People are watching this, yes?!  And Stephen King's Wizard and Glass is, like, the book that will not end, am I right?  It's entertaining, but again I will need to disinfect myself with some good queer/feminist science fiction/fantasy next.




Monday, November 30, 2015

Very Important Update

I'm Twittering again (Fannie Wolfe @fanniesroom).

I'm still not sure it's the medium for me, given my tendency toward being verbose and getting into prolonged Internet discussions with trolls that, like, no one else actually cares about.

But, blog things are always slow around the holidays, so I suspect I'll be doing lots of lurking around the Internet and possibly occasional tweeting until after the New Year's.

This critical post was brought to you by Beca's sexual confusion in Pitch Perfect 2 (via today's featured fan video).  In case you're wondering, I'm experiencing no sexual confusion about any of that.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Quotes of the Day

An conversation between Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Gloria Steinem?  Yes, please.

Just try to mostly ignore the male moderator.  At one point he references the blatant discrimination Ginsburg faced when law firms refused to hire her after she graduated from law school at Columbia first in her class. He says:
"You remind me of my grandmother’s line: Rejection is the best thing that can happen. It pushes us. There might not be a Ms. magazine or Notorious R.B.G. without it."
Hmmm, categorizing systemic discrimination against millions of women as simple "rejection" that "pushes us" to do better?  Gloria Steinem for the win:
"But there might not be a need for a woman’s magazine, and there might be a court that actually looks like the country. There’s no virtue in injustice."
Later, when talking about gender roles and marriage, Ginsburg makes a salient point about marriage equality's legacy to the women's rights movement:
"It’s a facet of the gay rights movement that people don’t think about enough. Why suddenly marriage equality? Because it wasn’t until 1981 that the court struck down Louisiana’s 'head and master rule,' that the husband was head and master of the house. Marriage was a relationship between the dominant, breadwinning husband and the subordinate, child-rearing wife. What lesbian or gay man would want that?"
In all, the interaction between Ginsburg and Steinem during the conversation is great, as they build each other up and compliment one another throughout.

Early on, the moderator asks Ginsburg if she was a Ms. reader, after which she responded, " I certainly was. From the first issue. I thought it was wonderful."  Later, Ginsburg mentions working on a book about civil procedure in Sweden, and Steinem chimes in: "For which she learned Swedish. Is that not incredible?"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Yes or No

Fannie's Room should implement comment moderation in the voice of Blaine the Mono from Stephen's King's Dark Tower series?

Okay, I kid, it's just that I'm about a quarter of the way through Wizard and Glass.  And, as I was reading it, I was thinking that it could be entertaining to deal with trolls and abusive commenters with comments like, "YOU ARE BEING VERY IRRITATING AND RUDE." Or, when banning people, to say, "SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR AFTER WHILE CROCODILE DON'T FORGET TO WRITE."

And, of course, the primo retort for when people inevitably come back sock-puppeting or directly emailing me: "TOUGHT TITTY SAID THE KITTY."

Every now and then, Little Blaine would chime in with a, "Ohh, you better watch out, you're making her mad."

Ahhh, fun times.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Writer Participation/Moderation As an Ethical Duty?

[Content note: Transphobia]

Sociological Images is a blog I've long admired, read, and (at times) participated in via the comment section.

The comment section there has often had its share of anti-feminist/anti-LGBT/anti-progressive commenters, which I've engaged with.

As part of my somewhat-regular series on blogging and civility, today I want to raise the topic of what responsibilities a blog forum and/or an individual writer might have with respect to comment moderation. By "responsibility" I'm not referring to a legal responsibility, but more of an ethical one. Although blogging is no longer a new practice, I don't think standard practices or thoughts really exist.

What raised this topic, for me, was Lisa Wade's recent post drawing parallels between the practice of using fear-mongering about white women's safety to justify both racist and transphobic discrimination with respect to restrooms.  

As of the time I'm writing this post, 31 comments follow the post, with about half of them being opposed to allowing transgender individuals to determine for themselves which restrooms they should use. About half are in favor of transgender self-determination, and a few are the typical oddball non sequitur comments of the type to be expected following virtually any post anywhere on Internet.

On principle, I'm not opposed to discussions that people consent to enter into about controversial topics, even if by having those discussions it may suggest that a matter of human dignity should be a debatable topic. Even if the person being argued with isn't convinced in that instance to change their mind, witnesses to the conversation sometimes are.

What is more troubling, to me, is tolerating commentary that is solely abusive, without the blogowner/blogger addressing it, such as:
"Trans women are males." 
Like, that's it. That's the person's entire comment. Deep thoughts with "Imelda B." Being a conclusion without an argument, it doesn't contribute significantly to the discourse, engage the original post, or do anything other than inflict more abuse on trans people.

Now, Lisa Wade is an academic and my experience with some academics who blog is that they don't often engage in comment sections following their posts (and I don't think I've ever seen her engage in the comments of any of her posts, but I can't say for certain whether that's happened ever). I experienced a similar phenomenon as a guest blogger at Family Scholars Blog (before Anna, Barry, and I broke it with our progressiveness, HA HA JUST KIDDING!!!), which would grant space to various academics to post articles. Only very rarely would most of these academics participate in the sometimes-very-active (and quite contentious) discussion threads that their posts generated.

I have no idea why, and this is only my experience - and I do know that comment moderation and participating in online discussions take time and resources. So, perhaps that's the issue. Whatever the case, I find that when academics blog, they often treat the practice as though its more akin to a writing a news article (after which journalists rarely engage in comment threads) than a blog post.

However, as I wrote in the comment thread at Sociological Images, I would argue that it's somewhat irresponsible/troubling to post topics about marginalized members of society such as trans* individuals (particularly if one is not a member of that group) and then to stand back (as in, not participate in the broader discussion, and not moderate comments) when a sort of "anything goes" commentary about that group is going on, much of which, yes, actually is abusive toward that group.

I'm not wedded to my opinions at this point, and would enjoy some broader perspectives on this issue.  Lots of people have lots of different opinions on comment moderation, as it's something that's really hard to do well - and as a blogger myself, I'm sensitive to that.

I think what is irking me is when writers bring up a controversial issue that seriously impacts people's lives and then ghosting when people talk about it like complete jerks. As I often feel during conversations with anti-gay individuals, I think there can be substantial class and privilege aspects to starting discussions when they are, from the writer's perspective, purely theoretical/abstract rather than lived.

Does the academic becomes less an educator and more an instigator of, well, an online discussion forum where any opinion is welcome to the table merely because someone has one?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Judge Disrupts Home Life of Child in Foster Care, Because Heterosexism

Can we get a big, loud *slow clap* for Team Bigotry?

According to Utah's Division of Child and Family Services (via Deseret News), a judge has ordered the removal of a 1-year-old child from the home of her lesbian foster parents.  

Rather than basing his decision on the content of the couple's parenting skills, the judge, Scott Johansen, purportedly based his decision on their sexual orientation.  In so doing, the various news accounts I've read claim that he referenced, but did not specifically cite, "studies" allegedly showing that heterosexual parents were "better" than same-sex parents (scare quotes mine). 

(Hmm, I wonder if Johansen had read the widely-discredited Regnerus study?)

The two women had the support of the child's biological mother to be foster parents, and Utah DCFS director Brent Platt is quoted in the Deseret article as follows:
"'There weren't any concerns about the family and no concerns about the placement, it sounds like [the judge] has concerns overall with same-sex couples being foster parents.'
Hoagland and Peirce have met every DCFS requirement to become licensed foster parents, including routine reviews with the division while they have been caring for the child, according to Platt. If the girl would have become eligible for adoption and the couple had expressed interest in taking her, the division intended to support them, he noted.
'It's my understanding they have a couple of older children, these are experienced parents," Platt said. 'As far as we're concerned, it was an appropriate placement. It was a placement that worked for the kid and worked for the family, so we were surprised the judge issued that order.'"
The child has been living with the couple for 3 months, and the judge has ordered her removal within a week to an as-yet-unidentified family.  Thus further disrupting the child's life. You know, because outcomes.

From her much-lauded 2014 dissent to the 6th Circuit opinion that upheld same-sex marriage bans, Judge Martha Daughtry's quote regarding the illogic of anti-gay advocacy seems apt:
"How ironic that irresponsible, unmarried, opposite-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit who produce unwanted offspring must be 'channeled' into marriage and thus rewarded with its many psychological and financial benefits, while same-sex couples who become model parents are punished for their responsible behavior by being denied the right to marry."
And, apparently, the ability to be foster parents. (Although I want to be careful to note that in this particular case, we do not know the circumstances of the biological parents. Unlike the "pro-family" crowd, I think people put their children up for adoption for a myriad of reasons, only one of which might be "irresponsibility.")

The facts about "pro-family" actually being pro-family speak for themselves.

Whether they're promoting fraudulent "ex-gay therapy" that does more harm than good, ripping children from stable homes, or running dehumanizing smear campaigns to deny trans* people access to bathrooms, Traditional Family Warriors ("TFWs"- let's make it a thing) so often prioritize their own selfish bigotries and prejudices over the actual best interests of children.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Welp, This Is Everything



I sporadically watch SVU these days, but back in the day I shipped Olivia/Alex pretty hard.  I still think Cabot was the best DA on the show.

And also, it's too bad Liz Lemon wasn't bisexual, because Gretchen Thomas was probably the best potential partner who came her way. Good god, Lemon.

Here is your courtesy fan video of the week.  I would watch the hell out of this movie.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Nolite te Bastardes Carborundorum

Say what you will of Andrea Dworkin, but she was spot on in Right-Wing Women that a world in which women's lives were valued only insofar as they engaged in childbearing would be a very scary place for women.

In such a world, women without children would be deemed "not worth much." Their lives pointless.

Why do I bring up this book from 1983?

When in Rome, I suppose.

Over at his blog, conservative Christian Rod Dreher cruelly shares his opinion on the worth of women's lives.  I find a small satisfaction, I suppose, when non/anti-feminists just sort of come right out and say these things.  While some conservative writers keep their repugnant thoughts just below the surface, there's nothing like a "telling it like it is" dude to keep feminists like me from getting too complacent in our victories.

Writing of Gloria Steinem's dedication of her recent book to the doctor who performed her abortion many decades ago, Dreher writes:
"To be 81 years old, to publish a memoir, and to dedicate it to the doctor who killed your unborn child in your womb — what a sad waste of life. Two lives. That dedication is an epitaph and an indictment."
Wow.

NEWFLASH: The Handmaid's Tale was a dystopian novel. Dystopian.

But seriously, if someone of Steinem's accomplishments has wasted her life (and Dreher gets to be the judge of this, because.... umm?) then there is absolutely no hope for the rest of us. Although, over at his blog, there really seems to be no woman, trans person, or "SJW" who is too large or small for Dreher to mock or judge (just like Jesus would do, I'm sure).

What gets me is not Dreher's mean, judgmental tendencies - those, after all, are so expected from a conservative Christian as to be unremarkable. It's the attitude that because a feminist woman's morals differ from his own, she either completely lack morals altogether or, alternately, cannot possibly have lived a useful, meaningful life.

I stand opposite Dreher on many issues, but I would never assume that I have authority to dismiss his entire life's work (or his life, for that matter). Indeed, as some feminist theologians have theorized that male-centric religions such as Christianity mimic and misappropriate a birthing process that men are fundamentally envious of, so too does this your life was pointless since you didn't live by my Christian morals mentality mimic and misappropriate abortion, of sorts.

With one fell swoop, a man deigns to erase a woman's life as "wasted." As though he has that power.  Such is the entitlement that Christianity imbues in some men.

To end, Dreher himself has been promoting his own "teachings" about conservative Christians voluntarily isolating themselves from a SJW-laden, secular society that they can no longer live in since the laws don't replicate/enforce their values upon everyone else. I guess the kindest thought I can share on that front at the moment is good riddance, don't let the door hit ya, etc.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Quote of the Day - In Honor of Back to the Future Month

"Jennifer spends SO much more of this movie unconscious than conscious that it really feels quite egregiously like the writers just had no idea what to do with her, and instead of being intelligent and creative with the character, simply came up with the laziest device imaginable: knock her out and ditch her repeatedly, and just simply hope that no one notices or cares how incredibly illogical, unrealistic, or troubling this is."
-Cordelia Siporin, discussing Back to the Future Part II's horrendous treatment of Jennifer (aka - Marty's future wife). 

Really, there is no excuse to under-utilize Elisabeth Shue in a manner such that her main talent in a film is "fainting."  I am not just saying that because she was my first crush, either.

Talk about this, or other stuff.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Saletan to Clinton: Stop Shouting

Perhaps you've heard about Hillary Clinton's recent remark, alluding to a previous remark made by Bernie Sanders in which he suggested that Clinton was "shouting" about gun reform. She responded:
“You know, I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.”
To me, it's a reasonable response that speaks to many women's experiences, including my own, of offering an argument in a civil tone only to have it implied that my tone or state of mind was unreasonable, hysterical, shrill, angry, or otherwise too loud compared to my reasonable male opponent's.

I further believe that a man can say something sexist or that has sexist connotations without intending to and even if his policy positions regarding women's rights are otherwise in line with my own. Supporting women's rights does not make it impossible for a person to say or think sexist things. That should be elementary. But of course, it's not.

That's why William Saletan's reactionary piece in Slate completely misses the mark. He writes:
"Hillary Clinton has found a new wedge issue against Sen. Bernie Sanders. The topic is gun control, but the angle is gender. Clinton is framing Sanders as a sexist who accuses women of shouting when they try to speak up. It’s a lie. She’s manipulating women and abusing feminist anger for her own advantage.
It’s great that we’re more aware of bigotry than we used to be. But we should also beware false claims of bigotry: the race card, the sex card, the homophobia card."  
He then goes on to claim that Sanders' "record as a feminist" is just as good as Clinton's and that Clinton is just "smearing" him for her own advantage.

Yikes.

Saletan's is not a reasonable response. It's so reactionary, this reflexive, patronizing defense of Sanders, that it is the sort of thing that pushes me further into Clinton's corner, mostly because it evidences some serious male discomfort about a statement that was so .... tepid.  Clinton alluded to something Problematic that a man said without even using the dreaded words "sexist" or "misogynistic" and whoa boy Saletan reacts as though she's inflicted a human rights violation of the first order on Sanders by calling it out.

So too does Saletan deign to define reality - both with respect to Hillary Clinton's unknown state of mind ("It's a lie," he claims, because he somehow.... just.... knows... because um?) and with respect to what does and doesn't constitute authentic sexism, racism, and homophobia (which he's an expert on... because um?).

Yet, for all of Saletan's warning about "cards" that women, gays, and minorities "play" in order to, as he alleges, "smear" their opponents, the biggest move of all is when people like him throw down their Gaslight Card and proclaim, As the speaker of Objective Truth here, I define what's really racist, sexist, and homophobic, and what you just experienced isn't it. 

Because that's another important pattern too, isn't it?

Men can build careers on calling themselves courageous tellers of politically-incorrect "truths."  When they say things that are sexist, racist, or homophobic, they say they're just "telling it like it is." When women call out these things, they're seen as just playing games. Dishonoring the honorable reputations of good men. Fabricating stories for personal gain.

So, it is something big, for a prominent woman to use her authority and platform to speak a truth about Speaking While Female that many women know all too well.

I bet that Hillary Clinton, in her many years of speaking publicly while female, knows that many people react in predictable, unfortunate, and gendered ways when it is a woman speaking.  That Clinton will call this out, name it, and also deign to define reality in this way, I suspect is the real threat here, even to purportedly liberal and progressive men - certainly to conservatives and anti-feminists.

Finally, I will just note with cynicism that this particular conversation was originally about gun violence. This type of violence is predominately committed by men but that gendered aspect is rarely acknowledged in the mainstream. Men who kill are framed as lone wolves, "crazy," and so forth, and so their male-ness and their (often) misogyny and sexism is not widely acknowledged.  I wonder why that is.

The answer to that question is, perhaps, the saddest politically incorrect truth of all.

(Stop shouting).

What a world.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Abuse as the Web's Greatest Challenge

Via a great article, which piqued my longstanding interest in Internet civility, Umair Haque argues that abuse is the greatest challenge facing the web, using Twitter's (alleged) decline as an example.

He writes:
"We once glorified Twitter as a great global town square, a shining agora where everyone could come together to converse. But I’ve never been to a town square where people can shove, push, taunt, bully, shout, harass, threaten, stalk, creep, and mob you…for eavesdropping on a conversation that they weren’t a part of…to alleviate their own existential rage…at their shattered dreams…and you can’t even call a cop. What does that particular social phenomenon sound like to you? Twitter could have been a town square. But now it’s more like a drunken, heaving mosh pit. And while there are people who love to dive into mosh pits, they’re probably not the audience you want to try to build a billion dollar publicly listed company that changes the world upon. 
The social web became a nasty, brutish place. And that’s because the companies that make it up simply do not not just take abuse seriously…they don’t really consider it at all. Can you remember the last time you heard the CEO of a major tech company talking about…abuse…not ads? Why not? Here’s the harsh truth: they see it as peripheral to their “business models”, a minor nuisance, certainly nothing worth investing in, for theirs is the great endeavor of…selling more ads." (emphasis added)
I have it said it before, but "politically incorrect" forums where Anything Goes are in a league of their own in terms of being hiveminds. While participants of such places proudly proclaim that they are promoting free expression of ideas, the ideas most freely being expressed emanate primarily from those most willing to tolerate abuse and intimidation.  The voices being lost because they don't want to subject themselves to hostile forums are not taken into account or, rather, are dismissed as coming from people who are too oversensitive to matter.

But also, comment moderation and the creation/enforcement of codes of conduct takes actual resources and have to be interpreted and enforced by imperfect humans.  The author of the above piece is exactly right in noting that we have created an abusive society in which abuse has been completely normalized.

And, when multi-billion and -million dollar companies do not effectively deal with or put adequate resources into addressing the abuse that thrives on the platforms they create, we who use the Internet all bear that cost.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Radical Conservative Activists Call For Rebellion

I really hope that post-apocalyptic Earth will contain better remnants of our society than cockroaches, Twinkies, and symbolic conservative statements in which signees are make a big show of Taking A Stand on the issue du jour.

Via NOM's weekly newsletter (don't ask), I learned that a group of "prominent" legal scholars has signed a declaration calling on citizens and public officials to "resist" the US Supreme Court's marriage ruling.

What a world when predominately-white, male, conservative college professors and "think-tank" folks can call for legal obstruction and rebellion without being widely disparaged as thugs, yeah?

Anyway, this group's chief complaint is nothing new. The ruling will supposedly lead to a host of "evils" BLAH blah BLAH, and that the scholars oh-so-nobly "stand with" Abraham Lincoln and James Madison in believing that constitutional matters should not be decided by 5 judges.

7 years ago, I reviewed Leonard Levy's excellent book Original Intent and the Framer's Constitution. In it, Levy makes a strong case that we should question conservatives' claim that they eschew judicial activism and, unlike liberals, merely discover and apply law.

Judicial review - that is, the power of the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution and say what the law is - has existed since the very beginning of the Supreme Court, albeit not without controversy.  Indeed, that controversy is why declarations such as these, coming as they do only in instances which coincide with a groups' political leanings, ring so hollow.

Here, I suspect that it's not the Supreme Court's power of judicial review that these conservative folks are opposing, but rather, judicial review in the case of same-sex marriage.

This statement, like so many before it, is the cowardly whinging of privileged folks about an issue that disproportionately affects other people.  Truly taking a stand would be for this group to call for the eradication of judicial review even in cases that they believe have "come out right" for them.

I challenge them to do so, if they have any integrity at all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Elena Undone - Revisited

So, I re-watched the film Elena Undone this past weekend, which I originally watched and reviewed nearly 4 years ago.

In case anyone is wondering, I felt compelled to insert the following addendum into my review (for background: Elena and Peyton are the two lesbian/bi protagonists, and Peyton has recently realized she has a crush on Elena, who is married to a man):
At one point, Elena comes over to Peyton's house while she is swimming, necessitating a quick wardrobe change. Just as a fun fact, "outfit montages" are one of my favorite television/movie tropes even though I know or care very little about fashion and hate shopping. Mostly, I identify with the frustration of it all and the desire for people to bring me outfits so I don't have to pick them out myself.
Typically, the pattern is like, [Puts on outfit] "No, this isn't quite right. [Changes clothes]. No, this getup is just silly. [Changes clothes]. No, this too is dissatisfying. [Changes clothes] Ah, now this is exactly what I've been looking for." [Salespeople and friends nod approvingly]
In Elena's Undone, the "outfit montage" is more like, "Hmmm, what is the most stereotypically dykey outfit I can possibly put on right now?" [Changes clothes] "No, this isn't quite it."[Changes clothes] "No, this isn't it either." [Changes into jeans, tucked-in tank-top, and a flannel cut-off shirt]. "Yes, now this will impress my Straight Lady Friend."
I will just say this: Peyton pulls it off and looks, um, very attractive. Gotta love a woman who's not afraid to butch out.  Elena apparently agrees and making out eventually ensues.
Just, er, adding this addendum for a friend.


ps - Did you not know that Fannie's Room is now all things queer media? There are no more bigots about which to write.

pps- Just kidding. I'm sure the bigot brigade will annoy me enough to write about them very soon. But in the meantime, movies! Books! Games! TV!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Xena: Twenty Years Later

As a big Xena nerd, it's fun to see The Mary Sue giving the series some respect.  There, Jessica Mason highlights how Xena: Warrior Princess changed television.

Looking back, one of my favorite aspects of Xena as a character was that she was a strong woman with a, bear with me, Really Problematic Past. She wasn't perfect. She did lots of shitty things over the years like throwing the chakram at Gabrielle's head and, in general, letting Joxer stick around and flirt with her girlfriend all the time.

And those  thick, thick bangs that went 180 degree around her head, aye.

My all-time favorite episodes are:
  •  Drama: "When Fates Collide" 
  •  Comedy: "A Day in the Life" 
Alti, as played by Claire Stansfield, remains one of my favorite villains of any series, to this day.

Sadly, as a I browsed the comments at The Mary Sue, I saw some of the same debates that raged much more frequently in the '90s regarding the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, with some definitely-not-homophobic commenters whinging about how the "lesbian community" has "hijacked" the series.

And well, all I have to say is that the fanverse belongs to all of us to interpret in ways that work for each of us.  Resenting non-hetero women for being super excited about a show finally having subtle (okay, and sometimes not so subtle) depictions of same-sex love is as shitty as straight boy gamers who resent companies like Bioware for creating games with female and queer characters.

Is anyone forcing these people to read lesbian fanfic or to embark on a gay relationship in Dragon Age?  Of course not. These types are just so staggeringly entitled and used to being catered to that they resent when creators make these options available for other people at all. As though, not only should shows not feature same-sex relationships, but other viewers themselves should not even insinuate from subtext that, say, Xena and Gabrielle might have been lovers.

ANYway, this is an awesome fan video.

Discuss any of this, or your own Xena-related thoughts! Ayiyiyiyiyiyiyi!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Public Discourse Continues to Disappoint

Like their peers at the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage (NOM), writers at The Public Discourse* blog (oh, I'm sorry "online journal") continue to wail about the evils of same-sex marriage.

There, Melissa Moschella writes:
"A crucial aspect of liberty is respect for subsidiarity—in particular, recognition that the family, based on marriage, is a pre-political community with natural and original authority over its internal affairs, especially the education and upbringing of children. Redefining marriage in law to include same-sex couples undermines the principled basis for the primacy of parental childrearing authority by obliterating the link between marriage and procreation as well as the norm of conjoined biological parenthood that conjugal marriage laws help to foster."
First things first, I'll address that argument regarding "the link between marriage and procreation" being severed by same-sex marriage.  Sorry-not-sorry but, allowing infertile couples to marry "obliterated" that connection long before same-sex marriage was a twinkle in anyone's eye.

Secondly, this is your semi-regular reminder that, in many conservative circles, anti-feminism and anti-LGBT advocacy go hand in hand.

Did that phrasing, that particular longing for the days of ye 'olde when families (i.e., fathers) had dominion over the "internal affairs" (i.e., women and children), send a shiver down anyone else's spine?

Yep, me too.

The thrust of her argument is that "conjoined biological parents" (adjectives in all my years of writing about this stuff I've never seen combined before and which are now inducing interesting mental pictures) should have dominion over their children and that the state should not be able to interfere with that. The state, let me repeat, should not be able to interfere with the internal affairs of child-rearing.

Incidentally, I'm guessing she would be, however, in favor of allowing the state to force someone to give birth.

Moschella goes on to reference a litany of, well, nothing that hasn't already been said by her allies about a gazillion times already, including comparing the public education system in the US to Nazi Germany and claiming that pro-LGBT folks are practically kidnapping children of Real Families, soooooooo I'm going to slowly. back. away. from. the computer and see if I can get the latest American Horror Story on Netflix instead.


*The Public Discourse is run by the conservative Witherspoon Institute. For background see, here.

Related: Same-Sex Marriage, Feminism, and Women

Monday, October 5, 2015

Book Talk

As some of you may know, I'm currently reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series.  I started this series many years ago, made it through the third book, and then lost interest/found other things to read in the publishing lag between the next installments.

I have now just finished the second one. As much as I'm enjoying it, for as much as one such as myself can enjoy a series that has thus far failed The Bechdel Test, I'm in need of a short reprieve from the series.

What should I read next?

I'm looking for good fantasy or speculative/science fiction that has a lead female character.  The character doesn't have to be strong or perfect, but if she was lesbian, bi, or queer that would be preferable.

And, of course, feel free to share what you all reading these days.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Fun with "Devil's Advocates"

Okay friendly readers, I have a debating experiment for you today:

Step 1: Witness a debate about gender and feminism.

Step 2: Witness a man jumping in with a statement like, “Look, I’m all for equality, but [insert anti-equality/anti-feminist statement]” or “I consider myself a feminist, but let me just play Devil’s Advocate here, [insert anti-equality/anti-feminist statement].”

Step 3: Respond by asking him what, specifically, tenets of feminism and equality for women he supports and what injustices primarily exist today for women. Like, ask him to actually delineate them for all to see.

Because, well, what I often find is that those men who feel compelled to both assert that they support equality/feminism while simultaneously articulating an anti-equality/anti-feminist statement often don’t actually have, when pressed, all that many pro-equality/pro-feminist opinions.  They’re like the “definitely not racist or anything, but” white people who will admit that slavery and saying the n-word are wrong, but when pressed those are pretty much the only two things that count as genuinely racist by their authority.

In fact, oftentimes, the majority of Devil’s-Advocate-Male contributions to conversations about gender and feminism are against equality and feminism.  The blubbering “I’m all for equality” intros are a diversion, whether intentional or not, meant to instill in feminist participants a glimmer of hope that he might, this time, be able to make reasonable contributions to the discourse that go beyond being there to “teach” and dismiss the female perspectives.


Recognize it for what it is. Put him on the spot to delineate his actual points of agreement and disagreement. From there, you can better ascertain the worth of engaging.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Christian School Denies Entry to Child of Same-Sex Couple

A Christian school in San Diego is not allowing a 5-year-old girl to attend kindergarten because she has two moms.

Via MSN:
"When asked by the news team if it was discrimination to stop the child from attending because of her mothers, a woman who described herself as the school's director, said, 'The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. We don't condone any sinful lifestyles.' 
KGTV got a copy of the school's parent and student handbook which was revised over the summer. Under the school's statement of nondiscrimination, the handbook declared the school's right to "refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student." 
'This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, living in, condoning or supporting sexual immorality; practicing homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity; promoting such practices; or otherwise having the inability to support the moral principles of the school,' the handbook continued, according to the news station."
I have two items of note here.

One, I highlight how the conservative National Review frames the situation only because it's indicative of a mindset held by many anti-LGBTs. There, David French asks, in a piece entitled, "Lesbian Parents Try to Force a Christian School to Educate Their Child":
"Here’s a question for the secular left — when religious liberty collides with the desires of LGBT citizens, is there any case where religious freedom should prevail? How about when a lesbian couple tries to force a private Christian school to educate their child?" (emphasis added)
Ah, note the use of the phrase "desires of LGBT citizens," a word that, oh, maybe suggests that a lesbian couples' simple, decent wish for their daughter to attend school is in some way related to sex.

But, more pertinently, notice how French centers the beliefs (and prejudices) of adults in this scenario when, in fact, it is the child who is actually most profoundly impacted by the discrimination. How different does it sound when we ask:
Here's a question for all - when religious "freedom to discriminate" collides with the rights of children to attend school, when should religious freedom to discriminate prevail?
This case isn't one of Christians v. LGBTs, or even the Christian right v. the secular left.  It's one of Christian anti-LGBTs v. children who happen to have same-sex parents. That is, grown-ass adults punishing a child because they disagree with the "lifestyle" of her parents.

Two, notice the moral code in the handbook which specifically calls out homosexuality.  Yet, does the school also prohibit children of divorced, adulterous, or single parents from attending the school?

Of course not. Nor should it.

But that's how it so often is with the Christian bigot crowd, isn't it?

In the debates about marriage, many opponents of allowing same-sex couples to marry held that marriage was about "procreation," yet they had no issue with allowing infertile heterosexuals to marry. It's LGBTs and same-sex couples who these sorts of folks so often single out for their special brand of entitled, discriminatory treatment that they rarely reserve for other groups.

Bigot Kim Davis doesn't deny marriage licenses to people on their third, fourth marriage. No, her hill to die on is same-sex marriage. For special lucky reasons, I guess.

Even as these folks wail that it's LGBT people who constantly seek "special rights," these are the folks who seek both the special right to discriminate against LGBT people without consequence and to in no way face public shaming (or being called a bigot) for doing so.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Serena Williams and the "Smile" Command

I first saw this via Sociological Images:
"Serena Williams, the winner of 21 Grand Slam titles and arguably the greatest living female athlete, was understandably exhausted after defeating her sister and best friend Venus Williams in the U.S. Open earlier this week. So she wasn’t having it when, during a post-match press conference on Tuesday, a reporter had the gall to ask why she wasn’t smiling. 
Williams looked down and gave an exasperated sigh before shelling out the best response an athlete has given in an interview since football player Marshawn Lynch’s “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” trademark phrase. 
"It’s 11:30. To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now and I have to wake up early to practice and I don’t want to answer any of these questions. And you keep asking me the same questions. It’s not really … you’re not making it super enjoyable.""
Ha. Awesome.






Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Stonewall Movie and the Gay White Male Hero

Via Richard Lawson, in Vanity Fair:
"Stonewall is ultimately yet another cartoonish fantasy about white saviors and square-jawed heroes; it should be called Independence Gay
Maybe it’s asking too much to get a smart, accurate Stonewall movie. After all, a heck of a lot of straight history has been schmaltzified by Hollywood, neatly edited and tidied up, so why shouldn’t gay history get the same shitty treatment? But that this film was directed by a gay man, written by a gay man, with an obvious intent to educate, uplift, and inspire, in this particular political climate, and is still so maddeningly, stultifyingly bungled serves only to show us how ridiculous the concept of a monolithic “gay community” really is. Stonewall at least does that bit of good: it illustrates how systems of privilege and prejudice within a minority can be just as pervasive and ugly as anything imposed from the outside. And that’s an outrage. So how long until someone throws a brick through the screen?"
Isn't this movie, though, a mainstream narrative of the "LGBT community"?

Gay white men disproportionately put themselves in the highest-level, highest-paid positions in LGBT nonprofits, creating White Men's Clubs that alienate those who don't share their privileged identities.

To hear some of them talk, Andrew Sullivan practically invented same-sex marriage.

As I have written before, the most prominent national conversations about same-sex marriage have been, with the exception of Maggie Gallagher, largely also same-sex conversations among (white) men often talking to other (white) men, but sometimes also to the American public, about the topic. Jonathan Rauch. David Blankenhorn. Brian Brown. Evan Wolfson. Dale Carpenter. John Corvino. Robert George. Andrew Sullivan. Dan Savage. Peter LaBarbera.

All of this is true even though other people have also been doing important advocacy and writing work in less prominent ways that don't get them the same level of attention, recognition, and credit.

With the gay white male focus on "we're just like you" assimilation while presuming that they - and they alone - are the key protagonists in the LGBT struggle, I continue to suspect that the real goal for many is not a revolution, but merely "a change in management."


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Women Pass Ranger Program: Internet Misogynists Flip Out

Perhaps you've read about the 2 Army lieutenants who have become the first women to graduate from the US Army's Ranger program, a physically- and mentally-intense training course from which women have historically been excluded.

I've read several articles about this and have of course noted the misogynistic whinging in various comment sections.  Hilariously, the US Army has addressed some of the misogyny directly to those oh-so--courageous purveyors of misogynistic attacks on Internet.

I've noted before that those who identify with toxic masculinity define themselves largely by what they are not: women. In their minds, women and men are "opposites" in which men are supreme and women are …. not.

They take great pride in the activities which are, they claim, "inherently" "male," and if women end up engaging in these activities, these men view the activities as having become  imbued with the taint femininity.  "Women ruin everything," they bawl, as they see women too showing interest in things like sports, military, science fiction, comedy, geekdom, and other interests and activities that some men try to stake out as No Girls Allowed Land.

Thus, the comments by such men, in relation to the Rangers issue, fall into predictable categories:

  • The system was somehow rigged to help the women pass, because no woman could actually pass on the same terms as men. This claim allows the man to continue believing that there are still Important Things that men can do that women cannot (In truth, the women passed the same standards as the men); 
  • If it is admitted that the women passed on the same terms as men, their femininity is called into question by mocking their appearance and calling them "manly." While the man may concede that the woman did the thing that men do, he implies that she's not a real woman and therefore it doesn't count;
  • The man gripes about "political correctness" and "social experiments." By uttering these meaningless phrases, the man believes he can magically waive away the accomplishment as though it didn't happen and isn't a thing that exists in reality, but rather is Social Justice Warrior fabrication.
All of these attempt to preserve the man's masculine identity As A Man (and not a woman).


Although, then there's my personal favorite:

The man who was concern trolling about male Rangers having to share humvees with "menstruating females."  Dude,  I'm gonna stop you right there.  If a man isn't tough enough to be around a menstruating person, that guy probably isn't tough enough to be a fucking Army Ranger, which might also mean that the Army has bigger problems, yeah?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Equality Opponents Try to Keep Debate Alive

I haven't paid much attention to National Organization for [Male-Female] Marriage (NOM) since June's US Supreme Court marriage equality victory.

I keep the NOM blog in my newsfeed and occasionally scroll through its headlines, however.

Recently, I saw them promoting a new book by equality opponent Ryan T. Anderson, called Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom (I'm not linking to it, but it can be found easily enough). Released July 14, it's touted as the "first book to respond to" the Obergefell decision.

From its description, the point of the book seems to be to keep the marriage equality debate alive by informing people about what marriage "really" is and, of course, the threats posed to society by the acceptance of same-sex marriage.

How sad.

First and foremost, I have no idea if Anderson truly wrote the book as a "response" to the Supreme Court decision. I'll just say that whipping out a book in a mere 2 weeks seems quite fast.  How much "new ground" has been covered?  For that matter, how much new ground can even be covered in the conversation any more anywhere?

One fawning review states:
It is simply a must read all around. Anderson presents a well-researched and well-rounded argument for the continued importance of both traditional marriage and the strong protection of religious liberty. And he does all of this while being eminently respectful to those on the opposite side of the issue. Anderson’s work is the polar opposite of “hateful,” “bigoted,” or “homophobic.” It is a prime example of the Christian imperative to “speak the truth in love.”
Oh boy. Here we go again.

The notion that we, supporters of equality, just haven't listened, really really listened, to the intellectual, un-bigoted, and civil reasons for opposing equality and that if we just give it an honest-to-goodness chance always strikes me as…. really insular.  Have new arguments against equality, that no one has ever heard before, been invented in a matter of 2 weeks?

I mean, the conversation has been public and prominent, particularly since it was used as a wedge issue in the 2004 US presidential election.  The "civil" arguments generally go along these lines:

  • Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, and the purpose of marriage is to unite these complementary beings;
  • Marriage is for heterosexual "responsible procreation"; 
  • Same-sex couples cannot procreate together, therefore there is no reason for them to marry;
  • Marriage was created by "God" and/or is a thing that exists in nature like, say, a flower or a tree and it's not for "man" to define and change it;
  • Calling same-sex marriage marriage devalues it for couples who are actually married;
  • Every child needs a mother and a father;
  • Same-sex marriage turns children into commodities;
  • Children raised by their married heterosexual parents do best (insert discredited study);
  • Acceptance of same-sex marriage will lead to acceptance of other forms of marriage and/or polyamorous relationships;
  • Religious people shouldn't have to "participate" in "gay marriage" by baking them cakes or taking their photos; 
  • The Gay Mob is oppressing people who don't agree with LGBT rights, therefore LGBT people should not have equal rights.
  • Religious people in general don't like living in a society knowing that LGBT people have equal rights. It is oppressive to them.

That about cover it?

Unfortunately, a key strategic failing of the movement against equality is that it allowed some of the most obviously bigoted voices - including politicians, preachers, and lay folk -  to dominate for so long, as these voices spoke to the rank bigotry of many US homophobes.  Indeed, it has been only recently, with their loss imminent, that equality opponents have toned it down and begun trying to popularize their so-called civil reasons against marriage equality, with an early apparently-earnest attempt by David Blankenhorn's 2007 publication of The Future of Marriage.

I think what equality opponents keep overlooking is that their position cannot be made prettier by painting "civil" reasons over a fundamentally uncivil proposition.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Trump As a Mirror

I know that people in my social circles, most liberal and progressive, have been joking about the Republican Primary "clown car" debate last week and I agree to an extent.

But, I also think it's sad that Donald Trump, who during the debate "joked" about calling Rosie O'Donnell various misogynistic and fat-hating slurs, has been leading the polls among Republicans right now. I believe his popularity is mostly explained by him reflecting the unapologetically misogynistic, angry, and privileged petulance of (probably) millions of people.

Like conservative Supreme Court Justice Scalia, this is a man whose political popularity seems to stem from the "non-politically correct" bumper sticker "zingers" he brings to the public discourse, rather than for thoughtful examination of complex issues - a certain, "I'm just telling it like it is, folks" smugness that is neither as brave or smart as it purports to be.

We are worse off for it.

I'd also like to note that both Scalia and Trump are men (obvs) and that I often find their rhetoric to be highly emotional, snarky, and devoid of intellectual reasoning - a charge often leveled at women.

Now, imagine the reverse of Trump: a zinger-throwing, non-conventionally-attractive, angry, uncivil, misandrist woman polling at 25% of Democrat voters.  An interesting thought experiment only because it is so obviously unrealistic, which therefore illustrates the male privilege and misogyny alive and well in US culture.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Quote of the Century

[Content note: racism]

“I’ve never had a reason to go to [a Ku Klux Klan rally]. But they take [the Confederate flag] away and holler that we’re the racists, so, yeah, I’m here.” -attendee at recent KKK protest in South Carolina, via The New York Times

The man's suggestion here is that he has been unfairly "hollered at" that he's racist.

That, folks, is what racism in the US looks like:

1) Being thought of as racist is, to some white people, even more offensive than being so racist that one attends a rally in support of the KKK; and

2) Even attending a rally in support of the KKK isn't enough for some people to identify themselves as holding beliefs that might in some way be racist.

If you read the entire article, you might also notice that it contains a fair amount of both sides are just as bad framing of the Black Panthers and the KKK, both of which were in attendance:
"The [crowd] chanted — or at least heard — volleys of incendiary speech and shouts of “white power!” and “black power!” 
Bystanders watched people wave flags celebrating Pan-Africanism, the Confederacy and the Nazi Party. And they watched as black demonstrators raised clenched fists, and white demonstrators performed Nazi salutes."
Setting the stage for this comment:
“We’re not allowed to have this as a heritage,” Jerry Anderson, a 49-year-old white man who drove here from northwest Georgia, said as he gestured toward another man’s Confederate battle flag. “But they can fly theirs, and they can say what they want to, and it’s O.K.”
By ignoring historical context and structural power inequalities, a white man implies that a private group of citizens flying a flag is equal to a state flying one at its state buildings and that therefore, by not allowing the state to fly "his" flag, he is the real victim of injustice and inequality.

This line of thinking is why so many white people and others with privilege end up thinking others groups have "special privileges" and "advantages."


Related:
On Bigotry, Again
On Hatred and Bigotry, Again


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Power of the Opinion

Well, Team Inequality is being reasonable about things:
"One can certainly understand the joy that LGBT Americans and their supporters feel today. But orthodox Christians must understand that things are going to get much more difficult for us. We are going to have to learn how to live as exiles in our own country. We are going to have to learn how to live with at least a mild form of persecution. And we are going to have to change the way we practice our faith and teach it to our children, to build resilient communities."
That's conservative Rod Dreher, blogging at Time.

Of course, at his regular domain over at The American Conservative, he regularly expresses his persecution complex much more dramatically, as well as his vitriol toward progressivism and, especially, trans people. That is, when he isn't pitching one of his books.

Nonetheless, I've been reading these musings by opponents of equality with some fascination.  Scalia, in one of the most petulant, infantile, and unprofessional dissents I've ever read, naturally set the tone for conservative man-babies everywhere. The outrage, the persecution complex, the calls to revolution. None of it surprises me - remember, these are the people we've tried, with varying degrees of success, to reach for the past few decades. I know their narrative framings well.

As a practical consequence, I doubt marriage equality would have much impact on Dreher or many conservatives, if they simply didn't know that it was legal. Same-sex couples would get married, all of Dreher's Gay Friends wouldn't invite him to their weddings anyway, and none of it would have any bearing on his or his family's daily life.

The chief harm to opponents of equality is not that it impacts their own rights or liberty, but that the state no longer officially agrees with their moral and/or religious views about the matter. The state not being a Christian one is framed, not as neutrality, but as aggression and unfairness. At the same time, by harping on a small handful of instances of equality opponents losing their job, or their bakery,  or their flower shop, because of, however tangentially, their opposition to equality, the situation is further exaggerated as though every opponent of equality is at dire risk of being imminently sent to a concentration camp.

It is fear manufactured by some of those in the most privileged classes in the US- cushy white heterosexual men who get paid to write blogs and books for a living about the very culture wars they are, via their writing, complicit in perpetuating.

This talk of revolution and exile, because they, this time, didn't get their way on an issue that doesn't really impact them but so intimately impacts others is the blustering of former overlords being brought down a notch, with the rest of us who have long accepted that we sometimes don't get our way and that's part of the political and legal process in the US. Yet, many equality opponents, long our tormentors, speak of persecution as though they have invented the suffering of it, when the reality is that they have long inflicted it upon us - the non-religious, the gender nonconforming, the LGBT - and would continue to do so if granted the power.

Of course, these loser blusterings are likely not intended to placate the masses, or least of all to appeal to pro-equality folks. I've seen precious little concession that we have had benign motives for being for same-sex marriage in the first place.

And so. Now that we have won, can I maybe forgive anti-equality folks for their tireless advocacy against my dignity and equality, even if they haven't really apologized and still frame themselves as victims? It may be too soon for that for me, friends. Yet, with the weight of the Supreme Court majority backing me up, I can now care less about these anti-equality voices than I used to.

For me, there's peace in that.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Thoughts on Marriage Equality Victory!

Holy shit!
"The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a mar- riage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawful- ly licensed and performed out-of-State." (Full decision, here, in PDF)
When I started Fannie's Room about 8 years ago, I more frequently wrote about marriage equality, regularly interacting with and, yes, battling it out with opponents of equality here and elsewhere on Internet. I sometimes wonder what various cast of characters are up to these days, as I've seen many anti-LGBT blogs come and go during this time: the various Digital Network Army blog group that was supposedly a "grassroots" blogging network dedicated to opposing marriage equality; the hateful little Opine Editorials; the Family Scholars Blog, where I used to guest blog until David Blankenhorn stopped opposing equality and the blog was later shut down.

Today feels good.

In 2008, when Proposition 8 eliminated the right for same-sex couples to marry in California, it felt devastating.  Likewise, I remember the couple dozen or so states that passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage between 2000 and 2008, most of which had implicit or explicit support from, at the time, President George W. Bush.

I'm grateful for the sway in public opinion, and for the efforts of so many allies and advocates, that has occurred just in my lifetime.  In many ways, I think one of the great successes of the movement was to demonstrate the humanity of gay men and lesbians, work that is not as advanced and must continue for bisexual and trans people.

In my opinion, the anti-gay movement's great failing has been, actually, their insistence on acting like bigots while manufacturing outrage at being called bigots - a tactic that exposed them as both hateful and not credible narrators of reality.

I know there is still so much social justice work to be done, but today - hell, maybe all weekend! - I'm just going to be happy.

Oh yeah, and I'm once again feeling some big-time schadenfreude that the discredited Regnerus study on parenting did not sway the biggest court decisions on marriage, even though public records show it was released precisely to do so.

Anyway, anybody getting hitched?