Thursday, February 28, 2019

United Methodists Choose LGBT Discrimination

Via Emma Green at The Atlantic, the United Methodist Church has voted to tough prohibitions on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy:
"This was a surprise: The denomination’s bishops, its top clergy, pushed hard for a resolution that would have allowed local congregations, conferences, and clergy to make their own choices about conducting same-sex marriages and ordaining LGBT pastors. This proposal, called the One Church Plan, was designed to keep the denomination together. Methodist delegates rejected their recommendations, instead choosing the so-called Traditional Plan that affirmed the denomination’s teachings against homosexuality."
This is disappointing. And, as the article goes on to note, "It’s also a reminder that many Christian denominations, including mainline groups like the UMC, are still deeply divided over questions of sexuality and gender identity."

White Christian conservatives comprise Donald Trump's base and continue to overwhelmingly support him, with 71% viewing him favorably as a person as of late January 2019.  We have secular marriage equality in the US for same-sex couples, and the political will and mobilization seems to be lacking even as our rights remain under constant attack by the Trump/Pence administration and religious organizations.

Parts of the center-to-left side of the political spectrum seems to be living under this fantasy that conservative Christians will simply convert to socialism once they hear the right politician give the right speech that speaks to their economic anxieties, but that fantasy overlooks the faith-based reasons, such as they are, that many people support Republican politicians.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Social Media and Disinformation Watch, #1

In light of the role that disinformation, particularly on social media, played in the U.S. 2016 presidential election, I thought it would be prudent to start a semi-regular roundup of news items related to disinformation and social media as we look toward 2020.

This new series will be posted at Shakesville. Check out the first post!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The L Word Sequel is Happening

The Hollywood Reporter has run an interview with Marja-Lewis Ryan, showrunner for Showtime's L Word sequel set to debut later this year.


Ryan also wrote and starred in the movie The Four-Faced Liar. Even though it had an ambiguous ending, I liked that movie, as it resonated with my experience of being a young queer woman in the aughts, going out a lot, and making questionable relationship choices.

In the interview, Ryan talks of coming of age as a fan of the original show and how she pitched the sequel to be more representative of Los Angeles and the queer community.

I'm interested to see where the sequel goes in her hands and, honestly, it just feels like a big win these days that the series didn't go to Joss Whedon or some other Feminist (cough) Ally Man.

Of note, Jennifer Beals, Katherine Moennig, and Leisha Hailey, all of whom starred in the original series, are returning.


I'm excited.  

The L Word was an important cultural moment for many queer women during its run. It premiered in 2004. That same year, George W. Bush had become president, in part, as a result of directly stoking anti-gay bigotry. If you remember, voters passed bans on same-sex marriage in 11 out of 11 states on which they were on the ballot that year.

It truly felt like queers were under attack from conservatives and our own government. As many queer women huddled in bars and living rooms, shushing each other so we could hear the narrative on-screen, collectively watching The L Word felt like an act of resistance and a respite from the outside world.

I know not everyone within the queer community had that experience with the show, and I understand that.

I also think an artifact of pop culture can be both meaningful to some within a marginalized community while also not speaking to others. The current showrunner seems aware of the limitations of the original series and I hope she and the other decisionmakers address them in ways that are responsive to people's concerns.

In conclusion, I liked Jenny.

She 100% gave the best monologue in the entire series right here.

Related: L Word Revival Selects Showrunner

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

On "Bernie vs. Centrists"

I obviously have not chosen a preferred 2020 candidate yet and it would strike me as absurd to do so this early.

Generally speaking, it would be great if someone could put me in a cryo-pod and wake me up in about 50 years. I say that because Bernie Sanders is running again, and while I would vote for him over Donald Trump, I almost certainly would not vote for him in a Democratic Primary.

With progressives running, including Elizabeth Warren, it's hard for me to see the point of him running. His entry makes me wary for multiple reasons. He stayed in the 2016 race long after it was clear he had lost, suggesting he will likely do so again. His campaign was aided by Russian agents and he's praised by Donald Trump. He didn't "almost" win in 2016 and yet many people continue to think he did, or that the DNC and Hillary Clinton bamboozled the win away from him, while he just silently lets people think that.

I think Sanders does have strong appeal for leftist, moderate, and rightwing people, particularly white ones, who both dislike Trump and are uncomfortable with voting for a woman and/or person of color for president. So, that's something, and it's not even a small thing. But, I'm not sure that's enough to win a Democratic Primary.

I also suspect that Sanders and his team know that in a diverse field of candidates, misogyny and racism will do a lot of heavy lifting in Sanders' favor, although it's nothing he/they would ever acknowledge, as Sanders habitually condescends like a white male college freshman when pontificating about representation in politics.

 As I've noted on Twitter previously, the mainstream media often frames the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. Centrists, ceding that Sanders is the standard-bearer for progressivism in the US and that everyone who doesn't like him is simply "more conservative" than him and his supporters.

It is endlessly infuriating and gaslighting.

This article is a good example of the way so many in the media falsely frame the Democratic Party as consisting of the so-called Bernie left vs. the establishment centrists, which is a frame that is largely pushed by Bernie supporters.
Meanwhile, the many people who are both progressive and distrustful of Sanders, and his die-hard fans, are almost never mentioned, nor are our reasons for being distrustful, such as prominent leftists' history of misogyny and racism, and Sanders' habitual gaslighting with respect to identity politics.

The Bernie left vs. Centrists frame erases literal millions of voters and Democrats. It's simply not grounded in reality. Some people are neither Bernie fans nor centrist, but the very term "leftist" has come to be centered around Bernie Sanders in the US.

We will never have a broad, united progressive movement if that reality is not acknowledged. And, unfortunately, I question how many members of the Online Left even care about building a broad movement. Why do that when you can dunk on "centrists" all day for not liking Bernie, after all?

Relatedly, almost every feminist blogger I know still has leftist online stalkers/harassers who hate us for not liking Bernie Sanders.

I also question the oft-stated Internet nugget of wisdom that Sanders has single-handedly moved the Democratic Party to the left. But, let's concede that point for the moment. If "Centrist Dems" are indeed following Sanders like lemmings off a socialist cliff, then he should bear the brunt of the blame if/when Trump successfully red-baits all of the purportedly latent-socialists-in-waiting/economically anxious ordinary white people who comprise the Trump base into voting Republican once again.

I know a lot of Internet leftists barely pay attention to Republicans, since they are keen to thinking Democrats are The Real Enemy,  but Republicans are rightwingers are already amping up the anti-socialist propaganda. Rightwing Christian and JD Vance fanboy Rod Dreher, for instance, is currently pitching an anti-socialist book. The Fox News crowd has a regular hate-obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democratic candidates better start putting a strategy in place beyond thinking that everyone will just agree with them if people only learn more about socialism.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Here I Am, World

I have started reading poetry again. I used to read poetry regularly and somewhere along the way, most likely during law school a long time ago, I stopped. I used to write it sometimes even, although thank the gods there are no electronic copies of it left.

I've come back to it, recently, in a time of grief, loss, anger, and political upheaval, simply because I need something more than, or perhaps different from, the ephemeral, constant outrage culture of modern social media discourse. I have felt unmoored from social justice activism, as so much of it seems completely counterproductive and cruel. I've been rethinking and contemplating what I even want this space to be, going forward, hence the light posting as of late.

I am so constantly angry that I sometimes have forgotten what I was angry about mere weeks ago. And yet, if I'm not angry, I'm not paying attention, and I simultaneously refuse to be apathetic during this political moment.

Sometimes, living feels like we're in the worst of times, in which rape culture patriarchy has infested every nook on this earth - including the most "progressive" - with people making cowardly acquiescences to its power over and over and over again.

At the same time, I still somehow feel that we are living in sacred, borrowed time.

Sometimes, poetry helps me process things when I'm not able to completely process them from a left-brain, linear perspective - or when I'm exhausted from doing so.

Presently, I'm been slowly reading Andrea Gibson's recent collection, Lord of the Butterflies, savoring one poem a day, rather than rushing through it. (Note, Gibson also goes by Andrew, but I've used Andrea since that's the name under which they've published this book and continue to use professionally).  The following sampling, from "Ode to the Public Panic Attack," shows the political commentary and wit that comprises many of the works in this collection:
..[W]e treat panic, anxiety, terror
as the failings of uncourageous minds
who haven't sipped enough chamomile tea

or haven't tattooed Namaste
onto the right part of their windpipe
or haven't picked enough lavender

from their herb gardens
to rub into their
pussy chakra.

A white yogi tells me I can breathe
through the apocalypse in my bloodstream
and I do 6,000 downward dogs

and never stop feeling
the choke of the leash.
I'm done

with the shame. Done
with the cage of self hate. The lie
that this is weakness

when I am certain it is the mightiest proof
of my strength, how hard it is to live
knowing there's a promised jaw

outside my front door
and I still step toward that horror.
Still I say, Here I am, world!
More to come.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Catholic Sex Abuse: Male Leaders Abuse Nuns Too

CBS News reports (emphasis added):
 "Nuns have suffered and are still suffering sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and bishops, and even being held as sexual slaves, Pope Francis confirmed on Tuesday. The abuse was so severe in one case that an entire congregation of nuns was dissolved by former Pope Benedict.
The scope of the abuse of nuns by clergy members first came to light with the publication at the beginning of February of the monthly magazine 'Women Church World.' The edition included Francis' own take on the scandal -- long known about by the Vatican but virtually never discussed -- in which he blamed the unchecked power wielded by priests and higher clergy across the Catholic Church for such crimes."
Isn't it interesting that the Catholic Church remains so committed to male leadership that, rather than dissolving its abusive, raping male priesthood, it would dissolve instead the women who these men had victimized?

This is a regular reminder that the Catholic Church is not a progressive institution and neither is its current leader.