Category Archives: Society

Let’s talk about how “Good Men” should be responding.

[Content Note: Sexual harassment and sexual assault.]

I’ve been a constant reader of Shakesville for some time.  I’ve come to learn a lot from Melissa and the other members of the community she has built up there.  I’ve also been following her recent posts about the numerous revelations about male celebrities sexually harassing and even sexually assaulting the people — mostly women — that they work with (or who work for them) as well as Matt Damon’s troubling and inexcusable comments about the whole things.  There’s something from a Damon quote she included in today’s post that I wanted to comment on.  Here’s the quote:

We’re in this watershed moment, and it’s great, but I think one thing that’s not being talked about is there are a whole shitload of guys — the preponderance of men I’ve worked with — who don’t do this kind of thing and whose lives aren’t going to be affected.

First, I will note that Melissa is right.  There’s absolutely no need to talk about the men who manage the most basic human dignity required to not sexually harass or sexually assault women or anyone else. This is basic human decency that is and should just be expected. Meeting it requires no comment, let alone praise.

Second, my face is completely squinched up over the idea that none of this affects men who don’t sexually harass or sexually harass women or anyone else. I don’t buy that at all. Sure, we are in no danger – contrary to alarmed rape apologists everywhere – of losing our jobs over some big misunderstanding. Nor are we impacted as directly or intensely as the victims of these predators. But for me to say I’m not affected at all would require me to not care that women and other people are actively being victimized.

So yeah, for Damon to say that men who aren’t sexual predators are not affected by this screams a monumental lack of empathy and compassion for those predators’ in my book. And I find that unthinkable.

We “good men” — as Damon might call us — need to do better than just not engage in sexual harassment or sexual harassment ourselves.  We need to be concerned about the women and other people hurt by those who harass and assault them.  We need to listen to those women, believe them, and support them.

We also need to be mindful of and fight back against the culture that lets other men harass and assault women. We need to fight back against the idea that men are ever entitled to women’s bodies, affections, attention, smiles, time, or anything else. Even when those ideas come from our own subconscious minds. We need to learn and respect women’s boundaries and call out guys when they’re violating a woman’s boundaries, no matter how small that boundary seems to us.

We should quit saying “I don’t do that,” and start asking, “How can we better respect women and their boundaries and fight against those who don’t.”


Open letter Christian webcomic artist Adam Ford

[Content Note: Homophobia, transphobia, mentions of anti-gay and anti-trans violence, mentions of suicide]

My niece posted a link to this webcomic earlier today. I decided the webcomic artist deserved a response.

Dear random Christian dude who wants to reassure me he doesn’t hate me by writing a lengthy and completely impersonal webcomic,

Look, I get it. Your uncomfortable with the fact that many LGBT people think of socially conservative Christians as hateful. The thing you need to understand is that A LOT of your fellow Christians do indeed act terribly hateful. Some of them may even be people that you and your church support and revere.

Plus, the other thing you need to understand is that you don’t have to be screaming obscenities or anything equally obvious to act in ways that are hurtful and even come across as hateful. So let me do you a favor and go through your webcomic and point a few things out to you that you get terribly wrong.

I am a Christian who believes the Bible is the Word of God, any homosexual practice is sinful, and marriage will only ever be the life-long union between one man and one woman.

But I promise you, I don’t hate you.

You know, it’s hard to believe you don’t hate me — or at least that you have my best interests in mind — when your first volley in your “reassurance” is to state unequivocally that you will never consider any emotionally and sexually intimate relationship that I might build with someone to be anything other than irredeemably sinful and illegitimate. I mean, you could have started demonstrating your commitment to loving LGBT people by talking about what you are trying to get the church to do about the fact that many states still allow employers to fire  people simply for being LGBT. Or you could have talked about what you’re trying to get the church to do about anti-LGBT violence — especially violence against transgender people who are most often targeted. Or you could have talked about what you want to do about the problem of increased instances of homelessness and suicide rates among LGBT youth.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. There are a lot of very real problems that LGBT people face, and you could be doing something right now to help alleviate and address those problems. But instead, you decided to start by drawing your line in the sand. Or let’s call it what it really is, your chosen battle line. Try and understand just how false that makes the rest of your claims sound.

The world sets us up as polar opposites, though. It says we’re bitter enemies in a “culture war,” lobbing Molotov cocktails at each other on the front lawn of the White House.

Do you know who actually uses the phrase “culture war” regularly, and insists they’re fighting one. Many of your fellow Christians. People at the AFA. People at the FRC. People at Focus on the Family. Pat Robertson. These are extremely visible and powerful Christians. They’re the ones pushing the “culture war” framing. And that’s when they’re not comparing LGBT people to sexual predators, calling us mentally ill, or saying God sent AIDS to punish us. There are a lot of other terrible things they say, too. I encourage you to do some research.

So my question to you is what are you doing to real in your fellow Christians who are pushing this “culture war” frame? Are you pushing back and telling them to shut up? Are you making sure that neither you nor your church supports the Christian organizations that are actually promoting and acting as aggressors in the culture war? Or are you just remaining silent and hoping that I and every of LGBT person will magically know you don’t agree with them and “aren’t like those Christians” (or believe it just because you say so)?

If you are gay, your fallen heart tells you to lust after people of the same sex.

God calls that sin.

My fallen heart tells me to lust after people of the opposite sex who are not my wife.

God calls that sin.

Did you notice the major difference between those two statements. You see, according to you, God offers you a context in which you’re allowed to embrace and explore your sexual desires. But according to you, God offers LGBT people no such context. Any such exploration we may consider is sinful. Full stop. End of story. Try to understand how cruel that makes your vision of God in my eyes.

Also, stop to consider how you’ve just implicitly reduced all same-sex relationships to nothing more than sexual gratification. You’ve completely ignored and invalidated the fact that many same sex relationships also involve deep emotional intimacy, mutual care, nurturing, and many other qualities that I’m sure you value in your own marriage. Again, when you start trying to caricature our relationships to fit your “sin” narrative, it’s rather difficult to accept that you’re as hate-free as you claim.

The liberal “churches” which are now saying, “Oh hey! God changed his mind and is totes cool with the gay stuff now 4 real!” do not really love you. They want your approval.

Sounds to me like you need to write a follow-up comic to let liberal churches know you don’t hate them, too. Though I’m not sure they’ll believe you any more than I believe you. But on a more serious note, I think it’s entirely condescending of you to claim you know the hearts and motives of others. Also, I’ll note that many of those liberal churches have actively backed their claims of love by actively doing things to address all of those serious issues facing LGBT people that I mentioned earlier. You haven’t done that yet. I trust you’re familiar with he phrase “action speaks louder than words.”

Not because I say so; because God says so. (See: entire Bible)

There’s a problem with that claim — and it’s really relevant to your rather disparaging comments that liberal churches say God “changed his mind” by the way. People have been saying “God says so/the Bible says so” for centuries, only to later decide that maybe the Bible doesn’t actually say that after all. I mean, there was once a time when many Christians insisted that the Bible said that it was okay to own slaves. In fact, at least one denomination (hint: it’s the largest and most well-known Baptist denomination in the United States of America) was founded on the principle that the Bible clearly states that slave-owners are allowed to own slaves. I don’t know any Christian who would insist that the Bible says that anymore. I doubt that you or any of your fellow Christians today would phrase that change in belief or interpretation of the Bible as “Oh hey! God changed his mind!”

Truth of the matter is, the Bible is hugely open to interpretation and always has been. There have been huge arguments over what the Bible allegedly says, and people on both sides of many of those arguments have insisted that the Bible “clearly says” whatever position they happen to hold. So please, accept that liberal Christians might actually legitimately come to a different interpretation of the Bible, lest you fall into the hubris of thinking you are the authority of what the Bible says. Trust me, history is rife of examples of why that may not end so well for you.

Repent and believe that gospel.

The word “gospel” means “good news.” I ask you, what “good news” are you offering to LGBT people. Quite frankly, I don’t find “you have to live your entire life without any sort of sexual or emotional fulfillment or intimate companionship” to be all that good of news. Can you do it? Why not? After all, the Bible also makes it clear that it would be better for you to remain unmarried. And yet, you mentioned having a wife. Why are you trying to place burdens on other people that you have not accepted for yourself?

We love you, so we must tell you the truth.

Okay. You’ve told me. You’re at least the 100th person to tell me this. (Seriously, do you really think LGBT people have never heard all of this before? You might want to check your facts.) I’m telling you, I don’t buy it and it stinks like yesterdays garbage after it’s sat in the sun all afternoon.

But while we’re on the topic of how much you allegedly love me, let me ask you something: What good is love without relationship. You don’t know me. You haven’t taken a single moment to get to know me. You haven’t listened to my story or shared in my joys or my woes. To be frank, all you’ve done is preach at me, possibly hoping that the cutesie webcomic format will make it more tolerable. If your love is that impersonal and impersonal, then I think I’ll still with the “vote seekers” and “approval seekers.” Once again, at least they seem to understand some of the real and serious problems I and many like me face and are actively trying to do something. They’ve shown real, tangible acts of love.

So thanks, random dude who knows nothing about me and likely will do absolutely nothing to change that. I hope that your webcomic gave you that sense of “being loving” you were trying to create for yourself. It did absolutely nothing for me.

Best wishes,


A gay man who just doesn’t quite believe you.

Moderation Note: This is a no proselytizing thread. Comments trying to convince me that I need to “repent” will be deleted. Commenters that repeatedly ignore this rule will be banned. But don’t worry, there’s no need for you to tell me the truth. Adam Ford has already taken care of it. You can even see the proof for yourself.


Pat Robertson’s world is a scary place

Tuesday, Right Wing Watch reported that Pat Robertson warned pregnant women against putting pictures of their ultrasounds on Facebook.  His reasoning, according to the report, is rather interesting:

“I don’t think there is any harm in it,” he said. “But I tell you, there are demons and there are evil people in the world, and you post a picture like that and some cultist gets hold of it or a coven and they begin muttering curses against an unborn child. You never know what somebody’s going to do.”

This is yet another glimpse into the dark, horrible world that Pat Robertson believes he’s living in. He believes that there are “Satanic witches” who have nothing better to do than scour the Facebook to find random ultrasound pictures from people they don’t know and curse them. In Pat Robertson’s fantasy world, people unlike him run around looking to commit evil for evil’s sake. It leaves one wondering if he also imagines us laughing maniacally and twirling over-waxed mustaches or cackling around cauldrons1.

The thing is, most witches don’t work curses at all. Those who do are really unlikely to curse random strangers for a number of reasons2. If a witch is actually going to work that kind of magic, said witch is going to work it against someone they have a personal investment in hurting.

So why on earth does Pat Robertson imagine evil figures doing all kinds of evil that makes no sense? Does he enjoy the way that it ties his followers to him with fear and terror? Is his desire to paint himself and those like him as the soul heroes of the world so great that he needs to paint everyone else in the world as evil as he can?

Or is he actually trapped in his own fear? Has he warning about evils for so long that he actually sees and fears them wherever he looks? If so, I have to say, that’s a horrible way to live.

1Okay, I’ll confess. The cackling around cauldrons thing actually happens. I mean, every now and then you’re in the middle of a solemn ritual and someone flubs a chant or sends one of the ritual tools skittering across the room due to clumsiness. That’s bound to crack up anyone with a sense of humor.

2The two major reasons are “trying to curse someone you don’t have a connection to is nearly impossible” and “no one in their right mind is going to work with and connect themselves to the kinds of energies a curse entails unless there’s a deeply personal reason to do so.”


Spam for Entitled Heterosexual Men

[Content Note: Rape Culture, Misogyny, Male Entitlement, Sexually Explicit Language]

On a lark, I went through my email’s trash folder the other day. For Saturday (Valentine’s Day) alone, I found four pieces of spam with a common theme: Get the woman (or women) of your dreams. See them for yourself (separated by lines of asterisks):

This shocking video is going to blow your mind and let you discover:

-Magic innocent phrases to make her horny in seconds;

-Simple questions to make any pussy wet;

-Couple of gestures to instantly take her down!

And much more for a full makeover of your life.

No practice, no efforts, no hard work!


Tired of being in a friend zone and constantly feeling unable to put her to your bed? Your life needs a makeover!

It’s the very lucky day when you may learn the genius way to make any girl want you without any efforts!

Tested on thousands of them! And they still want more…


I hardly believe it myself but I’ve tried more than 20 sex positions last week with 5 different girls.

This technique is a huge sex cake that has changed my life the way I had never even dreamt of.

You may carry on being just a jerk for hot babes or watch this video and let the science do the best for you!

Good luck!


You know I feel like a love boner king lately!
And it seems I almost forgot how I pleased myself with a night porn and relationship with a girl I didn’t like very much…

Today the situation is 100% different.
I can swear this technique is the most useful finding for an average man like me.

If you want to take the lead and be the one to choose, not be chosen by them, this great video is a must-see for you!

There’s a lot of wrong that I could cover in this. I doubt I’ll manage to spot everything, but I want to list some of the assumptions that these messages continue to support and encourage men to hold:

Women are there for their needs, especially their sexual needs.

The way to get any woman they want is simply to say or do the right things.

Women’s sexuality and sexuality exists solely to aid the men in getting the sex they want.

Getting the woman they want can and should be effortless.

There is nothing worse than having a woman decide a man is good enough to be a friend, but not good enough to be a sexual partner.*

What a woman wants and who she wants it with doesn’t matter.

These are just four examples of this kind of mentality that landed in my email on one day out of the year.  These same messages are pushed explicitly by books an websites every day. They are pushed implicitly in other forms of media. (Think of all the “hero gets the girl” themes in just about every genre of movie.)

It’s these kinds of messages that deny the humanity and agency of women. It’s these kinds of messages that encourage and enable men to think that they deserve the attentions and sexual favors of women — and not just any women, but the specific women they want — sometimes to the extreme point that they react like Elliot Rodger or Ben Moynihan (just to pick two examples).

These messages are toxic and they need to stop. They need to be challenged and discussed. They cannot be ignored. They cannot be shrugged off as something “no one really believes or listens too” because the evidence to the contrary is stark.

Further Reading: A Culture of Violent Entitlement, and the Culture of Silence Surrounding It via Shakesville

Note: I am indebted to Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, whose extensive blogging about men like Rodgers and Moynihan provided me with the links to news articles about them.

Movie Review: Impossible Choice

[Content Note: Homophobia]

Last night, as I scoured both Netflix And Amazon Instant Video for gay-themed movies to watch, I came across Impossible Choice, an extremely-low budget film that came out in 2012. The brief description on Amazon caught my eye:

For the minister’s son, Brandon, this is a summer of awakening and acceptance of his homosexuality. For his father, this is a challenge to his roots in the bible.

In many ways, that description reminded me of the movie Rock Haven, which I love (and still wish I could find my copy of). I decided to watch it.

After watching it, I skimmed through the customer reviews on Amazon. This is a movie where it seemed like either reviewers loved it or hated it. In many ways, I agree with the negative reviews, as they all brought up great points. This was an extremely low-budget film. The writing was awful. The story — actually at least two different plots that were only related by the fact that they happened at the same time and in the same place — jumped all over the place. And there were several questions the story left unanswered. (Like whatever happened to the criminal charges that were brought against Lance? You get the sense that they were trumped up, but it’s never shown that the police learn this fact.) Or there was the sudden shift of Captain Dan from being totally opposed to the idea of running a gay cruise (in the first scene or two, he throws around the word “fag” quite liberally) to being entirely in favor of it and defending the idea in front of the people of Palmyra. In fact, I had to go back and verify that the virulent homophobe I remembered from the first few scenes really was Captain Dan, because they seemed like completely different characters.

The best part of the movie — as many of the negative critics noted — was the ten minute “play within,” a play created by some of the movie characters for a college drama class. In the “play within,” Matthew Shepard and Tyler Clementi meet up in the afterlife and tell each other about the events leading up their eventual deaths. It was well acted, moving, and possibly the only truly memorable part of the entire movie. It also really didn’t seem to have any bearing on the rest of the movie, which made it odd in context.

I will admit that despite all its technical flaws, I do have some warm feelings toward this movie. This is partly because its setting is local to me, as the gay cruise that serves as subject matter of one of the plotlines and the setting for the climax of the other takes place on the Erie Canal and starts from the nearby town of Palmyra New York. There’s something about seeing shots of local geography — and having it recognized in the film as such — that’s just touching to me.

Also, the themes of the movie, while poorly executed, are near and dear to my heart. Granted, in many ways, that makes the poor execution of the movie all the more sad. In the long run, I think it would have been better if those who made it would have focused either on the work to get the gay cruise approved or on the story about Brandon’s relationships with his father and his love interest, Lance.

Would I recommend watching it? If you have a couple hours to spare and access to Amazon Prime, sure. Especially if you live in or around Monroe County New York. Especially if you’re also gay.

But if you have access to a movie like Latter Days or Rock Haven (and haven’t already watched it to death), you may want to check one of them out instead.


Such a superficial attempt to show one cares

Over at Right Wing Watch, Brian Brian Tashman reports on Tea Partier Selena Owens’s reaction to the Grammy awards.  His post is titled “Prove You’re Not Homophobic By Complimenting Your Lesbian Store Clerk’s Haircut,” which helps draw attention to this part of Owens’s statement:

Sometimes I deliberately go through the checkout line of the lesbian clerk to drop a few words of Jesus’ love in her ear and then compliment her haircut.

There’s just so much that’s wrong with that statement.  Not least of all, I find it telling that her go-to example of “coming into contact with LGBT people” is a situation where she approaches a working class person at her place of employment.1  Owens is approaching someone in a situation where she’s operating from a position of power.  This poor lesbian who’s just there trying to do her job has to put up with whatever conversation Owens may start up2 because, let’s face it, she has a job to do.

Heaven forbid that Owens actually seeks out LGBT people in places where they may be on equal footing to her and be equally comfortable.  Or heck, heaven forbid she step outside her own comfort zones3 to approach LGBT people on their terms.

Then there’s the whole “compliment her hairstyle,” an act that Owens seems to pat herself on the back for.  As if such a superficial pleasantry somehow shows she actually cares about the woman.  You know, as I think of a lesbian working as a cashier in a grocery show, here are the things that cross my mind:

  • How much is she making?  How many hours does she get per week?  Does her schedule and her hourly wage work out to something she and any family she has can live on?
  • Does she have healthcare through her employer?  Can her partner (if she has one) be covered through that her employer’s plan?  Her partner’s kids (if she has any)?
  • What kind of harassment does she have to put up with from some of the customers who come through her line?

Granted, these are not questions I’d ask a random stranger who’s ringing up my groceries.  That would be completely inappropriate.  But knowing those are serious questions with potentially serious ramifications, I also wouldn’t do something as superficial as compliment her on her haircut and pat myself on the back as if I’d become the epitome of compassion.

Owens’s second example is just as awful:

Or I encourage the star-struck 17-year-old to become informed on political issues that will affect her life, then discuss those big hoop earrings she’s sporting.

Why is Owens automatically assuming that this young woman isn’t already informed on political issues that will affect her life?4  And why does she simply encourage the young woman to “become informed” on such a topic and then go on to discuss those big hoop earrings?  Maybe the young woman would rather discuss the political issues that affects her life — those issues that she may well know better than Owens, as it’s her life.

This whole thing reeks of a person who obviously sees herself as superior to others seeking to engage others in situations where her perceived superiority is reinforced by the circumstances, behaving in a manner that makes it clear she feels herself superior, and acting patronizing.  And she thinks this paints her in a positive light?

1And don’t even get me started on the whole “deliberately” doing so thing, as if Owens finds choosing to through a particular checkout lane some major effort or ordeal on her part.

2Let’s face it, I’ve seen what passes for “a few words of Jesus’ love” in some Christians’ minds when it comes to LGBT people.  It ain’t pretty, and most decent people would wonder what definition of that word such Christians are using.

3Assuming she doesn’t think just talking to a lesbian — even in a place where Owens can probably still create problems for her by simply complaining to the store manager — as something terribly uncomfortable.

4Oh, right.  Because Owens is probably assuming that anyone who is really informed on such issues will automatically agree with her.  The condescending smugness of it all is vile.

Let’s not be squeamish about the prostate

[Content Note:  Sex, Homophobia]

This morning, I was listening to the morning radio show.  For their “What would you do” segment, they chose a woman who was dating a guy who was practically perfect and with whom she had been building a great relationship.  She indicated that she had looked in his bedside table drawer the other day and found a dildo and wasn’t sure how to react.  To the credit of many people who called in or texted the show, many people seemed to have an attitude of “who cares?”  Some even went so far to suggest she offer to incorporate it into the couple’s own sexual experiences, which I thought was awesome.

However, there were also those who were leery about the whole thing.  One of the (male) radio hosts was even trying to come up with non-sexual explanations why the guy might have one.  (Seriously?  To massage an old shoulder injury?)  Because, you know, heaven forbid that a guy might enjoy actually having his prostate stimulated.  That might make him gay, I guess.1

But here’s the thing:  Stimulation of the prostate can be highly pleasurable for men.  A lot of men enjoy it.  Some of us are gay.  Some of us are bisexual2.  Some of us are even heterosexual, which is great.  Heterosexual guys should be free to enjoy whatever pleasure their bodies offer them as it pleases them.

Other guys — of all orientations — prefer to skip that particular activity for whatever reason.  That’s great too.  But we as a society would be well served to stop getting squeamish and/or offering up value judgments on those guys — reagardless of orientation — who know what they like and choose to indulge themselves.

1I’ll note that there’s not just a negativity toward the idea that a guy is gay, though.  There’s often added negativity toward the idea that some guys actually like being the receptive partner in anal sex.  It’s something completely unthinkable by some people, as can be noted by Phil Robertson’s underlying assumption that the only two possible choices a man could make is whether to stick his penis in a vagina or anus in his recent homophobic remarks.

2A possibility I suspect neither the show’s hosts nor those listeners who responded even considered.

Two Morning Show Segments (and the Notions Behind Them) I Despise

No GimmicksI’ve mentioned before that I tend to listen to the morning show on 98PXY during my five minute drive to work most mornings.  I’ve blogged about the sexism (and worse) that I’ve heard the hosts of the shows espouse.  Today, I want to talk about some of the regular segments that they do for the show and why they bother me.

The first is “War of the Roses,” which has disturbed me so much that I often will turn off the radio on the days that it airs if it comes on during my commute.  The basic notion is that someone call in to the show because zie suspects hir romantic partner of cheating on hir.  So to “help out,” one of the hosts calls the partner at hir office and tells them that they are eligible to have a free bouquet of red roses sent to any person of hir choosing.  The idea is that if the partner chooses to send the flowers to the original caller, the caller’s fears are (hypothetically) allayed.  If the partner chooses to send the flowers to someone else instead — which has been the case for all of the half dozen or so times I’ve listened to the segment — zie is deemed a cheater and the original caller — who is also on the line the entire time — confronts hir.  Usually some sort of fight ensues and “great drama” is achieved.

For the record, I threw up in my mouth a little typing “great drama.”  Even in the scare quotes.  Because it sickens me to think that we as a society (or at least the segment that listens to morning radio) apparently consider this something great to listen to.  I mean, thinking your partner might be cheating on you is serious business, not to mention actually having a cheating partner.  Having dated guys who proved themselves completely untrustworthy, I get that.  Which is why I find the whole idea of using some radio show stunt as a way to try to find out or confront a cheating partner so disconcerting.1  Truth be told, dealing with a cheating partner or even just a partner suspected of cheating is not easy and I don’t think there are any simple ways to deal with that.  That includes having radio hosts try trapping and catching your partner in the act and then confronting them on air.

The other segment that bothers me is called “Communicake.”  The idea behind this one is that the hosts invite someone to call in with a situation in which they need to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone or tell them something that isn’t easy.  The hosts then put the message — letting the caller choose the exact phrasing — on a cookie cake, drop it off outside the recipient’s front door over the weekend with a card inviting them to call the show Monday morning to talk it out.  The resulting conversation is then aired, of course.  I haven’t listened to this segment (especially the conversations after the cake is delivered) very often.  The handful of messages I’ve heard about include break-up messages and one person telling her neighbor that a rank odor is wafting from his apartment into hers.

Again, I find this weird and creepy.  First of all, I find the idea of relaying uncomfortable messages via a cake troubling and trivializing.  To me, it’s like saying, “I know this might be the start of a difficult conversation, so I’m going to start it as flippantly as possible,” which strikes me as counter-intuitive.  Then there’s just the fact that the conversation is then aired for the benefit of the show’s listeners.  Because if I’m talking about something that may be uncomfortable for me and/or the other person, I sure want to have hundreds of eavesdroppers listening in on it.

The thing I note is that both of these segments have a couple things in common:

  1. They both offer “easy solutions” to complicated and troubling issues.
  2. They both offer listeners a chance to be voyeuristic when it comes to other people’s interpersonal struggles.

Are either of these things that we as a society really want to encourage?

No, don’t answer that.  The answer is obvious.  And depressing.

1I admit though that I’m more disturbed by the shows hosts who would use people’s real relationship concerns for a few laughs or even just a spectacle to observe on their show.

Saying we’re all the same erases our differences and the problems they cause

The comic included in this post hit my Tumblr dashboard this weekend thanks to Mad Gastronomer.  The comic was done by eighteen year old queer artist Elias Ericson and can also be found on his blog here.  I think it’s a great.  I also wish I had been half as wise and insightful at Elias’s age as he seems to be.  (For more examples of his great insight, see these two other comics.)

I love this comic because I too have heard the things said in that first panel.  And I get that the person saying it often has good intentions.  Zie sees people being treated poorly because they are different from the “average” person — for whatever that means.  Zie assumes that if we quit focusing on differences, then everyone will be treated better.  It’s a neat idea.  It’s a noble idea.  It just doesn’t work.

You see, pretending we’re not different doesn’t actually make us all the same.  It just makes our differences invisible.  That’s just as problematic, because it also tends to make invisible the unique difficulties and problems that people face because of their differences.  It erases the fact that society inherently privileges and disadvantaged different people based on those differences.  Ignoring that fact doesn’t make it go away.  In fact, it just makes it impossible to do anything to change it.

Plus, there’s the fact that if a person have to pretend that someone is “the same” as everyone else to treat them the same as everyone else, zie hasn’t accepted that person at all.  Acceptance requires accepting a person exactly as they are and embracing their idiosyncrasies, their unique characteristics, and everything else about them.  Acceptance of individuals means acceptance and acknowledgement of diversity.  Accepting a re-tooled image of someone that allows one to pretend that zie is just like everyone else is hurtful to hir.

And I love that Elias managed to capture that in this comic.


Why are anti-gay people so confused about consent?

[Content Note:  Rape culture, Sexual Abuse, Anti-Gay Bigotry]

Yesterday afternoon, Zack Ford of ThinkProgress reported on a new statement by NARTH that’s intended to encourage the Boy Scouts of America to continue to exclude gay, bisexual, and (presumably) transgender boys from joining their ranks.  It’s the usual mash-up of misinformation about promiscuous gay men, heightened health risks, and gay people as sexual predators.  Zack does a good job of providing links that deconstruct the information.

However, I want to take a closer look at one of the excerpts from the statement that Zack quoted:

How will child protection be assured? If openly homosexual boys are allowed to participate, how does a Scoutmaster monitor the influence or actions that these boys may have upon others in the troop especially during overnight events?

As someone who has spent some time in feminist circles, I think that the answer is quite obvious:  You teach all the boys involved about consent.  You teach them that they have a right to say no to the advances — be it an offer of a hug or something more physically intimate — of any of their peers.  You also teach them that it is absolutely essential that they respect the boundaries of their peers and do not cross those boundaries without freely given (as in not coerced) and informed consent.  You teach them that if a peer does not respect their boundaries, they should immediately talk to the leaders about it and reassure them that the leaders will be sympathetic and take the matter and their safety seriously.  In short, I don’t think “protecting” boys in this situation is exactly rocket science.

But then again, I have no problem with the idea of consent.  I expect others to respect boundaries and I support those who speak up when their boundaries are violated.  I’m not convinced the same can be said for all — or even many — who raise the specter of sexual abuse when the topic of LGBT people comes up.

I’ve noticed for some time that there seems to be a lot of overlap between those who believe that LGBT people — especially gay and bisexual men and trans* women — are sexual predators and those who think that men in general are incapable of controlling their sexual impulses.  The difference is that when such people think about cis, heterosexual men — they assume that this is just natural and that others — most notably women — should adjust their lives and choices to protect those men from their hard-to-control urges.1  After all, they argue that those men ultimately can’t help themselves.  Insisting they respect consent just doesn’t work.

So it’s no wonder they automatically assume that teaching and enforcing consent won’t work with gay, bisexual, and trans boys.  Many of them are likely invested in ignoring the whole concept of consent anyway.  Which tends to make their pleas to “think of the potential victims of sexual abuse” sound rather hollow to me.

Of course, the other thing is that ultimately, I think that what NARTH and people like them are really afraid of isn’t that boys will get molested by their fellow scouts.  Instead, I suspect that they are worried that closeted and frightened scouts might actually meet and discover other boys like them and learn that being gay, bisexual, or trans* isn’t so bad.2  Because in greater scheme of things, that is one way in which NARTH and other folks like them are especially hostile to consent:  They don’t want LGBT people to feel like they have the choice to truly be themselves.

1I mean, stop and think about those two statements.  First:  “Heterosexual men are just sexual and aggressive by nature, so women should stay where they are safe and avoid tempting those men.”  Second:  “Gay men are just sexual and aggressive by nature, so gay men should be kept away from heterosexual men in order to protect the heterosexual men.”  Notice the one thing that is consistent between those two arguments?

2Yeah, the anti-gay animus and stigma can be pretty rotten at times.  But being gay itself?  It’s actually pretty okay.  (I’ll leave it to those who are bi and/or trans* to comment on whether they feel the same way about their own sexuality and/or gender identity.  I don’t want to speak for others.)