Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Creepy Anti-Choice/Anti-Gay Thought Experiment

[Content note: Homobigotry, eliminationist fantasies]

Recently, over at Family Scholars Blog, commenter Greg somewhat randomly opined:
"The pro-life movement may one day be responsible for the existence of homosexuals. After all, if homsexuality is, indeed, genetic, there will, one day, be a test for it. If that happens, the only people who will be having gay children are the pro-lifers. 
In that day, homosexuality will experience the same level of genocide currently reserved for Down’s Syndrome children."
When doing a little background research on this self-evident-to-Greg claim for which he provided absolutely no supporting evidence, I observed that more prominent men with *cough*... problematic views on homosexuality have also come to this conclusion. 

Rush Limbaugh.

What I want to point to today is how the conclusion only works if one believes that the vast majority of Americans (or, as Greg claims, everyone who is pro-choice) believes that homosexuality is a genetic flaw.  

Yet, that premise is not a self-evident given, right?

So, in a response to Greg, I invited him to check his unsupported premise, and provided some evidence of my own.
"I also conducted the following appalling google search 
'Would you abort a gay baby*, poll'
One poll found that more than 80% of respondents would not abort a fetus that had a 'gay gene' and that they would in fact support the resulting child. 
Another (bizarre) poll found a similar result of 83%. (Bizarre, because it asks whether the respondent would 'abort a baby if you knew it would grow up to be gay or Muslim.' 
Sure, my methods aren’t super-scientific and I did this all in a matter of like 3 minutes. But, it’s certainly more evidence than what Greg has provided. 
In fact, I think sweeping claims like his might say more about him than they do about 'most people.'”
Greg did not respond.

I wish he would have, because I'm curious what's going on here. 

In my opinion, this "thought experiment" is flawed by both self-centered fauxbjectivity and homobigotry.  People who make this assertion seem to mistakenly believe that just because they personally believe homosexuality is an obvious genetic flaw then almost everyone else does as well.  It's as though their own opinions and homobigotry are the sun around which all people's opinions revolve. It's like they think they Are Just Telling It Like It Is, Folks! and everyone openly agrees or secretly agrees but is just too "PC" to admit it.

I will also note that, as a gay person, I find this "thought experiment" to be incredibly creepy. 

Not only because of the weird convergence between anti-choice advocacy and anti-gay bigotry (and the attempt to drive a wedge between pro-choice and pro-gay causes), but because it kind of comes off as a sick fantasy.  Like, if the Westboro Baptist Church had the equivalent of a Penthouse Forum, this "thought experiment" would definitely be in the Top 5.

[*Yes, I realize fetuses in the uterus are not "babies." I conducted the search I did because, sadly, I know that many people don't make the distinction, even in polls.]

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

On Authentic Football Fans

Welp, it's almost the Super Bowl, so what else does a sporty feminist blogger do but write about the commercials?

But seriously, I actually enjoy watching football. It can be difficult for my feminist brain to do so at times, but I also think that knowing the game does give me a little better standing to be able to critique its problematic aspects in an informed manner.

So, as I think about the commercials I've seen about the Super Bowl, I once again ponder how very rare it is for commercials to display women being authentic fans of the game.  What I'm about to say is no Startling Revelation, but women are usually portrayed in Super Bowl commercials as babes for the hetero male gaze or as mommy-wives who spoil the men's football-watching fun.

Indeed, a recent Gallup poll estimate that 53% of American women are fans of professional football.

In the real world on any given Sunday in the Fall, sports bars and stadiums are packed with men and women wearing jerseys and rooting for their favorite teams. I find it difficult to believe that savvy marketers are not aware that, statistically speaking, most women are football fans.

Misogynists love to quip how "women ruin everything," which they deem especially true with respect to sports.

I reckon that marketers know, on some level, that depicting women as authentic jersey-wearing football fans like how men are authentic jersey-wearing football fans will, by power of feminine contamination, rob the state of being an Authentic Football Fan of its manly, superior status.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Most Women Prefer Working

Over at Sociological Images, Sociologist Lisa Wade reports on some data from Kathleen Gerson's book The Unfinished Revolution:
"Here’s some great news.  The vast majority of young people – about 80% of women and 70% of men across all races, classes, and family backgrounds — desire an egalitarian marriage in which both partners share breadwinning, housekeeping, and child rearing....

...Gerson asked her respondents what type of family they would like if, for whatever reason, they couldn’t sustain an equal partnership.  She discovered that, while men’s and women’s ideals are very similar, their fallback positions deviate dramatically.

Men’s most common fallback position is to establish a neotraditional division of labor: 70% hope to convince their wives to de-prioritize their careers and focus on homemaking and raising children.  Women?  Faced with a husband who wants them to be a housewife or work part-time, almost three-quarters of women say they would choose divorce and raise their kids alone."
Traditional gender narratives usually posit that men are naturally geared toward "breadwinning" while women are naturally geared toward child-rearing.

I wonder what people who believe in traditional gender narratives, theories of "gender complementarity," and pseudo-scientific theories about "man's preference for hunting and gathering while the woman stays home with the kids" think about these findings?

Are such people surprised that most women, too, express a preference for work rather than unpaid child-rearing? Do they believe women today have been "brainwashed" by feminism?

And what to make of men saying they desire an egalitarian marriage while falling back on non-egalitarian model? Have they been influenced by narratives telling them that the most authentic way to be a man is to be a provider for women and children?

These aren't particularly new questions to ask.

Yet, I do think an interesting point is that data like this could suggest that many narratives about traditional heterosexual marriage, premised upon gender complementarity, often serve as the worst PR campaigns for marriage today.

Secondly, what I appreciate about being in a same-sex union is that the gender roles for my partner and I are not written in the way that they largely are with different-sex couples. In our vows, neither of us promised to "obey" the other and we did not have that historical baggage. No default position existed for whether or not I would (or should) take her name upon marriage. No default position exists for which of us will be more expected to continue (or stop) working when we have children.

Different-sex couples often can and do work out these issues in the context of their own relationships, but many people often still speak of the unspoken pressures and judgments that are made based upon their choices, pressures and judgments that exist precisely because people are not following the "proper" gender scripts. A benefit of same-sex marriage is, I believe, that it can serve as a model for negotiating some of these choices in relationships in a more gender-neutral way.

I also reckon that that's not such a great PR campaign for same-sex marriage in some gender traditionalist crowds, though.

[Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Okay Hivemind

How do we feel about the phrase, "You go, girl!"

Condescending? Infantilizing? 1990s? Empowering? Encouraging?

All of the above?

I don't like it, but I'm having difficulty articulating why.

It reminds me of, some years ago, when I had a mid-level manager co-worker who called all of her subordinates "kiddo." Thank gawd, I wasn't one of her subordinates. But, I still used to cringe when she'd call someone to her desk, "Can you pop over here, kiddo?"

This same person, of course, would never have dared to call one of her peers or superiors "kiddo" in the workplace. For, the word was a subtle way to let her subordinates know that she had The Authority in the way that, say, a parent has power over a child.

Perhaps with respect to the phrase, "You go, girl!" context matters, and I'm open to the idea that sometimes people like it when other people say this phrase to them.

It just so happens that when I tend to see people using the phrase, it's often uttered in a similar, "Well aren't you and your little lady ambitions just so adorable?! A-yes you are!" sort of manner by someone "higher" than the "girl" in the kyriarchy.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Today's Deep Thought

Moff's Law.

Just because I've seen it come up on Internet a lot lately where men have popped in here, or have written their own blogposts, to tell people (mostly women) that their response to a book, film, or TV show is not "correct."

And, I'm not sure what the hell to even do with a "critique" whose sole purpose is to whinge about how a lady feminist isn't sufficiently hot for an upcoming male-centric movie (Seriously, actual title of guy's post: "Film About Single Dad Leaves Gynocentric Feminist Cold").

Ruh-roh! After all, men are entitled to women's undiluted enthusiasm toward their toys!

But seriously, once again, literary critic Joanna Russ' observation with respect to male-authored, anti-feminist science fiction resonates. In To Write Like a Woman, she notes that in many of these dystopian male-centric stories of men tearing down a matriarchy, "women are not actively engaged in fighting men; they have merely withdrawn from men's company- but the challenge to male domination is seen as identical."

For, the men in these stories are not willing to do away with women, and they're certainly not going to let the women have their own separate society. Instead, the stories are premised upon "re-capturing" the women so they can resume being the permanent class of male worshippers who will keep men central. After all, to these authors, a society of equals (all men) is no fun! The women have to recognize the men as central figures and they have to like it dammit!

If chiding women for not be sufficiently enthusiastic toward male-centric media is the face of so-called "gender egalitarianism" or "non-gynocentric feminism," count me out fellas.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blog Commenting Etiquette, Again

So, just because a person is debating something on Internet, it is still a reasonable for other participants to expect that other participants provide citations, links, or evidence to back up one's argument.

In various forums in which people are disagreeing, I often see commenters make huge, sweeping claims about "what the research shows" and how "most people agree that" and that "it's just common sense."

A few weeks ago, for instance, one guy I was debating with quoted almost verbatim from a Wikipedia article, without linking to it or citing it, while acting as though he were commenting off-the-cuff from his own Extensive Body of Knowledge About The Research. When pressed for supporting evidence for his claims, this Just-Telling-It-Like-It-Is Guy responded with a snarky and huffy retort along the lines of, "This is just a blog, geez, what do you expect MLA or APA format?"

Like, dude makes a buncha claims about the purported body of research, but it's So Unfair to ask him which specific studies he's referring to?

And, readers, are you too familiar with the, "well, the studies are out there, if you just google them" trick, whereby commenters wipe their hands from doing actual work and instead shifting that burden to others to do their research, consolidate the findings, and develop their argument on top of rebutting it.

I've also seen others respond to a request for citations by "joking" that it's so unfair of me have asked them to practically produce a 100-page dissertation in blog comment form, or to write a scholarly article fit for publication and peer review, by merely asking them to direct me to a supporting study or two.  Oh yes, they have time to make Big Conclusions, but they don't have time to develop supporting arguments for those conclusions.

It's such an interesting and exaggerated response.

To me, it comes off as laziness, self-centeredness, and/or illusory superiority. It's as though their arguments are so self-evidently correct to these commenters that they cannot fathom that other people require more proof than "because I said so" or "I think about this a whole bunch."
  So, here is my suggestion to facilitate the process of Providing Supporting Evidence For Sweeping Claims:

APA, MLA, Bluebook, or other formal citation methods are not necessary for blog commenting purposes. These citation methods exist in a context, and blog commenting is not usually an academic context in which these methods are required.

However, it's also been my experience that people, if they are fair, will often grant deference to one's blog comment in direct proportion to the amount of thoughtfulness that it looks like someone put into crafting the comment. That is why drive-by one-liners and "because I said so" comments do not tend to embiggen the discourse. 

Many blog commenting systems contain a hyperlink button that allows one to easily embed a link to a source. Use of that mechanism will, in my opinion, suffice as far as "citation methods" go.

And, because how a link is relevant to one's position, comment, or argument is also not usually self-evidently clear, it is also reasonable for other conversation participants to request some additional clarifying commentary on the part of the person linking to another source.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

But What I Don't Like

about Rev. King's speech that I quoted yesterday, is that he uses the gendered words "man," "men," "mankind," "brother," "brotherhood," and "sonship" 36 times.

He specifically references female humans 4 times, using the words "sister" and "women."

I notice that every time I read the speech too. And, well, it always feels extra alienating to me when it's someone widely recognized as a spiritual and moral leader doing it.

This speech, the language of which suggests that King was speaking to men and about men, is an insidious microaggression that lets me know that a great civil rights leader might have actually thought that all men, and only men, are created equal.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

Exactly a year before his assassination, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr spoke out against the war in Vietnam:
"As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government."
I re-read this speech every year around his birthday and each time, different parts of it speak to me.

This year, I noticed that not only was Rev. King a great speaker, he was a listener as well. He speaks of talking to the poor and hearing their questions. He speaks of understanding their point of view, one that rightly asks, "How can you tell us that violence is wrong, when our government engages in so much of it in our name?"

He speaks too of understanding the point of view of our so-called "enemies" in Vietnam, and how, to them, we must seem "strange liberators" as we support the colonization of a nation that modeled its declaration of independence after our own.

What is notable to me is that Rev. King had an agenda of civil rights and non-violence, but it wasn't a one-sided agenda based only upon "his side" talking, wherein any means justified the ends. He sought to listen to and understand those who had been designated his enemies. He questioned the words used to describe them. He put himself in their position and tried to understand their history of pain, oppression, and fear.

People like to quote Rev. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and I can understand that. It's a great,  moving speech. I wish his above speech were more known, but I also understand why many politicians and culture warriors don't draw from it as much.

[Cross-posted: Family Scholars Blog]

Friday, January 18, 2013

On Politically Correct, Again

I sometimes talk on this blog about that vague, overused phrase "politically correct."

Often, it's used by defenders of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other -isms to justify an oppressive status quo, and it's usually combined with words like "agenda" and "hypersensitive." Those who use it often do so to imply that someone rendering a critique is getting worked up over something that is so trivial it's not worth seriously discussing.

A couple weeks ago, a woman wrote an article about the movie The Hobbit, noting that very few female characters are in it (much like Tolkien's entire Lord of the Ring series), saying:
"I did not read The Hobbit or the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a child, and I have always felt a bit alienated from the fandom surrounding them. Now I think I know why: Tolkien seems to have wiped women off the face of Middle-earth."

Now, I've actually read them all and felt a similar sense of alienation. So, no need to "inform" me about the female characters who do exist, thanks!

Tolkien's fictional world always seemed to me to be not only largely devoid of women, but also inhabited by men who don't even notice, much less care, about the absence of women. With few exceptions, it's a gender traditionalist's wet dream of male homosociality where men do all the stuff that's worth noting and the women do.... well.... whatever it is that women do.

So, it was with much amusement that the vast majority of comments critical of this woman's criticism, and there were many, were not actual substantive, civil engagements with her thesis, but rather, were condescending, mansplainy, angry, hyper-emotional personal attacks on her and her so-called PC agenda.

The reactions were disproportionately more aggressive than the woman's relatively tepid statement that she always felt alienated from Tolkien's works and I think that speaks to a real sense of privilege and entitlement.

Of course, there were a few token, "As a female, can I just say I'm not offended" head-pat seekers in the crowd, but many of the male commenters seemed to really be operating with that sense of self-centered illusory superiority that makes them think that just because they personally see nothing wrong with a work then no one else can ever be reasonably justified in feeling alienated or offended by it. Because of course, they as men are the neutral arbiters of all that is funny, smart, offensive, alienating, and entertaining!

To me, these strongly negative reactions to this woman's critique really speak to how the term "politically correct" is a massive use of projection. The truth is not that people who think critically about how entertainment reinforces stereotypes and oppressions just go around getting all offended at stuff without even thinking about it, reacting solely on how our self-centered, solipsistic emotions react. The truth is that that's exactly what uncritical fanboy fonts of unexamined privilege do whenever they're told their favorite things might be alienating or offensive to other people.

Friday, January 11, 2013

To Forgive Without an Apology?

[Content note: the cited article and conversations contain sometimes detailed descriptions of violence, murder, and abuse]

Over at Family Scholars Blog*, we've been discussing the general theme of forgiveness, in the context of a New York Times article about a couple who forgave their daughter's murderer and in the context of commenters' personal experiences.

The NYT article, as I stated in comments, was very difficult for me to read.

It described what appeared to be an abusive relationship that culminated in a man, named Conor, killing his girlfriend. The abusive nature of that relationship leading up to his killing wasn't detailed, but rather, the act of the parents forgiving their daughter's killer was the main highlight of the story.

The article recounts:

"Kate[, the deceased woman's mother,] took the seat opposite Conor, and he immediately told her how sorry he was."
The parents forgave Conor for killing their daughter, and it seemed to be part of their healing process. In a follow-up post to the ensuing conversation, Amy Ziettlow noted:
"For further discussion I have often pondered the work of Dr. Ira Byrock who wrote The Four Things That Matter Most a book that inspired many hospices, included the one where I served, in a core care planning tasks of helping individuals express four (and we expanded it to five) key things a person can express before death, often called “end of life closure:” 
1) Please forgive me. 
2) I forgive you. 
3) Thank you 
4) I love you. 
5) Goodbye."
While many commenters seemed to be in agreement with the notion of forgiveness being a universal good, today I want to consider how forgiveness becomes complicated when no apology or request for forgiveness is rendered by the person who has done harm.

In Conor's case, he said he was sorry relatively quickly. But, not all murderers apologize. Not all batterers say they are sorry. Not all abusers even recognize that they engage in abuse. And, to paraphrase CS Lewis, of all oppressors it is those who oppress us with the approval of their own consciences, without remorse, who are perhaps the most oppressive of all.

In my experience, a sincere apology or a request for forgiveness has often facilitated my willingness to forgive others. I also know that when I have made mistakes and apologized, people have seemed more willing to forgive me. Yet, I'm not entirely sure what it means to forgive those who harm unapologetically. To illustrate, I'll use an example from my life.

About a year ago, my partner and I invited a close family member of mine to stay with us for a few days while she was traveling to the city in which we live. One evening, my partner and I were sitting on the couch, and in order to make more room for my relative so we could all sit and watch a movie, I put my feet on a pillow on my partner's lap. Almost immediately, my family member took on a cold demeanor and went to her bedroom. That was the only instance I remember of making physical contact with my partner in this relative's presence.

The next day, my relative had packed up her suitcase and said she was going to stay somewhere else. I was perplexed and asked her if something was bothering her, and she insisted that she was fine. A few weeks later, though, I found out from other relatives that she was telling people that she thought my partner and I were rude by showing affection for each other in front of her and that she felt "really uncomfortable" around us.

This experience was hurtful to my partner and I not only because my relative's statements to my family members made us feel as though she saw as disgusting perverts, but also because my relative seemed to have this passive and entitled insistence that two lesbians coddle her homophobia in our own home. I sent her a direct email letting her know that I found her behavior hurtful, and I didn't receive a response.

Many times, we don't get those closure-facilitating utterances, "I'm sorry" or "please forgive me."

Instead, we often get those unsatisfying non-apology apologies, "I'm sorry you feel that way," "Sorry you're so angry," or those excuses that ignore people's pain, "I didn't mean to hurt you!" Sometimes, we just get silence.

I'm aware of the noble religious, spiritual, and philosophical platitudes about forgiveness. I think they are easy to utter on a blog and difficult to apply in real life situations.

And, in cases like these, when people know that they have hurt other people, even if unintentionally, and refuse to acknowledge that, I'm not sure what forgiveness means.

I wish my relative well, but I also know that it's hurtful to be around her, and so I keep my distance from her. I set boundaries, because from my past experiences with her I know that if I don't, she will continue to be hurtful.  I think that if I were to tell her, "I forgive you," she might be insulted because she doesn't think she did anything wrong. 

And, as I agree that forgiveness can be a healthy part of some people's healing process, I am also cognizant of the reality that forgiveness can also embolden people to not change their hurtful behavior, because they don't have to do anything to "earn" forgiveness. By the grace of others, they are just simply, forgiven, and I question whether that stops the cycle of violence and aggression.

[*Cross-posted at Family Scholars Blog, which has implemented a new civility policy.]

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Quote of the Day

Leslie Feinberg, in an interview at Lambda Literary:
"I don’t think of the right to same-sex marriage or the struggle against the internal war against LGBT soldiers within the military as assimilation or inclusion in those institutions. I think of them as struggles against discrimination and brutality against the state. I believe that the real question is how these struggles are posed and who leads them. Will same-sex marriage be the 'end' of the struggle for equality, or one more important battle, one of many, that needs to be won?"
I first became familiar Feinberg's work about 15 years ago when I read hir classic book Stone Butch Blues. (Drag King Dreams is currently in my queue, has anyone read it?)  Reading it even then, I was drawn to hir more intersectional approach to queer progress. In addition to homosexuality, ze was talking about gender variance, trans* issues, violence (especially as it affects gender-variant and trans* people), the criminal justice system, and class issues in a way that seemed to present a more complex, nuanced reality in which individuals can't often be easily reduced to one identity marker.

Looking back, Stone Butch Blues portrayed a reality that is not often reflected in many of today's dominant "we're just like you" pro-marriage-equality narratives, narratives that I believe can further marginalize many queer, gender variant, and LGBT people.

What I appreciate about Feinberg's quote, above, is the way it acknowledges the importance of marriage equality and inclusion in the military while also reminding us that our work when these victories are achieved will not be finished.


The Limits of 'We're Just Like You'

Today in the Kyriarchy: On "Cis"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Letting Equality Opponents Speak For Themselves

[Content note: homobigotry]

One of perhaps the most intriguing aspects of the same-sex marriage debate in the US is the trend of equality opponents insisting that homobigotry is a made-up figment of queer people's imaginations.

In an article entitled "Lawmakers review plan to declare voters 'bigots'" posted on WorldNetDaily, Bob Unruh warns:
"A legal team specializing in civil rights, faith and freedom issues has written a letter to members of the Illinois legislature, warning that the new 'Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act' isn't all about 'freedom' and 'fairness.' 
It's about labeling constituents bigots, according to a statement from the attorneys at the Thomas More Society."
Now, ever since Judge Walker found Prop 8 to be unconstitutional, those who dedicate their professional livelihoods to opposing marriage have really amped up the message that it's totally unfair and inaccurate for opponents of same-sex marriage to be called bigots.

More and more, it's almost like the same-sex marriage debate isn't even about the alleged, vague, and non-specific harms of same-sex marriage on children or families anymore.  It's like it's becoming more about the angst and anxiety prominent opponents of same-sex marriage are now feeling about the ever-more-real possibility of them being remembered as being on the wrong side of history.  It's about the self-centered view that even more important than equality or inequality, protecting marriage, or saving children, are the reputations of same-sex marriage opponents.

Now, you'll notice that I didn't link to the WorldNetDaily piece. That was intentional. I don't support WND's, erm, "business model." So, if you have a pressing need to read it in full and you're reading this blog, I'll just assume you possess the necessary skills to find the article if you wish.

I also don't often write about WND pieces because, really, what's the point other than to be like, "Wow, some writer at WND said something bad again. Welp, must be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday!"

And, I also don't think it's like a huge surprise that homobigots don't like to be called bigots.  I mean, even members of the KKK get all offended when people call them racist, so.

I'm more writing this piece for future generations, just so it goes down in whatever cyber-archives exist.

Dear future people, in article at a site frequented by opponents of same-sex marriage in which the thesis was that it is unwarranted and unjustifiable for opponents of same-sex marriage to be called bigots, the very first comments on the article are:


Not all same-sex marriage opponents speak this frankly about their opinions on queer people.

Not all same-sex marriage opponents even hold such beliefs.

But, the truth is, many of them do.

Although several organized anti-equality groups in the US now put a relatively civil veneer on opposition to same-sex marriage, it is rank bigotry like the above comments that continue do most of the legwork. That same-sex marriage had a history of losing in ballot initiatives prior to 2012 unprecedented success has not been due, in my opinion, to the brilliant genius arguments of so-called marriage defenders.

It has been due, rather, to bigotry- the simple belief that queer people are gross abominations who are not quite human.

Although such beliefs are becoming more rare, they are not yet rare.

We find that when we let many opponents of same-sex marriage speak for themselves, in their own Internet forums amongst themselves without the benefit of mindful PR campaigns carefully parsing the message, lots of voters go out and earn that bigot label.

Still. In 2013.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Still Looking For That "Feminist Echo Chamber"

This weekend, commenter Dominic popped into Fannie's Room to inform us that men:
"...think most feminists are hypocritical sexists who don't want to hear anything that might disrupt their echo chamber."
I hear MRAs and anti-feminists make that accusation frequently.

And, well, over the years, it's become ever so clear to me that anyone whose criticism of feminism contains the phrase "feminist echo chamber" is about 85% ignorant of feminism, especially as it exists on Internet.

I'll echo (see what I did thar?) EDB5Fold's observation that, in my 6 years of feminist blogging, I have yet to encounter this much-referenced haven where all The Feminists are in total 100% agreement with the Feminist Platform, this utopia where in-fighting never occurs, and where feminists never call each other out for problematic arguments.

I mean, are you kidding me?

Where? Where is this fantastical femitopia and why oh why do only anti-feminists know about it but not, like, actual feminists? Why are they withholding this key intel from us?

But seriously, I must once again note my prior observation that the biggest failing of many anti-feminists isn't that they disagree with us, it's that they're so ignorant of feminism that they can't even render informed, solid critiques of it.

Because yes, some feminists and some ideas that some feminists hold are worthy of criticism. But, when someone's Big-Time Critique is to come here and bark "feminists are hypocritical sexists," well that sure as shit ain't it.

At this juncture in my life, the conversations about gender and feminism I'm more interested in having are more along the lines of, "Same-sex marriage, does it reinforce patriarchal norms and/or minimize them" and not, "Feminists, why do you hate men so much?"

I just don't see Fannie's Room 2013 being, like, an affirmative action program for ignorant anti-feminists who use such lazy-ass arguments, you know?

And, I'm not looking to interact with, let alone coddle, those random, entitled early 20-something young men who pop in here with their "men and women are just different, man!" thinking, who act like they have lots to teach "the feminist echo chamber" about gender stuff, lots of "gotchas" to catch us in, and that if we don't engage their Men's Rights Activism 101 thoughts to their full satisfaction they call us "cowards" who just can't "refute" their awesome, superior arguments.

I'm also not in dire need of such men being my "Devil's Advocate," because yes, I've probably both thought and written about these "other sides" these guys think they have to bring up here.

Is this confident of me? Sure. I'm okay with that. Because, helpful hint of the day: it's okay for women to be confident. That doesn't make us wrong, bitchy, or mean. If men can't handle us being smarter, more rational, or more competent than them at something, that's their problem and they better fucking get used to it if they're going to function in this world as productive grown-ups.

(Related reading: So, You Want To Teach the Lady Feminists).

It's almost like these critics don't get that feminists are, you know, individual human beings with varying opinions and beliefs about gender and that maybe it's irrational to expect one feminist to answer for, atone for, justify, condemn, or condone anything any other feminist ever has said or done.

If a person understands that, then maybe we can talk.

Until then, I hope some of these anti-feminists might come to better understand why feminists might be justified in finding it hostile to be treated like we're a hivemind and not actual people.

[ETA: It looks like all of Dominic's comments here over the past few days have been deleted and replaced with an "x." Just so readers know, I did not delete or edit these comments. Dominic may have done so himself, or it might be a Disqus glitch resulting from me deleting his last 3 comments he posted after I let him know he wasn't welcome to comment here any more.

Update: Judging by Dominic's comment below, it seems it was actually him who deleted and edited all of his previous comments. Damn. So much anti-feminist blogging fodder erased from the record.

He is also demanding that I go back and permanently delete the 68 comments he left here in the past 2 days because he doesn't want to keep getting notifications when people reply to him.  I guess he didn't think about how when he left 68 comments here in the past 2 days that maybe I and other people were getting notifications of his 68 comments here in the past 2 days and that that might be irritating.

Just a helpful hint to commenters to maybe think first about how seriously they want to engage when they want to kind of impulsively, extensively comment on other people's blogs.

I'll also note that Dominic was allowed to leave 68 comments in the past 2 days in this here "feminist echo chamber."]

Friday, January 4, 2013

Quote of the Day

 "Without hesitation, I replied that I wanted to put women into history. No, I corrected myself, not put them into history, because they are already in it.... What I was learning in graduate school did not so much leave out continents and their people... as it left out half the human race, women. I found it impossible to accept such a version of the past as truth."
-Gerda Lerner, on her academic interests 

Lerner, a historian who specialized in women's history, has passed away at the age of 92.

To say that she "specialized" in women's history is actually kind of an understatement. During and after obtaining her Ph.D in history in the 1960s, she was instrumental in helping establish women's history as a legitimate academic discipline.

I've read several of her books and, when she was touring for her autobiographical book Living with History/Making Social Change, I was fortunate enough to hear her speak on it. I feel indebted to her scholarship and courage.

 My condolences to her family and those who were close to her.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Illinois Considers Marriage Equality

As I mentioned yesterday, the Illinois General Assembly is currently considering a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. 

Called the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, the bill would not only allow same-sex couples to marry, it explicitly notes that religious organizations would not be required to solemnize any marriage.

The law would also recognize civil unions, or "substantially similar relationships[s]" performed in other states, as civil unions in the state, and would recognize legal marriages performed in others states as marriages. It also appears to allow couples who are currently civil union'ed in Illinois to retain that status or to voluntarily convert their relationship to a legal marriage. (I forsee further legal complications and infamous grey areas!)

Of course, regardless of the outcome of this state-level bill, legally married and civil union'ed same-sex couples will continue to not have access to most of the federal rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage.  We can thank the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for that.

Also of note, the proposed marriage equality bill in Illinois also amends the bill's use of the oxymoronic "generic masculine" in the marriage act. Laws in Illinois, as well as the State Constitution, generally use "man," "he," and "him" to refer to all human beings. In the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, however, I saw at least two added "or hers" in the text.

That little tidbit isn't going to get attention, but I say kudos for the eradication of that common microaggression against women. (Don't tell the Cardinal though, we don't want to piss him off any more than he already is!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Catholic Leader Denies Reality, Expresses Concern About Looking Bigoted

In Totally Shocking News, Cardinal Francis George in Chicago has written a letter opposing the bill in Illinois that would legalize same-sex marriage. Currently, the state offers civil unions with all of the state level rights, benefits, and privileges of marriage.

In his letter, whose vague and silly arguments can be read here (PDF), I will only highlight two items.  First, he claims:
"Should the lame duck legislature or the new Assembly take up the passage of a 'same-sex marriage' law, it will be acting against the common good of society. We will all have to pretend to accept something that is contrary to the common sense of the human race." [my emphasis]
We all, eh?

I find it disgusting, alienating, and incredibly problematic that a purported holy man deigning to be on Team Moral Authority who tries to define supporters of same-sex marriage out of existence.  I know same-sex couples who are legally married, not in Illinois, but in other states where it is legal.

That is a fact. Their marriages are a real thing that exist in the real world. These couples are not pretending to be married, nor are they or their supporters pretending to accept same-sex marriage. The courts are not pretending. Religious and civil supporters, and family members, are not pretending. And, if same-sex marriage becomes legal in Illinois, "we" "all" will not be pretending to accept it.

Now, people may disagree with the law, but the actual truth is, they have a legal marriage certificate even if some poopy-pants pastors don't like it.

How insulated and surrounded by sycophants does a man have to be to think he can deny reality? I continue to be amused at the lengths to which followers of this religion let men define and deny reality for other people, whether they're insisting that men and women have an oxymoronic "equal hierarchical" "complementary" relationship to one another or that it's an impossibility for women to be priests.

He continues:
"Those who continue to distinguish between genuine marital union and same sex arrangements will be regarded in law as discriminatory, the equivalent of bigots."
Yes, and?

Notice how this "reason" for opposing same-sex marriage entirely centers the same-sex marriage opponent. 

That "equivalent of bigots" lingo, as a side note, comes straight from the National Organization for [Heterosexual] Marriage's playbook. Here's Brian Brown in just one article parroting that phrase:
"Religious organizations are going to be punished if same-sex marriage stands in California and throughout the country. Why? Because we're going to be told that we are the equivalent of bigots and the law saying that has a tremendous powerful effect."