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Your Daily* Dose of WTF?: Do Not Fear Chaz Bono

8 Sep

I’m pretty confused about the reaction to the recent news that Chaz Bono will appear on “Dancing With the Stars” this upcoming season.  You see the same thing when people get all huffy about their children being potentially exposed to homosexuality.  It’s just baffling to me.  The only conclusion I can draw is that the people who are afraid of exposing their kids to anyone who isn’t heterosexual or cisgender are misinformed about a few things.

I think I’ve managed to identify some of the fears people are experiencing, so I’d like to address them now:

Gay and transgender people do have self-control.

I figure that one of the reasons that parents might be averse to seeing gay and transgender people on television is because they’re afraid that, before they’re able to clap their hands over their children’s eyes, someone is going to whip out a riding crop and a ball gag and initiate a primetime fuckfest.  I’m guessing that some people mistakenly think that gay and transgender people are unable to stop themselves from having amazing, kinky sex all the time.

Well, parents, I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to worry – that’s not going to happen.  Gay and transgender people are, in fact, able to curb their insatiable sexual appetites, and I can guarantee that you will not see hardcore gay sex on network television.  I cannot, however, guarantee that you won’t be treated to softcore fake lesbian sex on Cinemax after midnight.

The words “gay” and “transgender” really don’t have much to do with sex.

Donkey punch.  Strawberry milkshake.  Angry dragon.  Hot Carl.  Dirty Sanchez.  Blumpkin.  Cleveland steamer.  Alabama Hot Pocket.  These are all sex things.  Notice that this list does not include “gay” or “transgender,” as they are not sex things (notice also that this list has quite a bit to do with poop – COINCIDENCE????).

What’s wrong with sex?

I mean, even if sexuality and gender expression were sex things, what’s wrong with that?  Of course I would never argue that you should show your four-year-old porn, but you know – it’s just sex.  I mean, I think even the most conservative among us look back at ye olde Puritans, who used to like, flog themselves if they even moaned during intercourse, and we think that’s ridiculous.  I mean, we don’t inflict self-harm on ourselves (much) anymore as a punishment for enjoying sex (I mean, unless you’re into that kind of thing… but I have a feeling that if you are, I’m not really talking to you), but we still treat sex like it’s wrong and evil and corrupting.

All right, I’m going to stop evangelizing about my utopian sex-party society where people have sex and do it without shame.  But seriously, what’s wrong with sex?  And why can’t kids know about it?  And why is sexuality discouraged in children (and no, I don’t mean intercourse, but two-year-olds stick their hands down their pants, and we shake our fingers at them)?  Do you have a good reason for this, because I don’t.  But seriously, raise your kids however you want – I’m not a breeder, I don’t know what I’m talking about.

That’s not how a television works.

When I was a kid, I used to kind of hope that there were tiny people living inside video cassettes who acted out that Fraggle Rock Christmas special my mom had taped for me.  I mean, I knew that wasn’t the case, but I kind of hoped that it was.

As an adult, I still don’t understand how television works, but I’m fairly positive that there aren’t really people inside the TV, and contrary to what I learned from “Poltergeist,” one cannot be sucked into a television (and it’s especially less likely now that tube televisions are obsolete), nor can the people on your TV screen jump out and hang out with you (I’ve tested this also, but no matter how much I begged, Alexander Skarsgård remained in “True Blood” with Anna Paquin – that bitch).  So, knowing all of this, I can tell you, with a moderate degree of certainty, that no one – gay, straight, transgender, cisgender, or anything else – is going to jump out of your TV, suck you into it, or otherwise pass their sexuality or gender identity onto you or your children through your television set.  We don’t yet have the technology.

Oh, and also, sexuality and gender dysphoria are not communicable.  I looked it up.  You can’t catch gay.

Well, that’s it.  I hope this has served to allay some of your fears about Chaz Bono strutting his ass on DWTS.  If I didn’t have an irrational fear of Tom Bergeron, I might actually watch.  But I do.  So I won’t.

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Your Daily* Dose of WTF?: Rape Culture, Alive and Well

31 Aug

Trigger warning for description of a possible sexual assault.

This story appeared a couple of days ago on Jezebel.  A guy gives a comedy monologue in which he basically describes how he raped a woman.  And everyone is apparently supposed to laugh.

Irin Carmon reports:

As the story goes, an “old drunk girl” gave her number to a waiter, who had a girlfriend but suggested Eric go instead. He claims “peer pressure” from the fellow staff led him to call the woman, “without saying, hey I’m a different person, is this okay?” and to take a cab to her hotel. He says she opened up the door and said, “Oh no.” This is how he recounts the dialogue:

“You’re not the guy I wanted.”

“But I’m the guy who showed up.” This elicits cheers.

She said, “Well I’m not letting you in,” but “she leaves the door open so I’m like bingo…. I walk in there and I kind of close the door.” She told him to leave, again, and he says to himself, “All right, it’s now or never.” He says he kissed her, they started making out, and when the comedians start uncomfortably joking about the police and the Fifth Amendment, Eric says, “I’m pretty sure she felt safe,” that she was stronger than him and had him “pinned down.” He then says he went for the “fishhook,” which is how he says he tells it to his friends, and demonstrates penetrating her with his fingers.

This is a perfect example of a really awful rape joke.  The worst part is that this guy clearly doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

Um, gross.  The article includes a video of the performance.

Addendum to Yesterday’s Post

20 Aug

Yesterday, I wrote that I have little tolerance for Christians who feel “unwelcome” in certain circles – be they writers, scientists, or academics.  I received a little pushback on Google+ from a good friend of mine, which made me think a little bit about what I wrote.

I maintain my point, but perhaps I should express it better.  Certainly, there are spaces in the U.S. where Christians might feel unwelcome.  I used to be a member of an online forum that was like that.  So religious folks might experience some condescension and asshole-ish behavior from non-religious folks, but I still don’t think that there is really anything in the U.S. that would prevent a Christian from doing what ze wants to do – whether ze wants to be a writer or an evolutionary biologist.

A panel from a rather famous comic by Gabby about discussing sexism online

via Gabby's Playhouse

Let’s make a feminism analogy – even though I said this wasn’t about feminism.  In the comic to the left, which has gotten a lot of notoriety since it was initially published at Gabby’s Playhouse (make sure you click the link to go see the whole thing – this is only one part of several), Gabby pokes some fun at the way some men tend to steal focus away from women on the internet.

You see, sometimes, dudes go into a feminist space, and sometimes they say something sexist, and then sometimes they get butthurt because they feel like everyone’s ganging up on them.  Social justice advocates and people who are versed in talking about such things might tell you that part of the reason a dude may feel shitty in a situation like that is because dudes are so used to operating in systems where their voices are privileged over everyone else’s, and so it feels uncomfortable for them to step into a space where that is not the case.

I’d argue similarly that when Christians get into spaces that aren’t Christian-dominated, they might feel a little uncomfortable.  I mean, after all, Christians make up a vast majority of the population – close to 80%.  So, the logic that many activists would use tells us that some of that belly-aching about feeling unwelcome in academia or art might be attributable to the fact that everything else in U.S. society is framed for Christians, and that discomfort is actually just the experience of things not being Christian-centric.

I recognize that that is extremely simplistic and does not account for asshole atheists.  I’m getting there.

Seriously guys – there are atheists who are assholes.  There are also Christians who are assholes, but nobody deludes themselves into thinking that just because some Christians do super asshole-y stuff that all Christians are assholes.  Are there some atheists out there who are self-righteous snobs?  Of course.  Assholes span all races, classes, and systems of belief, guys.  For serious.  THEY’RE EVERYWHERE.

But when we are talking about actual persecution and oppression, assholes have nothing to do with it.  Well, they often have something to do with it, but it has more to do with who holds power in a larger system.  So maybe a dude wanders into a feminist space and feels persecuted there (we don’t need to get into the reasons why – maybe he’s just being a baby, or maybe the ladies are actually being super mean to him) – that does not change the fact that we live in a society that systematically oppresses women.  And I’m not kidding – there are men out there* who really believe that just because some feminists have been mean to them, that men are an actual oppressed group in the U.S. (never mind the fact that women still tend to make roughly 25% less than men do when performing the same job, and never mind that most film, television, and literature is male-centric, and never mind… oh, whatever).

We also live in a society where atheists almost never achieve public office, where our currency says “God” on it, and where our president mentions “non-believers” in his inaugural speech, and Fox News throws a shit-fit about it.  Our federal holidays not only celebrate significant dates in American history, but also Christian holidays.  Our work week is designed to accommodate Christians.  I think I can pretty confidently say no one is oppressing a Christian in the United States based on hir religion.

Whether some people are mean to Christians… well, that’s a completely different discussion.  Maybe if all non-Christians made an agreement to not be assholes for a day, we could help disentangle the oppressors from the jerks.

[Image Source]

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*This is not to say that there isn’t a place for men’s activism and that Men’s Rights groups have absolutely no grounds for their movements.  But when you encourage people to play “Feminazi Monopoly,” you have to wonder what the motivation is here – is it actually dealing with real issues that really affect men, or is it pushback against women’s rights movements?  You tell me.

Your Daily* Dose of WTF?: But What About the Christians???

19 Aug

First item: notice I’ve changed the name of this feature.  I think it reflects the spirit of what these little tidbits are meant to be better than the sexism thing.  Because I’m not always going to talk to you about sexism.

Case in point:

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like The Rumpus.  Okay, I’ve totally mentioned this before – my love for The Rumpus is deep and unadulterated.  I would do nasty things to The Rumpus (were it corporeal, of course).  I would whisper private things in The Rumpus’s ear as I let my fingers play over its skin.  I would usher it firmly and lovingly into a sexual awakening, and then The Rumpus would weep from both pleasure and catharsis because it’s never experienced a love like mine before.  That’s how much I love The Rumpus.

And because I love The Rumpus, I also love Dear Sugar: The Rumpus Advice Column.  I have mentioned time and time again that this is the only advice column you ever need to read.  It’s lyrically written with an acute understanding of victims and survivors, of self care, and of social justice.

And yesterday, Sugar got a question that made my head explode:

My dream is to take all the painful, gut-wrenching, soul lifting, breathtaking, fucked up and ordinary life experiences and turn them into stories that are beautiful and meaningful. I’m young and inexperienced and am desperate to learn and experiment with writing.

But there’s something that paralyzes me. I’m a Jesus-loving Christian.

The grad school I’m aiming for is a seminary because seeking understanding of my faith and reveling in its mystery is incredibly important for me. I don’t believe out of fear, but rather love. But I’m afraid that the beautifully open, tolerant writers and artists, like those I read circling in The Rumpus orbit, will not have room for someone like me because of what I love.

You read that right.  This person is writing to Sugar because ze is afraid that, as a Christian, ze will be discriminated against in the art world.

I can’t even.

First off, let me say that I am an atheist.  I was raised an atheist, I never felt like a believer, I never went through the whole “rejecting my faith” thing that a lot of atheists go through.  As such, I’m not really one of those atheists who felt like they had to fight for acceptance from their families or friends, and I’m just not interested in faith or whether someone’s got it (as long as that someone isn’t trying to ply me with it).  I will say, though, that when I was a kid – and to some extent, even now – I assumed that nobody really believed in God, because I didn’t.  It all just seemed so implausible to me, so rather than think that everyone who went to church was an idiot, I decided that they believed in God in the same way that I believe in ghosts and Bigfoot – I can’t give you any real proof that they exist, and I’ll readily admit that there’s probably more evidence negating their existence than there is affirming it, but I’m just going to kind of put that aside because I like ghost stories and Bigfoot gives me the heebie-jeebies, and I like having the heebie-jeebies.  And I’ll admit that then, as well as now, I sometimes catch myself thinking that the people who do genuinely believe (and those people, I think to myself, are very uncommon, because most people engage in the whole “suspension of disbelief” thing because believing in God feels better to them than not believing in God) – those people… well, they just don’t know any better.

I admit readily that it’s not terribly kind of me to think that way.  I know that it’s wrong, but it’s a thought that developed over many years and went unchecked for a long time because religion was just not something we discussed at my house.  We talked about how fat I am, and how much we loved Bill Clinton.  It’s a hard habit to break.

So yes – I’ll admit that I’m not terribly interested in reading Christian fiction.  I might even turn my nose up at it.

But don’t try to sell me the whole, “Christians are so persecuted!” line.  Don’t even think about it.  To me, it reeks of that bullshit where white men complain because minorities get college scholarships just because they’re minorities.  Like, yeah, that might be true, but are you seriously going to tell me that you, white dude, are being disadvantaged because a person of color is getting a break?  Fuck OFF!  (For the record, it’s more complicated than, here’s a pie, and the more he gets means the less you’ll get.  There are no pies in affirmative action – a la mode or otherwise.)

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Christians make up 78.4% of the adult population in the U.S.  Atheists – 1.6%.  An additional 2.4% identify as agnostic, and another 6.3% identify as “secular unaffiliated.”

So maybe us nonbelievers aren’t always super nice about our non-belief, and maybe some of us are even a bit snobbish about it (but trust me – we feel really fucking bad about it and continuously try to tamp it down), but there is no fucking way that a non-Christian is ever going to keep a Christian from doing something in the U.S. – not when Christians make up nearly 80% of the adult population.  You can put your persecution complex away now, thanks.

Your Daily* Sexism Digest: Weight Loss > Oscar

18 Aug

Okay, so this isn’t about sexism, but Your Daily* Sexism Digest doesn’t really have to be (I decided just now).  Maybe I should change the name of this feature… any bright ideas?

Anyway, I was reading along at Jezebel, and I happened upon this poop nugget of celebrity news, and it was just too wtf-ey to pass up.  According to Jennifer Hudson, her weight loss is more awesome than her Oscar.

You read that correctly.

Here’s what Margaret Hartmann reports:

She explains that she had an epiphany when an (incredibly rude) interviewer asked her what it was like to be plus-sized in Hollywood. Hudson says, “I looked around, like, Who is she talking to? Oh, me? I’m plus-sized? In the neighborhood I’m from in Chicago, a 16 is normal. But in Hollywood, everyone looks exactly the same, so I stood out.” She adds, “I’m prouder of my weight loss than my Oscar!”

Was it Kate Moss who said that thing about how “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels?”  I think the new weight-loss mantra of the decade is going to be, “Even winning an Oscar sucks if you’re a giant fatass.”

Fuck off, Jennifer Hudson.

That Pesky Milk Board

6 Aug

I mentioned earlier this week at the end of a post that the Everything I Do Is Wrong campaign – remember, the one targeted toward guys that encouraged them to force-feed their girlfriends dairy products to quell the tides of period-related mondo bitch-ism – has been… replaced.  It’s been replaced by a new website, which is called “Got Discussion?” and does that typical non-apology thing where it says that while some people were offended by the ad campaign, other people thought it was hilarious.

The funny thing about this new “Got Discussion?” bullshit is that it spins the controversy in such a way that it makes the milk people kind of look like the facilitators of an important dialogue.  Scroll down on the page, and you’ll find a bunch of quotes from various media sources, which also makes it look like the Milk Board gave us some food for thought, rather than propagated a totally sexist ad campaign.  I mean, the quote it pulled from Jezebel goes like this:

Telling men they’re victims of PMS sure is an interesting way to sell milk.

Yeah.  If a visitor to gotdiscussion.org bothered to click through and read the piece that this quote was mined from, they’d also see this:

The same people that brought you “Got milk?” are now trying to sell milk to men by telling them that it’s linked, loosely, to alleviating PMS. According to The New York Times, “To make it seem as if the campaign is offering a public service to the men affected by PMS, the Web site’s address ends with “dot-org” rather than “dot-com.”

So clearly, calling the campaign “interesting” was thinly veiled sarcasm, as the piece actually goes on to accuse the campaign of being misleading, manipulative, and, of course, sexist.  But you know… out of context, it looks like Jezebel – arguably the most popular feminist website on the internet – was intrigued by Everything I Do Is Wrong.

In a nutshell, those milk fools are assholes.

Well!  I was feeling like I needed a laugh this morning, and so I decided to watch some Target Women (omg, I miss Target Women, y’all).  And I came across this one, which reminded me that the Milk Board has made this same claim before:

Now, this is less blatantly offensive than Everything I Do Is Wrong – mostly because it is talking to women about managing their own periods, rather than to guys about managing their girlfriends’ periods for them – but it’s still kind of fucked up.  The implication of the ad, as Sarah Haskins puts it (at about 3:00), is, “Milk will […] bring sunshine to a land devastated by your period tears.”

Fuck you, dairy.

I Heart Tiger Beatdown. I Hate Your Hashtag.

2 Aug

In this post, which is not a post proper, two things are going to become dreadfully clear to you, dear reader.  First, you will learn that Twitter and I?  We are not good friends.  It’s not that I have a problem with Twitter – we just don’t understand each other.  I was going to link to a post on Tits and Sass where a writer says she pities people who don’t get Twitter, but then I remembered that it was this piece, which is horribly disableist, and I don’t want to open that can of worms right now (hint – if you want an A+ example of the way disability is often cast as a punishment, click that link – dare ya).

The other thing that will become clear to you is that I have a lady crush on Sady Doyle.  Sometimes, it’s an unpopular opinion.  Sometimes, I get mad at Sady, too.  But sometimes – okay, most of the time – she tickles me fucking pink.  Today, I am positively rosy.

Over the weekend, says Sady, there was a trending topic on Twitter (if you’re Twitter-pated – HA! – like I am, trending topics have to do with hashtags, which are those things that start with the pound symbol, which is this: #) that was all HAHA about violence towards women.  I don’t know – maybe I’ve grown too “politically correct” (I’m totally air-quoting right now) in my old age, but this trend toward ironic offensiveness doesn’t really tickle my funny bone.  Like, ooh, it’s so edgy to spew hateful, racist, sexist shit – we don’t actually mean it or anything!  Come on!  What, do you have sand in your vagina?  Get that sand out of your vagina, lady!  Drink some milk* to manage that PMS, for fuck’s sake, amirite????

So this trending topic happened, and I was oblivious to it, because Twitter for me is more of a chore than a fun exercise in internet funness, so I’ll trust Sady with it, especially given her smashing work on #mooreandme.  And also because she makes me laugh.  Case in point:

Ladies! Are you single? Don’t be silly, of course you are. Why else are you reading the Internet, and not lying in a field of wildflowers, gently running your fingers through your man’s hair? (Yes, he would be a man. Yes, he would be, SHUT UP.) Well, ladies, before the loneliness consumes your very entrails and leaves you a bitter shell (a gradual, medically documented process that I must warn you has probably already set in, what with you reading the feminist blogs and all) I would like to extend a helping hand to you. For, you see, I have read on numerous occasions, in numerous publications for the womenfolk, that people are actually meeting their sex partners and/or reasons to live… on the very Internet itself!

Oh, Sady Doyle.  You are an amazing lady.

Basically, what happened is that a bunch of dudes got on Twitter, and thought it was fucking HILARIOUS to tweet “good” reasons to beat your girlfriend.

COOL!

And because Sady is so often my hero, she gives us a rundown of what happened by framing it as a dating service for lonely ladies reading feminism on the internet.

This was an awfully long post for what I was really trying to accomplish – I really just want you to go read Sady’s piece.

[Image Source]

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*I was going to link you to the Everything I Do Is Wrong campaign, but the folks over at Got Milk? realized that they fucked up, and now are trying to facilitate discussions about why they’re misogynists or some shit.  They’re calling this campaign, “Got Discussion?” which is just lazy, in my opinion.

Rape Culture Rhetoric in Reporting Strauss Kahn

31 Jul

Latoya Peterson of Racialicious wrote a really excellent piece on the rhetoric being employed in the reporting of the rape accusations leveled at Dominique Strauss Kahn by Nafissatou Diallo.

The media, in true form, has been describing Diallo’s physical appearance – her hair is hennaed, her face pock-marked, but she has a “womanly, statuesque figure.”  Says Latoya:

Only in cases involving rape or assault is how the victim appears a subject for commentary. This is part of rape culture, the idea that we have to evaluate the attractiveness of a person alleging assault along with the other facts in the case.

She goes on to examine the subtle ways the media has tried to cast doubt on Diallo’s credibility, including the fact that she may have embellished a few details of her life in Guinea when appealing to the United States for asylum.

Read the rest of this article here.

Update on the Everything I Do Is Wrong Campaign

15 Jul

Yesterday, I wrote about the new Got Milk? campaign, which rides on the back of tired stereotypes about how women turn into irrational bitch machines once a month.  You know.  When they do that scary menstruating thing they do.  *shudder*  Well, my favorite blog (and yours) posted something about the campaign, which is far better and more insightful than what I wrote, so you ought to go take a look at it.  Oh, by the way, our favorite blog is Sociological Images, and the post is right here.

Your Daily Sexism Digest: For God’s Sake, GET MILK!!!!!

14 Jul

And I thought PETA was bad…

According to this NPR article by Scott Hensley, the folks responsible for the Got Milk? campaign (which was often super sexist, by the way) are at it again, and are promoting force-feeding your girlfriend milk and dairy products so she won’t be such an intolerable harpy bitch when she’s on her period.

The ad campaign’s website (“cleverly” titled everythingidoiswrong.org) is geared toward “humorously” teaching men how to predict and deal with the raging bitch ladies in their lives, and includes such helpful information as a “Key PMS Indicators Index,” a “Sensitivity Vocabulator” (which tells you to call your PMS-ing lady “passionate” rather than “irrational”), and a fake poll that suggests that menstrual women consider milk chocolate to be a color.

I could not make this shit up if I tried.

Okay, so the NPR article was largely concerned with whether or not the campaign’s claims were true, which pissed me off until I got to the end of the piece, where Hensley says:

I did my own research in the NPR newsroom and got eye rolls and worse from all the women in I asked to look at the site. “This is so wrong,” said one female colleague. “Good lord!” another one gasped as it loaded on her screen.

Right???

I really hope I don’t need to tell you how fucking sexist and offensive this is to both women and men.  I mean… seriously.

I’m thinking I should start a website that makes some sort of far-fetched claim about something or other, and then just build it all around a weak joke about how men suck at picking up after themselves, or are big babies when they’re sick, or are too stupid to rinse a plate before leaving it in the sink to get all dry and crusty, or um… I don’t know… build sexist websites.