Tag Archives: LGBTQ

Update: He Died.

Yesterday, when I wrote this, Fred Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, was still alive.

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Related Post: More hateful stuff from Rush Limbaugh

Related Post: An atheist and a Christian walk into a skype call. 

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A Christian and an Atheist Talk about Sex: Watch What Happens!

I am SO excited about this post. A few weeks ago, I wrote about what counts as “real sex.” I find that our traditional definition, (penis in vagina) is pretty limiting and sometimes damaging because it a) is insulting to queer people who have sex in non-p-in-v ways, b) reinforces a pleasure disparity (because the “main act” is something that most women don’t orgasm from) c) perpetuates the mythic importance of female virginity d) contributes to rape culture by deeming certain forms of sexual violence “more traumatic” than others.

A blogger named Jonalyn politely pointed out that she had a few issues with my piece, and when we started to tweet-debate the topic, she suggested we take our conversation to a bigger stage. Her site, Soulation, is a hub for people who want to explore Christianity compassionately and thoughtfully. We recorded a video debate that was supposed to last for 15 minutes and went on for 40 because we were having THE BEST TIME. I’m not kidding, it was by far the most fun I had that week.

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It may shock you to hear that I am not, in fact, a Christian (I know, SO shocking). When Jonalyn reached out about recording our conversation, I was initially wary of jumping into unfamiliar waters where our perspectives would inevitably boil down to a clash of “sex is for fun!” vs. “sex is for God!” I am pleased to say that we both played nicely and used our listening skills to try to find common ground. Surprisingly, there was lots of it! 

It’s not often that I get the opportunity to debate this stuff with someone who approaches it with the same level of enthusiasm that I have for sex talk and approaches from a different angle with different core assumptions. Such a treat!

Get more of Jonalyn on Twitter!

Related Post: Talkin’ harassment on Vocalo.

Related Post: Can you be married and sexist? Yep.

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Yeah, but is that “real” sex?

I have the most fun writing when there’s a convergence of conversations and sources that all seem to be pointing towards the same issue. When things that I’m reading overlap with things that I’m watching and all of that overlaps with things that I’m talking about, it feels like a little lightning storm in my brain; write about this!

That’s what happened this week for my new Role/Reboot essay about the idea of what kind of sex “counts.” When I say “counts,” I mean it in the literal sense (as in, “Do I have to up my number?”) and in the theoretical sense (as in, is considered meaningful/important). As I read and watched and talked, it became obvious how slippery a slope this question becomes.

The queer lens always helps clarify things for me because it removes traditional gender expectations from the equation. It is so obvious that gay people have sex without a penis entering a vagina. Can we come up with a legitimate reason not to apply the same logic to straight people? I can’t.

Read the essay, but I’ll cut to the chase now: why do we care if it’s “real” sex or not?

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Related Post: Why your number is not particularly important to me

Related Post: Guest Post: I don’t know whether you’re a slut or a player

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Being an Ally at Pride

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about my own exposure to gay rights as a kid, why I love Pride, and how I think children of the future will all be allies by default. Or maybe we won’t even need the word “ally” in this context at all. Maybe the kids of the future will just be like, “Allies to what? Mom,  you’re so lame.”

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Related Post:  Pride 2011 and why I call this blog Rosie Says.

Related Post: NOH8 Photoshoot

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The “Proposal/Counter Proposal” and Other Things I Learned

When I sat down to start writing this Role/Reboot article about what straight people can borrow from their gay friends’ relationships, my roommate asked, “So have you talked to any gay people about this?”

Oh right, I should probably do that…

Turns out, my entire gchat list at 9pm on Tuesday happened to be gay friends, and they were more than willing to share. For one thing, they gave me some great quotes for my essay and some really interesting perspectives on equality, fairness, and making up your own relationship rules. More importantly, I learned about the magic of the proposal/counter-proposal, also known as the “propose, propose-back”. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Read the essay!

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Related Post: Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart

Related Post: Six sides of identity, notes from Chicago Ideas Week

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Sunday Scraps 100

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1. GAYS: In the 2010 census, one county in the US reported 0 gay people. None. Zilch. Nada. Explore Franklin County with CNN and find out if the census is true. Hint: Doubtful.

2. SCOTUS: A little late to the game on this one, but Courtney Milan’s concise play-by-play of the Prop 8 Supreme Court case is the first time I actually think I know what’s going on. Sample truncated piece of dialogue: COOPER: But these people were injured. They didn’t want gay people to marry, and now look! Gays. Lesbians. Able to marry at will. It’s very injurious. They’re injured just thinking about it.

3. FEMINISM: I dare you not to cry at this amazing obituary of feminist revolutionary Shulasmith Firestone. Written by the incomparable Susan Faludi, it’s just… a lot. Sniff.

4. POLITICS: To my surprise, I came out of Jonathan Van Meter’s NYT profile of Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin feeling pretty sympathetic for Weiner. Maybe sympathetic’s not the word…

5. FOOTBALL: From Grantland, what would happen if an NFL player died on the field? 8 years ago, Al Lucas died during an Arena football game. Is that where we’re headed?

6. LOOKS: Why does it matter that the President called Kamala Harris good-looking? Amanda Hess at Slate knows why, and I couldn’t agree with her more.

Related Post: Sunday 99: Megan Mullally and Ron Swanson, Tavi Gevinson, Rolling Rock history and more

Related Post: Sunday 98: Chinese marriage market, George Saunders, Lena in Playboy and more

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Rob Portman Part 2

On Monday, I wrote about Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart on marriage equality. I was (am) very frustrated that it took having a gay son to get him to see the light. That said, a lot of people on the internet and in real life have been making some excellent points about parenting, political motivation, and basic human psychology. I think we have too low expectations of our political representatives. Anyway, I stand by what I wrote, with some asterisks.

I expanded on those asterisks in a more formal (hopefully more nuanced) piece for Role/Reboot

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Related Post: That time I met a Republican

Related Post: Do you hope your child will be straight?

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Dear Rob Portman, Why Is Using Your Imagination So Hard?

portmanSo, as I’m sure you know, Senator Rob Portman (Republican of Ohio) has reversed his position on marriage equality thanks to the coming out of his son:

“It allowed me to think of this issue from a new perspective, and that’s of a dad who loves his son a lot and wants him to have the same opportunities that his brother and sister would have — to have a relationship like Jane and I have had for over 26 years.”

On one hand, I welcome you, Senator Portman, to the fold. The fastest way for us to get to marriage equality is for people to change their minds (the alternative is for people to die, which will happen anyway, but it will take longer) and if this is why you switched sides, fine, we’ll take it.

On the other hand, your statement displays a profound and disturbing lack of empathy. You weren’t able to imagine the inequality until your own son was the subject of discrimination? Do you realize how narrow-minded and hypocritical that makes you seem? Even the phrasing of the statement has this weird moral passing-of-the-buck. The subject is “It,” referencing your son’s coming out, and “it” allowed you to see it from a new perspective. Nothing should “allow” or compel you to see from multiple perspectives; that’s basically your job! You serve as a government representative for a state of eleven million people! The whole idea of representative government is that we pick people to, oh, I don’t know, represent us and speak on our behalf. In order to do that job, your #1 skill has to be empathy and the willingness to try on different perspectives!

Mr. Portman, why did you never speak to the parents of the other gay children? Or gay individuals themselves? And if you did, why is the plight of your son the one that tips the scales? Columbus, OH, full of your constituents, is one of the 20 gayest cities in the country, full of thousands upon thousands of gay people. Their friends and family have the same hopes and dreams for them as you do for your son! How can you be so callous of other people’s rights? How can you ignore inequality until it impacts your family? Don’t you see the hypocrisy?

But alas, you’re not alone. Last week Mother Jones took a look at the voting records of members of Congress to see if having a daughter impacted their votes on women’s issues. They used the NOW (National Organization for Women) score as a proxy for “voting well on women’s issues,” and found that, as you might suspect, members of Congress from both parties who have at least one daughter have higher NOW scores. Why does it taking having a female child to get you to think critically about the rights of women? Why is it so hard to get outside your own privileged little skull and walk in someone else’s shoes? 

This is not just an exclusively Republican failure, either. We have a habit in this country of electing people very much unlike ourselves. Congress members are three times more likely to send their kids to private school. About 40% of them are millionaires. They’re overwhelmingly white and male. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, since one does not have to be of a certain group to work on behalf of that group, but this system only works of those that we elect are diligent about understanding the needs of their constituents, not just the needs of their peers. And they’re not.

That’s why I find Portman’s change of heart so… disheartening. It shouldn’t take a gay kid to lead you to the conclusion that our government should treat people the same. It shouldn’t take having a daughter to know that autonomy over your body is the foundation of economic and social equality. Waiting until these realities slap you in the face in the form of your own offspring, that’s just some lazy, lazy representing. Glad you’re with us now, but you should be ashamed it took you so long.

Related Post: A letter to guys who harass women outside of bars

Related Post: That time I started a petition against Facebook

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Fox News’ Big Whoops + Suzanne Venker’s Latest

If this doesn’t make your Saturday, I don’t know what will. In the latest insufferable piece by Suzanne Venker (more on that in a moment), Fox News accidentally selected a photo of a same-sex couple to illustrate an article about the value in traditional gender roles. They’ve since changed the photo to, literally, the boy/girl stick figures that adorn bathroom doors (if that’s all you’ve got left, I think it means we’re winning), but luckily Jessica Valenti nabbed a screen shot before they figured out their awesome error.

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From Jessica Valenti

Whoops!

The article this excellent photo used to sit atop is classic Venker. If you’re not familiar with her work, imagine all of the least logical things you’ve ever heard anyone say about gender roles, all the worst mischaracterizations of feminsim past and present, all of the broadest stereotypes about men and women, and give that lumpy ball of icky ideas a pulpit.

Her piece is called, “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal.’” A few key ideas, though please, by all means, read the whole gd mess.

The complementary nature of marriage—in which two people work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the qualities each gender brings to the table—has been obliterated. Today, husbands and wives are locked in a battle about whom does more on the home front and how they’re going to get everything done. That’s not a marriage. That’s war.

Feminism didn’t result in equality between the sexes – it resulted in mass confusion. Today, men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what.

Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life

That’s enough of that, I think.

A few notes in response:

  • Replace “Gender” with “Person” and You Have My Attention: She writes about appreciating each gender for what they bring to the partnership table. If we swap that out for “person,” you might get me on board. I’m not saying there are not statistical differences in skill sets and preferences between genders, but I’m arguing that the variation between Man 1 and Man 2 is probably just as great as between Man 1 and Woman 1. In other words, bucketing ourselves by gender in order to make a partnership work is pretty likely to fail. So she wants to stay home with kids, great! But what if he’s the one who cooks? Oh no! How will we ever bring our best gendered selves to this marriage! Instead, bucket yourselves by, oh I don’t know, what you’re good at, what you prefer, what your logistical and emotional bandwidth can bear, what you compromise on, etc. All of that requires more communication than assuming she of the ovaries will be the nurturer and he of the big muscles will be the provider.
  • Protectionism and Pedastalism Are Not Equality. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth remembering. If your primary argument is that ladies were treated more delicately back in the day, and that more of them survived the sinking Titanic (yes, this is actually in her essay), don’t you think that’s pretty weak? I do not want men to stand for me when I enter a room. I want them to listen to me when I talk. I want to be part of the conversation. I want to be an equal player in decision-making. They can keep sitting, that’s just fine. As for holding doors open, I have no strong feelings about who should enter buildings first, all I know is that if I’m carrying something heavy, help me out, you know?
  • Mass Confusion Isn’t the Worst Thing – I will give Venker this; I think there is a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be “manly” or “womanly” in this day and age. I write about gender on the internet and much of the feedback I get is about “not knowing the rules.” Should a guy pay for a date? Should a girl let him? If she offers to split should he accept? How do you flirt with objectifying? Is a little objectifying okay, especially if we all do it? This shit is confusing! And it should be! The change I want to see is for the conversation to reorient from how do I treat this person because they have XX or XY chromosomes to how do I treat this person like a human, i.e. with respect for their agency, their preferences, and their stated desires.
  • Every Partnership Isn’t Going to Look the Same - And this is also a good thing. In most of her writing, Venker consistently ignores non-hetero couples. It kind of makes sense; if you’re whole money-making MO is to be the voice of reason on traditional gender roles, you kind of have to cross your fingers and hope no one asks you about all those other couples that don’t have the parts that help you know what they’re “supposed” to do. But by ignoring same-sex couples (or any other non-Cleaver family arrangement), Venker is taking the rhetorical easy way out. Plenty of people have to negotiate the “mass confusion” she speaks of because there are no existing structures for who should do the laundry and who should pay the bill. These people have figured out ways around this horror show of a rules- free existence, and I think we heteros can take some lessons.

Okay, so I’m done with that. She gets me a little riled up, you know? Can we go back to making fun of Fox?

Related Post: Things that are not the opposite of misogyny

Related Post: Can we get some historical context please?

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Sunday Scraps 92

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1. CHICAGO: Love this story from Chicago Magazine about the millionaire founder of Land’s End’s financial and emotional commitment to personally reinvigorating the neighborhood he grew up in.

2. TINA: Blurgh! It’s over. At least the dearly departed 30 Rock  has left us with some serious vocabulary, as catalogued by Slate.

3. TINA #2: More on 30 Rock, because it’s just that important, Wesley Morris for Grantland specifically focuses on the show’s portrayal of race.

4. ART: Photographer Paul Schneggenberger captures couples sleeping over a 6 hour period and creates sort of wierd, mostly awesome portraits of sleep.

5. GUNS: Illinois has super harsh gun laws and yet Chicago has a serious gun problem. What gives? NYT has a map showing where Chicago guns come from.

6. MARRIAGE EQUALITY: My new favorite NBA player, Kenneth Faried, introduces his two moms (who seem quite reluctant to be on camera) to lend his voice to the fight for marriage equality.

Related Post: Sunday 91 – McDonald’s and books, sci-fi gender swapping, celeb high school photos

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