I’ve been distracted with my current Cook Book Project so haven’t been blogging as much, and this linkspam is pretty much the entire month of June, and the first few days of July.
My own personal journey with depilating is probably similar to other women, particularly in western countries. I had grown up noticing my mother shave her legs, and seeing women with smooth legs on TV and all around me, and at what is probably a ridiculously young age (about 8 ) I deemed my own legs too hairy and shaved them for the first time. I cut them to bits with Dad’s rusty old Gillette Blue 2, and didn’t try that again for another year or so. I’d call my “need” to shave an “unconscious social intervention” as it was based on observation and “normalising messages” hitting me from a very young age. But what was a completely conscious one was when mum took me aside at about 11 or 12 and showed me how to shave my armpits. From that point onwards, I was paranoid of raising my arm if I hadn’t shaved. It wasn’t mum’s fault as nearly every girl in my school seemed to be in the same boat, if not then, then over the coming years.
After a spike in traffic on my blog, and specifically regarding my post about Dan Savage’s biphobia, I wondered what he’d done this time. Apparently he’d used a derogatory comment in relation to GOProud, a coalition of LGBT Republicans and their straight allies. *trigger warning for homophobic language* From the Huffington Post, “Dan Savage and the Other, Uglier F-Word“.
A great article discussing the myth that bisexuals don’t exist called, “Gay or Straight, Most People Think Bisexuality Isn’t Real” from the Philly Post:
There are many people who feel attraction to both genders—or who are indifferent to gender entirely, who are just attracted to people and deal with the gendered parts when things get intimate. How is it possible that high-schoolers think it’s chic (though a little passe) to be bi, but our mouthpieces of popular celebrity culture don’t know what to do with famous people who have fluid sexuality?
Even after all these years of progress and activism related to sexual orientation and gender, there remains a core disbelief among gay and straight that bisexuality exists. Some think it’s a phase girls go through in college; others think it’s a bullshit position a guy takes because he’s afraid to be gay. It’s not validated on either side of the aisle, so to speak. So bisexuals disappear into headlines: Frenchie Davis is a lesbian. Score 1 for the absolutist team.
Another article on bisexuality, this time from the Windy City Media Group titled, “Series on bisexuality looks to document diversity in sexual behaviors“:
Bisexuality is sometimes looked on with confusion from both the heterosexual and homosexual communities. Researchers from Indiana University conducted a series of studies recently to explore how the stigma and stereotypes of behaviorally bisexual individuals stands up to reality, and how these men and women are actually living out their sexual lives.
“I was really surprised to find, among some of the guys, how they weren’t open at all about their sexuality,” he said. “For a lot of them, it had been the first time they’d ever talked to someone about engaging in sexual behavior with both men and women. There was a lot of stigma, even shame from both gay and straight friends and family members about bisexuality that was above and beyond just typical stigma. For some of them it really did seem like they were clearly linking that with having mental health issues, like feeling depressed or anxious or not comfortable with their sexuality because they felt like they were sort of the only ones. So in terms of the needs for actually doing this type of research, it was really validated.”
No Place for Sheep wrote a piece about “Belief versus human rights“, in relation to Gillard’s (Aussie PM) personal beliefs about marriage equality impacting the human rights of the LGBTIQ community. I recommend this post even though the BTIQ part of the spectrum are missing somewhat in the post.
Be that as it may, the fights led me to thinking about belief. While I agree that everyone is entitled to their beliefs, I don’t agree that everyone is entitled to act on those beliefs to the detriment of others. Once a belief is extrapolated from the personal realm and used to determine the lives of others it is no longer personal, it is political.
Personal belief can legitimately determine the course of one’s own life. If you don’t believe same-sex marriage is right, for example, then don’t make a same-sex marriage. Nobody in our country will force you into an arrangement that powerfully disturbs your moral sensibility.
What disturbs me, however, is the argument that personal beliefs ought to be set apart from the interrogations we are at liberty to apply to all other human processes. The personal belief is elevated to the sacred, inspiring respect and reverence simply because it is a personal belief, and regardless of its substance. While I find this bizarre, hinting as it does at some transcendental exterior governance, I have little problem with it, as long as the belief remains in the realm of the personal. When it becomes prescriptive, I argue that it is no longer protected from scrutiny and critique by reverence.
It turns out that Mitt Romney doesn’t like bisexuals or trans* people (well there is a surprise) to the point where those words in a anti-bullying guide resulted in the guide not being produced/endorsed by his office, “No mention of ‘bisexual,’ ‘transgender’ under Romney“:
Former governor Mitt Romney’s administration in 2006 blocked publication of a state antibullying guide for Massachusetts public schools because officials objected to use of the terms “bisexual’’ and “transgender’’ in passages about protecting certain students from harassment, according to state records and interviews with current and former state officials.
Romney aides said publicly at the time that publication of the guide had been delayed because it was a lengthy document that required further review. But an e-mail authored in May of that year by a high-ranking Department of Public Health official – and obtained last week by the Globe through a public records request – reflected a different reason.
Two pieces, one from Novel Activist, “Martha Nussbaum: Objectification, Sexualisation and Conservative Hypocrisy” and the other from No Place for Sheep, “What is objectification, anyway?“:
There’s an almost constant stream of allegations of objectification through sexualisation currently being made in Western society. These are leveled by concerned citizens against much popular culture, and based largely on images of women that culture produces. These allegations presume an objectifying gaze, that is, they insist the viewer will inevitably reduce women portrayed in certain ways to objects to be used for sexual gratification, rather than seeing them as equal human beings. Clothing, facial expressions and postures are used as signifiers of objectification, as well as language.
The signifiers chosen by concerned citizens are based on a Judeo-Christian perception of the adult female body as unruly, dangerous and indecent, and requiring concealment except in specific circumstances such as marriage and other committed monogamous relationships. Clothing that reveals too much of the body’s “private” zones is regarded as transgressing moral codes, as are postures and language that imply female sexual desire, and/or stimulate male “lust.”
An introductory post and a follow up three post series on “Christian Fundamentalist Homophobia: It Really Is About Fear” (introduction, part 1, part 2, part 3) from the phoenix and the olive branch *trigger warning for homophobic language and hate speech (excerpts from all four posts):
I was raised to be homophobic. Oh, my church had lots of ways to deflect the label when it was applied to us, but deep down, I was afraid. The other kids were afraid, too. When pressed, we would spew lines like “hate the sin, love the sinner” or “I’m not afraid of gay people, I just disagree with their lifestyle.” (That one confuses me now: how can you “disagree” with someone else’s life? It’s not about disagreement, it’s about disapproval.) There’s always this old favorite, too: “They don’t even know they’re in sin; they’re deceived. We need to pray for them.” Thing is, all of this masks a genuine, visceral, inculcated fear. I wasn’t raised to have a vague, condescending, pious pity for LGBTQ people. I was raised to be violently afraid of them.
In my church, homophobia was a matter of course. We didn’t spend a lot of time hashing out the Scriptural arguments against homosexuality. Occasionally Paul and Leviticus were cited, but more often, sermons would rattle out evidence of modern depravity along these lines: “…and Satan has so perverted this generation that it thinks there’s nothing wrong with divorce, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and girls throwing their babies in trash cans and doing drugs.” Defiance of gender roles was just one of the most obvious signs of demonic control.
Whether or not my church explicitly intended for me to receive this message, I understood homosexuality as one of an array of perversions. Homosexuality, promiscuity, pedophilia drug addiction, alcoholism, cheating, self-harm, unwed pregnancy and abortion were not treated as separate issues. I was afraid of gay people because I was taught that it was impossible to be gay or lesbian without partaking in all of the above.
These rhetorical strategies also reveal fundamentalist Christianity’s basic approach to LGBTQ identities: they are symptoms of an overactive sexuality. The demon that leads men to pornography and women to prostitution is the same one that causes sexual attraction to break out of the appropriate boxes. Fundamentalists don’t fully accept LGBTQ identities as categories. Instead, they see them as temporary stopping points on the way to total depravity. Hence their slippery slope arguments and their conviction that you can “pray away the gay.” The implication is that if you don’t “pray away the gay,” you’re mere moments away from self-harm and child molestation. [emphasis in original]
I have one final thing to offer to the “hate the sin, love the sinner” crowd from the other side of the fence they built to keep us illegal Christians out:
Unconditional love does not mean loving someone while disapproving of their actions. It means forsaking the right to disapprove. You cannot love who I am and hate what I do. What I do shows you who I am.If you choose to love a figment of your imagination, some idea of who I might become, then you love only your own mind, and what you hate is me. [emphasis in original]
Another post from the phoenix and the olive branch, “Bedroom Submission, Birth Control and Tokophobia” on the harm of Christian Patriarchy on women and the author herself *trigger warning for discussion of rape*:
Worse yet, in my church, women were told we were merely “incubators” for male seed. A man’s children were his; a woman’s children were also his. There was effectively no difference between a man’s children from another marriage or the children a man and woman had together. All belonged to the father. The mother was just the vice president: a useful source of authority in her husband’s absence, but ultimately powerless.
Pregnancy and babies, to me, signaled the dehumanization of women. Once women became mothers, they were trapped forever, at the mercy of their husbands. I looked at pregnant bellies and I saw swollen bee stings inflicted by aggressive overlords. In darker moments, I imagined myself committing suicide if I became pregnant. Abortion would save my life (a desperate realization that shocked me a little bit), but I would be cast out on my face. Pregnancy therefore looked like the end of the road. A death sentence. Once the wedding bells rang, I was a soul without a body in the eyes of the church. [emphasis in original]