Bits That Bite

Echidne on David Letterman:

Bosses harvesting their subordinates for sex is almost always a bad idea.

 

 

Dr. Eric Steele on the opposition to gay/lesbian marriage (via Pam’s House Blend):

. . . the clothing of rationality and God’s word have been used forever to hide the naked truth of racism, sexism and other prejudices. The arguments against the right of gays to civil marriage is no different; if you peel off the clothing, what lies underneath most opposition to civil marriage rights for gays is just naked fear, ignorance and prejudice.

 

Dave Zirin on football and homophobia:

Football came of age at a time when America was embarking on imperial adventures around the globe. Football was seen as a way to toughen up the youth so they wouldn’t become “sissies” and a way to teach the very “values” of Christian expansion and manifest destiny. This philosophy was known as “Muscular Christianity,” and its most prominent spokesman was an aristocrat-turned-boxer named Theodore Roosevelt .

 

Katha Pollitt on Roman Polanski:

What happened was not some gray, vague he said/she said Katie-Roiphe-style “bad sex.” A 43-year-old man got a 13-year-old girl alone, got her drunk, gave her a quaalude, and, after checking the date of her period, anally raped her, twice, while she protested; she submitted, she told the grand jury “because I was afraid.” Those facts are not in dispute–except by Polanski, who has pooh-poohed the whole business many times (You can read the grand jury transcripts here.) He was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge, like many accused rapists, to spare the victim the trauma of a trial and media hoopla. But that doesn’t mean we should all pretend that what happened was some free-spirited Bohemian mix-up. The victim took years to recover.

 

Diane Loupe on prostituted young women in Georgia:

A Future. Not A Past wanted to get a better estimate of girls on the street, so it funded independent researchers to track how many adolescent girls are being hawked. The research was based on scientific probability measures and estimates of the age of prostitutes, using methods similar to those used by scientists to determine the population of endangered species.

The number of young victims has been increasing since 2007, according to that research.

An estimated 374 juveniles were being commercially sexually exploited in August 2009 in Georgia, up from 251 in 2007 and 361 in 2008, according to Danielle E. Ruedt, public health programs coordinator for the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, which took over funding of the research from the campaign.

Numbers for the street, hotels and escort services have remained flat, but “the Internet number is going through the roof,” said Kaffie McCullough, campaign director of A Future. Not A Past.

Internet ads promising “young girls,” “barely legal” females and other code words for underage females got a much higher response from potential customers than other ads, the campaign’s researchers found.

While applauding the decision of Craigslist, an online provider of information about goods and services for sale, to eliminate its “erotic services” category, McCullough noted that many ads pimping girls have moved to other Web sites.

 

The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness [pdf], Betsy Stevenson & Justin Wolfers

 

Katha Pollitt on Stevenson and Wolfers (and Huffington):

But how happy were women, really, in that golden pre-feminist era? Culture critic Caryl Rivers pointed out to me that in 1973, studies showing that married women had the highest levels of psychiatric problems, including depression and anxiety, prompted sociologist Jessie Bernard to declare marriage a “health hazard for women.”

 

Alex Dibranco on the student sex column movement:

Isabel Murray, feminist columnist for the Free Press, takes Cosmopolitan to task for its heteronormative, male-pleasure-oriented approach, while pointing out that it and similar women’s magazines are nonetheless the only noncampus media addressing female sexuality (explaining why until recently it was the most read magazine among college women). People are downright uncomfortable with the concept of female sexuality: even at Dartmouth’s SexFest, where Murray managed a table, she was struck by how “hesitant and disturbed” people seemed by her dental dams and a two-dimensional model of a vagina–far more so than by the condoms and three-dimensional plastic penis. The most controversial Dartmouth sex column took heat for dealing too explicitly with female sexuality.

 

Elsie Hambrook on women voters:

Women hang their vote on issues and often, on different issues than what men consider important. New Brunswick’s own Joanna Everitt, a political studies professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, is a Canadian expert on gender and politics. She says there are differences in how women and men vote, and that that split has been growing.

While men are more concerned with a candidate or party’s policies on the economy and federally, on the military, women are more likely to look at social policies, such as health care and education.

That difference has impacted the outcomes of some federal and provincial elections. Women and men vote in similar numbers, but differently, and parties need to be able to attract both genders.

Everitt recently concluded in a report, “If the (federal) Conservatives held as much appeal for women as they did for men in the 2006 election, they would not have ended up forming a minority government.”

 

Michael Valpy on women voters:

When he was host of BBC Two’s The Late Show in the 1990s, Mr. Ignatieff was called the thinking woman’s crumpet.

But interviews with Canadian women voters – businesswomen, academics, writers, PhD students in their 20s and 30s – elicited words well removed from crumpet. They called him stuffy, drab, arrogant, inauthentic, paternalistic, unmemorable, unsexy and, most of all, untrustworthy.

 

Michael Ignatieff on “Three Minute Culture”:

 

Stephen Harper tribute to friendship:

 

Harper and friends, redux:

 

But Harper hates more than 50% of Canadians:

 

So some women created a fan club [snark].

Fringe

 

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Adrienne Rich: No ‘Hostage of Power’

From Christopher Soden at the Dallas GLBT Arts Examiner:

AdrienneRich-smallConsidering the literary canon of Lesbian writers, perhaps none have had the pervasive impact and influence of poet Adrienne Rich, who entered the scene early, but continued to learn and evolve as she gained recognition and accolades for her modulated, angry, confrontational, articulate, yet subtle verse. Not that Rich only addressed defiant feminist gender politics. Much of her poetry has a reflective, wistful feel about it. No one (who gave it much thought) would accuse her of monotony or polemics. Married to Harvard economist Alfred H. Conrad in 1953, they had three sons before the epiphany of her actual orientation was fully realized, the territory of her writing symbiotic with her journey of self-discovery.

A pretty good summary of Rich’s poetic career follows here.

Adrienne Rich at Modern American Poetry

Rich interviewed by Don Swaim in 2008 at Wired for Books

On Adrienne Rich at bookslut

A list of online criticism for Adrienne Rich

Milk

harveymillk

Harvey Milk

Hilton Als on Milk and Harvey Milk at NYRB:

Milk received eight nominations for this year’s [Academy] awards; among them are [Gus] Van Sant for Best Director, [Dustin Lance] Black for his script, and [Sean] Penn for his impersonation of a man who did not find his true calling until he was forty-three years old. In the film, Milk doesn’t make much of a point about those lost years. “Forty years old and what have I done with my life?” he asks a new lover near the beginning. But the script is never explicit about what prevented him from living fully before 1973, the pivotal year in which he opened his camera store in the Castro. For a better sense of the painful secrecy Milk endured as a closeted gay man living in a pre-Stonewall world, and of the subsequent, purposeful freedom he felt during his belated coming-out, one can turn not only to Robert Epstein and Richard Schmiechen’s exceptional 1984 film, The Times of Harvey Milk (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 1985), but to the bits of documentary footage Van Sant inserts into Milk‘s manufactured world.

Especially moving are the silent black-and-white images that make up the movie’s title sequence, in which well-groomed, thin, and for the most part white young men are rounded up in bars, cuffed, and arrested, while newspaper articles act as a kind of graphic voiceover: “Homosexuals and Police Clash”; “Tavern Charges Police Brutality”; “Police Start Crackdown on Homosexual Bars, Arrest 6.” These prefatory images, set apart from the main narrative, remain the film’s clearest statement of an essential fact: for most of his life, Milk lived in terror of arrest, interrogation, and punishment.  [more]

Playing Gay

I was so happy that Sean Penn called on his audience last night to stop the hate against gay people.  When gay and lesbian actors can play straight characters the way straight actors play teh gays, we’ll know that Hollywood heard the message.

As in this article about how an actor I love, Rupert Everett, seems to have blown his chances of playing a male romantic lead in a straight relationship by coming out.  From NYT:

rupert-everett1Everett knows what he likes and what he doesn’t, and he never hesitates to say so. He is best known to American moviegoers as Julia Roberts’s gay best friend in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (1997), beloved by women for his Cary Grant charm, sage advice and diehard loyalty, not to mention his moves on the dance floor. Off screen, when he came out as gay in 1989, he essentially ruined his chances for leading-man stardom in Hollywood. (He has written that he was turned down to play opposite Sharon Stone in the sequel to “Basic Instinct” after an MGM executive told his agent that “to all intents and purposes, a homosexual was a pervert in the eyes of America.”) You might think times have changed in Hollywood, based on Sean Penn’s recent acceptance speech at the SAG Awards for playing the gay activist Harvey Milk. “As actors we don’t play gay, straight . . . , we play human beings,” he said. That may be true if you’ve been married to Madonna in real life. But if you were Madonna’s gay best friend in real life (and on screen in “The Next Best Thing”), you don’t play “human beings.” You play gay.   [more]

Girl or Boy?

Swingset

Andrea Gibson

Transcript:

“Are you a boy or a girl?” he asks, staring up at me in all three feet of his pudding face grandeur, and I say “Dylan, you’ve been in this class for three years and you still don’t know if I’m a boy or a girl?” And he says “Uh-uh.” And I say “Well, at this point, I don’t really think it matters, do you?” And he says “Uhhhm, no. Can I have a push on the swing?” And this happens every day. It’s a tidal wave of kindergarten curiosity rushing straight for the rocks of me, whatever I am.

 And the class, when we discuss the Milky Way galaxy, the orbit of the Sun around the Earth… or whatever. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and kids, do you know that some of the stars we see when we look up in the sky are so far away, they’ve already burned out? What do you think of that? Timmy? “Umm… my mom says that even though you got hairs that grow from your legs, and the hairs on your head grow short and poky, and that you smell really bad, like my dad, that you’re a girl.” “Thank you, Timmy.”

And so it goes. On the playground, she peers up at me from behind her pink power puff sunglasses and then asks, “Do you have a boyfriend?” And I say no, and she says “Oh, do you have a girlfriend?” And I say “No, but if by some miracle, twenty years from now, I ever finally do, then I’ll definitely bring her by to meet you. How’s that?” “Okay. Can I have a push on the swing?”

And that’s the thing. They don’t care. They don’t care. Us, on the other hand… My father sitting across the table at Christmas dinner, gritting his teeth over his still-full plate, his appetite raped away by the intrusion of my haircut, “What were you thinking? You used to be such a pretty girl!” Frat boys, drunken, screaming, leaning out of the windows of their daddys’ SUVs, “Hey! Are you a faggot or a dyke?” And I wonder what would happen if I met up with them in the middle of the night.

Then of course there’s always the somehow not-quite-bright enough fluorescent light of the public restroom, “Sir! Sir, do you realize this is the ladies’ room?” “Yes, ma’am, I do, it’s just that I didn’t feel comfortable sticking this tampon up my penis in the men’s room.”

But the best, the best is always the mother at the market, sticking up her nose while pushing aside her daughter’s wide eyes, whispering “Don’t stare, it’s rude.” And I want to say, “Listen, lady, the only rude thing I see is your paranoid parental hand pushing aside the best education on self that little girl’s ever gonna get, living with your Maybelline lipstick after hips and pedi kiwi, vanilla-smelling beauty; so why don’t you take your pinks and blues, your boy-girl rules and shove them in that car with your fucking issue of Cosmo, because tomorrow, I start my day with twenty-eight minds who know a hell of a lot more than you. And if I show up in a pink frilly dress, those kids won’t love me any more, or less.”

“Hey, are you a boy or a — never mind, can I have a push on the swing?” And some day, y’all, when we grow up, it’s all gonna be that simple.

Une transcription de Francisco/Genderkid.

 

via Cybersolidaires

Black, Queer & Here

From a book review of Thomas Glave’s book, Words to our Now: Imagination and Dissent:

“The word ‘faggot’ itself is to me as nasty a form of violence as the perennial spit-nastiness in that classic American word ‘nigger.’ As a black male who is also gay, I and my brothers and our black lesbian sisters are considered ‘disposables’ in our own black communities and in white ones.

To this day I’m still extremely wary and skeptical of those black men who in convenient circumstances glibly call themselves brothers… who then, in their own peculiar type of fear, loathing, and hypocrisy often inflict violence on black gay men and lesbians whenever we are found either not to be useful or, far worse, too close to home.”
—Excerpted from Chapter 1

If you think it’s tough enough being a black male in America, you might want to consider the plight of the gay black male. For as Thomas Glave describes it, he feels alienated not only from mainstream white society but rejected by blacks, too. Glave, a Professor of English at SUNY Binghampton happens to be particularly adept at describing that sense of isolation in Words to Our Now, a series of essays which condemn a variety of prejudices which have persisted not only in the U.S. but around the world.

Although he weighs in eloquently on an assortment of international concerns from ethnic cleansing to Abu Ghraib, the author is most effective when reporting on or recounting incidents of gay bashing, a subject with which he is well acquainted. For one cannot help but empathize when he recalls from childhood the “wicked pugnacity” of “boys my age and older.” He describes the daily slamming of fists into his face unleashed by the meanest hoodlums, beatings invariably accompanied by a long line of harsh expletives which began with the word “faggot.”

There is something truly touching and deeply saddening about a book which has to make a case for the embracing of black homosexuals by their own community, when acceptance has been the prevailing theme around which the rest of African-Americana has rallied for generations. Who knows, perhaps it is a holdover from mistreatment during slavery which causes his own people to exhibit such severe intolerance for a minority within their own minority.

As a consequence, guess who now has the highest AIDS rate transmission, due to so many scared brothers on the down low choosing to work both sides of the sexual-preference street?

Glave’s intriguing answer to the crisis arrives in the form of a clarion call for social change, arguing that we are at a critical crossroad, that we must all put our bigotries behind us, and that time is of the essence. If nothing else, in emerging from the shadows via such a compelling, well-written opus, he has succeeded in humanizing the issue by lending his face to it, and by proudly putting a personal spin on ACT-UP’s unequivocal, defiant anthem of liberation.

“I’m here! I’m black and queer! Get used to it! “

This evening, Glave launched his latest book, The Torturer’s Wife, at the Toronto Women’s Bookstore.  From the TWB website:

Author of the acclaimed story collection Whose Song?, award-winning Thomas Glave is known for his stylistic brio and courageous explorations into the heavily mined territories of race and sexuality. Here he expands and deepens his lyrical experimentation in stories that focus—explicitly and allegorically—on the horrors of dictatorships, war, anti-gay violence, the weight of traumatized memory, secret fetishes, erotic longing, desire and intimacy.

THOMAS GLAVE is an O. Henry award-winning author and was named a Village Voice Writer on the Verge in 2001. He is the author of Whose Song? and Other Stories, Words to Our Now:Imagination and Dissent (winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Nonfiction), and editor of Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles. He is the 2008-2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor in the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Iceland’s Lesbian P.M.

I want one too!

ph2009012801958

 

REYKJAVIK, Iceland — Iceland’s next leader will be an openly gay former flight attendant who parlayed her experience as a union organizer into a decades-long political career.

Both parties forming Iceland’s new coalition government support the appointment of Johanna Sigurdardottir, the island nation’s 66-year-old social affairs minister, as Iceland’s interim prime minister.

“Now we need a strong government that works with the people,” Sigurdardottir told reporters Wednesday, adding that a new administration will likely be installed Saturday.