Sunday, August 30, 2009

Guest Post: "American Values" in the movie Basic Instinct

This guest post was written by Ashley who is currently studying abroad in Argentina. Her main interests include feminism, history and women's spirituality.

Trigger warning for a brief description of a rape scene in the movie Basic Instinct.

I'm currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and for better or worse, there are many channels that air American movies and television shows. Well, lo and behold, just after I learned about the Bechdel test, I saw Michael Douglas give a speech about how he's proud of American movies, and how they're more than entertainment, they're ambassadors that convey our values. Well, not more than five minutes later, I turn the channel to find this actor in the movie Basic Instinct. So, I thought I'd watch it and see how well our "American values" were portrayed.

The main female character, Catherine Tremill, is a successful writer and an assertive woman who has no hesitation to admit that she has sex for pleasure. (What a revolutionary concept, right? Women having sex just for pleasure?) However, in a typical patriarchal troupe, she is portrayed as the "Black Widow," or the powerfully seductive woman who no man, or woman, can resist, even if it means death. (Clearly, a powerful woman must inherently be too aggressive because she's not being the "normal" passive girl.) Too smart for her own good, the detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas), decides that she must be guilty of murder after her lover turns up dead. She is "bad enough" to go to jail, but she's "good enough" to later get his sexual fill out of her. They eventually become lovers, in one of the oldest themes of American movies: the young, attractive woman falls in love with the old, unattractive man. (You may say that looks shouldn't matter, but in reality, they do, especially in Hollywood, and I think this disproportion should be pointed out more often. One question is: where are the older women? Why can't they be suitable lovers?) Catherine later admits that she is interested in women as well, but her sexuality seems to fall flat as the only scenes she is seen being affectionate with other women is in front of men, seemingly seeking to attract their attention and entertain them. At one point, Nick calls her lover "a man," because obviously you can't have a relationship without one.

The detective's first "lover," Beth Garner, is someone who Nick treats callously and cruelly the entire movie. When she tries to understand his growing frustration with the murder case, offering her sympathies, he shouts at her to go away. However, when he needs her body, he doesn't hesitate to anally rape her. In the scene, she actually screams "No!" and struggles against him, but he continues to forcibly rip off her clothes (or at least the ones that are necessary for the act), and thrusts himself into her against her will, and then she seems to go limp. This, my friends, is defined as rape. (For those of you who would say that she could perhaps merely be playing, please watch the scene.) Of course, she then seemingly accepts the ordeal, a detail I'm sure the male screenwriter had no hesitation to put in, and who had no idea what constitutes rape. When Nick later confronts her with a different issue, it seems that she is being raped again, psychologically or not. He shouts at her and backs her into a door, where she proceeds to cower. Even after all of this, Beth still cares for Nick, saying, "I'm a big girl. I can handle myself." (At what age can you handle rape?) Her behavior almost seems motherly (I can hear the subconscious talking: "Well, he's a boy and he's just having a temper tantrum, he'll learn." Or, "He's my son, of course I love him no matter what.") Nick eventually ends up killing her, somewhat because he thinks she's a killer, and somewhat because he's not fucking her anymore. At one point, he actually calls both of the women in his life "manipulative."

The police, after her lover's murder, interrogate Catherine, emphasizing the fact that she is not "officially" with her lover, even calling her a "broad." With six or so male officers in the room with her, they rather look like a shooting squad, and their only target is the woman who crossed the line by being too powerful. In fact, there is only one police woman throughout the entire movie, making the ratio of female:male about 1:10. This setup was probably subconscious; in our patriarchal society we learn that it's completely acceptable for males to dominate females in all situations. After all, as we have seen through literature, history, and even religion, there is nothing more sinister than a sexually-liberated woman.

The movie "Basic Instinct" is an older one (1996), but it's clearly still modern enough to show on Argentine television. This is definitely not the most sexist movie ever made; in fact, when I started watching the movie, it could have turned out that there were few sexist troupes. However, as I thought, our "cultural ambassadors" convey sexism more often than not, and they're streamed throughout the entire world, where our neighbors see that in the great, glorious US, our morals inherently include sexism. In many peoples' minds, if you want to get ahead in the world, you have to be like the most powerful, which, fortunately or unfortunately, means that you have to be like the white, male, straight, Christian men. In conclusion, our "values," if we take Michael Douglas's words to heart, seem to emphasize male dominance, rape, coersion through force instead of diplomacy, and complete disregard of women's opinions and feelings. So much for conveying any feminist, or even decent values.

***After some research, it appears that even at the time of its release, the movie was criticized as both sexist and homophobic.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Found Creepiness

I didn’t really get into New Found Glory as a pre-teen/teenager, like a lot of people I know did. It wasn’t until I met one of my friends, who’s really into NFG, that I started listening to them. Unfortunately, because I’m older and really critical of most media at this point in my life, that means that I constantly analyze songs when I hear them.

I only have thirteen NFG songs on my iPod, but I downloaded them because I liked the music. However, a few songs have caught my attention for their lyrics.

Let’s take a look at their song “Oxygen,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs by NFG.

On its surface, the song seems to be one of those cute “my love for you keeps me alive” songs, but the more I listened to this song (which was quite a lot for a time), the more it sounded a bit more like a possibly inappropriate fixation on an unsuspecting woman.

First example lyrics:

I’ll take a glance while you sleep at night
Right from under your nose

Throughout this whole song, I couldn’t quite make up my mind if this was about a girlfriend, or just some girl that was being admired from afar, which made me wonder how they expected to see her sleeping. Because of the lack of clarity, the whole “I’m going to watch you while you’re sleeping” thing is not right, especially because they only say they’re going to “take a glance,” as if they know it’s not right.

Second example lyrics (chorus):

Don’t leave, don’t leave me here
I can’t breathe without you
Don’t leave, don’t leave me here
I don’t want to be without you
I don’t want to live without you

Maybe I’m picky, but I don’t find these sorts of lyrics romantic at all. They come off as obsessive, in a whiny sort of way. These lyrics aren’t asking this woman to stay, they’re telling her not to leave because the guy can’t handle it if she were to leave. Makes me wonder what he would do if she did leave?

Third example lyrics:

I’ll dream of you while I sleep at night
So nobody will know

So nobody will know what? All the creepy, not romantic things you want to do to/with her? I’ll take it you’re not dating if you have to keep everything about her a secret. Then that whole watching-her-while-she’s-sleeping bit is extra scary.

The next NFG song I want to look at is “Hold My Hand.” Sounds innocent enough, right?

The most unsettling lyrics:

Do do do do do do do do
You’ll never know,

I’m after you
Do do do do do do do do
You’ll never know

Do do do do do do do do, no matter how catchy these lyrics try to be, they strike a bad chord. These were probably the worst lyrics I came across in my small collection of NFG songs because they are pretty blatant in their description of being after a woman without her knowledge. That sounds a lot like stalking to me, and that’s not romantic or cute or acceptable in any way.

Okay, clearly I have overanalyzed these songs. Or have I? They both made me feel uncomfortable after only two or three listens, so that means something about these lyrics isn’t right. These are supposed to be like love songs, but they come off as obsessive in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable about the possible outcomes of such feelings or blatantly like something that should be more like a warning to whoever the song was written about than an attempt to describe love. Not to mention the whole hush-hush feeling that indicates that whatever the song is about is something that shouldn’t really be talked about, which generally indicates that it is probably wrong.

Is there a larger trend like this in New Found Glory songs, or have I just happened across a few of the worst examples? Any NFG fans out there want to offer their opinions about why these songs were written like this? Please leave comments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Book review: Pornology by Ayn Carrillo-Gailey

I've never written a book review (not even in school) but recently a friend of mine let me borrow a book that he thought I might find interesting, so I thought I'd write about it here. Pornology: Noun-1: A Good Girl's Guide to Porn: 2: The Misadventures of the World's First AnthroPORNologist: 3: A Hilarious Exploration of Men, Relationships, and Sex by Ayn Carrillo-Gailey is the story of the author’s journey to learn about pornography after her boyfriend accuses her of being “pornophobic.” Carrillo-Gailey takes this accusation personally and decides to prove him wrong, and with the help of her friends, she comes up with a list of things she wants to know about porn, which she names her “Porn-To-Do List.”

The book is an easy, not overly graphic read that feels like a novel as the reader follows the author through her experiences with different aspects of porn, several ups and downs in her love life, and the unwavering support of her friends. Facts about all sorts of porn-related topics are interspersed throughout this light-hearted story, which makes them easily digestible.

Some things I learned from this book:

You’re obligated to tip if you sit in the front row at a strip club.

In most states, full-nude strip clubs are not allowed to serve alcohol, whereas topless-only strip clubs are allowed. Because of this, eighteen-year-olds can be allowed into full-nude strip clubs, but not in all topless-only strip clubs.

I know less about strip clubs than almost all other aspects of porn discussed in this book (from brothels, to erotic literature, to adult men’s magazines, to sex toys, and more) even though I have little to no experience with most of these things. I’m not exactly sure why this is so.

Even though I haven’t completely made up my mind when it comes to porn, this book seemed rather fair-minded because it is about one woman’s personal experiences with learning about porn. The author started out as a complete porn skeptic, but once she started exploring porn, she began to see many benefits in it. Throughout the book, I kept some of my own skepticisms about porn, but I completely accepted that the author might have done away with all of hers. I did notice, however, that since I read the book, I now want to talk to some people I know about porn. Interesting.

Overall, I think that this is a great starter book for anyone who might be interested in learning more about porn but is a little daunted, or even embarrassed, about starting out. If anyone else has read Pornology, feel free to leave your own (brief) review in comments.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Inked: “She’s got a tattoo. Look at that tattoo.” (Part two)

In part one of this series I discussed briefly how men and women are treated differently when they decide to get tattoos. Women who have tattoos are often reduced to their sexuality and it is assumed, especially if the tattoo is visible, that somehow this woman is sexually available. For this post, I would like to focus on one particular kind of tattoo: The lower back tattoo, AKA the “tramp stamp.”

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have three tattoos. My latest tattoo was one I designed as a way to represent my feminism and my work as a blogger. Every tattoo I have gotten has been on a meaningful place on my body. For this tattoo I decided to get it on my lower back. This was a calculated move on my part.

The lower back tattoo has developed many negative connotations, and it is often referred to as a “tramp stamp.” Because the lower back tattoo is most often seen on women, the name “tramp stamp” has particularly offensive meanings.

According to Merriam-Webster, the word tramp is a noun that can mean one of the following:

1 a : vagrant b : a foot traveler c : a woman of loose morals; specifically :
(Emphasis mine)
For more insight on how the tramp stamp is thought of today, you might want to check out the Urban Dictionary entry for the word. But be warned, it’s not pleasant.

Using a woman’s sexual history (or just her perceived sexual history) as a means of shaming her seems to come easily in this society. A woman has sex before marriage or with more than one partner? She’s a dirty slut. She wears a skirt? She must be looking for sex. She flirts with a man? She must want to go all the way. She gets a tattoo on her lower back? Clearly she’s a tramp (prostitute), and that’s just shameful. Really, there’s no winning for women, and it’s something I’m sick of.

So, I decided to get a feminist “tramp stamp.” I thought the irony was irresistible and felt it might be an interesting comment on how absurd it is to assume that because a woman has a lower back tattoo, she must be “of loose morals.”

Most of the time, I don’t remember that I have a lower back tattoo unless someone mentions it when it shows a little from under my shirt. But one day when I went to a gas station next to my dorm that I had just moved into, I was relentlessly reminded of it.

This particular gas station has a bad reputation around my college campus as being dangerous. I have heard both students and faculty say that people have been shot there. But because everything on campus was closed this summer, this gas station was so close, and I didn’t have a refrigerator to keep food in, I often went to this gas station despite it making me feel uneasy. One afternoon I walked into the gas station past a group of seven men who were standing near the register. I didn’t make eye contact with any of them, but as I passed, one of the men said loudly to one of his companions, “She’s got a tattoo! Look at that sexy tattoo she’s got! She’s got a tattoo. Bet she thinks she’s fine.” I kept walking, trying to ignore him without looking at him. “I see you smilin’, girl,” the same man called after me, even though I had clearly not been smiling. I quickly made my way to the back of the store while the men remained in the front, being loud and obnoxious to the woman working the cash register. I waited until they had left before I went to get the food that I had come for. And even then, I waited a few more minutes to be sure that they wouldn’t be waiting outside. There were so many of them, and I didn’t feel comfortable with the thought of having to walk past them again.

When I got back to my dorm, I was flustered, and I quickly checked a mirror to see how much of my tattoo had been showing. Not even half an inch. This unnerved me even more, as I tried to figure out what had caught the man’s eye in the first place. I was mad that this man felt he had the right to comment about my appearance, especially because the tattoo that was being commented on was a feminist tattoo. It’s meant to make a statement about how unacceptable it is for women to have to experience harassment and have people assume things about their sexuality just from a tattoo. The irony in this experience mirrors the irony in my choice of placement for my tattoo in a sad, although not completely unexpected way.

Quick Read: ELCA approves GLBT clergy in relationships

Star Tribune:
On a 559-451 vote taken Friday in Minneapolis at their biennial conference, delegates repealed the ELCA ban on gay clergy unless they agree to remain celibate. It makes ELCA, with 4.8 million members nationwide and 830,000 in Minnesota, the largest denomination in the country to welcome gays into the pulpits without restriction.
Minnesota Public Radio:

A resolution voted on earlier in the day, which passed by a vote of 559-451, is the one that commits the church to "finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as professional leaders."


Rev. Anita Hill, co-pastor of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St Paul, said the vote is a positive step for the church.

"This provides the possibility that I might, before my ministry is over, I might actually be on the professional roster of the ELCA for which I'm grateful and which I believe my congregation will receive joyfully," Hill said.

That's what I'm talking about. More to come.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Inked: Where are the ladies? (Part one)

I am a big fan of tattoos. I love seeing them on other people, and I have three of my own. I have gotten all of my tattoos at the same tattoo parlor, which was recommended to me by a friend, and I have noticed some things about this particular place that I would like to discuss here.

Observation #1: Where are all the female tattoo artists?

The tattoo parlor that I have visited for all three of my tattoos doesn’t seem to have any female tattoo artists. There is one female employee that I know of who pierced my eyebrow, but most of the times when I have been there, I haven’t seen any female employees, and all of the artists who have done my tattoos have been male.

This is just an observation. It may be that I just haven’t met any of the female tattoo artists at this parlor, and I know that some very famous tattoo artists (I’m thinking of Kat Von D from LA Ink) are women, but I can’t help think that there might be a difference in the way that men and women are perceived when they have tattoos or when they are in this profession. When men have tattoos, it is often seen as a display of their masculinity, and unless they have a large tattoo that is not easily covered up, they will suffer relatively few negative consequences. Of course there is the stereotype of “the bad boy” who has tattoos, but he still gets to be a human being. The same thing can’t be said of women. When women get tattoos, they are often reduced to their sexuality, specifically that they must be sexually available. In this respect, I think that tattoos are not generally something women can be passionate about either wearing on their bodies or making a career out of without taking some risks that are not inherent to men. Because of this, it would make sense if women were not deciding in the same numbers as men to make careers out of tattooing. Now, I don’t have concrete numbers on this, but I am interested to hear stories from anyone who may or may not agree that women tattoo artists are harder to find than men.

Observation #2: Sexy ladies – they’re everywhere!

The female figure plays a large role in tattoo culture today. Female figures are often sexualized and objectified in tattoo art design (sometimes in variations of the original pin-up girl tattoo) and they are often employed to help promote modern tattoo parlors.

For example, when I got my last tattoo this past June I was given a full color business card for the tattoo parlor. It contains all the necessary information: The name of the tattoo parlor, its location, phone number, website, along with the services available there. However, on the left side of the card there is a picture of a woman wearing a bikini and not sporting a single visible piercing or tattoo. When the card is turned over, there is information advertising another branch of the same company, featuring three more pictures of women without visible piercings or tattoos. Utilizing female bodies to advertise this shop doesn’t surprise me, and it shouldn’t. It’s a much-too-common and very problematic tactic. But the more I started thinking about the differences between how men and women with tattoos are perceived, the more upset I was with the inclusion of this woman’s picture on this business card when she clearly was not able to advertise the services offered at this tattoo parlor. When it comes to tattoos, women who have them (or are used to promote a place that offers tattooing) are associated with sexual availability. And that is a topic I will be covering in part two of this series, so check back.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quote of the Day: Pro-Choice Michele Bachmann

"That's why people need to continue to go to the town halls, continue to melt the phone lines of their liberal members of Congress and let them know, under no certain circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions." - US Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

I hope Planned Parenthood and NARAL put her on their mailing lists ASAP. Another woman for choice!

The Power of One Vote: ECLA Social Statement passed

The ELCA's Social Statement on Human Sexuality passed by literally ONE VOTE yesterday, 66.667% in favor to 33.333% against.

The 34-page social statement actually touches on homosexuality only briefly, and is intended as a sweeping definition of the ELCA's approach to matters of human sexuality. It also sketches out the church's approach to gender, friendship, marriage and children, cohabitation outside marriage, the commercialization of sexuality, and the global sex trade.
One vote. Some of my friends who were present at the assembly had a friend who stepped out to make a phone call before they had called for the vote. He literally ran through the Minneapolis Skyway to make it back in time and barely pressed his voting button before voting ended. If he had been 5 seconds later, the statement wouldn't have passed.

Friday, they'll be voting on Ministry Recommendations that consider opening the ELCA pastoral roster to GLBTQ people, including those in long-term, committed relationships. While the Social Statement needed a 2/3 supermajority to pass, the Ministry Recommendations only need a simple majority (50% + 1). People are speculating that the recommendations will pass, based on the votes of the past week.

In addition to passing the Social Statement, the ELCA also passed a Malaria Initiative, a HIV/AIDS Strategy and a memorial (from an individual synod) on Immigration Reform. You can find all the results of the vote here and the unamended Social Statement here.

Seriously, if you don't think that a single person can make a difference, this is shatters all that. Collectively, everyone contributed to the passage of the Social Statement and yet individually, if one person hadn't vote in favor of the document, it wouldn't have passed.

Also, all this happened in the midst of a tornado. That's right, a TORNADO blew through downtown Minneapolis and right over the convention center yesterday afternoon. The convention center and the church next door had some damage and one person was injured, but overall, everyone was safe. What an incredibly unpredictable day.

Keep it up, ELCA! Hopefully we'll have some good news on Friday.

EDIT: Before anyone gets the completely asinine idea of calling the tornado a sign from God, take a look at these pictures of other damage around the city. Certainly the Electric Fetus record shop and North School wasn't thwarting God's will that afternoon, right?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Carnival of Feminists #2!

Welcome to the second Carnival of Feminists! We received some great posts from all over the internet and are excited to pass them along to you, in no particular order:

At Gal's Guide, Stacy discusses outing herself at work.

David from Goodsoil talks about this week's ELCA Churchwide Assembly and the Sexuality statement up for a vote. Follow them all week to see how the discussion and vote progresses!

Deborah from In A Strange Land takes on the different spheres that religious marriage and state-recognized marriage occupy.

Majorie at Girls Outdoors asks why there are no women in the Tour de France and why the women's Tour de France is virtually ignored.

Mór Rígan from Morrigan Reborn takes on the state of choice in Ireland.

The Truth discusses the Food Saftey Enhancement Act and sees big agricultural corporations attempting to squash small farms.

Erin at The Frisky is not surprised at the difference between real and airbrushed pictures of Kate Moss.

At Jump Off the Bridge, Frau Sally Benz opens up on the ins and outs of her polyamory.

At Deeply Problematic, the privilege of being partnered, like hetero privilege, white privilege, et al, is exposed through experiences of street harassment. Stephanie from The (not so) Little Things responds with her own experiences of marriage (or the highly visable wedding ring) as the ultimate priviledge protector.

Elizabeth discusses the experience of being a woman in IT and how the industry can be more women-friendly.

K Tempest Bradford tells us how to make better magazines and anthologies through intersectionality from

Another limerick on the liberal media from Mad Kane's Political Madness.

At Zero to the Bone, Chally has a great post on a lifetime of not winning when it comes to breasts.

Adventures of a Young Feminists
's Laura looks at pop culture and silencing tactics in schools.

Genevive from UneFemmePlusCourageuse has a lot to say in response to being told that she "believes in body acceptance, which is sort of good, but also, she doesn't seem to get that if some people are told to accept their own bodies, it'll lead to overeating, which later in life will cause heart problems."

Marcella at Abyss to Hope gives some saftey and sexual violence prevention tips for men and women heading off to college.

Since I'm such a huge fan of Mad Men, here's Mad Men Mondays from Feministing, Addicted to Race is a podcast on race that discusses Mad Men this week, Latoya at Racialicious takes on the Twitter feeds of Betty Draper and Carla (the Draper's maid), and Bitch Magazine is freaked out by Mad Men fans and their hardline defense of the show's feminism.

Editor's Pick: Jake at A Mid-week Telos on health care town hall meeting protests, an ideology of the mob, a theology of prostest and the real interests behind protestors (themselves and their money).

Editor's Pick: At Shakesville, Melissa strikes a chord in many of us on the Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck with follow-up.

Editor's Pick: I'm also love love loving this style advice from the cast of Sesame Street.

Editor's Pick: A video on rape culture and sexual harassment by Hard Cover, a Chicago program that trains youth in multimedia skills.

Thanks to all participants! The next carnival is September 2, so be sure to submit your posts!

If you'd like to host, contact Lindsay or Amelia at (firstname).impersonator [at]

Monday, August 17, 2009

ELCA Churchwide Assembly - Homomentum?

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination, is holding their Churchwide Assembly this week in Minneapolis, an event which expects to be controversial this year. The body is voting on a set of GLBT clergy recomendations, which if passed, will open the denomination to ordaining openly gay and lesbian clergy in longstanding partnered relationships.

The recommendations follow four steps which are built on one another, which means step 2 cannot pass if step 1 is not approved and so on:
Step One
Step one asks the assembly whether, in principle, it is committed to finding ways to allow congregations and synods that choose to do so to recognize, support, and hold publicly accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships.

Step Two
Step two asks the assembly whether, in principle, this church is committed to finding a way for people in such publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve as rostered leaders of this church.

Step Three
Step three asks this church whether, in the future implementation of these commitments, it will make decisions so that all in this church bear the burdens of the other, and respect the bound consciences of all. This means that any solution that serves only the conscience-bound positions of one or another part of this church will not be acceptable.

Step Four
Step four proposes how this church can move toward change in a way that respects the bound consciences of all. It recognizes that such respect will lead to diversity of practice. However, the majority of the task force believes that the conscience-bound lack of consensus will be respected most faithfully by providing some structured flexibility in decision-making so that congregations and synods may choose whether or not to approve or call people in publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationships to serve on ELCA rosters.

In reaching this conclusion, the task force acknowledges that the existing policies and practices of this church give responsibility for decisions related to the approval or disapproval of candidates for rostered service or for a specific call to synodical call committees, bishops, and congregations. That is, individuals and groups are trusted to make these decisions. The task force also acknowledges that such decision-making takes place within a carefully determined process of mutual discernment by those seeking call and the representatives of this church.

As expected, some churches in the synod are in favor while others are not. In a survey of ELCA clergy, 54% of clergy are in support of ordaining GLBTQ clergy with no restrictions while 32% say GLBTQ clergy should be able to be ordained if they remain celibate. 14% of clergy say gay and lesbian shouldn't be ordained at all.

Goodsoil is an organization working for full inclusion of GLBTQ folks in the ELCA church and is maintaining a blog during this week's Assembly. From yesterday's post:
Starting tomorrow, as the Assembly takes up (yet again) the matter of “us”—debating whether the Bible or the tradition can support the wonders that God is already busily doing in our lives (of which the stoles are just a hint)—we will send some portion of ourselves into deep prayer. Carrying all the anguish of our past and all the hopes of our future into the presence of God, we will wrap ourselves in these shawls. Clothed in this love, we will tend to maintaining a contemplative quiet, steadying the words that others of us will speak in Assembly and enlivening the stories that others of us will tell over meals.

We, who are Goodsoil—gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and ally people of faith—are as yet exiles in our own church. Even as we hold our heads high, even when our hearts are happy and our spirits sound, there is no denying that the policies in place and the attitudes that remain pervasive in too many places mark us as exiles.

But in this room, we are exiles in good company. Besides the wealth of ourselves—and the energy of faith and hope is tremendous here—between the stoles and the shawls we have all the colors of the rainbow in this room.

As people of faith who support full inclusion of everyone in the church body, it's incredibly difficult to see faithful people return to institutions who do not value their contributions. As a Methodist, my denomination tells me that we're a people of open hearts, open minds, open doors and yet we blatantly close doors on GLBTQ people. How can we say that all have sacred worth but that some are incompatible with Christian teaching?

Good luck and god speed to the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. I fear the worst, hope for the best, and will mourn or celebrate accordingly. If you'd like to follow on Twitter, it's #goodsoil09 for GLBTQ-friendly Lutherans and #cwa09 for all tweets relating to the Churchwide Assembly.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Barack Obama causes potbellies? And other such nonsense.

It's Hip to Be Round.

This fashion piece from The New York Times discusses a new accessory for men: The Ralph Kramden (aka a potbelly). About the emergence of this new trend, the author talks about how men have had to work to not only be financially successful but physically fit since women have moved in numbers into the workplace, because, how else could they prove themselves? Their unjustly larger paychecks mean nothing, obviously. The article suggests that perhaps the emergence of the Ralph Kramden as a fashion statement can be blamed on...Barack Obama? Because he is fit and he likes to work out, maybe men are rebelling against that?

Sometimes, I just don't know what to say, although I would hope that this is some sort of satire. I can't really tell.

Check it out for yourself. Leave your thoughts in comments.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Check out this fascinating collection of pictures titled Masculinities by Chad States (some NSFW). When finding subjects, he intentionally left it open to people of all genders. It's a complex picture of the ways people interpret their masculinity. Here are some choice quotes from his subjects:
"The first thing I do when I walk in a room is figure out which male could kick my ass and which female I would like to fuck. Sometimes this is so subconscious it is alarming." - Andrew

"To me, it's about being comfortable with myself. I like the way I look, am comfortable with myself and enjoy being a man." - John

"When I wear men's clothes I feel more comfortable and confident in how I look on the outside which now matches the inside." - Liz

"I am masculine because I abandon women after taking their love. Because when you study Freud you don't let him study you. Because I study philsophy not literature." - Luke

"I want to show that, despite stereotypes, gay men can be masculine too." - Mike

via Jezebel and The Morning News.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Sorry about the recent absence in posting - my internet is down and I start job training tomorrow. I'll be back soon with new posts!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Carnival of Feminists #1!

Welcome to the first revived Carnival of Feminists! We received some great posts from all over the internet and are excited to pass them along to you, in no particular order:

Disability Information and Resources offers up a moving video of a woman diagnosed with cancer who is unable to get Social Security benefits. In the video, she says, "I just don’t understand what [diagnosis] you have to have to get Social Security disability."

A Kindle Swindle with some humorous limericks from Mad Kane's Political Madness.

sandpiperlily at the Feministing Community blog notices a disturbing trend of sexual assault related FMLs.

A focus on the spectacle of the executed woman from Executed Today.

Renee at Womanist Musings looks at a small town that's not completely accepting of their trans mayor.

Elizabeth Kate at Daughter of the Ring of Fire reviews Evie Shockley's poem quiet as it's kept.

Editor's Pick: The Undomestic Goddess has a series of interviews about feminism with people from all walks of life.

Birthcycle looks at the Utopian Promise of Porn.

Kate from Female Impersonator has a series on street harassment including walking as rebellion, a call to action in response to street harassment, and tweeting catcalls.

Heather at Scarleteen discusses “How to (Un)pack for a Real Discussion About Abortion” and clarifies some important terms and concepts that should be understood before attempting to have a discussion on this topic, which is often treated as “unspeakable”

Clarissa at Clarissa's Blog on how using the phrase “hard-wired” to explain things like gender differences “does not provide us with answers. It is just a way to avoid having to look for answers to tough questions.”

The Viewspaper has a thought-provoking editorial called Feminist Movement: One Step Forward, Two Steps Backwards.

Editor's Pick: Jay Smooth at Ill Doctrine has a brilliant look at Michael Jackson's death and the media with Dance You Into the Sunlight.

Thanks to all participants! The next carnival is August 19, so be sure to submit your posts!

If you'd like to host, contact Lindsay or Amelia at (firstname).impersonator [at]

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On Wisconsin!

Wisconsin, my home state, recently legalized domestic partnership between same-sex couples - not fantastic since the state still has a gay marriage ban on the books, but a step in the right direction.

Monday was the first day for couples to register and sure enough, couples were waiting at courthouse doors to legalize their rights. Included in those couples was John, a friend of mine from high school, and his husband who were legally married a few years ago in Canada.

Congratulations! I'm excited you can now legally visit your spouse in the hospital when something serious happens. And, you know, all the good stuff that goes along with it.

Quote of the Day: Christina Hendricks

“What’s astounding is when people say things like, ‘Well, you know that episode where Joan sort of got raped?’ Or they say rape and use quotation marks with their fingers. I’m like, ‘What is that you are doing? Joan got raped!’ It illustrates how similar people are today, because we’re still questioning whether it’s a rape. It’s almost like, ‘Why didn’t you just say bad date?’ ”

-Christina Hendricks on her character Joan Hollaway from Mad Men.

via The Frisky.

Asinine Comment of the Week

From davidme on the Tweeting catcalls post:
"I am a man and a woman whistled at me from her car the other day just because I was dressed sharply walking to work one day.

I felt like I was being attacked! I tried to get her license plate, but I was too stunned and mortified at what she had just done.

I'll never be the same. What if this becomes as pervasive as those cruel men who inflict this on women? Can men handle it? Fight back, women! Wet your whistles!"

Thanks for your suggestion, davidme. We'll take that into consideration because obviously the best response to bodily objectification and street harassment is MORE objectification and street harassment.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Ugly Truth: Everyone loses

This review of the Ugly Truth by Sady Doyle in the Guardian pinpoints exactly why sexism in movies is bad for both men and women:

The fact is that nothing in The Ugly Truth is new. Most of its messages are taken directly from relationship advice guides for women. The Ugly Truth is He's Just Not That Into You in spirit, if not in title. The message of these guides, paradoxically, is not that women should subordinate themselves to men because men are stronger and smarter. It's that women should subordinate themselves to men because men are very, very stupid and deeply, unbelievably weak.

The average straight man, if dating guides for women are to be believed, is a fragile, delicate flower, ravaged by primitive desires beyond his control, needy to the extent that he requires constant, fawning admiration (but not too much – the idea that a woman is actively pursuing sex or a relationship will scare him, as he is a skittish creature) and absolutely incapable of dealing with any sort of criticism or challenge from the women in his life. This is conveyed in the movie in a scene where Mike reveals that his macho front is a put-on, caused by dating women who "didn't like him". (The question of why on Earth he deserves to be liked is neither asked nor answered.)

A woman's natural desires – to talk about her life, to laugh at jokes that are funny, to disagree with people when they're wrong, to have real orgasms – will drive a man away, if not scar him for life. However, the advice goes, you can actually control men (to the extent that you can get them to date you) by pretending to be someone other than who you are – someone who simply delights in doing every single little thing a man wants at all times. Because men are also, fortunately, so stupid that they won't realise you're lying.

(Note that I'm not saying men and women are like this, but that dating guides and movies perpetuate these stereotypes. So before someone makes a comment regarding that, finish the rest of the post.)

When men and women are painted in such broad strokes in movies and dating guides and popular culture in general, EVERYONE loses. Women are told to dumb themselves down for men, men are viewed as stupid, easy to control and one-dimensional, and heteronormativity is reinforced.

I don't know about you, but I don't know a single person - man or woman - who acts this way. People are much more complex than romantic comedies and dating guides suggest. Sure, one could argue that movies aren't explicitly telling us how to live, but films definitely influence people and their actions.

When dating and relationships turn into formulaic interactions based on the assumption that all women date based on intellect/emotions/feelings and all men date based on the state of their penis, everyone who interacts outside of that dichotomy suffers (of all genders).