Women, You Are Your Looks

Right now the Euro 2013 Games are underway, and women’s soccer is receiving loads of attention. The Swedish soccer team has already played a few games, and a sexist backlash of homophobic comments immediately followed the first match, where Sweden and Denmark tied.

According to The Local, post-match comments on Twitter focused not on the Swedish players’ competence, but rather on their attractiveness. Some comments included, “Women’s football is small breasts, lesbians and short hair” and “Swedish women’s football… lesbian whores is what you are.” Swedish handball coach Andreas Stockenberg also weighed in, writing that “When the Swedish squad in women’s football has dinner with their partners there are 40 women and 4 guys” and that “they can hardly trap a sandbag.” Stockenberg defended his comments by saying that the team received “far too much undeserved media attention.” [Read more...]

Bernadette Barton Talks About “Pray the Gay Away”

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature here at Feminists For Choice. Today we have the pleasure of talking to Bernadette Barton, author of Stripped: Inside the Lives of Exotic Dancers (2006) and Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays (2012). Today we are focusing on Pray the Gay Away and homosexuality in the Bible Belt area.

1. What inspired you to write Pray the Gay Away?
I write about what I call the “abomination incident” in the introduction to Pray the Gay Away. A neighbor told me being gay was an abomination after I came out to him. Although this kind of testifying is relatively commonplace in the Bible Belt, I had never before encountered a stranger who felt entitled to judge me as sinful, and tell me so, based on my sexual orientation. I grew up in Massachusetts in a politically progressive family and was unaccustomed to this kind of interaction. So, even though I had lived in Kentucky for 11 years by this point, I had not experienced much homophobia. My experience as a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, surrounded largely by lesbians, led me to believe that this sort of homophobia had ended.

I was both surprised and troubled by this encounter – the abomination incident – in 2003. Shortly thereafter began the 2004 presidential election season with an anti-gay marriage amendment on the Kentucky ballot. At this point, the homophobic discourse in the public sphere amped up considerably. Marrying a same-sex partner was compared to marrying a dog, horse, child and cousin. Homosexuality was constructed as polluting and contagious. And yard sign and bumper stickers displayed people’s public attitudes about gay people, many of which were in opposition to gay rights.

It became forcefully clear to me that homophobic attitudes and actions were alive, and integral to many people’s understanding of their social worlds. Since I had found my relatively small encounters with stranger homophobia so disturbing, I began to wonder how such attitudes affected gay people who grew up in the region. I was relatively lucky not to negotiate bigoted beliefs directed against my person-ness until I was in my mid-20s. What would it be like, I imagined, to process this kind of condemnation while one’s identity was still forming? Thus, Pray the Gay Away was conceived, and I formally interviewed 59 people from the Bible Belt and have had informal conversations with over 200 others. [Read more...]

Is the Repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell a Victory?

Several of my friends have posted an article on Facebook arguing that the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the military’s policy that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military, is not a victory for economic justice. I agree.

But. I think the article misses some important points. My take:

The authors are right to say that military service should not be the only jobs program available and that government funds could be better used, and the poor better served, by other types of economic development. The problem is this: whether or not the military SHOULD be the de facto jobs program, it HAS been the de facto jobs program. This means that gay men and lesbians (who, contrary to popular notions, are not always better off economically) have joined the military as a way to better their economic situation. The repeal of DADT is a victory for them.

The repeal of DADT is a victory for other reasons, too. It is a victory for gay and straight service members who have been targeted and forced out using the ban’s vague language and murky enforcement policies. While I am fairly certain that a good number of gay service people will remain in the closet, despite the repeal, at least it will not be a weapon in the arsenal of people who would go to any lengths to ruin the careers of others.

Regardless of what people think about the military, military funding, war, peace, justice, etc., the repeal of DADT is a victory for GLBT folks in general. I’m not saying “wooo whoo, now gay people are included in the military and that means they will be accepted into society” (as though societal acceptance or “normalcy” is even a good thing, necessarily), but it is one more nail in the coffin of the extreme right and those that would use religion, hate, fear and misinformation to steer the entire country away from policies that include GLBT folks. And that’s a good thing. [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

Men who think they should control their girlfriends’ and wives’ bodies. Alternet.

In Ultrasound, Abortion Fight has a New Front. New York Times.

New arrest of “Gang of Faggots” in Shiraz. IRQR.

Japanese Rape Games…Not Cool. Bust.

Ending Child Marriage: It’s a Smart Investment. RH Reality Check.

Malawi Judge Convicts Gay Couple of Unnatural Acts With a Possible Sentence of 14 Years in Prison

Homophobia is incredibly rampant throughout the continent of Africa. As evidenced by the ‘Kill the gays’ bill in Uganda, the lives of LGBT citizens are incredibly precarious around the world. A similar case of legal persecution has surfaced in Malawi, where a Judge has convicted a gay couple of indecency for conducting a public ceremony celebrating their engagement to one another. That’s right folks; two men face years of prison time for publicly expressing their love to one another. Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, both in their twenties, were arrested a day after they celebrated their engagement with a party.

Undule Mwakasungula, a gay rights activist in Malawi, said the couple’s decision to declare their relationship with an engagement ceremony appears to have been personal, not political. Others have been prosecuted under the law but this case was different because the two men were open about their homosexuality, Mwakasungula said.

The couple were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency under laws dating from the colonial era. Blantyre Chief Resident Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa said the sentencing will take place on Thursday and they could be imprisoned for up to 14 years. [Read more...]

Wedenesday News Roundup

mouse-clickA Few Words on Maine and the Dying Hog of Homophobia – Pam’s House Blend
Why Do Pot Dispensaries Win and Gay Marriages Lose on the Same Ballot in Maine? – Pam’s House Blend
GOP Victories Offer a Warning for Democrats – NPR
Worried – The Abortioneers
Barriers to Abortion Rise – Boston Globe
Questions About Stopping the Side Effects of Birth Control – Our Bodies, Ourselves
More Coverage of Abby Johnson’s Conversion – Jezebel
Clinic Buffer Zone Struck Down – The Jurist

TGIF News Roundup

mouse2OMG – I’m SOOOO glad it’s Friday. Here’s your hawt links to get the weekend kicked off in style.

A Clean House is a Sign of a Wasted Life – Feminism Online
Homophobia in Rural America – Gay Rights @ Change.org
Trans Hate Crimes Up in 2009 – The Bilerico Project
A Man’s Right to Choose? – Change.org
Randall Terry Says George Tiller Was Like a Crack Dealer – Right Wing Watch

Is it just me or is it homophobic in here?!

Photo0141My posting intentions this week were seriously sidetracked late last night when I received a startling text message from a friend. The text message included an attached photo [inset] with the simple words: “I don’t know what to do. Should I call the police? I’m scared.”

I was floored. There seems to be a blatant increase of gay-bashing/LGBT-based hate crime incidents as of late and it is, in my opinion, not surprising considering the overall atmosphere that we are living in now. Hell I was the victim of a verbal assault twice over the past 2 weeks and I have heard others citing similar accounts all over this “great nation.” [Read more...]

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell: Scripting Hegemonic Masculinity

It has been sixteen years since the conception of the Don’t Ask Don’t tell policy, initially implemented by Clinton in 1993. Now, more then ever, this policy is under extreme scrutiny as people are contesting the policy as outdated, discriminatory and in dire need of change.

As a quick background for those who may not be familiar with the policy, it basically states that the military will not investigate homosexual behavior of individual servicemen and servicewomen unless there is credible suspicion. Gay and lesbian members of the military are reduced to a life of secrecy as they are faced with two options: stay in the closet, or be discharged from the military.

There have been numerous discharges from the military due to the DADT policy, including scores of translators of various Middle Eastern languages who were proficient at their jobs and in high demand considering our current military operations throughout the Middle East. The justifications for such a policy from the words of the pentagon, “The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.”
[Read more...]