Russia’s Anti-Gay Laws Apparently Misinterpreted

LGBTQ balloonsLately, a lot of media attention has surrounded the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sotji, Russia, where concerns have been raised over the new anti-gay laws recently passed by President Vladimir Putin. These laws make it illegal to distribute gay/bisexual propaganda and information to minors, making the “crime” punishable with a jail sentence.

Apparently, Putin’s laws are being backed by Alexey Sorokin, who is in charge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, also taking place in Russia. Sorokin meant that the laws are being misinterpreted and that they are intended to protect minors against gay/bisexual propaganda (whatever that is) and thus are not meant to discriminate against gay people and are not therefore really against homosexuality. But, the laws are going to be implemented simply if a person carries the LGBTQ flag or displays a non-traditional relationship with a same-sex person which then means that they will discriminate against gay people since they will not have the same rights as their straight peers do. This is called discrimination. Sorokin, however, defended the new laws by stating that people do not want a World Cup where people run around naked (like gay people usually do?) and market their homosexuality.

How can someone be against the displays of homosexuality but not homosexuality? The very act of being gay or straight (or other identities/preferences) means that you are displaying an identity and often a sexual preference. The laws basically mean that you can be gay if you never “live it”. You cannot be gay outdoors or wear the flag, especially so not around minors, which are basically everywhere. The laws mean that you can basically never have a social life together with a partner and that you can only hold hands or share intimacy at home. If there is not a minor around that is. If there is a minor around, the laws suddenly make it illegal to be gay in your own house around minors, like your  children, since the very act of kissing or holding hands would be enough to prove that you are not in a traditional relationship (I am guessing that a traditional relationship means marriage between a woman and man). How absolutely ridicilous. As if the laws are not bad enough, the pathetic attempts to defend them by stating that discriminatory laws are not intended to discriminate is laughable.

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...]

Feminist Book List

Now that we are celebrating women’s history month we wanted to acknowledge and share some great books on different feminist related topics.

The Disability Rights Movement: From Charity to Confrontation (Updated Edition) Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames

This is a great book that discusses disability rights activism over the last few decades and describes the struggles of disabled individuals and their fights to gain access to a number of institutes and buildings. The Disability Rights Movement is at times truly disturbing and effectively highlights discrimination and prejudice.

Pray The Gay Away – The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays – Bernadette Barton

Pray The Gay Away is an amazing book which critically discusses the impact of homophobia on the lives of homosexual individuals. Bernadette Barton has interviewed gay men and women across the Bible Belt and shows how devastating homophobia is on the well being of homosexual individuals. Pray The Gay Away is very critical of homophobia and the role that religious beliefs and Christianity play in the treatment of homosexual people.

Let’s Talk About Sex: Histories of Sexuality in Australia from Federation to the Pill – Lisa Featherstone

Featherstone traces the history of Australian sexuality from the “start of the new Australian nation in 1901” to when the pill came out  in Australia (in 1961). As such, Featherstone touches on the issues of gender, ethnicity, marriage, women’s reproductive rights, and just about everything surrounding sexuality in Australia. The book can at times be rather sexually graphic and detailed, but it is a very interesting read.

The Richer Sex: How the new majority of female breadwinners is transforming sex, love, and family – Liza Mundy

According to Mundy, the percentage of female breadwinners and stay at home dads is on the rise. Therefore, the changing nature of breadwinning brings about fundamental changes in the gender structure, with “role”switching occurring more often than before. Mundy uses research from the past decades to discuss female breadwinning. Even though we do not necessarily agree with everything Mundy says, the book is an interesting account of women’s changing roles.

When Mars Women Date – Paulette Kouffman Sherman

Even though we are not big into dating books, When Mars Women Date is quite different. It questions and takes a critical look at gender stereotypes and dating tips that are often aimed at women. Paulette Kouffman Sherman writes that: “These dating rules proposed by female authors include things like telling women not to talk too much, not to return a man’s calls or ask him out, only to see him twice a week, not to have sex too early, not to go dutch on dates, to ignore your dates and seem disinterested, never to be overweight, to always wear makeup”. (p. 36). The book is refreshing because it tells women that they do not need to “act” in order to find a good partner and that men do like strong, independent and successful women.

Sweden – An abomination, or a place where women’s reproductive rights are valued?

Overall, Swedes have a very liberal view when it comes to women’s right to abortion, which is most often mentioned in relation to Sweden being a very secular country. Most Swedes are however happy with this arrangement and believe that everything is a-okay. Well, maybe not everyone, as Edward Pentin has a few chosen words to share (Edward who?). And what better than a quick educational spiel by someone who is not Swedish and seems to know very little about Sweden overall. And why not throw in some biased people to further support your own preconceived notions. Interestingly, Edward Pentin (again, Edward who?), a writer for the Catholic “ZENIT – the world seen from Rome” basically believes that Swedes are an abomination. In his article “Secularism in Sweden: Where Irreligious Trends Leads After Decades”, he points out that Swedes not only support abortion, but that their marriage rates are down, and that they are very accepting of…HOMOSEXUALITY…can you believe it?  [Read more...]

Tuesday News Roundup

85 Countries Still Criminalize Homosexuality – UNAIDS