Progressive. Queer. Feminist. Opinionated.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Our Parent?

So it is Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Therefore yesterday I found myself sitting in services for a while. The person who gave the talk was talking for part of her talk about G-d's role as a parent, and strangely for the liberal place we go to she actually kept using Father. We tend to use the gender-neutral versions of words, and I was definitely raised doing so-I always mentally change it when I see masculine reference. In the context of her talk though, I started wondering about the real meaning of saying Father.
As far as supposed gender differences go I think most are just that, supposed. But yesterday I was realizing that father and mother are two separate ideas. Scientific advancements aside, when we are born, we are born from our biological mother. This gives the mother a very different role in our lives than the father. The father gave, without the father there would be no life, yet it is the mother who carries a baby inside her and goes through the pain of childbirth.
The reason I use a gender neutral is not merely out of some feminist ideal, except in that feminist ideals make me reject "he" as the gender neutral. I believe it is limiting to the idea of something infinite that encompasses all things. But assuming G-d exists, as the Jews believe anyways*, then while being gender
neutral most of the time, the parenting issue is different. The role G-d plays is maybe that of a father, giving life, being crucial for there to be life, but not actually suffering and growing and everything as a mother does. So perhaps sometimes a gender neutral word is inaccurate. I know they often accomplish less than the gendered versions. Or maybe I am full of it, after all I have no children.

*I say Jewish and Judeo Christian because I think the whole story of Jesus with Mary as his mother gives this a very different slant, one I feel unqualified to examine.

Acting gay on planes

Hello. I'm here to raise your blood pressure and make you feel helpless in the face of an intolerant, stupid world.

AIR KISS, by Lauren Collins.

It's the story of two gay men who were verbally attacked and eventually threatened for being a little too close on a plane.

The purser asked the men to describe what they’d been doing, and she acknowledged that their behavior had not been inappropriate. Tsikhiseli then asked if the stewardess would have made the request if the kissers had been a man and a woman. Suddenly, Leisner said, the purser “became very rigid.” Contradicting what she’d told them before, she stiffly said, “Kissing is inappropriate behavior on an airplane.” She then said that she was busy with the meal service and promised to come back.

and later

Maybe an hour later, the purser approached Tsikhiseli and said that the captain wanted to talk to him. Tsikhiseli went up to the galley and gave the captain his business card. The captain told Tsikhiseli that if they didn’t stop arguing with the crew he would indeed divert the plane. “I want you to go back to your seat and behave the rest of the flight, and we’ll see you in New York,” he said. Tsikhiseli returned to coach.

All this from some simple snuggling.

The article is pretty short. I recommend taking the time to read it.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Getting married in America

I have a fiancee (just pretend there's an accent mark there). We're knuckling down to getting married in a little over a year, which means we're looking at vendors and having to break, often to complete strangers, that there are two sets of bridal nerves to deal with at any given moment.

Originally, I was going to write a post about how we've been getting a fairly good response to the whole gay thing from photographers, caterers, reception sites, etc. -- largely, the impression seems to be that they're as happy to take our money as they are any straight couple. So it's been largely painless.

But there's another thought that's been lurking around, and I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to mention it or not. It's this: We could sneak into Massachusetts and get ourselves a marriage license. We could go to Vermont and get a civil union. We could even wander into Canada for our honeymoon and get hitched international-style.

We might not do any of those things. Because if we did... we'd be on a list.

A list of confirmed homosexuals. A list that we would have a very difficult, if not impossible, time removing ourselves from if we should find ourselves in a country that takes the issue of homosexuality to a level where it would be actively dangerous to be gay in America.

Maybe a list wouldn't be a bad thing. But we don't really know. How will the country vote next election? How will the new president decide to address gay marriage?

Paranoia isn't very fun, particularly when you've got things like guest lists to consider. And maybe a month from now we'll shake our heads and plan our honeymoon trip to Montreal, complete with jaunt to the court house and a lot of crepes afterwards. But I suppose the point I want to hammer in here is that instead of just stressing out about where in the world to sit Uncle Morris to keep him as far away as possible from Cousin Doreen Who Still Remembers That Time Morris Did That Horrible Thing -- instead of just that, we have to consider this one little extra thing: whether registering our existence will lead to personal, possibly life or way-of-life threatening persecution.

It's frightening. It's maddening. And once you've thought of it, it's very, very difficult to ignore.

ADDENDUM: Paranoia isn't the only thing for breakfast here. My fiancee, Beth, points out that the above makes us sound more than a little alarmist. Are such issues with government a possibility? Sure. But on the other hand, I seem to have implied that the above reasons are the only reasons we have for not registering our marriage with any ruling bodies. They aren't. Beth's biggest concern is that, as of her last checking, LAMBDA didn't seem to have reached a conclusion as to which of the various marriage rosters would be the most advantageous for personal and tax purposes. We don't want to end up being forced into a "divorce" two years from now just so we can qualify for a mortgage in our state of residence.

We're not sure we're settled with our current decision to opt out of the marriage mart. We're not sure that it is right to duck and cover -- even if part of our reasoning is practical. To stand up and be counted, to show that gay marriage matters -- this is something important for the next generation of gay children... even if their parents do have to get "remarried" three times just to pay for the house.

If anyone's got a better reading of the matter, give us a shout out -- we want to be convinced.

Friday, September 22, 2006

It's important to remember

This isn't what I'd call a news post. But I read this the other day, and it... resonates.

From Torey Hayden's Murphy's Boy, a semi-fictionalized autobiography (as the majority of her books are), written in 1983 -- Torey's coworker was fired for being gay.

I saw Jeff on only one other occasion, and that time was by accident. After work on Friday I stopped into a local watering hole with some friends. It was one of those convivial places peole gather but was not frequented much by my colleagues from the clinic, which was what I wanted. Apparently Jeff had as well, because as I sat there drinking beer and eating peanuts, I saw Jeff across the room. I rose and went over.

He was at a table with other people whom I did not know but, when he saw me, he got up and met me partway across the room. We went up to the bar and he bought me another beer. Together we stood, side by side, and we said nothing.

"You know, it's a funny place, this world," he said at last. "If I were a Nazi, someone would defend my constitutional right to hate Jews. If I were a Klansman, someone would defend my rights to hate blacks. It's a funny place, this world. Hate has rights. Love has none."

And that was it. He left.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

EC = Emergency Contraception = Not for you, or you, or you...

The new mission: I'm going to try and post something new every day. Horribly enough, this showed up on this morning's radar just in time for my resolution to come screaming into effect.

Via rabidfangurl:

BB of Den of the Biting Beaver has several health problems that preclude the use of most contraception -- she relies on condoms. The condom breaks last Friday, and she panics for a moment before remembering about EC, the morning-after pill. So yay, right?


"Well see," he begins, his voice dropping a little, "the problem is that you have to meet the doctor’s criteria before he'll dispense it to you."

"Criteria?" I question.

"Well," the nurse sounds decidedly nervous as though what he really wanted to do was hang up the phone completely, "Yes, his criteria. I mean...ummm...well, are you ok? Is there any, ummm....trauma?" he asks me.

My face changes expression and I hurry to explain, "No, no" I said, "No. I haven't been raped. This was consensual sex."

"Oh..." he trails off.

I wait expectantly.

"Well, ummm....*clears throat*...So you haven't been raped?" he asks again.

"No. I have not been raped. The condom broke". I state, becoming very frustrated at this point and wondering what the hell is going on.

"Ok, well ummm....Are you married?" he mumbles the words so low I can barely hear them.

Suddenly I get this image of the poor nurse standing at the hospital reading from a cue card that was given to him by a doctor.

"No." I state plainly. "I am not married. I've been in a relationship for several years and I have three children, I don't want a fourth." I respond tersely.

"Oh, I see." He says and then he hurries on, "Well, see. *I* understand. I want you to know that I understand what you're saying. But see, the problem is that we have 4 doctors here right now but only one of them ever writes EC prescriptions. But see, the thing is that he'll interview you and see if you meet his criteria. Now, I called the pharmacy but I also talked to him and well....*clears throat* can come down and try to get it. You know, if you meet his criteria he'll give you a prescription, I mean, there's really no harm in trying." the nurse trails off, his voice falters as I realize what I'm being told.

As of today, BB still doesn't have EC, and I'm not even sure she can take it at this point.

Additional data point for today's rage: What the hell is this?

I opened the phone book again and called the Urgent Care in my county. Who knows, maybe they'll do it for me. "No," the nurse said, "We don't prescribe the abortion pill here".

"No, wait I'm not asking for the abortion pill. I'm asking for EC!" I say, "It's not the same thing."

"Well, we use the words interchangeably here. Sorry, we don't prescribe it". She all but races to get off the phone with me.

Ah, yes, so very interchangeable. Is this misinformation just the result of poor sexual education? Probably not, no.

What it comes down to is this: your health doesn't matter -- your available resources don't matter -- your choice doesn't matter. Sometimes, other people own you. And in the virgin/whore dichotomy being presented by the medical personnel of BB's Ohio, any one of us is just a step away from whoredom.

EC goes over the counter in Ohio after January 1st. Too late for BB, though. I wonder how many others it will be too late for.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Toxic sex toys

Heard about this one?

Environmental group Greenpeace called on the
European Union to ban the use of chemical plastic softeners in sex toys because they contained dangerous substances known as phthalates.

"Adult sex toys contain the same toxic substances that the European Union banned from use in children's toys," Greenpeace said in a press release from its international headquarters here. [source]

That's just a little scary. Just a little.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Have you no sense of decency, sir?

Let's continue to praise Mr. Olbermann.

Watch this, from OneGoodMove.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Keith Olbermann on Rumsfeld

First, let me say that I like Keith Olbermann. However, I sometimes doubt his method of creating discussion. I'm all for romp and satire and outlandish statements that make people think, but sometimes it's necessary to attack those you disagree with from a higher plain - to take the high road and not sink to their level by calling names. Olbermann will occasionally call names, so as much as I like him, sometimes I question how he argues.

But I'm not doing that right now. From OneGoodMove, here is a clip of Olbermann's reactions to Rumsfeld's recent comparison of those who dissent against the war in Iraq to Nazi sympathizers. This is a beautifully spoken/written commentary. Olbermann is thoughtful, elegant, and right on. Please watch.

Edit: And Olbermann follows up here.