February 28, 2006

About a boy who isn't.

It's old - from 2002 - but still an interesting read. Awkward: middle school.

(If you need to log in, go to www.bugmenot.com for a username/password.)

February 27, 2006

things that are awkward: #45294

So, last night Facebook released the feature that lets college students and high school students be friends. Naturally, I friended my 16-year-old sister, and I added the detail that we were siblings. After confirming our friendship, she edited our friend detail:

I swear it was her idea.

What, what!?!

Yeah, that's right.

That's right.

Although I have already expressed my preference for Bette, it's not every day a celebrity I don't know pokes me on the facebook. Especially when their email address is not one belonging to anyone I know.

For lesbian, transgender son brings pride and worry

This article is so sweet and so honest. It made me go "awww."

(note: i had to read it twice because I was confused what is going on - she is talking about her mtf daughter)

You might think it would be easier, as a lesbian already on the fringe of society, to embrace my child's differentness. Kate and I do celebrate both our kids' unique personalities, and we have always encouraged them to question the status quo and not to hesitate to be themselves at all times.

Yet, as lesbian mothers on the forefront of the "turkey-baster age," our parenting is often scrutinized. Foes and peers alike are eager to hold up our family - and others like it - as point-provers.

We strive to be evidence for the side that says, "See? Kids with two moms are just as normal as everyone else's." We haven't wanted to offer ourselves as examples for the side proclaiming that the lack of a male role model causes gender confusion and homosexuality (even though most transgender or gay people have heterosexual parents).

This article is very sweet and very direct, I thought. Worth a quick read.

February 26, 2006

trans piece in harvard vagina monologues

There was a trans piece in this year's vagina monologues at Harvard. Did you see it? Did you like it?

I liked the format of having several different voices.

What did people think of the piece overall/the process for making the piece?

Discuss!

February 24, 2006

Tinku

Oh, I love webcomics.

Quote of the Day

As many of you know, I have been a regular poster at Muslim Wakeup! ("MWU!") since 2004. Over that time period, there has been an endless supply of education to be done on queer/genderqueer issues, which has involved me repeatedly outing myself as both a lesbian and a transsexual and then playing "I can crush your tiny mind with my Islamic learning on the subject." These e-stonings are endless; it's like it starts all over from the beginning every month and I have to refight the same battles with fresh new faces.

The good thing is the many BGLT&S folk on the site. All of them except one identifies as a "supporter" but they are all a great relief.

And today, one of the supporters said something to an idiot that really hit me in the gut. I repeat it here with the understanding that this might be not quite emotionally as striking out of context, but it hit me hard.

And as far as clear evidence [about homosexuality being permissible or impermissible]? It's about as clear as tapioca.

And like tapioca, it's not meant to be clear. It's meant to be fulfilling, add some sweetness to your life and sustain you until the morning.

A nicer thing has never been said about being queer on that site, in my humble opinion. A little tapioca has gotten all of us through the night on more than one occasion; I'll share that I had my own difficulties yesterday and it was only the tapioca what got me through it.

Caption Contest!

February 23, 2006

A New Concept for Spammers?

I had an extra ticket for tonight's performance of the Vagina Monologues, so I sent out an email with the subject "extra vagina monologue ticket." A few minutes later, I received the following response:

at first i had no fucking clue what your email was about.

Now, I have little use for penis enlargers, but an extra vagina? I see potential here...

Speaking of Awareness...

I was talking with someone last night - certainly not a best friend, but one of those people who sort of travels in a "progressive" community that I travel in, too. I've heard some weird things she's said about gender before, but last night was a kicker.

There were 4 of us talking sort of standing together. Imagine standing in a square - each person a vertex. She was one of the vertices adjacent to me (not diagonally opposite). She must have been 3-4 ft away from me. Well, anyhow, we got into side conversations as these things do, and I was talking with the other adjacent vertex to me, not to her. But then I over hear her say:

"Is WTTO a man or a woman?" (actually, my real name was there in place of WTTO)

And then the other person she's talking to, superbly more fabulous than I would have guessed - I should not set my expectations so low because this was fabulous, said "I don't know about you, but I don't know WTTO that well - I think the more relevant question would be 'what pronouns would WTTO prefer we use?'"

So then the response "yeah, well, what ones."

Then back to, "well, I'm not sure. Maybe it would be a good idea to ask directly." Another fabulous response.

Okay, you have to remember, though, this whole conversation took place 3-4 ft away from me. THAT IS SO AWKWARD.

So by then, my eavesdropping has killed my conversation with the other adjacent vertex, so we end up in a 4 person conversation. Except, when I thought it could be no more awkward (really, her asking me my pronouns in front of all those people would have been less awkward than this), she excused herself and said she had to go ask my roommate a question.

And it was clear what she was going to ask.

AWKWARD!

A moment of minor awesomeness

... but which requires some set-up.

Dramatis personae:

- Max, a rather masculine fellow whom most people in Max's life would identify as a butch lesbian. Nobody ever uses Max's birth name (resorting to an ever-growing collection of odd nicknames), and people very rarely use any pronouns when discussing Max, since even if you don't know whether male pronouns might be in order, it's pretty clear that female pronouns are stunningly inappropriate.

- Lara, Max's long-distance girlfriend.

- Carmen, Max's occasional hook-up partner, who is more privy to questions (and answers) surrounding Max's gender identity than most people, but still not 100% in the loop.

- Alice, Max's good friend, who is pretty much completely out of the gender loop altogether.

- Me, privy to knowledge about Max which I can't reveal, gleaned in ways I can't reveal, which nobody officially knows I know but which everyone expects me to know anyway.

The scene:

Carmen, Alice, and I are walking down the street. Alice mentions that she's just met Lara. Although Carmen is determined to pretend that Lara doesn't exist, she has to ask:

Carmen: So, um ... what's she like?

Alice: Lara? You know, I really liked her - sorry, I know you don't want to hear that. But yeah, I'd date her myself if Max weren't. But, I mean ... [trails off]

Me: What?

Alice: Well, it's just, like - she's practically straight. To the point, like - I think she is straight. But, I mean, I guess she can't be all that straight, right? [looks around for confirmation]

Carmen: [looks at me as if to say, 'ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I get it! Max is dating a straight girl!]

Me: [looks at Carmen as if to say, 'um,
yeah!']

Alice: [looks around as if to say, 'wait - what's taking you two so long to agree with me?']

Carmen:
Yeah, well. Labels. Y'know.

Alice: [nods knowingly, as the clue train sails past the station without stopping]

Goatgasms and human-animal hybrids

It makes me very happy to see such a very, very consensual goat.

Query: Do you think that Pan is more like "who's your daddy," or more like "who's my itty schweety loveykins?"



This sculpture of Pan copulating with a Goat is from Herculaneum, carved from Greek marble in the 1st century B.C.

February 22, 2006

Thinking about words, part I: QUEER

I know, a strange topic for a linguist, eh?

I think, however, that these words would have been on my mind lately even if I werent't a linggeek. I was at a meeting last week for my job as LGBTQ events coordinatrix (aka Queen of Queer), trying to find panelists for a workshop on being a queer ally to students of color (and vice-versa), and I tossed out a name of a prominent student leader who was not only a social activist, but also both gay and black. I said, "My Mysterious Sources (tm) tell me that he'd be a good person to contact for things involving the intersection of ethnic minorities and queerness."

My boss - a big ol' queer himself - flinched. I thought perhaps that my use of the phrase "my Mysterious Sources" had made him nervous. But no: he hemmed and hawed a little and then said, "[Person] isn't a very big fan of the word 'queer,' so I'd be very careful about phrasing with him, if I were you. I personally always say 'LGBTQ' when I'm talking to him."

Oh. Wow. I understood, in the abstract, that there are people who don't like the word "queer." I just never thought I'd meet one of them who was my age, or for that matter younger than me. To me, opposition to the word has always been the provenance of older gay men and lesbians (the type that might even call themselves "gay women"). And I understand that, for that generation especially, the Q-word has a lot of negative connotations. It was the kind of word people said at you, usually with a sneer and sometimes with a broken beer bottle or a gobful of spittle.

But we've come a ways since then, or at least I'd like to believe we have. After all, the Q-word is now so reclaimed it's almost mainstream. A bunch of gay guys get together to impose their fashion and dress sense on a straight man and don't get beaten up for their troubles? A bunch of gay guys - and, oh wait, a couple token lesbians - have wild dramalicious clubby sex every week on national television and actually get good ratings? A little stereotypical, perhaps, but the casts of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Queer As Folk have brought gay men into America's living rooms, and I thought they'd brought "queer" with them.

Still, full mainstream acceptance of queerness and the word "queer" isn't quite here yet. But it's pretty established in younger LGBTQ circles. The University of Chicago's student LGBTQ organization is called Q&A: Queers and Associates; one of the biggest LGBTQ news sites calls itself QueerDay; OutProud's national resource database can be found at QueerAmerica.com. This is a word we use - but why?

For one thing, it's a good umbrella term for all the various groups which have staked a claim to membership in our community. Rather than deal with the alphabet soup of LGBTQQI (like the UCC's LGBTQQI Youth web page), it's just easier to say "queer" and have done with it. It can reference sexuality, gender identity and expression, and often a queer worldview or sensibility (so that straight allies who are exceptionally in-the-know are sometimes called "straight queers"). If you say "queer" to refer to our community, there isn't really a group you're excluding.

In addition to the group-umbrella, the Modern Queer Age has given rise to a desire to talk about and include people who might not fit into one neat lettered category. How else would you describe:

- a bisexual hipster femme who kings?

- a polyamorous transmasculine/genderqueer switch who partners with femmes and transfags?

- a faggy butch who sleeps with femmes, has sexual tension with other butches, and has been known to date gay boys?

- a femme-dyke who dates masculine people with female biology, be they butches or trans guys?

- a person whose sex is intersexed, whose gender identity is androgynous, and who is sexually attracted to two specific gender presentations (feminine and androgynous)?

- a polyamorous lesbian who is attracted to some boy-type-people and isn't entirely certain about being female?

- a person whose gender identity is femme (not woman), who will potentially date interesting people of any gender/sexuality except completely-straight men, and who identifies strongly as a bottom (for the right partner) but would also top the right partner, if the situation arose?

- a dapper butch and sometime drag king who has always thought of herself as a boy but still identifies as female, and who uses female pronouns but either a male or a female name depending on circumstances?

What can you call people like these (all of whom are real people, plus or minus an identifying detail or two), except "queer"? And how on earth would you describe a group that includes all of them?

Ultimately, it seems like balking at "queer" doesn't only send a message about discomfort with reclaimed negative language, but also with people who spill outside the margins of a "lesbian and gay [and maybe bi]" community. This may not be the intention of younger queers - er, sorry, LGBT folk - who reject the word, but insisting on LGBT-only labeling pays only the merest lip-service to bi and trans people, and creates an environment where people who don't fit into the alphabet soup simply don't fit in.


Discuss? *smile*

February 21, 2006

html and gerbils and flickr o my

Actually, I lied. No gerbils this time, only some pretty fricking SWEET flickr integration!

*Points at sidebar!*

*Dances with glee!*

Thanks to spork a.k.a. flickr mistress.

Genderqueer Marsh Arabs: A Note from HGLC

Yeh, so I got this email over HGLC. It was interesting, but lord, was it random. It's from pp. 168-170 of The Marsh Arabs by Wilfred Thesiger. The post's author writes, "The book describes the author's experiences living with the inhabitants of the great marsh in southern Iraq between 1951 and 1958."

One afternoon, a few days after leaving Dibin, we arrived at a village on the mainland. The sheikh was away looking at his cultivations, but we were shown to his mudhif [guest house made of reeds] by a boy wearing a head-rope and cloak, with a dagger at his waist. He looked about fifteen and his beautiful face was made even more striking by two long braids of hair on either side. In the past all the Madan [Marsh Arabs] wore their hair like that, as the Bedu [Bedouin] still did. After the boy had made us coffee and withdrawn, Amara [one of Thesiger's boat boys] asked, 'Did you realize that was a mustarjil?' I had vaguely heard of them, but had not met one before.

'A mustarjil is born a woman,' Amara explained. 'She cannot help that; but she has the heart of a man, so she lives like a man.'

'Do men accept her?'

'Certainly. We eat with her and she may sit in the mudhif. When she dies, we fire off our rifles to honour her. We never do that for a woman. In Majid's village there is one who fought bravely in the war against Haji Sulaiman.'

'Do they always wear their hair plaited?'

'Usually they shave it off like men.'

'Do mustarjils ever marry?'

'No, they sleep with women as we do.'

Once, however, we were in a village for a marriage, when the bride, to everyone's amazement, was in fact a mustarjil. In this case she had agreed to wear women's clothes and to sleep with her husband on condition that he never asked her to do women's work. The mustarjils were much respected, and their nearest equivalent seemed to be the Amazons of antiquity. I met a number of others during the following years. One man came to me with what I took for his twelve-year-old son, suffering from colic, but when I wanted to examine the child, the father said, 'He is a mustarjil.' On another occasion I attended a man with a fractured skull. He had fought with a mustarjil whom I knew, and had got the worst of it.

Previously, while staying with Hamud, Majid's brother, I was sitting in the diwaniya (brick guest house) when a stout middle-aged woman shuffled in, enveloped in the usual black draperies, and asked for treatment. She had a striking, rather masculine face, and lifting her skirt exposed a perfectly normal full-sized male organ. 'Will you cut this off and turn me into a proper woman?' he pleaded. I had to confess that the operation was beyond me. When he had left, Amara asked compassionately, 'Could they not do it for him in Basra? Except for that, he really is a woman, poor thing.' Afterwards I often noticed the same man washing dishes on the river bank with the women. Accepted by them, he seemed quite at home. These people were kinder to him than we would have been in our society.

Picture from Laputan Logic.

As for the Marsh Arabs, they are gone along with their marshes. Hussein's Iraq had no place for their independent (and ancient) ways.

Breaking News: Sayonara Summers

Quench can't be behind the Times. Larry's gone. The idealist in me wants to believe that his general lack of concern for equality, for civil rights, led directly to his demise. Yet his actual resignation follows not social or political scandal but outright legal and financial woes.

Official confirmation came from the NYTimes 24 minutes ago:

Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, has decided to resign and is expected to make his decision public later today or tomorrow, three officials affiliated with the university said today.

Dr. Summers may remain at the university as a professor, although the details were still being worked out, an official said.

The president's decision came after several weeks of agitation by many members of the faculty of Harvard's largest school, who were upset over the resignation of their dean, William C. Kirby, late last month. Many of the professors, who are part of Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences, accused Dr. Summers of having forced out Dr. Kirby. They scheduled a vote of no confidence in Dr. Summers for their next faculty meeting, on Feb. 28.

The decision to step down came from Dr. Summers, after he decided that his situation had become untenable, a university official said.

After some members of the university's governing board talked in private with professors and administrators, trying to gauge the depth of the faculty's anger, the board also came to the conclusion that the relationship between the president and the faculty could not be repaired. Many of the professors who spoke with board members urged them to end the conflict by asking Dr. Summers to step down, said a professor who had talked with a board member.

The board, known as the Harvard Corporation, determined in the end that every time the faculty met, it would be consumed by issues involving Dr. Summers's management style and interpersonal relationships, a university official said.

Last March, the arts and sciences faculty approved a no-confidence measure, 218 to 185, after Dr. Summers said at an academic conference that women's "intrinsic aptitude" might contribute to their low numbers in science and engineering.

The governing board continued to back Dr. Summers in the aftermath of that controversy.

Derek Bok, who served as president of Harvard from 1971 to 1991, and before that as dean of the law school, is expected to step in as interim president, starting in July, according to a university official.

an im high school reunion

When a distant acquaintance from high school ventures to inquire into your well-being as related to him by your facebook profile groups after two years of silence, one can't help but analyze the exchange.

him: haha "gay marriage killed off the dinosaurs"
An awkward attempt to broach the subject.
me: yes, see what an activist i've become?
Me refusing to rise to his none-too-subtle entreaty and enjoying ensuing discomfort.
me: pro-dinosaur.
me: extremely pro-dinosaur.
Me having fun.

His sudden interest couldn't be, no certainly not, related to the fact that my hair has gotten progressively shorter since graduating. It has nothing to do with the fact that I recently removed both gender and preference from my facebook profile. It's absolutely unrelated to my activities and affiliations.

This Just in!

Hey everyone,

This just in...

Quench president resigns!

Oh wait, we don't have a president. Or really a formal leadership structure at all.

In fact, we basicly just randomly exist.

Comment here with other random scandals that could never happen to quench (or that could).

jump (bandwagon)

Hem, hem. A poem for tonight:

Twas the night before Feb 21
And all through the houses
The harvard kiddies were squealing
And clicking their mouses
Refreshing thecrimson.com with such care
With hopes that official scoop soon would be there

Cambridge Common and DemApples (and every open list in the university) are reporting rumors that Summers has resigned.

Happy President's Day to all and to all a good night. This should get interesting.

February 20, 2006

FAQ: How do I submit pages to Quench?

Answer: There are many ways to submit to Quench. You can...

  • Email pages to us at quench.submit@gmail.com or quench.zine@gmail.com. You can also email pages to spork, wtto, or other quenchers who will forward them to spork or wtto.

  • If you've made non-electronic pages and would like us to scan them for you, you can email us and we'll give you a mailing address where you can send your pages.

  • Physically hand the pages to spork or to someone who will deliver them to spork.
Size counts:
If you can, please make your pages 5.5" wide and 8.5" tall (that's one half of a regular letter-sized piece of paper).

A word on formatting:
If you're emailing pages in, we prefer high-resolution JPG, GIF, or PDF formats - that way the page will look exactly the way you made it. If necessary, however, we can also accept Word Docs - just be aware that if you use any weird fonts that spork doesn't have, they will become boring regular fonts.

I think that covers everything. Happy Quenching!

February 18, 2006

Pardon my dust HTML.

Don't be alarmed if you see new colors, unexpected positioning, misplaced text, or gerbils flying about. I'm rolling out a facelift for quench blog, and the design tweaks should last another few hours. Stay tuned.

Hm. On second thought, if you see gerbils, be alarmed.

UPDATE: And I'm done. Annoyed at the large black sidebar arrow, but yeah. Done. Any major complaints, let me know. Any minor complaints, let me know. Any complaints relating to that damn arrow, take it up with the gerbils. Comment away.

UPDATE II: This is too good not to share. Thank you, Anonymous One who forwarded it to me.

An Alarmed Gerbil!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled quenching.

Policing Porn Is Not Part of Job Description: Montgomery Homeland Security Officers Reassigned After Library Incident

First paragraph:

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.
Last two paragraphs:
Although many library systems in the United States use filtering software, the D.C. and Fairfax systems do not, and Montgomery uses such software only on computers available to children. Leslie Burger, president-elect of the American Library Association, said the reality is that "libraries are not the hotbed of looking at porn sites."

Still, Montgomery plans to train its homeland security officers "so they fully understand library policy and its consistency with residents' First Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution," Romer said in his statement.

the latest programmable USB peripheral

I know you non-geeks are already yawning. But you shouldn't be. Because I'm actually writing about a vibrator.

Yes, you heard me. The "Je Joue" (Apple's translator widget tells me that this means 'I play') comes with software called "PleasureWare" that allows you to build custom "grooves." It can also connect to the internet and download grooves created by other users. This feature is called - you guessed it - "PleasureShare."

Over at slashdong.org, blogger qDot is pretty much freaking out over the awesomeness of the Je Joue. I, um, think I would be too. Ahem. If I had a spare £225 - that's $400 for those of you keeping score at home - sitting around to spend on it. Ouch.

PS. slashdong.org is officially my new favorite blog. Some recent topics: "teledildonics," math porn, how to mod your sex toys into geekier and more exciting sex toys, and - I am not making this up - "The Top Ten Sexiest Female Robots."

February 17, 2006

Not a Virgin? Not a Victim.

While I'm sure plenty of people, plenty of US folk, will be happy to dismiss this as an 'other' phenomenon--don't worry about it, it's them not us--here lies a court ruling that's pertinent to our time, not place. It could happen here. It probably has. (Legal eagle Quenchers, can you tell us?)

ROME, Italy (Reuters) -- Sexually abusing a teenager is less serious a crime if the girl is not a virgin, Italy's higher court said on Friday in a controversial ruling that immediately drew a barrage of criticism.

The court ruled in favor of a man in his forties, identified only as Marco T., who forced his 14-year old stepdaughter to have oral sex with him after she refused intercourse.

The man, who has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail, lodged an appeal arguing that the fact that his stepdaughter had had sex with men before should have been taken into consideration during his trial as a mitigating factor.

The supreme court agreed, saying that because of her previous sexual experiences, the victim's "personality, from a sexual point of view, is much more developed than what would be normally expected of a girl of her age".

"It is therefore fair to argue that (the damage for the victim) would be lower" if the abused girl was not a virgin, Italian news agencies quoted the court as saying.

This means the man could now be handed a lighter sentence.
We have our own versions, of course. In rape trials, it is illegal to bring the victim's sexual history up or attempt to defame her or him but it happens all the time.

Pack This & You Can Pee Standing Up

This is not worksafe, but it is fucking phat. The Mango Packer:

Developed and handmade by an enterprising FTM transsexual, this mini soft pack holds a patented urinary device for worry-free public use.

Made of medical grade latex, the tube is wide enough for an uninterrupted and secure flow but is small enough for comfortable, unobtrusive all-day wear. We recommend practicing in the shower prior to public use for the best results.

Note: like the regular soft packs, this toy is not firm enough for penetration. 3 1/2 long. Peach softskin.

Sweet. Good for a roadtrip innit?

Diesel Sweeties Does It Again

February 16, 2006

Christian Crimson Columnist makes a good point

I loved today's column by Loui Itoh.

It talks about how and why the most listened to, quoted and publicized Christian leaders are spending more time talking about queers, abortions and evolution than on justice issues that (I think) Christians should care about like eliminating poverty and finding compassionate solutions to injustices in education, incarceration, etc.

Here is what I think is the best section:

It is also frustrating—and curious—that conservative Christian organizations are not taking a stance on the budget. Focus on the Family says it is a matter of priorities, and their priorities are abortion, same-sex marriage, and seating judges who will back these positions. I’d like them to point out where in the Bible it says abortion and same-sex marriage are designated as the most important priorities for Christians, when alleviating poverty—mentioned over 3000 times in the New Testament alone—was clearly one of Jesus’ most emphasized teachings.

The American Family Association has an even more amusing excuse—they did not speak out on the budget bill because “the budget bores people.” They instead focused their energies on complaining about businesses that used the words “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” because apparently, quibbling over two words was a more worthwhile cause for Christians than helping “the least of these.”

Even worse are the Christian organizations on the right, such as the Family Research Council, that supported the budget bill. They argue that tax cuts stimulate the economy and help everyone by providing jobs, etc. But a study conducted by United for a Fair Economy reveals that, Bush’s “tax cuts have not produced the jobs promised, [and] the quality of jobs as measured by income, health insurance, and retirement benefits has declined.” Indeed, job creation under President George W. Bush has been the lowest since World War II, while hourly and weekly wages are dropping. Poverty has risen in the last four years, and 9.2 million working families are on the brink of destitution. The failure of Bush’s tax cuts to produce real economic progress and improve conditions for the poor indicates that trickle-down economics are not working. The budget bill, which in many ways represents a continuation of these failed policies, is a step in the wrong direction that will inevitably hurt the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, something that Christians and other people of faith should be concerned about.

Another argument given by Christians in favor of the budget bill is that Christians should help the poor, but they should do it through charitable-giving, not through taxation. However, all the charities in the U.S. simply do not have the resources to feed, clothe, care for, and educate all the poor people in the country. And even if the government eliminated the “burden” of taxation, there is no evidence that people would voluntarily donate enough to adequately aid the poor. Furthermore, the Gospel makes it clear that Christians should go to great lengths to help the poor, doing whatever is necessary. Jesus says, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.” Jesus does not differentiate between private giving or government support—he just asks us to help the poor, and this budget bill clearly does not.

Economic evidence demonstrates that you can’t help the poor by giving tax cuts which disproportionately help the rich. Common sense says that you can’t help the poor by getting rid of taxes and relying on charitable contributions. Scriptural evidence reveals that Christians should be fighting poverty, not the labeling on holiday stationary. Despite the efforts of hundreds of religious leaders to halt this immoral bill, it passed both Houses of Congress and is about to become law. How can so many people who claim to live by Jesus’ teachings support a bill that cuts funding that is necessary to feed, clothe, and care for so many?

I know lots of other quenchers know way more about the bible than I do. (jsmithua, mirrorballman, icarus - tell me what you think!)

Edit: Also, how do you do cuts on blogger?

Manly Mansfield

Was anyone able to make it to Mansfield's talk on Manliness in Kirkland last night?

When a male student mentioned Sojourner Truth as an example of a woman demonstrating courage and freedom, qualities Mansfield ascribed to manliness, the professor asked, "Have you noticed how much more assertive you have been than any woman in the room who has asked me a question?"

A woman who had previously spoken responded loudly, "I beg to differ!"

"That’s right, you BEG to differ," said Mansfield, without missing a beat.

...I wish I had been there.
One audience member went further than criticism of Mansfield’s arguments.

"He’s a heretic and if Harvard was still in the 17th century, he’d probably be burned at the stake," said Alfred Alcorn ’64, an SCR member.

Mansfield, who ignited arguments but staved off flames last night, remained mum on whether he is a manly man.

"That’s for others to decide," he said.

Oh, man.

February 15, 2006

kind of exciting

So, today I was having lunch with four [straight] friends of mine who are not at all involved in queer activism or the queer community (I know, shocking, right?). One of them, though, is on the FUP e-mail list, and right out of the blue, he brought up the Trannys Talk Back booklet, which was apparently posted to the FUP list at some point. He admonished everyone at the table to read it, and said he was really moved and impressed by it.

I think what he said was something like this:

"I mean, the discrimination is just unbelievably absurd, and it's hard to know about it...find out about it, it just doesn't sink in until you really, really read people's stories like this. It's just completely shocking. You should really take a look at it."

Thank you, straight-FUP-friend. :)

Naked Legs!

If you've ever been to WTTO's place, you may have noticed naked legs in the corner:

Naked Legs

Sex toy? Photo shoot prop? Simple conversation starter? Discuss. (Incidentally, in the 12 hours this photo has been on Flickr, it's gotten 80 hits. Apparently naked legs are popular.)

Edit (18 hour mark): We're up to 105 hits. Man, I wish *I* were this popular.

February 14, 2006

The safest sex you can have with a partner

Proving once again that Canada's ahead of the game (except for that unfortunate Harper thing), Reuters reports that

Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada, 87 percent of them are having sex over instant messenger, webcams or the telephone, according to results of a national survey released on Monday.
IM sex was slightly more popular than webcam/phone sex, claiming devotees among 53 versus 44 percent of respondents. I'm wondering whether this also translates to more anonymous or quasi-anonymous sexual activity, too; I'd assume it would be easier to maintain anonymity over IM than webcam or telephone.

The article attributes the technosex boom to the fact that "most post-secondary school students grew up using computer technology, and their lives currently revolve around technology, so it makes sense that it would extend to their sex lives." Does this jive with your thoughts, dear readers? Or do you think this is also a reaction to growing up knowing that no sex is truly safe? Our is pretty much the first generation that, since birth, has been allowed no illusions about "consequence-free" partnered sex - I think that has something to do with the reason that people are taking advantage of the technology they've also grown up with to forge sexual connections with other people without the risk of pregnancy and STIs.

(The Harper thing, though, is pretty bad: did you hear that his newly-appointed minister to La Francophonie - the worldwide organization of French-speaking states, regions, and territories - can't speak French? Good job, Mr. Prime Minister. Well done.)

I love diesel sweeties.

The strip wasn't super funny, but this panel was priceless:

Yay for webcomics not being three weeks behind current events, and yay for diesel sweeties.

February 13, 2006

Upon Reading "Middlesex"

Hi Quench. I'm posting from balmy Tunisia (which is not especially balmy today, but rather cool and drizzly) (and yet also not under two feet of snow, which is saying something, or so I hear). I sure wish we had a secret Quench handshake. That way, if I happened to run across a fellow Quencher in a mildly repressive North African society, then we would know each other for comrades. I will try to think of a good one.

Anyway, I've been reading Jeffrey Eugenides' novel "Middlesex" lately, which someone recommended to me this past summer after I spent some time in Detroit. The novel, if you do not know it, is one of those intergenerational, self-referential epics that seems to going over so well these days. Much of it unfolds in the suburbs of Detroit, at this house called Middlesex, which is something of a pun because the narrator (Calliope/Cal) was born with ambiguous genitalia. He was raised as a girl, but lives as a straight man. Now, the character of Calliope/Cal drives me up the wall for reasons that have nothing to do with gender; I find his eggheadedness grating, and the frame narrative about his adult life totally contrived.

All that aside, though, the novel has gotten me thinking about gender/trans issues in a new way. I know very little about this, and I suspect that Tunisia is not going to be the ideal place to educate myself, but I understand that there is something of a movement to discourage doctors from pressuring parents into letting them perform gender-assignment surgery on infants with ambiguous genitals. Or, worse, just performing the surgery and never even telling the parents. But I really don't know any more than that. Where does "the medical profession" stand on this? Are there old-school OB/GYNs who are very pro-surgery and then intersex-positive OB/GYNs who try to educate parents about their options? How weird to frame it in terms of "their options." Obviously, the newborn isn't given a lot of agency here.

The BGLTSA is probably running a workshop on this very topic next week, but for those of us who are reading remotely, any thoughts? Thanks, y'all. I miss you.

February 12, 2006

Someone I'd go straight for

Okay, I would go straight for her. India.Arie just appeared on gofugyourself in a dress she wore to the grammys that apparently her mother made.

It's the second picture down. Wow. It is hot.

Edited when I realized I could link to the pic below:

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

This just in.

Click the link above.

Harry Whittington, 78, was ''alert and doing fine'' after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Cheney turned to shoot a bird and accidentally hit Whittington. She said Whittington was taken to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Guns are dangerous. That is my summary. (But I thought that a couple of weeks ago when a state congressman of mine accidentally fired a gun in the statehouse.)

ironic.

Understanding Poverty (Hardcover)

by Sheldon H. Danziger (Editor), Robert H. Haveman (Editor)

List Price: $58.50

- But don't worry, folks. the paperback version is only $25.95!

Signs That Worry Me

My mom had to get off the phone for the second time in like the last two days because her hockey game was starting.

Clarification: my family does not watch sports. Ever.

But ever since women's basketball and women's hockey and other women's sports have been broadcasted, my mom has been addicted - and her mother, as well, though she apparently used to watch baseball on TV before the advent of Chicks In Sports.

So I ask you: as her dyke daughter with a bergmannite* sister (rides Harleys, drives the biggest trucks available...), should I wonder?

*Bergmannite: female equivalent of a metrosexual; a lesbian/dyke-appearing woman who is, in fact, a straight woman. Ex: My sister is such a bergmannite: she rides a freaking HARLEY and I won't let her meet my lesbian friends because they'll fall in love with her. Also, her boyfriend is really gay.

debauchery: yeah or neah?

Demapples is talking about Debauchery, a party people go to and pay each other fake money for various kinds of sex acts and then, at the end of the night, who ever has the most fake money wins prizes.

Read the conversation here. A blogger reccomends boycotting the party.

So, what do you think of debauchery?

Factors that may be relevant:

  • is it like "prostitution" somehow, as somone on Demapples says? does this make it a bad thing?
  • are things truly consensual? what does that mean?
  • is there coersion?
  • are there effects of size, race, class and gender that make this party theme inappropriate?
  • does it even sound like fun?
  • are your friends going?
  • should harvard have allowed the party to go on?
  • can people decide what "decency" is, or are there other factors along which we can debate the party?

My new workout routine

If, y'know, I actually worked out.

But if I did, I'd want to go to "Stiletto Strength" at Crunch Gym, apparently the only fitness class for we who love Pointy Shoes of Doooom.

"Stiletto Strength" was launched in January in response to client griping about getting back into high heels for winter.

"They're businesswomen and they have to wear heels so they want to understand how to look better in them and feel confident," Cyrus said.

Participants wear running shoes for the first part of the class, which focuses on strengthening lower body and abdominal muscles and improving balance and posture. The heels come out for the last 15 minutes.

Not that I need strengthening or anything - I've been a Certified Stiletto Diva since about seventh grade (when I realized I was never going to hit five feet tall) - but anything that makes heels more comfortable, and improves balance and posture, can't be all that bad. And besides, I'd get to wear heels while I exercised! A considerable improvement over sneakers, even my hot-pink sneakers.

(The strange thing is, my balance in heels is fine - every time I've sprained an ankle, dislocated a knee, tripped over my own two feet, fallen flat on my face or my butt, torn ligaments, or broken bones, I've been wearing flat shoes. I wonder if they have a program to help with that?)

(These, btw, are my happy pink stilettos. Me? Femme? Noooo...)

February 11, 2006

Procrastinating

Procrastinating, I just reread this quench page and it made me smile.

A new issue of quench will soon be coming out. Get ready to be blown away.

All are welcome to submit pages.

February 10, 2006

Blizzard apologizes for dickery regarding their weirdass GLBT policy

Blizzard has stated that the original incident... never should have happened and that they will be reviewing policies and procedures and having "sensitivity training" with their 1,000 GMs on staff in North America, Europe, and Korea in the hopes that something like this doesn't happen again.

That's right, Blizzard, train those GMs. Train 'em good.

Full story.

Naked Olympiennes

I'm not sure if this is on a lighter note or not, but the same website where WTTO found the spy-masturbation story also features a collection of photographs of naked and semi-naked female Olympians. (Unless your boss encourages you to look at naked women, this link is probably not safe for work.)

I'm also not sure what's most disturbing about this - the really really skinny naked chicks, or the fact that athletes at the height of their career are apparently more interesting as sex kittens. (On the other hand, though, the fencer is really hot...)

Something I learned today

Or rather, something I remembered.

So, I've been looking for a men's A-frame tank, which was seemingly impossible to find in my neck of the woods. Finally, I found a women's tank of basically the same style and and appropriate size, and, convinced I wouldn't find anything better, snapped it up - for $12. Ok, fine, shirts cost money.

Except I ducked into Walgreen's tonight to buy batteries, and saw that they had a men's underwear section. Curious, I checked to see whether they had what I'd been looking for. Umm, yeah - in a 3-pack for $3.99. Whee.

So, yes, I remembered today that men's clothing is cheaper than women's clothing - which is why, until I grew hips at puberty, I wore boys' jeans. It'd be nice, since we're expected to have a more voluminous wardrobe and to pay more per item than our brethren, if we made more money to make up for it.

Or, hell, the same amount of money.

But I guess that's too much to ask, eh?

February 09, 2006

On a more serious note...

This sucks. 9 church burnings in one week.

The governor says they are probably related. duh.


Governor: All 9 church fires appear linked

He said he sees no evidence of a "grand conspiracy" against religion
No shit. It's not a conspiracy against religion, it's a conspiracy against black people. A conspiracy called oppression. Or that's what most church burnings are. But look here is what is surprising:
The four churches that burned Tuesday all have black congregations. Four of the five churches set afire Friday have white congregations.
Fighting back, maybe?

Keep checking up on this.

Headlines

The Headline is

'Nuff said.

The Epitome of bad luck

Mr. Colaitis injured his neck while dodging the shrimp, flung at him by a Benihana chef who was trying to emulate Jackie Chan in a movie, according to a lawsuit brought by Mr. Colaitis's widow, Jacqueline Colaitis. After the Benihana dinner, Mr. Colaitis began complaining of neck pain. He eventually underwent two spinal operations, contracted a severe infection and died on Nov. 22, 2001, at the age of 46.

February 08, 2006

Once Again, The Crimson...

Check out this article from today's Crimson: http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=511113

It's an interesting article titled "The Gay Old Party" in which the author describes how the Harvard Republican Club has grown increasingly like the groups it critiques. In particular, the author targets the HRC's President and his quote that homosexuals are "giving a victory to an ideology of evil that will probably eventually spawn the Antichrist." And this is just one, among other quotes. (And be sure to join the facebook group, "Probably spawning the Antichrist.")

The author's response begins with: "Apart from the faulty theology—the Antichrist is supposed to be a sea-beast, not a fairy..."

Albeit a little offensive, I actually think that's quite hilarious. :)

But what got me a little was the last paragraph: "Belligerence, hyperbole, gracelessness, flamboyance, and uninformed rhetoric. I expect this from other, more traditionally “martyr complex” groups on campus, like members of the BGLTSA (Harvard’s Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Supporters Alliance) or the Harvard College Democrats for example."

The author feels that the Harvard Republican Club is now mimicking the Harvard BGLTSA for using belligerence, hyperbole, gracelessness, flamboyance, and uninformed rhetoric. To a certain degree, I have to agree, but only very slightly. Outburts such as the controversial Jada Pinkett Smith confusion, as well as much of the outcry against Larry Summers, seems to me to be graceless and belligerent. The criticism is militant, sometimes hyperbolic, and somewhat uninformed. But my views on those two events are, I'm sure, very different than many of this blog's readers, and this is not the place for me to debate them right now.

Rather I want to agree with the general point: outburts like the HRC President's comments are not constructive or informed. I think the BGLTSA and the Harvard Dems, on the whole, are not like the way this self-proclaimed member of the HRC describes them. But I just think, in general, it's an interesting article insomuch as it points out the state of our current discourse. Perhaps we need to rethink hyperbole and deconstruction and see if there is a way to think beyond both modernism and postmodernism.

February 07, 2006

But I'm bisexual, dammit!

So, I was talking to the Estimat over brunch today about the need to proclaim one's identity - in my case, apparently, to proclaim it at great length and with great frequency.

At this point, it's pretty unlikely that there's anyone who really knows me who doesn't know that I'm bi (with the exception of my grandmother). So it's not an issue of vehemently asserting my queerness - hell, I'm a professional queer, and in fact people are more likely to assume I'm a lesbian than that I'm straight, even though I'm about the femmiest creature on the planet. (Those of you who have seen pictures of me in The Red Satin Dress know what I'm talking about here.)

But as the Estimat pointed out, if I'm not sexually or romantically available, does it matter whom people think I'm attracted to? When you imagine a subtext like (for example), "I am really attracted to high femmes, and I am madly in love with the one I'm dating, but I also have the rampant hots for transmasculine butches and flaming gay boys," it does almost sound disrespectful to one's partner to consistently emphasize the other types of people you're attracted to. That is, of course, not the way I see it - nor is that what I mean when I insist that I'm bi, dammit - but I'm still not sure why it is so important to me if it's not a way of signaling availability.

Potential ideas/reasons:

- I'm less than a year out of the closet. (Hmmm, reminds me, I feel like I should have a party in March to celebrate...) So I still have some of the old "zeal of the convert" and I have to share the Good News (in the personal and evangelical sense) with everyone. Plus, I haven't had to do it long enough that I'd be burnt-out yet. Perhaps as the years wear on, it will either be less important to me to constantly re-assert my bisexuality; or perhaps I'll just be sick of it.

- I'm a big flirt. It was super-annoying last summer, when I was working at Renaissance Faire-type event and dating a female castmate, to be flirting right up there with the best of 'em (in the incredibly bawdy environment that Faire creates) and all of a sudden to be told by the male friend I was flirting with, "Oh, wait, I'm sorry, I forgot you're not into guys." Um, yes I am. So even if I'm not actually available, I don't like my flirting opportunities curtailed by other people's assumptions about my sexuality.

- Bisexuals are too easy to forget about, and I feel obligated to combat the invisibility that comes with being in a monogamous relationship. It's a tribal loyalty thing.

- I'm not in a lesbian relationship, so it's especially irksome to be read as a lesbian based on my choice of partner. Every time people think of me as a lesbian, it's a potential insult to the Estimat, who's not the uncomplicated-girl-type-person people think I'm dating. And if there's anything I won't stand for, it's an affront to the identity of someone I love. So re-asserting my own identity allows room for the expression of someone else's. (Interestingly enough, I'm less worried about correcting people who read me as straight, unless they're creepily hitting on me.)

- Flirting aside, in general I dislike people making decisions about my opinions or likely reactions to things based on their assumptions about my identity. It's funny, I wear a Hebrew necklace (with a line from the Song of Songs - yay Bible porn!), and I've had people look at it and assume I'm pro-Israel. This is generally a good time to note that I'm half-Palestinian, with family in Ramallah and a grandfather who died while under Israeli house arrest. Whatever I think of people who are Jewish (like my beloved, who gave me the necklace, or the Palestinian-Jewish side of my family) may not generalize to a government which I feel has done some pretty unpleasant things to people I know, care about, and belong to. That part of my identity definitely influences my opinions, and it's best to get it out there as soon as possible. Similarly, when I'm in a heavily-dyke crowd and people start making "men-are-icky" comments or saying things that imply that we're all lesbians and should all feel some particularly lesbian way, that's often a good time to remind people that in fact we're not all lesbians, and that I actually like boys.

I know there are other bi folks here, and I'm curious whether or not you-all do this, too - and if so, why you think you do it. And those of you whose attractions are monogendered, I'm curious to hear what y'all think of this, too...

Conversations That Hurt God's Ears, Part the Second

Well, I seem to have attracted attention with my comments on ThemThat's L-Word posts, as adjudged by the comment Max left on Quench:

I don't know what you know or understand abou [sic] butch/femme or gender. I know that when you refer to the "gender binary" you are not talking about it the way J. Butler does, in terms of limited performative acts. There seem to be a flux of young queer radicals reading butch/femme in this horrific 1970s lesbian feminism way. You do seem to be aware of this in your initial sentences. However, your arguments seem incomplete. Perhaps you are familiar with Adrienne Rich, Monique Wittig, and most importantly (in this case) Iragaray [sic]?
Yes, I am familiar with them. I'm not so young, honey.
I support all variety of gender identity and expression. I don't think that everyone must be butch/femme/andro or trans. I don't require that everyone play with their gender expressions in ways that you can explicitly understand.
Hello? I explicitly understand peoples' gender expressions. Why do you think I don't understand them?
But I do want to know where this refusal to see butch and femme as legitimate identities went? And I do want to know why these "categories" are still seen as capitulations to some patriarchal gender proscription. I would argue that they are two identities that require some of the most thought about gender and society and the most action in order to fuction regularly. As Iragaray explicates, it is impossible to subvert gender norms simply by refusing expected gendered behavior. It is just as much of a concession to alter one's dress and appearance to REJECT men's paradigm of desire. And, in my own opinion, the only unmaking of the patriarchy we can do with our presentation at this historical moment lies within attention, analysis, and community. This means understanding how and why we dress and act and where our motivations and desires come from as well as how they read to the world at large.
Yes.
The community aspect is about education, committment, empathy, and concerted effort towards unity. This is a feminist pillar, of course. But as long as we actually read diversity as concession or cowardess [sic] or a hand of The Man, we are not in concert.
Honestly, I don't understand your point here and the second-hand lecture theory regurgitation I could do without. My point was clear: the axes of individual gender rôles are not limited by butch-femme. I wrote that page in response to ongoing pressure I felt.

In fact, the point was that many queer women - myself included - neither reject nor accept male paradigms of desire. We are operating as freely outside of male influence as is possible in this culture because we don't frelling care about men.

And what is this about 'diversity as concession or cowardice'? That doesn't even make sense in light of what I was talking about.

Butch/femme's butch and femme are specifically constructed identities which interact with the world quite differently than the identities of male/female partners in a heterosexual relationship. You are right that we need to recognize all of these genders as valid, you are right that we need to credit and respect our own gender expression as well as others. You are right that we have to recognize the gender defiance necessarily within patriachy. The problem is in thinking that gender defiance can free us FROM the patriarchy. It can't.
As a thirty-one year old transgendered dyke, I am fully aware of the implications. I don't deny butch/femme relations, nor do I think they are identical to heterosexual male-female ones. I never said that. All that I wanted to say was that lesbians are not defined by those relations alone - and that I feel pressure to be butch when I don't even think of myself on the butch-femme axis at all.

I decided to write that Quench page because of a conversation I had with a (bisexual friend who felt the same pressure from various partners and also does not think of herself on the butch/femme continuum. The two of us feel forced into one rôle or another but don't half such self-identities - but also don't think badly of those rôles, either. They just aren't for us.

I think you should understand a little more about concious gender identity construction and the history of butch/femme before you speak to it. I only say this because it truly seems like you are interested in gender/sexuality studies... Maybe you identify as butch or femme in the most classic way. Or maybe you identify as some derivation. I don't know. I do know that when I was coming out I felt this specific push by my queer cohorts to "defy gender" which meant to cut my hair and wear less make-up OR to "be myself" which meant to just keep my long hair and be a girly lesbian. It took me a long time and many friends and lovers before I became comfortable identifying the way that I do.
As a transdyke, I felt that pressure from my parents to be a straight woman or from partners to be butch. This is why I don't understand your statements above about heterosexual capitulation when I was solely speaking of butch-femme and how they are not identical to male and female.

Again, I find your approach to be condescending as hell. I should understand a little more about conscious gender identity construction and the history of butch/femme before I speak to it? You've got to be kidding me. That is such a ridiculous thing to say to me - you have no idea who I am.

You seem to be well-educated about some things and a capable reader. So I'm thinking you like to read more about this stuff... and that you want to. So, before you read another sentence of J. Halberstam, why not give J. Butler another shot. Or, take a look at My Persistant Desire, Stone Butch Blues, or my very favorite My Dangerous Desires (by Amber Hollibaugh.)
I'm going to stop here. I'm starting to get really pissed off. I have plenty of information, experience and training regarding gender, gender identity and/or presentation and sex and I don't need your ridiculously condescending attitude.

In conclusion, someone else please say something, because if you can tell, if I try, I will end up standing on my roomie's brand new car, eating a large pile of adopted babies of colour of my affluent white neighbours while screaming obscenities about Mel Gibson and how i was present at the real Second Cumming of Christ, which involved him fucking his mom in the ass and claiming "the Holy Spirit made Me do it, Mom!"

Quotes from Coretta Scott King

Her personal leadership was nowhere more evident than in her consistent support for the rights of gay men and lesbians. Speaking to Lambda Legal Defense in 1998, she said, "I still hear people say that I should not be talking about the rights of lesbian and gay people and I should stick to the issue of racial justice . . . But I hasten to remind them that Martin Luther King, Jr., said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'. . . I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

In 1998 she said of gay people who had worked in the civil rights movement, "Many of these courageous men and women were fighting for my freedom at a time when they could find few voices for their own, and I salute their contributions." In 2004, after President Bush endorsed the Federal Marriage Amendment, she said, "Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil union. A constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages is a form of gay bashing, and it would do nothing at all to protect traditional marriages."

From this article.

Also, some interesting perspective from Al Sharpton (I'm not sure why this is there in an article about Coretta Scott King):

Fortunately, as Mrs. King struggled with her final illness, the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) picked up the torch for her. At last month's Black Church Summit in Atlanta, organized by NBJC to challenge homophobia within the black faith community, keynote speaker Rev. Al Sharpton rebuked the Republican right's courtship of conservative black ministers: "They couldn't come to black churches to talk about the war, about health care, about poverty. So they did what they always do and reached for the bigotry against gay and lesbian people."

Quoting Dr. King, Sharpton said, "There are those that are thermometers that read the temperature in the room. And then there are those that are thermostats that change the temperature in the room. I come to tell you to be thermostats. Turn the heat up in the black church. Make these people sweat until we open the doors of dialogue for everybody."

February 06, 2006

focus on family - can you confirm or deny?

Ok, so I was reading this article by Jim David in the Advocate from 10/11/2005 looking for something I thought was in there for my thesis that wasn't and I read that Focus on the Family's James Dobson

"advocates preventing gayness in young boys by having them take showers with their fathers to "notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger." Dobson also advocates curing alcoholism with a weekend binge in Vegas.
Is this true?

People are crazy.

you know you are too attached when...

Today, I was talking on the phone to Dor, my SO, who was telling me about trying to contact a health insurance company and all of the associated drama with being transferred from person to person, none of whom could figure out whether or not his treatment for a chronic condition would be covered if he took a job that offered him that company of health insurance.

After a ton of calls transferred to everyone in the universe, he had left someone a voicemail and was hoping the person would call back fast.

As soon as we get off the phone, I get a call from a private number. The person asked me for Dor. "He's not home right now," I say. He doesn't live with me. I have no idea why someone would call me to get him. Then, just randomly, I say, "Are you with a health insurance company?" She says yes, I laugh and give her Dor's number.

You know we're too attached when we accidentally give out each other's phone numbers, even in personal situations like health care.

Hillary: A Theoretical Scenario

Although her supporters call her iron-clad, claiming her history has already been examined and inspected to a degree that makes a Swift-Boat-Veteran style attack impossible, Senator Clinton is vulnerable to an especially reprehensive variety of ambush: homophobia.

Let's face it: from Dick Morris, former Clinton ally, to the writers of the L Word, folks believe--or, at least, do not disbelieve--that Hillary Clinton is queer. (Two words: Senator Grisham.) She may well be. But whether she is or she isn't--the answer is a resounding maybe, as a friend would say--bears no relevance to the big issue, which is what will happen when conservative groups begin running photos and spots insinuating that Senator Clinton is a lesbian.

Pre-suppose HRC receives the Democratic nomination. Set aside personal opinions on the Senator. The scenario to follow is interesting if even only examined in the hypothetical.

GOP attacks, firing up the flames of homophobia. There is renewed investigation into her early sexual history, Morris-style, or simple fabrication, at which the Republicans excel. Imagine the average US home receiving media barrages of her speeches at GLAAD, etc. events and loose insinuations of her wild sapphic ways at Wellesley. From a political point of view, her sexual orientation is irrelevant: it's about what the US public buys. We have on our hands a very interesting campaign along lines of gender and sexuality if the public believes her to be a lesbian.

Rove tapped homophobia to lead the Republicans to victory in 2004. He will happily attempt to draw upon that same well of bigotry in 2008, delighting in the conundrum resulting for Senator Clinton.

Politically, it is very difficult to respond. Clinton can declaim the spots and deny that she is gay. Or declaim the spots and issue a statement supportive of GLBT rights. With the former, she risks alientating liberals; with the latter, conservatives. Optimal response would be a combination. To respond at all, of course, lets the Republicans set her agenda, redirecting attention. Letting the GOP set the agenda cost us the WH in 2000 and 2004. Yet weaker responses, such as ignoring the insinuations and ads, may allow the same SBV phenomenon as suffered Kerry to compromise Senator Clinton's campaign. Kerry did not strike back at the SBV or any other negative campaigning against him, which was a mistake. (A note: The SBV campaign actually didn't significantly hurt Kerry. The phenomenon to which I refer is more of the "flip-flopper" variety, wherin the GOP distracts and divides, frames the issues, the debate, and even the opposition for the entire country.)

Obviously, optimally, sexuality would never be grounds for a SBV campaign or reason to fear an electoral impact. But 2004 proves that we are worlds away from that nirvana.

So, what happens?

  • Could this version of events take place?
  • How should a campaign in such a situation respond?
  • Once the SBV-style campaign runs, can the public ever be convinced to the contrary, that HRC is heterosexual?
  • Would/should HRC try to convince the public of her heterosexuality at all? Or would it compromise her integrity and principles?
  • What if proof did turn up? What then?
  • Most of all, would such a SBV campaign matter to the average voter?
  • Could policy issues take center stage despite such a manuever?

February 04, 2006

Great News

An end to "transgender panic" and "gay panic" as defenses for murder happened yesterday (Friday) in CA, though the passing of a bill.

This is a huge change and I think a really important one, since "transgender panic" and "gay panic" both seem to me to be horrible defenses against accusations of committing a crime.

It is important to understand that this is a moderate step. Now, juries will not be given instructions to include an analysis of "transgender panic" or "gay panic" in their deliberations, but jurists may still be making decisions using their own prejudice and how they may feel it was reasonable to react to a "surprise" in the bedroom, a bar, or elsewhere.

Regardless, this is a huge change. I read about it here but if anyone has a more complete story of what happened that they know how to find, please comment.

Finally, I want to ask everyone, do you think taking these out of the jury instructions is enough? Will it have any effect at all?

Since we mentioned World of Warcraft...

There's a discussion on slashdot right now about same-sex marriage in WOW.

February 03, 2006

Who, Me? Queer?

It really is worth wading through this very long article about whether it makes sense to think about Brokeback Mountain as some kind of cultural watershed. Amid the Oscar hoopla about the year of the queer, Larry Gross points out the persistence of "Hollywood's devotion to the public heterosexuality of its stars."

Lots of great quotes, like from the Guardian film critic who observes that "the actors in these films are always at pains to stress the incredible trauma involved in having to pretend to kiss a person of the same sex in front of cameras." You also have Jake Gyllenhaal telling Details that "my character could have been played by a woman and it would have made just as much sense." Boo, I disagree.

February 02, 2006

Fun for everyone...

For the religious readers:

And for the liberal readers:


(Sounds kinky)

Whichever is your flavor, you're guaranteed to have fun at a low price. And you can't complain that Massachusetts favors the left over the right... Both go for the same price.

Pomo Homos and the Cuddle Puddle

An I-kid-you-not conversation from last night -

The Estimat: So, he's thinking of splitting Bio of Gender up into different sections, so for example, Biology of Attraction and -
Me: Wait, what does attraction have to do with gender??

Pause as we both realize what just came out of my mouth.

The Estimat: How do you *exist*??

Yeah, sometimes I wonder that myself.

Anyway, this all leads me to the following article from New York Magazine:

The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvestant High School

Researchers find it shocking that 11 percent of American girls between 15 and 19 claim to have same-sex encounters. Clearly they’ve never observed the social rituals of the pansexual, bi-queer, metroflexible New York teen.

There are a lot of things I could say about this article, though ultimately I'm still mulling over my overall reaction.
It practically takes a diagram to plot all the various hookups and connections within the cuddle puddle. Elle’s kissed Jane and Jane’s kissed Alair and Alair’s kissed Elle. And then from time to time Elle hooks up with Nathan, but really only at parties, and only when Bethany isn’t around, because Nathan really likes Bethany, who doesn’t have a thing for girls but doesn’t have a problem with girls who do, either. Alair’s hooking up with Jason (who “kind of” went out with Jane once), even though she sort of also has a thing for Hector, who Jane likes, too—though Jane thinks it’s totally boring when people date people of the same gender. Ilia has a serious girlfriend, but girls were hooking up at his last party, which was awesome. Molly has kissed Alair, and Jane’s ex-girlfriend first decided she was bi while staying at Molly’s beach house on Fire Island. Sarah sometimes kisses Elle, although she has a boyfriend—he doesn’t care if she hooks up with other girls, since she’s straight anyway. And so on.

Some of the boys hook up with each other, too, although in far fewer numbers than the girls. One of Alair’s male friends explained that this is because for guys, anything beyond same-sex kissing requires “more of a physical commitment.” If a guy does hook up with other guys it certainly doesn’t make the girls less likely to hook up with him; and the converse is obviously true.

The basic point is that, in today's generation of kids with (post-)queer sensibilities, sexuality is no longer something one bothers to define.

Their friend Nathan, a senior with John Lennon hair and glasses, is there with his guitar, strumming softly under the conversation. “So many of the girls here are lesbian or have experimented or are confused,” he says.

Ilia, another senior boy, frowns at Nathan’s use of labels. “It’s not lesbian or bisexual. It’s just, whatever...”

"Just, whatever"? Ok, I admit that labels often do more harm than good, but I can't help wondering if describing one's sexuality as "just, whatever ..." doesn't just reinforce the idea that bisexuals (or pick your own term for "people whose attractions are not monogendered") are undecided, confused libertines who will sleep with anyone at least once.

Then again, so are teenagers... *wicked grin*

Conversations That Hurt God's Ears, Part the First

Em0: I HATE MY MEDS

Em0: because they upped my dose before Xmas so I could travel
Em0: I have become SLEEPY
Em0: all the time

Em0: it's annoying me a lot.
Em0: i can't wait to have my nether regions chopped into pieces and put back together inside out so I can stop being sleepy.

Em0: ... wait.

This is not a joke: more WTFblogging

I just got an email over one of Harvard's Office of Career Services announce lists. You know, where career opportunities are announced by OCS. There have been weird things before, but never anything this... trashy.

Subject: America's Next Top Model -Casting Call

Providence, RI – January 30, 2006 - If you have what it takes to walk with the top models, join UPN 28 at the Warwick Mall on Sunday, February 12, 2006. From 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., UPN 28, in partnership with Coast 93.3, will hold a casting call for Cycle 7 of the UPN smash hit “America’s Next Top Model.”

UPN 28 will select one lucky local who will fly, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, to Los Angeles for the February 25 semi-final casting call. Without having to wait in line, UPN 28’s winner is guaranteed to be one of the first to meet with the show’s casting director.

Wtf, I ask you, wtf?

On "Human-Animal Hybrids"

The following article President panders to anti-manimal lobby! ounlines some of the ways genetic splicing of human DNA into rodents may be helping work on treatments for Down Syndrome.http://newyorkmetro.com/news/features/15589/index.htmlFrom the article:

He's trusting that everyone will think he is banning monstrous crimes against nature, but what he's really doing is targeting the weak and the ill, blocking useful avenues of research that are specifically designed to help us understand human afflictions. His message isn't "We aren't going to let the mad scientists make monsters!", it's "We aren't going to let the doctors help those 'retards.'"
Some of the comments below the article are funny, too.

February 01, 2006

A Movie about Gendercrash!

A movie is coming out about GenderCrash.

More info here. I know I heard about this movie at gendercrash itself, but I didn't know it was so soon.

We will have to have a quench outing!

I am orgasmicly excited!