Coming Out: A Ripple Effect

Coming out of the closet (as used in the gay community) refers to the decision of an individual to be public about their sexuality.  It could mean revealing one’s sexuality to close friends or family, or letting anyone know.  It can mean letting only one person know. It’s a process that many gay people undertake.  The positive effects of coming out can run deep.  For many gay people, no longer having to hide an aspect of yourself from people around you can be a relief.  There are others who choose to remain closeted.   I’ve seen criticism of gay people who remain in the closet, and it so often fails to realize that the situations each person faces are unique to them. The manner in which they choose to deal with their sexuality should be their choice and no one else’s.  That’s part of the right to self-determination.

Sometimes coming out can have a ripple effect in unsuspecting and spectacular ways:

In 2010, teacher David Weston made an incredible decision.

He decided to come out to the entirety of Watford Grammar School, in Hertfordshire, England.

And now, four years later, a former student has got in touch with him to thank him.

Writing on Twitter, he said: ‘I came out as a gay teacher in a whole-school assembly in 2010. Today, four years later, I just received this email. Wow.’

You can read the letter here

Coming Out: A Ripple Effect
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“I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but I’m going to do it anyway!”

Julie Atwood received a phone call from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church informing her that she had 24 hours to find a new place to hold the wake for her son, Julion Evans.

Why?

The church learned that Evans was married to a man-Kendall Capers.

What the actual fuck?

It’s so completely fucked up to begin with that a church would deny the funeral for anyone on the grounds of their sexuality.  Once again, religious beliefs trump human decency.  All because a group of humans decided that the words in their holy book were more important than treating other humans with decency.  To them, it doesn’t matter that a man has died and his friends and family wish to hold funeral services at their church.  What matters is that they believe in a deity whom they think opposes homosexuality.

This is reason #659 that religion is detrimental to society.  Religious beliefs help provide the basis for humans to treat one another inhumanly.  Once again, a religious organization has decided to place its beliefs in an invisible, inaudible, unknowable entity over the needs of actual human beings.  The sadness and grief experienced by family and friends of Julion Evans means nothing to them (or, if it does, it doesn’t mean enough).  What matters to them is following their interpretation of a collection of stories, myths, and allegories compiled over a couple of thousand years and rewritten innumerable times.  That is more important than the grief of humans?  That is more important than granting a grieving family the dignity and respect of seeing their loved one put to rest?

The church’s pastor had this to say:

“I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles,” Pastor Jenkins told reporters.

Oh, well since you weren’t trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, I guess you’re magically off the hook for condemning someone’s lifestyle. Oh, wait. No, the fuck you’re not.  You’re not standing up for principles. You’re putting your bigotry out there for all the world to see and dressing it up in the trappings of “sincerely held religious beliefs” as if that someone makes your actions any less deplorable.  It doesn’t.  Regardless of how you dress up your beliefs, they are still bigoted and discriminatory.  That you hide behind your religion to justify those beliefs paints your religion as disgusting.  You can’t see that because in this pervasively religious society, people think religious belief is beneficial.  Would that more people realized how detrimental religious belief is for humanity.

There has been public outcry on social media over the actions of the church:

On Twitter, even at 10 PM Friday night, several angry tweets per minute were still flowing.

On Facebook, aside from flooding news feeds, the vocally outraged dug up the church’s Facebook page — it does not appear on their website — and left literally hundreds of scathing reviews and comments.

As of this writing, there are 222 one-star reviews and seemingly hundreds of negative comments — about 20 per hour were being posted Friday night.

A sampling:

“Right-wing Christians like these kinds of ‘Christians’ claim there’s a war on Christians in this country. There isn’t a so-called war, but if there were it would be because of actions exhibited by these kinds of churches.”

“Well, you are a shining example of why I no longer believe in God…if a loving God existed, He would not allow people like you to use His name to harm others.”

“In Timothy 2:8 we read: ‘I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.’ Which is why you also don’t allow funeral arrangements for women with braided hear or who wear jewelry. Am I right?”

“The pastor of this church isn’t standing on principles he is standing on judgment and bigotry. I ask him to contemplate and meditate on this question… Would Jesus approve of this? Would this be the actions of the Savior? I think you need to bow in front of the Lord and pray… pray for true guidance from Jesus. This family chose this church for a reason so where is the compassion of community? If I were a member of this congregation I would find a new church.”

“Jesus would have conducted the service and provided comfort to the family and the husband in their time of grief. I am not a Christian, but you have to walk the talk. I am reminded of the time that Jesus came across a group of people who were stoning a prostitute, Jesus said – he who hath cast no sin shall cast the first stone and the crowd slunk away. As a man of god you may be close to sinless – until this decision.”

“And this is the cancer within your religion. You teach only hate. And praise yourself for doing so.”

“I think you may have forgotten Matthew 24:40. When did Jesus EVER turn his back on someone in need? The way you treated that bereaved family, you treated Jesus himself.”

“Someone in your congregation just wrote back to me, ‘Compassion has nothing to do with biblical principles.’ Wow. Well, turning your back on a man’s funeral is certainly a great example of that, now, isn’t it?”

“I am deeply saddened to see God’s message to the world distorted in this way. Dear, dear Pastor Jenkins…We look to you to teach us of God’s love, mercy, and compassion, not complete and shameful intolerance. Even if your church does preach against a gay lifestyle, is there no place in your heart for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion? Do you refuse to conduct funeral services for people who break other of what you understand to be God’s laws and rules? Really? Do you really do that? Refuse funeral services for those you know to be what you consider sinners? Would that not include everyone in your congregation who is not perfect in God’s eyes?

“I am so saddened by this; so saddened to see God utterly misrepresented in this way.”

“Shame on you for cancelling that young gay man’s funeral. I’m sure God would be so proud of you for being so judgemental. And organized religion wonders why so many people are slipping away?”

“I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but I’m going to do it anyway!”

"I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but I'm going to do it anyway!"

Julie Atwood received a phone call from New Hope Missionary Baptist Church informing her that she had 24 hours to find a new place to hold the wake for her son, Julion Evans.

Why?

The church learned that Evans was married to a man-Kendall Capers.

What the actual fuck?

It’s so completely fucked up to begin with that a church would deny the funeral for anyone on the grounds of their sexuality.  Once again, religious beliefs trump human decency.  All because a group of humans decided that the words in their holy book were more important than treating other humans with decency.  To them, it doesn’t matter that a man has died and his friends and family wish to hold funeral services at their church.  What matters is that they believe in a deity whom they think opposes homosexuality.

This is reason #659 that religion is detrimental to society.  Religious beliefs help provide the basis for humans to treat one another inhumanly.  Once again, a religious organization has decided to place its beliefs in an invisible, inaudible, unknowable entity over the needs of actual human beings.  The sadness and grief experienced by family and friends of Julion Evans means nothing to them (or, if it does, it doesn’t mean enough).  What matters to them is following their interpretation of a collection of stories, myths, and allegories compiled over a couple of thousand years and rewritten innumerable times.  That is more important than the grief of humans?  That is more important than granting a grieving family the dignity and respect of seeing their loved one put to rest?

The church’s pastor had this to say:

“I’m not trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God, and I have to stand up for my principles,” Pastor Jenkins told reporters.

Oh, well since you weren’t trying to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, I guess you’re magically off the hook for condemning someone’s lifestyle. Oh, wait. No, the fuck you’re not.  You’re not standing up for principles. You’re putting your bigotry out there for all the world to see and dressing it up in the trappings of “sincerely held religious beliefs” as if that someone makes your actions any less deplorable.  It doesn’t.  Regardless of how you dress up your beliefs, they are still bigoted and discriminatory.  That you hide behind your religion to justify those beliefs paints your religion as disgusting.  You can’t see that because in this pervasively religious society, people think religious belief is beneficial.  Would that more people realized how detrimental religious belief is for humanity.

There has been public outcry on social media over the actions of the church:

On Twitter, even at 10 PM Friday night, several angry tweets per minute were still flowing.

On Facebook, aside from flooding news feeds, the vocally outraged dug up the church’s Facebook page — it does not appear on their website — and left literally hundreds of scathing reviews and comments.

As of this writing, there are 222 one-star reviews and seemingly hundreds of negative comments — about 20 per hour were being posted Friday night.

A sampling:

“Right-wing Christians like these kinds of ‘Christians’ claim there’s a war on Christians in this country. There isn’t a so-called war, but if there were it would be because of actions exhibited by these kinds of churches.”

“Well, you are a shining example of why I no longer believe in God…if a loving God existed, He would not allow people like you to use His name to harm others.”

“In Timothy 2:8 we read: ‘I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array.’ Which is why you also don’t allow funeral arrangements for women with braided hear or who wear jewelry. Am I right?”

“The pastor of this church isn’t standing on principles he is standing on judgment and bigotry. I ask him to contemplate and meditate on this question… Would Jesus approve of this? Would this be the actions of the Savior? I think you need to bow in front of the Lord and pray… pray for true guidance from Jesus. This family chose this church for a reason so where is the compassion of community? If I were a member of this congregation I would find a new church.”

“Jesus would have conducted the service and provided comfort to the family and the husband in their time of grief. I am not a Christian, but you have to walk the talk. I am reminded of the time that Jesus came across a group of people who were stoning a prostitute, Jesus said – he who hath cast no sin shall cast the first stone and the crowd slunk away. As a man of god you may be close to sinless – until this decision.”

“And this is the cancer within your religion. You teach only hate. And praise yourself for doing so.”

“I think you may have forgotten Matthew 24:40. When did Jesus EVER turn his back on someone in need? The way you treated that bereaved family, you treated Jesus himself.”

“Someone in your congregation just wrote back to me, ‘Compassion has nothing to do with biblical principles.’ Wow. Well, turning your back on a man’s funeral is certainly a great example of that, now, isn’t it?”

“I am deeply saddened to see God’s message to the world distorted in this way. Dear, dear Pastor Jenkins…We look to you to teach us of God’s love, mercy, and compassion, not complete and shameful intolerance. Even if your church does preach against a gay lifestyle, is there no place in your heart for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and compassion? Do you refuse to conduct funeral services for people who break other of what you understand to be God’s laws and rules? Really? Do you really do that? Refuse funeral services for those you know to be what you consider sinners? Would that not include everyone in your congregation who is not perfect in God’s eyes?

“I am so saddened by this; so saddened to see God utterly misrepresented in this way.”

“Shame on you for cancelling that young gay man’s funeral. I’m sure God would be so proud of you for being so judgemental. And organized religion wonders why so many people are slipping away?”

"I'm not trying to condemn anyone's lifestyle, but I'm going to do it anyway!"

If your religious principles lead you to berate people for being gay, you ought to reject those principles

Recently, a gay man departing from a restaurant in Lansing Charter Township, Michigan was called a fucking faggot  by another customer of the restaurant:

Isiah David Tweedie says that he and his friends went to the Fire Mountain restaurant in Lansing Charter Township, Michigan Wednesday. Upon leaving with his friends, a man he says was also a patron came out and called him a “fucking faggot.”

Tweedie filmed the incident with his camera phone and posted the video to his Facebook page.

“I said, ‘fucking faggot.’ You want a picture? Take a picture,” the man, who approaches Tweedie, says repeatedly.

“I’m an American, born in America,” the unnamed man says. Tweedie replies, “I’m an American too, honey.”

“You’re a fucking faggot,” the man again says. “I am a fucking faggot,” Tweedie replies.

“God’s law — Leviticus, Leviticus — you should be put to death,” the man yells, pointing to Tweedie.

(source)

There is so much wrong here.  For one thing, calling a gay man a ‘fucking faggot’ might be intended as an insult, but it’s not anything terribly insulting in and of itself.  Gay men have sex with other gay men.  Faggot is a slang term for gay men.  The bigot wasn’t calling Tweedie anything that didn’t apply.  Now granted, yes, his delivery was perfectly understood.  He intended it as an insult.  Why? According to him, he derives his beliefs from the bible and the bible says gay people should be stoned.  Clearly, he thinks there is something wrong with being gay, and so when he hurls the insult ‘fucking faggot’, he intends it to be a slight.  The phrase is intended to assault the notions of manhood and masculinity in gay people.  Almost as if the bigot thinks, deep down, that gay people really think there’s something wrong with being gay.  It escapes people like this that for many gay people (like myself) there is nothing wrong with being gay.  Moreover, notions of masculinity and what it means to be a man are wrapped up in horrible gender essentialist ideas of how men and women are supposed to conduct themselves.  These archaic rules don’t allow for people to push the boundaries of gender roles, let alone shatter them.  Yet that is what happens so often when it comes to homosexuality.  Gay men sleep with other men. That right there is seen as an affront to manhood because men are supposed to sleep with women, not other men.  Says who?  Many argue that the bible says so.  I don’t give a flying fuck that a several thousand year old book written by people with little understanding of humanity and the world around them has to say about sexuality.  That book does not serve as a guiding light in my life and I’d argue that it shouldn’t serve as guidance for anyone given the horribly inconsistent “morality” therein (not to mention the horrible actions of the genocidal deity in the bible).

Many gay men present themselves in an effeminate fashion, which also shatters gender roles.  Women are supposed to present as feminine, and men as masculine.  The two shouldn’t cross over.  Oddly enough, a host of other qualities cross over between men and women (shared emotions, intellect, creativity, passions), but certain things are off limits.  Gender presentation is apparently one of those things.  It shouldn’t be though.  How I present myself to the world-barring actions that have a negative impact on others-should be no ones business but my own.  If I choose to leave the house wearing heels, pasties and a pink tutu, that should be no more cause for alarm than if I left the house in blue jeans and a tee shirt.  And yet, that does cause alarm.

People are invested in gender roles, from early in their lives.  Whether its the type of colors attributed to specific genders, or the type of toys that kids are supposed to play with, or the careers encouraged in boys or girls, no one in our society can escape the effects of rigid gender roles.

Like the bigot at the restaurant though, people need to understand that gender roles and sexuality are not an expression of morality.  Morality concerns the interactions between humans (not between invisible, inaudible, undetectable, beings, entities, forces, or energies…and humans).  What is right? What is wrong? Those questions are best answered by determining which actions are beneficial and which ones are detrimental to humanity.  Questions of right and wrong are not going to be resolved by seeking answers from an archaic tome that fails to address what morality even means (morality is not whatever god tells us).    For the bigot in this story, I’d tell him to research what morality is and how we derive our answers to what is right or wrong. I’d ask him to honestly take a look at gay men or lesbians and determine what they are doing that is so wrong that they should be put to death, or even to face discrimination and oppression. Yes, I’m a man who is physically, emotionally, and psychologically attracted to other men. I’ve never been attracted to women. I can’t change that, nor do I want to. I’m proud of who and what I am.  Is that grounds for calling for my death? I’ve harmed no one by being gay.  Not one single person has been adversely affected by my sexuality.  So why should I be killed for my sexuality?  Riddle me that bigots?

If your religious principles lead you to berate people for being gay, you ought to reject those principles

Heroic Humanity: Dr. Willie Parker

Heroism can mean a variety of things to different people.  Firefighters. Police officers. Active duty military members serving on the front lines.  Lawyers have been called heroes, as have politicians.  Doctors too.

There is one member of the medical community that is often overlooked:  abortion doctors.

They provide a much needed service to women:  the termination of a pregnancy.  I make no secret of my support for easy and legal abortion access for all women-no restrictions.   My support for this is due to my belief that women are human beings with the right to bodily autonomy that every human being has.  This right underlies our right to self-defense and our right to be free from being enslaved.  There is no exception to this right.  It is universal and applicable to all human persons  (a fetus is not a human person ((it is a biological human being, which is different than a human person)).  Where is the capacity for pain in fetus?  Self-awareness?  Cognition?  Where is the possession of rights and duties, or an awareness of the passage of time?  Where are these qualities present in a fetus?  Are they all present at the same time?).  Even if fetuses were considered people, with all the rights of other human persons, there are a host of complications that would entail:

Giving a fetus the status of person could lead to many more legal issues and complications than most people realize. “Further, a prenatal personhood measure might subject a woman who suffers a pregnancy-related complication or a miscarriage to criminal investigations and possibly jail time for homicide, manslaughter or reckless endangerment. And because so many laws use the terms “persons” or “people,” a prenatal personhood measure could affect large numbers of a state’s laws, changing the application of thousands of laws and resulting in unforeseeable, unintended, and absurd consequences.”

Of course the right to bodily autonomy means that no human being can force another human being to use their body against their wishes. As a result, even if a fetus were a human person, with all the attendant rights, they still would not have the right to use the body of a woman against her wishes.  If she wants to be pregnant, it’s her body and her choice.  If she wants to be not pregnant, it’s her body and her choice.  The fetus does not get a say, whether it is a human person or not.

Sadly, in the United States, there are many barriers to abortion access.  Nationwide, the cost for the abortion pill ranges from $300 – $800.    In other areas, great distances much be traveled to obtain an abortion, which requires more money, as well as time off from work.  89% of counties in the US lack an abortion provider.  Insurance bans, biased counseling, waiting periods, invasive and unnecessary ultrasound requirements, and parental consent requirements in many states create barriers to abortion for many women, especially those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

Mississippi was dangerously close to losing its last remaining abortion provider:  the Pink House.

In the latest battle of the long war to shut the clinic down, itself just a part of the recent national push to use state regulations to choke off the right to abortion, they finally won one. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in their favor, leaving the clinic open for the indefinite future.

This decision allows the Pink House to remain open (what will become of the unnecessary ‘admitting privilege’ legislation is uncertain). That’s a good thing.  Women need access to abortion if they are going to have the full range of reproductive options available to them.

In a recent Esquire article, it is made apparent that Dr. Willie Parker understand this.  He understands the necessity of abortion providers.  He is acutely aware of the problems faced by women in obtaining an abortion.  He is also very aware of the opposition, and the lengths that some people will go to prevent women from obtaining an abortion.

When Parker was ten, his mother moved from the house with no electricity and plumbing into his grandfather’s place. To get to that neighborhood, you drive past a gravel plant. Here, the world is coated with gray dust. Parker’s youngest brother points out the sights: “They call that the lie tree, because everybody set up under that tree and drink and tell lies.”

Their grandfather’s house is simple, square, made of weathered boards that were never painted. The house that didn’t have plumbing is a few streets over, abandoned now, a lone shoe left behind on the porch.

One street over is an area they called the “White Quarter.” Its backyards adjoined the Parker yard, but the blacks were never supposed to cross the line, much less drive down the white street. Naturally, the boys took this as a challenge. “It was a thrill to get on your bike and go down that hill. Three or four of us would get at the top and yell Go! and we just shoot down the road. Next thing you know, the dogs all come out running at you—or somebody shoot at you.”

When he went off to college, Parker was still wearing a Jesus pin in his lapel every day and devoted his Saturday mornings to knocking on dorm-room doors to spread the Word. But that was the fall of 1981, when Reagan was funding the contras in Nicaragua and apartheid in South Africa was making the news, and his professors threw out one moral challenge after another. “Now it’s not just about Jesus gets you to heaven and you live fine with pie in the sky by and by but what is your role as a Christian in the modern world?”

One professor even asked him to write a paper on abortion. His answer was rooted in “Thou shalt not kill,” but he was already reluctant to judge. “My hope was that women would approach the question prayerfully,” he remembers.

After medical school, he bought a big house and a nice car and overstuffed his refrigerator the way people from poverty do, but those satisfactions soon seemed empty. He dated but never quite settled down. Inspired by Gandhi’s idea that the Gospel should appear to a hungry man in the form of bread, he went to work in a food pantry. But gradually, the steady stream of women with reproductive issues in his practice focused his mind. He thought about his mother and sisters and the grandmother who died in childbirth and began to read widely in the literature of civil rights and feminism. Eventually he came across the concept of “reproductive justice,” developed by black feminists who argued that the best way to raise women out of poverty is to give them control of their reproductive decisions. Finally, he had his “come to Jesus” moment and the bell rang. This would be his civil-rights struggle. He would serve women in their darkest moment of need. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” Parker says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.” He gave up obstetrics to become a full-time abortionist on the day, five years ago, that George Tiller was murdered in church.

I think he’s a hero because he’s doing the right thing for the right reasons.  He does so knowing full well that his life is under greater scrutiny as well as heightened danger from being an abortion doctor.   He is one of two abortion doctors who travel to Mississippi to perform that service:

This is because no doctor in Mississippi is willing to provide such a service. Although the state already has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including a twenty-four-hour waiting period, parental consent, face-to-face counseling with the physician, and a ban on the use of Medicaid funding (except in extraordinary cases), it is going all out to close this clinic, the last abortion provider in Mississippi, known as the Pink House because the defiant woman who owns it painted it pink to make it stand out, bold and unashamed. The latest fight is over whether abortion doctors should be required to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital in the event of a complication, an irrelevant requirement since a hospital’s emergency-room staff usually does the admitting. It’s a practice no other specialty is required to observe. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes the state law that makes this a requirement. But a similar law may soon leave the state of Texas—home to twenty-seven million people—with just six abortion clinics. It is already law in North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah and looms over Alabama, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Louisiana and is likely to spread to other states, pressed by a nationwide conservative movement that uses regulation to force a result democratic votes cannot achieve. So Parker flies down from his home in Chicago for several days twice a month to perform the service so few other doctors are willing to provide.

Twice a month may not sound like a lot, but as the article above points out, Dr. Parker sometimes performs up to 45 abortions per day.  That’s 45 women having a procedure they’ve deemed necessary.  That’s 45 women that are able to make decisions about the ir reproductive health with the full range of options available.  That’s freedom for women, and I Dr. Parker should be recognized for his heroic actions.

*The article is quite long, and I’ve had difficulty finding notable segments to quote.  I suggest reading it in full.  It is very much worth it.

 

Heroic Humanity: Dr. Willie Parker

I don’t like the word ‘Slut’

“Look at that low cut dress! She must be on the prowl tonight. What a slut!”

“She slept with 5 guys last month.  What a slut!”

“She broke up with me and now she’s seeing someone else.  She’s such a slut.”

‘Slut’ is a word that is spoken in many a social interaction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it.  Almost without fail, the speaker is criticizing a woman for being sexual. Here in the US, there’s still an expectation that women are supposed to be chaste.  They’re supposed to be pure, untouched, virginal.  They aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and if they do, they’re broken, used, and unworthy.

I detest that line of thinking.

Why is it considered socially acceptable for a man to sleep with multiple partners?  Why are men applauded for having lots of sexual partners? Why are men encouraged to “sow their oats”?  Why cannot women do the same?  Women are humans too.

And women like sex.  Every woman I’ve spoken to on the subject like sex.  A lot.  They don’t express it in the same ways that men do, probably because they’ve been socialized to not talk about sex in the same way that men do.  They still like it.  They should still be free to have whatever kind of sex (as long as it is between consenting adults) they please.  However often they please.  With as many partners as they please.  Women do not exist for the judgment of others.  What they choose to do with their bodies, and whom they choose to do that with is not for others to decide.  It’s not a question of right or wrong when it comes to expressions of sexuality.  People ought to respect a woman’s decision to be as sexual as she chooses without shaming her for it.

Everydayfeminism has an article arguing that people should stop using the word:

How would you describe that low-cut, tight dress you just bought for your best friend’s party? Would you call it sexy? daring? fun? Or would you use a more negative term like “slutty?”

And that fun one-night stand your neighbor had last weekend – would you describe her actions as adventurous or “skanky?”

The word slut is a common slur in our modern day vernacular. No doubt, it still carries weight if said with malicious intent.

But in recent years, the word has become deeply ingrained into our culture to the point where people say it too easily and too casually.

As innocuous as using pejorative terms may seem when used in reference to clothing or the activities of others, they undoubtedly still imply negativity surrounding female sexuality.

And using them just validates the societal standard of a perfect, virginal-until-marriage, demure woman as an ideal.

That ideal there?

That’s a puritanical, religiously derived “ideal” of women.  It’s informed not by respect for women or recognizing that they are human beings with the right to make decisions on their own.  It’s informed by men and their beliefs on what is right and proper with regard to womens’ behavior, specifically their sexuality.

Many of us have been called a slut at some point in our lives — or have thrown the epithet at someone else. But what does it really mean?

The word “slut” originates in Old English, meaning a “messy, dirty, or untidy” woman or girl. Because of this, it was frequently used as a term for kitchen maids and servant girls. By the 15th century, the word took on the meaning of a “promiscuous woman” as well.

Think about it: Have you ever called someone a slut, whether in jest or seriously? What did it mean to you? And what do you think it meant to the person it was directed toward?

I have used the word in the past, without thinking about what the word means.  I stopped using it once I began frequenting feminist spaces.  Initially I stopped using it because the word is a gendered slur and there are many places where the use of the word is not appreciated or even off-limits.  After spending time in feminist spaces for some time, I came to understand *why* I shouldn’t use the word.  Most of my understanding of feminism in general and how gendered slurs work has been in the last 4 years.  I’ve successfully eliminated gendered slurs from my everyday speech and writings.  It took a modicum of effort, but considering that I respect women, the effort to not slut-shame was worth it.

To slut-shame means to “degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.”

Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have judged or degraded someone (usually a woman) for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage.

It happens all the time. That young celebrity who wears something more daring than her usual attire is automatically described in terms of “her slutty side.” We see a beautiful woman who is wearing heavy makeup and comment on how she is lovely, but she looks like a stripper. We condemn our sexual thoughts as slutty instead of explorative.

As a culture, we are quick to use words that paint female sexuality as disgraceful – even if we don’t realize that we are doing it.

It took thinking about the word ‘slut’ and what it means and how it affects women for me to understand the harm. As I said above, it shames women for having sex.  Yet there’s nothing wrong with having sex; no matter your gender!  I should also note that the word ‘slut’ isn’t always used as an insult to women (though the use of the word is most often aimed at women).  I’ve heard it used often in gay culture.  I’ve been to many a gay bar and heard people refer to someone as a slut.  The intent was always to convey disapproval of the choices men made in whom they slept with.  I’ve even heard people refer to themselves as ‘sluts’.  Usually it’s half-hearted humor, but digging deeper, gay men often have called themselves sluts because they think there’s something wrong with sex.  Once again, the puritanical mindset concerning sex rears its ugly head.  As a society, we need to reframe our discussions about sex.  We need to understand that sex, when between consenting adults, is a perfectly natural and harmless, often enjoyable activity.  We need to become sex-positive, instead of sex-negative.  In the process of doing so, we can hopefully shed the harmful discrimination and oppression of women, and instead help empower them.

 

 

I don’t like the word ‘Slut’

I don't like the word 'Slut'

“Look at that low cut dress! She must be on the prowl tonight. What a slut!”

“She slept with 5 guys last month.  What a slut!”

“She broke up with me and now she’s seeing someone else.  She’s such a slut.”

‘Slut’ is a word that is spoken in many a social interaction. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard it.  Almost without fail, the speaker is criticizing a woman for being sexual. Here in the US, there’s still an expectation that women are supposed to be chaste.  They’re supposed to be pure, untouched, virginal.  They aren’t supposed to have sex before marriage, and if they do, they’re broken, used, and unworthy.

I detest that line of thinking.

Why is it considered socially acceptable for a man to sleep with multiple partners?  Why are men applauded for having lots of sexual partners? Why are men encouraged to “sow their oats”?  Why cannot women do the same?  Women are humans too.

And women like sex.  Every woman I’ve spoken to on the subject like sex.  A lot.  They don’t express it in the same ways that men do, probably because they’ve been socialized to not talk about sex in the same way that men do.  They still like it.  They should still be free to have whatever kind of sex (as long as it is between consenting adults) they please.  However often they please.  With as many partners as they please.  Women do not exist for the judgment of others.  What they choose to do with their bodies, and whom they choose to do that with is not for others to decide.  It’s not a question of right or wrong when it comes to expressions of sexuality.  People ought to respect a woman’s decision to be as sexual as she chooses without shaming her for it.

Everydayfeminism has an article arguing that people should stop using the word:

How would you describe that low-cut, tight dress you just bought for your best friend’s party? Would you call it sexy? daring? fun? Or would you use a more negative term like “slutty?”

And that fun one-night stand your neighbor had last weekend – would you describe her actions as adventurous or “skanky?”

The word slut is a common slur in our modern day vernacular. No doubt, it still carries weight if said with malicious intent.

But in recent years, the word has become deeply ingrained into our culture to the point where people say it too easily and too casually.

As innocuous as using pejorative terms may seem when used in reference to clothing or the activities of others, they undoubtedly still imply negativity surrounding female sexuality.

And using them just validates the societal standard of a perfect, virginal-until-marriage, demure woman as an ideal.

That ideal there?

That’s a puritanical, religiously derived “ideal” of women.  It’s informed not by respect for women or recognizing that they are human beings with the right to make decisions on their own.  It’s informed by men and their beliefs on what is right and proper with regard to womens’ behavior, specifically their sexuality.

Many of us have been called a slut at some point in our lives — or have thrown the epithet at someone else. But what does it really mean?

The word “slut” originates in Old English, meaning a “messy, dirty, or untidy” woman or girl. Because of this, it was frequently used as a term for kitchen maids and servant girls. By the 15th century, the word took on the meaning of a “promiscuous woman” as well.

Think about it: Have you ever called someone a slut, whether in jest or seriously? What did it mean to you? And what do you think it meant to the person it was directed toward?

I have used the word in the past, without thinking about what the word means.  I stopped using it once I began frequenting feminist spaces.  Initially I stopped using it because the word is a gendered slur and there are many places where the use of the word is not appreciated or even off-limits.  After spending time in feminist spaces for some time, I came to understand *why* I shouldn’t use the word.  Most of my understanding of feminism in general and how gendered slurs work has been in the last 4 years.  I’ve successfully eliminated gendered slurs from my everyday speech and writings.  It took a modicum of effort, but considering that I respect women, the effort to not slut-shame was worth it.

To slut-shame means to “degrade or mock a woman because she enjoys having sex, has sex a lot, or may even just be rumored to participate in sexual activity.”

Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have judged or degraded someone (usually a woman) for being sexual, having one or more sexual partners, acknowledging sexual feelings, and/or acting on sexual feelings outside of marriage.

It happens all the time. That young celebrity who wears something more daring than her usual attire is automatically described in terms of “her slutty side.” We see a beautiful woman who is wearing heavy makeup and comment on how she is lovely, but she looks like a stripper. We condemn our sexual thoughts as slutty instead of explorative.

As a culture, we are quick to use words that paint female sexuality as disgraceful – even if we don’t realize that we are doing it.

It took thinking about the word ‘slut’ and what it means and how it affects women for me to understand the harm. As I said above, it shames women for having sex.  Yet there’s nothing wrong with having sex; no matter your gender!  I should also note that the word ‘slut’ isn’t always used as an insult to women (though the use of the word is most often aimed at women).  I’ve heard it used often in gay culture.  I’ve been to many a gay bar and heard people refer to someone as a slut.  The intent was always to convey disapproval of the choices men made in whom they slept with.  I’ve even heard people refer to themselves as ‘sluts’.  Usually it’s half-hearted humor, but digging deeper, gay men often have called themselves sluts because they think there’s something wrong with sex.  Once again, the puritanical mindset concerning sex rears its ugly head.  As a society, we need to reframe our discussions about sex.  We need to understand that sex, when between consenting adults, is a perfectly natural and harmless, often enjoyable activity.  We need to become sex-positive, instead of sex-negative.  In the process of doing so, we can hopefully shed the harmful discrimination and oppression of women, and instead help empower them.

 

 

I don't like the word 'Slut'

You say you don't care about diversity. Well then…

I just read this at wheelrtumblr.com, and it’s so full of win:

                                          i.d.c.

“personally idc about the diversity. A good story is good no matter if it’s all white males or a multi gender rainbow”.

— A comment made by a person on Twitter. There is evidence that this person is straight, white, and male, but I don’t want to presume.

“idc” means “I don’t care”.

My response to this?

OK!

I’m so glad you’ve decided to take a position, and while I’m sorry you’re not pro-diversity, I support your right to abstain and cede your place in the conversation.

That’s what you did, right? You said you don’t care. As long as the story is good, you don’t care.

But I do care about diversity. I super care about diversity. So if the stories are good and the characters are diverse, we can both be happy.

So, from now on, let’s not have any straight white male leads in stories. None. Zip. Zilch. Not in movies, not in TV shows, not in popular fiction, not in comics. If all the leads in all the stories are women and/or people of colour and/or LGBT, we’ll still have the same ratio of good stories to bad stories, but we’ll also have more diversity.

So you get good stories, which is what you care about, and I get diversity and good stories, which is what I care about. It’s win-win.

But… wait.

No, I don’t want there to be no stories starring straight white men. Some of my best friends are straight white men. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where straight white men didn’t have any heroes that look like them.

I don’t think anyone should be without heroes.

So, here’s a solution. We’ll set aside some heroes for straight white men. Protagonists that they can call their own.

They can have James Bond.

And Harry Potter.

And Sherlock Holmes.

And Peter Parker.

They can have Bilbo Baggins. James T. Kirk. Philip Marlowe. Dirk Pitt. Bertie Wooster. Tarzan. John McClane. Arthur Dent. Mack Bolan. Marty McFly. Clark Kent. Roland Deschain. Jason Bourne. Don Draper. Odysseus. Jerry Seinfeld. Robert Langdon. Perry Mason. Indiana Jones. Flash Gordon. Jack Bauer. Don Quixote. Luke Skywalker. Raylan Givens. Jack Sparrow. Harry Dresden. Homer Simpson. Remo Williams. Sam Beckett. The Doctor, versions one-through-twelve. Rocky. Rambo. Robin Hood.

They can have Batman.

They can even have Walter White.

It seems like maybe there are enough straight white male heroes to last a while.

So this is where we’ll draw a line. Straight white men get to dominate fiction up until now.

And the rest of us? The women, the people of colour, the LGBT folk?

We’ll dominate everything made after now.

Does that seem fair?

Wait! Why am I asking you?

You don’t care about diversity! You only care that the stories are good!

So, we’re good.

Glad we could do business.

You say you don't care about diversity. Well then…

You say you don’t care about diversity. Well then…

I just read this at wheelrtumblr.com, and it’s so full of win:

                                          i.d.c.

“personally idc about the diversity. A good story is good no matter if it’s all white males or a multi gender rainbow”.

— A comment made by a person on Twitter. There is evidence that this person is straight, white, and male, but I don’t want to presume.

“idc” means “I don’t care”.

My response to this?

OK!

I’m so glad you’ve decided to take a position, and while I’m sorry you’re not pro-diversity, I support your right to abstain and cede your place in the conversation.

That’s what you did, right? You said you don’t care. As long as the story is good, you don’t care.

But I do care about diversity. I super care about diversity. So if the stories are good and the characters are diverse, we can both be happy.

So, from now on, let’s not have any straight white male leads in stories. None. Zip. Zilch. Not in movies, not in TV shows, not in popular fiction, not in comics. If all the leads in all the stories are women and/or people of colour and/or LGBT, we’ll still have the same ratio of good stories to bad stories, but we’ll also have more diversity.

So you get good stories, which is what you care about, and I get diversity and good stories, which is what I care about. It’s win-win.

But… wait.

No, I don’t want there to be no stories starring straight white men. Some of my best friends are straight white men. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where straight white men didn’t have any heroes that look like them.

I don’t think anyone should be without heroes.

So, here’s a solution. We’ll set aside some heroes for straight white men. Protagonists that they can call their own.

They can have James Bond.

And Harry Potter.

And Sherlock Holmes.

And Peter Parker.

They can have Bilbo Baggins. James T. Kirk. Philip Marlowe. Dirk Pitt. Bertie Wooster. Tarzan. John McClane. Arthur Dent. Mack Bolan. Marty McFly. Clark Kent. Roland Deschain. Jason Bourne. Don Draper. Odysseus. Jerry Seinfeld. Robert Langdon. Perry Mason. Indiana Jones. Flash Gordon. Jack Bauer. Don Quixote. Luke Skywalker. Raylan Givens. Jack Sparrow. Harry Dresden. Homer Simpson. Remo Williams. Sam Beckett. The Doctor, versions one-through-twelve. Rocky. Rambo. Robin Hood.

They can have Batman.

They can even have Walter White.

It seems like maybe there are enough straight white male heroes to last a while.

So this is where we’ll draw a line. Straight white men get to dominate fiction up until now.

And the rest of us? The women, the people of colour, the LGBT folk?

We’ll dominate everything made after now.

Does that seem fair?

Wait! Why am I asking you?

You don’t care about diversity! You only care that the stories are good!

So, we’re good.

Glad we could do business.

You say you don’t care about diversity. Well then…