Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stuff you may have missed this week

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Once again, a brief and very incomplete summary of what's been going on in the world for the past week, in case you're relying on us for your feminist news.

A very moving and compelling essay in the American Prospect by Jaclyn Friedman about the legacy of Stonewall, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the riots in Greenwich Village. Friedman points out some disturbing truths about the status of the gay rights movement, 40 years after one of its most important events. She writes, "The modern LGBT-rights movement owes its existence to the heroes of Stonewall. And while much has been gained in the intervening decades, a certain crucial something has been lost. We've become a movement that will settle for anything vaguely positive that proves we exist."

Idiotic Bloggingheads video debate about the idea of paying women not to have abortions. This is going to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies - how? We want to give financial incentives to stay (and probably, as some interpret it, to become) pregnant, but we can't provide adequate welfare, because that encourages people to rely on handouts from the government.

Lynn Rosenthal was named the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Just one more reason to love Joe Biden!

According to the NYT, vibrators are as common in American households as toaster ovens. Well, maybe not that common.

Can we just pause and ask why Ross Douthat is allowed to publish in the NYT? His latest column basically asserts that lower-class people are having wilder, more unsafe sex, but also sex with more "romantic excess," while feminism has trapped men in the kitchen where they are unable to seduce their wives. Does anyone else understand what he's trying to say? Over-educated feminists aren't having enough unsafe sex, but lower-class couples should try to take it down a notch? My question is - why the hell would anyone (regardless of their economic status) care what Ross Douthat thinks about their sex life?

And, straight from Vietnam, my sexist comment of the day, courtesy of my tour guide in Saigon this past weekend. Imagine this accompanied by an unnecessarily large wink:

"You know, sometimes in Vietnam they call 'ladies of the night' mermaids. So when I take large groups to some towns, at night I tell the women that they can go shopping, and men can go fishing."


At July 1, 2009 at 7:14 AM , Blogger TommyD said...

I read Ross Douthat's op-ed, and I think I understand what he was trying to say--although he worked very hard to create an incoherent jumble out of his arguments.

Notwithstanding caricatures of trailer-park lovin' and frigid, risotto-eating elites (anyone seen the beginning of "Idiocracy"?), there really is a class divide in Americans' approach to sex, marriage and pregnancy.

Wealthier, more-educated Americans tend to initiate sex later, use contraception when they do, and are open to abortion if contraception doesn't work. They choose their marriage partners at an older age, and tend to stay married longer.

Poorer, less-educated Americans--the same folks caught up on the abstinence brigade--tend to have sex sooner, not use protection, get pregnant earlier, and marry younger. And people who marry younger have higher rates of divorce. This "paradox" (the libruls have boring sex lives!) actually makes a lot of sense when you think things through: people who have more freedom of choice, combined with the education to make informed choices, tend to make stabler choices.

This is what Ross Douthat was trying to say, I believe. Where he and I part company, though, is in what we make of these phenomena. I see the stability of late-marriage, low-divorce partnerships as a good thing: good for couples, good for children, good for families. Ultimately, I think, we should be giving all Americans the education and opportunities to make these choices.

The prep-school-and-Harvard-educated Mr. Douthat, though, seems to romanticize the carefree spirit of the proletariat. Make of that what you will. I include an essay by Linda Hirshman that discusses Bristol Palin's pregnancy and how it relates to this discussion:


Now I'm off to make myself a bowl of risotto.

At July 2, 2009 at 3:30 PM , Anonymous Steve said...

You never mention, and I suspect that Obama won't either, that the catalyst for the riot was Judy Garland's funeral the previous day, and that most of the rioters were cross-dressers.

The 1970s were not a time when gay liberation "advanced haltingly;" in reality, the 1970s were when all effective legal restrictions on industrial scale homosexual promiscuity were utterly ended in precisely those cities -- e.g., San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York -- where AIDS broke out most virulently in the early 1980s.

Instead, we're all supposed to believe AIDS was caused by discrimination against homosexuals in the military, the absence of gay marriage, and/or Ronald Reagan. Indeed, it's precisely because the evidence for cause and effect is so overwhelmingly clear that the pressure to lie and to submit to others' lies is so intense.

At July 6, 2009 at 2:19 PM , Anonymous Emily Sullivan said...

Steve, you are wrong. Judy Garland's funeral was a year before, and it is merely a circulated rumor that the anniversary of it started the riot. The riot started when police raided a gay night club, and began dragging the patrons out and arresting them. Representatives from the entire LGBT community came out in protest--not just cross dressers.
The LGBT community was absolutely brutalized by law enforcement in the '70s--even in the cities you mention.
And for goodness sake, AIDS is not CAUSED by homosexuality.
Please educate yourself before promoting intolerance. Here's a good place to start: http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/26/stonewall_riots_40th_anniversary_a_look


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