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Archive for the ‘Gender and Sexuality’ Category

Acceptance Contingent on Conversion: The Politics of Religion


by: on June 17th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

But now we got weapons,

Of the chemical dust.

If fire them we’re forced to,

Then fire them we must.

One push of the button

And a shot the world wide,

And you never ask questions

When God’s on your side.

-Bob Dylan

I often travel around the United States and internationally present talks on numerous issues of social justice. A few years back, I gave a talk on the topic of heterosexism and cissexism at Pace University in New York City. I talked about my own experiences as the target of harassment and abuse growing up gay and differently gendered, and I discussed the thesis of my book, Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price. In the book I argue that everyone, regardless of one’s actual sexuality identity and gender identity and expression are hurt by sexuality and gender oppression, and, therefore, it is in everyone’s self-interest to work to reduce and ultimately eliminate these very real and insidious forms of oppression.


Practicing Feminism for Father’s Day


by: Chris Crass, Tomas Moniz, and the Rad Dad Collective on June 15th, 2014 | Comments Off

(Cross-posted from Rad Dad Magazine Collective)

Credit: Cysfresno.

In the wake of the Santa Barbara mass shooting and the misogynistic and racist manifesto that the killer left behind, women all over the world launched a Twitter-based rebellion that put misogyny and sexism front and center.

Far too many men have responded with cries “not all men act that way,” using the hashtag #notallmen. At best, that such a defense is even needed proves that there is a very real, unavoidable problem; at worst, it sounds as though they are saying “Don’t blame me.”

Rad Dad Magazine believes that patriarchal violence in society is epidemic and takes place in a vast culture of misogyny, male entitlement, and male privilege. Against the reactionary cry of “not all men,” we say, “all men need to actively challenge misogyny and cultivate feminism in their lives, families, communities, and society.”


Gay Bashing as Campaign Strategy: What’s Up with Texas’ Republican Party?


by: on June 13th, 2014 | Comments Off

Meeting at their annual Texas Republican Convention, approximately 10,000 party regulars came to Fort Worth to craft the party’s platform ahead of 2016 elections. Returning to their perennial obsession with homosexuality, this year they included a clause that reads:

“We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle.No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”

Actually, California under Governor Jerry Brown and New Jersey under Governor Chris Christy have measures outlawing the practice of so-called “reparative therapy,” stemming from every reputable medical and psychiatric organization, including the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and American Psychological Association, which have concluded that this practice has been found not only ineffective, but more importantly, unsafe and psychologically destructive.


CA Leaders Ask SF Archbishop To Cancel Participation In Anti-Gay Event


by: Tikkun Administration on June 12th, 2014 | Comments Off

We are proud that Rabbi Michael Lerner, co-chair of the NSP– Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls that meets in S.F. and Berkeley, stood with other community leaders in urging the conservative Catholic archbishop of San Francisco to withdraw from an anti-homosexual group’s rally in Washington, D.C.

This is nothing new for Rabbi Lerner or for Tikkun. Tikkun critiqued homophobia in the Jewish world starting in 1988, and the famous Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a champion of tolerance in other respects, resigned from the Tikkun Editorial Advisory Board after telling Lerner that Tikkun’s support for gay rights “might endanger the Hartman Institute’s legitimacy in the orthodox world,” given the opposition to homosexuality in the Orthodox Jewish world. Lerner refused to relent in Tikkun’s critique of homophobia both in the orthodox and Conservative Judaism worlds. Rabbi Lerner officiated at gay and lesbian marriages from the time he was ordained in 1995.


Sending Harvey Milk Throughout The Planet


by: on June 5th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

This year, the United States Postal Service released a long-awaited and overdue postage stamp in honor of a pioneering legislator and advocate not only for the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* (LGBT) people, but for all people, especially those who had been traditionally locked out of the legislative power structure that often attempted to control their lives. The stamp bears the likeness of Harvey Bernard Milk, the first openly gay person elected to the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors in 1977, who worked for and garnered support from members of a wide coalition of groups and communities.

Once in office, he was responsible for shepherding a comprehensive ordinance through the Board of Supervisors for LGBT rights, and worked successfully to defeat the draconian Proposition 6 on the November 7, 1978 California ballot sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County. If said Proposition were to pass, it would have mandated the firing of all LGBT public school teachers as well as anyone who supported LGBT rights in the schools. Briggs alleged that gay teachers desired to abuse, molest, and “recruit” youth.




by: on June 4th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

I developed breasts and my life changed. Thirteen years old. Life was never safe again.

This piece is a long time coming.

It’s something I don’t speak easily about. All that harassment. It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. Best left forgotten. I’m so well trained to please men, to not offend others; I have tucked it under and swept it under. Still it seeps out.

Nobody likes an angry person–especially an angry woman.


He’s “Assertive,” She’s “Bossy”: The Double-Standard Language of Gender


by: on May 22nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the publisher of The New York Times, fired the paper’s Executive Editor, Jill Abramson, after she served only three years as the first woman in this top position. Though reports conflict over the cause of the firing, Sulzberger claimed that “I chose to appoint a new leader of our newsroom because I believe that new leadership will improve some aspects….”

Abramson seems to have talked with top officials at the paper about the apparent discrepancy between what she is paid in her position compared to a substantially higher salary paid to men who previously held the same rank and title. This, together with allegations over Abramson’s supposed brusque personality and management style “may have fed into the management’s narrative that she was ‘pushy.’”

According to The New Yorker, “Abe Rosenthal, an executive editor during the late seventies and eighties, was never considered a subtle personality, to say the least. And so there is a reason that gender has been widely discussed in relation to Abramson’s firing and how she was judged, even if it was not the decisive factor.”

Regardless of what was the basis for her firing, it is clear that social customs and norms reinforce many shared preconceptions about the sexes in and out of the business world. Some of these may be inconsistent or even contradictory, but they share the common element that they prescribe rules of conduct for us all. These preconceived notions, or stereotypes, become standardized mental pictures that societies hold representing oversimplified opinions, attitudes, of judgments.


Utah Scoutmaster Attempts to Form Gay Pride Boy Scout Troop


by: David Mason on April 29th, 2014 | Comments Off

Credit: Creative Commons

A gay pride Boy Scout troop. That’s thinking. Take a troop of Boy Scouts – a symbol of recalcitrant tradition struggling in the new century to find a future – and attach it to an institution committed already to an unrealized future. Better still, find a place for the scheme where tradition is so entrenched, so fiercely intractable, that the only reality it knows is itself. It’s an idea of such audacious, convincing vision, it couldn’t fail, of course, to fail, but to light up our hypocrisy in its fall.

Peter Brownstein fell into this fool’s errand. With zero experience with scouting, he agreed a couple years ago to be the scoutmaster for the troop his son had joined, which was sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of Utah.

A gay pride center is confrontational enough. A pride center scout troop in a conservative fortress like Utah is rather like a McDonald’s opening in Pyongyang (or, perhaps, Twitter in Cuba). But where it would be hard to make the argument that North Korea – as needy as it is – needs the deep-fried icon of western capitalism, Utah does need radical diversity. In Utah, as this native Utahn sees it, difference is sinister – suppressed as much as is possible in a putatively free society, as is evident in the disturbing fact that a measly four percent of scouting groups in the greater Salt Lake City area are not run as extensions of the LDS church.

Not one to accept responsibility casually, Brownstein committed himself to scouting, and found the executives of the Great Salt Lake Council – the biggest and most powerful Boy Scouts of America council in the known universe, incidentally – looking for ways in late 2012 to expand and diversify their membership.

Well, that’s easy, Brownstein thought. Just remove the barriers to entry that scouting policy has put up.

This is where things get weird. When Brownstein voiced his opposition to the Boy Scouts of America’s organizational exclusion of, for instance, gay scouts, he met with the expected resistance on the part of the Mormon Boy Scouts of America leaders, but also found himself struggling with the United Jewish Federation of Utah. Citing an “excellent” relationship with the LDS Church – at which he was “not willing to point fingers” – the Federation’s executive director insisted that Brownstein sign a statement divorcing his advocacy of non-traditional Boy Scouts of America membership from the Federation.


Hirsi Ali, Islam, and Cultural Relativism: The Brandeis Controversy


by: on April 23rd, 2014 | Comments Off

Hirsi Ali. Credit: Creative Commons

I write this on Easter Sunday. A little less than a month from now, on May 18, 2014, Brandeis University will hold its sixty-third commencement ceremony. I shall not be there; I am south of the Equator in Brazil. Someone else also will not be there —Somali feminist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I am glad she will not be. An invitation extended to her was withdrawn by the president of the university, Fred Lawrence. Many of the faculty had signed a letter of protest and the Muslim Students Association had added its voice. Yet, the whole episode leaves me with bittersweet taste. I was left with a nagging question. Ross Douhat in the New York Times said that the university should just come out and confess its bias: “I can live with the progressivism. It’s the lying that gets toxic.” Elsewhere in the media the dustup at Brandeis was portrayed as a speed-bump in the battle over free speech. It was much more. In an age of identity politics can we criticize the formerly colonized or semi-colonized “Two-Thirds World” (in the faculty letter’s terminology)? How to address female genital mutilation in Somalia, slavery in Mauritania and the lynching of gays in Kenya? Especially when such occurrences are clothed with the authority of religion, how do we respond?


How Jews Brought America to the Tipping Point on Marriage Equality: Lessons for the Next Social Justice Issues


by: Amy Dean on March 27th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

In a few short years, same-sex marriage went from being an untouchable political hot potato to a broadly accepted civil right in eighteen states and the District of Columbia. Jews, and their social justice organizations, helped make that happen. In fact, this magazine was a prophetic voice of marriage equality, supporting same-sex unions in the early 1990s and helping to lay the groundwork for the current wave of victories.

Bend The Arc members participate in the SF Gay Pride Parade. Credit: Bend The Arc.

The story of Jews’ contributions has continuing political relevance. The campaign for marriage equality offers valuable lessons for how to break through public resistance on other issues that Jewish groups are now addressing, including economic justice initiatives like paid sick leave, rights for domestic workers, and raising the minimum wage.

A forward-thinking strategy, combined with local and regional organizing, could be key to helping Jewish activists win victories on other issues that may seem unwinnable today, either because of intransigence in Congress or because they don’t yet have popular support. For example, Congress is nowhere near passing the $15 minimum wage that has become the clarion call of several campaigns for workers’ rights. It may seem equally farfetched to imagine that all workers could earn and receive paid sick time, or paid family leave, or that domestic workers such as nannies and housekeepers could enjoy the same rights to livable wages and safe workplaces that workers in other industries receive.