Archive for May, 2010

Homophobia

The poster for the joint concert, including a picture of very old style military type people holding instruments.I’m not American, I’m Canadian, so that means that I live in a country with an integrated military, at least as regards sexualities. Heck, I play in a queer* concert band, and we played a joint concert called “Sounds Like Freedom” with the local army band ten years ago, in part because our conductor was an openly lesbian trombone player and a seargeant in said army band. And for those of us in this situation (you know, in a country where having out gay and lesbian service people did not destroy the armed forces), all this wacky fuss in the U.S. regarding whether or not it’s okay for queer service people to be queer just seems bizarre and nonsensical. And of course, full of very real consequences for people’s lives, like any enforced closet has, including for straight people.

Melissa over at Shakesville just posted about a republican threat to filibuster the new sorta kinda repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. As usual, she’s right on the money, but I did have an interesting thought when I read this bit:

When he says he’s going to “support the men and women of the military,” naturally he means only the straight ones.

You know, when people are homophobic shitheads, they probably hate homosexuals so much that they think they’re doing them a favour when they enforce the closet. Like, queer folk are probably deep down inside grateful that they don’t have to come out and tell their shameful secret to world. So in a sense, they probably do think they’re supporting queer people. They’re dead wrong, of course.

* I’m using “queer” here, as I often do, to indicate the broad LGTBA community.

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Birth and Breastfeeding in Season 1 of Lost

There will, of course, be spoilers for Season 1, which is all I’ve watched so far. This is a warning re: such, and I’d really really appreciate it if you didn’t comment with spoilers for seasons *past* Season 1. Any such spoilers will a) make me all angry and annoyed, and b) not be approved. Thanks.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Feminism and birth, said better than I could ever say it

When changing birth culture meets fighting rape cultureSpilt Milk gets this so right and says it so clearly. This is a must read. In particular, this is the part that really got my attention:

When a woman has a hand or an instrument inserted into her vagina whilst she screams and thrashes out her non-consent, and when this action is sanctioned by society because it occurs in a medical setting (and because it is believed it must be for the ‘safety of her baby’ if carried out in this setting, regardless of whether or not it was medically indicated or evidence-based care), we have a problem.

But read the whole thing.

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Cutting the Genitals of Children, Part 1

I committed to writing a post a week for the month of May on the above topic, because I attended a session called Social Media, Social Justice at the Northern Voice 2010 conference, and we were asked to make a concrete commitment in some area of social justice that was near and dear to us. This is post #1.

Although of course these posts are going to be about the medical and religious procedure most commonly know as circumcision, but let me first speak about values.

When I use the word values, I mean the moral weight and reasoning that we use to evaluate the world. We all have values, most of which are unspoken and unacknowledged, and they aren’t universal, even though it feels very much like they are. Values also aren’t entirely logical, though we can usually rationalize them, and our values can over time change through education and experience. I think it’s important to be able to speak our values so that people know where we’re coming from, so here’s a few of mine.

Value 1: People who choose to parent children have a responsibility to protect them from harm. This seems perhaps obvious, but there’s a lot of uncertainty on what that protection means. And what harm means, for that matter*. Nonetheless, once you know or suspect that a harm is occurring or likely will occur, it seems to me that by choosing to be a parent (an undoubtedly complicated choice) you also make a choice to take on the responsibility of protecting your child from that harm.

Value 2: People are more important than concepts. Concepts, including values and religious ideas, are intangible. And of course, they can be important. But for instance, it’s very difficult to say whether a concept has been harmed by someone’s actions or how great that harm is. Concepts need people to define them, to explain them and to speak for them. Concepts do not and can not exist without people.

Value 3: Actions should be judged by their effects, not by their intent. Good intentions do not erase the actual bad effects of the things we do. Knowing that a friend meant only good when they served a meal full of allergens doesn’t make the allergic reaction any less, for example. Unintended bad effects are no less bad.

Value 4: Adults, in my world, get to do whatever they want to do with their own bodies. Any marking, piercing, modification or amputation that an adult wishes to do or have done to their own body is or should be their right. There is nothing we possess more totally than our bodies, they are entirely our own.**

Given that these are my values, I know very clearly where I stand with regards to medical or ritual male or female infant or youth genital cutting, sometimes known as circumcision or mutilation. It is, quite simply, wrong.

My values tell me that it is wrong to permanently alter the bodies of children and infants without their consent (and as children and infants they cannot consent to this). It is wrong to cause them pain for no medical benefit, perhaps the most excruciating pain of their lives, and this is true regardless of what the reasoning behind the pain causing is. It is wrong even when “pain relief” is used, as this is rarely sufficient to remove all pain and can cause further problems and damage. It is wrong to risk their lives, their health and their sexual future for aesthetic reasons.

Next post: Some musings on religion and the clash with values.

*I suspect the concept of harm in parenting is based on another set of values. For instance, if you believe that children are inherently “sinful” and/or inherently inclined to be uncooperative, then you’re going to view things like punishment and rigid parenting practices and a child’s behaviour very differently than if you believe that children are inherently community-minded and inclined to want to get along with others. For the record, my beliefs re: children and therefore my practice as a parent tend more along the latter values set.

**I want to state this because I don’t want to be misinterpreted as saying that cutting/amputation/body modifications are a wrong in and of themselves. In my view, these are neutral acts, and their morality is decided by the context in which they take place.

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