Slog

The Oral Argument

Appetizer: Electric Kamon, with Haruko, just before dinner.  (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

Okay, see if you can follow along, because, well, I’m writing it and it still seems a bit tough. So …

• … apparently someone named Alison Stevenson wrote an article for Vice explaining why she doesn’t perform oral sex on men―and apparently upset some people in the process, although not for detailing anything about her sex life but, rather, for not giving blowjobs―which, in turn …

• … moved Dan Savage to recall an occasion he upset some people for suggesting oral sex is a natural and seemingly inherent part of a sexual relationship, and then explains why he isn’t upset with Stevenson despite her apparent hypocrisy, and …

• … in a consideration seemingly unrelated yet also coincidentally appropriate, Christopher Frizzelle slogs philosophical about the nature of clickbait.

There was a point, I promise, sometime before I started typing, when this seemed like it made sense.

To the other, I freely admit that at no point did it actually seem important.

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Image note: Electric Kamon with Haruko, just before dinner. (Detail of frame from FLCL episode 4, “Full Swing”)

Stevenson, Alison. “Why I Don’t Give Blowjobs”. Vice. 23 March 2015.

Savage, Dan. “Alison Stevenson Won’t Suck Your Dick”. Slog. 24 March 2015.

Frizzelle, Christopher. “What Is ‘Clickbait’?” Slog. 23 March 2015.

A Sideshow, Squared

Representative Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, pauses while speaking during an interview in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014.  Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee resisted parts of the early versions of Chairman Dave Campo's plan for the biggest tax-code changes since 1986, said Schock.  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

“Of course, we don’t know for sure whether Schock is gay. All we know is that relatively few heterosexuals are forced from office by an interior decorating scandal.”

Matt Baume

Well, you know, there is that.

Then again, there is a bit more to it, as Matt Baume explains:

If Schock is in the closet, it’s a closet that he helped perpetuate during his years in Congress. Thanks to his opposition to open military service, marriage equality, and hate crime protection for LGBT people, he earned a perfect 0-percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign. Too bad HRC doesn’t award bonus points for best swimwear ....

.... When I talk about Schock’s “closet,” I mean the system of keeping LGBTs down by intimidating and disadvantaging them. Schock never met an anti-gay law he didn’t like, even though he was uncomfortable when asked why. Laws like those Schock supported are designed to oppress gays and lesbians, and they send a clear message: Sure, go ahead and be openly gay; just remember that you could lose your job, your home, your safety, or your life.

While it is true that Schock has long been subject to rumors and jokes about his sexualityα, it really doesn’t seem to be relevant here. Well, except for the point about the decorating.

That, at least, seems to be worth a chuckle.

And none of which should take away from Baume’s point; the LGBT community has reason to celebrate this falling from grace. Not that the one has much to do with the other except for a vague discussion about corruption of the soul or psyche, but still, you know, we take what we can get.

Ain’t that always the way?

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α There was the bit about the teal belt. And John Aravosis certainly entertained himself with the notion last year, and enough noise happened that Salon picked up on the murmur, and things have gone on the way they’ve gone on so that, well, now a scandal-plagued congressman infamous for his overdecorated office can’t possibly resign in shame without a queer question controversy.

Image note: Representative Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, pauses while speaking during an interview in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee resisted parts of the early versions of Chairman Dave Campo’s plan for the biggest tax-code changes since 1986, said Schock. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Baume, Matt. “Aaron Schock and the Closets of Downton Abbey”. The Huffington Post. 19 March 2015.

See Also:

Savage, Dan. “Rep. Aaron Schock’s Belt Is…”. Slog. 15 June 2010.

Aravosis, John. “Anti-gay GOPer Aaron Schock locks down Instagram account as outing rumors swirl”. AmericaBlog. 4 January 2014.

D’Addario, Daniel. “The bizarre quasi-‘outing’ of Aaron Schock”. Salon. 6 January 2014.

Petrow, Steven. “Civilities: Please stop pink-baiting Aaron Schock”. The Washington Post. 20 March 2015.

The Gay Fray

Sekirei-No2-bw

Notes from the Gay Fray:

Mark the date: 28 April 2015. (Reuters)

• Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore tells judges to defy federal law. (Huffington Post)

• Is marriage equality a sign of the End Times? (Huffington Post)

• GOP presidential dreamer Ben Carson does what he does best: Open mouth, insert foot. (msnbc)

• For an encore, Dr. Carson blames the press and says, “I’m not going to really talk about that issue anymore”. (Huffington Post)

Dan Savage. Why? Because. (Slog)

― While we’re on the subject, there is also the fallout, which is well worth the savagery. (Slog)

• And something almost interesting, a right-wing sensationalist named Shoebat arguing something about Daa’ish as a component of the gay agenda. Yes, really. (Right Wing Watch)

Last Month’s List o’Links

Transgender pride

Notes from the Culture Wars:

Kevin Thornton, or, queer alt country on being gay and forty in the twenty-first century. (HuffPo)

Paige Lavender on Texas and the transgendered. (HuffPo)

Tresa Baldas tries to explain the unfortunate intersection of compassion, hatred, and your doctor. (Detroit Free Press)

Sam Levine, and this time it’s Kentucky and the transgendered. (HuffPo)

Cavan Sieczkowski on Freud on homosexuality. (HuffPo)

• Two reports, from Tammy Mutasa and Casey Weldon on a die-in demonstration at Fountain Square, Cincinnati, calling attention to violence against transgendered. (WLWT, WCPO)

• Education? State? Justice? Jennifer Bendery reports that the transgendered also have the Department of Defense on their side. (HuffPo)

• At this point, Michael Tomasky’s piece tying social conservative politics to the precipitous decline spectacular crash of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s presidential ambitions to … Jerry Falwell. (The Daily Beast)

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Your War on Drugs (Cherryburst Edition)

Suicide is never funny.

Then again, if you want the detail, Oren Yaniv, et al., of New York Daily News have an article for that. Still, though, there is something much more succinct about Dan Savage’s capsule summary:

Authorities in New York City raided a maraschino cherry plant in Brooklyn looking for environmental violations because illegal runoff from the factory—maraschino red syrup and waste—was turning bees in the area red. When they spotted a false wall in the plant … the owner excused himself, went to the bathroom, and blew his brains out.

Just say 'No' to the War on Drugs.Right. Not funny. Nor is the war on drugs.

Seriously, this guy killed himself over marijuana, because, you know, it’s just like methamphetamine: “‘Underground, it was really Breaking Bad,’ said the astounded law enforcement source.”

Frankly, between growing dope and manufacturing maraschino cherries, I’d say the abuse of fruit is probably more detrimental.

Look, none of this would have happened but for the war on drugs.

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. And this is your brain spattered all over the bathroom because there is a war on drugs.

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Yaniv, Oren, et al. “Owner of Brooklyn Maraschino Cherry company kills himself after police find huge marijuana-growing operation: sources”. New York Daily News. 24 February 2015.

The Future as Now as a Matter of Priorities

"Fellow Citizens: Now is the time to consume.  Why skimp when you deserve more?" (Detail of frame from "Ergo Proxy" episode 1, 'Pulse of the Awakening'.)

Many of us were raised in a time that looked forward to the future, to the age of angels, to the days of miracles and wonder, to the time when most of our economical problems would be solved by new and amazing technologies. Many of us actually arrived in the future. Here it is. We find ourselves in it. And it is disappointing. We no longer cure anything, as the money is in lifelong treatment. Corporations have abandoned R&D and spend their surpluses on generating more surpluses from stock buybacks. Only billionaires travel to space. And a whole generation of brilliant mathematical minds has not been spent on filling the remaining gaps in the Standard Model, our deepest understanding of the universe and its history, but in constructing models for Wall Street traders. And we do not have robots. We have instead machines that make us do the work at supermarkets.

Charles Mudede

It is always a matter of priorities.

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Image note: “Fellow Citizens: Now is the time to consume. Why skimp when you deserve more?” Detail of frame from Ergo Proxy episode 1, “Pulse of the Awakening”.)

Mudede, Charles. “MIT Graduate Develops a Program that Will End Theft at Self-Checkout Machines”. Slog. 26 February 2015.

A Market Symptom

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.  (Washington Times, file photo)

“Another thing that doesn’t work the way Tony Perkins would like: God’s favor. Unhinged religious conservatives like Perkins are always screaming that God punishes countries that embrace equality for LGBT people and showers blessings on countries that persecute LGBT people. But a quick look at the list of the worst places to be LGBT—Iran, Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, Cameroon—makes it clear that ‘shitty and fucked’ correlates strongly with ‘rabidly anti-queer.'”

Dan Savage

Sometimes it is enough to go with, “What he said.”

And sometimes it should be enough to do so, but it might take some explaining nonetheless.

Within that subset there are occasions when one can trade such explanation for an expression of mild exasperation as if to say, “What, you need this explained?”

Okay, that is a concession worth making on this occasion: As long as people keep sending these groups enough money to keep them in business, others will point out the dangerous, uneducated excrement they produce.

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Savage, Dan. “Tony Perkins: Same-Sex Marriage Destroys Currencies”. Slog. 16 December 2014.

Something About Justice

Detail of cartoon by Matt Wuerker, 27 November 2014 (via Daily Kos Comics)This is what it comes to. This is the problem. And no, it is not so simple as black and white.

Jenny Durkan, formerly a U.S. Attorney from Seattle, offered some insights recently, in the wake of the Ferguson Grand Jury decision to not charge Officer Darren Wilson with any crimes related to the shooting death of Michael Brown, about why it is hard to secure any sense of justice when police officers have the appearance of being criminals. “I know firsthand,” she writes, “how difficult it is to prosecute police officers.” And then she recounts a really awful period in the history of the Seattle Police Department, a force whose misconduct demanded and received federal attention, a story that is still playing out, a hyperdrama that includes the police complaining that they cannot do their jobs properly and safely without excessive force.

There comes a point at which some might argue that of course the police are going to fight for every last scrap of force, and it really is properly arguable in the context of how the laws of our society operate and intermingle with diverse customs. Trying to identify a threshold between what is tacitly known and accepted—officers can customize their incident reports, omitting or rearranging details as they please to make for a more prosecutable narrative, and the state is allowed to destroy the evidence that would support or contradict those narratives—is an abstraction both peculiar and common. It is customarily inappropriate to speak ill of the police in any terms, which is its own bizarre question insofar as we should not hold our breath for any explanation of just how one applies to become black.

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A Note About Rape Culture

Bill Cosby performing in Melbourne, Fla., on Friday, 21 November 2014. (Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Marc Lamont Hill offers a useful primer on the idea of rape culture:

Over the past few weeks, new attention has been paid to longstanding allegations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted multiple women over the course of his career. As new information and accusers are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.

By “rape culture,” I refer to the ways that our society and its institutions normalize, promote, excuse, and enable sexual violence against men and women. While I cannot definitively say that Cosby is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, the conversation about him epitomizes some of the most pernicious aspects of rape culture.

There are reasons assertions of rape culture are controversial, and it is important to recognize the two primary drivers of objections to the concept of rape culture are pride and, well, it would sound weird to say “capitalism”, and that isn’t quite right, but it has to do with opportunity and reward.

In the first place, rape culture isn’t something to be proud of; our contributions to such outcomes are often conditioned behavior, and in the end, even if we carry conscious misogyny, it is not like we would admit we have wrong ideas. Nobody enjoys self-indictment.

The second is the idea of a marketplace hungry for comfort. And this downright sounds silly until one pauses to consider the idea of men’s rights advocacy, and the basic controversy about what that phrase actually means. Paul Constant of The Stranger reminded earlier this year that there are fewer of these types than we tend to imagine, but “those few activists are exactly as terrible as you think”.

He referred to an event in Michigan earlier this year, the first “International Conference on Men’s Issues”, and for those hoping that such a gathering might produce something more than the usual misogyny we hear from this manner of asserting men’s rights, well, more fool you. Or, perhaps, in the context of a marketplace hungry for comfort:

The crowd broke out in laughter when one speaker suggested most alleged rapes on college campuses are fabricated.

“The vast majority of female students allegedly raped on campus are actually voicing buyer’s remorse from alcohol-fueled promiscuous behavior involving murky lines of consent on both sides,” said Barbara Kay, a columnist for Canada’s National Post. “It’s true. It’s their get-out-of-guilt-free card, you know like Monopoly.”

† † †

Janet Bloomfield, an anti-feminist blogger and spokeswoman for the conference, has suggested in the past that the age of consent be reduced to 13 because of a “mistake of age” can get unwitting men in trouble.

“The point being that it can be incredibly difficult to know, just by looking at someone, how old they are,” Bloomfield wrote, calling some teenage girls “fame whores.” Bloomfield also called protesters of the event, “Wayne State cunts.”

In a marketplace society, you can always find someone willing to sell what other people want. One of the foremost purveyors of what this market wants to hear is Wendy McElroy who wrote earlier this year:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and it will be used to promote a big lie — namely, that we live in a “rape culture.”

Such an approach is not helpful, especially when it relies entirely on fallacy:

The idea that America is a rape culture is a particularly vicious big lie, because it brands all men as rapists or rape facilitators. This lie has been successful despite reality.

And there you have it. To the one, no national culture is monolithic; to the other, the only person asserting that “America is a rape culture” would be Ms. McElroy, in the course of building a windmill to tilt.

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