Debate 2012: I May Be A Man…But I Got Women’s Issues Too
Oct 2012 25

Debate 2012: I May Be A Man…But I Got Women’s Issues Too

Posted In Activism,Blog,Feminism,GLBT,Politics

by Dell Cameron

I’m not very fond of Presidential debates. In Texas we have a saying: Politicians are a lot like steers; a point here, a point there, and a lot of bull in between. While all evidence is to the contrary, I’m also not very party affiliated. I prefer to think of myself as an independent, even though there haven’t been any Republicans in my district worth voting for in the past 20 years. In fact, I currently work for an independent candidate some of you may know – David Seaman. I can honestly say, if I lived in David’s district there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’d vote for the current incumbent, Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D-FL). But, for the time being, hard proof of my independent nature will have to remain theoretical.

The issue a lot of us politically and socially ‘awake’ independents face this year epitomizes the annoyingly consistent duality of the American election system. Third party candidates, I think more than ever, have really been forced to the back of the bus. Quick: What is the name of Gov. Gary Johnson’s vice presidential running mate? If your answer was, “Who the hell is Gary Johnson?” I think you’ve proven my point.

Unfortunately, yet again, we are only left with only two real options: an incumbent President who may have saved us from the brink of economic collapse, while simultaneously damaging American civil liberties in an unfathomable fashion, or Mitt Romney, whose financial ambitions, i.e. greed, would give Gordon Gekko a run for his money – literally.

I think both candidates have a lot in common. Neither will drastically reduce our annual military budget, which they continue to incorrectly quote as being $700 billion dollars. Guess they forgot that the cost of building and maintaining all those drones, the war related intelligence community (CIA, NSA, DIA), veterans’ benefits, and the Homeland Security budget was not included in that figure.

In addition, we can expect both candidates to continue ignoring issues such as the indefinite detention section of the National Defense Authorization Act, while perpetuating our permanent state of war. I’m hypothesizing here, but somehow I don’t see whether or not we engage in a war with Iran to be determined by this race since preliminary authorization for it has already been passed by the House of Representatives in Section 1221 (parts 7 and b) of the NDAA 2013. The Keystone XL pipeline is still a go, so your decision can’t really be environmentally based. The War On Drugs, programs to develop Orwellian public and electronic surveillance systems, and the sale of our democracy to the highest bidder will continue no matter which party takes the cake.

So… what are we left with to help us decide? Once again, as far as the media is concerned, it all comes down to what church you’re going to (or not, as the case may be). Gays and women, women and gays. Do you like them and will you support them? I happen to like both. Obviously, one more than the other – I write for a website that pays me in tits, but nevertheless, I’m a big fan of the gays too. But, while I’m not a woman or a homosexual, I have a sense of empathy for both, and it bothers me to see the issues facing them tossed around for political gain. In my mind, Women’s Rights and LGBT Rights are Human Rights, and because I’m human, these issues will deeply affect me.

I won’t tell you who to vote for and I refuse to endorse any candidate in writing. What I can tell you is that the Republican and Democratic parties have plenty in common. It’s up to you to find the difference that will help you make a conscientious decision this November. The only advice I offer is to not dismiss the hardships others may face due to the outcome of this election. Even if you’re a white, middle-class, middle-aged male, I promise you the social impact of this election will inevitably affect someone you love.

And if you’re wondering why I didn’t mention taxes when contrasting these two candidates, it’s because, regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, I seriously doubt that Romney will ever pay more than he is right now.

Dell Cameron is writer, activist and entrepreneur from Dallas, TX. He is a contributing writer for SuicideGirls and campaign manager for David Seaman for Congress. Currently, Dell is the Account Director for Alomedia.net, a web development company that specializes in helping artists, musicians and small businesses develop an online presence.

Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A
Aug 2012 08

Chicken Shits: The Slippery Slopes of Chick-fil-A

Posted In Activism,Blog,GLBT,Politics

by Steven Whitney

During the past week, Republicans have fervently fanned the flames of our ongoing culture wars in order to distract, deflect, divide, and conquer. And, once again, it’s just in time to muddy the minds of an already half-hapless electorate just prior to a national election.

This time the battleground is Chick-fil-A – a chicken joint started in 1946, a time when taxes were high and small business start-ups flourished across the country. A few weeks ago, its President, Dan Cathy, publicly supported “the biblical definition of the family unit” and warned ominously that supporting same-sex marriage invites “God’s judgment on our nation.”

While I myself believe God looks very favorably on any marriage and family built on love and devotion, Mr. Cathy seems to think we’re in store for an apocalyptic display of His considerable wrath, not unlike Pat Robertson implying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for legalized abortion.

Cathy’s comments caused a backlash among fair-minded consumers, which then created predictable blowback from the Religious Right. A successful “Kiss-In” was held by GLBT organizers while Mike Huckabee orchestrated an equally successful “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” in response.

In a curious instance of parallel opposites, the last time fast food servers were in a big-time Human Rights skirmish was in 1960, when four young Black students began a sit-in at the local Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, spurring a nationwide challenge to racial inequality in the South. So a question must be asked: if he could fly back in time, would Mr. Huckabee have organized a “Segregated Lunch Counter Appreciation Day?”

At this point everyone on both sides has acted within the rights granted them by the First Amendment. And while some observers may seethe, as a nation we will stand tall or fall mightily on our protection and preservation of these primary rights.

Yet the most legally and morally troubling aspect of this brouhaha comes from two surprising sources: a handful of the nation’s mayors and The Huffington Post.

The only limitation in the First Amendment is that the government – local, state, or national – cannot restrict any of the rights granted within it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

But as if on cue, just when a small Chick-fil-A crisis was about to pass almost unnoticed into history, mayors from Boston, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, and other cities shoved it into the spotlight by grandstanding pro-GLBT platforms and actually threatening the chicken franchise with bans of various sorts. While politicos generally pander to the electorate, this time they made things worse, not only by igniting a firestorm, but by changing the conversation. Now, instead of having to defend the indefensible – homophobia – Chick-fil-A has been pushed into the more just position of defending its First Amendment rights. From the big bully on the block, the mayors transformed both Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A into martyrs to the cause of “traditional” marriage – hence, the veritable firestorm.

Rather than abuse political pressure, the mayors would be better advised to launch municipal investigations to determine if Chick-fil-A practices discrimination in hiring or any other areas of its business…and to advocate for legislation favoring all human rights, including passage of Gay Marriage acts. That is a legitimate use of political power. Remember, everything has a flip side – if government can punish a chicken joint for speaking out today, it can punish you for expressing opposite opinions tomorrow. That is why the First Amendment is inviolate.

The second troubling aspect of this ruckus was Noah Michelson’s misguided piece in The Huffington Post, one of our most influential political website. If he was just an independent blogger, I’d pass on commenting, but Mr. Michelson is listed as the editor of their Gay Voices section, so when he’s wrong, a lot of readers walk away misinformed.

In his article, Mr. Michelson states that Chick-fil-A‘s stance is not a First Amendment issue because it makes a lot of money and then donates millions to anti-gay causes. But I would imagine that Mr. Michelson also donates money he makes from his employment to pro-GLBT advocacy groups…and that is his right, just as it is the right of a private business and those who work for it to donate a portion of their earnings to charitable or political causes they believe in, as wrong-headed as they may be.

Secondly, Mr. Michelson more or less makes the ages-old argument that Chick-fil-A’s speech is too terrible to be protected. In support of that, he urges readers to link to selected sites, gaze at photos of beaten and murdered GLBTs, and read the tragic stories that accompany them. While only sociopaths could not be saddened and outraged by his examples, he’s still dead wrong, understandably reacting only with his emotions. (In trials of heinous crimes, certain photos are deemed inadmissible because of the inherently prejudicial nature they would provoke on jurors’ emotions.)

Mr. Michelson states that he is “in love with the First Amendment.” But it’s a dubious claim from someone who obviously does not fully understand it.

Freedom of speech – indeed, the entire First Amendment – applies equally to the best, most moral people and the worst, most indecent racist, homophobic, pedophiliac motherfuckers under American jurisdiction.

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK), as odious a group that has ever existed, marched 50,000 hooded members down Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital, protected by the First Amendment. Their supporters donated money to their evil brotherhood and the stories and photos of their torture, lynchings, and murders would turn the stomach of Hannibal Lechter.

An offshoot of George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi movement planned a parade in Skokie, Illinois, home to a large community of Holocaust survivors. Yes, there was outrage – the reports and photos of the murder of six million were almost incomprehensible – but, as documented in When the Nazis Came to Skokie, the swastika-bearing marchers won support from the ACLU, the Supreme Court (citing First Amendment rights), and, surprisingly, leaders of Skokie’s Jewish community. Apparently, refugees from a totalitarian state knew more than anyone the importance of free speech.

If any group’s speech was ever too terrible to be considered free, I’d put the KKK and Nazi-wannabes at the top of the list. And yet, they still held that right because they were Americans, and in America we let everyone have their say and hope that facts, common sense, and decency prevails – that is who we are, or at least who we are supposed to be, as a nation. Rightly or wrongly, a democracy ultimately believes in its people.

Journalists who make a difference are those who act, not whine or threaten to jump out of the window if they hear one more reference to their opponent’s rights. Especially when bullies, cowards – and, in this case, chicken shits – hide behind a First Amendment cloak. Over the last thirty years, the GLBT movement has engineered the smartest, most admirable and effective campaign for human rights anywhere in the world. They did it by being aggressive – by showing solidarity in boycotts and expressing their First Amendment rights to protest through outrage and ridicule – not by crying when somebody said bad things about them. Gay Pride was and is pure genius and its effect has been positively felt in every part of the globe. Yes, there are still many battles to win, but if any group can truly overcome, I’d bet on the GLBTs. And I’d also wager they’ll do it without impeding the rights of those who are hell-bent on denying theirs.

Related Posts:
The Vagina Solution
Fighting Back Part 4: The Big Liar, Intimidation And Revenge
Fighting Back Part 3: Fighting Fire With Fire
When The Past Is Prologue
Fighting Back Part 2: Defining Rovian Politics
Fighting Back
The Electoral Scam
Being Fair
Occupy Reality
Giving. . . And Taking Back
A Tale Of Two Grovers
A Last Pitch For Truth
America: Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
Gotcha!

SuicideGirls Group Therapy – Kewpie on Gay Girls Only
Jul 2012 06

SuicideGirls Group Therapy – Kewpie on Gay Girls Only

Posted In All Things SG,Blog,GLBT,Love,Relationships,Sex

by Nahp Suicide

A column which highlights Suicide Girls and their fave groups.


[Kewpie in Twinkle]

This week Kewpie Suicide tells us why she hearts SG’s Gay Girls Only group.

Members: 335 / Comments: 63,926

WHY DO YOU LOVE IT?: I love it because it’s a small, intimate group of hilarious girls who aren’t afraid to speak their minds.

DISCUSSION TIP: Hmmm…Don’t talk about Shane from The L Word lol.

BEST RANDOM QUOTE: There are a ton of awesome quotes but I’ll go with “You know you’re a lesbian if you have every season of Xena on DVD.”

MOST HEATED DISCUSSION THREAD: Most threads are pretty mellow but the ‘Ok [Stupid] Cupid‘ thread has a lot of bad date venting that is always entertaining!

WHO’S WELCOME TO JOIN?: The name says it all, gay girls only!

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SG Radio Pride Show feat. Cassie Jaye, Jesse Brune and Inga Muscio
Jun 2012 23

SG Radio Pride Show feat. Cassie Jaye, Jesse Brune and Inga Muscio

Posted In Activism,All Things SG,Blog,Books,Entertainment,GLBT,Love,Movies,Politics,Relationships,Sex,SG Radio,Society,Vanity

by Blogbot

This Sunday (June 24th at 10 PM PST) on SuicideGirls Radio, in celebration of Pride month we welcome three guests who have enlightened views on what it means to love. Filmmaker Cassie Jaye (Daddy I Do and Right To Love) and inspirational speaker and lifestyle coach Jesse Brune will be joining SG radio host Nicole Powers (SG’s Managing Ed) and co-hosts Darrah de jour (SG’s Red, White & Femme post-feminist sex & sensuality columnist) and Moxie Suicide (SG model and self proclaimed sexpert) live in studio. Acclaimed author Inga Muscio (Rose: Llove in Violent Times and Cunt: A Declaration of Independence) will also be joining us by phone.

Listen to the world’s leading naked radio show live on Sunday nights from 10 PM til Midnight on suicidegirlsradio.indie1031.com/
(Hit the top right “listen Live” button!)

For updates on all things SG Radio-related, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Red, White and Femme: Straight Talk With Cunt Author Inga Muscio
May 2012 29

Red, White and Femme: Straight Talk With Cunt Author Inga Muscio

Posted In Activism,Blog,Books,Entertainment,GLBT,Interviews,Love,Politics,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Darrah de jour

Inga Muscio is the highly acclaimed, and equally controversial (and unapologetic) feminist author of Cunt: A Declaration of Independence, Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil: My Life and Times in a Racist, Imperialist Society, and her latest, Rose: Love in Violent Times.

In the current political landscape, women’s healthcare rights are under attack daily by new cockeyed legislation. Our social and sexual freedoms are being preyed upon by fervently conservative Republicans. The youth of our country are also at risk — whether because sex ed is being taken out of schools in favor of abstinence-only education, or because bullying by other kids is resulting in suicide. The Right’s proposed answer? “Don’t Say Gay” bills.

What better time to visit the themes of Muscio’s literary toils, and pick her brain about everything from sex, race and violence, to female friendships and that dude, The Pope.

Darrah de jour: You are one of the most important and accessible feminist writers of the 21st century. Your seminal book Cunt has changed the lives of so many women by promoting body-love, pro-sex attitudes, and by embracing LGBTQ life-styles — even when, as you state, a lesbian’s desires include wanting to roll in the hay with the opposite sex on occasion. What inspired you to pen Cunt? And how have your views changed in the last ten years?

Inga Muscio: My views have expanded and mutated some, but not earth-shatteringly so. I’d like to qualify that it’s my desire about rolling in the hay with whatever gender. I can’t speak for the general lesbian population on that one. I believe it was Cynthia Nixon who got into a lot of trouble for saying that being a lesbian was a choice for her. I’ve gotten into trouble for saying that as well. And I understand why. The bible-thumpy closet homos get all in a lather about gayness being a choice and with the right amount of prayer and support, one can simply change their mind and no longer be gay. So, if you have people out there saying, “Oh yes, lesbianism is a choice for me,” then you’rr gonna feel a bit betrayed. But the thing is, that’s kind of, in a way, the whole crux of sexuality. It exists on an ever-changing continuum, which is something bible-thumpy closet homos can inherently, never embrace.

What inspired Cunt? Two things. First off was ‘The Mistake,’ which I briefly wrote about in Cunt. Early in my writing career at a weekly newspaper, I accidentally turned in an article to my editor (this is back in the day when actual pieces of paper were exchanged amongst such individuals) and it had the title, the word count and my name at the top. Only I left out the “o” in word count. I didn’t notice “The Mistake: until my editor pointed it out to me. After the newspaper and I parted ways, I sat on my kitchen floor, with all of my articles surrounding me in a 180 degree circle. And I was thinking, “Well, I’ve always wanted to write a book.”

Thing #2 is related to your next question. I’d spent a good part of a decade stewing in this primordial rage, after my mother told me she’d been raped by two men when she was nine years old. I wanted to hunt them down and tear them apart with my bare hands, gouge out their eyes, stomp on their balls. This happened in London in the late 1940s, when she was walking home from school. She had no idea who they were. There was no way for me to satiate my vengeance fantasies on the men, themselves.

And I realized, it wasn’t about these specific men, per sé. Or my mother, or my childhood — which was 100%, 24-7 themed around this far away act of violence. I saw the hugeness of rape. How many childhood’s were shaped by violence? How have the traumas of abuse, rape, slavery and genocide echoed through each passing generation? How does war — and the mass rape it usually engenders — affect a population? I saw this act of violence committed against my mother as one minuscule facet of what I eventually saw as a fractalized, kaleidoscopic panorama. Cunt became my way of setting light to that view. It was, and remains, an incredibly satisfying means of exacting vengeance.

Ddj: In Cunt, you describe one evening where a conversation with your mother about rape changed your relationship with her. The bond between mother and daughter is a complex one. Why do you think so many women have difficulties getting close to their moms?

IM: Here we have another continuum. Some moms are not affectionate. Some are too affectionate. Some daughters are dying for their mother’s approval and their mother will never, ever give it. Some daughters could give a fuck what their mother’s think, and their mom’s doormatishly consider them the most beautiful being ever to grace this planet’s hull. Such a mixed bag.

If you want to talk just general indoctrination, there exists a lot of jealousy between women in patriarchal cultures and this does not spare relationships just because of strong blood bonds.

Ddj: We are living in a very unique time, where the GOP is trying to take women back into the Dark Ages. Their aims include: making contraception difficult and expensive to ascertain; adding additional (and sometimes painful, invasive and expensive) hoops for a woman to jump through to terminate her pregnancy; and trying to make women socially and financially subservient to men, by allowing her to be fired for using contraception — among other wonky Santorum-sanctioned ideas. Why do you think the pendulum is swinging backward instead of forward? And, what would the Muscio plan of attack be if you were organizing a retaliation?

IM: Women’s bodies are difficult to control. So is the earth, itself. So are the many people on the planet who don’t feel like being controlled, such as Palestinians, indigenous people in the US, aboriginal people in Australia, Tibetans, black people, and homos the world over. So my plan involves a lot of education and making these connections. If you’re well versed in the oppression of women, great. Now it’s time to learn about the oppression of everyone and everything else. If you understand how the people you identify with are controlled, move out of your sphere and apprehend how everyone else is controlled. Otherwise, we are all small groups of people looking only to our own self-interests, and meanwhile, do not understand the true nature of our adversary. In war, this is not a powerful position.

We see this on display in the fractured Occupy movement, where the name itself is highly offensive to indigenous people. Those within the movement who hold power do not seem willing to apprehend the gravity of this, thus weakening the very thing they are trying to make strong. How can indigenous people — this includes Mexicans, Chicanos and native folks — really, heart and soul get behind the concept of an occupation when it is something their families have been struggling with for over 500 years? And without the people who come from this land – without the full backing of people of color, homos, and white women – the Occupy movement, for example, will not get anywhere. When we remove all the things that keep us in racist / misogynist / xenophobic mindsets, then we can start talking revolution.

Ddj: Many conservatives are rallying for the removal of sex-ed in public schools. If sex education is removed from public schools, in favor of abstinence only education, or none at all, what kind of effect do you think this will have on children, teens and the future?

IM: Pregnancy rates will skyrocket. Date, gang, and sexual abuse rape will reach epidemic proportions, as if they haven’t already. More young women will go to jail for throwing their baby in the trashcan in Olive Garden during their lunch break or in the school bathroom toilet. Poverty, homelessness, hunger. The young men who actually try to stand up and be fathers for their children will most likely join the military and put their life on the line. The children of these young people will be more available to abuse from relatives, day care center workers, baby sitters or family friends because the parents both have to work. Deaths from homemade abortions will rise. Adoptions will also rise. Good times.

Ddj: South Carolina Governor Vikki Haley recently proclaimed that “women don’t care about contraception. They care about jobs, the economy, and raising their families.” What would you say to Ms. Haley if you had the chance?

IM: I’d say, “That’s a fascinating talking point you learned at one of your dazzle camouflage meetings. If it was based in reality it would not work nearly as well as it does.”

Ddj: Two and a Half Mem co-creator Lee Aronsohn came under fire last month for what many claimed were sexist comments. In response to a reporter’s inquiry about current television programming, Aronsohn replied, “We are reaching peak vagina on television, to the point of labia saturation,” referring to female-centric sitcoms like 2 Broke Girls and Whitney. He went on, “Enough, ladies. I get it, you have periods.” What is your response to this bravado? Why do you think some men still fear women and women’s bodies? How does this affect women?

IM: I see, since Lee Aronsohn knows we have periods, then periods are due to cease existing. When will we reach peak penis in any realm of existence? In architecture? Sitcom plots? Political campaigns? There are very few things in this world — from structures of hierarchy to the cadence of songs — that isn’t penis shaped in some way or another. Hello, war? Bullets, missiles, warheads. Please. I can’t leave my home without being inundated by the realities of penises. Enough, gentlemen, I get it, you (hope to god you) have hard-ons.

I think most men fear women’s bodies because they are indoctrinated to mistrust nature. These are the nice, well-intentioned men. The ones who feel compelled to control nature are a whole other problem. The sexiest men are the ones who’ve faced all of those fears. I think all this affects women by controlling us. Many of our thoughts, desires, aspirations, fears and traumas are also very penis shaped.

Ddj: Your latest book Rose: Love in Violent Times, explores women and violence. In it, you write, “Rape is so much more than the mainstream definition of ‘forced sexual intercourse.’ Rape is murdering part or all of someone’s soul. Snuffing out someone’s power.” While we do not condone honor killings in the US (though some have occurred in families that have relocated here), our attitudes do include blame, judgment, and inaction. When Sarah Palin was mayor of Wasilla, the city billed sexual assault victims through their insurance companies for the cost of rape kits. Others try to differentiate “forcible rape” from incest, as though the results – the stripping of dignity, the violation – were somehow different. Where do you think these attitudes stem from?

IM: Funny you should ask, because it all comes from the above-mentioned penis-based thought. Men who create and pass laws don’t think rape is all that bad. Unless it happens to their daughters, of course. No one dies. It’s as close to a victimless crime as you can get without actually being victimless. Somewhere in the dark heart of a man’s penis, there is the possibility that the woman really wanted it. There is also the problem of slavery and the genocide of native people that we’ve yet to face. We come from a long history of rape being condoned. If a senator’s great-grandfather owned slaves, and raped the women, it was passed through the family that rape was just boys having a little fun. We really, really do have a lot of rapists in our history. And child molesters. So the laws reflect this. Any rhetoric that victimizes/demonizes those who oppose this reality isn’t warmly welcomed. Especially when it comes from a woman. That really is the bottom line throughout our culture: we attack/demonize the victim. Without the victim opening their mouth, there would be no problem. This applies to whistleblowers, environmentalists, animal rights activists, labor unions, incarcerated prison rights activists, un-closeted breastfeeding mothers, and pretty much everyone else who bucks the system of total control.

Ddj: I often engage in conversations with the men in my life (I have an abundance of fantastic male friends) about the challenges they face with the current state of gender dynamics, third wave feminism (or are we now in fourth, arguably?) and the polarization of subjects like abortion and rape. What can the good guys out there do to better understand issues affecting women right now?

IM: I really find it beneficial to immerse myself in the art, films, music, and writing of any demographic I’d like to better understand. See if they could commit to doing this for a year. Your man pals will come out of it with a pretty nice understanding. But not just feminists. Tell them to read biographies about beauty queens and cheerleaders, about powerful women such a Barbara Bush, Imelda Marcos or Margaret Thatcher. Watch independent films by women of color. Just grab any and every CD by a woman at the library. Only go to local shows or openings by women. Tell them to be sure to include transgender women. And good job putting the lid down after they pee.

Ddj: Relationships between women can be intense. What do you think is the biggest challenge women face in having authentic, intimate friendships with each other?

IM: Mirroring competitive models of power. It goes against our nature and wears down out spirit, and so we set upon each other in internecine and highly damaging ways.

Ddj: Not long after Prop 8 was deemed unconstitutional in California, North Carolina voters approved amending their state constitution to ban gay marriage. Last week, President Obama spoke publicly in favor of same sex couples‘ right to wed. Eight states in the US have legalized same sex marriage. Do you think marriage equality will provide equal rights for the gay community? If not, what issue trumps it?

IM: I do think it is a big and important thing. So many people do not enjoy the benefits of marriage. I’ve heard of partners of 20 years being barred from their beloved’s deathbed by homophobic family members who never approved of the relationship. Or firemen whose surviving spouse is not eligible for widow’s benefits. It’s truly horrifying. That being said, I’d like to see gays passionately fighting for the rights of black people, or putting energy into the water or fishing rights that native people are fighting for. I’d like to see homos branch out a bit. All of the issues facing humanity today are important. It’s difficult to prioritize.

Ddj: Pope Benedict XVI said on April 5th that women have no place representing God as ordained priests and rebuked priests who support ending celibacy. Do you think women who ascribe to Catholicism and similar organized religions that oppress women and create/support violent and divisive laws against them are self-loathing? What say you about the myth of female purity (let’s not forget Mother Mary had children after Jesus), and that men can only receive salvation through a sexless woman devoid of physical passion?

IM: The reason he was made Pope was because all of this child sex abuse stuff is constantly erupting and he is the person most experienced in covering it up. The Pope is a total psychopath and anything that comes out of his mouth is guaranteed to be psychopathic.

This whole female purity thing is the Catholic Church’s grudging way of accepting the fact that women must exist on the planet. This is an enclave of men who live in an almost all-male city within a city, who propound to be the word of a male god who never consorted with a woman to produce his child. Is he, in fact, god because he managed this feat? Is this not the holiest thing conceivable (no pun intended), to have a son without touching a woman? Now that’s some shit to aspire to, huh?

These men are absolutely out of their minds. These are the fellas who helped “discover” the new world and sanctified the total subjugation of entire Indian nations. They’re behind a lot of the beliefs in this country that keep people divided and conquered. I look forward to their downfall with bated breath.

Ddj: What are you currently working on?

IM: I’m re-working Autobiography of a Blue-Eyed Devil, which will be published next year.

Find Inga online at ingalagringa.com and facebook.com/inga.muscio.7

Darrah de jour is a freelance journalist and consultant, with a focus on sensuality, environmentalism, and fearless women in the media. Her lifestyle writing and celebrity interviews have appeared in Marie Claire, Esquire and W, among others. She contributes author and filmmaker interviews to The Rumpus. Darrah’s sex and sensuality column for SuicideGirls, “Red, White and Femme: Strapped With A Brain – And A Vagina,” takes a fresh look at females in America. Darrah is also a regular guest co-hosts on SuicideGirls Radio, which is broadcast on Sunday nights on Indie 1031.com/. She lives in LA with her doggie Oscar Wilde. For more of Darrah visit Darrahdejour.com/, and friend / folow her on Facebook and Twitter.

A version of this interview originally appeared in The Rumpus.

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Faith In A Better World: A Devout Atheist Finds Allies Across The Religious Divide
May 2012 24

Faith In A Better World: A Devout Atheist Finds Allies Across The Religious Divide

Posted In Activism,Blog,GLBT,Politics

by Tim Hardy

The Christian anarchists Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker movement in the midst of the Great Depression in 1933. They rejected war and pledged support for workers and the dispossessed, maintaining these views even in the face of growing persecution from a state that wanted to destroy what it perceived as a red menace. The Catholic Workers branded the profit motive immoral. They condemned capitalism because it led to grotesque inequality. They worked directly to help those in need, providing food and shelter.

Over 150 of the soup kitchens the Catholic Workers founded are still going around the world. Each is autonomous. There is no central authority. Each refuses to accept grants or to pay taxes or to accept any of the bureaucratic restrictions imposed by the state such as the need to apply for permits or for non-profit status. The food they provide to the homeless is donated by people in the neighborhood not the government.

I am comfortable in my atheism. I should have no problem with other people believing whatever they like but at times I do. Like many ex-Catholics, I have a problem with faith.

I am genderqueer and not exclusively heterosexual. In an ideal world that should concern nobody but me and those with whom I am intimate. Unfortunately I grew up in the era of homophobic legislation that had a chilling effect on discussions of sexuality. Gay-bashing tabloids and Christian bigots were unchallenged in their abuse of anyone who was not straight or cis-gendered and young queer people were left alone, sweating in the dark.

These days the Conservatives pretend they have changed and the tabloids have switched to baiting Muslims and the disabled. The Catholic Church still stands unrepentant, gladly allying itself with tyrants to block measures in the UN to make discrimination on the grounds of sexual or gender identity a crime and condemning hundreds of thousands to abuse as a result, abuse that can escalate to serious violence and murder.

My support for a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion is another issue that frequently puts me at odds with some faith groups.

Sadly there are many religious bodies that promote intolerance and harmful attitudes. I am ashamed, however, that my instinctive reaction when faced with such religious intolerance is to respond in a way that is not that different to the behavior of the racist who generalizes to make judgments about all members of an ethnic group or nation.

Many Christians, like Day, would agree with Gandhi when he said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

When you listen to UK Prime Minister David Cameron justifying selling arms to tyrants or former Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates making excuses for a regime that tortures and murders dissidents, it is worth recalling that, for these men and for many others, ”It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.” Men without morals, they capitulate to the false necessities of a brutal world view that warns if they don’t do it, someone else will, and that one can only get ahead by getting one over on someone else. So we sell weapons that will be used to kill innocents in order to stop other nations doing it and profiting from the same deal. That’s what moral, responsible capitalism demands.

For religious people, on the other hand, “That’s how things are” just doesn’t wash. They have a faith at odds with the blind faith of capitalist realism.

For this reason alone, however challenging, those of us who wish to build a better world should embrace people of faith in solidarity and resist the divide and conquer tactics of those who do not want change because they profit from the way things are.

Since the coalition took power in the UK, the bigots have been crawling out of the woodwork. The right-wing papers, apologists for the rich and powerful, are lining up articles attacking gay rights and women’s rights then under cover of this artillery barrage of bigotry start whining that Christians are being persecuted. Such an invitation to attack is hard to resist.
We have to acknowledge that there are strong anti-clerical and anti-religious tendencies on the left but the desire to eradicate religion is futile. As Anatolii Lunacharskii, the Soviet minister of education, realized as early as 1928, “Religion is like a nail; the harder you hit it, the deeper it goes into the wood.” But it is not just a matter of being pragmatic. Those of us who reject a faith in the spiritual realm, need to recognize the value of the human desires and dreams expressed through religious faith.

We commonly describe acts of cruelty by others as inhumane because we find it hard to accept that humanity includes the capacity for such malevolence.

Likewise some ascribe forgiveness and unconditional love to divine powers because they cannot accept humanity is capable of such greatness of spirit.

The Catholic Worker movement, like all progressive movements, is growing weaker in a society that is increasingly atomized and lacks the structures of organized labor and strong local communities. The right is on the ascendant around the world. The reaction to the greatest crisis in capitalism since the Depression has been for the rich and powerful to systematically roll back the hard-won progress of over a hundred years of struggle and to attempt to bring about an order closer to feudalism than to the ideals of democracy, a world where the elite are given special dispensation from the law and from responsibilities to others and the most vulnerable are made to pay for the mistake of their new masters.

Those who believe in a better world have a potential ally in those of faith. For Day, spirituality and the moral life were founded in the constant fight for justice and in compassion for those in need. Whether or not we believe in the gospels from which she derived her faith, these values and a refusal to accept a system that condemns some to suffer so that others may live lives of luxury are the values we need. Only this will carry us through the growing darkness of a world where those in charge seem unable or unwilling to steer the machine of civilization away from its headlong passage down the path to total self-destruction.

Tim Hardy is a software engineer, activist and writer from London with a particular interest in the role of technology in driving social and political change. He is the founder and editor of beyondclicktivism.com and can be found on twitter at @bc_tmh.

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Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Doesn’t Buddhism Count Homosexuals As Sexual Deviants? Putting The Fallacy To Bed
Feb 2012 24

Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Doesn’t Buddhism Count Homosexuals As Sexual Deviants? Putting The Fallacy To Bed

Posted In Blog,GLBT,Love,Relationships,Sex,Society

by Brad Warner

A guy called Mister C asked the following question via Twitter: “Doesn’t Buddhism count homosexuals as sexual deviants?” I’ve already addressed this issue at length in my most recent book Sex, Sin, and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between and even right here on SuicideGirls. But I’ll address it again, because clearly there is a need to since the idea persists that Buddhism believes gays are deviants.

There is no Buddhist Bible somewhere out there in which it is written that a man shall not lie with another man as with a woman or anything like that. That’s the short answer. And now the long one.

The main reason so many people believe that Buddhists consider homosexuality to be deviant is because of statements made by the 14th Dalai Lama. In 1997 in an interview with Dennis Conkin of the Bay Area Reporter, the Dalai Lama is reported to have said, “Buddhist sexual proscriptions ban homosexual activity and heterosexual sex through orifices other than the vagina, including masturbation or other sexual activity with the hand. From a Buddhist point of view, lesbian and gay sex is generally considered sexual misconduct.”

One thing that needs to be clarified right from the outset is that the Dalai Lama is not the Pope of Buddhism whose decries form the official position that Buddhists everywhere must follow. He is, in fact, merely the head of one particular sect of Tibetan Buddhism, the Gelungpa lineage. So he’s not even the Pope of Tibetan Buddhism, let alone all of Buddhism. Other Buddhist lineages like Zen, Theravada, Pure Land, Nichiren and so on don’t recognize him as their spokesman or leader. I, personally, rarely pay him much attention.

I’m guessing that the “Buddhist sexual proscriptions” he refers to are the ancient rules for monks (both male and female). The first Buddhist monastic order was expected to practice celibacy. Apparently some of Buddha’s monks thought this meant only that men were forbidden to have sex with women. They figured it was permissible for men to have sex with each other and that hot girl-on-girl action was also fine and dandy. So Buddha had to educate them by specifying that “no sex” meant no sex at all by clearly stipulating homosexual acts as also being no-no’s for monks.

But that was meant only for monks. As far as laypeople were concerned there were only four types of sexual acts that were specified as wrong. In an ancient sutra about Right Action the Buddha is quoted as saying that a Buddhist, “avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister, or relative; nor with married women, nor female convicts; nor lastly with betrothed girls.” Although this statement is made from the male perspective, it is understood the same applies to Buddhist laywomen.

As for lesbian and gay sex being “generally considered sexual misconduct” by Buddhists, that really depends on who you ask. For example, the San Francisco Zen Center, one of America’s largest contemporary Buddhist organizations, is extremely gay friendly. They run a lot of workshops and retreats specifically geared toward the LGBT community. Many other Buddhist communities both in the West and in Asia are similarly open-minded.

There are ancient scriptures that do specify certain acts we consider to be homosexual as being misconduct for monks. And I think this is what the Dalai Lama was referring to.

But when looking back at ancient scriptures, one has to be careful not to read contemporary definitions into them. The word “homosexual” is of very recent origin. Its first known appearance in print occurred in 1869. It wasn’t clearly defined until about a decade later. See here for further details. The Indian, Chinese, Japanese and even Tibetan Buddhists of pre-modern times had no concept of homosexuals or homosexuality as we understand those terms today. Neither did Biblical era Jews or Christians for that matter. But we’ll leave that aside.

For Buddhists, sexual behavior was not really an issue in and of itself. It only became an issue when it interfered with Buddhist practice. Thus, monks both male and female were forbidden to have sex not because sex was considered evil or wrong, but because it interfered with the single-minded pursuit of Buddhist meditation to which they had committed their lives. They were also forbidden to eat after noon, to sleep in luxurious beds, to listen to music, to go dancing and so on for the same reason.

These days the rules are usually far less strict. In Japan, monks are even allowed to get married. The more severe rules are observed during training periods and then dropped when monks leave to go to their own temples. When it comes to lay people there really are no rules at all.

However, there is a set of precepts that all Buddhists adhere to across the board. And the third of these is generally given as, “Do not misuse sexuality.” But there are many interpretations as to what constitutes misuse of sexuality. It is generally left up to the individual to determine for himself or herself what is and what is not a misuse of sexuality. Even the Dalai Lama seems to agree with this. In a 1994 interview with OUT magazine he is quoted as saying, “If someone comes to me and asks whether homosexuality is okay or not, I will ask ‘What is your companion’s opinion?’. If you both agree, then I think I would say ‘if two males or two females voluntarily agree to have mutual satisfaction without further implication of harming others, then it is okay.’”

When Buddhists live communally it is sometimes necessary to agree on a specific definition of sexual misconduct. Some Buddhist communities opt for strict celibacy. Others do not. The San Francisco Zen Center, for example, encourages its residents to engage only in committed monogamous sexual relationships. You can get kicked out of their residential communities for violating this rule. But you won’t get kicked out for being gay. That’s for certain. Though you might get the boot for being too slutty in your gay-ness.

So, no, Mister C, Buddhism does not count homosexuals as sexual deviants. Though certain prominent Buddhists, like the 14th Dalai Lama, do.

***

Brad Warner is the author of Sex, Sin and Zen: A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between as well as Hardcore Zen, Sit Down and Shut Up! and Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. He maintains a blog about Buddhist stuff that you can click here to see.

Brad Warner will be speaking in Los Angeles soon.

March 10, 2012
10 AM – 3:30 PM
Hill Street Center
237 Hill St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405

March 15, 2012
7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
Against the Stream
4300 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

You can also buy T-shirts and hoodies based on his books, and the new CD by his band Zero Defex now!

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