Another one from me at Wired today:
For the transgender community, the web is an important resource for finding trans-friendly doctors, housing, jobs and public restrooms–many things the rest of us take for granted. But web filtering software designed to prevent access to pornography often stops people from accessing websites that with information on a host of other topics, such as breast feeding, safe sex and, yes, transgender issues. It’s a subtle–and possibly unintentional–form of discrimination, one that can have a big impact. Web filters are more than a temporary inconvenience for many transgender people who rely on public libraries and internet cafes to access the internet. The problem is even worse in the UK, where all new internet connections are filtered by default at the ISP level.
“Because homelessness and poverty are such a big issues in the trans community, many don’t have access to unfiltered, uncensored internet,” says Lauren Voswinkel, a transgender software developer based Pittsburgh. These hurdles to accessing information can make it even harder for transgender people to escape poverty.
That’s why she’s building Transgress, a tool that lets people bypass web filters to access sites about transgender issues and only transgender issues.
Annalee Newitz writes:
Gay marriage sounds like an ultra-contemporary idea. But almost twenty years ago, a Catholic scholar at Yale shocked the world by publishing a book packed with evidence that same-sex marriages were sanctioned by the early Christian Church during an era commonly called the Dark Ages.
John Boswell was a historian and religious Catholic who dedicated much of his scholarly life to studying the late Roman Empire and early Christian Church. Poring over legal and church documents from this era, he discovered something incredible. There were dozens of records of church ceremonies where two men were joined in unions that used the same rituals as heterosexual marriages. (He found almost no records of lesbian unions, which is probably an artifact of a culture which kept more records about the lives of men generally.) […]
How could these marriages have been forgotten by history? One easy answer is that — as Boswell argues — the Church reframed the idea of marriage in the 13th century to be for the purposes of procreation. And this slammed the door on gay marriage. Church scholars and officials worked hard to suppress the history of these marriages in order to justify their new definition.
Full Story: io9: Gay marriage in the year 100 AD
From Ted Haggard to Larry Craig, some of the most vocal anti-gay crusaders have turned out to be some of the biggest hypocrites. Some researchers have finally decided to put it to the test: are homophobes really just repressed homosexuals? Skeptikai writes:
The researchers looked at six studies from the US and Germany involving 784 university students. The participants rated themselves from gay to straight on a 10-point scale. Then they took an implicit sexual orientation test via computer, where participants are shown images and words associated with heterosexuality or homosexuality (such as “gay”) and asked to sort them into the appropriate category as fast as possible. Their reaction times were measured.
But before each word came up, the word “me” and “other” was flashed on the screen for 35 milliseconds – just enough time to subliminally perceive the word without being aware of it. The hypothesis was that when “me” precedes words that reflect their sexual orientation, those images will be sorted quicker. This is how researchers also try to determine things like implicit racist beliefs in individuals.
Over 20% of self-described highly straight people indicated some level of same-sex attraction – by which I mean they were faster at sorting “me” with pictures and words associated with homosexual than with heterosexuality. I have my own reservations about these kinds of studies – because I hesitate to call someone gay or racist by simple matching and reaction-time methodologies. However, it’s extremely difficult to measure something like this, and the next part of the study regarding this 20%+ group is fascinating.
Depressing: The Advocate reports on a survey by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality. Among the findings: “Fifty-six percent (56%) of American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender respondents reported having attempted suicide compared to 41% of all study respondents.”
A right wing group called One Million Moms is threatening a boycott against Toys R Us for carrying
Toys R Us didn’t respond to HuffPo’s request for comment, but here’s what they got from Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater:
As I’ve said before, Riverdale is a safe, welcoming place that does not judge anyone,” he wrote. “It’s an idealized version of America that will hopefully become reality someday. We’re sorry the American Family Association/OneMillionMoms.com feels so negatively about our product, but they have every right to their opinion, just like we have the right to stand by ours. Kevin Keller will forever be a part of Riverdale, and he will live a happy, long life free of prejudice, hate and narrow-minded people.
Bill Whitcomb, who brought this story to my attention, says “Obviously, I haven’t been keeping track of Archie, but I’m surprised that they are this progressive.” Same here, but I do remember seeing this on Boing Boing.
Can you clarify the genders of the people on the cover, or is that giving away some sort of secret?
The verdict isn’t in; that’s the whole point. Banning gay marriage is ridiculous because how are you supposed to tell what fucking gender anybody is if they’re bending it around? It could be anything—a she-male marrying a transsexual, or what the hell. People are capable of any sexual thing. To ban their marriage because someone doesn’t like the idea of them both being the same sex, that’s ridiculous. That was the whole point of the cover; here is this official from the marriage-license bureau, and he can’t tell if he’s seeing a man and a woman or two women. What the hell are they? You can’t tell what they are! I had the idea of making them both look unisex, no gender at all. On TV once I saw this person who is crusading against sexual definition, and you could not tell if this person was male or female—completely asexual. I was originally going to do the cover that way, but when I drew that it just looked uninteresting so I decided it should be more lurid somehow.
A drag queen and a drag king getting married.
Whatever they are.
Do you think the New Yorker is homophobic?
I think it’s the opposite. The New Yorker is majorly politically correct, terrified of offending some gay person. I asked this gay friend of mine, Paul Morris, “If you saw this cover on the New Yorker, would you be offended?” He said, “I’d wanna hang it on my wall!”
Note: This article refers to a scientific study that has a small sample size and has not, to my knowledge, been replicated.
It’s a common assertion that homophobic men are actually repressed homosexuals. But does the hypothesis hold water? Psychology Today points to a study from 1996 that indicates that there does seem to be an association between homophobia and homosexual arousal:
One study asked heterosexual men how comfortable and anxious they are around gay men. Based on these scores, they then divided these men into two groups: men that are homophobic, and men who are not. These men were then shown three, four minute videos. One video depicted straight sex, one depicted lesbian sex and one depicted gay male sex. While this was happening, a device was attached to the male participant’s penises. This device has been found to be triggered by sexual arousal, but not other types of arousal (such as nervousness, or fear – arousal often has a very different meaning in psychology than in popular usage).When viewing lesbian sex and straight sex, both the homophobic and the non-homophobic men showed increased penis circumference. For gay male sex, however, only the homophobic men showed heightened penis arousal.
Heterosexual men with the most anti-gay attitudes, when asked, reported not being sexually aroused by gay male sex videos. But, their penises reported otherwise.
Homophobic men were the most sexually aroused by gay male sex acts.
Based on their YouTube channel, Elijah and Milo Peters just seem like your average, slightly awkward Czech teenage twins. They enjoy role-playing games and steak. They like frolicking around on the beach in their elaborately patterned underwear and taunting each other while bodybuilding. (“Hey you lazy-ee boy! Put some weight on eet!”) But the Peters twins aren’t quite as innocent as their goofy grins and adorable accents suggest.
Over the past few months, they have become two of the most controversial performers to hit the gay porn world in a very long time. That’s because they’re willing to break a taboo that, even in an industry that thrives on extremes, is too extreme for many: twin incest (or, more succinctly, twincest). While the concept of twin performers is not new to the gay porn world, the Peters twins are notable both because of the extent of their popularity and the things they are willing to do with each other on camera. They French kiss; they perform oral sex on each other; they have anal sex; and most shockingly of all, they do it in a tender and romantic way.
"My brother is my boyfriend, and I am his boyfriend," says one of the twins during a phone call from Prague (Elijah and Milo sound so much alike on the phone it is impossible to tell which one is speaking). "He is my lifeblood, and he is my only love." […]
It’s unclear if the story they are telling is true, or part of their marketing, but it is clear that they enjoy playing along. They also don’t seem remotely uncomfortable speaking about their peculiar sexual behavior.
Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan put up a post about an extremely brutal hate-crime attack on an openly gay man. The 2-minute news report he embeds is depressing, but there was something to laugh about at the end. The studio interviewed one of the attackers’ friends, who proudly displayed this tattoo.
It’s a tattoo reading “[Thou] shall not lie with a male as one does with a woman. It is an abomination. Leviticus 18:22?. Who else sees the problem here?
Leviticus also forbids tattooing. In the very next chapter.
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:28?
(via Paul Bingman)
The other day I watched eXistenZ. Afterword, I reached into the box of old Mondo 2000s that Bill Whitcomb recently gave me, and pulled out an issue at random. It just happened to have an interview with David Cronenberg (an excerpt from Cronenberg on Cronenberg, which I was also flipping through). Here’s an interesting bit where he talks about gender:
William Burroughs doesn’t just say that men and women are different species, he says they’re different species with different wills and purposes. That’s where you arrive at the struggle between the sexes. I think Burroughs really touches a nerve there. the attempt to make men and women not different - to pretend that little girls and boys are exactly the same and it’s only social pressure, influence, and environmental factors that make them go separate ways - just doesn’t work. Anyone who has kids knows that. There is a femaleness and a maleness. We each partake of both in different proportions. But Burroughs is talking about something else: will and purpose.
If we inhabited different planets, we would see the female planet go entirely one way and the male another. Maybe that’s why we’re on the same planet, because either extremes might be worse. I think Burroughs’s comments are illuminating. Maybe they’re a bit too cosmic to deal with in daily life, but hear it reflected in all the hideous cliches of songs: “You can’t live with ‘em, and you’ve can’t live without ‘em.”
Burroughs was fascinated when I told him about a species of butterfly. They couldn’t find the male of one species and the female of another. One was huge and brightly colored, and the other was tiny and black. It took forty years before lepidopterists realized were the same species. When Burroughs talks about men and women being different species, it does have some resonance in other forms of life. But there are also hermaphrodite version of this same butterfly. they are totally bizarre. One half is huge and bright and the other halve - split right down the middle of the body - is small and dark. I can’t imagine it being able to fly. there’s no balance whatsoever.
(See also my article on Breyer P-Orridge).