Using Women as Product

One of the revelations to come out of the recent blow-up of Ashley Madison is that nearly all of the site’s female users are fake profiles. Relative to the number of men using the site, the number of real women actually interacting with men looking to have affairs is nearly zero. Annalee Newitz then invites us to ask whether Ashley Madison deliberately set out to create a site in which married men paid for the privilege of pursuing non-existent women, or whether they simply ended up operating that way after they failed to attract a non-trivial number of women to the site. Either way, the end result is that tens of millions of men are putting money into Ashley Madison and almost no extramarital affairs are resulting from those expenditures. The site is just ripping off tens of millions of married men who want to cheat on their wives. You have about as good a chance of winning the lottery as a man has of scoring an affair through Ashley Madison.

Continue reading

And now I will talk about Josh Duggar.

You may have heard that someone hacked into the Ashley Madison servers. I’m sure there are ethical reasons why I shouldn’t stoop to reading about who was caught maintaining a cheat-on-your-spouse account, but, when it exposes ripe hypocrisy, I just can’t help it! Exhibit A: Josh Duggar. Yes, THAT one. First child of Jim Bob and Michelle of 19 Kids and Counting fame, and now the executive director of the Family Research Council. He’s been caught with TWO accounts at Ashley Madison.

Of course this isn’t nearly as disturbing as his sexually abusing younger girls, including his own sisters, but it’s still the sort of thing where he should know better. He makes a living in telling the rest of us what to do with our juicy bits? He shouldn’t be running around on his spouse.

Something that stood out to me, while fish-bowling his latest shame, is that the experiences he’s looking to get from an affair are so uninteresting. According to Gawker, Josh is seeking an extramarital partner for:

“Conventional Sex,” Experimenting with Sex Toys,” One-Night Stands,” “Open to Experimentation,” “Gentleness,” “Good With Your Hands,” Sensual Massage,” “Extended Foreplay/Teasing,” “Bubble Bath for 2,” “Likes to Give Oral Sex,” “Likes to Receive Oral Sex,” “Someone I Can Teach,” “Someone Who Can Teach Me,” “Kissing,” “Cuddling & Hugging,” “Sharing Fantasies,” “Sex Talk.”

That’s it? Really?

I’m not shaming him for being insufficiently adventurous; having vanilla taste in sexytimes is fine. I just think…if he were into weird stuff, I could sort of sympathize with his stepping out on his spouse. It would still be ripe hypocrisy, and unfair to Anna, but I’d see where he was coming from if he were trying to fulfill kinks that Anna didn’t share.

That, though? THAT is why he needs a lady on the side? I could believe that maaaaybe Anna won’t try sex toys, or that her sex talk game is weak, or she’s not so articulate about sharing fantasies, but Josh cannot expect me to believe he can’t have the rest of that incredibly tame shit with his faithful Quiverfull wife. I don’t believe it. *crosses arms stubbornly*

Nope. He’s been cheating on his wife just because he feels like he should have MORE. Maybe the Quiverfull model of marriage ends up being insufficiently fulfilling for Josh; maybe he feels like he needs a more interesting woman to share his bed. Maybe there’s something inherently oppressive in the sense that he cannot fuck his wife without making yet another Duggar. So perhaps he needs another lady just to get the feeling, which most people do enjoy with their partners, of fucking just because fucking is fun. And if that’s his issue, then he should not be telling the rest of us how to build our family lives, because the Family Values party line is that “fucking just for fun” is warped and wrong. Of course he lost his leg to stand on as soon as we found out he sexually abused his sisters, so there’s also that.

Oh, yes, PLEASE bring this to SCOTUS!

In a bit of big news that makes the U.S. an even better place for sexual minorities, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has decided that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is effectively a subset of discrimination by sex, which means it is already illegal under existing civil rights law.

You know what this means?

When the SCOTUS decided that bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional—thus giving us nationwide marriage equality—there were still some states where employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (read: you could get fired for being gay) was still legal. The EEOC’s decision means that firing someone for loving the same gender is now especially unlikely to go unpunished.

Is this as binding as a Federal law? Not quite. But it definitely means something.

The ruling — issued without objection from any members of the five-person commission — applies to federal employees’ claims directly, but it also applies to the entire EEOC, which includes its offices across the nation that take and investigate claims of discrimination in private employment.

While only the Supreme Court could issue a definitive ruling on the interpretation, EEOC decisions are given significant deference by federal courts.

Oh, man, I relish the thought of the SCOTUS ruling on this question. I can’t wait to see Scalia throw another tantrum over his colleagues having the gall to do their jobs. (But really he’s throwing a tantrum because the law no longer honors his prejudices as it once did.)

I’m interested in this decision because the commission is recognizing what we in the queer and feminist communities have been saying for decades: homophobia is dependent on sexism. The way society treats LGB people (this particular decision does not affect transgender folks) has everything to do with the way society defines man, and woman, and what it expects of us depending on those labels. Furthermore, any hostility to people of same-sex orientation can be ultimately boiled down to a question of what would happen to an opposite-gender (although “opposite” is a problematic concept where gender is concerned, but just humor me for the sake of argument) person in the same place. Specifically: if my employer fires me because they found out I lick pussy, the question is, would they treat a man this way? Would a man lose his job because he’s attracted to women? Ridiculous, isn’t it? Would a woman have to worry about becoming unemployed because she craves cock? The idea is preposterous. Thus, homophobia (and also biphobia, though when bisexuals experience employment discrimination, it’s usually a matter of homophobia) is a wholly owned subsidiary of sexism.

Anyway. The commission’s decision means that the situation of “lose job because we got married” is increasingly unlikely.

Good. We are on Team Fabulous and I want that to mean something.

(Also, I just created the “proud to be an american” tag for this blog. It’s about time I started saying that.)

Kalahari Bushmen, Han Chinese, Carthaginians and Aztecs

It’s basically impossible for anyone to make an argument continuing to exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage without embarrassing themself anymore. Today I show you this vicious BURN from Ishaan Tharoor on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, who complains:

…the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?

As Tharoor goes on to show us, the randomly chosen four cultures (I will be charitable and assume he just listed whatever cultures came to mind without any research) are hardly exemplars of the procreative, monogamous, heterosexist culture Justice Roberts thinks we should be trying to maintain. At least he didn’t mention Ancient Greece.

That out of the way, I will answer each of Roberts’s questions in turn, with all the consideration and nuance his concerns deserve. In order of appearance:

…the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States

More than half the states had discriminatory, unfair laws on marriage. They can fucking deal with it.

and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia

Society is not going to fall apart because we civil marriage to another small percentage of the population. No, it really won’t. We’ll be okay. Several countries have had marriage equality for a number of years, and their people aren’t facing a degradation in their quality of life. Several states in the US instituted marriage equality years ago (some of us even by popular vote!) and we’re still doing just fine. Humanity might destroy itself by fucking up the planet with carbon emissions and ocean acidification, but same-sex marriage is not the bringer of Doomsday.

Just who do we think we are?

We are the newest member of Team Fabulous! Rainbow is the new black, muthafucka!

No, you are not the Bonhoeffer in this moment.

It’s so cute when the Enforcers of Tradition act like they’re the victims of the evil status quo while they take the side of the oppressors. (And by cute I mean pukeworthy.) Huckabee is up to his usual tricks

I don’t think a lot of pastors and Christian schools are going to have a choice. They’re either going to follow God, what they truly believe, or they will follow civil law. They’ll go the path of Dr. Martin Luther King, who in his brilliant essay, the Letters from a Birmingham Jail (sic), reminded us — based on what St. Augustine said — that an unjust law is no law at all.

Abusing the words of Dr. King is basically a reflex for the American Right Wing at this point. It’s like someone pushes a button, and they start talking about MLK like they would’ve been on his side. Nice try, but I fucking see you.

Huckabee isn’t the only one calling for grassroots opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling. For months, several far-right conservative pastors — including Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd — have been referring to America’s slow embrace of marriage equality as a “Bonhoeffer moment” for opponents of LGBT rights, invoking the name of famous German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer who was killed for participating in an assassination attempt against Adolf Hitler.

Oh, dear. How do I say this?

Fifty years from now, opponents of gay rights—emphatically including civil marriage—will be the ones that we struggle to explain to our disbelieving, horrified grandchildren. From what I recall, sexual minorities were among the groups targeted for extermination by the Hitler regime. If Ronnie Floyd had lived in Germany at that time, he wouldn’t have sympathized with Bonhoeffer. 

But by all means, Enforcers of Tradition, keep on acting like we’re making you the oppressed underdog by letting more people get married to the people they love. Keep on embarrassing yourselves.

I’ll be the weird old lady hobbling around the neighborhood, surrounded by a gaggle of curious little kids examining my wrinkled tattoos, while I explain to them that when I was their age, same-sex couples could take care of each other for decades and never be allowed to marry. I’ll be the one who explains to them how society could be so warped and hateful. 

In Which Clarence Thomas Embarrasses Himself

For today’s SCOTUS decision on the legality of same-sex marriage, all four of the dissenting judges wrote separate opinions. Seems they’re all trying to out-bullshit each other.

You’ve probably heard about Scalia, running around and Scalia-ing all over the place. He is certainly colorful, and I welcome him to walk around downtown DC with a bag over his head.

Right now, I’m going to deal with Clarence Thomas, whose dissent is certainly…special.

There are plenty of places to find this shit, but right now my source is Ophelia Benson, sharing selected highlights:

Human dignity has long been understood in this country
to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity
cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not
lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity)
because the government allowed them to be enslaved.
Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity
because the government confined them. And those denied
governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity
because the government denies them those benefits. The
government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it
away.

He’s telling us that this Nation (with a capital N) was founded on a vision in which “human dignity” is a meaningless concept. Those who use dictionary definitions as arguments in bestowing and withholding rights to certain groups of people should be disturbed by Justice Thomas’s non-definition of human dignity. He’s arguing, almost in as many words, that people still have dignity when the government treats us like crap, so we have no right to complain when the government treats us like crap.

I mean, but, but…slaves were not deprived of dignity? Really? You think that’s an acceptable thing to say while arguing against marriage equality?

I am holding up my middle finger at the camera and staring in exhausted disbelief. This picture was taken years ago. My hair was longer at the time.

I am holding up my middle finger at the camera and staring in exhausted disbelief. This picture was taken years ago. My hair was longer at the time.

GO HOME, CLARENCE THOMAS. YOU’RE FULL OF SHIT.

Where can they escape Team Fabulous?

I will now take suggestions for countries that Americans can move to if they don’t want to live in a country where same-sex couples have the right to civil marriage. Canada is out, as they’ve been on Team Fabulous since 2005. Australia is a possibility for the moment, but I don’t think they’ll be safe there for very long. Suggested countries should preferably be English-speaking, though if our bigot refugees can’t talk to anyone, that won’t really pose a problem for the locals.

Up is down! Black is white! Dogs and cats, living together!

Everyone knows that when same-sex couples have the same access to the rights of marriage as heterosexuals, everything good and wholesome falls apart like toilet paper in a hurricane. Of course, we’ve had marriage equality for years now in several states, including mine, and the Great Divorce Apocalypse hasn’t happened in any of those states, but now that we have joined Team Fabulous as an entire nation, we all know the floodgates are about to open up.

(I just called a bunch of my married hetero friends to ask if they were packing their bags to abandon their spouses now that the SCOTUS put us on Team Fabulous. They said no.)

So, if you have a tale of a formerly blissful, stable heterosexual marriage suddenly disappearing in a puff of dust due to the expansion of marriage equality, post your tale in the comments section on this post. And I will drink your tears.

Hooray for judicial activism!

If you haven’t visited anywhere in social media within the last few minutes, you may be hearing it first from me:

THE USA NOW HAS MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN ALL 50 STATES, BY DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT.

Holy fuck. This is so awesome. We are a nation of 50 States of Fabulous. 

And the tears. Oh, the Enforcers of Tradition will scream and gnash their teeth and tear our their hair over this. They will beat their fists on the floor and wail about “judicial activism!” As if they didn’t move the goalposts when certain states legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote. I LOOK FORWARD TO DRINKING YOUR TEARS, HOMOPHOBIC BIGOTS.

A pro-choice mother is not an oxymoron.

We have the news that Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, is now expecting her first two children. There are some anti-abortion activists who find this really confusing.

The reaction beyond NARAL, however, has been much more complicated, Hogue says. “There is this whole mentality that anyone who fights for the rights that we fight for must hate children and not want to parent,” she says. “So to have the leader of a reproductive rights organization — an abortion rights organization — show up pregnant, it’s just jaw-dropping.”

At one point, she says, she walked into a hearing on Capitol Hill and an antiabortion advocate looked at her swollen belly and asked, “Is that real?”

There’s no good reason why it should be jaw-dropping for a reproductive rights leader to show up with a baby bump. There’s no conflict between advocating for the option of legal, safe abortion care, and having babies. Perhaps the name of the organization (National Abortion Rights Action League) causes a teensy bit of confusion, but I assure that “abortion rights” is not equivalent to “compulsory abortion.” Plenty of pro-choice feminists are also mothers. This is possible because sometimes, people actually want to have children. They don’t need to be forced, and they shouldn’t be forced.

Their confusion over Ms. Hogue’s pregnancy sort of gives the impression that anti-abortion activism is premised on a view of children as a burden, and that people will only become parents if they see no choice in the matter.

I’m sure the majority of anti-abortion activists don’t think this way. I’m sure most see nothing wrong with Ms. Hogue becoming a mother to twins. I sure hope so.

Also: Congratulations, Ms. Hogue! Yay, babies!