Amanda responds to Janice Shaw Crouse’s misplaced nostalgia, celebrates the intelligence of young people, and interviews a health care worker about the SEIU. Also, the limited political usefulness of gay-bashing.
This week on Reality Cast, we’ll be interviewing Lisa
Tomasien from the SEIU on the rights of health care workers and what that means
to you as a patient. Also, why are we
still fighting over Alfred Kinsey, why are we still treating teenagers like
they’re stupid, and why do wingnuts think that the gay marriage ploy will never
run out of steam?
Panels rock. I’m just
going to say that up front, because I want you, if you’re in Austin
or can be, to come to Netroots Nation to check out the Rewire panel
on Saturday, July 19th at the Austin Convention Center. But if you can’t make it, well hopefully
we’ll have highlights online soon. To scratch the panel-watching urge, in the
meantime, here’s a clip from an HIV panel at the University of New South Wales,
where Daniel Tarantola, a former senior advisor for the WHO, talks about the
HIV and male circumcision controversy.
More highlights are available at Fora TV.
Thanks to Jessica Valenti for sending me a copy of a recent
talk given by Janice Shaw Crouse from Concerned Women for America on why
you’re a dirty slut and will forever suffer because of it. I mean, she doesn’t say that, but suffice it
to say, that’s the takeaway lesson. And
I must say, I’m impressed with her very austere and chaste leopard print coat
she wears in this. I hope she had
equally virginal red open-toed heels.
Shall we begin?
I suppose anti-choicers are so used to lying and using
made-up statistics that they assume the worst of everyone else, too. But the rumors of Kinsey’s supposedly bad
research are highly exaggerated. Sex
researchers nowadays owe a great deal to Kinsey, and his willingness to sit
subjects down and really talk to them to find out their sexual histories is
still considered a better way to go about researching than just asking people
to fill out forms. If you read Mary
Roach’s book "Bonk", she discusses in depth how Kinsey and his methods are
still widely respected.
But he was less than perfect and missed a lot. Who doesn’t?
That’s the nature of science, to lay ground for the next
generation. Sex phobes would have you
believe that because Kinsey didn’t have it all figured out, he was a
fraud. That’s like saying Isaac Newton was a fraud because Einstein
figured out even more about gravity and revised Newton’s theories.
Tricky game she’s playing there. I don’t think that bringing the public’s
understanding of sex closer in line with actual behavior is "redefining
normality". And that’s really what the
battle is here, over whether or not we’re going to embrace reality or deny it
and force everyone to play up a fantasy world.
Kinsey didn’t redefine squat. He
opened the closet door.
And women everywhere actually owe him a debt, because by
alerting the world to the fact that women do have sex in and outside of
marriage and that they want it, he helped usher in the era of freedom that
allows us to access contraception and abortion.
Oh, but there was something more than that, even. Kinsey’s emphasis on describing the world as
it is, instead of how we want it to be, helped society get past demanding that
women have vaginal orgasms. If you have
a good relationship with your clitoris, you have Kinsey in part to thank. I will refrain from speculating on this front
about the ladies of the CWA and their hostility to Kinsey.
Of course, what’s funny is that while she’s angry at Kinsey
for his supposed fraud, she then says this about Hugh Hefner:
Kinsey is held up as a bad guy because he merely described
sexual behavior as it actually existed.
But then Crouse suggests that the Playboy philosophy became the law of
the land? Really? Because while it’s true that Kinsey was right
that there are gay people and that women have sex before marriage, I don’t
think most people live like Hugh Hefner by a long shot. Orgies are still uncommon, and few geriatric
millionaires parade around with a posse of hired girlfriends.
Dude, now she’s just lying through her teeth. The so-called sexual revolution that
conservatives throw a fit about didn’t promise women liberation by any
stretch. In fact, it was the attitudes
of male leftists who thought freedom meant women just gave it up on demand that
partially fueled the anger that led to women’s liberation.
It’s true that freedom from unwanted child-bearing is
considered a basic freedom by feminists, but come on. But um.
Yeah. How can you say it’s
not? I mean, just the idea of forced
childbirth that Crouse is advocating here tells you the whole story of why it’s
wrong. You know, the forced part.
Gosh, did anyone ever actually say that sexual freedom meant
that you’d have no other problems ever? Is she seriously suggesting that heartbreak,
hurt feelings, and other attendant risks of having a dating life simply don’t
exist if you have a repressive culture that restricts people’s freedoms? How?
Did getting pregnant at 16 and being forced to marry the first boy you
ever slept with really leave a generation of women in lives that were
problem-free for the rest of their lives?
I don’t think so. I
think it’s telling that Crouse blames Kinsey for the problems in society. He didn’t actually create any of the
behaviors he described. But he did shine a light on them and say, "Look." And that’s what offends her. It’s not that people don’t suffer under her
preferred system. They suffer a lot
more, because they have no escape hatch, no equality, and no options. It’s just that in her preferred system, they
had to shut up about it and put a happy face on it and just die on the
inside. She’s not really advocating for
a paradise that never existed. She’s
just calling for a return to hypocrisy.
So, let’s talk about young people. As much as we’d hope otherwise, it looks like
abstinence-only education, which is this profound insult to the dignity of
young people above all else, isn’t going away even though we’ve managed to
convince the majority of the American public of what a bad idea it is. I bring this up because James Wagoner, the
president of Advocates for Youth, was on the Below The Waist podcast and, I
want to play the highlights of the interview with some commentary. But I definitely recommend listening to the
What I like about Advocates for Youth, and how they really
differ from abstinence-only programs, is that they have this real respect for
young people. It’s the ideal
strategy. People, especially young
people, will live up to the expectations you put on them more often than
not. I invite you to mentally compare
how Wagoner feels about young people versus Janice Shaw Crouse and her
hectoring tone from the earlier segment.
Last week, I went to the big Campus Progress National
Conference to moderate a panel on reproductive justice. The executive director of Choice USA, Kierra
Johnson, made some comments I thought were really interesting and a good example
of how teenagers can be better people than we give them credit for. And mature in ways that some adults could
learn from. She said that in working
with high school groups and college age groups, there’s this big gender
gap. You have a meeting about
reproductive justice with high school kids, and the room is 50/50 male and
female. You have that same meeting with
college kids, and suddenly the room is 90-95% female.
It’s tempting to ask why that is, but the one thing we know
for sure is that if everyone else was like the high school kids on the gender
parity issue, we’d be doing a lot better.
When people like Wagoner offer this broad respect for teenagers, they
aren’t just blowing smoke. There’s
leadership there, if we want to recognize it.
Here’s Wagoner talking about abstinence-only education.
This is the most important framing on the topic, the idea
that withholding information and refusing to educate is the point of
proponents like to make that they’re different because they tell kids not to
have sex. Well, all programs have the
position that you shouldn’t have sex before you’re ready, even if that’s
defined as a personal choice instead of just a matter of marriage. Abstinence-only is marked by what they won’t
tell you, or what lies they’ll use to conceal the truth. Once you put it that way, it’s hard to be for
abstinence-only. Fundamentally, schools
are about education, not censorship and certainly not miseducation.
Check out the whole interview. Lots to chew over.
And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts. The Weekly Standard’s Fred Barnes applauded
gay bashing as a political technique on Fox News Sunday.
Look, even the dumbest wingnuts are going to eventually
realize that they’ve voted to ban gay marriage like 3 or 4 elections in a
row. And maybe they’ll clue into the
fact that they’re being used. Well, we
can always hope.