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Slut Pride, Same-Sex Marriage, and Teenagers In Love (Or Not)

Jaclyn Friedman explains slut pride and the controversies it can cause. Also, Prop 8 is overturned in court and the Bristol Palin saga is yet another reminder of why conservative sexual mores don’t work.

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Links in this episode:

  London anti-domestic violence ad

Pat Buchanan attacks Judge Walker for being gay

Colbert on gay marriage

Limbaugh loses it

Newt Gingrich’s sanctimonious nonsense

Gingrich admits to cheating

Gingrich claims his personal adultery is irrelevant

The gushing Bristol Palin/Levi Johnston engagement announcement

Elizabeth Hasselbeck questions the engagement

And it’s off!

Levi Johnston for mayor 

The most poorly researched “brilliant” idea of the week

On this episode of Reality Cast, Jaclyn Friedman will be on to talk about slut pride vs. slut-shaming. A look at the Prop 8 overturn and the right wing reaction, and a review of the debacle known as the Bristol Palin/Levi Johnston show.

The London’s Metropolitan Police have put out an ad addressing the problem of people not calling the police when they hear a domestic violence incident.  The ad shows an ordinary living room, and the sounds of the fight are beyond the wall.

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The caption reads, “Nearly 1 in 5 murders in London are the result of domestic violence.  So if you hear domestic violence, call 999.  You make the call.  We’ll make it stop.”  It’s an extremely effective ad, and I think even American audiences could get something out of it.

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It was the news that blew a hole in the current state of the culture wars.

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This is a really big deal, because Judge Vaughn Walker wrote a decision that’s both hard to argue with and is nearly guaranteed to roll up to the Supreme Court.  Prop 8’s defenders failed to make the case in any way.  Their  argument that same-sex marriage somehow hurts straight marriage was decisively disproved, and some of their side arguments claiming gay rights are bad for the family similarly turned up no real proof.  Walker reserved special choice words for the Prop 8 defenders for trying to pass know-nothing bigots off as experts on homosexuality.

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From an intellectually honest point of view, there’s basically no argument against Walker’s decision.  Anti-gay people have failed to make a cohesive, coherent argument for  a long time now.  Their argument that marriage is inherently gendered falls apart when they admit that legally speaking, marriage is egalitarian nowadays and women have full human rights even if married.  The argument that giving gay people rights detracts from straight marriages or harms children have been found groundless not just on common sense grounds, but also in all the fact-finding that Walker helpfully provided in his decision.  That said, I’m sure the more conservative justices on the court will ignore logic and evidence and vote against legal gay marriage.  But the hopes lay with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is conservative but has a surprisingly pro-gay voting record in recent years, including the decision he wrote for Lawrence v Texas, which made sodomy laws targeting gay people  illegal.

Without logic or evidence on their side, then, conservatives have been left with freaking out.  And the target of the freak out has been, unsurprisingly, Judge Walker himself.  Conservatives are claiming he didn’t have a right to make this decision.

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This idea spread rapidly on the right, that gay judges can’t rule on gay rights because well, it doesn’t make sense.  Straight people shouldn’t be able to rule on gay rights, either, by their logic, since they argue gay rights are an assault on straight people.  Clearly, only bisexuals can be judges, at least when it comes to these kinds of issues.  Stephen Colbert took on this silliness.

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But the best part, for my money, is the usual crew of people swearing they only oppose gay marriage because of their stalwart commitment to traditional family values.  People like Rush Limbaugh. 

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The way Limbaugh carries on, you would honestly think the judge is forcing him to marry a dude. Frankly, it might be better for Limbaugh.  After all, all on his own this supposed defender of family values can’t hold a marriage together any more than he can juggle Jello.  He just got married for the 4th time this summer.

Then you have Newt Gingrich.

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Gingrich loves traditional marriage so much he has a long history of cheating on one wife in order to line up the next.  Which leaves him on marriage number 3.  Gingrich is such an obnoxious hypocrite that even he can’t deny it.  He admits openly that he cheated on his first two wives.  His second wife has come out and said that Gingrich used to brag that what he personally did wasn’t relevant as long as he was mouthing the right sentiments in public.  The problem is that he’s one of those people out there claiming that gay people can’t have basic rights because it’ll hurt straight marriages.  If he’s so concerned about the health of straight marriages, perhaps he should start looking to himself before making evidence-free assertions about others.

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insert interview

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Recently, Americans hopefully learned a very valuable lesson in why it’s foolish to romanticize teen pregnancies, teen romance, and especially teen marriage.  It’s a little surprising that we as a nation had to learn this lesson.  Most people frown on teens growing up a little too fast in polls.  When it comes to the teenagers we know, we assume they’re too immature to get married and have babies.  Even if they’re especially mature, we’d like them to wait on the general grounds that there’s plenty of time and there’s so much growing up to do between high school and your mid-20s, and it’s just not a good time to make lifelong commitments you probably won’t want to keep.  But somehow, none of this common sense seems to be in play when it comes to Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston.  After Johnston conducted a media war with the Palin family, people still snapped to when this announcement was made.

  • palin 1*

The gushing tabloid media couldn’t get enough of the young lovers, or acting like this one is a romance for the ages.  For instance, US Weekly induced the cuddling young couple to gush about how romantic the proposal was. 

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What’s interesting is that when Bristol’s pregnancy was announced during the campaign, there was a full court press to make it clear to the public that Bristol and Levi were totally going to get married.  For those of us who battle the anti-choice right on a daily basis, this was just another example of how Christian conservatives are less interested in what’s good and healthy for teenagers and more interested in making sure that their patriarchal rules about sex and marriage are followed to the letter.  A shotgun teenage marriage is an acceptable outcome from the Christian right point of view. But when Bristol and Levi broke up the first time, the battle that ensued between Sarah Palin and Levi Johnston caused many on the right to start siding against this young marriage not because young marriage is generally a bad idea, but because they didn’t like Levi Johnston in particular.  Take Elizabeth Hasselbeck for instance. 

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I was amused, because while this is a lot about Sarah Palin being thin-skinned and also about small town politics, there’s also a reality biting the Christian right on the ass.  And that reality is that no matter how much they think the best solution for sexually curious teenagers is abstinence, or in lieu of that, marriage and babies, in the real world it’s better to be a little more flexible about sex.  And Sarah Palin may talk a mean game about being hardline about this stuff, but when it comes to her own family, all of a sudden she’s beginning to live in the world of nuance.  A world where maybe it’s not such a great idea for her 19-year-old to get married, because both parties involved show routinely that they’re a tad immature.  And that relationships aren’t always for the ages just because someone got pregnant. 

And let’s just say the skeptics were right on this one.

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When feminists frown on abstinence-only messages and say that it’s better to take a flexible attitude towards young people experimenting sexually, this is what we’re talking about.  When we say that the youthful missteps and learning process are best kept with consequences like pregnancy and STDs to a minimum, this is what we mean.  Teenagers are very rarely all the way there yet when it comes to conducting mature relationships. But here you have the right wing demanding that young people show a level of assurance in relationships and the maturity that even some adults can’t muster.  It’s not acceptable to push early marriage and child-bearing on kids through abstinence-only and disdaining contraception use.  What you end up with is a mess like the Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin situation.

I expect the sudden realization that these two are too young for all this will factor into the reaction to this announcement:

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And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts, research fail edition.  You’ve probably heard about a bunch of wingnuts flipping out because a Muslim community center is opening two blocks from the World Trade Center.  Greg Gutfeld went on Glen Beck’s show to gloat about his supposedly brilliant idea to stick it to liberal defenders of the center.

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A bunch of right wing bloggers immediately started touting this as the greatest idea ever.  We’ll show them intolerance, they thought!  Except not a one of them thought to do the obvious, which was to see if there were already any gay bars in the area.  This being New York, at least five in the immediate vicinity have been counted, and of course they’re not going to discriminate against gay Muslims. Contrary to wingnuts’ greatest hopes, it doesn’t seem that the folks at the community center seem to care.  The lesson for us all is, if you don’t want to look like a moron when promoting a supposedly brilliant idea, do your research first.