Sex In the News

Recent posts

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 4

For the final post in this series (here are links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) we’ll examine the final 3 characteristics of minority groups based on a sociological list of 5 traits that minority groups tend to share. And we’ll discuss some implications for considering LGBT folks a minority group when it comes to the question of “rights.” 3) A shared sense of collective identity and common burdens: The LGBT community has bonded in order to provide community support to one another, both in cases of discrimination and intolerance described above, and to do what all social groups do for one another (celebrate life, mourn death, share their daily existence, tell stories, make art, help one another, work, gossip, raise children, and so on). 4) Socially shared rules about who belongs and who does not determine minority status: This group might be more porous than other minority groups, since many GLBT groups accept straight allies, asexual allies, and so on within their ranks. But there are still norms for membership, inclusion, and so on. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 3

In this post series, I’m defending the idea of giving GLBT people minority status. My first post gives some background on the issue, while my second post documents the oppression they face, thus fulfilling the first of 5 sociological categories that grant minority status to a group. Now we’ll get into the 2nd of these 5 categories:

2) Physical and/or cultural traits that set them apart, and which are disapproved by the dominant group: as far as I can tell, the scientific community is still researching the nature vs. nurture explanations for same-sex desire (take, for instance, this Slate article explaining some of the recent theories for the biological basis of homosexuality). My educated guess is that there are both biological and environmental factors going into sexual identity, and we’re still figuring out which conditions cause certain factors to come to the forefront. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 2

In the first post in this series, I listed 5 sociological characteristics of minority groups, intending to build an argument that LGBT people are, in fact, deserving of minority status. Here’s where I’ll get into the first – and perhaps most important – of those characteristics. Please note that for the purposes of this discussion, I will be focusing on gays and lesbians; this is not to erase the unique challenges faced by bisexual people, trans*people, queer folks, asexual people, and others, but simply because I’m not trying to conflate all these groups under one umbrella heading, though in some cases it does make sense to consider them grouped together, and I’d argue that they all do deserve minority status based on their uniqueness and their experiences of oppression. 1) Suffering discrimination and subordination: here is a list of atrocities committed against gays and lesbians specifically because they are gays and lesbians:

Numerous hate crimes against gays and lesbians, such as the murders of Matthew Shepard, Steven Simpson, Sakia Gunn, and many, many more, as listed on Wikipedia’s page, History of violence against LGBT people in the U.S. (seriously, click on that last link if you don’t believe that hate crimes against LGBT people are a thing)
Put another way, according to The Leadership Conference, “Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.” I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the population of gays and lesbians probably remained fairly constant, so the fact that the proportion of hate crimes against them went up means that they are being targeted specifically for who they are. Continue Reading →

Does Being Gay Make You A Minority? Part 1

Since I started following the news about HJR-3, the proposed Indiana amendment that would ban same-sex marriage (which will not appear on the 2014 ballot after all), I have gotten more and more involved in debates on why gay marriage should be legal, what gay rights are, and whether the phrase “gay rights” should even exist. One Indiana blogger, Sam Kean, wrote in a blog post titled Sexual Identity & Equality that “The LGBT culture attempts to claim rights as a minority against which discrimination is happening. That claim for equal rights as a minority is based on sexual identity, as if sexual identity must be equated with other essential (permanent) descriptors of human identity–race/ethnicity, gender, nationality (origin), age.” Kean discusses other aspects of sexuality in his blog post, which I won’t get into here, as my main goal is to demonstrate that gays and lesbians do, indeed, deserve minority status. Here’s why. Continue Reading →

All Rape Is Corrective Rape

(Trigger-warning for discussion of sexual assault.)

While researching a blog post on anti-gay hate crimes such as corrective rape, I stumbled across this piece on corrective rape. The author’s main argument is that in our patriarchal society, all rape is corrective in that it is meant to “correct” women’s behavior when women step outside the lines of acceptable femininity:

Because any woman who exists outside of those proscribed, religious-gender roles, needs to be corrected. That way she will learn her place, but also serve as an example to other women in the vicinity, that if you want to benefit from the protection of the law, and society, you best toe their line. The message that rape sends is that you’d better behave within these narrow confines… or else. Continue Reading →

First Canadian Child With Three Legal Parents

The Family Law Act of 2013 in British Columbia allows for more than two parents to be listed on a child’s birth certificate. Now, newborn Della Wolf is believed to be the first child with three legal parents: her two moms, who are in a committed relationship, and the biological father, who is numberswiki.com

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a close family friend. A similar law was recently signed into effect in California, so it’ll be interesting to see whether such laws catch on in other places. I tend to believe that the more loving people in a child’s life, the better, and so I’m definitely keeping an eye on this phenomenon. Continue Reading →

Believing Survivors

Dylan Farrow’s open letter about the sexual assault she endured from her adoptive father, Woody Allen, has provoked a sensational discussion around the issue of who to listen to, and who to believe. I believe that narratives of sexual assault must always be taken seriously, not only because they are most likely true, but also because our response to these narratives reveals something about ourselves. Moreover, our responses then reveal this information to the people around us who make decisions based on it. Ann Friedman’s blog post I Believe Dylan Farrow makes this point based on the network of people in her life. Quite simply, she writes: “While all the caveats about not knowing the family personally apply, I do know several women who have experienced sexual violence that is not dissimilar from what Dylan describes. Continue Reading →

The Question Of Gay Marriage In Different Religions

In following recent gay marriage debates in the U.S., I’ve noticed that a lot of the arguments against legalizing gay marriage are religious. They may or may not be explicitly framed that way – some people quote the Bible in their arguments, while others refer to “traditional marriage,” an implicitly Christian construct – but the religious content remains. My issue with taking a religious stand against gay marriage here in the U.S. is that our government is explicitly founded upon the separation of church and state. In my understanding, the application of this delineation is largely carried out through civil rights. So while one religion may discourage its members from same-sex marriage, that shouldn’t affect believers of another religion (or none at all) from being able to pursue same-sex marriage. Continue Reading →

Domestic Violence Statistics: A Reminder

Marissa Alexander, a mother who was given 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband, is an example of how fighting back against domestic violence often jeopardizes women’s safety. This fact sheet about domestic violence, assembled by a group advocating for Alexander’s freedom, is a sobering reminder about the many ways that social norms and the legal system fail women. For example:

85-90% of women in prison have a history of being victims of violence prior to their incarceration, including domestic violence, sexual violence, and child abuse. A study of women incarcerated in New York’s Rikers Island found that most of the domestic violence survivors interviewed reported engaging in illegal activity in response to experiences of abuse, the threat of violence, or coercion by a male partner. Each year, 324,000 pregnant women are physically or sexually assaulted by an intimate partner. Continue Reading →

Tips For Men With Good Intentions

Actually, this fabulous blog post by my feminist friend Xenologer is less of a collection of tips and more of a comprehensive guide to understanding how male privilege can negatively affect the interactions of well-intentioned men with women. Using simple language and concrete examples, and packing a ton of links for further reading, Xenologer unpacks how guys who don’t perceive themselves as sexist can have happier and healthier interactions with not just women, but everyone around them who’s impacted by patriarchal power structures – which is to say everyone, really. Here are some of my favorite points from her post (though really, you should just go read the whole thing):

Recognizing your privilege is important – and perhaps more importantly, you don’t have to feel bad about being privileged. When feminists point out instances of male privilege, we’re not trying to shame you for having it: “You are definitely not a bad person for having male privilege, and you don’t need to be a sexist male to have it. It’s not ‘misogynist privilege,’ after all. Continue Reading →