Gender & Sexuality

Friday Miscellany

It's Friday! Time for a little bit of this, a little bit of that: 

  • Barney Frank is engaged! How sweet is that?  Chris Geidner at MetroWeekly put up this

The two have been together since the spring of 2007, according to Frank's office. [Jim] Ready, who is 42 years old, lives in Ogunquit, Maine, where, per Frank's office, he has a small business doing custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other general handyman services. He also is a photographer. 

Cynthia Nixon, Gay and Proud

AP Photo/Robert Mecea

I'm one of fourteen Americans who has never watched an entire episode of "Sex and the City." The high heels and extreme grooming, the squealing girl talk, the pursuit of men—booooring. Give me a rerun of The Wire any day.  

The Difference Between Viagra and The Pill

Starting in August, women will no longer have to pay more than men for the prescriptions (the Pill, Viagra, Cialis) that enable them to have active sex lives. That was the big news this past Friday, when Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declared that almost* all employers must now pay for contraception in their health plans under the Affordable Health Care Act's requirement that insurers cover all preventive services. No co-pays. No deductibles. 

Absolutely Comfortable

A Washington state senator's change of heart on same-sex marriage offers a lesson in humanism.

Yesterday evening, Washington state Senator Margaret Haugen came out in support of the state's proposed gay-marriage law, giving the Senate the key 25th vote to ensure passage; the measure already has enough support in the house, and the governor has agreed to sign it. Haugen released a statement that's been making the rounds on the Internet to explain her position, which you can read in full here:

Colbert Does "It Gets Better"

Nerve is featuring Stephen Colbert's "It Gets Better" video. They're amazed that he can be straightforward and without irony. I'm more impressed with the friend he mentions, who turned around to a bully who was calling him queer and said ... well, watch it

Sex, Preaching, and Abortion

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

You know the colloquial definition of "chutzpah" as well as I do: the man who murders his parents and then throws himself at the mercy of the court because he's an orphan. As you know by now, our good buddy Newt is steadily exercising more chutzpah than our homicidal orphan. Do you remember that, way back while he was trying to impeach President Bill Clinton for, um, perjury, Newt Gingrich had to resign as speaker because he was cheating on Marianne? And now he is shocked that the liberal media would bring all that up, despite his career as a moral scold.

Pee in Safety!

As I've written here before, bathrooms are the ground zero of the transgender social movement. Talk to a transman or transwoman—or to many "gender nonconforming" folks (i.e., women who are very butch and men who are very fey)—and you'll hear about the fury, hostility, threats, and assaults that can result from using either bathroom. Go into the women's, and you can get yelled at for not being a real woman. Go into the men's, ditto. To avoid risking the hostility and the threat of attack, many end up "holding it" for long periods of time, day after day, resulting in kidney and bladder infections.

Friday Miscellany

Good lord, the week goes by fast, and I don't get to comment on 10 percent of what's interesting out there. So here are a few items not to be missed:

What Do We See?


They’re starting to run together in my mind. Jerry Sandusky. Silvio Berlusconi. Herman Cain. U.N. peacekeepers. Arnold Schwarzenegger. USA Swimming coaches. Roman Catholic priests. Here’s the shared story line: A powerful man—or a man in a powerful hierarchy—preys sexually on those in weaker positions. Folks around him have seen

It All Falls Apart

In the beautiful A Separation, even the family is no refuge from society.

Berthold Stadler/dapd

Who are you to judge? Another’s life, the beliefs and attachments, rational and otherwise, that make up another’s choices—how can anyone evaluate such things? Yet the arguing Iranian couple in A Separation demand judgment. They face the camera in the opening scene, a comely woman with dyed-red hair under her veil, and her bearded, exasperated husband. Simin (Leila Hatami) and Nader (Peyman Moadi) are presenting their case for divorce to an unseen magistrate and in turn, to us. She seeks a better life for their daughter abroad; he refuses to leave behind his home and his elderly father, who is stricken with Alzheimer’s disease.

Women, War, & Peace

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

I'm not a gender essentialist. I don't believe that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. I suspect strongly, in fact, that women and men are the same species and might even be able to reproduce. 

At the same time, it's true that women and men—on average, in general—tend to behave differently. You can't predict any individual woman's or man's behavior based on sex; as we've discussed here before, some boys want to be princesses, and some girls are hard-core jocks with a fabulous swagger.

Do Women Ask for More?

About a month ago, I urged women to do our part to help close the gender wage gap by learning to negotiate for more money, noting that it's a well-established fact that women don't ask for as much as men. I made the point that that's not the only, or even the primary, reason for the wage gap—but why should we help keep our income down? Commenters made some other important points, including the fact that women do get punished for being assertive, far more than men do. That's also been well established, which only means that women have to work harder to find the appropriate strategies for us. In the wages-and-salary game, you can't win if you don't play. 

Yes, It's "Rape" Rape

Last week I heard two pieces of good news about rape—one local, one national. The local news: While Boston's serious crime reports dropped by 8 percent overall, rape reports spiked by 12 percent, according to police; the rise was especially dramatic in some lower-income sections of the city. So why is that good news? Well, no one believes more rapes occurred—primarily because there was no increase in reported rapes by strangers, which are most likely to be reported but only make up an estimated 20 percent of all rapes.

Rape Is Rape

The Department of Justice updates its sexual-violence reporting requirements to include men and those unable to consent to sex because of intoxication.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the FBI is changing the definition of rape used by local enforcement to tabulate national sexual-violence statistics. 

While You Were Out

Yes, more has been happening in the world than the Iowa caucuses. (Am I the only one bored out of my mind by horse-race coverage? Do we really have ten months to go?) Some other recent news includes:

  • Spain's same-sex-marriage law makes politicians proud:

Newly departed Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero says that the ruling he’s most proud of from his nearly eight years in office is the passage of full marriage rights for his gay and lesbian countrymen.