Gender & Sexuality

Maggie Gallagher and I Agree to Agree

So my three-part series last week on whether or not marriage equality is radical (in brief: who cares ?; yes ; and no ) drew the attention of Maggie Gallagher, longtime opponent of same-sex marriage. It was kinda fun to be called "always interesting and honest." I've known for a long time that she and I agree about the symbolism of allowing two people of one sex into marriage—it's why we were paired several times in debate. As she says, quoting me whole : Graff also acknowledges that Blankenhorn’s (and mine!) core concern is not irrational. Gay marriage furthers the disconnection of marriage from procreation; it helps in an ongoing way to sever the link between sex and diapers. I just think the change is a good idea, while she thinks it's a bad one. I have long wondered, though, why she's fighting this particular rearguard action. Our 1.5 percent of the population is hardly a very important symbol. Why doesn't she focus on the real source of this disconnection—same-sex couples are...

What’s So Radical about Same-Sex Marriage?

(Flickr / City of West Hollywood)
Two days ago I wrote about David Blankenhorn, longtime “traditional” marriage proponent who reluctantly announced he will no longer oppose same-sex couples’ freedom to marry. I examined his reasoning, because I believe it’s important to understand the logic of those with whom we disagree. And I took issue with Richard Kim’s response at The Nation , which I took to represent the radical/progressive wing of the LGBT movement, which has long groaned at the focus on marriage equality. I got some heated critiques about that post. So yesterday I dug up my longtime agreement with Blankenhorn that allowing same-sex couples into the institution transforms its meaning, furthering the institution’s philosphical and legal shift toward symbolizing gender equality and the separation of sex and babies. My goal yesterday: explain how progressive this shift actually is. But today I’m going to take issue with myself—hey, I’m just talented that way—and argue that there’s a way that Kim, Lisa Duggan,...

Same-Sex Marriage Is a Radical Feminist Idea

Does anyone remember yesterday, before our minds were blown away by watching (on Twitter) Roberts vote to uphold the Affordable Care Act and Kennedy join with the three billygoats to declare the whole thing unconstitutional? I’m having trouble remembering, too. But my notes here say that yesterday I wrote about David Blankenhorn’s decision to support same-sex marriage, and I critiqued (via something Richard Kim wrote at The Nation ) the more progressive faction of the LGBT movement for their long-ago hopes of rerouting the marriage equality movement into a more general attempt to overhaul marriage and family law. That post yesterday took some hits, in ways that suggested I hadn’t accurately conveyed my beliefs. In particular, Chris Geidner wrote, in a series of tweets that I’ll condense here: Whoa: @ejgraff takes on @RichardKimNYC (& many others) in an almost stridently conservative piece: ampro.me/Qk8iNv. The piece, in several places, was dismissive of what was a far more even...

On the Word "Faggot"

Making terms taboo has the paradoxical effect of giving them more power.

(Flickr/Lisa Monster)
(Flickr/Lisa Monster) Rabble-rouser and sex columnist Dan Savage has a corner of the gay blogosphere clutching its pearls over his use of the word "faggot" to describe members of GOProud, the gay Republican group that endorsed Mitt Romney last week: The GOP's house faggots grab their ankles, right on cue: thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/goproud-endors… . Pathetic. — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) June 20, 2012 GOProud supporters shot back, attacking Savage for being a "bully," and now the gay commentariat is debating the use of the word "faggot." Let me say first that I'm no huge fan of Dan Savage, whose moral absolutism I find grating. And while I think it's good that there are people on the right fighting for LGBT inclusion, it's baffling that GOProud supports politicians like Mitt Romney who are antagonistic to their interests. But I think it's a bad idea for gay-rights supporters to go on a crusade against the word "faggot," which in Savage's case seems little more than a mocking barb...

Not Everyone Can Be a Radical

(Flickr/Dave Schumaker)
While Anne-Marie Slaughter was blowing away the work-life crowd last week, David Blankenhorn, in The New York Times , dropped a similar thought bomb on the LGBT world, coming out in favor —kinda sorta—of legal recognition for same-sex couples. David Blankenhorn, founder of the socially conservative Institute for American Values ? I was too flabbergasted to even feel happy. What’s next? The sun rises in the west, and the mountains go dancing across the ocean? Blankenhorn has been crusading against our marriages for two decades on the same grounds as Maggie Gallagher (whose head must be spinning): Because allowing two people of one sex to marry further decouples marriage from procreation. This gets mocked, but it's worth understanding, even if you disagree. Blankenhorn and Gallagher want everyone to think that sex=marriage=babies. Don’t have sex if you’re not married, or if you do, get married if pregnancy ensues; don’t have babies if you’re not married; and stay married for the babies...

Back To School

Should summer vacation be a carefree time when children run around freely in the streets or fields? Does Anne-Marie Slaughter in fact have it all ? Was The Atlantic just trying to get us all talking ? What did Anne-Marie Slaughter get right ? And what about that byline gender gap ? In her Bloggingheads.tv show, Sarah Posner presses me to articulate some of the social history that got us into this extremely complex work-life conflict. Tune in if you want to know what my actual face and voice are like. Bonus: the most astoundingly loud thunderclap I've ever heard.

The Atlantic Has A Sense of Humor

So The Atlantic is clearly getting the message that while Anne-Marie Slaughter's article about was an extremely important addition to the contemporary work-life discussion, everyone hates, hates, hates the title, the picture, and the general way they framed it. (Here's their own round-up of responses , which pretty fairly represents the responses that I've seen, including my own.) And they have a sense of humor about it, posting this picture today, above the caption, "Asking the question that’s on everybody’s mind." Meanwhile, Karen Kornbluh—who's done absolutely essential research and writing on the work-life issues—and who is now an Ambassador in Obama's administration—tweeted at me the link to her past Atlantic article on what's needed. I hope that Slaughter and Sandberg read this stat, before their high-level pow-wow on how to change the workforce to make it friendly for human beings. She leaves out the need for humane policies for all stages of life, allowing working Americans to...

Who Loves You, Baby?

That Anne-Marie Slaughter article sure kicked up a lot of discussion, didn’t it? I heard about it in advance and knew it would be big, but I had no idea how big. Below, a little roundup of some relevant discussion—and a reason to have hope that your work may not always crush the rest of your life. First, a personal report. Atlantic editor Scott Stossel tweeted in reply to the title of my piece here yesterday, "Why Does The Atlantic Hate Women?" His answer: We don't. He and I had a brief, if intellectually sophisticated (cough, cough) Twitter exchange. I reproduce it below, stripped of some of the twitty formatting, and with some serial tweets merged: Stossel: We don't! RT @theprospect: Why does @theatlantic hate women? http://ampro.me/LIBRcz New @ejgraff post EJG: Then why not run articles that accurately reflect women's lives? Stossel: But you concede in your piece that Slaughter hits agonizingly close to the bone. And she's for policies that you support. EJG: Slaughter's piece is...

Why Does The Atlantic Hate Women?

The picture alone filled me with dread: a baby in a briefcase. (Do go look at Jessica Valenti’s hilarious compilation of images from this genre.) That sick feeling only increased when I got to the hideous ­headline: “ Why Women Still Can’t Have It All .” There they go again! Once again, The Atlantic has put on its spike heels to gleefully dance on feminism’s head, this time reviving the imagery of the “ mommy wars ” while trotting out an astounding successful woman to bemoan her failure. Veteran journalist Caryl Rivers has accurately diagnosed this as “ The Atlantic ’s Woman Problem .” Someone there doesn’t like us, except when we’re agonizingly single, or home with our babies, or killing off men’s careers. Someone there got stuck on some 1980s Time magazine misinterpretation of feminism as exhorting us all to be “career women” (does anyone really use that term?) in shoulder pads and sad little bowties, leaving our babies home alone, refrigerator open, to fend for themselves while we...

Jerry Sandusky and Horace Mann

As you may have heard by now, last weekend the New York Times Magazine ran an in-depth article called " Prep School Predators : The Horace Mann School's Secret History of Sexual Abuse." In tremendous detail, author Amos Kamil, himself an alumnus of the school, details allegations that in the 1970s and 1980s, the administration of an elite New York prep school, Horace Mann, ignored teachers who sexually coerced, assaulted, and otherwise abused their students. Most of the stories Kamil was able to establish were of adult men exploiting boys, but he writes that there were just as many teachers exploiting girls: Shortly after my arrival, a new friend walked me around the school, pointing out teachers to avoid. “What do you mean? Like, they’re hard graders?” “No. Perverts. Stay away from them. Trust me.” I heard about some teachers who supposedly had a habit of groping female students and others who had their eyes on the boys. I heard that Mark Wright, an assistant football coach, had...

My, My, My Vagina

Ever since I heard about Representative Lisa Brown's censure for using the term in this post's headline on the floor of the Michigan legislature, I've had trouble getting the 1980s pop song "My Sharona" out of my head. It's playing, over and over, but with "vagina" instead of "Sharona." My, my, my, whooo! I know I have to take this kerfuffle seriously, but it's almost beyond sarcasm: it's just flat-out funny. So it's okay to legislate what women do with their body parts—or, pardon me, how they should be punished by having their choices taken away from them if they dare to have sex that leads to conception—but not to use accurate language to talk about it? As I'm sure you've read by now, one Michigan Republican, Representative Mike Callton, actually said as much, saying that Brown's comment "was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women." Really? Because women don't know that they have one? Because women don't know that you know that they have one? Among the other...

Why is William Saletan Apologizing for Slate's Mistake?

Two days ago, I wrote that Slate’s editors should be ashamed of having published Mark Regnerus’s propagandistic tripe about his “study” comparing how children fare under intact families versus how they fare when their biological parents have a rocky time because one discovers or accepts that he or she is lesbian or gay. I’m honored that William Saletan has taken my criticism seriously enough to reply, naming me along with the major LGBT groups that took aim. As you may recall, I wrote that Slate clearly knew it was publishing dangerous nonsense, because right before Regnerus’s article, they put the link to Saletan’s analysis tearing it apart. Nevertheless, here’s what Saletan writes about the responses: Wow. Regnerus’ paper certainly has flaws. But before we all go get our stones, pitchforks, and kerosene, may I suggest an alternative? Trust science. Don’t bury this study. Embrace it. The evidence Regnerus collected can help all of us rethink our ideas about sexuality and marriage. It...

Chart of the Day: What War on Women?

I know, we're all used to hearing "war on women" mean the fight to defund and limit women's reproductive health. But this chart just astonished me. Take a second to compare (all) American deaths in combat with women's deaths at the hands of men who putatively loved them. Now, which war, again, is being funded with billions of dollars and covered every day with high-profile news coverage and media punditry?

Almost Time To Go Back to the Boy Scouts

(Flickr/kylerush)
Last week, I was a guest at the LGBT Connect day at Netroots Nation, meeting all kindsa people I've mostly encountered online. You know how these kinds of conferences go: glasses are hoisted, gossip is swapped, and you learn the story behind the story. While there, I learned that the Boy Scouts are "reviewing" their anti-gay policy—a first step to rejecting it. You remember their policy, right? No atheists, no gays. They went to the Supreme Court in 2000 to defend that exclusion, winning the right to be wrong in a 5-4 decision penned by Rehnquist and joined by Kennedy. (Trivia: B oy Scouts of America v. Dale was argued on the LGBT side by Evan Wolfson, who then left Lambda Legal to found and run Freedom to Marry .) But 12 years has gone by, and the social tide has turned. And so the Boy Scouts are starting to clear their throats publicly in the direction of change, in official discussions like this one with David Crary, social issues reporter at the AP (who, by the way, I rely on on...

What Hurts Children More: Having Lesbian and Gay Parents, or Junk Science About Their Parents?

When is a new study “research,” and when is it propaganda? That’s the question to ask when looking at Mark Regnerus’s “study,” released this past weekend, on children who had a parent who had an affair with someone of the same sex. Regnerus compares children who grew up in an intact household from birth to adulthood with children who started in a heterosexual marriage but who had a parent who crossed over to the gay side. And yet Regnerus is touting it as a study on the real-life experiences of children who grew up with lesbian or gay parents. Here’s what he says in Slate , of all places, which I usually respect: … [M]y colleagues and I randomly screened over 15,000 Americans aged 18-39 and asked them if their biological mother or father ever had a romantic relationship with a member of the same sex. I realize that one same-sex relationship does not a lesbian make, necessarily. But our research team was less concerned with the complicated politics of sexual identity than with same-sex...

Pages