Posts Tagged ‘homophobia’

Pretty things

Posted: February 10, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Look, guise, pretty things:

1) Ten Days to Change the World – a fantastic post about Nellie Bly, who infiltrated an asylum (I cringed a bit when I wrote that, ew) for supposedly mentally ill women in 1887. The most surprising part of her account is how easily she managed to convince the authorities she was dangerous and should be locked up.

All it took, apparently, was a night of practising vacant wide-eyes in front of the mirror. Booking into a female boarding house under an assumed name, Bly succeeded in terrifying the women around her simply by acting slightly erratically and refusing to sleep. No tearing her hair out, no speaking in tongues, no physical manifestations of inner turmoil. Sitting up late and sighing; that was enough for the management at the boarding house to cart her in front of a judge and have her taken to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island.

2) A hilarious and well written post about yet another phony nutritionist – it’s really cool that the cranks and woo-peddlers are being exposed on not strictly sceptic blogs, too.

3) A short round-up of a couple of common racist clichés that often come up in discussions about racism in literature – I think it’s very useful if you actually have no idea at all what’s going on.

4) Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose – a very insightful and well written piece about how women’s writing is often treated by mainstream reviewers. This is actually something that has bothered me for a long time, and I am as a matter of fact preparing a long long long thing-something-thing about women writers and some of the really awesome stuff they wrote, so stay tuned. Also, I could not possibly emphasise enough how completely I agree with the author on his every point, especially this:

It has taken me a while to get to my real point, but here it is, rather abruptly.  I do not believe that apparent authoritative literary voices of validation would ever make such a grand claim about a novel written by a woman.  I say this because I believe there are many novels by women that are about the same sort of world as presented in Freedom.  Sadly, the culture usually calls these books domestic or family sagas.  Are the novels of Anne Tyler, Marilynne Robinson and Mona Simpson any less white and middle “American” than Franzen’s?  They are certainly at least every bit as literary and arguably better written, whatever that means.

Yeah, this this this.

Women writers are feisty, sassy.  When was the last time a male writer was called sassy?  Not that I would mind, but you understand my point.  As an African American, I understand this sort of backhanded compliment.  You see, we are articulate.  This is not an insult on the face of it, but the subtext is that our intelligence is a surprise, as if being articulate is the same as being intelligent anyway.

Honestly, that guy is awesome. I mean, there were so many places there something could have gone wrong, and it didn’t, and it’s really really great. I’m going to have to check out his books!

5) Market Casualty:  The Essay I Never Wanted to Write – about the writing and marketing of books written by women of colour in the US, specifically Iranian Americans.  Some people should really read Said at least once, and then once more, and once more, and once more, until it gets through their thick skulls that people who are not like them are also people:

The description of Gelareh Asayesh’s Saffron Sky singles out mention of “the Ayatollah’s ubiquitous enforcers of female modesty” even though this issue takes up about one sentence in her entire story; on the back of Azadeh Moaveni’s Lipstick Jihad, Iran is referred to as “a dark country”; the back ofPersian Girls promises readers a “harrowing memoir of the cruelty of men towards women” as well as “the exotic scents and traditions of Tehran”; the blurb for Journey from the Land of No says that Iran will be revealed to us and that we will understand “what life was like for women” after the revolution (even though the book is about a wealthy, literary Jewish family, hardly representative of the range of Iranian women’s experience); My Name is Iran’s cover jacket features almost identical language about “revealing Iran” to the reader by detailing a journey between “East and West, tradition and modernity.” I could go on, but I won’t.

Way to ruin everything, seriously.

6) A Polish politician yesterday said some interesting things:

‘I am not a homophobe, but I play one in the legislature’ may be what Robert Wegrzyn of the center-right Civic Platform of Poland is trying to say. Recently, he was asked about his views regarding civic partnerships for lesbians and gays, and he quipped “We can forget about gay men, but I would gladly watch lesbians.” (source)

It is my deepest conviction that he must be an unhappy, lonely man, a man who has no friends, who tries to be as cheerful as possible, but fails, because there’s nothing but despair for him, despair and hatred and eternal loneliness. Eternal well of loneliness, even. The sun shines, the children are playing in the sand, the kittens frolic, the adults read newspapers and books and swim, but for Wegrzyn, MP, there’s nothing to do but pretend not to be unhappy. No one will talk to him. No one will hold his hand. No one will even notice that he exists.

He is the Tragic Wegrzyn. Behold!

(by ^czescjacek)

I mean, the tragedy of somebody being Wegrzyn(1), MP, inspired me too to write poetry. I mean: this is like, a guy whose entire existence is entirely pointless, right? I mean:

If you don’t look close enough, you can almost think that this awful grimace on his face is a smile. But it’s not. It’s an awful grimace of an MP who is sad and alone and sad.

Look at him! He wants you to hug him, but you won’t. Nobody will.

I never thought a homophobic MP would inspire me to become a poet, but, there it is. Poetry. (You can make some too)

Good night, Wegrzyn, sweet prince, I still have a book to read. Hugs and kisses and bitter coldness of being always alone.

(1) At least it’s not me; I don’t even want to think what I’d do if I had to be Wegrzyn, MP.

Fundamentalists from religions that place an emphasis on the correct interpretation of a revelation in the form of a holy text tend to claim not only that their interpretation is the only correct one – but that their interpretation is the correct one because it’s literal, doesn’t involve any metaphorical readings and sophistry(1).

Very often those claims of literalism are taken at face value in the discourse about religion, usually not by scholars, by but activists, journalists and atheist bloggers.

This uncritical reception of facts provided by parties who are by no means objective, neutral participants in the discourse about religion – namely, the fundamentalists themselves – constitutes a deeply flawed approach to understanding the phenomenon of fundamentalism, and to fighting it.

1) Fudamentalists are selecting the parts of their holy texts they want to interpret “literally”; those parts usually support their anti-modern, absolutist, Manicheist, xenophobic stance. Have you ever heard of a Christian fundamentalist sect that chose to interpret Matthew 22, 37 literally?:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

There is no such fundamentalist sect. Quite the opposite, the fundamentalist sects will engage in all sorts of spurious sophistry to metaphorically explain this bit of the Bible away so that it doesn’t seem to be in contradiction with their plans of eliminating sexual minorities and subjugating women.

2) Fudamentalists’ literal interpretations are completely decontextualised and in fact false

Let’s consider the common stance of various fundamentalist Christian sects on homosexuality, namely that it is a sin, and that the Bible explicitly states that it is so. However, the Bible cannot possibly explicitly state anything at all about homosexuality, because it has no word for homosexuality in any of its many books. Even if there are some words that might or might not refer to homosexuality in the New Testament, there are describing a completely different phenomenon than the one we understand as “homosexuality” today. What the Bible says about homosexuality is:

(Leviticus 18:22) “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

What it means in more modern terms is more or less this:

Two men having an anal intercourse is a bad thing, because if a man is penetrated by a penis that makes him a woman. A man becoming a woman, who is less of a human than a man, is a bad thing and a violation of a natural order. The natural order of things was established by God – therefore, anal intercourse between two men is an act of disobedience against God, and a sin.

Because women are unimportant, women having sex with each other are never mentioned. This isn’t because when the Bible says “man” it means “human”. Any such claims are ridiculous: in antiquity “man” meant “a non-foreigner who is male and who is not a slave”.

As in the example I provided, the process of constructing a typical “literal” fundamentalist interpretation looks more or less like that:

A. Picking the parts of modern ideology fundamentalists disagree with and want to fight against; this will be the things that they consider to be the biggest threat to the traditional, idealised way of life.

B. Re-defining them in modern terms and decontextualisation: they’re taking a stance against modernity not by ignoring or rejecting it but by actively opposing it; this paradoxically makes it necessary that modern terminology and vocabulary be included, at least as a point of reference.

C. Making a list of the things selected in B; this will be the list of fundamentals, the things that are especially important and interpreted “literally”, according to the members of the fundamentalist religion. As mentioned above, parts of the holy text that could be considered a threat to the literal interpretation of the fundamentals will be interpreted metaphorically, often with the help of seemingly sophisticated theology, which however will in the end be only the tool in the hands of a above-all anti-modern movement.

It’s extremely irritating to see atheist activists and sceptics being deceived by the claims fundamentalists make about their interpretations being literal. It’s quite certain that many of them sincerely believe that this is the case, this however, is not a sufficient reason to take them at face value; in fact, any sort of self-report, or claim about ideology someone is invested in should undergo a thorough scrutiny.

ETA: fixed typos ^^;;;;;;;;;;;

(1) Obviously, I will be only writing about the fundamentalisms that have holy text that are considered to be the word of the relevant god, and important because of it. However, it should be clear that not for all fundamentalisms, just for religions, the existence of such a holy text is necessary: a good example would be the Buddhist fundamentalism in Sri Lanka, or various Hindu fundamentalisms (this of course doesn’t mean they’re not using any texts at all, only that those texts are not considered to be the word of god(s) and consequently their interpretation and analysis is not accorded such a great importance as in the case of, for instance, Christianity or Islam).

1) Victorian sex survey:

“I opened it up and there were these questionnaires”— questionnaires upon which dozens of women, most born before 1870, had inscribed their most intimate thoughts.

In other words, it was a sex survey. A Victorian sex survey. It is the earliest known study of its type, long preceding, for example, the 1947 and 1953 Kinsey Reports, whose oldest female respondents were born in the 1890s.

2) What can happen to an absolutely priceless artefact during WWII:

Within a few years, he’d pawned the tablet, along with rare coins, to purchase the liquor store, the attorney said. But he soon paid back the pawn broker and reclaimed the coins and tablet.

3) Constance McMillen thing. By now everybody surely must know what happened, so I’ll just point to the account of her school mate about the school mate’s trials and tribulations at the hands of the omnipotent attention-whoring Gay Mafia, pulled straight from the comment the cross-burning ignorant hick’s left at another blog (her name was later pulled from her public Facebook profile, and how stupid you have to be to have a public profile when there’s a bunch of data-hungry lawyers prowling the internet in search of damning evidence? The lawyers who, I hope, do have the Screengrap app). Gee, it’s JUST LIKE In the Grove:

What people are failing to realize is that much of the fault of this whole stink lies with Constance, not her mistreatment by the school district, but her crazy-reckless need for attention. It sounds mean and horrible and like we planned it all specifically to embarrass Constance, but we didn’t. We let her have her prom with her girlfriend and her tuxedo and we went to party it up in the “boondocks” not because we wanted her rights violated, but so we could salvage what has turned into a total fiasco

Well. I can think of someone who’s failing to realize things; it’s not “the people” (whoever they might be).

Also, there are some photos from the no gay, disabled,  and otherwise different folks allowed prom here (again, pulled from Facebook accounts of those involved, and  again, not very smart, I’d say. Good for Constance though).

The most spectacularly failtastic bit of fail comes with this, though:

So, I guess it’s OK for two girls to kiss, as long as they aren’t real lesbians? Very cunning. Also, a girl in the other photo is wearing JEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANS.

I mean, jeans. This is hardcore stuff, guys. Like, a step away from fully fledged lesbianism or something. I’d pray for that girl, just in case.

As usual in cases like that, a plucky internet detective uncovered the Facebook groups those people (that is Itawamba blahblah  Highschool students) belong to and unsurprisingly:

And, if you look at the facebook profiles for the “secret prom” attendees you see the same pages recurring in their profiles:

Greenville Christian School
The Charleston Baptist Congregation
Little Creek Baptist Church
“I’m Proud To Be Christian” by Aaron Chavez Religious Center
Prayer In School Religious Center
I Love Jesus Religious Center
Freedom Rally 2010 “A call to Revival”
Dedicated to Christ
Going to Church Religious Center
God id Love Religious Organization
Jesus Daily Religious Organization
I’m a Christian & I’m Proud Religious Organization
The Resolve Tour Religious Organization
ChristBuild Inc Religious Organization
Christ In Action Non-Profit

CUTE. Clearly, what they need is moar Jesus in their lives OH WAIT-

Also, I personally agree with the following comment made about the latest developments in the Constance McMillen’s prom case:

If they [people who organised the no-;esbians-allowed prom — Sendai] keep digging that hole, they’ll soon be swimming in magma.

Dig faster.

I hope the original commenter will forgive me for quoting her verbatim, but I believe the comment i’s indicative of the attitude a sane person ought to preserve in face of the fail exhibited repeatedly by the Itawamba Highschool students, their parents and teachers, may a concert piano fall on their bigoted heads.

4) (I’m thinking about having a book-by-book reading orgy progress report on Twitter. Hmmm)

1)  The German one: Sag JA zum Papst:

via

2) The French one. The French one is tricky, because it shows you a penis, and a condom, and the penis and the condom together. This is why we have to note that it is NSFW. It’s also about AIDS. This is why its says things about people dying. On the upside, it’s got English subtitles: Des majorettes dans l’espace:

via

Apologise to us for being abused by us and our friends

Brb, gotta go to a doctor who is 100% sponsored by my taxes, so that I have to pay nothing for the visit.

OH THE HUMANITY

A gay couple now lives in a flat that was left to the former pope by a “devout Catholic” woman in Madrid. Predictably, the Catholics are outraged.

The Pinoy Catholic writes despondently:

The Web site commented “The gay couple, who are now married, also against the Church’s wishes, now enjoy dinner parties showing the escrituras (deeds) of the flat with the name of the Pope.” [He never lived in the place.  Obviously, the journalist and the gay couple WANT to draw attention, which they got, which irritates a devout Catholic like me. Cheap trick, isn’t it?  Well, as they say in the PR world, “Any publicity is good publicity.] [emphasis mine]

2010: Catholics still outraged over the existence of gay people.

(TPC: I laugh at you!)

(TPC is chock-full of Catholic nonsense about fairies, demons, exorcists and stuff. I bet he’d welcome some atheist trolls guests readers, I mean readers!)

Some moar Catholic existential angst from Clerical Whispers:

When a devout Catholic woman left her home in … in Madrid, to Pope John Paul II, she probably didn’t expect its future occupants to be a couple of homos. [emphasis mine]

OH NOEZ NOT THE HOMOS!!!11! BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAW!!!!!

A typically non-humorous example of religionist humour:

Might we score an invitation?

We know of this delicious amuse bouche wafer.

Aw shucks.  Is this the time of the year when we desecrate hosts again?

Meanwhile, the Universe continues cruelly not to care.

(News English Spanish Polish <— because nobody else cares, duh)

(via TTDKN)

This is all Dan‘s fault. He sicced me on the crazy fundie guy who made the video linked in this post (the entire blog, by the way, is totally awesome, RSS +1). Before I proceed to the funny business of making the frothing-at-the-mouth batshit insane bigot look even moar ridiculous, I’ll have to take the unfunny business out of the way first.

The crazy person in the video, as well as some comments in the post linked above mention a surprisingly wide-spread right wing screed about the Evil Homosexual King Mwanga.

The Wiki tells us that:

Mwanga saw the greatest threat to his rule coming from the Christian missionaries who had gradually penetrated Buganda. His father had played-off the three religions; Catholics, Protestants and Muslims against each other and thus balanced the influence of the colonial powers that were backing each group. Mwanga II took a much more aggressive approach, expelling missionaries and insisting that Christian converts abandon their faith or face death.

On October 29, 1885, he had the incoming archbishop James Hannington murdered on the eastern border of his kingdom. Then between 1885 and 1887, over forty-five of the king’s pages were put to death on the orders of Mwanga. The crime was failure to renounce their newly-found Christian beliefs.

What right wingers and Catholics (this is because some of the Christians – specifically, Catholics –  worship the pages killed by Mwanga who were canonized in 1964) like to argue is that the persecution of Christians during Mwanga’s reign was caused by his being unhappy with his newly-converted male pages refusing to have gay sex with him.

It is rather difficult to tell who came up first with the idea, because, typically, crazy right-wing people hardly ever think it necessary to make footnotes. Like here:

Mwanga’s homosexuality is an issue we tip-toed about for fear of offending the Buganda monarchy which abhors homosexuality. But all historical accounts of the martyrs agree that Mwanga was a deviant homosexual who used his demigod status to appease his voracious appetite for sodomy by engaging in these unmentionable acts with his pages at court. (source)

Or here:

For Mwanga, the ultimate humiliation was the insolence he received from the pages when they ( the least subservient of servants) resisted his homosexual advances. (source)

And here:

However, attempts to rebuff them and their young charges were led by the pagan King Mwanga, who hated Christianity with a passion. For Christianity opposed homosexuality as amoral disorder and the catechized young men at the court began to understand that the king did not own their bodies, and could not force them to act in a way that was against their conscience and their new-found Catholic faith. Mwanga was having difficulty forcing himself on the boys and young men of his royal court, because they avoided him and his unnatural desires.  (source)

The last article is especially  dishonest, because while depicting the killed Christians as “boys and young men” and emphasising their young age (“all under the age of 25”) it conveniently fails to mention that in 1887 Mwanga himself was 17 years old. This is clearly because portraying a supposedly gay person as a rapist and murderer is not enough. He has to be a paedophile, too.

Anyway:

1. Let me preface this with a warning: history of Africa is not my area of expertise. But: I have access to JSTOR.

2. Killing of Christian missionaries/Christian is something that didn’t happen only in Buganda. The reason is that as soon as soon-to-be-colonised country’s ruling class realises that the missionaries are often followed by European colonialists with their armies, their diseases, and exploitation of local people, they usually decide to get rid of the missionaries before anybody follows them.  This, for instance, what happened to the  26 Martyrs of Japan.

3. The missionary colonialist narrative was subjective and written from an outsider, imperialist perspective. It should not be considered a source of “objective” historical data, which can be directly,  without proper interpretation re-written into history books. This is what it looks like (warning for mindfuckery):

This king, son of Mutesa, whom Speke and Stanley made famous in their books, was a youth of vicious propensities who had been alarmed by the influence which missionaries were acquiring over his subjects. At the ill-fated moment when he was planning the massacre of all missionaries, he heard of the approach of Bishop Hannington, and by his command the Bishop w-as killed on the eastern frontier of Uganda.
(Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Vol. 41, No. 1 (1909), p. 58, from the review of Bishop Hannington and the Story of the Uganda Mission by W. Grington Berry))

Also:

The missionaries were confident of success, and the day when Mutesa should for ever throw off the pagan yoke and embrace the new faith was awaited with sanguine eagerness. To have converted the king would have carried with it the immediate establishment of Christianity in Uganda; the old heathen customs would have been broken down, and the entire country would have been revolutionized.

And:

For a while Uganda wavered between the Cross and the Crescent; the arguments of the advocates of each faith seemed almost equal, thotlgh Mackay found it easy when confronted with his adversaries to defeat them on all points. He was a man of many parts, and his early training as an engineer soon brought him immense poplllarity as a ” handy man “; his workshop was beset by the natives at all times, and their faith in the white man’s knowledge knew no bounds. Islam was defeated, and, for a second time, the missionaries imagined that the evangelization of the country was on the eve of becoming an accomplished fact; but a second time they were doomed to disappointment. This was in December I879, when a wave of paganism passed over the land, obliterating, for the time, all traces of the good work done by the missionaries. “It is heartrending,” wrote Mackay, in one of his letters home, ” to think of this result of more than two and a half years’ teaching of Christianity at this Court.”

(Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 2, No. 7 (Apr., 1903), pp. 276-291,” Christianity in Uganda” by A. F. Mockler-Ferryman)

3. While allusions to Mwanga’s immoral behaviour abound in the Christian and colonialist literature, the first person, as far as I can tell, to make a direct link between Mwanga’s supposed gayness and his persecution of Christians was J. A. Rowe in “The Purge of Christians at Mwanga’s Court: A Reassessment of This Episode in Buganda History” published in 1964 in the Journal of African History.

Unfortunetaly, I was unable to find out more about Rowe. The “reassessment” in the title refers to his (her?) proposal that the persecution be linked to Mwanga’s “addiction to sodomy” (this is an actual quote). His (her?) argument is more or less the following:

– because not all Christians were killed during the anti-Christian persecution this must mean that Mwanga was not in fact trying to kill all Christians (I’m not presenting this argument as circular to make fun of it. It actually *is* circular)

– because Mwanga’s father and predecessor, Mutesa, killed many more Muslims when he was persecuting them during his reign, and Mwanga was much younger and a weaker politician, he didn’t want to persecute all Christians, but only those who didn’t want to have sex with him

– because some Christians who were supposed to be killed weren’t killed because of their personal merits , or because they were too valuable (like, a skilled blacksmith), or because they had powerful friends and protectors, or simply because they were too far away, Mwanga didn’t want to kill all Christians, but only those who didn’t want to have to sex with him

-because some Christians managed to escape his wrath, Mwanga was only targeting those who refused to have sex with him

– the Katikkiro during the time the Christians were persecuted was opposing Christianity, and had a great influence over Mwanga, which would not be sufficient to turn Mwanga against Christians, because what counted was that he only wanted to kill the ones that didn’t want to have sex with him

– in 1885, when Mwanga had bishop Hannington killed, he found out that the Christians among his personal pages were spying on him and secretly informing the missionaries about his plans and state secrets. The distrust this act of disloyalty would have caused him to feel is insufficient as a motivation for persecuting Christians, because he only wanted to kill those Christians who refused to have sex with him

– Mwanga’s personal pages were an easy target, because they were close to him and couldn’t just leave or escape. However, the fact that they were an easy target is again not a sufficient explanation for his desire to kill them

– and I’m not even going to comment on stuff like this: “Compared with the youthful Mutesa, Mwanga was less decisive, less bold, less cruel.” Is this supposed to be scholarship or a cheap, pop-psychology-filled historical novel?

-also, is this a joke?

“‘Fickle, sensual, nervous and unstable” are words which have customarily been used to describe Mwanga, who is also invariably compared unfavourably with his father Mutesa.”

is closely followed by:

“Mutesa, at the same age as Mwanga and faced with similar problems of stabilizing himself on the throne at the expense of over-powerful chiefs, entered on a series of purges and wholesale executions which earned him the praise-name Mukabya, ‘the bringer of tears’.32 When faced with a religious threat from the Muslim converts in his later years, Mutesa launched a persecution that leaves Mwanga’s 1886 outburst a pale reflexion. It was estimated that as many as seventy chiefs and pages were burned at Namugongo, while up to a thousand persons were slain throughout the country.33 This may be an overestimate, but there is no doubt that Mutesa’s persecution of the Muslims was far more severe than Mwanga’s action against the Christians, which Faupel estimates cost the lives of perhaps a hundred, including non-Christians, throughout the country.”

So, when you kill Muslims, you’re a “youthful”, energetic politician. When you kill Christians, you’re  “addicted to sodomy”.

I think this is the first time I’ve seen so many non sequiturs and circular arguments in one paper. It’s a fairly straightforward case of shoddy scholarship, to me. Also, it’s quite clear from Rowe’s wording that he’s siding with missionaries, and believes the martyrs to be heroes.

If the sequence of events looked indeed as recounted by Rowe, I’d say that the pages were targeted because of their previous betrayal, and because they presented an easy target. Christian, and not only Christian  missionaries brought foreign armies after them, and were often treated with distrust. Frankly, I’d consider it more surprising if no one had been killed at all.

In short: it’s safe to say that Ugandan Martyrs were not killed for refusing to have gay sex with Mwanga.

Also, the cherry on top: Mwanga had 16 wives and 11 children.

***

This whole argument is, however, completely irrelevant. I only wrote about it, because it annoys me when people spread lies, and when they rely on a disgusting colonial narratives to make prompt moral judgments about people whose perspective is completely missing from the discourse.

The thing is, even if Mwanga could be considered a homosexual rapist, so what? Why should be one evil person representative of the entire group? Last time I checked, Genghis Khan, Savonarola, Napoleon, Stalin and Hitler were all heterosexual, and yet, nobody is trying to ban heterosexuality on the grounds that it causes men to become involved in genocide.

By which I mean to say, some people need to shut up.

ETA: editing typos as they are spotted ^^J Also, interesting post I just found that is relevant to my interests.