Sex


Frothy ol’ Santorum is virtually impossible to reach.
Why?

Go to his campaign website. Is there a place to email or call?
No.

There is good reason this person’s name is mud.

In the recent GOP debate where a soldier asking about freedom was booed, Santorum responded but did not thank the
soldier for his service to the nation, nor did Frothy quell the crowd and say that all members of the Armed Services deserve
respect.

Is there a way to tell Frothy how you feel as an American? No.
Why is he hiding? What dirty secrets does he have to hide?

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Representative Hinkle,

I am sorry that you have been forced into the spotlight in a way that is uncomfortable for you.

But I believe this could be a positive event.
I hope that you can find it in your heart to support LGBTQ full equality. Our community will stand by you. Will you now stand by us?

All that our communities have desired is equality under law–can you now help us achieve that?

I hope that you use these past days’ events to make positive decisions for the people of Indiana and for yourself.

The Indianapolis Star
http://www.indystar.com/article/20110812/LOCAL1804/108120333/Email-rendezvous-entangles-state-Rep-Phillip-Hinkle?odyssey=tab|mostpopular|text|LOCAL

Official Contact Page of Phil Hinkle
http://www.in.gov/cgi-bin/legislative/contact/contact-2-5.pl?data=h092

The activity of politics, the engagement of compromise in a system of law, is a bit like sex.
One important way, I would argue, is that you often get back as much or more satisfaction as you are willing to give.
Generosity in sex and politics benefits everyone.

Having the generosity of heart to listen thoroughly and then give the benefit of the doubt to someone who disagrees with you and the ability to cleary state your opponent’s position without the flourishes of commentary tends to create a good civilian, a good neighbor, a good friend.

It is with that type of generosity that I will respond to David L. Tubbs’ article in which he reviews Martha Nussbaum’s “From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law”. I want to be empathetic and understanding towards Tubbs for it is only with human compassion that any society may become more peaceful.

To support generous exchange, it is helpful to avoid assigning labels that the other person does not gladly identify with themselves. To say one is ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ says little but means much in the code of poor political exchange. Such labels function only to conjure stereotypes and alert to when one does not need to be taken seriously. Am I liberal? No. Do I strive for justice and equality through law? Yes. You might then say I’m a ‘strict constitutionalist’! The labels we ourselves rely on at times will fail us. That is why we must keep the most important ‘label’ in mind: we are all human. We are complex, self-contradictory, fragile, loving, and deserving of love and respect.

Disgust is a universal human emotion. It is one of the few universal facial expressions. Disgust has close alliance with morality and religion and has a valid place in our emotional palatte. There are good reasons why our core sentiments, morals, emotions, and religious aspirations occur in us. I encourage folks to check out
Jonathan Haidt on morality:
http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/
and Pascal Boyer on religion:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_Explained

We don’t need to write off people who experience disgust or diminish their lived experience or dehumanize anyone because of their religious belief. I would never be my intention nor do I believe Nussbaum’s. I am sorry that Tubbs feels that Nussbaum through her description of a “politics of humanity” is excluding him for it “does not embrace all of humanity, but only certain groups favored by academic liberals.”

I do not know exactly what Tubbs wants as far as an “embrace” but if he means ‘accept and respect as a human’ I myself extend that to him and all those who disagree with me. 

I myself and I suspect Nussbaum also would not propose to seek to legally restrict Tubbs’ or anyone’s beliefs. I will however always argue for personal freedoms up to the point of demonstrable harm or reasonable suspicion of risk to create harm. I say this as a response to Tubbs’ point about the difference between religious belief and religious conduct.

Nussbaum states in her book that a plurality of sexual orientations can co-exist in a free democracy just like religion and Tubbs states that just as the religious rite of peyote smoking has been ruled illegal, so is there no legal impetus to assure that every sexual orientation is accomodated by law.

While this example is not valid for rights of LGBTQ individuals since peyote use is not exempted because of reasons of harm but of its drug classification, it does bring about a good point that I hope Tubbs can hear:
Many advocates of liberty and equality in America do not wish to change your ideas about homosexuality. That may be a goal of some, but it is largely a fool’s errand to try to change anyone. The idea or belief that sexual identities should be limited in their expression is fine–it can co-exist with other ideas in a free society. The conflict arises when the free society is threatened. It is only the fight for equal standing for all Americans that is the case. I am quite certain that if LGBTQ individuals and communities were not marginalized, discriminated against, and bullied as they are, they and their allies would nary think about those who thought they were ‘wrong’.  

I am sorry that advocacy for Constitutional protection, personal liberty, and equality among all Americans is seen as an affront or diminishment by some. It will be a step forward when Americans will experience the flourishing of their neighbor’s life and a flourishing of their own.

Generosity of spirit has an interesting economy about it: the more of your compassion and understanding you extend to another, the more you have to continue giving. Freedom follows a similar rule: the more others have, the more you have also. This is the inverse of Emma Lazarus’ “Until we are all free, we are none of us free. ”

See Tubbs’ essay here:
http://spectator.org/archives/2010/12/02/the-politics-of-humanity/print

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has had enough of all this noise about people wanting equality in America.

Not only have people been advocating liberty for all citizens, but now some Catholics are even accepting the idea that love glorifies God no matter what gender or sex identity you have! Gulp.

There’s political and theological challenge afoot!

So its good timing that the Conference of Bishops paid some actors to play gender stereotyped husband and wife to tell us about how awesome married penis in married vagina is!

http://www.usccb.org/marriageuniqueforareason/

USCCB, thanks for your hard work on solving poverty in America. Stick with that and let love keep loving.

You may have seen the population bumper stickers around: “Zero Population Growth”, “Population Forecast: Increased Crowdiness” or something of the like. You may have been at a dinner party where someone was making the ‘sensible’ argument that “we need to start talking seriously about population control!” out of concern for ‘sustainability’ or ‘so we don’t overrun the planet!’.

I am now inviting everyone to never have the population control discussion again. We can place it gently to sleep as not only a Red Herring but a hurtful and culturally insensitive line of inquiry.

The issue for our planet, our global neighbors, and our shared future is not how many people there are but the quality of life and equality in access for each individual to reach their potential. In this spirit, I will move ‘population conversations’ towards women’s health and liberty.

First, I’ll give reason why I don’t believe that population per se is a profitable conversation. There is, I believe, no suggested or perfect number of people for our planet. If there were as little as one hundred or as many as 30 billion there is nothing to say that one is necessarily ‘better’ for the world (at the time of this posting, world population is estimated at nearly 7 billion). Evolution has given no prescription for how many humans there should be. Our morals and values have however given us strong motivations to aid each other, feel compassion with, and share alongside others in our common humanity and this should remain our focus.

Michelle Goldberg, author of “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and The Future of The World” writes in the May 17th, 2009 L.A. Times that women, if given education, access to healthcare, ability to work, social protection, and contraception, will themselves make choices that benefit them, their children, and their families. Whatever balance of growth occurs will then be coming from empowered women in their local contexts, not from outside voices.

This brings me to how ‘population control’ discussion can be hurtful. When folks around me in often middle class U.S. settings talk about ‘having only the children you can take care of’ they are coming from the privilege of knowing about condoms and having access to them without fear. They have access to safe, legal, and accessible abortion. They have social security and healthcare to aid them in age and sickness. I sometimes feel as if some feel that having more than 2.5 children is a character flaw or a moral weakness rather than part of a complex web of societal influences.

Population control is often framed negatively rather than positively, to its detriment. It is given as a “no more people!” frame rather than a “yes to social justice and women’s health!” Positive statements and affirming political and moral statements always achieve greater results.

So what is at stake?

The UN Population Fund and the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that if we could just get condoms and effective contraception into women’s hands that need it, those women could avoid:
23 million unplanned births
22 million induced abortions
142,000 pregnancy related deaths

Social stability, upward mobility, and political voice effectively give women better chances at creating healthier families.

Writes Goldberg, “In developing countries, lower social status for women is associated with higher fertility, but once societies become highly industrialized and women taste a certain amount of freedom, the reverse is true.”

Goldberg puts it simply: “The ethical and effective way to counter rapid population growth is to bolster women’s rights and imporve their access to family planning.” Goldberg also emphasizes education and contraception. Goldberg points to unsafe abortions accounting for 13% of maternal mortality as portraying women’s desperation for birth control.

Even if the world was right now able to easily sustain billions of new children, we would still be called to the higher moral standards of working towards all children being wanted and cherished. We would strive for their mothers to be healthy and with access to education and fulfilling work.

Let’s stop talking numbers and start talking compassionately about women’s lives.

Goldberg, Michelle. “Skirting The Issue” Los Angeles Times, May 17th 2009.

I believe that it will be artists who will be on the leading edge on liberating you, your family, and friends from the categories that now constrain bodies.

What categories? Gender, size, sex, proportion, ‘wholeness’, ability…to name a few.

These often rigid categories give cause to a number of social ills–
Including but not limited to: transphobia, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, anorexia, masculine stereotypes of being violent and emotionally aloof, homophobia, size discrimination…

The way we judge people by the shape of their skin is instable and
like other shaky but violently defended institutions, sex, gender and other body ‘norms’ will prove vulnerable to the artists of today and tomorrow.

The way we have ‘been doing gender’, thinking of abilities and ‘wholeness’ in America will be changing radically soon and it will be artists who open doors to new possibilities and a more just and safer culture.

I snapped the photo above while walking along Santa Barbara, California’s waterfront.
Its a great example of public art re-enforcing an idealized body. Like DiVinci’s Vitruvian Man, many murals, the art deco movement, oil painting traditions, and pop marketing, the picture above hands over an image of a heavily coded body–where proportion, gender, and ‘wholeness’ are unified in a standardization of ‘human body’.

But daily lived experiences for many reveal a world of more than standardized bodies. In fact, there is a consistent historical trend of folks pushing their bodies to be lived expressions of individuality–an art.

There are now artists who are pushing boundaries of how we think of bodies’ size, shape, ‘essence’, and gender. One of my favorites is Stelarc.

Stelarc states in an interview with Paolo Atzori and Kirk Woolford,
“Well of course one shouldn’t consider the body or the human species as possessing a kind of absolute nature…What it means to be human is being constantly redefined.”

Stelarc is perhaps most famous for hanging naked over cities by piercings in his back or the human ear he has grafted unto his arm, and has over decades declared the body a flexible platform for expression and redesigning.

As bio and nano technologies are improved more artists will be undertaking body art that will shatter conceptions of what human bodies are. Its exciting for me to see the work of the Church of Body Modification which couples spirituality and expressions of bodies’ liberation and the continued success of trans artists like Athens Boys Choir.

My favorite definition of art right now is ‘that which illuminates life’. What what is more in need of illuminating than the very bodies we live in and love with?

Stelarc. “Extended-Body: An Interview with Stelarc” Digital Delirium ed. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker
(New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1997)

Church of Body Modification
http://uscobm.com/

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