Blogs

Elizabeth's picture

Homophobia: Bad for straight kids

AP – This 2009 photo released by Constance McMillen's family via The ACLU of MississippiAccording to an AP News story a school district in Mississippi has canceled its senior prom rather than let a lesbian in a tuxedo attend with her female partner. Because they were not allowed to discriminate and keep the two young women out they decided to keep everybody out and just shut down the event. In other words, homophobia and heterosexism are being used to keep straight kids from having their quintessential high school ritual. And they ought to be furious.

Their fury should be directed at the Itwamba County school district, not at Constance McMillen and her partner. All they did was stand up for their rights to attend together as other couples may, and to dress as they wanted, as other couples do. In fact, they only intended to dress in exactly the same types of outfits as other couples. (I'm sure the school board wouldn't have been any happier had they wanted to each wear a prom gown.)

I applaud Constance's parents for supporting her and telling her to return to school after the decision, retaining her pride in who she is and in the knowledge that her courage in standing up for her rights will help others who come after her. Many of us are not so brave.

I am disgusted by the bigotry and small-mindedness of the Itawamba County School Board. When the option of discrimination was taken off the table they chose to deny everyone their prom experience just to make certain that the lesbian couple were denied their rights. The only way to rightfully discriminate against Constance and her partner was to punish the straight kids too. So that's what they did.

Constance's classmates ought to be applauding her courage and they ought to turn their anger against the school district demanding that the prom be held and that it be open to all students. Better yet, they ought to organize a prom themselves, with freedom, equality and acceptance as their themes.

There's a saying in the labor movement: An injury to one is an injury to all. This story is powerful evidence that the truth of that statement goes well beyond labor rights.

Elizabeth's picture

Hypermedicalization Disorder

I've been reading the sexuality-related proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Assocation and I'm troubled. In the move from DSM-IV to DSM-V It seems that larger and larger realms of sexual expression are falling under the rubric of psychiatric disorder. This is the wrong approach to the difficulties people have with sex.

My reading started with the newly proposed diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder" because a reader asked me if I intended to post about it. The new diagnosis is a response to the increasing use of the loosly defined and largely bogus label "sex addict." The American Psychiatric Association subcommittee that put this new diagnosis together says, in its rationale statement:

There is a significant clinical need, even a “demand” from mental health consumers, for mental health providers to recognize and diagnose a distinct group of men and women who have been seeking and are already receiving mental health care such as individual psychotherapy, 12-step group support, pharmacotherapy, and specialized residential treatments. These men and women are presenting to clinicians because of recurrent, “out of control” sexual behaviors that are not inherently socially deviant (i.e., normophilic, not paraphilic). Persons afflicted with these conditions are currently diagnosed as Sexual Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, a diagnostic wastebasket that the DSM-V editors would like to see diminished in scope. Clinical and research-based interest in this set of problematic nonparaphilic sexual behaviors is sufficiently established to have birthed a peer-reviewed journal published since 1990 dedicated exclusively to research and treatment of “sexual addiction/ compulsivity.”

This, on its own, is troubling. The diagnostic criteria are even more troubling. Direct from the DSM-V Revision site, here are the criteria:

Elizabeth's picture

Emerald and Pink Floyd: No More Turning Away (on International Sex Worker Rights Day)

I am just getting home from a long day at work and have not yet blogged about International Sex Worker Rihts day. But I sat down at the computer with a cup of tea and tried to collect my thoughts, and the first thing I saw as I browsed was this:

Today (March 3) is International Sex Worker Rights Day. I would like to observe the occasion here by listing and highlighting some things pertaining to sex work/sex workers’ rights lately that I find cool/uplifting/heartening/lovely. The t-shirt I am wearing in the picture, by the way, was produced by the fabulous and local-to-me organization HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive).

Elizabeth's picture

Men: Homophobia endangers your health!

Colon Cancer alliance "screen my colon" logo"Don't let fear of letting someone stick something in your butt get in the way of cancer prevention."

Those were not his exact words, but close. The speaker was a survivor of stage 4 colon cancer - one of the rare ones - and his message was all about the importance of colonoscopies. But what was striking to me was that he so bluntly identified one barrier men face when it comes to getting them: fear of anal penetration. He talked about how relieved he was when, after his girlfriend had suggested he request a screening his doctor said "You're only 40, you don't have to worry about that for another 10 years." Two years later, an investigation of ongoing dizziness and anemia, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He regretted not advocating for himself and insisting on the screening, but explained that at the time when the doctor told him not to worry about the screening he was very relieved that he'd be able to put off a procedure that made him feel so squeamish. In trying to convince other men to choose differently he said things like "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and "You know how stigmatizing it is if you're a masculine guy to admit that someone put something up your butt, but it's so important to get screened."

He never used the word "homophobia" but that is essentially what he was talking about. Why else would he emphasize "Guys, nobody will ever know you had one" and what other stigma around "putting something up your butt" could he have meant other than the stigma of male homosexuality?

So it made me think. We know that homophobia is hazardous to the health of gay men, and any man who incoroporates stereotypically feminine interests or characteristics into his personality unless they are balanced out by a sufficient number of stereotypically masculine ones. But this is a clear example of how homophobia is hazardous to the health of straight men. And that got me thinking that one subtle way to reduce homophobia is to convince straight men of the merits of sticking things in their butts.

So why not start big, with a long flexible tube and a fiber optic camera!

Ricci Levy's picture

Building Bridges for Creating change in the DSM

In the past few months I've received numerous calls and emails about the revisions to the bible of the psychiatric world - the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM for short.  The diagnosis in this manual are critically important because they determine who gets diagnosed as mentally ill, who should get powerful psychotropic drugs, and whether and how much insurance companies will pay for care.

The Washington Post quoted Alan Schatzberg, the president of the American Psychiatric Association, "It not only determines how mental disorders are diagnosed, it can impact how people see themselves and how we see each other.  It influences how research is conducted as well as what is researched. . . . It affects legal matters, industry and government programs."
 

The proposals will be debated in an intense process over the next two years, with potentially billions of dollars at stake for pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, government health plans, doctors, researchers and patient advocacy groups.

But perhaps more important, the outcome will help shape which emotions, behaviors, thoughts and personality traits society considers part of the natural spectrum of the human persona and which are considered pathological, requiring treatment and possibly even criminal punishment.

Elizabeth's picture

Who's Sorry Now?

cute puppy pictures Tiger Woods apologized and the world stopped so that everyone could watch. A friend of mine posted to her Facebook account: Tiger Woods does NOT owe me an apology, and he doesn't owe you one. Unless your name is Elin. Tiger felt otherwise. He apologized to friends, family, fans, sponsor, employees, and the parents of children who looked up to him as a role model (though not directly to the children apparently).

I did not watch the apology. I did not listen to it, nor did I read it afterwards. I did note that the New York Times had two full articles about it, though. That article noted that two of the major US TV networks interrupted their regular coverage to carry the apology live. It also intrigued me to read that the apology was delivered in person to an audience of only about 40 people. Forty is still too big a group for a really personal apology  but it is a much more intimate group than "the whole wide world" which is approximately the size of the audience watching and listening yesterday.

Elizabeth's picture

Democrats support gays in the military but not homosexuals

File Under: Research methods 101 > Survey Construction > Question wording

Constructing a survey on support for the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? Keep this in mind: Democrats in particular are much more likely to support letting gays and lesbians serve openly in the military than they are to support letting homosexuals serve openly.

Dalia Sussman, writing for The Caucus (the politics and government blog of the New York Times) describes a New York Times/CBS News poll which found that 60% of respondents who were asked whether gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the military said yes. On the other hand, only 44% of those asked whether homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly agreed that they should. And Sussman says that political orientation mattered a great deal:

Jill Di Donato's picture

Pimp Chic

 

 

The issue of relationship “exploitation” has been on my mind lately. There must be a way that “interdependence” can exist between a man and a woman where no one is getting “exploited.” Our culture comes up with models to address the exploitation factor, but more often than not, these models miss the mark. I’m thinking in particular of this relatively new glamorization of pimping, which is a misguided notion.

Elizabeth's picture

Graffiti Gone Wild

 And now for a public service ad you will never see on US broadcast television, not during the Super Bowl, not ever: 

I saw several tweets about it and found the YouTube video embedded above linked by most. Lots of different users had posted the same video to YouTube and I found one that had a link to Creativity Online where you can see the full credits.

I can't say enough about this video so I'm not going to say anything at all right away. What do you think of it?

Elizabeth's picture

Focus on the ... Super Bowl?

super bowl logoIt seems to me that Super Bowl Controversy is a sport unto itself. This year the controversy centers on an anti-abortion ad by Focus On The Family. The ad features football star Tim Tebow and his mother discussing her choice not to abort, despite medical advice that it might be best for her health, when she was pregnant with him.

Focus on the Family is an exrtraordinarily regressive organization when it comes to women's rights and sexual freedom and I would not expect to like any ad of theirs. But this one in particular is galling because the only reason it tugs at our hearts is that Pam Tebow HAD a choice, one that she exercised after private discussions with her family and her doctors. Yet her very exercising of this choice is being used to swing public opinion in a direction that would take choice away from other women.

Syndicate content