So-called "gender issues" are synchronous, that is in time, with my adult life. I remember Women's Lib, bra-burning, and the ERA in the 70s. As I say this, I don't mean to imply that everything about these movements, actions, and legislation was wrong, bad, or misguided. In fact, I do not. But issues and movements tend to expand, sometimes beyond what the founders envisioned or even desired, sometimes to levels most would call extremes.
The phrases "gender issues" or "gender confusion" these days involves a lot of extremes well beyond the initial desire of reformers in the early 20th Century who worked to earn for women the right to vote and beyond what reformers in the late 20th Century wanted for women in equal pay for equal work, equal access, or simply equality in the marketplace of ideas, professions, and culture. Today gender issues involve what must be labeled sexual immorality at the least or perversion at the worst.
This video column scratches the surface of these issues with what amounts to an introductory comment:
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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To my recollection, I’ve never publicly spoken the four-letter word beginning the title of this piece. I’ve always considered it a crude, unnecessary word, one that refers to things better described, if one must, in more polite and sophisticated terminology. Yet here it is in mainstream media.
The saga begins in January when a Toronto police constable named Michael Sanguinetti told a York University security class “Women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." While Sanguinetti later apologized for his comments his mea culpa was not enough for individuals who considered his statement indicative of deeper attitudinal problems in the police force.
On April 3, 2011, organizers in Toronto put together the first “Slut Walk” to protest what they considered blatantly chauvinistic police attitudes toward female sexual assault victims, which they felt perpetuated a “culture of rape.” Their concern is that insofar as such attitudes exist they shift responsibility for crimes like rape from the male assailants to the female innocents, i.e., “blaming the woman.”
Since this time, several other “SlutWalks”—now one word—have been organized in cities like Boston, Asheville, Dallas, Hartford, Rochester, San Francisco, along with plans for Seattle, other US cities, and cities in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Facebook hosts several related sites, and Toronto SlutWalk has its own website.
Some signage at slutwalks feature comments too graphic to write here. Some say things like, “I’m a slut and proud of it,” or “I’m a slut. Don’t rape me,” and so it goes. Some marchers have dressed in “provocative” clothing, or actually very little clothing. Organizers say the walks are about bringing attention to “slut-shaming,” meaning blaming women for sex crimes. Or organizers say the walks are about “empowerment.”
So what are we to make of this movement? Several thoughts come to mind:
--Anything a man says about women’s clothing or sexuality immediately opens him to charges of inappropriate thoughts or ignorance, as in he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Such is the danger even in this blog. But where does this perspective leave conscientious fathers or for that matter any responsible moral male members of society?
--The police officer’s comment was crude, ill advised, and possibly indicative of a less than caring attitude about female sexual assault victims. On the other hand, one could say his comments, though coarse or tasteless, represented a degree of common sense, that is, that women should be aware of and take some responsibility for their own security—even though it’s certainly true that male perpetrators of sex crimes are the criminals in this equation.
A small analogy might be: if I leave my car unlocked yet loaded with technology like laptops and I am robbed, am I the victim? Yes I am. Is the thief responsible? Yes he is. Was I wise or did I use common sense? No I did not.
--Women are innocent victims of more sexual assault or other unwanted and inappropriate sexual advances (no matter what they're wearing) than we generally imagine. It happens every day, and it happens up and down across society, worldwide, in every culture including our own. The organizers of SlutWalks, the marchers, and others offended by the officer’s comment are not “making up” the problem of sexually related offenses and crimes affecting women.
--“Movements” like SlutWalks may have at least some point, but often such movements get over-taken by multiple agendas. In this case, asking questions about how sexual assault victims are really treated is a worthy endeavor. But the walks have also been the scene of flaunted immoral values and behaviors, a means for advancing LGBT political and legal homosexuality agendas, and a crude, even raunchy, expression of what feminism at its best was supposed to be.
--It strikes me that while the officer’s comment was needlessly and maybe unprofessionally smutty, so is the choice of name and motif of SlutWalks. I don’t like or can’t see myself involved in supporting either effort, even though I think the officer had a point to make and the slutwalks have some point to make. The officer’s comment was a long way from the Christian man of Proverbs 1-9 and the slutwalks are a long way from the Christian woman of Proverbs 31.
--From a Christian perspective, it seems to me there are many ways one can address a very real problem of sex crimes, human trafficking, and pornography in society. One of them is via groups like Women At Risk, International. I’d much rather recommend WAR, International than SlutWalks.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011
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News from France this week is a noticeable increase in advertisements offering home repair or other similar services in return for “hugs.” What this really means, of course, is trading or bartering work for sex.
The idea is that because of the global recession people have less discretionary income to care for necessary home or related upgrades. So enterprising skilled workers are offering home fixes for “tender moments,” “saucy evenings,” etc. Why wouldn’t women jump at this great deal? Apparently some do.
Pundits are debating whether this new online trend is a form of prostitution or just an old practice made more widely available and openly evident over the Internet. Others consider it simply another form of entrepreneurship, tapping into ones “sexual capital” in order to “purchase” what one needs.
Of course the basic idea of people trading or leveraging sex in return for something, or vice versa, is as old as humanity. It’s not new. Online ads are just a new application of an old transaction, whether fully willing or not on the part of both parties involved.
Morally and socially, though, there’s much to critique. Nothing in religious let alone Christian teaching would suggest sex bartering is acceptable or wise. Socially, the practice indicates once again the degree to which particularly Western culture has turned sex into a commodity. The human body and its sexual capacity are merely things to be used for personal gain. Relationships aren’t relationships at all, just encounters. And another worry: whether moral turpitude or social shallowness or both these transactions open the door to more STDs.
Morally speaking from a Christian perspective, whether monetized or bartered, sex for hire or compensation cannot be justified. It makes no difference how sex is traded or sold, if it’s outside the bounds of monogamous marriage, it violates God’s moral will.
One is tempted to say something like, “Well, it’s the French. Enough said." But this isn’t fair to the French or accurate regarding the rest of the world. Sexual commodification is now a global problem. Witness huge worldwide increases, including in the United States, of sex trafficking. Bartering sex for services is just another way for contemporary culture to commit sexual suicide.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
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When HBO’s new series, “Big Love,” begins Sunday evening, March 12, American television enters the brave new world of polygamy. In this program, a successful but struggling businessman juggles business, children, and three wives who live in adjacent houses on the same street. HBO says, “’Big Love’ explores the evolving institution of marriage through a typical atypical family.” It’s all quite normal, isn’t it, just another version of desperate housewives.
Multi-partner marriage is nothing new in American history. Most people know the Mormon Church and in turn the territory of Utah permitted plural marriage until 1890 when polygamy was banned as a condition of statehood. But that was more than a century ago and, though polygamy has continued to exist in clandestine arrangements since that time (According to a joint report issued by the Utah and Arizona attorney general's offices, July 2005, 'approximately 20,000 to 40,000 or more people currently practice polygamy in the United States.' Others believe the number is closer to 100,000.), it has not been legal, has not been endorsed by America’s public moral consensus, and has not been considered a viable alternative to monogamous heterosexual marriage. Now one wonders if the times, they are a changing.
Polygamy describes one husband with multiple wives or, rarely, one wife with multiple husbands. Polyamory is another term you need to learn, because we’re going to hear more about it. Polyamory describes any multi-partner or atypical familial relationship entered voluntarily by consenting adults. Polyamory encompasses polygamous marriages, same-sex marriages, bisexual relationships, and any of a host of other alternative sexualities and non-monogamous relationships. Polyamory isn’t yet a household word, but if liberals and secularists have any say, it will be.
For now, polygamy is the next battleground in the culture wars after same-sex marriage. Some proponents of gay marriage are not all that happy with polygamy’s re-emergence, primarily because they consider it a political threat to the potential success of their own movement to legalize same-sex marriage throughout America. Other proponents of gay marriage welcome polygamists as kindred spirits, people who in their vision just want to be left alone to do whatever they want to do in sex, love, and marriage.
After the Canadian Parliament legalized same-sex marriage the Liberal Party then in power authorized a commission to study polygamy and make recommendations. John Tierney, writing in The New York Times today, argued “Polygamy isn’t necessarily worse than the current American alternative: serial monogamy…If a few consenting adults…still want to practice polygamy, there’s no reason to stop them.” This is certainly not the view of women and children who have been part of polygamous relationships.
Christians sometimes struggle with outright moral condemnation of polygamy because it was alive and well among the Patriarchs of the Old Testament. God seemed to wink at it back then, so why would he care now? But he didn’t wink at it. One man, one woman, lifelong monogamous marriage has been God’s standard since the Garden of Eden. This is God’s moral will for those who remarry after the death of a spouse. This is God’s moral will for those who remarry after experiencing a biblically justifiable divorce. This is certainly God’s will for those getting married in the flower of youth, and it’s God’s will for newly formed older and elderly couples who are veterans of long marriages to a now deceased partner—living together is not a divine option either. Polygamy, polyamory, call it what you will, is not God’s desire for any of the Adams and Eves in the world.
HBO’s “Big Love” won’t change the culture by itself, but if its script and screen are well-presented Americans will watch, and the fact that it airs at all says something about the American consumer if not the culture. We’re a long way from “Ozzie and Harriett.”
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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Apparently feminism went on holiday at last week’s 63rd Annual Golden Globe Awards. E! Network red carpet correspondent Isaac Mizrahi grabbed then peered down the front of Teri Hatcher’s dress, asked Eva Longoria about the disposition of her pubic hair, and squeezed Scarlett Johansson’s breast in an extended grope—twice. All of this outrageous behavior was beamed to millions and E! got what it wanted—attention and more viewers motivated by prurient interests.
Hatcher acted shocked, the key word being “acted,” but otherwise did not put a stop to Mizrahi’s affront. Longoria simply did not answer the question, while Johansson appeared nonplussed, asked, “What’s going on?” then put up with Mizrahi’s antics. For women adept at marketing themselves, all of them missed their chance to be the focus of national news, rather than Mizrahi.
Hatcher at 40 should have the perspective and self-awareness to have recognized the moment. At a minimum, she could have pulled away and said something like, “Keep your hands off me!” Or better, had she said that and slapped Mizrahi., she not only would have made national news, she would have become the hero of women everywhere. Hatcher would immediately have become “The woman who said ‘No’” to sexual harassment in front of the entire nation. She would be the “strong professional woman” who stood up for herself. She would be the talk of talk shows, and she would have launched herself into a whole new level of fame, for this incident and its aftermath would have been covered not just on entertainment but hard news programs. But, alas, she didn’t take action—nor did Johansson, who arguably had even more cause to protest Mizrahi’s behavior. They missed their moment for singularity.
Perhaps if any of these women had protested, their reaction would have elicited chuckles later, because these are women whose entire careers and personal presentation is built upon sexual contexts and evident sensuality. But even so, I think they could have won the day, because most women, or anyone for that matter, know that unsolicited improper touching is not acceptable and not legal, even if you remove moral concerns from the equation. Women from Oprah to Hillary would have rallied to their defense, and so would have a lot of men.
Curiously, none of these actresses have demanded an apology and none has been issued. In fact, the only people who seemed to have been offended by this public display of over the top behavior is GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. GLAAD took umbrage with the openly gay Mizrahi’s use of the word “dyke” in his conversation with Charlize Theron. E! Network president Ted Harbert said, “"While E! Networks does not generally condone the use of that word, we are totally confident that Isaac is the last person on Earth who could be accused of even the slightest degree of homophobia." GLAAD later said that E! agreed to edit out this word in future airings of the program.
So in Hollywood morality, it’s O.K. to use a word like “dyke” if you are not “homophobic.” By this logic, one could use the “N word” if he or she is “not a racist,” or could call someone a “Nazi” if he or she really didn’t mean anything by it. It’s an interesting argument in this day of political correctness.
Also by Hollywood logic, it may possibly be an egregious error to use a derogatory term referring to gays or lesbians, but it’s apparently just fun and games to touch unsuspecting women in improper places—a behavior that in any other context would be called sexual harassment.
Feminists have argued for more than three decades that women should be treated with respect, should be regarded with dignity, should be accorded equality with men, should not be trotted out as mere sex symbols, etc. Later radical feminists positioned themselves and their movement as “men and marriage haters” and considered all sex with men to be forms of oppression, viewpoints that continue to undermine the movement’s other worthy considerations. But much of early feminist arguments had value and needed to be made. The Golden Globe incidents are a case in point. Feminists should be screaming the loudest about this episode, but they have been curiously silent.
This incident also demonstrates how much culture has changed. While neither Lauren Bacall nor Katherine Hepburn were paragons of personal virtue, can you really imagine either of them tolerating the public embarrassment endured by Hatcher, Longoria, and Johansson? Not really—primarily because they had come of age in a time when culture still operated with a reasonable moral consensus. Women did not enjoy all the civil liberties we now consider their due, but they were, largely, accorded a public degree of respect.
Morally, of course, from a Christian perspective, this episode is even more unacceptable and further evidence of cultural decline. So for once Christians and feminists ought to be climbing the same bully pulpit, decrying sexual harassment of any person, no matter who he or she is or what he or she does for a living. Christians will speak out on this issue, and I’m one of them, but where are the feminists?
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
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On November 2, 2005, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a sex education decision in Fields v. Palmdale School District so sweeping in its breadth and so threatening to parental rights as to take your breath away.
The case is rooted in a Palmdale School District (California) survey of first, third, and fifth graders, ostensibly to evaluate psychological barriers to learning. A parental consent letter was sent home, but it did not mention that sex would be a survey topic. In the survey, children were asked about, for example, “touching my private parts too much,” “touching other people’s private parts,” having sex feelings in my body,” “thinking about sex when I don’t want to,” and more. Parents understandably reacted negatively to this intrusion and sued the school district.
The Ninth Circuit Court decision said that “once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.” In other words, parental rights regarding their children’s education “does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.” The court concluded with “In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents’ to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal religious values and beliefs and that the inserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents’ right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select.” (Italics mine.)
According to this ruling, written for a three judge panel by Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the most liberal and activist judges in the country—and one of the most overturned judges in U.S. judicial history—parents possess no fundamental right to direct their children’s sex education. They may “inform” and “advise,” but they cannot exercise any of this parental oversight inside the walls of the public school. Even the House of Representatives in the nation’s Congress recognized the outrageousness of this position by passing House Resolution 547 the week of November 14, 2005, in which the House expressed its recommendation that the Ninth Circuit rehear the case. Likely this case will be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee the high court will hear the case.
The implications of this ruling, should it be regarded as a precedent, go far beyond sex education. In the Ninth Circuit’s view, parents have no right to protest anything in the public school curriculum. It may take a village to raise a child in some peoples’ view, but this case puts the responsibility firmly in the government’s court (sad pun intended). So it’s not parents but judicial philosopher-kings or other designated professionals who determine what’s best and when it’s best for our children.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog on sex education, parents should be their children’s primary if not sole sex information providers. This is a right, responsibility, and privilege of parenthood. Public schools should not be involved in sex education, primarily because they are not able to ground sex education in values leading to a moral consensus on sexual matters. Without clearly stated values, sex education devolves to sex information or sex orientation or sex introduction, or worse, sex promotion.
Let’s hope the United States Supreme Court not only agrees to hear this case but in due course overturns it. The high court will find ample legal precedent, as well as social, religious, and moral common sense, to buttress rationale for regarding parents as the fundamental caregivers, nurturers, and guardians of their children’s development, including their sexual understanding.
Beyond obvious concern for parental rights this case certainly reminds us why activist judges working with a liberal and/or a morally relativistic mindset must be replaced by judges who respect moral values and the law. This is another reason why who we elect to the United States presidency is so important and far reaching.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2005
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers, President or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.