Wrap it up

21 11 2010

Pope Says Condoms to Stop AIDS May Be Acceptable

-headline in New York Times story on the pope recognizing that people are. . . people.

Well, some of us, perhaps:

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants,” the pope said.

That’s nice.

It’s a fine thing to recognize that the lives of gay men are worth saving. And Sullivan points out that by so recognizing the worth of said lives, the Pope introduces the possibility that gay men who have sex may act in a manner not completely outside of the moral sphere:

[O]nce you introduce a spectrum of moral choices for the homosexual, you have to discuss a morality for homosexuals. Previously, it was simply: whatever you do is so vile none of can be moral. Now, it appears to be: even in a sexual encounter between a prostitute and his john there is a spectrum of moral conduct.

Again, most excellent, not least because it allows for the possibility, however slim, that long-term gay male relationships may someday be recognized as morally licit.

Sullivan then goes on to note that this stance actually favors gay male relationships:

It’s okay for a gay prostitute to wear a condom because he was never going to procreate anyway. But for a poor straight couple in Africa, where the husband is HIV-positive and the wife HIV-negative, nothing must come in the way of being open to procreation … even if that means the infection of someone you love with a terminal disease.

It’s then you realize that the Vatican’s problem is not just homophobia. It’s heterophobia as well.

Dan Savage pushes the point a bit further:

So… condoms are okay when they’re being used to protect men who see male prostitutes. They’re not okay when they’re being used to protect a woman—a woman who might already have more kids than she can possibly feed—from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection.

Allow me to push this all the way over the edge: Is there any recognition of women, any sense that we might have any say at all in our own sexual or moral lives?

Okay, so this is just an excerpt from Il Papa’s forthcoming book—maybe he’s got a whole chapter about the intellect and worth of those of us who wear our generative bits (most decidedly not ‘junk’) on the inside—but I gotta be honest with you, I’m thinking: no.

‘Heterophobia’ might work for Sullivan, but I’m old school: I think I’ll stick with the more traditional ‘misogyny’.

Question of the day: hate and love

25 09 2010

Consider the relatively ubiquitous phrase, oft deployed by religious folk to describe their approach to queer folk and their sexuality:

‘Hate the sin, love the sinner.’

Yeah, it grits in my teeth, and not just for those who deploy it who clearly don’t mean it, but even for those who are sincere, it misses the point.

Consider: ‘Hate the belief, love the believer.’

Again, a variation of this is offered with regard to Christian outreach to/evangelization of Muslims and other heretics, apostates, and unbelievers. Again, too glib.

How would those who (sincerely) use this sentiment react if such a sentiment were deployed against expressed to them?

Seriously, I’m askin’.

(Almost) No comment

30 06 2010

“The challenge here is . . . to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her surgically and help her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”

Pediatrician Maria New, in a 2001 presentation to the CARES Foundation, a ‘nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of families and individuals affected by Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.’  Girls affected by CAH have been prenatally exposed to higher-than-normal levels of androgens, and can lead to ambiguous genitalia; there may—emphasize may—also be a link to bi- and homosexuality.

New has been experimenting—without any institutional review board approval or the usual experimental controls—on pregnant women, dosing them with the steroid dexamethasone. Notes Alice Dreger, Ellen Feder, and Anne Tamar-Mattis in a recent Hastings Center Bioethics Forum post quote another paper by New & her colleague Saroj Nimkarn:

“Gender-related behaviors, namely childhood play, peer association, career and leisure time preferences in adolescence and adulthood, maternalism, aggression, and sexual orientation become masculinized in 46,XX girls and women with 21OHD deficiency [CAH]. These abnormalities have been attributed to the effects of excessive prenatal androgen levels on the sexual differentiation of the brain and later on behavior.”

Dreger et. al. note that ‘It seems more than a little ironic to have New, one of the first women pediatric endocrinologists and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, constructing women who go into “men’s” fields as “abnormal.”’

(h/ts: Andrew Sullivan, Dan Savage, the Bioethics Forum)


8 11 2009

Health care reform passes in the House—yay. . . oh, wait.

The Stupak amendment is included in final House bill. The amendment which not only reiterates the noxious Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, and threats to life of the woman), but extends the prohibition to the woman purchasing coverage for abortion, if said purchase is in any way subsidized (as in, any ‘affordability credits’ meant to make insurance, well, affordable) by the government.

[Side note: Stupak and his supporters state that offering a subsidy to individuals to use as they see fit—which, under the health reform bill, would apply widely—is the same as a direct subsidy to the institutions or practices which the individual uses. By this logic, then, all voucher and student loan money given to individuals which allows them to choose religious schools ought to be banned as unconstitutional support for religion. Don’t hold your breath for Stupak et. al. to make this connection.]

That’s right: a woman paying a premium for insurance which includes coverage for abortion is now considered identical to the federal government paying for the abortion itself.

Because, hey, there’s no such thing as a fertile woman who can make and act on decisions on her own behalf, so of course this is not an autonomous act, but an act of the state.

Therefore, the state has to act on behalf of such women, as opposed to removing those obstacles which allow them to act on their own behalf.

How does this work?

Well, because, hey, sometimes women have sex just because they want to, which means they can’t be trusted to control their sexuality;

And because, hey, sometimes these women who have sex just because they want to end up pregnant, which means that they can’t be trusted to control their own fertility;

And sometime these women who have sex just because they want to and end up pregnant choose to end the pregnancy;

And because, hey, one in four women in the US have at some point chosen to end a pregnancy, and you can’t know just by looking at them which one out of every four women has so chosen or how many more might consider so choosing;

And because, hey, [consideration of] such a choice means that women seek to escape the consequences of their actions;

And a woman who seeks to avoid the consequences of her actions is by definition irresponsible;

And  irresponsibility means the woman lacks the ability to choose;

THEREFORE, the only responsible action for the state is to insure that they do nothing to make it easier and in fact make it harder for women to be in the position whereby they could actually choose.

Yeah, that’s some goddamned reform.