Sexy But Not Sexual

•07/06/2011 • Leave a Comment

The following is a research paper written by a UCF communications student, and friend of the blog:

In western-culture the scene of the boy who wants more and the girl who resists sexual temptation is unfamiliar to none.  Whether its a couple of high school kids at the prom, a couple of college students at a fraternity party, or an adult couple at a cocktail lounge, we always assume the man has a plan to get the woman to have sex, and the woman has a plan to avoid this.  Even Wood (2005) states as a fact that men are more likely to want sex early in a relationship than women are.  Furthermore when she explores the development of hook-ups desire for sexual intercourse is not among the factors she cites as contributing to this behavior.  Woman are uniformly thought to have less desire for sex than men.  While the statistics about how early women are likely to introduce sex into the relationship as opposed to men speak for themselves, I disagree with the idea that this is due to a lack of desire, or a stronger need for emotional connection.  It is my belief that women are are slower to act on their impulses due to the pressures placed on them by societies that villainize female sexuality while praising virginity, and that these values stem from patriarchal religious traditions.  Christianity shames the sexual desire of women by exhaulting virginity.  From this point modern society idealizes the virgin to such an extent that her lack of sexual behavior makes her sexy.  To pose as the warning to those who stray from this norm, our society also engages in slut-shaming.  Thus women are hesitant to introduce sex into relationships because they are taught that their virginity and purity are attractive and that acting on their sexual desires makes them less appealing.
Regardless of our individual religious beliefs, Christianity plays an enormous role in our society.  It influences our public policy and is the overarching structure of our morality as a nation.  This religion teaches that mankind was made to leave paradise due to Eve’s rebellion against God’s instructions, and her position of subservience to man is a result of her transgression.  Weber (1987) connect that to the Christian view of women’s sexuality:

[The woman] is warned that she is, by nature, Eve–that by being a woman she inherits insidious power allied with the evil one, which, if not subdued by submission and obedience to her father or husband, could contaminate and finally destroy humanity. However, if she renounces her fundamental Eve-like nature and embraces a life either of obedient virginity or submissive motherhood, she can save not only herself but also the fathers, husbands, and sons she serves. She becomes like Mary, immaculately conceived and safely sexless.

Christianity leaves room for only two kinds of good women, those who abstain from sex entirely, and those have sex solely to create children.  There is no room for sexual activity just for pleasure in this scene, and people who adhere to this religion act accordingly.  In their 2011 study Essizoglu et al found that the more committed women were to their faith, the less likely they were to masturbate or be sexually experienced.  In a society that identifies itself as 76% Christian, surely these ideals will effect how we view women’s sexuality, and how she views her own desire for sex, and they have evolved into what our society now values in women.

The archetype of the Madonna, virginal and sexless, evolved into something else over time in our society.  Virginity is still a desirable trait, but not exciting enough for popular culture.  Instead we have developed an icon that is “sexy” but not “sexual.”  This came to our attentions very rapidly in the late 1990’s with a number of pop stars who Levande (2008) called simultaneously “innocent” and “slutty.”  Girls like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson became very popular and had very sexual images, which were oddly paired with virginity pledges.  Though these two things may have seemed to counteract each other, it became clear that it was actually their virginity that made them sexy.  These messages from pop culture teach women not to engage in sexual conduct because it is the very fact that they are not having sex which makes them sexually desirable.

As if the modern young woman wasn’t under enough pressure not to have sex, the other-hand of idealizing virginity is there to keep them in line, slut-shaming.  The slut is the archetype that evolved from the rebellious Eve.  Any woman who is suspected of engaging in sexual conduct too easily or too frequently is labeled a slut.  Johnson (2002) observed that “by turning one girl into the slut among them, the kids try to reassure themselves that they are on the right side of fate: they are good while she is evil.”  Often times the girl in a social group who’s deemed a slut is not even sexually active.  But the ridicule and judgement she receives serves as a warning to women who might otherwise consider giving in to their desires.

Men are more likely to introduce sex into a relationship before women do because they are not discouraged by society or their peers.  While a boy might gain a reputation for himself based on his exploits, he would be very unlikely to undergo the kind of villianization that results from slut-shaming.  Women are as biologically and physically driven to sexual activity as men.  However the fear of being outcast, and the praise of self-denial is strong enough to sway her from acting on those drives.  I believe that women do not have sex earlier in a relationship, not because they don’t want to, but because they are pressured by a societal structure born of Christian beliefs not to.

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god As A Deadbeat Dad

•04/19/2011 • Leave a Comment

To me, the “loving god” is the least believable of all god-myths, its like asking the adult child of a father who left when they were still a baby to believe that he loves them and always had their best interests at heart. Across the world “god’s children” are victims of everything from natural disasters and wars, to loss and heartbreak. This is not self pitying “whydoes god let bad things happen to good people?” question. Instead I ask, if a child were going through a rough time and their parent refused to actually call and speak to them or physically visit to offer support or show concern… Would you call them a good parent?
If there were a mother in this idea of this broken eternal family, she would be entitled to a serious amount of child support. Instead our absentee heavenly father asks us to pay him! The argument from believers will follow that all we have us because of him, thus he’s entitled to tithes,but god’s grace is no more the cause of my financial success. If your astranged father showed up demanding 10% of your earnings in return for the part that hisdna playsin your success. Ridiculous! Someone who leaves their children before they can even remember him will have a difficult time claiming to be anything more than selfish.
The myth lends the explanation that god is testing our faith, giving us the chance to prove our love to him.What kind of narcissistic inferiority complex would a parent need to have go to such extents to seek validation? How self involved would you need to be to put your children through that? Make all the excuses that you will, but if there were a god you couldn’t call him anything more than a deadbeat dad.

Defining Religion

•12/05/2010 • Leave a Comment

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been in my fair share of spats about religion with facebook as the catalyst.  Normally its in response to some article I’ve posted or a comment I made on article Jen posted, and in the end we both get defriended by someone.  But earlier this week  someone I had known in college updated his status to read

“Atheism: the belief that happiness is not possible.”

… I mean really, how could I resist?  There were a few of his closer friend’s comments already attached encouraging the little jab so I responded

“Christianity: the belief that happiness is only possible through having an imaginary friend”

What follows are the definitions other freethinkers came up with in response to my facebook friend.  I hope they will brighten you day the way they did mine.

“Religion: elitism through common bond”

“Religion: the belief that happiness is possible through misogyny, oppression, war, and institutionalized hatred”

“Religion: having a superiority complex about your inferiority complex”

“Religion: the belief that happiness is make believe”

Female Non-believers

•09/26/2010 • Leave a Comment

So I was reading the Think Atheist Sunday School post for today and it referred me to a rather interesting article about non-believers of various titles and backgrounds.  I highly recommend reading it, the patterns are interesting.  But what stuck with me the most came in the very beginning.

“Consistent with prior research, nontheists in our study, and especially atheists, were most often young, male (74%, all nontheists; 82%, atheists), highly educated, liberal, and hostile to religion.”

Only one of those descriptors doesn’t apply to me, I am a woman.  (Note: I am working on the hostile towards religion thing, I swear.)  And if I had never read this I would never have known that I was such a minority within my minority.  Are there really so few female non-believers?  Further reading confirmed this fact but didn’t provide a good enough answer as to why.  Findings by the Pew Research Center show that overall women are more religious, are more certain about their belief in god, and pray/attend church more often.  There were two reoccurring explanations for this in the articles I read.

a) Motherhood: being a mother not only gives one a more flexible schedule to allow more involvement in church activities, but gives one a stronger role in the spiritual upbringing of children, thus strengthening one’s own beliefs.  (To the credit of this argument it is interesting that I am both an atheist and have been pretty outspoken about my desire to never have children since about the age of six-teen)

b) Risk Aversion: men are statistically more likely to take risks and decent from the norm than women

While both of these may have some valid insight as to why women are more religious than men they fail to answer my question of why more women aren’t atheist.  Women maybe the majority in religious circles but they only make up 52% of the national total, not nearly the same unbalance as within the circles of non-believers.  And what gets me about this is we have more reason to leave religion behind, or more to lose by continued faith simply because of our gender.  Misogyny is rampant both in the Bible and the Quran, everything to viewing a woman as unclean during her menstrual cycle or after child birth, to punishing them for sexual “misconduct” that the other party is completely pardoned for. I certainly understand just as well as the next person how much easier it is to go with the flow, or not question what has been serving you well enough thus far.  But I cannot understand why more women aren’t doing so, can anyone explain this to me?

5 Reasons Why Texas is the Worst State

•09/06/2010 • Leave a Comment

# 1 Gay rights:

The Texas GOP’s platform is just a little more than anti-gay.  Not only do they hope to make sodomy a criminal act again, they want it to be a felony to perform any sort of marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple.  This means that not only the couple but the person performing the wedding would face jail time.  So Texas is the worst because this is a stones throw from Jen and I moving to the lone-star state to harbor gay couples illegally in our attick so the GOP gestapo from finding them.

#2 Altering history:

Texas has decided that things went down in a far too liberal way, the solution, change the story.  This whole thing was lead by Don McLeroy.  He really could be reason #2 all by himself as he is a self proclaimed Christian fundamentalist sitting on the Texas State Board of Education.  But his brain child was making slight alterations to public education… like removing Thomas Jefferson and talking about how the civil rights movement lead to unrealistic expectations for equality.  Something like this is more dangerous when it happens in Texas as they are one of the largest purchasers of text books, and print a good deal of them as well.  It makes me think of a line the Wizard of Oz had in the musical Wicked, “Elphaba where I’m from we believe all sorts of things that aren’t true, we call it history.”  So Texas is the worst for trying to erase the past.

#3 Everything’s bigger in Texas:

Alaska is bigger than you… get over yourselves.

#4 Combining Racism with Anti-Choice:

The “black and unwanted” campaign was something that was started by African American anti-choice activists, however it clearly reinforces negative stereotypes about African American women and families.  Their claim is that 25% of abortions in Texas are from black women, but black women only make up 12% of the population.  Lets ignore the fact that men are reflected in the population of Texas but not in the abortions performed data so of course they’re not going to match up.  The simple fact is that almost 3 times as many abortions in Texas are from white women. So Texas is the worst because they skew data in order to be shocking when they tell you something thats complete bullshit in the first place

#5 Not Smart… or at least not Educated:

Nation wide Texas ranks 46th for math SAT scores, 49th verbal SAT scores, and dead last for percentage of people over 25 with high school diplomas or equivalent.  Perhaps this is a reflection of changing text books, or firing TEA personnel who support teaching science over superstition. So Texas is the worst for reaping what they sow.

So… I need a list of these special rights.

•09/02/2010 • Leave a Comment

I was reading about the ex-gay movement today (btw for those who don’t already realize that the ex-gay movement was totally discredited and has been shamed since most everyone who actually started the movement re-came out again later on and said it was all a hoax… but for some reason people still believe it lol… anyway) and a quote really stuck out to me as both interesting and tragic.  Naturally, this spawned my next blog post as the whole idea of the “gay agenda” hits close to home.  Anyway, the quote went as follows:

“And then in the gay community, I don’t know that the entire gay community would doubt that change is possible, but the mantra that comes out from those who lead the gay community is that people can’t change. Because if we can, that really invalidates their story, it invalidates the special-rights status they’re seeking.”

The quote is from an interview of Alan Chambers by the oh so appropriately named, Focus on the Family (apparently gays aren’t part of families and we don’t make our own families, we just “recruit”).  Anyway, so aside from the complete inane bullshit he was spouting about the ex-gays (don’t even get me started on this as that’s like saying I’m an ex-white because I tell myself over and over that I’m actually Korean) the special-rights piece really stood out for me.  I always wonder what these special rights are when people talk about the gay-agenda, as if we are trying to become some class of super-citizens who have all of these magic powers.  Whenever I question people about these special rights, they always come back to things that are basic human rights for other people.  Apparently when you openly admit to being gay, civil rights become special rights.

I read a great NY Times article last year about the costs of being gay.  Mind you, this article completely leaves out the social costs of being gay and simply focuses on the strictly financial pieces.  Straight people don’t have to worry about being killed for who they happen to love; they don’t have to worry about being fired from their job for loving the “wrong” person.  I’ve known several people who were killed simply because someone didn’t like the fact that they were gay.  It’s a shame that myself, or anyone else, has to go through life being afraid that someone else may decide to harm them in any way, but it’s the social cost of being part of the LGBT community.

After reading the comments about these special rights I’m demanding for being gay, I just thought it was important for me to share about the financial costs of living as a gay person in America.  I don’t have the link on here anymore… but I’ll keep searching and post it later.  One of the major pieces that stuck out to me was the costs of a hypothetical couple.  All of these costs can depend on the couples employer, insurance plans, etc.  Although the number can fluctuate, you can at least see a baseline for how costly it can be to be gay.

In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.

These numbers will vary, depending on a couple’s income and circumstance. Gay couples earning, say, $80,000, could have health insurance costs similar to our hypothetical higher-earning couple, but they might well owe more in income taxes than their heterosexual counterparts. For wealthy couples with a lot of assets, on the other hand, the cost of being gay could easily spiral into the millions.

There are countless tax benefits, estate planning benefits and retirement benefits (social security, IRA contributions, etc) to being in a straight couple.  Why does the expectation that these rights should also be available to me mean that I’m actually demanding special rights?  Please send me a list of the special rights as I would like to see them in writing and then I will follow-up with you as to why I need them too.

The Shady Business of Political Contributions

•09/01/2010 • Leave a Comment

If you haven’t been living under a rock (and if you have a news source other than Glenn Beck), you’ve probably heard about the ruckus that was caused when Target and Best Buy made a combined donation of $250,000 of both cash and in-kind gifts to Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer.  I’ll spare the long drawn out rant about the frightening ramifications of electing any of the many Tom Emmers that are out there because that’s not really my main focus at the moment.  The real point behind all of this is that the very foundation of a government by the PEOPLE and for the PEOPLE is being stolen from us.  Recently, decisions have been made that negatively impact the transparency of our entire election process.  Conservatives scream out about the “special interest groups” and the “gay agenda” (I’ve still yet to figure out exactly what this gay agenda is… but apparently I have one.  I’ll keep you posted if I have a revelation about this at a later date) but they conveniently forget to tell the full story about how our country is being stolen from American citizens and being handed over, gift wrapped, to anonymous third parties.

Earlier this year, in Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations were able to donate freely to political campaigns (because the first amendment not only protects free speech on an individual level from a meddling government… it also apparently ensures that corporations have no responsibility to anyone), ending a ban that ensured only real individuals would be able to buy their politicians.  Despite vast corporations being able to buy politicians with their limitless donation potential, we at least have the comfort of knowing that we will be able to see their donations and utilize our own purchasing power against companies that do not support our own political views… right?  Wrong.  Not only are big corporations able to now throw their nearly endless financial resources to reshaping our elections, but there is NO federal law that ensures that political contributions must be reported and made public.

Disclosure of political contributions is currently left up to the states (gotta love that good ol’ state’s rights crap, right?).  The only reason why we were lucky enough to find out that Target and Best Buy wanted to purchase a politician who sought to eliminate funding for HIV/AIDS programs because teaching about the virus is too sexually explicit, ban gay parents from having custody of children and outlaw gay marriage, was because Minnesota has a disclosure law on political contributions.  Several conservative groups (these groups hate the gays, a woman’s right to choose and pretty much everyone who isn’t them) are now challenging the constitutionality of disclosure laws for political contributions to ensure that no one knows who is buying their government.  As of September 20, we will see if a federal judge upholds the idea that government should be transparent, or if this judge will give limitless power to an unnamed few who are able to buy our elections with no repercussions.

So the next logical step in my thinking was, “Why should donors be able to remain anonymous?”  In a world where I can find out every dramatic turn of events in the lives of nearly everyone on the planet through Twitter and Facebook, how can anyone get away with being the shadowy figure pulling the puppet strings in our government?  Apparently the answer is religious persecution.  These folks believe they should be able to hide behind their bigotry because if they aren’t shielded from public sight, they will be targeted and their personal safety will be compromised.  Seriously? Pardon me if I’m fairly unsympathetic to the Christian right’s fear of their own safety.  I’m fairly certain that there have been more minorities murdered, beaten and abused by right-wing religious nut jobs in the US than the other way around.

The National Organization for Marriage (An organization that should actually be named “Gay Marriages Will End the World”) took a similar approach with their summer bus tour this year.  They created a sham bus tour hoping that protestors would come to their events so that they could show that the safety of their members would be at risk if they were forced to release their donor records.  (How funny that a group seeking to bar a group of people from their constitutional rights would have the audacity to think that THEY were the ones being persecuted).  This new push to shield political contributions from the public is of the same vein.  It is simply a thinly vieled attempt to claim people who seek to keep gay people  second class citizens are really the ones in danger of having their rights taken away.

We need legislation on a federal level (this time one that isn’t killed by a republican filibuster) that will keep our elections clean, transparent and free from meddling invisible hands.  When the enemies of equal protection under the law are invisible, there is absolutely no hope to defeating them.  No matter what your beliefs are, it is in the best interests of every real person in our country (not some corporate “person”) to demand full disclosure from our government in our elections.

Alex