Feminist Fail: PETA

This week’s Feminist Fail is brought to you by hypocritical wankers PETA, who have decided to target his Royal Gingerness Prince Harry whilst he’s in America for military training. A flock of naked scrawny vegan birds was dispatched in an attempt to persuade him to go meat free by using women as pieces of meat:

Well done, PETA. You’ve reminded us that although you’ve got the hots for animals, you clearly care nothing for humanity and women in particular. This isn’t the first time they’ve utilised the Hot Chick approach to marketing, and sadly I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

Regardless of how you feel about the validity of veganism as a lifestyle choice, please give the bird to PETA’s disgraceful use of birds.

Prop 8 Judges Announced

When Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down California’s Prop 8, was discovered to be *GASP* a ho-mo-sexual, plenty of Mormons cried bias and whinged that he should have recused himself. After all, being a ho-mo-sexual meant that he had a personal motive in ruling on the definition of marriage. Those with more than one brain cell pointed out that you could very well say the same thing about a straight person, and that it was as silly to claim a gay person couldn’t issue a fair ruling on gay issues as it would be to say a woman couldn’t issue a fair ruling on women’s issues.

Three randomly selected judges will review whether or not Judge Walker’s ruling will stand. One of them is a Mormon.

Riddle me this, Outer Blogness: How many Mormons will say that BYU graduate and active Mormon N. Randy Smith (blimey, even his name is ironically Mormon) should recuse himself based on the fact that he belongs to a religion to which he has presumably sworn loyalty to in the temple, and which has a leader that ordered him to do everything he could to oppose gay marriage?

The accusation of bias against Judge Walker was illogical and unfair. There is no central leadership for the gay community, and no single gay agenda. Judge Walker was answerable to no one but himself in forming his extremely well-reasoned opinion. Gay people tend to have the common goal of not wanting to be thrown in prison for what they do in private, but there is a great deal of diversity of opinion, many different gay movements, and no central authority regulating it all. You can’t say the same thing about active Mormons. It’s possible for Judge Smith to issue an unbiased ruling, but there is much more of a case for conflict of interest here. Does he follow his prophet? Could he rule in favour of Prop 8 without the taint of bias? Could he rule against Prop 8 without appearing to be insincere about his faith?

I won’t hold my breath waiting for those posts from active LDS who will agree that, in the interest of fairness and avoiding the appearance of hypocrisy, they believe Judge Smith ought to recuse himself. I will wait for all the delightful posts satirising this, though. They are already coming in.

I think you might enjoy this

Today my cousin sent me a link to the following video on YouTube, entitled “Sassy Gay Friend: Romeo and Juliet.”

“So funny. I think you might enjoy this,” she typed, leaving a link to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwnFE_NpMsE. I paused a moment before going to watch the video. I could see the title, and wondered what the primary reason was for thinking that I would enjoy it. Is it my passion for Shakespeare? My love of absurdism? Or is it because I’m a staunch supporter of civil rights? Maybe all three?

The video is very clever. Juliet, about to kill herself, gets a sassy reality check from her flamboyant friend. He puts it all in perspective to keep her from killing herself: “Romeo! Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo? Translation: Desperate! Desperate! I am really desperate!” I did enjoy it, and thought it would even be a useful, humorous thing for a teacher to show in a classroom to start an analytical discussion on Romeo and Juliet’s behaviour. But I hesitated to respond right away. This cousin had dutifully obeyed the prophet when he told her to give her time, talents, and wallet toward the passage of Proposition 8. She had worked the phone banks, knocked on doors, and called loving, committed couples an abomination.

I wish that people who engage in gay-bashing could see the hypocrisy of turning around and laughing at gay humour. This is someone who denounced gays as monsters when all they wanted was equal treatment, but she felt it was okay to laugh along with them when they were safely defanged as prancing comic stereotypes. People like my cousin don’t mind keeping gays around as court jesters to make us laugh, cut our hair, and decorate our lounges. But heaven forbid that we accept them as real people who are parents, spouses, friends and citizens. It was so tempting to ask her why she thought this video was funny when she had criticised me in the past for supporting LGBTQ rights and claims to despise homosexuality. I could guess at the real answer; she hated gays when the church told her to. Because she only reflects what she is told to think, she doesn’t really hold any opinion at all on the matter, making it easy to laugh at a funny joke, whatever the content. I don’t know if it counts as hypocrisy to betray philosophical viewpoints you support but haven’t actually thought through, but it’s definitely bollocksed.

After thinking for several minutes about a hornets’ nest I didn’t wish to stir up, I just wrote back, “That’s very funny.”

The Self-Loathing Homophobe

I’m not sure how big of a story this is in California, though it’s been burning up the Twittersphere. My favourite summary of it went like this:

BAD: Roy Ashburn, a state senator from Southern California was arrested for allegedly driving drunk.

WORSE: Roy Ashburn, a state senator from Southern California was arrested for allegedly driving drunk AFTER LEAVING A GAY BAR.

WORSER: Roy Ashburn, a state senator from Southern California was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after leaving a gay bar WITH ANOTHER MAN IN THE CAR.

WORST: Roy Ashburn, a REPUBLICAN state senator from Southern California was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after leaving a gay bar with another man in the car.

WORSTEST: Roy Ashburn, a Republican state senator from Southern California WITH A HISTORY OF OPPOSING GAY RIGHTS was arrested for allegedly driving drunk after leaving a gay bar with another man in the car.

As awful as that all sounds, there are plenty of things that make it worse. The car was government-issued and so paid for with tax dollars. Ashburn was swerving around in a downtown area. Ashburn is also a father of four children. He has one of the staunchest anti-gay records in Sacramento, voting down even reasonable bills focusing on preventing violence against LBGTQ teens. The list of offences against self, strangers, taxpayers, society, and family go on and on.

And why? Why would this happen? I know people who disapprove of homosexuality, but don’t make it part of their identity. The reasons for their homophobia can be complex, ranging from ignorance to being taught to be bigoted to simply misunderstanding those who are not like them.

In cases of extreme haters, like Maggie Gallagher, Nancy Elliot, and now Roy Ashburn, I think the answer is simple: These people despise something about themselves so much that they cannot deal with it internally, and so take the battle to the outside world. If gay cannot exist legally or socially, then they will finally be able to deny what the are. But that can’t happen, and the longer a high pressure issue is bottled up, the more guaranteed it is to blow up one day.

Do you love to be offended?

It’s a clear effort to cash in on the publicity generated by the Paris Hilton “that’s hot” advert which consisted of the scantily clad socialite washing a car and noming a burger. Like most sequels penned as an afterthought to success, this one fails horribly. See for yourself, if you like, although be prepared to feel like an enormous hypocrite by the end of this if you start out knowing it’s the sort of thing you won’t approve of but want to have a peek anyway. Here it is.

The Paris Hilton commercial I understood; the first thing I feel like doing after washing the car is having a burger, and the commercial made fun of Hilton’s catch phrase, “That’s Hot.” Provocative? Sure. But at least it was good marketing.

This commercial, like the Kardashians’ reality show, is tacky and doesn’t make any sense at all. “I’m such a neat freak,” she declares. If you’re such a neat freak, why on earth are you eating a salad in bed, you wacky tart? Then of course there’s the bit where they do a salad dressing money shot, which made me throw up a little in my mouth.

And here’s where I come to the point.

For puritanical people who get up in arms at even the tiniest perceived slight against their belief system, this kind of thing is like pouring petrol on an open flame. Human beings are already vulnerable to the bizarre need to share something awful with the person next to them. “Oh, man, this tastes awful. Here, try some.” Or “oh, man this four week old pasta smells vile. Come here and have a whiff.” Puritanically religious people must contend with this instinct as well as their need to take pride in holding up something offensive for public condemnation.

I don’t watch much television; the only way I found out about this commercial was because a relative posted the damn thing on Facebook with comments about how offensive it was and how degrading to women Ms. Kardashian’s behaviour was. It was followed by a long stream of comments from Mormons expressing how offended they were and how they were going to tell everyone they knew about the deep offence they were feeling.

I thought the commercial was stupid. So my solution is not to waste any more time watching it. I’ve got better things to do. But the Mormons wanted to go on and on: “I watched that Kim Kardashian commercial seventeen times and every time I got even more offended.”

If you have ever wondered whether or not you are a hypocritical puritan, ask yourself this: do you take pride in publicly shaming people who don’t meet your moral expectations? New England puritans burned witches. Muslims stone women who are raped. Americans engage in slut-shaming, and Mormon Americans are especially enthusiastic about this pastime. Whether it’s a scantily clad socialite, Hot Mormon Muffins, or low-profile homosexuals, Mormons love to freak out. This does two things for the Mormons: First, it’s a chance for them to feel morally superior as they somehow manage to make their way through this horribly Satanic world. Second, by publicly castigating people they disapprove of, they can exorcise the feeling that, deep down, they are envious of those who are clearly having a lot more fun than they are in life.

Pointing out this to Mormons doesn’t do any good. Every time I visit relatives they spend most of the time watching television. About every five minutes someone will cry out in horror when a character in a movie uses a naughty word, or complain about how awful television is “these days.” I suggest that if they find television so offensive, they should stop paying for cable. Suddenly the room goes silent. Mormons couldn’t cancel their cable, because at the end of the day the enjoy both the innocent and offensive material, and the pleasure they get helps them ignore the hypocrisy of paying for entertainment so that they can be offended by it.

This is just a Mormon application of a universally puritan principle. After all, a website in London that helps people link up to commit adultery is currently getting its best advertising from . . . wait for it . . . the Christians protesting the website on Facebook. There are puritans in every belief system, even atheism. But I will say that Mormonism is among those systems of belief and culture that is particularly susceptible to this problem. Repression breeds obsession, after all.

If you’re a puritan, you can overcome your tendencies, and you don’t need to listen to a Mormon-turned-agnostic like me to learn how. Jesus had an opinion on slut-shaming: mind your own business. Avoid the temptation to give yourself an ego trip by casting stones, and maybe we’ll all get on just a bit better.