People Are Strange Pt. 1

I’m going to relay a story about being idealistic and fickle, and about how all humans are this way, because I was as a boy.

When I was 9 or 10, I would pray the following prayer every night before falling asleep: “Jesus, please forgive my sins and the sins of the world so we can go to heaven and not to hell. Amen.” I had this down to a mantra I could spit out silently in roughly a second or so. It had to be this fast because you didn’t know when death would happen. It was a nightly thing. I also said it during the day. I wouldn’t say I was in fear for my soul, so much as this activity was a comforting one. No one really taught me this. I was just a weird kid who pieced things together. Differently.

The following scene takes place in the Cope’s yard, which eventually became our yard. So the Copes had this enormous rock in their front yard. It was probably 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall, maybe 2 feet wide (if that), and 3-4 feet long, but for us it was like Mt. Olympus. We would play “King of the Mountain,” with all that entails: healthy competition quickly devolving into literal fist fights.

Well. Young Steven said something that just lit me up. If I recall correctly, and I’m pretty sure I don’t, he said or did something to Josh. Or maybe it was the perennial debate of whose dad was the biggest, strongest, baddest hombre. Whatever it was, it was enough to ignite righteous indignation within me. So righteous, that I prayed, “Jesus, please rapture your children. NOOOOOOWW!” This probably would have been more comical had I said it aloud, bit I did it through gritted teeth, under my breath, and with clenched fists.

There is so much going on here, it’s hard to know where to begin. It’s fascinating I desired God’s unstoppable rapture judgment on my friend-turned enemy, only to pray my mantra at night, and have my friend back the next day. Jesus was this invisible, but powerful force to use in blessing and cursing. The moral of this story is that children, and humanity by extension, are evil maniacs not to be trusted.

A lot of the weird things I thought as a kid probably would have been gently corrected (or looked at in horror? Who knows) had I said them aloud. Take the following as an example. Adam and Eve were the parents of all humanity. They were also white. Why? Because everyone I grew up with was white, with a few exceptions. Why did they look different than me? Well, I made sense of it from art and my fuzzy conceptions of this new thing Mom and Dad had just told me about called “sex.”

When a man loved a woman very much he would stick his scrotum in her vagina and they would have babies. That, I later found out, was not the case. So, color.

Adam was a very expressive individual. He and Eve had had a few, white children. In his short time on the earth, Adam had discovered dyes and paints. Being the creative man he was, Adam decided to paint his penis yellow before he lay with Eve one day, and this is where the descendants of Asia come from. And so with black, brown, and red skin.

Had I told this to my parents or fourth grade Sunday school teacher (I forget who this is now; maybe the Robillards? Or the Bryants?), and they actually heard my entire explanation, I don’t know if they would have laughed or gently corrected me. Suffice it to say I took bits of knowledge and ran with them. Far, far away.

People are strange.

Link Wednesday 6: Mucho Feminism…and Some Sexuality, Too

This Link Wednesday, admittedly doesn’t have a lot of feminism, but it does comprise the majority of the links. Here we go.

1. “An Update on the Gay Debate: evolving ideas, untidy stories, and hopes for the church

Julie Rodgers

Julie Rodgers

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan

Julie Rodgers was a “Ministry Associate for Spiritual Care” at Wheaton College until she resigned yesterday. She is a celibate gay Christian whose shift in view on same-sex marriage seems to have been the reason for her resignation. If you are not used to reading gay Christian perspectives, check out her blog. Another gay Christian voice to check out is Matt Vines at The Reformation Project.

In other religio-sexual news, Reza Aslan encouraged his fellow American Muslims to fight for marginalized groups like the LGBT community in a public letter after the SCOTUS decision. In case you weren’t aware, 42% of American Muslims support same-sex marriage (21+21). Maybe you weren’t surprised by the figure. I was. It helps to look at data.

2. “Media Literacy 101

Here are the four takeaway questions quoted (except for the “And”) from the transcript:

  1. What is the content of this product? As in, what am I looking at here?
  2. Is it really selling what it’s advertising? Like, if you have a woman in a bikini in your commercial, it better be for swim wear and not for, ya know, hamburgers.
  3. Who made this?…
  4. Why do they want me to consume it? That is, which demographics benefit from me internalizing this message and which demographics are hindered by it?

My wife and I discussed this while we walked by Victoria’s Secret in the mall. She wondered why the store would have an image of a woman with no top, covering only her nipple (probably through Photoshop or a nude suit) when what it was selling was a bracelet. I speculated that marketing experts project that it will have a significant impact on the tastes of women’s significant others to push to buy that product so that their women can exude the image shown: free-spirited, virile, trophy, etc. But then I thought about it today, and realized that women (or men if they want the bracelet) don’t need other agents encouraging them to exude free-spirited, virile, trophy images; they have agency of their own.

3. “Is secularism still Christian?

This article talks about the origins of Western secularism. I modify it because not all secularisms are the same. Turkish secularism, for example, looks different from American secularism because of the different histories of the peoples. Even in the West, secularism in the United States differs from that in the United Kingdom which differs from that in France. For more elaboration on the various secularisms, see the interview with Tariq Modood at The Religious Studies Project.

4. “How the Justice System Hurts Survivors Through the ‘Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline‘” and “How ‘Orange Is the New Black’ Misrepresents Women’s Federal Prison (And Why It Matters)

Orange Is the New Black

Orange Is the New Black

These two articles discuss how women entering prisons are primarily non-violent drug offenders. The feministing article highlights that the major contribution to drug use/penalization occurs among sex-abuse victims. The everydayfeminism article highlights that while men’s prisons still have far more prisoners population-wise, women’s prisons are growing at double the rate of men’s: growth in prisons in general are fueled by the failed War on Drugs.

5. “An Explanation for Why It’s Not Just Men Who Pressure Women Into Feminine Norms

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham

Celia Edell applies Foucault’s reading of Bentham to explain that patriarchal norms for femininity come from many directions (men, other women), including from the self. Gender expression is a show for everyone and no one. This was an article that gave me a check regarding my thoughts on the Victoria’s Secret ad.

6. “The Coming Gay Rights Letdown” (The Daily Beast)

While happenings in one place aren’t guaranteed to replicate in another, a Canadian LGBT activist warned American LGBT activists that marriage equality brings apathy among the public. It reminds me of the unfortunately failed Equal Rights Amendment. Women in the United States gained suffrage in 1920, gained lots of momentum in the 1960s and 1970s through second-wave feminism, but the culture at large seems not to have given that Amendment as much weight as they.

7. I’m going to wait on #PlannedParenthood. The story is still developing. Color me cautious (I guess you can color me cowardly if you want; I just think big stories need more development).

Because of Caitlyn Jenner in the news last month, I thought it worthwhile to cover a less well known group. Intersex persons are the little known group in the longer LGBTQIA acronym. Political recognition of them at times overlap with transgender persons, hence the upcoming post, “The Politics of Intersex.”