A little progress in civil rights has been made

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve heard about the United States Supreme Court overturning DOMA, or the defense of marriage act. For those who don’t know, DOMA was a law that defined a marriage as the legal union between a man and a woman. It denied same sex couples the legal rights that come with marriage, such as being able to file a single tax return, social security benefits, the ability to add a spouse to insurance policies, and end of life rights. What this means for same sex couples is the right to all of these benefits since all legal same sex marriages are now recognized by federal law.

This silver lining does have a cloud though. By the new legal standard, same sex marriages that are recognized as legal get the same benefits as opposite sex marriages. Unfortunately, many states do not recognize or outright ban same sex unions. This decision would not give the federal benefits previously denied to same sex couples by DOMA if they live in states that do not recognize the legality of same sex marriage.

This issue should be the next battle in the civil rights of the LGBT community. With the Supreme Court recognizing the legal rights of same sex marriages, there is now a legal president for the rest of the United States to follow suit and make this country one where any two people can get married without opposition from the law.

Go to google and put LGBT in the search bar.  It's pretty cool what they did to honor the community.

Go to google and put LGBT in the search bar. It’s pretty cool what they did to honor the community.

I Do Not Believe in Evil

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First of all, to anyone who is still following me, I’m sorry that I haven’t been all that active in the last few months. ¬†I’ve been going though a change in career, poor internet connection due to the area I live in, and a few changes in my personal life. But I should be back to my semi-regular schedule. ūüôā

Now, on to the subject of this post. ¬† I have been keeping up with the responses to my post about hydrogen peroxide therapy and I noticed a pattern in the responses. ¬†This pattern is that there is some organization that is trying to keep the common populace from having a cure because it interferes with their plans to profit from the suffering of others. ¬†In fact, that general pattern seems to be pretty common in the media these days. ¬†People are constantly talking about how “evil” organizations are out to get us or harm us. ¬†And this got me thinking about the idea of evil.

To begin, this is the dictionary definition of the word evil:

a : morally reprehensible : sinful, wicked <an evil impulse>

b : arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct <a person of evil reputation>
a: archaic , inferior
b : causing discomfort or repulsion : offensive <an evil odor>
c : disagreeable <woke late and in an evil temper>
a : causing harm : pernicious <the evil institution of slavery>
b : marked by misfortune : unlucky

These definitions of the term evil paint a pretty clear picture.  Evil is against morality, a cause of suffering, and a repulsive thing to be avoided.  But I want to point something out here.  Evil tends to be portrayed as these traits as enacted by a willing participant, with one exception in the example above.

My real issue with the term comes not from the dictionary definition, but from the colloquial use of the word.  When most people use the word evil, they mean a person or act that is destructive or antagonistic with little to no regard for the well being of others.  Evil people actively try to harm others without meaning or remorse.  When I hear people talk about evil, it often conjures up the imagery of fictionalized bad guys.  The key word in that last sentence is the word fictionalized.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Some men just want to watch the world burn.

Throughout history, people have used stories to make sense of the world around them. ¬†Now, since we’re a social species, the anti-social acts of a select few have confused us ever since our society started. ¬†One way that we humans have tried to make sense of the destructive and hurtful acts of others is to create the idea of evil. ¬†Historically, evil has been the excuse for people who do things that hurt others. ¬†This depiction of evil is often associated with individuals who have no “heart” or “soul.” ¬†When people use this definition of evil, they paint a picture of the people or groups that they describe as being without a sense of morality. ¬†This can easily damage our perceptions of the people around us.

This is here because the devil is a classic depiction of evil, and I love the Diablo games.

This is here because the devil is a classic depiction of evil, and I love the Diablo games.

I believe that the vast majority of people do not do anything with the active intent of only harming people.  I believe that when you look into the intent of people, they have an interest in heart that can be understood.  The CEO that steals from their company was doing it because they wanted their family to live in luxury.  The politician who voted against additional funding for schools may have been convinced by uninformed voters that the bill was going to prevent private schools from teaching the religion that they are a member of.  While we may not agree with the actions of the people around us, I believe that we need to look into the reasons behind those actions.  If those actions are based in greed or hate or any other worldview that does more harm than good, then we should be able to oppose them.  However, if there is a logic to the actions that we do not agree with, then we need to be able to learn about that logic and understand it if we ever want to progress as a society.

Another Serious Post About Sex. This is no Laughing Matter.

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This story disturbed me to my core. I don’t have anything to say about this. I just can’t believe that attitudes like these still exist in the modern world. I don’t really have it in me right now to go in depth about the issues of rape and the law. ¬†Below is a video that I saw. ¬†Watch it for yourself and let me know what you think about this particular issue. ¬†Maybe with enough discussion I can find the energy to really write about it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZyPLgqK9sQ

The War on Women… The Movement to To Deny Women of Their Reproductive Rights

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Alright, if you’ve been watching the news at all, you know about the recent attacks from the conservative right against women. These range from the Catholic Church’s refusal to have women’s controseptives paid for by insurance they provide, to the scare tactic of forcing women to get transvaginal untrasounds before getting an abortion, and a paticulary nasty piece of legislation that proposed to make it illegal to remove a dead fetus from a woman’s womb regardless of the cause of death for the fetus.

In my personal opinion, this current wave of misogyny from the right wing makes me embarrassed to be both an american and a human to a lesser extent. Now despite the fact that these proposed laws would have a religious base to them, which violates the constitution, the GOP is rallying around this cause to deny women their reproductive rights. What I want to explore in this article is the possible reasoning behind these attacks and the possible ways that this problem can be dealt with.

I’d like to start by putting together a general idea of what the far right is trying to do. ¬†I will also expand upon the conclusions that I come to in order to get a hypothetical “big picture” of this trend.

All right, let’s start with the basics. ¬†The GOP has two clear objectives in their recent campaign involving reproduction. ¬†The first is to make abortion illegal. ¬†The other objective is to limit the sale of birth control by preventing government health care from covering it. ¬†Now why are these two things so¬†important¬†to the GOP? ¬†Well, in my opinion, these objectives lead to the ultimate goal of¬†controlling¬†the reproductive rights of women in the United States. ¬†I base this¬†opinion on the fact that men’s reproductive healthcare is defended by these people when it is brought up in the debates. ¬†Members of the GOP say that the use of drugs like Viagra and Cialis serve greater purposes than erectile dysfunction, while birth control pills for women only serve to prevent pregnancy.

As a little aside, I would like to say that the statement about the lack of benefits from the use of women’s birth control is¬†completely¬†false. ¬†It has been proven time and time again that the use of hormonal birth control helps regulate hormone levels, prevents cervical cancer, and regulates the¬†menstrual¬†cycle among many other things.

This is the great evil that will bring down our society?

So, back to my original point.  It seems pretty obvious that the GOP is trying to deny women their reproductive rights while supporting the reproductive rights of men.  This is extremely sexist, attempting to take away rights that women have fought so hard to earn.  But, what is driving them to do this?

In this study, scientists have found that our closest genetic relatives, chimps and bonobos, share social behaviors of humans. ¬†The article says that chimps are hardwired to settle disputes and¬†disagreements with acts of aggression. ¬†Bonobos on the other hand settle these disputes with play or sex. ¬†What’s interesting about this discovery is that we humans show both of these behavior traits. ¬†The common theory is that humans, chimps, and bonobos have taken the social traits of our common ancestor. ¬†Chimps and bonobos went to the extremes of the social traits while we humans kept the mix of the two. ¬†This is being used as an¬†explanation¬†for¬†conservative¬†and liberal values.

But how does this explain the recent behavior of the GOP? ¬†Well to explain this, we should look at a paper published by Craig Stanford. ¬†This paper talks about the differences in the social behavior of chimps and bonobos. ¬†What I’m interested in is a paticular passage about the role of females in chimp societies. ¬†The paper states that both of these definitions of chimp society are correct,

“A. Chimpanzee society is characterized by male control and dominance over females and by male aggression and sexual coercion directed at females. Male territoriality and patrolling exclude extracommunity males¬†and acquire new females for male reproductive beneÔ¨Āts. ¬†Females are essentially reproductive commodities over¬†which males compete.¬†

B. Chimpanzee society is characterized by actively¬†mate-soliciting females that incite male competition¬†during their periovulatory period and that with their infants form the nuclear units of the social system. ¬†Females forage solitarily to optimize food intake in fruit¬†patches and become more social when it suits their reproductive tactics. Males may appear to dictate mating¬†efforts, but the promiscuous, mate-soliciting female is¬†the driving force in the mating system of the species.”

When I read this, the first thing that came to mind were “the good old days.” ¬†What I mean by that is the times just before the women’s rights movement. ¬†In those days there was an interesting trend when it came to the rights of women. ¬†In those days, men¬†controlled the lives of women with one loophole. ¬†Men could not marry women or have sex with them unless they “courted” women to “win their favor.” ¬†This seems to match the passage I quoted, men¬†controlled¬†the reproductive rights of women, but women chose their mates.¬†This seems to be the world that the GOP want to restore. ¬†They seem to want a world where men are in control of the reproductive rights of women.

So we’ve determined that the far-right of the U.S. seems to be showing their connection to chimps by trying to control the reproductive rights of women in this country. ¬†This is known as the Authoritarian personality. ¬†So the question remains, how can this attack be stopped?

Well, the problem is that these tendencies are usually hardwired to some extent. ¬†It doesn’t help that modern religions tent to¬†reinforce the authoritarian ¬†mindset. ¬†But there is still some hope. ¬†Authoritarian personality has been shown to diminish in the population during times of economic stability. ¬†This shows us that the mindset that focuses on out-group discrimination and sexism is lessened when the environment is stable. ¬†So it isn’t that much of a stretch to say that the recent attack on women is, in part, due to the current instability of the country’s economy. ¬†It should also be noted that all people have authoritarian tendencies, no one can say that they never had a¬†raciest¬†or sexist though at some point in their lives. ¬†What we need to do is oppose these attempts at the re-subjugation of women, and educate the public in regards to the authoritarian personality.

When the economy stabilizes, the far-right will hopefully mellow out.  At this point, the general population needs to learn about the authoritarian personality.  If the damage that these ideas can cause is shown to the next generation, then hopefully more people will learn to recognize these tendencies within themselves and be able to know what they are so they can not act on them.  But I want to know what you think.  Have I over simplified this issue, or am I reading too much into it?  Did I leave something important out?  Do you have any other ideas that could help reduce sexism in our culture?  And if you are not American, then do you have a perspective as an outsider to this particular issue?  Let me know what you think.

Is gender equality really the anti-viagra?

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The article that I will be talking about was published in 2011 in Psychology Today. You can read it for yourself here.

Now let’s create a summary of that this article says. This way we can address the points and go into detail later.

The basic premise of this article is that human beings are hardwired to be aroused by either dominant or submissive sexual behavior. This phenomenon tends to show itself in one or the other, a person is either dominant or submissive. It also says that research shows that the majority of men are dominant and the majority of women are submissive. The article then says that this phenomenon can create issues with modern feminists by inhibiting their sexual pleasure.

The first thing that I will say is that their research looks sound. I can’t bring myself to refute their data. It does seem like a majority of men are wired to enjoy dominance in the bedroom while women are wired to enjoy submissiveness. I do however have 2 issues with their explanation of this.
First: Dr. Ogi Ogas does not do a good job at clarifying the difference between majorities and absolutes. He does use the word majority in the article, but the public responce to this article shows that this distinction was not clear. I think that it should have been directly stated that all conclusions talked about only refer to the majority in a separate paragraph at the beginning.
Second: Dr. Ogas seems to have used some inflammatory examples and language. I can’t speak to his motives; but this seems to be done to generate controversy, or was done without realizing the controversy it would generate. The best example of this can be seen in this passage, “most men are aroused by being dominant, as evidenced by the massive cross-cultural popularity of dominance-themed adult Web sites for men. These include some of the most inventive and varied genres of male erotica, such as hypnotism porn (where Svengalis hypnotize woman into having sex), drunk porn (where men trick inebriated women into having sex), sleep porn (where men take advantage of sleeping women), and a wide diversity of exploitation porn (where women exchange sexual favors for school books, a ride, or a rent-free apartment).” While these examples are legitimate examples of male dominant pornography, they are also examples of the extreme. Had the article gone over a broad range, say from porn centered around a man being forceful in his movements, to porn centered around spanking and light bondage, to the extremes of exploitation porn; then this passage would have been less¬†inflammatory. ¬†This also makes it seem like the research shows that men are hardwired to want to rape, and women are hardwired to want to be raped.

I chose that extreme example because that was the exact conclusion a reader of this article came to.  Now, in a follow-up, Dr. Ogas clarified that rape is not something that should be condoned and that these dominance fantasies, where rape is the outcome, are the extreme that should be left to consenting role-play.  Another problem that I have with this article is the general conclusion that it comes to.

Now I will clarify that the article tries to clarify this conclusion.  It however fails to do this with any satisfaction to me, having a degree in English literature interpretation.  The article says that the changing american culture that has women finally gaining the equal rights they deserve as people has stifled our sexuality.  I think that Dr. Ogas has again used inflammatory language to come to a partial conclusion.

I personally don’t think that feminism is the cause of our sexual frustration. ¬†I think that the problem that Dr. Ogas has found is not specific to any gender, but to our cultural perception of self. ¬†As a society, we tend to see ourselves in the extremes. ¬†If we have personality traits that differ from the social norm, we tend to make that our key personality trait. ¬†We see ourselves in extreme terms; “I am a christian, I am an atheist, I am a homosexual, I am a feminist.” ¬†What we fail to recognize is that we are a collection of all of our personality traits. ¬†The problem that is addressed in the article is that many feminists have a problem reconciling their desires to ¬†be respected as equals in life with the desire to be submissive in the bedroom. ¬†This has nothing to do with feminism.

Let’s take two fictional people who are married, John and Jane Smith. ¬†John works as an accountant. ¬†He loves old western movies and is an outspoken defender of women’s rights in his office. ¬†He enjoys throwing Jane on the bed during sex. ¬†Jane is a regional manager in the company she works at. ¬†She attends conventions of women manager to talk about the rights of women in the workplace and fights to change policies that limit the upward growth or women in the workplace. ¬†She likes it when John picks her up and throws her on the bed during sex. ¬†Dr. Ogas makes it seem like their sex lives would be inhibited when Jane has a conflict with being dominated by a man during sex while also being an outspoken feminist. ¬†I say that if they both recognize that their behavior during sex is a fantasy role-play that they both enjoy while being equals outside of the bedroom, and that they are not defined by these traits, they should have no problem with their sex lives. ¬†They should both recognize that this dominance and submissive side of themselves does not translate to anything but their sexual role-play.

So to conclude,  I think that Dr. Ogas saw this problem of people not recognizing that their day-to-day lives and their sexuality do not have to define them entirely.  He came to a partial conclusion, and failed to explain this points in a way that would not offend the general public.

But I want to know what you think. ¬†Is feminism inhibiting sexuality? ¬†Or, is it the way that we label ourselves that makes us unable to accept our sexuality? ¬†Please leave a comment and let’s get this dialog going.

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