Tuesday, December 4, 2007


The first publicly gay man to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a U.S. Ambassador, Michael Guest, has retired his post because of anti-gay discrimination within the State Department and at his farewell party told the truth in a startling fashion:

“Most departing ambassadors use these events to talk about their successes . . . But I want to talk about my signal failure, the failure that in fact is causing me to leave the career that I love. For the past three years, I’ve urged the Secretary and her senior management team to redress policies that discriminate against gay and lesbian employees. Absolutely nothing has resulted from this. And so I’ve felt compelled to choose between obligations to my partner — who is my family — and service to my country. That anyone should have to make that choice is a stain on the Secretary’s leadership and a shame for this institution and our country,” he said.

Mr. Guest, a Republican who was appointed Ambassador to Rumania by President Bush in 2001, went on to say "“Unlike heterosexual spouses, gay partners are not entitled to State Department-provided security training, free medical care at overseas posts, guaranteed evacuation in case of a medical emergency, transportation to overseas posts, or special living allowances when foreign service officers are assigned to places like Iraq, where diplomatic families are not permitted. This is not about gay rights. … It’s about equal treatment of all employees, all of whom have the same service requirements, the same contractual requirements."

Think Progress reporting on this concludes "he did what few people do — displayed uncommon courage and threw a rhetorical hand-grenade into his own party."

The Portly Dyke has a post up called at Shakesville that begins "Trying to Get White People to Talk About Racism is Like . . . . well, like trying to get white people to talk about Racism." She offers three reasons as to why this may be so -- which I'll condense (perhaps incompletely) as (1) Lack of awareness about their white privilege; (2) Fear -- of being offensive, of being found out, of having the tables turned; and (3) The lie out there that racism is no longer an issue in our country.

She goes on to say:
"I know that racism is still an issue, because there are white people -- white people who think of themselves as liberal/progressive -- who will say racist things to me when people of color are not around -- even after I have confronted them in the past about racist remarks that they have made.

"I know that racism is still an issue because white people seem so fucking uncomfortable about discussing it -- so uncomfortable, in fact, that they avoid discussing it, even when it is clearly brought to the table by someone that they consider an ally.

"I know that racism is still an issue because people of color can disappear and nobody seems to notice."

She coming out immediately as not willing to listen to horseshit about "revere racism" or "quotas", and she sets up crisp margins for the discussion to follow. Which is EXCELLENT. Go read.

Another reco for Pandagon, this time for Amanda Marcotte's Feminist Friday post about an end to masculinity. It covers, in part, Robert Jensen’s new book Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity, and as such both the post and the discussion has a lot of talk about pornography, so if that triggers you, be advised.

Here's one excerpt to give you a flavor:

"The construct of masculinity is largely responsible for everything from rape to the propaganda push leading up to the invasion of Iraq. But masculinity victimizes the true believers, as well as women and men who find themselves on the wrong side of dudes on a masculinity trip...Masculinity is extremely stressful to men, since it’s not something you ever get to have, but something that you’re always fighting to prove, a battle that’s never completely won but has to begin anew every day."

I very much appreciated the understanding exhibited by Marcotte and some of the commenters that:

Masculinity is a construct which has no rational connection to being male.
Any embrace of a binary like masculinity and femininity is dehumanizing (dividing human attributes into groups which cannot all be demonstrated by the same person within that binary) and inherently discriminatory (because it promotes opposites which are separated from each other and "separate but equal" is a myth).

The working definition of masculine is "NotFemale". I'd argue that is the working definition of male as well. "Female" gets assigned most of the non-privileged aspects of existence as it relates to what is defined as gender in our culture. Thus, in the target/nontarget dynamic, nontarget for gender is male, and target is everything else -- female, queer, and trans.

The argument that "sexism" (like racism) is so poorly understood and resisted, it's better to use the terms "patriarchy" and "white supremacy". Hear, hear. I also use "woman-hating" when it applies -- and anything that attempts to dehumanize me is hate-full.

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