Underage and Over-Criticized

referenced from alicevega.com

referenced from alicevega.com

I’m sure many of you have seen this story already.  Sasha and Malia, America’s First Daughters, were criticized by a GOP aide for their attire choices.  She resigned shortly after.

Now, I realize that sounds harsh, but allow me to elaborate.  GOP aide Elizabeth Lauten specifically said

“Dear Sasha and Malia, I get you’re both in those awful teen years, but you’re a part of the First Family, try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play. Then again your mother and father don’t respect their positions very much, or the nation for that matter, so I’m guessing you’re coming up a little short in the ‘good role model’ department.  Nevertheless, stretch yourself. Rise to the occasion. Act like being in the White House matters to you. Dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at a bar. And certainly don’t make faces during televised public events.”

That is quite the quote. Even if we ignore the blatant disrespect dished out towards the President and First Lady, it’s still a bit shocking (at least to me).  Sasha and Malia are respectively 13 and 16 years old.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been able to show half of the maturity they do every day when I was that age.  So they made some faces.  So they showed their knees.  Elizabeth Lauten is an adult, and the lack of sympathy and harsh judgements she showed these young girls is awe-inspiring.

So why do I care?  Why is this being talked about on Carnal Politics?

It’s just another manifestation of rape culture, in my eyes.  Women in short skirts/shorts are sluts.  Women with low tops are sluts.  Women who spend too much time focusing on their appearance are sluts.  Apparently, now underage girls wearing perfectly sensible holiday-wear are also sluts.  “A spot at the bar?”  THEY AREN’T EVEN OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE BEEN IN ONE.  Why is it that, especially in politics, women are judged so harshly?  Even the women on the sidelines who aren’t there to be judged or assessed?  They didn’t ask for dad to be one of the most visible men in the world.  They aren’t thinking about whether their outfits ask for the right kinds of attention.  They got dressed for Thanksgiving, had to stand on national TV for a couple hours, and made a few funny faces in the process.  Good for them.  They deserve to be kids.  Why can’t we, for once, remember that’s exactly what they are?

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Teach Us Something We Don’t Know

By Mikhaela Reid, referenced from mikhaela.net

By Mikhaela Reid, referenced from mikhaela.net

Salon.com posted an article recently about sex-ed, and it’s definitely worth looking in to if you’re interested (or plainly enraged) by the topic.

Here is a very in-depth look at what exactly is happening (or rather, not happening) in the US school systems in regard to sexual education, and why.  It highlights the use of abstinence-only programs, and why that can be so very damaging to teens, and anyone else exposed to it.

Looks Like We’re Not [bigoted] in Kansas Anymore…

by Justin DeFreitas

by Justin DeFreitas

Well folks, Kansas is finally getting there.  County by county, they’re beginning to issue same-sex marriage licenses.  I am happy to announce that Olathe, Kansas began officially issuing same-sex marriage licenses after several stop-start decisions because of legal holds and petitions.  I was fortunate enough to talk with one of the couples that initially applied for a license on October 9, 2014.  They even had an informal ceremony performed by a minister offering his services to couples on the courthouse stairs.  Soon after, the Kansas Attorney General put a hold on all same-sex marriage licenses, although applications were still being accepted.  Kaci Campbell and Kim Garner filled out an application on October 9th, but by October 10th the Kansas Attorney General had already blocked any licenses from being issued.  Kaci said after the first delay that the attorney general “…thinks that the judge that allowed us to get marriage license is not qualified to make that kind of decision…If not for activist judges, women would have no rights, right? Slavery would not have been abolished, right? Thank you, Judge, for standing up for ALL individuals’ rights.”  Kaci and Kim were finally able to receive an actual license recently, on November 19.  She contacted me the night before and said “They lifted the ban today in Johnson County, so tomorrow I will finally go get license and be married by the end of the day. The news called and interviewed us tonight, on channel 9 tonight…”  She and Kim still plan “to have another ceremony because the last one wasn’t technically legal.”  I’m so excited for them to have the most fun, creative, and LEGAL ceremony they possibly can!  They are both beautiful, unique people, and I wish them all the best.

Now, while this is certainly great news, it’s not the end of the battle (even in Kansas).  The state of Kansas is still appealing the rights to same-sex marriage.  Although this probably won’t amount to any changes, it’s still something to be concerned about.  Until same-sex marriage is at the very least respected by everyone, it won’t be an easy world for any of us to live in.  Why is it so hard for people to just see love instead of gender and sex and all of the other things that should be secondary?

Assault Expansion

In New Jersey, a new bill has been introduced that would expand the legal meaning of sexual assault.  Essentially, it criminalizes consensual sex after the fact, if misrepresentation or lies were utilized in acquiring said sex.  Now, I can definitely see where this bill came from, as there are plenty of cases where people have used incredibly unsavory tactics to acquire sex, but I don’t know that it is ready to be passed.  To me, at its current state, it appears that just about any coercion could be criminalized.  If a guy tells you that he knows a celebrity, and you sleep with him, is that a crime?  Or are you just being gullible.  Or is it both?  Is it illegal if you admit that you were lying after the act?  It’s an interested concept, and I can see where a need for something like this would occur.  I’m curious to see if it gets edited and resubmitted or is voted down and simply falls apart.  It could be difficult to prove/charge someone with either way.

Bathroom Advancements

referenced from: mikhaela.net

referenced from: mikhaela.net

It’s always good to see schools preemptively adapt to their students.  A school district in Clifton Park, New York has started the process to officially allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.  This is the first case that I’ve seen where a school began putting policies like this up for a vote without any legal pressure or public pressure related to a current student.  They will require the students to have some sort of “documentation” (presumably a doctor’s note or some other medical personnel’s diagnosis with gender identity disorder, or something similar), as well as permission from high-ranking school officials.  I would guess that these restrictions were put into place to help quell some adult concerns about sexual assaults and boys sneaking into the women’s room.  In my opinion, it would be incredibly difficult for a teenage boy to truly, passably, fake being transgender, but apparently not everyone agrees with that.  The school makes a point to specify the “gender identity that the student exclusively and consistently asserts at school,” which is, again, a smart way to clarify that this is meant for students well into their transition.

Genderless Ideas

I meant to post this on Transgender Day of Remembrance, but missed by one day.  In all fairness, my Thursday was absolutely insane.  I’m making up for it by posting an extra-long blog for y’all today!

Transgender rights has been something that has weighed heavily on my mind lately.  I’m not sure why exactly, but every situation where a trans person would be uncomfortable seems to trigger me.  I think that with all of the developments being made in the arena of gay marriage and gay rights I feel like the basic, simple, everyday rights of transgender people are being forgotten (or at least overshadowed).

So I decided to take a basic internet survey (via posting in several completely non-related groups), regarding transgender bathroom assignment.  To me, this seems relatively straightforward, so I wanted to see how many people agree.  I was also hoping to prompt some interesting conversations for people who haven’t spent any time researching or considering transgender rights.  The survey was fairly simple.  You were asked three questions regarding what bathroom transgender people should use (each question identified a different age group), and you were given three options for answers.  There was then a space for people to express why they had chosen what they had chosen, but this wasn’t required.  I feel that I got responses from people on just about every part of the spectrum, opinion-wise.

The first question was “Do you believe that transgender elementary students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the options of “Yes; they should use the bathroom that matches their gender,” “No; they should use the restroom that matches their biological sex,” or “They should use a single-stall separate restroom.”  Out of 65 responses, 38 chose “yes,” 20 chose “no,” and 7 chose “single-stall.”

The second question was “Do you believe that transgender high school students should be able to use the bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same answer options as question one.  I decided to choose two different school settings because of the controversy surrounding younger transgender people transitioning while in school.  I was also interested in the younger vs older comparison because of the arguments surrounding the possibility of sexual assault, if restrooms are used by transgender students.  Again, out of 65 responses, 42 chose “yes,” 11 chose “no,” and 12 chose “single-stall.”

The third question was “Do you believe transgender people should be able to use the public bathroom they are most comfortable with?”  They were given the same “yes” and “no” options, but the third option was phrased slightly differently for clarity’s sake.  The third option said “They should use single-stall alternate (family) restrooms.”  I knew that there would be a significant amount of adults taking the survey, and considered them more likely to approach the student questions from a mindset of protecting younger people.  I inserted this questions to attempt to force them to investigate their own personal feelings regarding both being in a restroom with a trans person, and forcing someone their own age to use a restroom they may be uncomfortable with.  I had hoped they would put themselves in the trans person’s shoes when asked from this perspective.  Out of the same 65 people, 46 said “yes,” 8 said “no,” and 11 said “single-stall.”

I was a bit shocked that the statistics didn’t significantly change between questions.  Most people picked all of one answer (i.e. 3 yes or 3 no).  There were only a few people who selected different options for different scenarios.  It seemed that people either decidedly were uncomfortable with people using bathrooms based on gender, or they simply weren’t.  The open responses brought all types of responses; the open-minded, the angry, the explicit, the indifferent, and the generally unrelated.  The prompt simply read “Why or why not?”  Responses ranged from “Biological sex is their true gender regardless of what gender they believe themselves.” to “Because that is their gender even if they weren’t born that way.”  There was on response that used the prompt as an opportunity to criticize America’s handling of restrooms in general, saying

“I personally see no problem with both genders, and sex, sharing the same bathrooms. I think that in America going to the bathroom is over sexualized, where people are appalled at the idea of men and women sharing. The main argument I’ve heard against it is that men will attack women in the bathroom, however, if something like that were to happen I think that would have much more to do with the amount of violence in that area. If someone is twisted enough to attack someone in a bathroom then they’re going to do it regardless of if they’re “allowed” to be in that particular stall or not. A bathroom is a bathroom, we all have to use it, so what’s the big deal with keeping everything separated?”

There were slightly humorous takes on the situation, such as “Because everyone has a right to pee in peace.” and there were also very serious observations, such as “they’re just trying to apply to our socially ascribed rules as fits them.”  There was even a response that simply listed “tough questions” at the end of the survey.

Out of everything contained in this, the thing that shocked me the most were people who seemed to believe that the single-stall bathrooms were a way to make everyone comfortable.  I purposefully placed that answer to see if people genuinely believed that this was a fair solution for all involved, and it seems that many do.  The people who chose the single-stall answers left comments like “It doesn’t bother anyone if they use a family bathroom, and it’s probably less awkward for them, not getting stares and what not.”  They argued that “It’s disrespectful to others that aren’t comfortable with the transgender population.”  They even left responses as blatant as “Because I can’t pee if a person with a penis is in the stall next to me.” I’m not kidding.  I was shocked.  I can’t imagine being told, my whole life, that I can’t use the same restrooms as almost everyone else around me.  Wouldn’t that feel, to you, like you were shouting to the whole world “HEY, LOOK AT ME.  I’M TRANSGENDER.” every time you walked into the single-stall handicapped/family restroom?  There are so many transgender people who go to great lengths to conceal the fact that they are transgender that we don’t even have any accurate statistics on how many people transgender people there are.  Asking them to identify themselves in public by using a specifically dictated bathroom is inhumane.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s hard for me to believe that people think that it’s fair in any respect.

There were two remarks that expressed concern for the safety of the transgender person themselves, saying “I don’t think our society is ready to responsibly and humanely integrate transgender students/adult in a public restroom setting.” I think that this is a valid concern, especially right now.  As this survey clearly indicates, there are a lot of people who are still incredibly uncomfortable with even the idea of a transgender person, forget an actual human being.  That being said, there are many hard-fought wars over basic human rights that have happened within even the past 100 years.  Most of them have resulted in some bloodshed.  I know plenty of transgender people who are willing to fight, and fight hard, for rights as basic as using a public restroom.  There are plenty of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ Allies that will join in that fight (and already have) and shed blood right alongside them.

I don’t think that this survey itself will change the world.  I don’t even know how many people will make it to the end of this post.  What I do know, is that this has opened my eyes to the discrimination coming from all around me, to people who have done nothing to deserve it.  I hope that I’m not the only one it impacts, but if I am?  I’ve certainly taken on a new respect for what’s happening around me.  And with that, I’ve taken on a new fight.

One Foot in and One Foot Out

by Tom Toles

by Tom Toles

Kansas is still fighting its losing battle against the allowance of gay marriages.  Really, they’re trying very hard to prevent it.  However, this week some counties finally began to issue marriage licenses this past week.  There are still many legal battles and confusion floating around, but apparently some places have had enough waiting.  What makes this battle interesting is that while some places are already issuing licenses, most places aren’t allowing legal name-changes, driver’s license updates, and other typical after-marriage chores.  Obviously, this is receiving a lot of interest and generating newly inflamed outrage.  If the marriages are being recognized, what is stopping the name changes?  How can these places pretend to support gay marriage if they only allow certain parts.  That is inequality just as much as banning gay marriage completely is.  All of this inconsistency seems to be aimed at driving this case directly back to the Supreme Court.  Frankly, at this point, the Supreme Court taking over and issuing an all-inclusive ruling would probably be the simplest solution.