We do so much reading and outlinking in a given week through our Twitter and Facebook feeds, it can get dizzying! While it's not always easy to find great content out and about that addresses the issues we do well, we still always find plenty that catches our interest, or gets our support or a hat-tip from us. But not all of our readers use Twitter or Facebook, and we'd also like to start making sure to keep track of the bits and pieces each week we really appreciated or feel deserve a second look.
So, from here on out, every Friday we'll be rounding up some faves from an assortment of our staff and volunteers. Let's get this ball rolling!
Uproar has resulted from Chaz's appearances on Dancing With The Stars. I learned this first from my Facebook feed, where a woman I know, a diehard fan of the show, declared that she wouldn't watch it until "she" (Chaz) was kicked off. Chaz's transformation from Chastity upset her greatly, and she's not alone. The psychiatrist Keith Ablow has warned parents not to allow their children to watch Chaz, for fear that their developing, and thus vulnerable, gender identity might be disrupted. For the record, no evidence exists to suggest that watching a transsexual dance on television causes children any harm.
Although the word "transgender" is sometimes used to describe Chaz, the term "transsexual" is more accurate. Transgender people are born as one sex and identify with, act, and/or dress as the other. They haven't had sex-reassignment surgery, although some may go on to have it in the future.
The primary issue is of course people, not terminology: People like Chaz Bono, who have a right to transcend biology and to become, physically and emotionally, the sex they know themselves to be. And the rest of us too, who react to Chaz Bono's dancing presence. We can transcend an evolved tendency to think in fixed binaries, and arrive together at an acceptance of constructed sex as well as of constructed gender.
Karyn's Faves: Lesbian teen launches LGBT youth book project:
For LGBT youth, age-appropriate books about LGBT people and issues can be a lifeline. Not every school has the resources or desire to include such books in their collections, though. But 14-year-old Amelia Roskin-Frazee, an out lesbian ninth grader from California, founded The Make It Safe Project to solve that problem. The project gives free packages of LGBT books to schools that need them, and works to ensure the books will be readily available to students.
(P.S. Scarleteen will be donating books to this project, too! Three cheers for Amelia and her fantastic idea and activism.)
This is one of the coolest YouTube videos I’ve ever come across – I don’t know who this guy is, but he sums up so many of the odd, funny, awkward, self-contradicting sensation and thoughts that result from having a body that doesn’t match one’s identity but loving that body anyway. I’m genderqueer, not trans, but I still find what he has to say about what it’s like to have a vagina to be hilarious, heartening, and thought-provoking. I hope it brightens some other people’s days as much as it brightened mine.
Heather's Faves: #ThingsAYoungMomDoesntWantToHear:
When I was in high school, I was “diagnosed” with teen pregnancy a month after my 17th birthday. I say “diagnosed” because society promotes this idea that teen pregnancy is a disease - a contagious disease - and we must shun those infected to prevent it from reaching our own homes. Since then, I have been a witness to a condescending, disrespectful, and judgmental society that has pushed me to the edge… the edge of insanity. Contrary to popular belief, my teenage friends and peers weren’t very mean. But the adults in my life? The adults have scarred me in ways unimaginable. Recently, I have blogged on this topic… why do adults forget their manners and think it’s acceptable to tell me “You look too young to be a mom!” So I took my frustrations to the wonderful world of twitter yesterday for my 1800 followers to read...
The slow and uneven developmental arc revealed by these imaging studies offers an alluringly pithy explanation for why teens may do stupid things like drive at 113 miles an hour, aggrieve their ancientry, and get people (or get gotten) with child: They act that way because their brains aren't done! You can see it right there in the scans!
This view, as titles from the explosion of scientific papers and popular articles about the "teen brain" put it, presents adolescents as "works in progress" whose "immature brains" lead some to question whether they are in a state "akin to mental retardation."
The story you're reading right now, however, tells a different scientific tale about the teen brain. Over the past five years or so, even as the work-in-progress story spread into our culture, the discipline of adolescent brain studies learned to do some more-complex thinking of its own. A few researchers began to view recent brain and genetic findings in a brighter, more flattering light, one distinctly colored by evolutionary theory. The resulting account of the adolescent brain—call it the adaptive-adolescent story—casts the teen less as a rough draft than as an exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.
2. You can’t feel or understand passion until you’ve lost your virginity.
This is the Sleeping Beauty Theory, where Rachel needs Finn to ‘wake her up’ sexually by putting his penis inside her. Only then will Rachel become a sexual person, capable of sexual feelings and sexual musical theater acting. This kind of thinking negates the power of all the many and varied sexual experiences a woman might have that don’t require even the proximity of a penis.
The idea that marriage is about love between two people is a modern concept. Love often had nothing to do with marriage. It was about politics, property, production, division of labor, and materialistic issues. For much of history, the ancients would speak of love as if channeling Tina Turner: "Oh, what's love got to do, got to do with it?"
When you consider that some of the first marriages in colonial America were between men and women who didn't know each other, you can see how love had little to do with it. For instance, "Between 1620 and 1622, about 150 'pure and spotless' women arrived in Virginia and were auctioned for about 80 pounds of tobacco to future husbands."
I've noticed that promoters of "traditional marriage" are the most misinformed, ahistorical participants in the debate. Much of what they claim is pure codswallop. While I can't dissect their mental processes, to the extent that they actually think about the issues, I suspect that some claims are not just fabrications but an intentional twisting of facts. This may not be true of rank-and-file "marriage advocates," but when it comes to leaders of the movement, I suggest that they are willfully ignorant or consciously dishonest.
The vision of marriage that they claim is traditional is uniquely modern and results from the influence of the Enlightenment, classical liberalism and the economic forces of modern capitalism. We are no longer primarily agricultural, so we no longer marry to preserve property; households are no longer centers of production, so division of labor is not beneficial. We have moved toward egalitarian marriages where woman are the legal equals of men -- a very nontraditional concept. These forces changed marriage substantially. What the right calls "traditional marriage" is not traditional at all, and most people, including conservatives, would not want to return to the past.
What was going on here at Scarleteen in the last week?