What Is Annoying Me in the LGBTQ World Right Now

homonationalism

What is annoying me in the lgbtq world right now, post Supreme Court marriage equality decision:

This conservative stance being publicly embraced to tell the straight white middle and upper classes “we’re just like you!”. No, we are not.

Most of us aren’t able-bodied cis white gay dudes who just needed one more right to be as privileged as straight white dudes. Most of us have a broader vision for what love and family and relationships can be and who is important to our movement. I’d rather celebrate and honor our differences with love and understanding than enforce a sameness that happens to match neatly with capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.

“Positive Thinking” Is a Cover for White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and Capitalism

I found a lot of truth in a blog post I read recently called “Positive Attitude” Bullshit: On the dangers of “radical self-love”.

People whose lives aren’t going well or who experience mental illness are often subjected to “positive thinking” and New-Age-y “manifest abundance” crap. The idea is that if you just think the right kind of thoughts and change yourself with sheer willpower and perhaps by purchasing certain self-help books, suddenly you will get what you want in life.

positive thinking

Life doesn’t actually work that way. Marginalized and neuro-atypical people can’t just think their way out of institutionalized systems of oppression. These systems mean we get shittier jobs, get paid less, are harassed and degraded for existing as ourselves, and have less access to generational wealth and benefits. “Positive thinking” and the idea that simply changing how you think will change how rewarding and comfortable your life is hides how capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy form your life conditions and chances.

It makes the systemic problems and violence of capitalism into into individual flaws. It takes unfair external conditions shaped by the effects of centuries-old oppressions and tells you that your lack of total success in life is actually your personal fault. And there are certain self-appointed people who somehow have discovered the right way to think, and they are happy to sell you products so that you too can discipline your naughty negative thoughts.

New-Age-y positive thinking philosophies, which some corporations have used to indoctrinate their workers, are just another cover for rapacious hyper-capitalism. They are a clever way of keeping people divided and focused on their personal flaws and their personal financial goals and their personal relationship problems.

Instead, what would be truly POSITIVE for most people would be to band together and find ways to end our current economic system, which requires a few winners and a lot of losers to work. It would be POSITIVE if we remembered community, unions, liberation, a multitude of loving relationships, and collaboration instead of competition. Caring people coming together to overthrow our hateful system and creating something new that benefits everyone by design is more my style of positive thinking.

“Easily Offended”

It seems rather flippant and vacuous for white men, when asked to treat people who are *not* white men as fully human, to dismiss it as “censorship” or being “too easily offended”.

To dismiss our calls for respect and security as “whining” is the height of the haughty ignorance of entitlement. Sure, you have the freedom to offend people with your racist, sexist, whatever-ist bullshit. But do not fool yourself into thinking that kicking underdogs makes you a noble defender of ART and FREEDOM and AMERICA. It just makes you offensive and bigoted.

MISANDRY: my definition

Misandry is like “reverse racism”… an intellectual concept for an imaginary society where men (in this case) are actually oppressed by a centuries-old birth-privilege gained and used only by women to dominate government, industry, and society. Since this is an imaginary society with no real world application, I have only encountered this word on frothing MRA websites or jokingly among women who have been victims of men’s rape or other gender-based violence.

Wikipedia has a good article on the word.

Misandry

Whipping Girl by Julia Serano

Whipping Girl by Julia SeranoWhipping Girl is an outstanding book on transsexual women, feminism and trans-misogyny. Serano draws well thought-out lines from general societal misogyny to the hatred and fear of gay men, feminine men, and trans women. She blows up a lot of tired paradigms of sex, gender, gender presentation, gender identity and all that stuff. M

y main complaint is that she confuses two different definitions of class, one that refers to social/economic differentiation (as in “working class”, “upper class”, etc) and one that refers to a category or group of something (like in “class action lawsuit”). Through this confusion she mostly avoids conversation about the intersections of trans identity and class status, shielding and invisibilizing her own class privilege. The same thing happens with race- Serano is almost completely silent on how race intersects with trans identities. Once again she covers up her own privilege when in fact nearly every facet of life in the racialized US is affected by racial identity, including trans identity.

Critiques aside, there is still much to be gained from the book. I found the following quotes quite illuminating:

“[M]ost of the anti-trans sentiment that I have had to deal with as a transsexual woman is probably better described as misogyny.” pg.3

“From my own experience in having transitioned from one sex to the other, I have found that women and men are not separated by an insurmountable chasm, as many people seem to believe. Actually, most of us are only a hormone prescription away from being perceived as the “opposite” sex. Personally, I welcome this idea as a testament to just how little difference there really is between women and men. To believe that a woman is a woman because of her sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, or socialization denies the reality that every single day, we classify each person we see as either female or male based on a small number of visual cues and a ton of assumption.” pgs.51-52

“The fact that we perceive two major categories of gender enables us to view women and men as “opposites”—a premise that is founded on a series of egregiously incorrect assumptions. [I]n order for the two sexes to be “opposites,” they must first be mutually exclusive. Therefore, on a societal level, we purposefully ignore that variation that exists in sex characteristics and create the illusion that there is absolutely no overlap between the sexes.” pgs.102-103

“Cissexuals may want to believe that their genders are more authentic than mine, but that belief is dishonest and ignorant… [T]he major difference between my life history as a woman and theirs is that I have had to fight for my right to be recognized as female, while they have had the privilege of simply taking it for granted.” pg.169-170

“Not surprisingly, no aspect of my social transition has been more difficult for me to adjust to than the way I am treated by some (but certainly not all) men… On an intellectual level, I knew that I would sometimes be dismissed or harassed once I started living as female, but I underestimated just how frustrating and hurtful each one of those instances would be. Words cannot express how condescending and infuriating it feels to have men speak down to me, talk over me, and sometimes even practically put on baby-talk voices when addressing me. Or how intimidating it feels to have strangers make lewd comments about having their way with me as I’m walking alone at night… [W]hile I had numerous run-ins and arguments with strange men back when I was male-bodied, I’d never before experienced the enraged venom in their voices and fury in their faces that I somtimes do now—an extreme wrath that some men seem to reserve specifically for women who they believe threaten their fragile male egos.” pg.223

“[T]hose who patrol the gates of women-only spaces are often dead set on discriminating against me, driven by the ridiculous belief that my girly little estrogenized penis is somehow still pulsating with hypermasculine energy.” pg.229

Feminist Theory from margin to center

Feminist Theory from margin to center by bell hooksI finally read this 1984 classic by bell hooks. A fundamental text on intersectional feminism, stating clearly why race and gender cannot be divided into separate spheres of concern.

I was struck by some particular passages:

“White women and black men have it both ways. They can act as oppressor or be oppressed. Black men may be victimized by racism, but sexism allows them to act as exploiters and oppressors of women. White women may be victimized by sexism, but racism enables them to act as exploiters and oppressors of black people. Both groups have led liberation movements that favor their interests and support the continued oppression of other groups. Black male sexism has undermined struggles to eradicate racism just as white female racism undermines feminist struggle. As long as these two groups or any group defines liberation as gaining social equality with ruling class white men, they have a vested interest in the continued exploitation and oppression of others.” pg.15

“Women must begin the work of feminist reorganization with the understanding that we have all (irrespective of our race, sex, or class) acted in complicity with the existing oppressive system. We all need to make a conscious break with the system. The compassion we extend to ourselves, the recognition that our change in consciousness and action has been a process, must characterize our approach to those individuals who are politically unconscious.” pgs.161-162

Normal Life by Dean Spade

Normal Life by Dean SpadeEverybody should probably go and get a copy of this book right now. The long title is Normal Life – Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics, and the Limits of Law. Spade criticizes mainstream gay politics and suggests a more radical, less marginalizing politics that centers poor trans people of color. The book is amazing.

Best quotes:

“Lesbian and gay organizations have also generally followed a model of governance and efficacy based on private sector norms rather than social justice values. The most well-funded organizations have pay scales similar to the private sector, with executive directors often making three to four times the salaries of the lowest paid employees. Pay often correlates to educational privilege, which again means that the greatest share of resources goes to white employees from privileged backgrounds while the least goes to employees of color and people without educational privilege.” pg.67

“Trans populations are disproportionately poor because of employment discrimination, family rejection, and difficulty accessing school, medical care, and social services. These factors increase our rate of participation in criminalized work to survive, which, combined with police profiling, produces high levels of criminalization.” pg.89

“Three concerns about law reform projects permeate many sites of resistance. First, these projects change only what the law says about what a system is doing, but not its actual impact. Second, they refine a system in ways that help it continue to target the most vulnerable people, while only partially or temporarily removing a few of the less vulnerable from its path. And finally, law reform projects often provide rationales and justifications for the expansion of harmful systems.” pg.92

“The myth of legal equality in the United States is supported by the narrative that US laws used to exclude people on the basis of race and gender but now they do not. Supposedly, all is now fair and equal. However, our nation itself was built by the establishment of population-level systems of property and labor regulation that created and utilized racial and gender categories from the beginning. The population-level programs that were mobilized from their inception by explicit race and gender exclusions continue to do the work of distributing security and vulnerability along race and gender lines, just under the auspices of race and gender neutral criteria.” pgs.116-117

“[L]egal inclusion and recognition demands often reinforce the logics of harmful systems by justifying them, contributing to their illusions of fairness and equality, and by reinforcing the targeting of certain perceived “drains” or “internal enemies,” carving the group into “the deserving” and “the undeserving” and then addressing only the issues of the favored sector.” pg.124

“For those who have long articulated opposition to state incentivization and reward for heteropatriarchial sexuality and family structures and punishment for others, the idea that lesbian and gay people should seek marriage recognition rather than aim to abolish marriage and achieve more just methods of distribution is…problematic.” pg.126

“[O]ne might observe that the lesbian and gay rights agenda primarily operates to restore privileges of the dominant systems of meaning and control to those gender-conforming, white, wealthy gay and lesbian US citizens who are enraged at how homophobic laws and policies limit access to benefits to which they feel entitled.” pg.60

“We must not only refuse reforms that require dividing and leaving behind more vulnerable trans populations, but also try to assume that the most easily digestible invitations to be included are the very ones that bring us into greater collusion with systemic control and violence.” pgs.161-162

“[T]he legalistic approach of [law reform projects] has been linked to concerns about an unjust distribution of power and leadership, especially when the work is funded and directed largely by white, upper-class professionals who inevitably create an agenda that centralizes the concerns and experiences of people like themselves.” pg.172

“[A] challenging dynamic has emerged: social welfare has increasingly become dependent on private businesses and foundations. Corporate funders have become the sponsors and benefactors of social services… The situation translates into overreliance by many organizations on income from corporations and accumulated wealth stored in foundations.” pg.173

“Nonprofits serving primarily poor and disproportionately people of color populations are frequently governed almost entirely by wealthy white people with college and graduate degrees. Staffing follows this pattern as well, with most nonprofits requiring formal education as a prerequisite to working in administrative or management-level positions. Thus, the nature of the infrastructure in many social justice nonprofits often leads to concentrated decision-making power and pay in the hands of people with education, race, gender and class privilege rather than in the hands of those bearing the brunt of the systems of maldistribution… “This dynamic leads to the reproduction of the very same systems of maldistribution that organizations are purportedly targeting. Inside those organizations, white elites determine the fates of the vulnerable and get paid to make decisions about their lives while people directly impacted are kept out of leadership.” pgs.176-177

“Nonprofits are one way that wealthy people and corporations avoid tax liability. Most of the money that gets redirected out of the tax system by philanthropy does not go to social justice.” pg.179

Now I Know Who Mary Fallin Is

Mary Fallin, Governor of Oklahoma, gained my notice by expressing this extremely creative history of Oklahoma at the Republican National Convention:

Governor Mary Fallin

“The history of my great state of Oklahoma offers a great example of pursuing the American Dream. It was built and settled by pioneers movibe west to seek better lives. During the Great Land Run of 1889, thousands of families rushed to put a stake down on empty plots of land. They built tent cities overnight. They farmed the land and they worked hard. And, in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money — not the federal government’s money — to drill Oklahoma’s first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone. By doing so, these early-day pioneers changed the future and Oklahoma forever and today Oklahoma is one of the nation’s key energy producers and job creators. President Obama wants us to believe that Oklahomans owe that success to the federal government — to the Department Of Energy,to the EPA, to the IRS, or maybe even to him. Mr. President, we know better. As we say in Oklahoma, that dog won’t hunt.”

I recommend the following party game: have someone read this statement aloud (or play the youtube video!). Everytime Fallin says something that is TOTALLY MADE-UP AND/OR OBSCENELY OFFENSIVE, everyone takes a shot. The first person to black out loses.

Paterno Posthumously Explains Why It Was Right to Fire Him

From ABC News:

Paterno told his son, Scott Paterno, that he did not know anything about Sandusky’s sexual abuse, noting that he did not listen to rumors and only knew what McQueary told him.

“‘I didn’t hear anything, why are you badgering me?’ Paterno told his son. ‘What do I know about Jerry Sandusky? I’ve got Nebraska to think about, I can’t worry about this.’ Nebraska was the next game.

Thanks for laying out your priorities there, bro.

The article also says:

He had his dark moments, certainly, when he wondered how old friends could turn so suddenly on him and how people at Penn State, the school he had loved and championed for most of his life, could believe such terrible things about him.

How could they believe that he didn’t give a rip about child molestation? Maybe they got that opinion by listening to him talk.

Sigh.

Remember when Penn State students demonstrated their disgust for child sex abuse by rioting in defense of Paterno? Because it was so unjust to expect him to investigate serious allegations about an underling?

Sigh.

“Saving” Babies from the Horrors of an African Childhood

Let us join Nancy French in congratulating herself for saving a baby from the horrific prospect of being raised in Africa. French wrote an article entitled I’m a White Republican Raising a Black Child: Deal With It to raise awareness about how awesome she is.

When I hear this self-congratulatory rhetoric around transracial and/or international adoption, I always pause and think. The self-congratulations typically come from middle, upper-middle, and upper-class heterosexual white families who have adopted a child who is of color and/or born in another country. There is typically lots of applause from other whites for their “good deed”. The assumption being that a middle-to-upper class white upbringing must be superior to other kinds of upbringing, and that by allowing a normally-inferior individual into the white club, a meritorious act has taken place. This is part of what is called the White Savior Complex. It is a relic from colonialism, when whites felt it was their mission to spread across the planet and “improve” the “backwards” races. The colonial mindset is still very present with us, as when this author insinuates adventurism with phrases like: “poverty stricken African tribal area” and their savior status by rescuing a “starving, abandoned girl” from such a terrible place. As I recall from grade school, Africa is actually broken up into political units known as “countries”, but French is kept very busy letting the world know about her good deeds that she can hardly be expected to know unimportant details about insignificant parts of the world.

Then I start to wonder about the big picture. French’s adopted daughter has a biological mother and father. Where are they? Why are they so poor? Why couldn’t they keep their child? Do they have rights? Isn’t there any value to the culture she was born into and taken away from? Why are so many African nations “poverty-stricken”? How are the world’s dominant countries implicated in this poverty?

I just happened upon an article about the struggles of Congolese mothers against the backdrop of political violence: A Congo Mother Survives Cannibalism to Save Her Children: Why Her Photo Matters. Interestingly, the article notes that much of the conflict was instigated by European colonists. Now mothers have to protect their children from cannibalism. If only French could adopt even more African children.

The right to raise your own children is a fundamental human right, and a pillar of the Reproductive Justice movement. Yet it is easier for white Americans to reframe themselves not as colonialists with serious responsibilities to other countries we have impoverished, but as pure, loving saviors who just want to help the children. Do we really have a right to take these children that trumps our responsibility to ensure that all mothers enjoy the right to raise the children they birthed?

Obviously, I am not the first one to have these thoughts. I would recommend further reading, starting with these articles:
The Lie We Love
Black Kids in White Houses
All Your Children Are Belong to Us

Another question that just popped into my head: If French’s daughter had instead grown up in Ethiopia and tried to immigrate to America as an adult to find a better life (the better life that French hopes to offer her by raising her), would French support her access to American residency? Or is it only by fulfilling French’s need to have another child that her daughter earns her right to live in America?

When the Tea Party Controls Your School Board

Interesting things happen when local Tea Party affiliates infiltrate your school board:

  • They implement racial and economic segregation in one of the most integrated school systems in America: Wake County School District in North Carolina. (With the financial backing of a wealthy Libertarian.)

You may recall that we have former Tuscon School District Superintendent Tom Horne (supported by his local Tea Party) to thank for this mess.  His legacy is being dutifully carried forward by current Superintendent John Huppenthal, “who threatened to withhold millions of dollars if TUSD didn’t terminate the nationally acclaimed [Mexican-American studies] program immediately.”

Then Tuscon school administrator Lupita Garcia comes out and actually says: “This country is called America, okay? And they study US history. If you were to go back to Mexico… you would study Mexican history.”

  • They remove mention of racial minorities and critique of wealthy whites from history books in Tennessee.

Here is some of their actual curriculum criteria:

“No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership.”

Also:

Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the [coalition of Tennessee Tea Party’s] lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.

  • And how can we forget that last year, Tea Party affiliates in Texas attempted to edit out the word “slavery” from their textbooks and replace it instead with the term “Atlantic Triangular Trade“.

A Fun Privilege Brouhaha

Perhaps you have already had the good/bad fortune to come upon an article at Forbes.com called If I Were a Poor Black Kid. This article is written by a “middle class” white accountant, consulting firm owner, business technology columnist, and former senior manager at KPMG named Gene Marks. Sounds totally “middle class”. Probably an income of $60k a year, you think?

You can see where this is going. My personal additional annoyance beyond the many more obvious ones is: does he really expect to be reaching poor black kids by publishing a blog post on Forbes.com? Obviously not. He never intended for this “advice” to reach a real world poor black kid. He is writing for wealthy white people, at the expense of poor black kids, in an attempt to unearth a dead horse and beat it some more: i.e. the myth that blacks wouldn’t be so poor if they just worked harder. Note of hilarity: This column was originally titled “If I Was a Poor Black Kid”, but so many people were amused by his poor grammar that someone corrected it.

So read it for yourself if you enjoy bathing in a rich froth of righteous privilege and oblivion as to how the real world works.

OR, read one of these amazing and insightful rebuttals, which attempt to relieve Mr. Marks of his embarrassing ignorance.

If I Were a Rich White Dude by Jeff Yang

Trolling The Internet With ‘If I Were A Poor Black Kid’ by Kashmir Hill

A Muscular Empathy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

If I Were the Middle Class White Guy Gene Marks by Kelly Virella

An Ode to a ‘Poor Black Kid’ I Never Knew: How Forbes Gets Poverty Wrong by Cord Jefferson

If I Were Gene Marks by Carolyn Edgar

If I were a wealthy white suburbanite by DN Lee

If Gene Marks Were a Poor Black Kid Who Went to Ballou In 2003 by Shani Hilton

If I Was A Poor Black Kid, I’d Key Gene Marks’s Car by Peter Vidani

H/t ES

Women of Color Groups Respond to SlutWalks

Here is a response from BlackWomen’s Blueprint, with many fancy signatories. They write, in part:

We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it. We are perplexed by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word, much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress. Much of this is tied to our particular history. In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women. We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label.

Here is a response from AF3IRM, whose membership includes “transnational women who are im/migrants or whose families are im/migrants from Latin America, Asia, and Africa”. In part:

We realize that we are the ones who compose the majority of sex trafficking victims in this country, who comprise the majority of those sold in the mail-order-bride system, who are the commodities offered in brothel houses ringing US military bases in and out of this country, who are the goods offered for sexual violation in prostitution. We who are and historically have been the “sluts” from whom traffickers, pimps, and other “authorities” of the global corporate sex trade realize $20 billion in earnings annually cannot, with a clear conscience, accept the term in reference to ourselves and our struggle against sexual violence and for women’s liberation.

We therefore feel it is our responsibility to address the organizers and participants of SlutWalk and remind them that Women’s Struggle Cannot and Should not Be Monochromatic.

A response from the insightful Harsha Walia.

Slutwalk — in its slick branding — runs the risk of facilitating the dominant discourse of “liberated” women as only those women wearing mini-skirts and high heels in/on their way to professional jobs. In reality, capitalism mediates the feminist façade of choice by creating an entire industry that commodifies women’s sexuality and links a woman’s self-esteem and self-worth to fashion and beauty. Slutwalk itself consistently refuses any connection to feminism and fixates solely around liberal questions of individual choice — the palatable “I can wear what I want” feminism that is intentionally devoid of an analysis of power dynamics.

In other news, intrepid Brooklyn police officers are responding to a spate of unsolved rapes by advising women on the street that their outfits are a little slutty.

Psychologizing Ireland’s Confrontation with the Vatican over Child Abuse

Ireland has long allowed itself to be a bit of a theocracy, ruled in part from afar by the Vatican. Why a country would allow its social policy to be so thoroughly controlled by a distant clique of elderly (mostly white) men, supposedly celibate but obsessed with sex, is beyond me, but it happened.

But, and I am honestly surprised to discover this, it turns out Ireland had a line. A line the Vatican should not have crossed. And it took decades, it took an international outcry, and it took thousands of cases of abuse, but finally, finally Ireland is starting to say ‘no’ to child abuse veiled by religion.

The Vatican and the Catholic hierarchy have a long and cherished tradition of sexual abuse of children. Priests and other authority figures have for centuries cultivated situations in which they manipulated the religious faith of believers into trusting them with their children, and then sexually assaulted the children. The Church has been well aware of this at the highest levels, and instead of moving to stop the abuse, it has moved to shelter it. It has shuffled abusers around to prevent exposure, it has frustrated private and public investigations, and it has intimidated survivors into silence. This pattern of behavior makes it clear that this order of “celibate” men is intent on preserving the tradition of child sex abuse, because if the intention were otherwise, the actions would reflect as much. Child sex abuse seems to have been considered a bit of a privilege for those Church leaders who found themselves so inclined.

But the Church’s own rhetoric around sexual morality (for others, not priests) may have led to this confrontation with Ireland’s leadership. The Church’s hierarchy of family-less, supposedly non-sexual men also have a centuries-long tradition of dictating the sexual behavior of others. They have preached many strange things about sexuality, but a major message has been that of the primacy of the nuclear family.

Decades of “family” messaging have encouraged heavily Catholic cultures to idealize and worship the perfect family unit: father, mother and children. And children are the only reason to have sex- any sex that is absent the intent to procreate is sinful. So CHILDREN!!! are very important. This is supported by lots of cute pictures of Jesus hanging out with children and the frequent repetition of Bible verses discussing children. There are also lots of cultural messages in general about the importance of children, and, reflecting the general fear of sex, the need to protect children from any knowledge of sexuality to keep them on the pure, narrow, straight path to heterosexual marriage.

BOOM! CONFLICT! The Vatican cherishes the sexually repressed family unit and encourages the cult of sexually-innocent childhood, yet also cherishes its ingrained tradition of child sex abuse. After years of being barraged with overwhelming evidence of this contradiction, finally Irish society decided to take a stand. And they choose to stand against child abuse. Though this seems like an obvious conclusion to make and so basic that it hardly merits praise, it is actually much more commendable than you would think given their deeply-held tradition of respecting Catholic authority, even to the detriment of their own sovereignty as a nation. And generally speaking, sexual abuse of the weak by the strong is condoned by societies worldwide, and so a Prime Minister taking the time to publicly rebuke it and form real measures to combat it, as Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently did, is really a sight to behold.

From the New York Times:

“For the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual abuse exposed an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry into a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago, not three decades ago,” Mr. Kenny said, referring to the Cloyne Report, which detailed abuse and cover-ups by church officials in southern Ireland through 2009.

…“The rape and torture of children were downplayed, or ‘managed,’ to uphold instead the primacy of the institution — its power, its standing and its reputation.” Instead of listening with humility to the heartbreaking evidence of “humiliation and betrayal,” he said, “the Vatican’s response was to parse and analyze it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”

Naturally, the Vatican and its vassals reacted grumpily to this attack on what they believe is their right and privilege. It withdrew its ambassador to Ireland and had the gumption to claim that the reports of sexual abuse were “unsubstantiated” and that Kenny’s concern with their abuse was “excessive”. There was concern that we are all forgetting about the true victims: the poor, so often wrongly accused priests.

[Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos] warned against “obsessive” pursuit of accused priests by bishops because of the damage it can do to the priests, whose souls, he said, were “at the center of the affair.”

Rarely is the right of powerful men to sexually abuse others challenged so publicly. It’s almost fun to watch the Vatican & co. squirm with indignation at this attack upon their sexual privileges. Thanks for that Ireland.

Read the entire, hilariously/depressingly-horrible official Vatican response to Kenny’s remarks and the Cloyne Report.

Read the Cloyne Report.

Use Your Privilege for Good [As a Job Seeker]

This post will apply most directly to the non-profit field, but I have a feeling it will also be relevant to many other sorts of work.

Some organizations and companies like to play little power games when they post job openings, and the Recession and the desperation caused by high unemployment rates has only emboldened them in their unethical behavior. My biggest beef at the moment is with information about pay. How many of you job seekers have noticed that many employers don’t list any salary/wage information in their job postings? And of course if you inquire about that information up front, you’re automatically discarded as a trouble-maker.

Employers weaponize pay by creating information asymmetry: they refuse to provide any information, but then state that they will only consider applicants to divulge pay history or pay requirements in their initial applications. That way, they have all the cards in their hands and you have none. They can, in secret and from the outset, only consider applicants who grossly undervalue themselves. Of course, employers know that in these tough times, there will always be at least one, if not several applicants who are willing to undersell themselves out of simple desperation.

Employers who do this are unethical and have control issues. To job seekers, job postings that set up this information asymmetry should serve as red flags indicating work places where secrecy, hierarchy, disrespect of workers, and other poor management behaviors are probably present.

However, sometimes you are desperate and have to accept a job even if your human dignity won’t be respected. I get that.

Do a little personal assessment here. Does your identity, or people’s perception of your identity, provide you with societal privileges? Are you light-skinned? Male? Able-bodied? Hetero? And etc. If you have identities which are privileged in society, here’s what you can do as a job seeker. You can hold the line. You can refuse to play the employers’ game. You can give your real pay history. You can state an appropriate pay requirement in your cover letter. You can even proactively write to employers who engage in this behavior and say, “I noticed that you omitted the salary range you are offering for this position. Would you be able to post that or share that information with me so that I can assess whether this job is a good fit?”

People with marginalized and oppressed identities are already at a disadvantage in the job market, and will be extremely loathe to add to their disadvantages by being bold on this issue. But people with privileged identities can use their advantage for the good of all job seekers by calling out this employer behavior and refusing to undervalue their labor.

If you are currently employed and have any decision-making power around hiring practices, you can help out by stopping this practice. Encourage your company or organization to demonstrate transparency and good faith by publicly posting pay information with any job listing. And remember, paying a living wage is a human rights obligation!