Tag Archives: politics

Bisexuality

Introduction

Within both the straight world and the gay world and whatever world you are from there are prejudices about bisexuality. Some of the most common ones are: they can’t decide, spread AIDS, they are not subject to homophobia or heterosexism, they will cheat, they’re in a phase (which sometimes may be the case for transitioning people who are gay), they’re unique cases, men can’t be bisexual, and they are promiscuous. There is also the claim that it is a myth.

According to Kinsey, most people exist somewhere on the scale from 1-5 (see earlier Kinsey post), meaning they are a little bisexual or have had a bisexual desire or experience sometime in their life. Bisexuality or bisexual desire is not rare, but seeing it is a different story. Since monogamy is the default or the norm within society people are assumed to be either gay or straight depending on what partner one may have at the time. Bisexuality also implies sexual and/or romantic attraction to men and women. This does not mean that being bisexual equates to having the same level or intensity of attraction to both men and women. It is not always an attraction that is split down the middle or stays constant and sometimes depends on being attracted to specific individuals, not widely men and women.

Recently, bisexuality has gained a bad reputation because of its association with Katy Perry, experimentation,  Lady Gaga, and pop artists adopting it for the sake of marketing to men who have wild imaginations. There have been a lot of misconceptions about what it is and how long it has existed for. Throughout time bisexuality and the expression of it has been represented differently across time. Today actresses and actors are coming out as bisexual, which is definitely a difference from the days of free love and also the Victorian period. Sexuality across time and geographical location varies. This exploration of it while be more general for the time being.

In this entry I will talk about being bisexual and identity. This is just a short introduction the topic, which I will probably expand on extensively later to talk about topics explicitly linked to people who are bisexual.

Origination of the Word

As is not well spread knowledge, the term homosexuality developed before heterosexuality, but over time the definition and associations have began to mean different things. Along with the term homosexuality and heterosexuality, the term bisexuality was coined in the 19th century.

Being Bisexual

Even though many people have bisexual desires, not many people are bisexual or claim bisexual identity. Many people who I have encountered today who have had a history of being romantic or sexual with both men and women have called themselves lesbians, straight, and pansexual. Labeling oneself bisexual has come to mean something negative because it represents the sexual binary and limits a person. Although this criticism is true and the b is included in the lgbtq acronym that no one can ever remember and is always being altered, the representation of people who are bisexual and express desire for both and have had girlfriends, boyfriends, lovers of both genders/sexes is still incredibly rare and stigmatized. Even more so than homosexuality (I argue).

Identity is a complicated thing. Many theorists argue about this saying the basis of sexual orientation is biology, socialization, and sometimes an interaction of both. I will not profess to understand it at all, because I really don’t, but I like wondering about it because its so complicated. So being bisexual for some is about identity, some about behavior and for some its political. Sexuality in general is a subjective topic.

Many researchers, sex researchers and psychologists, have claimed that men can not possibly be bisexual (a study done in 2005), that people are naturally bisexual (Kraftt-Ebing), and that people can not strictly be categorized as straight or gay (Kinsey). Sexuality is not that simple. Sexuality depends on context and individual and comfort level and arousal and many many other things. Studies inform opinions and may say something about sexuality but should not be absorbed as absolute truth, so I am always skeptical whenever reading something about sexuality, but also interested.

Conclusion

Basically, its complicated. Bisexuality is not simple and neither is homosexuality or heterosexuality. Heterosexism and homphobia affects us all and assumptions always make an ass out of you and me. So read up and get back to me.

Links

Wikipedia is always good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisexuality

Richard Von Krafft-Ebing thought that bisexuality was the natural state of being: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Freiherr_von_Krafft-Ebing

Recent coming-out of an actress in True Blood: http://www.okmagazine.com/2010/06/anna-paquin-on-being-bisexual-it-wasnt-like-it-was-a-big-secret/

The Bisexual Examiner: http://www.examiner.com/x-3366-Bisexuality-Examiner~y2009m7d15-Bisexuality-101-Am-I-bisexual

Ridiculous quiz: http://www.allthetests.com/quiz19/quizpu.php?testid=1155452146&katname=Test-yourself-in-questions-of-love

NY-Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/05/health/05sex.html?_r=1

Religious Tolerance: http://www.religioustolerance.org/bisexuality.htm

BiBasics: http://out.ucr.edu/pdf/BiBasics.pdf

Arousal patterns of bisexual men: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/pdf/ps/bisexuality.pdf

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Indecision about Gay Marriage

My class, Queer Theory, that I have to take to get my Gender Studies degree by the end of this four year period, has made me indecisive. Actually, not the class, but this book The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life by Michael Warner, has made me start rethinking my vote for Gay Marriage. It has made me rethink the motives of the HRC, my role as a queer person, and the role of the gay liberation movement. Warner’s argument is easy to agree with, Warner is easy to agree with and extremely convincing to me.

Warner, through out his book, shows to me how marriage takes out the queerness of relationships and normalizes the queer population and I wonder, is this bad? Warner makes a distinction between the split of the queer movement in terms of separatists and assimilationists. The separatists are the ones who seem to claim difference from the normal world and the assimilationist, the one who wants to appear normal, to be read a normal, and to submerge like an immigrant, into heterosexual culture.

To sum it up, which this site does well:

“In “The Trouble With Normal: Sex, Politics and the Ethics of Queer Life,” Warner turns the tables on his critics, offering both a sharp-witted defense of “sexual autonomy” and a prescription for “sexual ethics” that rests on the real experience of individuals rather than the imagined wisdom of the group. In four overlapping essays, Warner lambastes the current course of gay activism, arguing that the drive to marriage and the illusion of normality are founded on a phony morality that will only further stigmatize the queer community at large. In rushing to embrace the marriage vow, Warner asserts, and condemning anyone who challenges their vision of normality as a threat to public health, America’s gay media pundits have betrayed the movement that first gave them the freedom to speak, divorcing sex from sexuality and pleading for acceptance at the expense of their purported constituents.” (http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1999/12/08/warner/print.html)

Michael Warner poses many interesting arguments, some of which I may not be able to articulate completely here, because I am still developing my own opinion of his work, one of which is that gay men should not marry and that queer persons should not marry. Warner takes sort of a libertarian look at the way Marriage is constructed because of how it the rights and privileges given to a couple (now, mostly heterosexual) once they marry are well over 1,000 and constitute rights that range from health care, property rights, and taxes. He states that individuals and couples should be given these rights even without marrying. In saying this, it seems as if he is being Foucauldian in implying the existence of bio-power, the regulation that populations have over bodies. The government is extremely regulatory over the way we treat our bodies. Nutrition, gyms, public sex rules, sodomy rules, minor laws, criminality of sexual acts, the medicalization of bodies, etc is all evidence of this. To prove this Warner uses the example of in New York, how in the late 90’s Guiliani made rules, legislations, some type of regulation, around sex shops.

In supporting his view against Marriage, Michael Warner largely disputes Andrew Sullivan, who, it seems, if he met on the street, he would either have a screaming match, a debate with, or punch in the face. Also, Warner concentrates on “the politics of shame” which sex in the United States is centered around. Mostly, he claims, because sex as pleasure is claimed as sinful by moralists. Warner epitomizes the desire for empowering queer sex, any sex outside of the missionary position sex between a male and a female, and only that.

To further explain Warner’s view:

“It does not seem possible to think of oneself as normal without thinking that some other kind of person is pathological,” Warner observes. Yet normality itself is a hallucination, a mixture of statistics, concealment and received “common sense,” bearing none but a comparative and usually intimidating relation to any individual’s actual life. Heterosexuals, too, are imprisoned by the illusion, and nothing scares them more, Warner thinks, than a discovery of the full range and possibility of sexual expression. The demand for marriage rights will inevitably increase hostility to gays and lesbians, because straight married couples know they enjoy a protected position conferred by no other social institution: “They want marriage to remain a privilege, a mark that they are special.” In that sense, marriage isn’t “normal” at all.” (http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1999/12/08/warner/print.html)

This point, that marriage is special, makes it not “normal” at all is the high point. So, what is normal, or is everything queer? This book left me in a dizzy spell, but also empowered because I know someone out there, like me, believes that the United States is not caught in homophobia, but sex phobia, which fuels homophobia. Im not sure if the legalization of Marriage, like Warner, would help or harm more, though I feel as if, being a Californian resident, that if I vote for Gay Marriage this November, I may be perpetuated a larger problem, a larger stigma, and more separation within the queer community.

This book leaves me with questions that hopefully, I can answer within the next few months and if not, I might spend the rest of my life wondering about the effects of normalizing the queer.

Further Resources

To read on about the quotes stated above and about the book go to this site: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/1999/12/08/warner/print.html

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Introduction

This organization astounds me. It has been surrounding by so much controversy and false beliefs.

When I was in Philadelphia this summer for an internship, I stopped outside of a Planned Parenthood and watched protesters who held up signs with fetuses on them and told people “you are part of the next Holocaust”.  Mass genocide of a people does not compare to abortions, though I can see their point. Going inside the facility, I realized, how little the protesters knew. Planned Parenthood is associated with abortion, but that is not what they are all about. They are about sex education, std tests, and more.Here, I plan to educate people about what planned parenthood is all about.

Here is their website!!! http://www.plannedparenthood.org/

Planned Parenthood covers:

  1. politics
  2. health issues
  3. education

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood is the collective name of organizations worldwide who are members of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is the U.S. affiliate of IPPF and one of its larger members. PPFA provides reproductive health and maternal and child health services. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Inc. (PPAF) is a related organization that lobbies the U.S. political system for pro-choice legislation, comprehensive sex education, and access to affordable health care.[3]

The organization has its roots in Brooklyn, New York where Margaret Sanger opened the country’s first birth control clinic. Sanger incorporated the American Birth Control League in 1923, which changed its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. in 1942. Since then, it has grown to about 880 clinic locations in the United States, with a total budget of approximately US$1 billion, and provides an array of services to over three million people.

Dealing with sexuality, the organization is often the centre of controversy in the United States. The organization’s status as the country’s leading provider of surgical abortions has put it in the forefront of national debate over the issue. Planned Parenthood has also been a party in numerous Supreme Court cases.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_parenthood)

Facilities and funding

PPFA is a federation of 99 independent Planned Parenthood affiliates around the United States. These affiliates together operate more than 880 locations, offering a variety of services to more than three million people. Services include abortion services, contraceptive (birth control) services; emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies and tubal ligations, and more. Not all services are available at all locations.

Planned Parenthood describes itself as “the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care advocate and provider.” In 2006, Planned Parenthood provided 289,750 surgical and medical abortions, about 3% of its total services. They referred 2,410 adoption cases that same year.[2]

Planned Parenthood receives almost a third of its money in government grants and contracts ($336.7 million in FY 2007). In the 2006–07 Annual Report, clinic income totaled $356.9 million and miscellaneous operating revenues $65.5 million. Planned Parenthood is also heavily sponsored by private individuals, with over 900,000 active individual contributors.[2] Large donors such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Foundations, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contribute a substantial part of the organization’s budget.[4]

Some pro-life organizations that disagree with Planned Parenthood’s mission and services have set up campaigns and petitions to stop Planned Parenthood from receiving government funding.[5] They have often also asked for boycotts of private donors to Planned Parenthood, though there has been no notable success in this regard.

History and organization

Planned Parenthood headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Planned Parenthood headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Planned Parenthood traces its origins to 1916 when Margaret Sanger opened the first American birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. The organization began as the American Birth Control League and was incorporated in 1923. The League was influential in liberalizing laws against birth control throughout the 1920s and 1930s before changing its name to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. in 1942.

Faye Wattleton was president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1978 to 1992, the longest term in the organization’s history since Sanger. During her term in office, the organization considerably expanded its services and became publicly visible in working for women’s reproductive rights.

On February 15, 2006, Cecile Richards became president of the organization.[6]

Stand on political and legal issues

Planned Parenthood and its predecessor organizations have provided and advocated for access to birth control. The modern organization of Planned Parenthood America is also an advocate for reproductive rights, including the right to abortion. This advocacy includes contributing to sponsorship of abortion rights and women’s rights events[7] and assisting in the testing of new contraceptives.[8] The group opposes restrictions on abortion, including:

  • laws requiring parental consent or notification for girls under the age of 18 (or 17 in some states) to have an abortion
  • laws requiring an ultrasound before abortion (many Planned Parenthood clinics perform, but do not require, ultrasounds)
  • laws requiring a waiting period (ranging from a couple of hours to a day or more)

Planned Parenthood argues for the wide availability of emergency contraception (EC) measures,[9] and opposes refusal clauses (also called conscience clauses) which would allow pharmacists to refuse to dispense contraceptives if doing so would conflict with their personal beliefs.[10] Planned Parenthood has also been critical of hospitals that they claim obstruct access to EC for rape victims.[11] Planned Parenthood supports and provides FDA-approved abortifacients such as mifepristone.

Planned Parenthood also opposes abstinence-only education in public schools. Instead, Planned Parenthood favors (and offers) comprehensive sex education, which includes discussion of both abstinence and birth control.

Controversy and criticism

Planned Parenthood has been accused by pro-life organizations of agreeing not to report cases of statutory rape to the authorities; for example, a pro-life activist, posing as a 13-year-old impregnated by her 22-year-old boyfriend, called over 800 clinics requesting an abortion. According to the recorded audio and transcripts, over 90% of the clinics agreed to her request not to report the boyfriend to the police for statutory rape.[12]

Planned Parenthood has received criticism for withholding court-subpoenaed medical records of patients in these and other cases, but defends its actions on the grounds of medical privacy. Cases in Indiana and Kansas remain unresolved.[13][14] In October 2005, Planned Parenthood Minnesota/North Dakota/South Dakota was fined $50,000 for violation of a Minnesota state parental notification law.[15]

In 2007 Planned Parenthood in various states was subjected to a series of phone calls by students on the staff of a University of California, Los Angeles student-run magazine, The Advocate, run by a student pro-life organization. The calls included one in July 2007 to Planned Parenthood of Idaho offering a donation if it could be earmarked for abortions for black women because, “the less black kids out there the better.” Answering the phone call, the organization’s vice president of development and marketing said, “Understandable, understandable” and continued, “Excuse my hesitation, this is the first time I’ve had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I’m excited and want to make sure I don’t leave anything out.” Planned Parenthood of Idaho’s CEO later issued a statement saying that the officer “violated the organization’s principles and practices” and was suspended.[16] The editor of The Advocate stated that Planned Parenthood of Idaho and the six other states were selected, in part, for having laws that allow single party approval of taped telephone conversations.[17][18]

Planned Parenthood and the U.S. Supreme Court

Planned Parenthood regional chapters have been active in the American courts. A number of cases in which Planned Parenthood has been a party have reached the Supreme Court of the United States.

Notable among these cases is the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where Planned Parenthood is the Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter, and Casey is the late Robert Casey, who was a pro-life Democratic Governor of Pennsylvania.

The ultimate ruling was a split plurality, in which Roe v. Wade was upheld in an opinion written by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter, all of whom were Republican appointees to the Supreme Court, with Justices Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens (also Republican appointees) concurring with the main decision in separately written opinions. The Supreme Court also struck down spousal consent requirements for married women to obtain abortions.

Dissenting were Justices William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Byron White, all of whom were Republican appointees except for Justice White. Justices Blackmun, Rehnquist, and White were the only justices who voted on the original Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 who were still on the High Court to rule on this case, and their votes on this case were consistent with their votes on the original decision that legalized abortion[19].

Other notable cases

  • July 1976: Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth. This was a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood to a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, spousal consent, clinic bookkeeping and allowed abortion methods. Portions of the challenged law were held to be constitutional, others not. Syllabus, Opinion, one Concurrence, and two Concurrence & Dissent statements
  • 1983: Planned Parenthood Association of Kansas City v. Ashcroft. This was a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood to a Missouri law encompassing parental consent, clinic record keeping, and hospitalization requirements. Most of the challenged law was held to be constitutional. PMID 12041276.
  • 2001: Planned Parenthood v. ACLA. The American Coalition of Life Activists (ACLA) released a flier and “Wanted” posters with complete personal information about doctors who performed abortions. Through the release of the information, the ACLA promoted controversy and called people to action. A civil jury and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals both found that the material was indeed “true threats” and not protected speech.
  • January 2006: Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. docket link This relates to a constitutionality challenge by Planned Parenthood et al. of a 2003 New Hampshire parental notification law related to access to abortion. Questions before the Court Opinion of the US First Circuit Court of Appeals leading to the Questions before the Court In Sandra Day O’Connor’s final decision before retirement, the Supreme Court sent the case back to lower courts with instructions to seek a remedy short of wholesale invalidation of the statute.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_parenthood)

Conclusion

Planned Parenthood, as an organization, has been a target of many groups and has been providing for a countless number of individual in need of medical service. They are a brave organization and deserve to be recognized for all their efforts to provide a choice to individuals about their health care and lives.

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