Homophobia and Respectability Politics

I joined an adult Jewish education class. I jokingly referred to the class as my weekly Jew Cult because my experience with this type of Jewish education has been Birthright trips— which I’ve experienced as Jewish education marketed as a social way to meet Jews your age and reconnect with your history and heritage (while swallowing blatant propaganda to unconditionally support Israel and don’t forget to marry Jewish).

But if this course will eventually turn into pro-Israel propaganda, I won’t stay in the class to find out.

Last week’s class was about Judaism and relationships. The Rabbi spoke exclusively about straight relationships, describing marriage between a man and woman as the pinnacle of Godliness and that heterosexual sex is the pinnacle of pleasure. I asked what this says about same-sex relationships and the Rabbi told me to ask again at the end of class. At the end of class he still would not answer my question. He said he preferred to speak about this issue one-on-one because he likes to know whether the person raising the question is connected to the LGBTQ community.

I talked with him for two hours after class because I wanted to know two things:

  1. Why did he not answer my question for the whole class to hear?
  2. What does he believe the Torah says about queerness?

His interpretation of the Torah is that while God loves everyone, gay people are not natural. That trans people should try to fix what’s going on on the inside before altering God’s plan for their bodies. He used pitying language, that he feels bad for me. He compared queerness to depression and that people need to get help.

He did not answer my question during class because he considers this information to be a “hard truth” of Judaism. If he told the class, he would lose members and his goal is to promote the positives and the joys of Judaism first. And then, once people are on board, trusting that God has a plan, then he might bring up these “hard truths” if someone asks. He must know what he says is offensive and derogatory, if he knows there are people who would walk out of his class if he said such things to group. But he said such things to me because I asked, because I sat down and listened.

He said he respected me for not walking out of the room. But I should have walked out.

I play respectability politics around gender and sexuality. My brain is wired on logic first and emotion second and so I can play the rules of debate like man.

I sat with the rabbi for 2 hours to hear what he had to say, to debate, to let myself be heard, to determine if I should come out to him (I did and he briefly attempted to fix me, suggesting I find a feminine man, before settling on the fact that the Torah does not command women to marry, so if I never get married I can still be an upstanding Jew). I wanted his respect. I wanted him to see that I was not an emotional woman and that I could have this “hard truths of Judaism” conversation without succumbing to base emotions. I could rely on rationality and an intellectual exchange of information.

More than what he said, I’m confused and upset because I don’t know what to feel or think now that the interaction is over. I’ve told him I’m not coming back to class and he understands. On one level he shows me great respect by talking with me for so long, but his ideas are so disrespectful. When I tell my friends, I don’t know what I want them to say. Do I want their pity? Their sympathy? I know I’m not crazy or imagining the insult. Am I wallowing in this act of discrimination?

I didn’t grow up where Judaism was homophobic. Or maybe I did and never noticed. I didn’t figure out I was ace until mid-high school, long after my bat mitzvah and the end of my Jewish education. One of my favorite things about Judaism is that I never felt a conflict between my religion and my sexuality. And I still don’t.

I don’t want to quit the class. I want to learn about Judaism! I want to speak with people who have different views and opinions than I do. I want to be respected.

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Call for Interviewees — Asexual Artists

Hello all! Once again, I’m low on interviewees. Since I don’t have the time to constantly post calls every single time I’m running low, I’m hoping to use this post as a kind of a reminder: ASEXUAL ARTISTS IS OPEN FOR INTERVIEWS YEAR-ROUND! I’m always looking for artists who are on the spectrum to interview. […]

via Call for Interviewees — Asexual Artists

Suicide Squad: Deadshot and Morality

Suicide Squad, is perhaps the first movie I’ve ever walked away from saying, “That was not a good movie, but it was worth seeing.”

Without any spoilers, the plot had no structure and we spent time getting to know the characters through useless (and excessive) flashbacks. There were characters who had no purpose in the film, except to haphazardly flesh out the sprinting world of the DC Cinematic Universe. I swear Captain Boomerang was only there for laughable appearance by the Flash.

But what did work?

indexDeadshot. Will Smith’s Deadshot is the moral center of this film. Arguably, as a hit-man, he is the most villainous of the main characters by profession. He has not reformed nor makes any pretenses that he will give up the assassin’s game anytime soon.

Suicide Squad focuses on the character development of only a few characters: Harley Quinn, el Diablo, and Deadshot. Deadshot is the center piece. It is his story and his relationship with his daughter that grounds the character. Deadshot is the one talking about honor among thieves and the importance of the team’s survival.

To make it clear: a movie starring a black man featured said black man as a complicated protagonist and loving father who is the moral center of the film.

And in a media culture that only upholds the stories of white men (straight, cis, able bodied white men), this is huge. Every day people quote the racist (and downright false) argument that “there are more black men in prison than in college” as if there is a moral deficiency in black men naturally. As if black men do not want to be there for their families and for their children.

Yes, Deadshot is a criminal. He is a comic book villain. He kills people for money. But he is also a black character who is a loving father and a moral compass in a movie that desperately needs a moral center. He stands out in a media industry that needs  representations of black men who live to see the ending credits.

 

 

How to Say No

About a month ago I walked into a bread shop and got offered a job. They needed someone in their kitchen and I bake bread far more often than I need to (there are three loaves of bread in my freezer right now and my fridge is half populated by bagels, rolls and the end of a challah). How could I say no?

Except, they needed someone from 11pm to 4am and I work full time from 8am to 4pm. I said, “Can I have time to think about it?”

I’ve thought about it. I keep thinking about it. But I haven’t responded to their email about whether I will take the job. The answer is no, I can’t take the job. But on some level, I can take the job.

I get off work at 4 and get home by 4:30. I could sleep until 10:30pm or so, get up and go to the bakery until 4am, get writing done until 6am then get ready for my day job.

I’m not going to do this. I need to remind myself every day that I’m not going to do this.

But it’s an impossible task to admit I can’t add something new to my plate. It’s an impossible task to say  no. I work full time and hold 4 different writing positions. I’m manage the blog for Luna Station Quarterly, write literary magazine reviews each month for New Pages, read fiction for Five on the Fifth, and am an editor for Polychrome Ink.

I can’t say no. As women, we must work twice as hard to earn half the recognition as men, and saying no to a professional opportunity is a stupid move. You’re backing out before you’ve even tried! You’re selling yourself short! You are admitting defeat.

My goal is always excellence. My goal is to be the best. But my goal must also be to be kind to myself.

And saying no, in any and every context, is a matter of consent. Being a feminist is not about competing with the boys to show you’re just as capable. It’s about trusting yourself and listening to your voice, even when no one else will notice you’re speaking. It’s about learning to say no and taking control of your life.

Saying no, even to an opportunity, is a feminist decision.

Mothers are People Too

A friendly reminder as we celebrate Mother’s Day tomorrow: Mothers are people too!

Before they gave birth to you, adopted you or took on a mothering role, they were (and are) human beings. Yes, mothering is a nurturing position, but a mother’s life cannot revolve just around serving those around her.

Girls are encouraged to marry men, encouraged to have children, encouraged to put those children first above all else. So long as mothering is an action considered specific to women, motherhood is another way women are told to put themselves last.

It’s wonderful that we celebrate mothers! For a 24/7 job that is unpaid and unfairly relegated to one gender, mothers deserve recognition. But Mother’s Day cards and gifts reflect the same gendered mindset that places this burden on women in the first place.

Mother’s Day cards thank mothers for all that they do for others. It’s a system revolving around us: those of us who receive mothering.

In 1976, Marge Piercy wrote the sci fi feminist utopian novel Woman on the Edge of Time. Piercy imagines a utopia where mothering is an action any gender can undertake. Families have co-mothers, people of all genders who take on the nurturing role of mothering and share the responsibility. A Mother’s Day in Piercy’s imagined world would look very different from the pink Mother’s Day cards and breakfast in bed traditions we practice.

A Mother’s Day in Piercy’s world would recognize the nurturer in each of us. It would be a celebration of mothering, not the people who mother. It would be a day to acknowledge all the work and dedication that goes into putting someone else first.

Mothers are people. They deserve more than a day of thanks for what they do for those around them.

Tomorrow, when you thank a mother in your life, let them know you acknowledge not just what they do for you, but the person they are. Their life does not belong to anyone but themselves.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS! MAY 2016 CARNIVAL OF ACES: QUESTIONING YOUR FAITH

For any of my fellow aces interested in submitting. 🙂

halfthoughts

Hi! I’m your host for this month’s Carnival of Aces.

The Carnival of Aces is a monthly blogging carnival run by  The Asexual Agenda. For more information check out the Carnival of Aces Masterpost.

Last month’s Carnival was hosted by A³, on the topic Be Yourself (But Stretch). Check out April’s roundup here.

For this month, I’ve chosen the theme Questioning Your Faith. Previously there was a Carnival of Aces on the topic of religion (or atheism) and asexuality. I’m interested in hearing more perspectives on the interplay between questioning one’s asexuality and questioning one’s faith.

In LGBTQA+ discourse there is a lot of validation of questioning your identity. Often questioning one aspect of your identity leads to questioning another. Exploration and experimentation is encouraged. I’m curious about how often that questioning carries over to questioning one’s faith and how that plays out, especially among the ace community.

Here…

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Call for Interviews

For all the asexual people who follow my blog and want recognition for their own art (writing, visual, dance, music, anything creative really!) take a look at Lauren Jankowski’s site and contact her for an interview.

Asexual Artists

Hello all!

Once again, I’m low on interviewees. Since I don’t have the time to constantly post calls every single time I’m running low, I’m hoping to use this post as a kind of a reminder:

ASEXUAL ARTISTS IS OPEN FOR INTERVIEWS YEAR-ROUND!

I’m always looking for artists who are on the spectrum to interview. Any and all kinds of artists are welcome.

This is including but not limited to:

WRITERS: all genres and forms are welcome (novelists, short stories, poetry, flash fiction, etc). It doesn’t matter if you’re unpublished, just starting out, a student, a hobbyist, or established. Traditionally published, self-published, small press, etc. You’re all welcome and you all have something to offer.

VISUAL ARTISTS: Self explanatory, any kind of visual art you can imagine (photography, painting, sketching, drawing, sculpture, installation, etc.).

FANARTISTS: Another self-explanatory category. Cosplay, visual, fanfiction, etc. Whatever you do in your fandom (any and…

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