Sexual Orientation Laws in the World – Analysis of the Dark Red, Iraq

The “Sexual Orientation Laws in the World- Overview” map really opened my eyes to how diverse LGBTQ+ rights are on a global level rather than staying within the realm of the United States. It also gave me some perspective; although there are many issues/ changes I would like to see made in the US regarding LGBTQ+ rights, I am happy we are a “dark green” country on the map. Sadly, it looks like not even half of the globe is dark green. This lead me to look deeper into some of the criminalization/ death penalty countries in dark red. I found that in 2005, the IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) released a report describing how homosexuality has remained extremely “taboo” in Iraq. There is a common practice called “honor killings” or “shame killings”, which to summarize is when a family/ a family member LEGALLY kills another family member for bringing dishonor to the family name. Engaging in anything remotely homosexual is enough “disgrace” for the family to LEGALLY kill you. The fact that this is not only legal, but is commonly practiced is really unbelievable and breaks my heart. It really made me step back and reflect on some of the injustices the LGBTQ+ community faces outside the dark green countries. However, I did find something super interesting on a happier note; “IraQueer” is the first (and only one ever) queer activism group that has just recently came out of the shadows. Like any queer activism group, one of their main goals is to raise awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. I can imagine this must be extremely hard though in a society where these members can be killed by their families if desired. However, every activist movement has to start somewhere and I am happy to read that (maybe and hopefully) change is coming.

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Big closet or not, it’s still a closet.

 

I decided to write about the status of LGBT rights and legitimacy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is perceived to be one of the few Islamic states which exercises considerable tolerance towards the issue of homosexuality. Practicing homosexuality is strictly prohibited by the law under Section 377 A of the CrPC (Criminal Penal Code).The law says- “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.” In the Guardian Article we read, What’s it like being LGBT around the world?, they described a reality in which people of LGBT status live in a “comfortable closest”. They call it “comfortable” because the actual actions of same-sex relations are not policed well and are normally looked over. However, those citizens are still crammed into a closet, nonetheless! I think this really draws into the E. Patrick Johnson’s theories and the idea of Quare theory. There’s explicit restriction of personal expression and processes. How do you feel about this? It it worth fighting the traditions and outing oneself even if there’s loose enforcement? Things are slowly changing however, I have difficulty imagining real changes being made. How much of an impact do you think this restriction has on civilians of LGBT status? Do you think it would be best to live comfortably and not combat the tradition? Even with the support of many human rights groups and individuals, I’m not sure it will be enough to overturn traditional convictions. But, you never know until you try. Right?

Sexual Orientation Laws in Russia

It’s kind of no surprise to me that Russia does not promote the LGBTQ community and they have laws limiting freedom of expression. When I think of Russia, I always think of a rigid community that doesn’t accept anything that’s not considered “normal”. But like we’ve said in this class, there’s no clear definition “normal”. I’m not really sure what Russia does and does not like overall. I’m sure it’s ok for the women there to dress in a tomboyish fashion but when the opposite occurs, I guess all hell is going to break loose. I know the US sometimes has some backwards opinions but they seem much farther behind us when it comes to acceptance. It was also sad to see the firsthand account from the drag queen from the RuPaul’s drag race video that we watched in class. It was heartbreaking to see what the one drag queen had to go through just because the way he was dressed didn’t match up with the typical male outfits in Russia. Then to hear that the other contestant who lived there for a couple years had to censor or hold back everything he did or said. It kind of reminds me of this other thing that I saw regarding one of my favorite youtubers went through. Her name is Gigi Gorgeous and she’s a transgender woman. She was completely humiliated in a Dubai airport  for just the same reasons. She made a whole video about it where she talks about her experience and just sounds like she was so scared because she had no clue what was going to happen to her and no one would give her any information. When she finally got to catch up with the group she was with, she was so overwhelmed to realize that she was going to be ok. This is no way to treat human beings. I mean I understand not everywhere is equal on the laws for the LGBTQ but we’re all still people. I just don’t get why people tend to treat the others that are “different” than what they are used to, then they are treated as if they aren’t real living human beings. The end result of these people getting detained at airports always ends badly and needs to stop. Or there’s got to be a better way to go about it.

ACLU, you rock

After reading the article about Trump’s “religious freedom” law I felt sick. And angry. And terrified. How can he do this?? After reading the Gavin Grimm article and then this one which showed a tweet made by the ACLU, I decided to Google what that exactly was. The ACLU stands for the American Civil Liberties Union, a non-profit organization, whose mission statement is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country.” I’m kind of embarrassed for myself for not knowing this organization. But more importantly, my heart is so full that this organization exists and is willing to fight for the LGBTQ community. The article stated that the ACLU has already made a promise to take Trump to court (again) if he proceeds with this. Because really, the country does have a commitment to keep church and state SEPARATE.

 

I also want to talk about Mike Pence for a second. Why does he hate the LGBTQ community so much?!? Why doesn’t he put that hate towards the abuse and scandals that happen within the Church he loves so much?? Why does he target a community who wants nothing more than to be treated equally? Now he and the Trump administration want to take away Obama’s EO that prohibits discrimination against LGBT employees from federal contractors. It also allows employers to, basically, opt out of covering contraceptives if they are religiously against it. What? Sometimes I don’t understand Trump or his advisors- don’t they know the church and state are separate and are to remain separate? This whole thing makes me upset but it also makes me sad and disappointed that this whole thing is still a thing. Why can’t we just let people, who aren’t harming anyone, be who they are? Ugh.

Gaga Feminism: Possibilities and Limitations

Halberstam’s “Gaga Manifesto” laid out a series of promising liberatory possibilities outside of traditional institutional frameworks, but swept away the very real issue presented by the lack of directed vision in social movements without really addressing it in-depth.

I agreed with the piece’s rejection of the emphasis many modern social justice movements place on working withing existing institutional systems, and Halberstam’s allusions to new, more anarchic methods of organization struck me as prudent. Oftentimes, movements become so caught up in attempting to change things from within that they fail to see that they are becoming a part of the systems they hate and strengthening those systems’ legitimacy in the process. The university provides one such example, where, by allowing for limited forms of classroom-based dissent providing places for activists within the faculty, rich investors are able to harvest tuition from a larger, more diverse student crowd while strengthening the image of academia as a place of lively, enlightened debate. Thus, universities come to be considered progressive despite their role in exacerbating class and race divides—as a demonstration, next time you’re at the dining hall, take a look at the students ordering the food and the people serving it.

Unfortunately, Halberstam seems to fall prey to the same problem he critiques, as he goes on to name his new brand of feminism “Gaga feminism” after a woman who has a net worth of approximately $275 million and who, far from being an outsider, fits neatly in amongst the most finely groomed elites in Hollywood. Gaga’s deviance is performance, a temporary departure from normality that fades with the lights of the stage. This, also, is what Halberstam misses in his critique of Slavoj Žižek’s rebuke of Occupy Wall Street: Žižek desires societal change just as much as Halberstam, but he recognizes the futility of a movement content to waver aimlessly outside the castle gates. No matter how “revolutionary” the moment may feel, eventually the police will come calling with their guns and their tasers and their riot shields to make sure everyone finds their way back home. Žižek is calling for a greater revolution, not a lesser one.

Halberstam’s piece opens up many interesting avenues of discussion, but ultimately fails to pursue them in favor of a politics centered literally on “failure.” The worst thing to lack in a world spiraling towards disaster is a plan.

Pink is a Gender?

After watching Paris is Burning in this class, I was able to take on a new perspective about gender roles and how they plan out in each individual’s life.  Rachael brought up something I have never thought about before, the overlooked ridiculousness of gender themes parties.  We all have seen one of these gender reveal videos on Facebook that is adorable, but reduces the babies entire identity down to a single color (blue or pink, shocker).  This made me think more about the roles gender plays in my own life and how it shouldn’t be accepted to reduce my identity down to just my gender from birth.  This idea reminded me of a video from BuzzFeed that I watched last semester.  This video was titled Childhood Gender Roles in Adult Life. Simply from the title it is obvious what this video consisted of, a lot of pink, blue, and stereotypical “boy/girl” things.  Essentially this videos purpose was to make fun of the gender norms we place on children (who have had no say in this identity given to them) and how it would be considered ridiculous as adults.  I have always admired BuzzFeed as a company because I believe they do a good job at creating quality content, while putting different (sometimes controversial) ideas into perspective.  There is a market designed specifically “for women” or “for men” products on things like pens and tape that have no gender specific role what-so-ever.  While, this video isn’t necessarily directing any change for companies or people, it is a (small) step in the right direction to start the topic of not assigning specific gender roles to children.  I highly recommend checking out this video and others like it that BuzzFeed has to offer that can give perspective on important topics.

Singers and Feminism

Ever since Lady Gaga has been in the spotlight she is known to shape her career outside the box. From her creative and unique outfits on both the red carpets and in music videos to her songs expressing positive energy that it’s ok to be different. She is proving to society that there isn’t one set way everyone has to act in order to fit in but rather that she was “born this way”. Gaga even admitted that this song was “inspired by empowering music from the 90’s for women and the gay community.” Halberstam points out that when Gaga performs in her crazy costumes she is opening up a new world for the younger generation. She is paving the way for young children to prove that it’s ok to have your own special twist on anything you want to do. Not only is Gaga inspiring the feminist/LGBT community but also so many other singers are relating their songs to embrace ones inner powerful feminism. Demi Lovato another well-known singer includes her feminist stand in multiple of her songs. Her song “Confident” is all about loving yourself the way you are. I personally think that she’s doing a great job with finding herself and now has a control on her life and owns it. Not only that but like Gaga she also wears what she wants and doesn’t let the negative energy stop her on how she wants to represent herself.

Lady Gaga

Since her start as a performance artist and singer, Lady Gaga has been extremely outspoken through her music and concerts about her support for LGBTQ equality.  She tends to stray away from society’s “norm” by the way she looks, acts, and dresses.  She has so much influential power because of her fame, so she decides to use that power to express herself and to help others feel comfortable expressing themselves as well.  She even said that “I’m just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time.”  For example, she was the first singer to reference the LGBTQ at the Super Bowl half time show.  She has also participated in multiple equality marches.  It has been her goal to get people talking and to feel more comfortable with the entire community, especially since Lady Gaga herself has come out as bisexual.  She wants men and women to be able to dress and act however they desire without feeling judged by people.  This is why she wears outrageous outfits, because she wants to show people it is okay to be different and it can be accepted.  She is one of many celebrities who use their fame as a way to try to make a difference particularly in the LGBTQ community.  Jack Halberstam’s focuses on Gaga Feminism because Lady Gaga does a good job at embodying ideas of sex and gender and breaking away from society’s fixed roles that men and women are supposed to have.  Lady Gaga resists being put in a bubble or a category.  She does whatever she feels like and she has zero shame.  This is why she has such a strong fan base and support system behind her and why Halberstam chooses her to help better represent and explain feminism, sex, and gender.

Munoz: Utopia & the Stages to it

Today in lecture we discussed Munoz’s writing about “stages” and the Utopian performative. This reading really caught my eye to talk about for this blog post because it’s an idea/theory that I’ve never pondered on before. To be honest, when I first read the title and even once I got a good way through the writing, I thought there was only a negative connotation to the idea of “stages”. Munoz touches on this when he explains how the idea of “stages” intersects with unaccepting, or confused parents dealing with their child coming out as homosexual. He writes, “…how they sometimes protect themselves [parents] from the fact of queerness by making it a “stage,” a developmental hiccup, a moment of misalignment that will, hopefully, correct itself or be corrected by savage pseudoscience and coercive religion, sometimes masquerading as psychology.”  I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever came out as gay, lesbian, or anything straying from heteronormativity has dealt with this very real “stage”. But I do think that with time this stage will probably/hopefully start to occur less and less, because I am an optimist and hope that queerness will eventually be more accepted. However, not all stages are as somber. We discussed in class how these stages can represent opportunity, the spot light, and performance in a really positive light. There’s opportunity to perform on a stage where you can be yourself and who you are in that moment. Most people are fluid and constantly changes and a stage is a snapshot or performance of ones self at a particular time, but not permanent. Punk/ queer people intersect with their ability to not conform to societal norms, and I think that’s why Munoz picked these two subcultures and expanded on the idea of using a stage to “perform” and aim for this utopia. I overall thought that he was saying there are stages in which queer/punk men perform/go through, aiming to reach this idea of a true utopian performativity, although all stages may not be perfect. I feel like this reading could have been interpreted many different ways, so please let me know what you guys think, am I way off??

The Circle

The utopian idea was something interesting that we talked about this week. I like that someone in the class talked about the new movie coming out called “The circle”. It reminded me of Munoz’s reading about utopia. At first when I saw the trailer for this movie, I was genuinely excited for it cause I was like, this company called the circle helped the main character’s father through whatever he’s going through so they must be a good company with no bad intentions whatsoever. He has some type of disease in the movie and I guess by using these cameras all over the world, they were able to help him somehow. I got excited by the idea of a company doing good for everyone in the world, even if it did mean no privacy. I guess I should have saw right through that because the second time I watched it, it struck me a little bit different. It scared me to think that there could be a society where these people are always watching to change the world and make it “perfect” in their eyes. I guess even now though, there there is a true possibility that society and everyone in it is always being watched by the government or someone overseeing everything to make society how they see fit. I hear all the time from people around me that the government is listening to everything we say in front of our technology so I guess this new movie is playing off of that. I wouldn’t past the government to have something to do with watching people’s every moves through technology. I can see why they would do it because it’s the easiest way to pay attention to people and catch bad guys but then also I can see how it is an invasion of privacy because there’s no consent from the citizens for any of it. Unfortunately, as a community, there’s really  not much we can do about it though except grin and bare it. Let’s just hope we don’t become like this new movie trailer because the ending doesn’t look it’s going to be a happy one for everyone involved.