Sunday, March 22, 2009

Should Mormon Polygamy Be Legalized?

I just watched this BBC report about the campaign in Utah to legalize Mormon polygamy. The video, which is an interview with what appears to be a very healthy polygamous Morman family.

I've always had some problems with the Mormon version of polygamy -- which should more accurately be called polygyny since in true polygamy a woman would be allowed to have multiple husbands but the Mormons don't allow it. But the children in this video certainly don't seem to be living under the threat of underage arranged marriage and everyone seems quite satisfied with their lifestyle.

I do support polyamory (which, let's face it, is a term we made up because the Mormons had given "polygamy" a funny aftertaste), so why am I so uncomfortable about Mormon polygamy? Mormon refusal to embrace polyandry (one woman, many men) is definitely party of it. The fact that it is religiously prescribed is also a part of it (though the daughters in the video certainly seem to have freedom of choice). And we've all heard to most egregious cases of arranged marriage and victimization of underaged girls. But wouldn't those excesses be easier to stop if polygamous marriage was legal?

So, while I have some reservations about the Mormon religion, I say group marriage should be legal -- for Mormons and for anybody else, polygynous, polyandrous or tribe, straight, gay, bisexual, trans or gender queer.

Although one cynical thought did enter my head -- wouldn't it be ironic if the entire campaign were sabotaged by gay people from California?

The Stacks - The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn

The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn
by Violet Blue
Cleis Press, 2006

It's a sign of the culture we live in that every informational sex book begins with a section where the author, like a skilled bomb squad engineer, slowly and painstakingly defuses the reader's secret shame and guilt about their sexual desires. The existence of this section -- the first fifty pages of your average sex book -- is doubly surprising when you consider the reader had to be interested and open-minded enough to go to go to an independent book store (because good luck finding a decent sex book at Barnes & Noble) and buy the book in the first place!

This fifty page section stands out even more than usual in The Smart Girl's Guide to Porn, which is only 120 pages long. Yes, it is okay for girls to look at porn. No, it's not just for men. Yes, there will be things that turn you off or offend you. No, you should hold that against porn in general.

In writing a book for women about porn Violet Blue knows how much prejudice she has to overcome. Until very recently, porn -- a film genre with endless variety, as Blue points out -- was all painted the same very black color by feminists. Generations of women have learned that porn exploits and disrespects their gender. Violet Blue cops to that. Some porn does, she admits. But other porn doesn't mistreat or exploit its female performers. Some is even produced by women, for women. Don't burn down the barn to get rid of the rats.

For those readers who don't need to be convinced porn isn't always bad, it's best to skip ahead in this book. Most of the information this book has to offer is in Chapter 6, which is about the mainstream porn industry, and Chapter 7, which is about Internet porn (at three years old, the book's web addresses are mostly out of date, but the general information's still good).

Beyond the occasional visit to a free site I've never been a big consumer of porn (I doubt I could name a famous porn star who's still in the business) so I found these chapters very interesting. And occasionally disillusioning -- who knew Paris Hilton had to sign a release before her sex tape could be "leaked"? And then there's the other reason to read books by Violet Blue: that, unlike many sex writers, she has a fresh and witty writing style that makes every subject more interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Porn Star vs. Pervert

Porn star Stormy Daniel is running against Louisiana Senator David Vitter, aka Vitter the Shitter. In 2007 Vitter hired prostitutes so he could indulge his diaper fetish but apologized and saved his political career. Back in November he named him to my list of the Top 10 Sex Scandals of the Bush Era.

According to Daniels, she has been recruited by a grass root political action group that she hasn't even met but that claims not to affiliated with the Democratic Party.

It Must Be Spring...

...'cause even Joe the Plumber is horny!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This week in Christianity

We lost one of the good ones...
Bishop Melvin Wheatley, an outspoken Methodist minister and human rights advocate, died earlier this month in Mission Viejo, Calif. He was 93.

Wheatley was known for his sometimes unpopular stances on issues like gay rights and interfaith tolerance. In 1980, Wheatley publicly refused to support a statement by fellow Methodist bishops calling homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching," according to the Los Angeles Times.

...and the band ones are still on the march!
The Pope courted further controversy on his first trip to Africa today by declaring that condoms were not a solution to the Aids epidemic – but were instead part of the problem.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Black and White

Some things are black and white, devoid of all moral ambiguity.

A 9-year-old girl is sexually abused by her step-father. She becomes pregnant with twins. After three months of pregnancy her doctors decide that her life is in danger. With the permission of the girl's mother the doctors convince the government of Brazil that this situation is an exception to the country's abortion ban. With the government's permission the pregnancy is terminated.

The Catholic archdiocese of Brazil ex-communicates the doctors and the girl's mother. The Vatican reviews the decision and upholds it.

Some things are black and white, devoid of all moral ambiguity.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Prop 8 News

Well, it ain't good news... According to the New York Times the California Supreme Court justices seem ready to uphold Proposition 8, writing the gay marriage ban into the state constitution. The only sticking point is apparently the 18,000 marriages conducted before the ban went into effect. The court apprently doesn't think Prop 8 invalidates those marriages. Ken Starr and the homophobe brigade are scrambling for some kind of counter-argument that vaguely makes sense. Nothing so far.

Baby steps, baby steps...