Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bathroom Boondoggle Part 3: Trojan Horses - What This Is Really About

Bathroom Boondoggle Part 3: Trojan Horses - What This Is Really About

This is part three in my series on the Transgender bathroom issue. Here are the previous installments:

In the first, I laid out evidence that sex and gender are not binaries - something that should be considered scientifically indisputable - and has been acknowledged for millennia. However, theological considerations have led to denial of basic reality.

In the second, I point out the lack of any credible threat posed by transgender people, detail the history of the use of fear of rape to justify violence against minorities, and explain the profile of predators who are a far greater risk. (Hint: they are more likely to be religious than the general population, and are likely to know and groom their victims.)


So, given that there hasn’t been a rash of transgender crimes, what is driving this push for legislation?

Legislation doesn’t come out of nowhere. It requires a concerted and determined effort. In fact, what you see at work is a highly organized blitz.

Legislation. Multiple articles in numerous forums. A full-out campaign by certain Evangelical political groups. This is a planned, organized, and intentional operation.

This is the Evangelical Political Machine in full force.

So why now? Why this?

First, let me note a couple of factors that I believe did influence the timing a little:

  1. Caitlin Jenner

She’s been in the news, so people are talking about transgender already. At least part of the job of publicity is therefore done.

2.     Election Year

There is no doubt that this has had an effect on timing. You can set your watch to the election cycle to see various advocacy groups spool up every election year. This happens on both the left and right, so it isn’t a partisan thing. However, since I have more experience as a former member of both the Republican Party and the Religious Right, I will primarily note their obsessions.

Every time there is a presidential election (with the corresponding issue of Supreme Court appointments), the Religious Right starts beating the drums on a few predictable issues. First is abortion, naturally. Second is LGBTQ issues - namely the imagined threat they pose to the children. (I grew up hearing from the James Dobson’s of the world that all gay people wanted to molest children. Since I actually knew gay people, um, it rang a bit hollow…) Third is gun rights. Sure enough, as soon as this election got into full swing, out came the claims that President Obama was waiting to confiscate our guns.

So yeah, the election year is undoubtedly part of this. Get people all worked up in a fear and they’ll come out to vote.

Over the last few years, I have noticed that these issues I named above have been wielded by the political class to keep Evangelical voters on board for political beliefs which I am seeing more and more are actually counter to the teachings of Christ. Rage about abortion and fear of LGBT people have been harnessed to ensure that white Evangelicals vote GOP no matter what.

But this year, even more so. The GOP has chosen a candidate who embodies, personally and professionally, every vice I was taught was wrong as a child, and who disdains every virtue I had inculcated in me. And who furthermore has publicly shown contempt for human rights and the Constitution. I won’t belabor this in this post, but I do want to point out that this time, there is little beyond an appeal to tribalism and fear that the GOP has to keep Evangelicals in line, so I am completely unsurprised that this issue was raised now.

But I don’t think this is the primary reason.

I want to make one thing clear at the outset:

I believe that the bathroom issue is a Trojan Horse, a fake crisis used to further other political goals. 

A Trojan HORSE, not a rabbit!

This isn’t hard to figure out. All one has to do is actually look at the texts of the laws. As I intend to show in this post, the real targets of these laws are LGBT people, those who have sex out of wedlock, and those who do not adhere to gender stereotypes.

I want to examine a current State law, plus a law that Congressional Republicans are pushing at the national level.

The worst of the current state laws is that of Mississippi. The bill does far more than legislate which bathrooms must be used by whom. It also explicitly legalizes the denial of employment, housing, goods, services, and government services to LGBT people, whenever a person claims a “religious belief.” 

I’ve covered these issues in pretty good detail in my post on LGBT Discrimination and “Religious Freedom” laws.

I want to add another here as well. The Mississippi law contains this clause as well: “The state government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person wholly or partially on the basis that the person establishes sex-specific standards or policies concerning employee or student dress or grooming.”

Isn’t that interesting? So, despite Federal law to the contrary, employers can force women to wear skirts, makeup, heels, whatever. Women who didn’t fit the “feminine” ideal could be denied employment.

As a lawyer, it wasn’t that long ago that judges would insist that women could not wear pants in their courtrooms without being held in contempt of court. (I have a few older female colleagues who talk about those days.) Believe me as well when I say that there are plenty of people out there who believe that women should never wear pants. My wife and I both grew up around them.

Let me note as well that government employees are allowed to discriminate this way - so a supervisor could require his or her underlings at a government office to wear skirts of a certain length.

I also discussed this a bit in my review of Because of Sex, which details the way that flight attendants were subject to firing if they gained weight, married, or failed to live up to their employers’ standards as “sex objects” for wealthy men to ogle.

One final one, which is also pretty bad in practice is the part that includes “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

This is not accidental or incidental. I believe it is every bit as crucial to the proponents of the law as the right to deny housing and employment to LGBTQ people.

Simply put, this is the right to deny all of those things to those who have sex out of wedlock.

I am not kidding you. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist - or a lawyer - to understand who will suffer most under that clause. It’s going to be lower income women who have children out of wedlock. That is the point: to punish women for having sex.

I’m also going to go out on a limb here and say that, given the open hostility this election cycle toward minorities, I believe this will also be used - in practice - to avoid the Civil Rights laws. I suspect it will be primarily brown skinned mothers who will be denied housing and employment, rather than middle class whites who happen to “mess up.”

Let me also cite here the proposed Federal law, FADA. You can read an analysis here, and here and the full text of the bill here

For the best analysis of the actual meaning of the Mississippi law, see this detailed article (in PDF) written by a group of law professors from schools including the University of Mississippi, Columbia Law School, University of Southern California, and more. It makes it abundantly clear exactly what is at stake and why these laws are a flagrant violation of the First Amendment.

One thing I think is particularly important to note is that the law gives the right to employers, landlords, government employees, and so on, to demand the answers to highly invasive and personal questions, such as one’s chromosomal makeup, the appearance of one’s genitals, one’s sexual history, and one’s sexual attractions.

The law is breathtaking in its scope. The article is, if anything, soft pedaling the potential results. I know. I’ve lived among the people behind this bill - the dominionist/political machine - and read the hateful propaganda from the various “Family” organizations - and they have wanted this for a long time: the ability to inflict punishment on those who do not share their sexual rules. 

Yes, they want to be able to fire employees who become pregnant out of wedlock.
Yes, they want to be able to deny housing to people they believe are having sex. (One of my law school professors argued in front of the California Supreme Court to that effect.)
Yes, they want LGBTQ people to be denied family medical leave, Social Security checks, and so on.
Yes, they intend that government employees be able to refuse to do their job.
Yes, they intend that LGBTQ youth be refused counseling and health services at school.
Yes, they intend that the children of LGBTQ people be refused medical care.

I should point out too that the law gives this blanket exemption for religious belief to government workers, for-profit corporations, non-profits. All of these can continue to receive money from the government or tax subsidies despite refusing to hire those who don’t follow the same sexual rules.

Also, there is no balancing test. The religious belief always wins, regardless of who is damaged by it. It’s basically a “hurt people however you want, as long as your religion tells you to” card.

As I pointed out in my previous post, this is nothing less than hate, and I am sick of pretending it is not. 

 Yes indeed.

There has been a longstanding rage in certain Religious Right circles - the ones with huge influence, particularly with the older generations - that people are having sex we don’t approve of, God will smite us if we don’t stop it, and that damn government won’t let us punish people for their sexual sin!

Let me be clear - and fair - here. While there are a surprisingly high number of people who do harbor genuine hate for LGBTQ people, I believe there are many in the rank and file of Evangelicalism who are not on board with this political agenda. Many, I believe, would, in their heart of hearts desire to be compassionate and loving - and probably have acted that way in person.

In fact many of us - particularly among those under age 50, although there are a few Baby Boomers too - are just plain appalled by the political agenda of hate and marginalization directed at the LGBTQ community. A few of us are speaking up, even though we risk relationships with friends, family, and the Evangelical church to do so.

But decades of the political wing stirring up hate and fear has done a lot of damage. There continues to be a lot of fearmongering from the pulpit and in Evangelical publications. There is also a focus on making sure that Evangelicals don’t bend one single bit on the sexual rules.

This means that there really hasn’t been any pushback against the political agenda. Because disagreement with the “punish the gays” agenda is seen as unacceptable compromise that will get you expelled from Evangelicalism. As I myself have been told, “We can’t let our compassion change our minds about what god calls sin.” And thus, those who would stand up against hate are silenced. And the political agenda of hate continues. 

This brings me back to Obergefell. When that case came down - a huge loss for the Religious Right - the strategy shifted. Since government will no longer prevent LGBTQ people from marrying, then society needs to persecute them instead. This is related to the belief that God will smite our nice little country because of the sex people are having.  We have to do something about it, somehow, or zap!

One problem that the Religious Right is encountering, however, is that public opinion has shifted, and it is getting more difficult to find support for their hate. So they couch this in terms of “religious liberty,” because it sounds better than "hate your next door neighbor, but don't forget to say Grace." But even that may not be enough.

Voila! A perfect Trojan Horse!

People may not come out and vote for a law that primarily enables persecution of LGBTQ people, but they will come out and vote to keep predators out of bathrooms! It’s perfect! Drum up a phony crisis, with children at risk, and you can pass what you really wanted to all along, which was legalized (and government protected) pogroms against LGBTQ people - and those who have sex out of wedlock.

This has been a long term goal of the Religious Right for decades: use of societal and government pressure to enforce religious sexual rules on everyone. I think it’s time we acknowledge this for what it is. It is a religious freedom issue - but not the way the Religious Right thinks it is.

Not everyone shares the religious belief that sex should only be between a man and a woman after saying vows. Not even all Christians, incidentally. And certainly, as I pointed out once before, monogamy hasn’t even been a mainstream religious belief for that long. People have had different beliefs in the past, and often have different beliefs now. For the most part, people’s behavior and beliefs are linked. (Although, clearly, given the high rates of premarital sex among even the most strict of Christians indicates a great deal of hypocrisy in that direction…)

Thus, it is perfectly understandable that people whose beliefs, religious or otherwise, do not forbid certain sexual acts may well do them. For a person to have sex which he or she does not believe is morally wrong isn’t some sort of an affront to everyone else - it’s to be expected. As Saint Paul once said regarding issues of personal conviction, “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” (Also in that passage is one that the Religious Right appears to have forgotten:
“Who are you to judge the servant of another?”)

Celibacy, whether temporary or permanent, is (for the religious) a religious sacrament. Most of us would, I expect, agree that we have no business forcing people to attend church. Similarly,  we have (finally I hope) agreed that abstaining from alcohol or specific foods is a religious or philosophical decision of the individual, not one to be made for others by the government. Many abstain for religious reasons, but we do not feel entitled to punish those who choose not to abstain. (Well, Prohibition...maybe we Americans DO rather love to force our beliefs on everyone else…) Likewise, to force others to participate in the religious sacrament of celibacy when they don’t share those religious beliefs (or are convinced they are called to celibacy) is equally ludicrous.

Just like I don’t want to be interrogated about my religious beliefs in order to get a job, a house, a meal, a government license - I also don’t want to be interrogated about my sex life. It isn’t everyone’s business.

I don’t think this would be such an issue if it weren’t for two things.

  1. The Religious Right believes sex is the one evil that God hates.
  2. The Religious Right fears that God will smite Christians if they don’t prevent others from having sex.

This is Dominionism in action. (See links below.)

Well, that and the way that the all too stereotypical “Sister Bertha Better Than You” types love getting up in the business of others. (Although, come to think of it, it sure seems to be mostly old men, doesn't it?)

The point here, though, is this: one particular religious belief is being given special protection by the law. You can harm others in your capacity as an employer, landlord, vendor, or even government servant as long as you are motivated by this particular belief.

It is a violation of the first amendment to give a preference for one religious belief over another, and this applies to beliefs about sex too. 


I’ve cited Peter Enns before in this series, and I think he also makes a good point that applies here as well. When we are seeking to exclude people from society (and that is exactly what these laws are aimed at), we say something about the god we worship.

“Whether or not we are even aware of it, how we act reflects what we deeply believe. In fact, as Christians, there is no truer measure of what we really believe God is like, deep down, the God that really drives us and energizes us, our life source, than how quickly we feel the need to erect walls and continually narrow the borders of who is in and who is out.”

The view of god that leads to this is of him as “fundamentally hacked off, retributive, touchy, demanding of theological precision, uncompromising, takes-no-prisoners-and-gives-no-quarter, whose wrath needs to be appeased so watch your step.”

I hope to flesh this out a bit in a further installment, but I think it is this view of God as demanding that we be absolutely correct in our views of sex, gender, and sexuality, and more than eager to smite us if we give one single millimeter or fail to be as hateful as possible to those don't follow our rules.


Gender Policing

I’m going to go one further with this issue as well. This isn’t just about sexual policing - although it is primarily about that.

It is also about gender policing, which is inextricably tied up with sex. (This could be a future series - human sexual rules have always been about controlling women in order to ensure that paternity is known.)

The Religious Right has strong beliefs about what males and females should look and act like, and enforcement of these norms is a feature of the bathroom laws.

Let’s look at who would tend to get prosecuted under these laws.

First of all, I think it is pretty obvious that posting armed guards at every bathroom is impractical in the extreme. Certainly actual law enforcement isn’t going to be posted at every bathroom in America.

Instead, these laws would require some form of citizen enforcement. Probably mostly in the form of busybody old ladies calling the cops on anyone they don’t think should be in the bathroom. Well, that and individual businesses harassing transgender people they didn’t want to have to serve in the first place.

So who is going to get busted?

Well, “butch” women, to start with. That would include my intersex client. It would also include one of my heterosexual cisfemale clients who just happens to dress butch. (I’ll note that overweight and older women are at particular risk for looking “male” from certain angles - at least if you are expecting a certain gendered look. I’ll also mention here that cancer patients who don’t wear wigs could also look “male” enough to be harassed.)

And guess what? Many androgynous and “butch” women have in fact been harassed

Just as in the case of sex, gender presentation is believed by the Religious Right to be their business. That is, that they get to enforce how everyone should dress and act - whether or not that person shares their religious beliefs. (I blogged about Modesty Culture, which is just one of the ways the Religious Right enforces gender-based cultural preferences as if they were God’s Will For Everyone™.) 

Gender presentation is the same thing - and it usually reflects the fashions of the past, rather than the present. Even the longstanding fight over women wearing pants - settled in the legal sense, but not in the religious sense, clearly - is about a past culture. And about a particular view of women’s roles in society.

So I believe that the fact that bathroom laws are much more likely to result in the harassment of women who aren’t “feminine” enough is viewed as a feature of the laws, not a bug. It is just gravy that they can be used to bully women who do not conform to the image that the Religious Right wishes them to.

Some history is interesting in this regard.

Not too many know that when two pieces of legislation involving women’s rights were debated in the past, the specter of “men in the women’s restroom” was raised.

In the case of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when an amendment was added that included discrimination “because of sex,” there was the outcry that it would mean bathroom difficulties. But also, there was the fear that eliminating discrimination in employment would lead to a “sexless society.” As Gillian Thomas put it:

But I don’t think sex discrimination was ever understood purely as sex organs, even in 1964. Look at the floor debate over Title VII. When legislators talked about outlawing sex discrimination, they were really talking about men and women’s place in society, in the family, in relation to our laws. For instance, Rep. Emanuel Celler—the floor manager of the Civil Rights Act—gave this hand-wringing speech wherein he said, “If we give equal access on the job to women, what does this do to alimony laws? Rape laws? The draft? What does this do to family roles? Who’s responsible for the upbringing of children?” He saw the law as the upending of the whole social order.

(You can read more about gender-based discrimination in employment in Gillian Thomas’ excellent book, Because of Sex, which I reviewed here.

Likewise, during the ill-fated attempt to pass the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, the most effective tool was the fear of “men in women’s bathrooms.” But, as usual, it went right from that fear to a more general fear that gender roles would change.

For social conservatives, a world in which sexual distinctions lose their social significance is the nightmare endpoint of all the modernizing trends they decry.” “Down the road, this basically blows the doors off of any boundaries in society—we’ll have a completely sexless society,” Jesse Kremer tells me. Kremer is a Wisconsin Republican lawmaker…

Even now, you see it in James Dobson’s fearmongering and hateful article wherein he makes barely-veiled threats of violence against transgender people. Before you know it, he goes right from the bathroom threat to warnings against the dangers of feminism, which took women out of the home and into the workplace.

It’s all connected.

It’s part of a worldview that sees rigid boundaries between male and female, both biologically (intersex people don’t exist) and socially (men and women must look a certain way, fulfill certain roles.)


One more group of people are already being negatively affected by the Bathroom Panic: parents.

This one is a bit personal for me. Let me explain. When I was a little kid, I got dragged into the women’s restroom with my mom. I didn’t like it, because I remember getting the stink eye occasionally from some old lady who didn’t like boys in there. Fortunately, I got old enough to use the boy’s room.

Then I became a parent. I had a dilemma: what to do with my daughters? Like many fathers of my generation, I took my kids places by myself as soon as they were born, nearly. You know what? Changing tables are hard to find in men’s restrooms! (It’s getting better, but it is far from universal.) And then, when they are getting potty trained, it gets even more awkward.

And then the worst: the girls are big enough to go by themselves...mostly. So, she heads for the women’s restroom because she is a big girl and can do it herself. (I have very assertive daughters.) And then something goes wrong, and she needs help. Flop sweat time. 

And don’t think the solution is “take your daughter into the men’s room.” 

You know, if we weren’t so obsessed with this, perhaps it wouldn’t be a big deal. But it is. I do not want to get myself arrested as a pervert for assisting my daughters. (Fortunately, the older ones can help the youngest in a pinch now.)

Anyway, this fear-based panic legislation (with, as I showed, is a Trojan Horse for other goals) ends up catching a lot of innocents along the way, with no gain in safety to offset it.



I posted it above, but I’ll put it here again because it is so good:

A group of law school professors from around the United States explain why privileging one particular religious belief both violates the Constitution and harms vulnerable people.

If you haven’t already read my post on why these “Religious Freedom” laws are actually legalized hate toward LGBTQ people, you can read it here:

If You Support Anti-LGBTQ "Religious Freedom" Laws, You Aren't Really Different from Omar Mateen

There are a number of outstanding comments on that post as well, by astute readers, which also touch on the transgender issue. 

I also wrote a while back on why I believe that Evangelicalism has made a fatal mistake in obsessing about being "right" while neglecting to do right. 

What Will and Will Not Get You "Farewelled" from Evangelicalism: A Primer

I also recommend reading my series on Dominionism, and how it has poisoned Evangelicalism in America:

Dominionism and Evangelicalism PART 1: It's All About The Power
Dominionism and Evangelicalism PART 2: The American Version of Dominionism
Dominionism and Evangelicalism PART 3: Presuppositionalism Has Poisoned Everything

I find this article interesting as well. I was not the least surprised that there is a HUGE generation gap, with older people mostly opposed to transgender people using the bathroom that matches their identity, and younger people generally in favor. If nothing else, those of us my age (nearly 40) and younger are more likely to actually know someone who is transgender.

What was more surprising was that women generally favored letting transgender people use the bathroom of their choice. Men, on the other hand…

So, apparently, the people that are supposedly being “protected” by these laws don’t think they need that “protection.” It’s mostly a bunch of old men. Who knew?  

Update September 2, 2016: Ben Corey wrote an excellent post on how much the ideology of ISIS and Franklin Graham resemble each other. (Hint: a LOT, particularly when it comes to gender and sexuality, and the use of government violence to punish those who do not follow their religious rules.) As I have shown throughout this series, it isn't just Graham - it's the vast majority of of the Evangelical-Industrial complex - those with political and religious power.

10 Ways the Ideology of ISIS and Franklin Graham is Near-identical


Comment policy: Please read my comment policy before commenting. For this post, I will not tolerate anonymous comments, hate speech, or bible thumping.


  1. Figuring out transgender/intersex issues was kind of forced on me a few years ago when a friend confessed to me in private (and literally in the dead of night) that she had gender dysphoria. Safe to say, most people have no clue what they're talking about. If they make a joke about bearded ladies or crossdressing, they REALLY don't know what they're talking about.

    It's interesting in the older literature what exactly was considered a "male" trait vs. a "female" trait. That book I read about medical attitudes toward intersex conditions in the 19th century had lists that doctors wrote up of all these physical things that were considered gendered, and they're hardly restricted just to genital stuff, either. They were so extensive that I had one or two "male" characteristics (and let's just say I'm definitively female, up close and from a distance).

    As regards the other topics here, I finally got to the registrar of voters to quit the GOP this week. As of this election cycle, evangelicalism has ZERO credibility as a moral movement anymore. Wayne Grudem's recent article about The Very Angry Trumperpillar being a "morally good choice" really made it clear. Per what you said, sadly, I'm not sure the GOP necessarily needs tribalism and fear to "keep evangelicals in line" - at this point, evangelicals would self-generate those things and keep the themselves in line without the GOP's intervention. I can't respect, on the macro level, a group that so blindly follows an obvious demagogue while loudly proclaiming themselves the most moral people in the room.

    Also, it's fitting you should mention the Trojan Rabbit, because you could easily substitute the Frenchmen from that movie for Donald Trump and not really be able to tell the difference…

    1. Yeah, if Evangelicalism hadn't already lost all moral credibility, the Wayne Grudem article would have destroyed it.

      Speaking of "male" and "female" traits, my wife and I took a bunch of tests as part of our premarital counseling with a licensed professional. (Much better than the religious counseling we endured from the friend who officiated our wedding.)

      I consistently tested out as about 50/50 male female personality traits, while my wife tested 90/10 male. This has been a consistent result every time we have tested (informally) since. Despite the fact that I am a Kinsey zero, I was mistaken for gay quite a few times over the years. (The most hilarious was when a heterosexual friend and I took a hiking trip with my kids, and he brought his wife's Twilight messenger bag. We overheard a few conversations about us...)

      So, I too know a bit about not fitting the stereotype.

  2. I've been told before that I think like a dude--meant as a compliment apparently, "male" here being a stand-in for "logical"--and also that bringing my heels down with force while striding around in boots was masculine. I'm about as cisfemale as you get, looks-wise--I will never be taken for a man, yet people felt those two things had to be policed. People be crazy.

    I haven't been able to work out a clear theory of why, though. (I mean apart from the fact that it's nice to invent a heirarchy and put yourself at the top by divine right of testicles. Then someone jumping up the heirarchy--transmen-- or heavens, DOWN--transwomen--is really disturbing because the emperor is shown to be naked.)

    I do sometimes think about something I noticed in college where I had some classmates who vehemently disagreed with, for example, Freudian psychology, and had a moral struggle with answering test questions. They thought that by answering correctly they'd be affirming the theory, which they weren't. The questions weren't phrased that way. But I couldn't get them to see that you can KNOW all about Freud and discuss him intelligently without remotely agreeing with him.

    I think some people can't observe someone doing a thing without feeling like observation means affirmation unless they object. This is why you get people willing to confront strangers, who were not bothering them, over stupid things like haircuts (I *think*). As for WHY they feel this way, all I can come up with is an incredibly weak core of selfhood. (Which makes them good targets for con men, incidentally.) It's as though they believe they can become gay accidentally? By seeing too many gay sights?

    The more sinister reason would be a sort of narcissism, where I assume that everything I notice is done AT me. (You, total stranger, wore pink hair today on purpose to insult me!) Come to think of it I'm not sure the two are mutually exclusive.

    1. I think it goes back to the fear of divine smiting. Since the US is the new Israel - God's chosen people - any time anyone else does something God doesn't like, His wrath turns on us, unless we were fighting against it as viciously as possible.

      Just one of the ways the American church prefers the OT perspective to the NT.

    2. "I think some people can't observe someone doing a thing without feeling like observation means affirmation unless they object."

      This is probably also why you get Perfect Holy Protagonists and really lame villains (like murderous pillaging pirates who never swear or drink) in Christian fiction, because if you write a character doing something, it must automatically mean you agree with their actions.

    3. Made me laugh with that one. I guess I didn't read enough Christian fiction to notice. Except for kids books, where the villains swear in punctuation in secular books too...

    4. Heard about it more from other people than I read it myself. Though I think Elsie Dinsmore might just be the ultimate Perfect Holy Protagonist. That I did read (as an adult), after hearing about maddening she was. Nothing like an entire subculture built around "children obey your parents" singing the praises of a prissy, self-righteous 8yo who goes around scolding all the adults for desecrating the Sabbath. And, bonus points - also features a black "mammy" stereotype character who literally says Jesus will make her white in heaven!

      In fairness, even most Christian authors (in the "Christian fiction" sense, not an author who is Christian and also an author, like L'Engle or Chesterton) do seem to understand that the principle of "character actions imply endorsement" can't possibly apply to villains - though in my experience, they'll still flinch from really, honestly portraying evil. Add into this the verse that's interpreted to mean no sex ever (about not speaking about what the disobedient do in secret - more bonus points, it also bans real sex ed!), and don't expect an honest look at something like slavery in a self-consciously "Christian" book. They'll have a slave get whipped, sure, but no mention of anything like, oh, the rampant sexual abuse of both women and men that would (and did) inevitably occur.

      So, long story short, not sure why "character actions imply endorsement" can apply to villains but not protagonists.

    5. I had to read lots of Christian fiction growing up (presents). I remember one where an 1860s lady doctor (edgy) nearly shot herself rather than be captured by a wicked Indian. Even at age thirteen this seemed dumb. I mean, you can *survive* capture, you know? (Book was written in the 1990s. At least the Dinsmore books have the excuse of "lots of people were writing drivel then".)

    6. Well, that goes back to the long-standing assumption that rape is "a fate worse than death." It is reflected in laws (fortunately no longer in effect in the Western world) that a woman must fight to the death, or it wasn't "real" rape.

      Because, obviously, a woman without her "honor," aka her virginity, is worthless and might as well be dead.

    7. By the standards of "Christian fiction," even Chesterton, Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would be too worldly!

    8. Tim, yes, when I got older I slowly realized that was what it meant. (Possibly because the gun she almost used was given to her *by the legit "godly" love interest*, if it wasn't already horrid enough.) I want to meet the (male) author one of these days and hit him over the head with a copy of Jaycee Duggard's memoir.

  3. More on topic, I think we are witnessing the death throes of a power structure, and that's why it's so vicious. On at least a subconscious level I think many of the Doomsayers have to know they are losing their following/power, and they are panicking (often to devastating effect, as they make backside-showing errors and, by doubling down, force people to leave them who might otherwise never have awakened). At least I hope they are losing power. This particular noxious cult of sex has held sway long enough.

    1. And I should clarify--Doomsayers = people like Dobson. I was so angry when he endorsed Trump in blatant contradiction to decades of his own teaching. That man's blathering about "secular musicians and their ungodly lifestyles" was the curse of my youth. (I may have yelled "LIFESTYLE!" at the computer screen. )

    2. I agree. I think that at least here in the US, we are on the cusp of some huge shifts - not least of which is in the issue of white dominance by the way - and the older generation is just screaming and kicking.

      I think part of the problem is that they have to maintain such huge levels of cognitive dissonance and denial as to the facts.

      Just one example, after decades of teaching that crime was going to skyrocket as (fill in the blank with your favorite cultural panic), it has gone down dramatically both over history, over the last 100 years, and even over the last 20.

      Or, that gay marriage hasn't in fact resulted in mass child molestation.

      Or that Feminism hasn't resulted in increased domestic violence.

      Thus, they keep clinging to the idea that crime is up, sex crimes are up, violence is up. Because to admit otherwise would be to admit they were wrong.

    3. Right--and to admit that sex crimes, for example, are down at the same time that we have language to describe them and a social expectation that *perps* should be punished, not victims, makes it uncomfortably clear that the 1950s or 1850s were not shining, violence-and-crime-free eras of godliness. They were just times when elites (whether male, white, landowners, or the trifecta) could get away with more.

      It will be interesting to watch what happens.

  4. Thanks for this series and all the research you do. You have one of the most intellectual blogs I read; it shows in most of your commentors. So I thank them for their thoughtful interactions!

    I think you've caught on larger issues about identity and expression, roles and traits, change and tradition-- all of these especially in relationship to sex, gender, and sexuality. This may be a factor in why the playboy bunny who posted shaming pics of another woman has yet to face any legal repercussions. Fat shaming is a national hobby, but there's more. People can problematize her being a Bunny, certainly. Yet her livelihood and access to a larger public audience comes from her sexually objectifying herself for the pleasure of a basically male audience. Her work may be bad (to some), but by doing what she does, she has situated herself as a woman who functions for the pleasure of men. Sure, she's upsetting the apple cart by being sexual, but her sexuality exists to serve men. Many Right Wingers will flap their hands about nudies and sex. But she isn't working mother with a job that takes her away from her children. She isn't a wife with an income that could rival her husband's and grant her some independence. Her success depends on how men respond to her and whether or not they like her.

    1. Cont.
      In relation to your comments that anti-LGBTQ policies/ideation are linked to anti-feminism/ opposition to women making gains in any number of public spaces, may I submit a personal story? I'm a college instructor, and in a recent Intro to Gender Studies class, one of my students mentioned an example of sexual policing in her life. She wanted to compete in a very prestigious competition, one in which the winner was a spokesperson for the state at national events and also an ambassador for youth, to get people to take lessons, join clubs, etc. So not only was there a performance portion (several, even) there were interviews, essays, and a Q-n-A portion to the contest. She was disqualified at round 1 when the judges determined that she, as a single mother, could not be a respectable representative for the state. This was before she took my class, and she brought it up when we were talking about the treatment of single mothers. I was curious about how the competition might deal with single fathers, so I decided to check into that. I called the organization that ran the contest, under the guise of being an instructor. I mentioned that I'd heard that single mothers were disqualified. The woman I spoke to confirmed that. There was a rule unwed mothers were unsuitable. In general, they typically had a rule that they couldn't even apply. She said, recently, the woman who made the entry form/ brochure forgot to cut and paste that rule in, so they had to let single mothers through to the first round at least, and then eliminate them from the competition. So I said that I was calling because I had a potential male competitor who was a single father. Would he be disqualified? She could not understand that there could be a single father. I basically created a guy who could be interested in this competition based on this student's story and a few other male students I've had (not necessarily dancers, but unwed fathers sharing custody and parenting). Outline of convo after she expressed disbelief at the entire concept of a single father (she asked if the mother died in labor-- was that why he was a single father?):

      Me: well, he had sex with a woman, and she got pregnant. She had the baby, and now he has a child, so he's a father. They aren't married so he's a single father.
      Dance lady: But does he have the baby?
      Me: They share custody, if that's what you mean.
      Dance lady: She's alive?
      Me: Yes. they are raising their son together.
      Dance lady: So they got married?
      Me: No. They aren't married and they don't live together. They live close and share parenting and responsibilities.
      Dance lady: The baby lives with him?
      Me: No. He lives with his mother.
      Dance lady: How is he a single father?
      Me: Well, he has a kid and he isn't married. Having a kid and not being married is basically what people mean when they say someone is a single parent.
      There's more, but basically it all boiled down to that they'd never really thought about guys because, as she said, males don't have babies. I didn't think the whole trans/cis issue was going to be anything more than the head-bang I was already in, so I let that go. But when I tried to discuss single fathers and active parenting... she just shut down. There was nothing in her to contemplate-- or try to-- that a man took an active role in rearing his children, especially one not married. Eventually she had to admit they had no policy about single fathers because they HAD NEVER REALLY CONSIDERED THEY EXIST. I guess those women having kids out of wedlock are modern day Marys, bringing forth the fruit of immaculate conceptions.

    2. Cont. 2
      My take-away:

      Policies about single parenting really only work to marginalize, punish, and/or exclude single mothers. There is basically no attention to single fathers. And in the rare case that someone is willing to kinda sorta contemplate they exist, it is only because a tragedy left them without the child's mother.

      2- This is a horrible impression of men/fathers. This view sees men as being invested in and responsible for their kids in marriage only. As if a man can only want a relationship with his kids in marriage or because of tragedy. Or somehow a state-authorized document and ceremony will make someone care. If the issue really was that single parents posed some kind of concern to act as an ambassador, they would've thought at some point about the males as well. That they didn't speaks volumes. What also spoke volumes is that when faced with an active father in a non-marital relationship they had no clue how to respond. Does this come back to "paternity fear" or fear of women who have sex on their own terms?

    3. What an outstanding comment. I wholeheartedly agree about the sexism of the whole thing.

      Part of my legal practice is family law (divorces, custody, etc.) and everyone who works in that field knows that there are many, many "single fathers" both in the sense that you describe them - and also in the sense of those raising kids as primary custodians. The reasons are many: drug or alcohol abuse, abandonment by the mother, mental illness, father was primary caretaker before breakup, teens want to live with dad, etc. In other words, the same reasons that women become single mothers.

      And yes, men invest in their kids - more than ever these days in my experience - whether or not there was a marriage. In fact, I find more men are devastated by the diminished contact with their children when mom gets primary custody than they do about the child support.

      Let me just add one story from a case (not mine) that I saw in court a few years back. This was a "Dependency" case, where children are removed from the home because of neglect or abuse.

      There was this young man - probably mid-20s - who was in court. His ex-girlfriend and mother of his kid, had lost custody and was incarcerated. He stepped up to take his child. But there was more: his ex had an infant with another man. Since the other baby-daddy was also incarcerated, the baby needed a home. This young man gladly took custody of the infant as well.

      Anyway, thanks for your comments, which are a necessary part of this conversation within the Faith.

    4. I remember a couple of years ago, when MLB changed their policies regarding players who took time off for the birth of their child. Many sports announcers and other pundits applauded the change and the initial group of players who used it, even during opening week. But there were even more, including Boomer Esiason, who ridiculed the players who took time off. Esiason had some particularly horrible things to say, like that if it was so important for the players (either because they wanted to or he more insinuated that the players only wanted to be there because they were "whipped") to be there that they should have had the woman schedule an induction or a C-section before game day.

      And despite the amazing number of signs and indicators from around the country that more and more fathers want to be engaged collaborative parents, there are still so many people that act and talk as if this desire isn't real, that it is just a sign of the "wussification" of American men to feminism. I just saw on another blog someone posting comments that men are biologically wired to want to impregnate lots and lots of women and so they only see sex as a "now" thing to get their semen out to fertilize many many fields, implying that it isn't natural for men to comment to (a) a single relationship and (b) whatever children they end up fathering. I'm still trying to process this guy's comments, but hoonestly, comments like that make it harder for men seeking more contact with their kids or custody to be taken seriously and seen as genuinely wanting to maintain their relationships with their children and not be viewed more as trying to screw over/ hurt their exes.

    5. Great point about the sports world and the (changing) reaction to paternity leave. It's a great example of how things are changing for the better. Esiason (dude, don't embarrass UCLA for us fans!) is definitely in the minority now for sports media from ESPN on down.

      As for the way men are supposedly "wired," just gah! It is so frustrating to men like me to hear that bullshit. I actually like monogamy, thank you very much! And I am the more nurturing parent in my marriage (as my wife readily admits) and will definitely be the one to mourn the empty nest some day. (No diss on my wife, who is a great mother, either. I'm just the "girl" in the relationship, clearly "pussified" as Mark Driscoll would put it. Sorry, just a guy who loves his wife and kids - it was always my dream life. :)