The C Word: Part 1

This is the first part of a three-part series on the nature of consent.

In fundamentalist religious circles, much has been made of the idea that acceptance of consent as a positive standard for sex will lead to the crumbling of the moral foundations of society. This is often tied to the idea that some LGBTQ people are supposedly trying to undermine marriage by defining marriage as a loving, committed relationship between two consenting adults while rejecting the more traditional* view of marriage as only being a loving, committed relationship between a cisgender man and cisgender woman.

The idea is that consent is a low moral standard for sex, and to set consent as the universal standard would be to regress to a lesser state of morality. But the truth is, if a C for consent is considered a passing grade, the sexual mores of many cultures and nations would receive an F.

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“I Don’t Want to be a Cultural Lesbian”

By Kate Kane

“You know,” my friend continued. “I’m not talking about actual lesbians, but women who are focused on their careers and not on their homes.”

I don’t remember what I mumbled in response. I love my friend dearly and she’s actually fairly progressive compared to many of the friends I grew up with, and I didn’t want to lash out at her for what I’m sure she considered a harmless, offhand statement.

I also remember when I said similar things. I remember that sense of pride in connecting the dots, in pulling everything together. I feel a vague sense of guilt in being angry at my friend for believing what I myself believed for years.

“Christians have accepted feminists’ moderate demands for family planning and careers while rejecting the radical side of feminism — meaning lesbianism and abortion. What most do not see is that one demand leads to the other,” Mary Pride wrote.

I sometimes visualize fundamentalist Christians as being on a rapidly eroding island. They crowd toward the center of the island, viewing even the edge of the island with suspicion, since the edge of the island touches the ocean. In their paranoid obsession with avoiding death by drowning, they continue to whittle away at the edges of the island, until they literally cannot move one step without falling off the island.

These Christians view homosexuality (many boil the entire queer spectrum down to this one word) as being part of the same ocean that includes dysfunctional behaviors such as bestiality and pedophilia. A few of these Christians dare to stand on the edge, by calling themselves feminist or egalitarian. But not for long. The edge of the island leads to the ocean, so let’s remove the edge of the island. But what then becomes the new edge of the island? If being a feminist makes you a lesbian, what about the things that make you a feminist? It must be all that education. Education for women — who needs it? Let’s just keep them at home until they get married and switch to a new home.

I wish I could say this was just extreme rhetoric on my part, but I have observed this mentality on many occasions — mothers and daughters in fundamentalist, patriarchal families that do not even dare to go to the grocery store without their husband, father, or brother accompanying them, lest they fall into temptation and corruption on a brief trek to the dairy aisle.

Don’t be fooled. These sorts of fundamentalist Christians won’t be satisfied with leaving us queers to drown. Even if they get their way in that battle, they’ll just redraw the line at a new place, excluding more and more of those who do not conform to their rigid definitions of an acceptable lifestyle.