Thursday, August 30, 2012

8/30 - One Letter Only

As the Prudecutor finally addressed the main point of Homocentric August directly (while both revealingly and badly), it seems fitting to close off the month by looking exclusive at L3, in her response to which the Prudecutor cannot make herself more clear. The opening sentence shimmers with unPrudecutorlike brevity and lack of equivocation - "Invite him." Now, perhaps this may surprise some readers, but my response is not going to be an instantaneous, "Don't invite him." A kneejerk call in either direction is automatically wrong in approach, even if it turns out to be the stopped clock in this particular direction.

I shall begin by parsing the Prudecutor's reply. I don't know where she gets the idea that she is agreeing with LW3 about the world changing, as LW3 never said any such thing. Conflating living openly and entering marriages suggests a simultaneity that does not exist, probably for some nefarious purpose. The article to which she linked was quite weak. At the very least, President Obama ended up, deliberately or otherwise, hiding behind the most politically palatable reason for his change of heart, his daughters. Actual gay people entering actual social institutions had nothing to do with it; his daughters have friends with same-sex-couple parents. It is possible to view his support as indirectly insulting. I do not share such a view, but can see how some people conclude much similar support to be based on the idea that, because Queers Are Raising Kids (clutch pearls!), they had better be made as assimilated and normal-looking as possible - a sort of twist on Miss Barrett in Up the Down Staircase summing up her student Linda Rosen for the school psychologist with, "Marry her off quick."

Saving the Prudecutor's speculation on motive for another paragraph, and her assumption about the meaning of BU3's accepting such an invitation for another, I shall jump ahead. There is something missing from the Prudecutor's response. If I were in true Conspiracy Theorist Mode, I might speculate both that this was indicative of something sinister in the Prudecutor's mentality and something that (almost) none of the straight commenters would catch. But I am not in such mode. I shall even go so far as to pay my readers the compliment that doubtless they all caught the glaring omission of the Standard Meaningless Prudecutorial Congratulations And Best Wishes bestowed upon any couple on the point of marrying or family-expanding.

Moving on to motive, the Prudecutor is quite right to point out that there could have been various reasons for BU3's vote. True, some votes against marriage equality are based on genuine opposition, while others are based on political expediency. The Prudecutor appears to feel that a vote based on political expediency means that said voter should get a free pardon in such matters as social invitations, but is a bit too much of a weasel to state such a thing explicitly. Here she lines up squarely in the same camp as Karl Rove (according to Andrew Sullivan). Circa late 2004, Mr Rove patronized a barbershop with a predominantly gay clientele. Apparently, relations were at least reasonably civil all round. Then Mr Bush was re-elected, largely due to Mr Rove's pushing for much of the re-election campaign to be tied to the backs of anti-gay ballot measures. When Mr Rove next appeared to have his hair cut, he was reportedly stunned by the unfriendly treatment he encountered. Why should anyone have taken offence when there was nothing personal about anything he'd done?

I take similar interest in the Prudecutor's presumption about the meaning of BU3's possible acceptance of the putative invitation. It would show that he's open to admitting he was wrong? That might coincide, but A would not necessarily imply B. And this leads me to an interesting view of Who Really Benefits from the system the Prudecutor recommends. I do think, by the way, that BU3 could have voted for the ban in a way that made his personal dissent clear, although in such a case think it highly unlikely that LW3 would at present be experiencing such angst.

LW3 mentions a fear of offending other family members if BU3 is not invited. Presumably, then, EF3 have brought pressure to bear on LW3 not to make waves or not to have any visceral reaction to BU3's objectionable vote in company. Flipping the coin, one deduces similar pressure on BU3 not to make too great a display of prejudice in public. And the same familial forces that would be offended if LW3 were to withhold the invitation would presumably be equally offended if BU3 were to decline it. What, then, becomes the picture? LW3 grits teeth and invites; BU3 grits teeth and accepts. Neither wants to be in company with the other and it spoils the day, but both capitulate to keep the Tyrannous Middle happy. It's quite reminiscent of Tom's account in Daria of how the Sloanes always handle problems by pretending they don't exist, which is inconvenient when there are odours involved.

Now for some points about which L3 is unclear. BU3 served as an elected official. Presumably he is out of office at present. When, oh, when, did the vote occur? What were the political consequences and follow-up? How has BU3 addressed the matter within the family, if at all? I suspect that he has not had to address the issue within the family, and that perhaps there has been considerable pressure exerted on him to avoid doing so. Or perhaps he has been able to skate along in the presumption that of course his entire family agrees with him. Oh, dear. Has LW3 had any contact with BU3 about the nauseating vote? Has BU3 met LW3 and F3 as a couple? Perhaps most importantly, has BU3 apologized in any way, shape or form?

I shall now jump ahead a bit and propose a solution. I suggest that LW3 contact BU3 privately - assuming, of course, that the date retains some wiggle room. LW3's tone should be one of presuming and completely accepting that BU3 doesn't want to attend the wedding any more than LW3 wants to invite him. The contact should be an offer to conspire to hold the wedding on a date on which BU3 could not possibly attend. Then nobody has to confront the Tyrannous Middle.

In one respect, the Tyrannous Middle subconsciously play into the hands of the Bigots. It is not often stated, but I am convinced that the TM, as does the Prudecutor herself, is quite attached to the Gay Doormat, who will always Be the Bigger Person, Turn the Other Cheek, and Accept Hateful Behaviour in exchange for the few Crumbs of Approval the TM deign to provide. If BU3 has not apologized, then one of the main signals sent by Just Inviting Him thoughtlessly because it's the Thing to Do is that Bigots Can Mistreat Queers as badly as they like and still be invited to their weddings. For a prime example of this, Mr Savage was recently so foolish as to invite one of the main bigots, Mr Brown, into his own home for dinner and a Biblical debate that 95 people out of a hundred could have predicted would come to no gain for either side. Mr Savage was sufficiently deluded to think that such a gesture would force Mr Brown to acknowledge his humanity. Mr Brown has not done so. Huge net loss for us across the board, as now our homophobic relatives will feel entitled to similar treatment. After all, if the Head F***** can do it...

I can almost feel wave after wave of commentator glaring at me for daring to think that issuing the invitation might not necessarily automatically be Best. Let me guess. Almost all of the Just Invite Him crowd are straight, straight, straightstraightSTRAIGHT. Well, isn't that special, as Church Lady would say, without a question mark. The Prudecutor did, to her credit, manage to avoid the common pitfall of making a comparison between BU3 and that irritating relative that opposite-sex couples only invite out of obligation. While there is much that L3 did not include, we do know in part from such a system of omission that LW3 feels deeply wounded by BU3's vote. And I sincerely doubt anyone in the Just Invite Him crowd has experienced anything like what LW3 has experienced in the form of a potential guest actually casting a vote on record in opposition to the very possibility of the marriage. Even if the invitations to the wedding took on a remarkable similarity to everybody in the class giving a Valentine to everyone else except Charlie Brown, LW3 would be entirely justified in taking that vote as a complete dealbreaker.

I shall close with disappointment that certain family members will be offended if the invitation is not issued. Offended? Offended is what LW3 has every right to be by that disgusting Amendment, in addition to the conduct of BU3 in voting for it. If that's the dealbreaker, so be it; there shall be no reproach from me. If not, and LW3 can invite BU3 with peace and joy at heart, then fine, though I still hope something prevents BU3's actual attendance.

The Prudecutor should be ashamed of herself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

8/23 - Would That Be Phobic?

Dear LW4: W4 presumably has some sort of phobia, but it would not be phobic of you to divorce her. People might find such tricks charming or cute or harmless. Really, it manifests a mental attitude that is little short of the mindset of the Queen of Hearts when one thinks about it. If you don't divorce W4, who has shown such a demonstrable phobia for accuracy, at least be sure that you negotiate a similar concession (though likely you already have one and just don't recognize it).

Dear LW1: We are all capable of loving things which ought not to form part of our daily surroundings, be those things children or ice cream or maddeningly attractive serial cheaters. You are to be commended for appreciating that your style of life would not create a suitable atmosphere for a child. Accepting this is not demonstrating a phobia of disorders, but rather humane attitudes about acceptable home environments. But this is not necessarily all bad. It gives you one of the best of goals to motivate your desire to change. Change is difficult, often unpleasant, and generally not really something towards which those who may know they must change without feeling it are able to work with an undivided will. You may well find out the full extent of how capable you are of abandoning your routine, which could be information of great use to you.

Oh - and don't foster, either. I could add, be thankful that you aren't a heterosexual couple, as they just tend to get pregnant often when they are actively trying to avoid doing so, but some people would consider that heterophobic, and therefore I won't.

Dear LW2: Welcome to dealbreakers 101! The odds are that whatever D2 has done might not rise to standards sufficient for declining the stipend. But these are matters which each must decide for himself. There are those who might accept (however cringingly) a Trump Fellowship who might draw the line at some other public figure considered more reprehensible, and others who would decline an offer from a less nauseating source.

But I am almost inclined to emulate Antony Blanche in speculating about the crimes D2 has committed, as you seem to be reacting the same way most of fashionable Venice did when Lady Marchmain's presence led to the shunning of Lord Marchmain and all those connected to him. Visions of murder, rape or heterosexuality might arise. (I shall resist the temptation to cite the stereotype that heterosexuals never fund fellowships because they waste all their cash on abortions or the upbringing of the results of all their unplanned pregnancies, as that would be rather heterophobic.) Now heterophobia might likely cause your declining the offer, but would not necessarily coincide with it. But it is just as legitimate for you to claim to have accepted for Macchiavellian reasons.

To be practical, there ought to be a Moral Fellowship Swap, where people who have been offered fellowships from objectionable sources can swap the moral intentions of their donors.

Dear LW3: Here we have another case for Lucy Angkatell. If T3 were male, you would have no compunction about reporting to the appropriate authorities that he'd indulged in predatory conduct towards F3, and quite right and proper. But T3 is female. No doubt you consider yourself a young person of character, imbued with the noble ideal of being heteroaccepting. Good for you. But you clearly fear that it would be heterophobic of you to report T3. Perhaps there would be a little pleasure in the reporting on that account, which is where Lady A comes in. As she rightly points out, it is much trickier when the right thing to do is pleasant. But, as people as well-regarded as Mr Savage tell us so often, not all heterosexuals are good people. Equality means that they are capable of beimg just as villainous as anybody else. It is not heterophobic to dish out equal punishment when they are.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

8/16 - Towards New Horizons?

Dear LW4: Yours is a tricky letter, as you really ought to be commended for going through testing before sleeping with a new partner. Please note that I avoid the biphobic trap of adding, "especially given your selection of partners of both genders". (As an aside, someone on the Prudecutorial staff did a better job than usual at suggestio falsi through suppressio veri.) The tricky part is that, as Lucy Angkatell points out in The Hollow, the answer appears to be a self-serving or enjoyable suggestion. But the solution is obvious - if women won't get tested with you, then just stick to men. The world will not end if bisexual people make the conscious choice not to indulge their capacity to take pleasure from both (or all, if one goes beyond the binary) sexes. And the men you partner don't make any sort of kerfuffle when you bring up testing.

Now, to provide a more practical suggestion than the Prudecutor, who would rather berate someone for the horrible crime of having the wrong manner than make a useful suggestion - after all, why on earth would an advice columnist ever want to make an useful suggestion? If people solved all their problems, then they might never consult advice columnists any more. (That they might develop new problems seems not to have occurred to her.) The answer is unilateral disarmament. Should you insist on sleeping with women in future, then, when a relationship progresses to the point, accompany your inital suggestion with a copy of your test results. Quite naturally, your initial suggestion is intended to precede the actual first boink, as both parties should have time to consider. Any potential partner favourably inclined will then respond in kind. This may be a bit passive-aggressive, but passive-aggressive is at least an improvement over overtly aggressive.

Dear LW3: Why do people assume that they will be able to sneak around behind someone's back and get away with it? Such short-sightedness can only be a sign of desperation. If the problem is S3, it is quite possible that they have tried to raise the difficulties his condition has given them with you, only to be shot down. Or perhaps they have observed your conduct with others and made the pre-emptive decision that you wouldn't listen or understand (much as, in the specualtions of Gladys Stern, Maria and Julia Bertram likely decided well in advance that there would be no point in opening their hearts to Sir Thomas, who would in their opinions be incapable of understanding them).

But I have a little idea that goes beyond the thought of the Prudecutor and probably most of those who will comment on the situation. I note that you mention you and your children have shared a house with families. This is a most interesting point. The mere fact that you are a single mother does not make your family any less a family than those which have the good fortune to be headed by two adults (and there are those opting to treat arrangements with more than two adults as a single family unit besides). But many people feel otherwise, and will require two parents. If you are of that persuasion, I suspect that your friends are also. And there we have the rub. You mention your two friends, but not their spouses. It is highly possible that the mother who raised the ugly truth either dislikes your not being equally friendly with her wife, or suspects you, as a single interloper, of having Designs on the poor woman. Not every couple can socialize well with a single on a permanent basis - not necessarily great, but a possibility. Or perhaps there were threesome hints you missed. If your friends are also both single parents, they might be conducting a clandestine romance, and your son was the most convenient lie available. Tough on him, but another possibility.

Dear LW2: Now we may be moving towards a post-straight society. Had you not signed your letter as you did, I might never have caught on to this being an opposite-sex couple. Now, the Prudecutor almost makes an interesting suggestion here. But she forgets an important aspect of her own advice. Perhaps conservatives do care very strongly about traditional families. But, in traditional families, the Husband does deliver just as many lectures as he pleases, and the traditionally submissive Wife accepts whatever instruction he deems fit to bestow upon her, with the Children ideally following her lead in this regard.

The real answer is to give H2 what all Republicans want. This, of course, is a Divorce. In fact, his conduct is begging and pleading for it - if he at all has any clue as to the effect of his conduct. He is doing this deliberately in an attempt to induce you to divorce him. And then he gets to run for office, New Trophy Wife by his side, claiming all the while that he was the Victim in your marriage. If you are not so generous, you can refuse to perform such a kind action.

Dear LW1: Now, this is quite serious. You have discovered something you did not know aboutn your daughter, and naturally it has thrown you off a bit. But far more important than whether you warn her off the dangers of sexting (and shame on you for sexist assumptions that only one sex cannot be trusted with pictures of privities) is that you immediately go and enroll in Parents and Friends of Straights, a worthy organization that will see you all the way through your daughter's accidental but now-enforced coming out. That will prevent you from falling into such homosexist traps as calling the genitalia of the opposite sex nasty names. Do remember, however, that PFS is really just a starter organization, and not the be-all and end-all of Straight Acceptance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

8/9 - 20 Minutes

Time to set another speed record, even for Homocentric August.

Dear LW4: A golden opportunity lies before you. You have seen first hand how the system works. If you were a member of an oppressed minority, you could resolve to change the system (better from the outside than the inside; people who try to change the system from the inside are mainly Boy Scouts who end up just going on camping trips and telling themselves their minor efforts are Making All the Difference). But I see the conflict in your letter. At first you begin by acknowledging your luck. And you have had luck. But instead of channeling your anger more towards the system, you end by emphasizing your hard work (read - sense of entitlement) and fury at your friends. The Prudecutor's answer is just to continue the system as is - and why not, as it works for her? But she is all wrong, of course. Changing the system is the answer, but you have already indcated that you will (a bit like Phyllida Erskine Brown) Join the Oppressors. Adieu.

Dear LW3: As much as I want to like a woman whose daughter calls her Daddy (a clever nickname - quite out of Vonnegut in a sideways manner), this one is so easy even the Prudecutor can't boot it. Anyone who marries someone who bullies her child ought to be forced to turn heterosexual and have the child taken away from her in court.

Dear LW2: This is a fake question. I have read all about it in a book. Or, what happened might have been real, but it was cribbed from the book. A group of boys at a summer camp did this sort of thing all summer. Your son's mistake was doing this into something which would leave evidence in the event of discovery. Now, in the book, I am quite sure that it was done into a sock, which would surely never have risked expulsion from camp, unless there were a serious attempt at enforcing an explicit rule against self-pleasure - in which case, who'd have been left by the end of the first week?

But it is interesting that you and his other father have managed to rub along so well together despite your many differences over all these years. Let that serve as encouragement. Just because you didn't go to that sort of summer camp (I suppose that your husband did) does not mean that the world is ending. As this is more up your husband's line, let him advise your son on leaving no evidence. You stick to emulating Martha Stewart and making nice potpourri sachets, and the two of you can each support the other and strengthen the household in his own way.

Dear LW1: Until I saw the closing, I was puzzled. But you heterosexuals think you have all the fun, don't you? You automatically assume, just because your sex can result in pregnancy, that there is an automatic default assumption of monogamy in order to assume paternity. But just because there is an assumption in place that is not there for most of us does not free you from having The Monogamy Talk. Not that your late husband's last adventure was not wrong - though quite a lot of people will regard something that did not go beyond exchanging inquiries as actually Out of Bounds (which is why you HAVE THE TALK) - but, given conditions (and how somebody dying could actually have brought about such a tryst with a full-time caregiver is something I'd like to go into in greater detail in future) a generous heart would want to forgive someone in such a situation, especially if there HAD BEEN NO EXPLICIT AGREEMENT ON THE SUBJECT. For better or worse, you are what you are, and your instinct to punish him and his relatives for, among other things, something that might have happened as early as the first incident, shows clearly your punitive nature. With your next husband, be as explicit as if your next spouse were a wife. I do not like you enough to recommend a wife until you have at least one more husband and show you can get this right.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

8/2 That Time Again!

At long last we return to Homocentric August!

Dear LW1: On one count, I say, good for you for not yielding to pressure to conform to anti-stereotypes. Doubtless you have heard tell for decades that heterosexuals are notoriously fickle, and that, if they were ever granted the right to marry which obviously all your lovers have been, they would destroy the institution of marriage by undermining the concept of marital fidelity. Heterosexuals are entitled to the benefits of matrimony no matter how promiscuous, or, if one prefers, sexually open they are.

This stereotype is similar to the notion that all heterosexual women can't kill spiders and only like to watch Sex and the City or Real Housewives instead of some nice dykish sport. But there is one important difference. That stereotype is dissimilar to the one about heterosexuals changing partners every three minutes and having babies whose paternity must be determined by Maury Povich or Jerry Springer in that you, LW1, are playing with other people's hearts, whether they know it or not. You might be entirely magnanimous, but, for all you know, the fact remains that it is quite possible that you could cause serious harm to one of these other women just due to your own whim of the moment should it so strike you. This does not mean that you should drop your wicked ways and conform to the image of Shiny Happy Breeders that the political leaders want to put before the public thinking only that if we like you will the road to your getting your just rights be eased. But it does mean to be diligent about what you're doing before you start yo enjoy it too much for the wrong reasons.

Dear LW2: My, aren't the heteros coming out of the woodworks? But this problem fortunately has nothing to do with sexual orientation, although it might be true in some parts of the country that acceptance comes more easily for people who present themselves to best advantage. The Prudecutor, who thinks of nothing but Korporate Amerika, wants to homogenize your fiance's speech, not because it irritates you, but because how dare any good little Corporate Drone show any sign of individualism? Bad Prudecutor! But he already stands out as a breeder. The idea of both of you improving your speech is the new "let's both eat healtheir and exercise more" - condescending. You could offer to cure the fault he finds to be your equivalent - far more useful.

Now there is the stereotype that heterosexuals go to extreme lengths to hang on to their youth. Who can blame them, really? After all, it is when they are generally most fertile (as long as they are not trying to appeal to the paedophiles), and that is one of the greatest reasons advanced for people choosing the heterosexual lifestyle. In your fiance's case, he speaks like a permanent teenager instead of wearing inappropriate clothing.

I shall point out only one advantage. At least he is not spending six hours a day in the gym (and when breeders go to the gym, I am told that they actually work out the whole time, as there are no distractions unless they are co-educational) maintaining a youthful body. Think about it. But I suspect that the main thing is that you simply don't love him because of his speech. If you can't embrace his faults and find them charming, then dump yourself already.

Dear LW3: I am sorry for your addiction and hope that you have been able to get your life on track. Congratulations for setting a good example for your children. And what you ask is not unreasonable to a certain extent. Your husband's relations (and the one thing the Prudecutor got right is that H3 does seem to be waffling a bit) can reasonably be asked to understand that you were an addict and that you have made a considerable recovery.

But that is all. You can reasonably request understanding. You cannot demand forgiveness. Now, if your conduct was exemplary in the years prior to your fall, this would seem to be a point in your favour. But it could be chickens coming home to roost. There is an excellent chance that your husband's family contains one or more heterosexuals - as you can see from the other letter, they are everywhere, in even the best of families. Have you ever been even the tiniest bit heterophobic, judging those members of his family whose lifestyles didn't suit you? If so, chances are that they were just waiting for you to fall from your own state of grace. It also sounds as if you have not made truly repentant reparations for your thefts. Attend please first to that before making demands.

Dear LW4: This is a technical question. The library needs to be warned to check their stock. As for your naughty thoughts about your colleague and her student, let them lie.

We shall leave the reader to settle on a moral of his or her choice.