Thursday, March 19, 2015

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Most Men with Homosexual Tendencies Enjoy Denigrating and Ridiculing Women"

Two days ago, I noted,

Comments threads at Catholic blog sites are, to put the point bluntly, all too often used to attack LGBT people and fellow Catholics who are LGBT. Under the guise of "discussing" the issue of homosexuality and the church, some users who delight in trying to inflict wounds on members of the gay community hammer home over and over and over rhetorical points that are full of disinformation or even outright lies about those who are gay.

And then I went on to say, 

Their clear goal in using comments threads at Catholic blog sites in this way is precisely to do harm to LGBT people by spreading lies and disinformation about them, and by giving the impression that the Catholic approach to LGBT people can be summed up under the rubrics of condemnation and exclusion. An example of what I mean by disinformation: at least one of those commenting in the MHR threads before they were closed insinuated that gay men hate women. 
The poster making that insinuation has made it repeatedly at Catholic blog sites (using different usernames) for several years now. Part of her bitterly anti-gay agenda is to drive a wedge between Catholic women, including progressive or liberal ones, and the gay community — a community she characterizes, typically, as affluent, male, and white, totally overlooking the fact that the gay community is comprised of people from all socioeconomic levels, of males and females, of people of color and white people, of people in urban and rural places, in bicoastal elite enclaves and in the heartland, etc. 

And right on cue, as if to drive my point home this morning and prove it, here's the poster about whom I was writing when I made those observations, one Purgatrix Ineptiae, responding to an article by Jamie Manson at National Catholic Reporter which notes that "there are good reasons why it is harder to find lesbians within Catholic churches" — namely, "lesbians are twice-stricken by the church's teaching on gender complementarity," both as gay and as female.

Purgatrix Ineptiae's response begins by stating that she disagrees with Jamie Manson that lesbians are absenting themselves from Catholic communities due to church teachings about sexual morality and the place of women in the world. And then she goes on to state, 

[M]ost men with homosexual tendencies enjoy denigrating and ridiculing women.

There you have it in a nutshell, just as I sketched it for you two days ago. Gay-affirming Catholic parishes are, Ms. Ineptiae proclaims, dominated by a "(mainly rich, white, young) 'gay' demographic" that is largely male, since lesbians tend to be less affluent than gay men are. Priests (hint: gay) collude in the misogyny of these rich white young gay men, and so, of course, lesbians will avoid parishes of this sort. 

In contrast to Ms. Ineptiae, Jamie Manson is working towards the including of LGBT people in the Catholic church, and to that end, she notes that the new documentary film "Owning Our Faith" is a step in the right direction, a step towards such inclusion. As she recommends this film, she also critiques its lack of attention to lesbians in the Catholic community — and I welcome this critique and support Jamie Manson in making it. 

It needs to be made, and there needs to be serious discussion within the Catholic gay community of taken-for-granted assumptions about the roles of men and women that permit gay women to be marginalized by gay men. Movements working for inclusion undercut themselves when they  depend on unexamined mechanisms of exclusion with the movement itself.

None of this is Purgatrix Ineptiae's goal, of course, and this is why she prefaces her gay-male-bashing commentary, which depends on pure fabrication, pure making it up out of her malicious head as she goes along, with a declaration that she disagrees with Jamie Manson's analysis. She disagrees, in other words, with the insights of a lesbian Catholic whose life experience and scholarship have led her to see that lesbians are doubly disadvantaged within the Catholic tradition by the magisterial teaching's attack on gay people in general and by women in particular.

As a heterosexual Catholic woman, Ms. Ineptiae wants to uphold the teachings that attack gay people, while discounting the teachings that attack women. In other words, she wants to assert her privilege as a heterosexual over all Catholics, whether lesbians or gay men, who happen to be born gay, as she asserts that magisterial teaching about homosexuality is unquestionable, even while she questions magisterial teaching about the place of women in church and society!

And to pursue her goal of gay-bashing, she wants to play gay men and gay women against each other in a way that is entirely antithetical to Jamie Manson's goal of building an inclusive coalition that refashions how the church deals with questions of both sexual orientation and gender. To carry out her malicious attacks on the gay community in the name of Catholic teaching Purgatrix Ineptiae continues to use the comboxes at Catholic blog sites to spread toxic disinformation about that community — notably, the claim that all gay men are rich misogynists.

As Ben Francisco Maulbeck reported in 2013, a study done in that year by Williams Institute in collaboration with Gallup, using census data, finds that "LGBT people are poorer than the population at large," and, though there's a gender gap in the LGBT community when it comes to household earning, just as there's a gender gap in society at large in this area, "gay men in couples have lower individual incomes than do men in straight couples."

As Leah has pointed out in comments here, the Williams-Gallup study (and here) also finds that "nonwhites are more likely than white segments of the U.S. population to identify as LGBT." That is, the proportion (measured against the total of members of the community) of non-white citizens who are willing to state that they are LGBT is higher in the non-white part of the U.S. population than in the white part. It is a stereotype — and, in the face of abundant evidence known to disprove this stereotype, a vicious one — to maintain that the gay community is composed largely of rich white males. 

As the Williams-Gallup report notes, a considerable body of research finds that "LGBT people are at a higher risk of poverty" than is the rest of the population, and "same-sex couples are less likely than different-sex couples to have both spouses or partners covered by health insurance (76.5 v. 84%, respectively) and twice as likely to have only one spouse or partner insured (17% v. 8%, respectively)." The Williams-Gallup report predates the implementation of the Affordable Care Act; I'd hope that, as in my own case, more LGBT couples now have access to healthcare coverage for both partners due to the ACA.

As Maulbeck concludes, "The most pernicious thing about the gay-wealthy stereotype is that it has been used for decades to rationalize the systematic marginalization of LGBT people." In fact, it was used in precisely that way by Chief Justice Roberts in Supreme Court hearings about the Defense of Marriage Act, as Roberts asked leading questions which implied that LGBT citizens deserve no "special" protection in federal law because they constitute a wealthy and powerful lobby.

The comboxes of Catholic blog sites are being abused when they're used by Catholics with an animus against their LGBT brothers and sisters to spread disinformation and toxic stereotypes about those brothers and sisters. I would hope that no Catholic site would permit someone to log in and write, "You know, the Jews, who control the international banking system and Hollywood, kill Christian babies during Passover and mix their blood with the Passover bread."

Maybe — and I hope this day is not far down the road — it will one day be equally impossible at Catholic blog sites for people (in the case of Ms. Ineptiae, a woman with a Ph.D. who surely knows better) to log in and casually state that most gay folks are rich white men, that gay men hate women, and that a gay-inclining priesthood encourages gay men in misogyny. None of these poison pills move the Catholic conversation about these issues in a gospel direction. Nor are they designed to do so.

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