Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Talking Welcome and Mercy, Acting the Opposite: A Footnote to My Previous Posting

A quick footnote to what I posted earlier today: after I posted about the comments responding to Tom Fox's series of articles at National Catholic Reporter about Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco, NCR closed its comments threads following Fox's articles, with the following note:

It is with deep regret that we have decided to end commenting on this series of stories. We gave a fair hearing to those who object or question aspects of this story, but too often, the same few points were being raised multiple times, which is against our user guidelines and was disrespectful to some of the people portrayed in the article. We encourage respectful discussion in our comments threads but reserve the right to close them when discussion is no longer productive, which has happened in this case.

Comments remain open following the Dan Morris-Young article about Archbishop Cordileone that I also mentioned in my previous posting. 

I'm grateful to NCR for closing the other threads, and I take their point about the constant repetition of the same few points, and also about the lack of respect for people in MHR parish implied by many of the negative comments. 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.

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. 

I haven't ever quite figured out why a considerable proportion of progressive-liberal Catholic women buy into this anti-gay-male analysis, but it's clear to me that they do so. They attribute the misogyny of the hierarchy to the fact that many bishops and priests are closeted gay men, with no recognition at all that the very same men in the Catholic hierarchy who attack women because, or so we're told, they're gay, also viciously attack the gay community.

The recent remarks by Patricia Arquette and Madonna that play the gay community (especially gay men) against women and women's rights (I discussed this here) show me that there's still a great deal or work to do to counter longstanding stereotypes that gay men hate women. Ultimately, both Arquette and Madonna are trading on that stereotype, whether they intend to do so or not. 

Both also seem completely unaware that the rights of LGBT citizens are under severe attack outside the bubble of elite affluent cultural enclaves on both coasts of the U.S., and that their claim that gay people have made it and have turned their backs on women's rights plays right into the hands of those now trying in every way possible to remove rights from gay folks in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Indiana, and on and on.

I have to say, I just don't get the political dysfunctionality of those who play the rights of one marginalized group against the rights of another marginalized group in this way. In the case of the gay community and women, it's painfully obvious to me that this tactic plays right into the hands of those who want to attack the rights of both gay folks and women, and that any success either community can possibly have in sustaining these attacks depends on their willingness to work together.

As I have often noted on this blog, I've witnessed misogyny and racism in the gay community — especially among affluent gay white males — and I find it reprehensible. I challenge both when I encounter them in the gay community, and I intend to keep doing so.

At the same time, I'm critically aware that more than three-quarters of LGBT citizens voted Democratic in the 2012 presidential elections, while the male vote for the Republicans was 54% and the white male vote was 62%. I wouldn't conclude that, in voting Democratic, all those LGBT voters were voting primarily or exclusively in support of women's rights. At the same time, I'd point out that they were voting for an agenda that included strong support for women's rights, and many indicators suggest to me that the pro-Democratic vote of many LGBT voters both male and female has a great deal to do with the Democratic party's support for the rights of both gay people and women.

This is in contrast to the votes of men in general and white males in particular — who, it would seem to me, are the group with whom American women need to contend  if they want to claim rights. Gays, including gay men, are not the group to attack or blame, when women's rights are the issue — or so it seems to me. The gender gap in the 2012 elections was the largest since Gallup began tracking that metric in the 1952. 

The problem women face in securing rights in the U.S.? Men. Not the gays, including gay men.

I'd go a step further and point out that 53% of white women voted Republican in the 2012 presidential elections. And so I wonder why Patricia Arquette and Madonna aren't focusing on that group, a group to which they both belong, as a major part of the problem to be overcome by women seeking rights in the U.S., rather than on gay folks and black folks. And why all the Catholic progressives and liberals who want to play women against gay folks in order to attack the latter, but who claim to support the rights of women, are not looking at these data about the real challenge women face in claiming rights in the U.S.

But they wouldn't, would they? They wouldn't look at these voting trends as the problem that needs to be faced by Catholic women seeking rights? Not when they themselves are voting Republican — they wouldn't look at these voting patterns in that case, would they?

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