• From the Department of Bad Ideas: Gawker has created a Privilege Tournament in the form of an NCAA–style bracket. "Privilege has its benefits," writes creator Hamilton Nolan, "but the lack of privilege confers that sweet, sweet moral superiority." Keep it classy, Gawker. [Feministing]
• From the department of extra-bad ideas: Author and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour caused a continental stir yesterday when an interview revealed this quote: "I'm not interested in teaching books by women." He went on to say, "What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth." Roxane Gay addresses his shortsightedness with a reading list and some pointed responses. [Salon]
• Cloudy with a chance of bigots: Guido Barilla, CEO of pasta giant Barilla, declared that the brand would never advertise with images of gay families, saying "I think the family we speak to is a classic family." He walked back his remarks a bit once news of the statement sparked a Barilla boycott, but the damage seems to be done. Good news for Ronzoni! [The Guardian]
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Two years ago, on vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains, I saw a white couple at a restaurant with their Asian daughter. Though her father told her to quit staring, I felt the girl's eyes on me all through the meal. I smiled at her, feeling a strong sense of kinship, a pang of sympathy. As a child, whenever I saw another Asian person – which I hardly ever did – I used to stare, too, hungry for the sight of someone, anyone, who looked like me.
Essentially this judge, the dishonorable Charley E. Prine Jr. of Harris County, has decided that even though there is no evidence to suggest that a gay man is even statistically AS likely to molest a child, that Flowers cannot trust Evans to watch the children while he does anything. No grocery shopping, no quick run to the store, no day home sick from school. This is the undue burden that is put on queer parents, to be trapped in a situation where another human being's bigotry and ignorance is much more powerful than your life or the quality thereof. The law also allows the children to be left with persons related to their father by blood or marriage, but since Texas does not recognize Flowers and Evans' marriage, Prine has the power to bully them and rain down animus upon a group of people he doesn't like, at the same time assuring himself a long and happy career in Texas.
After a hate crime including arson, couple Carol Ann and Laura Stutte have gotten the runaround from their insurance. Join change.org in telling American National Property and Casualty to pay on the claim.
Last year, Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels got into some natalist hot water when, in an interview with Women's Health, she was quoted out of context when she said, "I'm going to adopt. I can't handle doing that to my body. Also, when you rescue something, it's like rescuing a part of yourself." As it turns out, Michaels has endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) — conditions that have already been mentioned here in the comments as a reason that some women choose not to have biological children.
MTV's been having a good summer. In part, that's because the second season of its reality series Teen Mom has been generating huge ratings for the network—it is this summer's third-most-watched original cable series in the coveted 12-34 demographic. The show, which documents the lives of four young women after they gave birth to children as teenagers, along with its sister show and predecessor 16 and Pregnant, has already generated a fair amount of cultural chatter on the question of whether the show is a valuable educational tool or just, as most seem to have concluded, regular old exploitation of the young women in question. There's something to this argument, of course. MTV's ratings success makes for a strange contrast with the fact that Teen Mom's stars have been occupying the front pages of celebrity weeklies like US complaining that they are dead broke, doesn't it?
I'm of two minds about the argument. On the one hand I certainly don't have much faith in MTV's dedication to social messaging, at least not enough to believe it extends much further than what advertisers are comfortable with. I'm not the first, for example, to point out that abortion, as an option, is not something that's seriously discussed in the context of the show. You can spin that fact as having something to do with showrunners needing to have a more extended narrative arc than, "Now I'm pregnant, now I'm not." But Teen Mom does follow one young couple, Catelynn and Tyler, after they've given their child up for adoption, so sponsor queasiness seems a more likely explanation.
Do a quick search on the Internet and you'll see that there are lots more people waiting to adopt a healthy newborn these days than there are babies out there ready to be adopted. Gone are the (ahem) "good old days" when a pregnant woman finding herself in less than optimal circumstances could be shamed, coerced or forced to give up her baby as a matter of socially accepted course (for more on THAT history, check out Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away). Access to safe, legal abortion (while awesome when it occurs) has done a real number on the adoption industry.