Thursday, May 7, 2009

Religion, Sexuality, Gender

I will be the first person to admit, that I can be to harsh on religion (ALL of them). That is something I am working on, and I take full ownership of it. But I have a hard time accepting something that intentionally excludes people and their rights. It is not because I think it is crazy to believe God created everything. Honestly, I think it is equally as crazy to believe that the universe has been around forever and nothing created it. Religion has been the biggest excuse for homophobia in the past and present. With the current battles for marriage equality, the religious right is battling hard. I recently had a couple of experience with religious memorabilia that made me think about my stand when it comes to my beliefs regarding religion and sexuality.

The first was a cute figurine I saw at an antique store in Austin:

The little girl is holding up her dress and shows that she has on shorts underneath. The script reads "Dear Lord, If you are still making little boys, can't you change me into one?"

This was a positive encounter for me. It is not often you find something that encourages breaking gender roles, especially something from the 50s (at least that is what was listed on the tag). It reminded me of the modern poem by Every Girl, Every Boy. We talked in my Human Sexuality that sexual orientation is one of the most enforced gender roles. And I thought this was a very positive idea and showing that not everybody has to conform to who they are told they are suppose to be.

The second encounter wasn't as positive. I am still on the fence about how I feel about this one. I don't know if I am having the reaction I am because of my criticism, or because this negativity actually exists in this product.

This was a shirt I saw in a Christian book store in Tennessee. Now, when I first saw it, I immediately thought of the Human Rights Campaign. When you say "There is no equal" and have a picture of an equal sign, I took great offense. I saw it as "There is no equality. Christians reign supreme." Now, as time has passed, I began to think, maybe that wasn't the intention. But with the current equality situation in the country, it is hard not to think about it. Here is the HRC logo:

Now, they are very similar (although most equal signs do look alike). But it is basically the colors reversed. So my question with this post is, am I just looking for a fight against an opponent and subject I feel passionate about, or do I have legitimate concerns? It is a struggle I fight with on a constant basis. We are a very religious society, and I am working on finding where the hatred ends and the love begins.

1 comment:

  1. If you're the first to admit your internalized negative feelings about organized religion, I guess this comment is proof that I would be the second. I have a problem with any institution that tells people what to think and how to feel, and the use of religion as a justification for hatred and discrimination against GLBTQIA individuals is a prime example of the system going too far. It's fine and dandy for religious practices to constrict or instruct the behaviors of the people who choose to be a part of them. I draw the line when somehow someone else's religious beliefs are used as support for constricting MY behaviors.

    It makes it very hard for me to respect the religious views of others when they are using them to control aspects of my life. If I don't ascribe to those beliefs, what gives them the right to expect me to act like I do? I can't help but feel like my religious freedom is being infringed upon, which would be totally unacceptable if the tables were turned. I really want to appreciate and respect all religions and those who live their lives in accordance with their faith. I think that it's admirable to do so, but I don't have any desire to be a part of any of those religions. That is my freedom, and I can't help but feel like the religious right is trying to take it away from me.

    I don't think that you are just looking for a fight, Sam. I definitely see how maybe the shirt could be implying that Jesus has no equal; that there's no one on earth as good as him or something to that effect. It's the equals sign part that makes me think that maybe this wasn't the entire point behind the shirt. If they had left out that part, then it would have unquestionably meant what I said above. There would have been little room for varying interpretations. But they added a symbol that, for me, shouts "no equality" in a much broader sense of the term.

    Maybe we're both overreacting, but I don't think we are. The meaning of art is simply what you take from it. I don't think that they would have added that symbol if they didn't intend for someone to take home some form of the message that "because we believe in Jesus, we can argue with the gays when they say we're all equal," and I think that homophobic people are definitely more likely to take that idea home... and buy the shirt. I mean, we use the equals sign as a symbol for gay rights as well as human equality, and I can't help but feel like this shirt is trying to foster opposition to equals signs on other shirts, on the bumpers of cars, and anywhere else that HRC might advertise.