Sunday, April 8, 2012

Briefer Briefs

James Wolcott linked recently to this op-ed for the Wall Street Journal by Ann Patchett. I've only read one of her novels and have felt no need to read more, but I liked the piece. A sample:
The sexual revolution, which rode into town on the backs of those pink plastic cases of birth-control pills, was, after all, not so much a matter of sleeping around as it was of having the ability to decide when you were going to have a child, and then deciding how many children you wanted to have. For me, it meant the freedom to choose not having children at all. It was a quiet use of a revolution, but a completely appropriate one. I never wanted children and therefore doubted I would be a great parent. Perhaps a few more people who don't want children and feel that they wouldn't be great parents could consider following my lead. You can have my birth-control pills when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands.
Patchett (who's Catholic, by the way) argues:
Let us so empower the young women in our communities with the excellent education that is available to them, the love and support of their families, and the abundance of positive role models, that they are strong enough within themselves to wait until they feel fully ready to have sex with a person they trust, a person who values them. And let the young men of our communities benefit from that same education, that same love. To make things easier, let's remove several million degrading images of women that can give a boy the wrong ideas about the value of other people.
I agree, but I wonder if she realizes that removing those "several million degrading images of women" would have to begin with the Christian Bible and a good deal of the early Fathers, along with much of the Western cultural tradition. I limit it to the Western tradition because that's where Patchett and I both live; but it should go without saying that the same applies to non-Western traditions as well.

Comments on the article are predictable. The first I saw was typical: "This article is politically-correct leftist sensibilty at its best. In other words, pitiful drivel." Even better was one which argued that women can't just opt out of the sexual revolution: "Many women find that they can't compete for high-status men unless they make themselves sexually available to them. In this regard, they face enormous pressure to participate in the sexual revolution and to use birth control." That, with its revealing embedded assumptions, got three recommendations and started some debate.

From Wolcott's blog I noticed a sidebar link to an interview with Ricky Martín about coming out, about his sons (who, contrary to the article's header, were born before Martín came out), and about becoming a Spanish citizen. I have never been a fan of his music and am not likely to change my mind about it, but what he has said since his coming-out has given me great respect for him. Unlike most American celebrities who came out after they were famous (to say nothing of certain queer Latino academics with issues), Martín has never felt the need to blame his time on the closet on the gay movement or on the tackiness of other gay people. It's too bad he's so unusual, but I'm glad he exists and has spoken out.

Finally, at a blog from IOZ' blogroll called I Blame the Patriarchy, the blogger reproduces a note she found on her windshield, signed "Holly," complaining about the blogger's parking technique. "I was unable to get in my car from the driver's side," the note reads. "Had to crawl in from the passenger's side." IBTP jeers, "I wonder how she feels about unobstructed access to birth control." Since she doesn't know Holly's politics, this seems a bit desperate; maybe Holly was on her way to a rally in favor of unobstructed access to birth control when she had to crawl into her car from the passenger side. It's nice, though, to be reminded that one can be anti-patriarchal and an asshole.