Politics and the rutting season

Like wild animals looking to mate, politicians during campaigns make a lot of noise over sex, but the real substance is the diminishment of our sexual freedom

Politicians are strange animals. They hibernate for years at a time, only emerging to participate in the curious ritual known as “campaigning.”

Much like “rutting season” for deer and elk, the politician spends much of the campaign season trying to make as big a show as possible of his prowess.

The culmination of the rutting season ends in showy battles where animals clash their antlers together, making great cracking sounds in the forest.

For the politician, this clashing happens in televised debates where there is much sound and fury and very little substance.

The only reason I say this is because there is an undertone of the whole season that is disturbing.

For elk and deer, it is the season of mating, and only the heartiest males can herd together a sizable group of females to impregnate and then leave.

Habaerman.Hardy.NEW
Hardy Haberman Flagging Left

For politicians it is the season to gather together voters whom they will screw in a metaphorical manner and then abandon, breaking all the pledges they made to their constituents.

OK, so I tortured that metaphor about as much as I can. Here is the point of this whole thing: Both rutting season and campaign season have one thing in common — sex.

For politicians the campaign is the ideal time to focus on the most incendiary topics, and sex is right up there in our society, along with taxes and religion.

The advantage in focusing on sex is it deflects focus from the real issues of the economy, war and jobs.

After all, it’s difficult for the average American to understand the real issues behind the economic problems, job losses and the ongoing wars. But sex? Well, that one is easy.

For politicians, focusing on sex is a slam-dunk. Point to those folks who have sexual preferences that differ from the majority of your voters and you are taking fewer risks.

In a society as sexually repressed as ours, any variance from the perceived norm causes panic, and that can be used to sway votes your way.

It is a sad fact that Americans do not consider sexuality, and more specifically sexual freedom, a basic human right. Because of that, politicians find it easy to whip voters into a frenzy using sex as a campaign issue:

“Ban gay marriage! Stop the homosexual agenda! Stop teaching sex education! End public access to contraception! Stop HPV vaccinations!”

At their root, these issues are all about sex and the discomfort Americans feel even discussing it.

It’s time America grows up and stops behaving like a herd of deer. If we could honestly and thoughtfully address our discomfort in talking about sex, we would go a long way towards becoming a greater nation.

The sooner we accept sexual freedom as one of our basic and sacred human rights, the sooner we will cease being a dysfunctional, adolescent society.

Sexual freedom is the fundamental human right of all individuals to develop and express their unique sexuality. It is nothing to be afraid of, yet politicians and clergy have taken this sacred right and tagged it with incendiary language like “promiscuity” and “immorality.”

It should come as no surprise that they are lying to us. Sexual freedom, like all our rights, is something to be taken seriously. It is the right to express in speech and writing our unique sexuality.

It is the right to obtain medically accurate and inclusive information about sex and sexuality. It is the right to control our bodies and our relationships. It is the right to engage in consensual sexual activity as an expression of who we are as human beings.

It is one of the many gifts we have been endowed with, yet sex is systematically excluded from most discussions of citizens’ rights.

This Friday, Sept. 23 is Sexual Freedom Day. The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance celebrates this day each year with seminars, conferences and media events. This year the conference takes place in Washington, D.C. at the Pew Charitable Trust Foundation Conference Center and will feature panelists from across the country and around the world.

The idea is to provide a safe space to start talking about sex and human rights.

Elevating the conversation is vital to assuring our rights as LGBT Americans. The sooner we can mature as a country, the sooner issues of sex and sexuality will cease to be tools for use by politicians.

And the sooner we can stop behaving like a herd, the sooner we will cease to be treated like frightened animals.

Maybe then we can concentrate on actually making our country a safer, healthier and better place.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Sarah Palin, Westboro Baptist Church, The Advocate’s gayest cities

1. Sarah Palin released a video statement (above) this morning in response to the Tucson shooting, saying her decision to put rifle crosshairs on a map over Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ district had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the incident at all. How could it have, right? But why so defensive then? And what better way for Palin to address a shooting that targeted Giffords, who’s Jewish, than by using an anti-semitic metaphor? Palin says those who link the tragedy to her violent rhetoric are committing “blood libel” — which refers to an accusation from the Middle Ages that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood to make matzoh for Passover. Palin is right, this incident was more about mental illness than rhetoric — until you consider the fact that the ones spewing the rhetoric are mentally ill. (Politico)

2. The governor of Arizona signed emergency legislation to prohibit Westboro Baptist Church from picketing within 300 feet of the funeral for a 9-year-old girl who was killed in the Tucson shooting. The legislation was initiated by openly gay State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Tucson, who said this: “I’m a strong advocate of the First Amendment and the bottom line is this, Fred Phelps and his group of people can still spew their hate if they want. They just don’t get to do it close to the families that are grieving. They have to be farther away.” (ABC 15)

3. The Advocate lists Minneapolis as the gayest city in America, and Texas is shut out of the top 15. Have we mentioned that The Advocate sucks?

—  John Wright

A Melancholy Metaphor On Trans Participation In LGBT Direct Actions

On November 15th, I joined 12 activists — seven of us lesbian, gay, and transgender veterans in military uniform, one veteran not in uniform, and five other lesbian and gay activists — on the White House Fence. There were many support people behind us doing work out of sight, but their efforts were so vital and important. Before we went on the fence, many of us went to Senator Harry Reid’s office, putting forward the question of when he was going to return Lt. Dan Choi’s West Point Ring at the successful repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And before that, we went and honored the work of past gay servicemember activist Leonard Matloveich.

On November 16th, nine of us went to the White House’s Common Purpose meeting — a secret meeting of between the White House and  progressive organizations — seven of us held signs and/or passed out copies of an AmericaBLOG entitled Jim Messina makes a firm commitment on DADT: ‘We’re going to get that done this year’ to confront those who were at the meeting regarding Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina promising the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) would be repealed before the end 2010 — before the end of this year.

I am somebody. I deserve equal rights. Right here, right now. You are somebody. You too deserve equal rights. Right here, right now. We all deserve freedom, equality, and justice, and I know I won’t back down until we have freedom, equality, and justice.

Let me speak to you about handcuffing myself to the White house fence from a personal perspective. There is a narrative her with a somewhat melancholy metphor to it.

Before walking from the street through Lafayette Park, I had called my friend — a woman I consider my sister — Allyson Robinson. She returned my call at 12:50 EST, ten minutes before my walk in the park to the White House fence, and we shared her quite moving prayer. The gist of her prayer was one of praying for my safety, and the safety of those I was with, and that God would be with me and sustain me. I shed tears each time I think of that prayer…it was a prayer that came from a heart full of faith, hope, and love.

Then, my cell phone was handed off to Chris Tina Bruce — my trans support sister for the direct action — and then I joined with my twelve lesbian and gay siblings in telling the President, in handcuffing ourselves to the White House fence and in many, many chants, that there is an urgency of now for him to prioritize the repeal of DADT, and then do the follow-up actions he, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman Of The Joint Chief of Staff need to do to let lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers serve openly and proudly.

When the thirteen of us were taken down from the fence, we didn’t resist arrest, but we didn’t assist police in our arrests. We required the police to drag us away while we continued yelling chants.

We were then segregated by gender. The eight men in our group were put in one police wagon, and we five women were put in another police wagon.

When we thirteen arrived at the Park Police’s processing center, we were again segregated. The eight men were each searched, then put together in a holding cell, the other four women were each searched, then put together in a holding cell, and then…

Well, before I was searched, I told the female officer I was transgender. I said, as practiced, “I am transgender. I have a female gender identity, breasts, and male genitalia.” The female officer searched me from the waist up; a male officer searched me from the waist down. Then I was separated from the twelve others, and put in a holding cell by myself. I stood with my brothers and sisters on the fence, but in the end I was to face my time in custody alone. There would be no comrade in arms to talk to; no one beside me to draw support from.

Well, almost alone. I knew that even though my comrades in arms were not in sight, and I couldn’t hear their words of support, they were near. I also remember Tina, and the support she offered me, and…

I felt the warmth and strength of the prayer of my sister. The thought of my sister’s faith, hope, and love sustained me — even when I could not see her; even when I could not hear her voice.

I was alone, but I wasn’t lonely in thought, or in heart. I had the support of my dearly appreciated trans sisters, as well as the support of many of my lesbian, gay, and bisexual siblings in the LGBT community.

The sad metaphor here is that in life, trans people are often separated from others, being culled from the herds of humanity. Our voices are often silent because there is no one to hear us — no one to listen to us. If I had yelled loudly in my holding cell, my sisters and brothers nearby would most likely not  have heard me — Often, my trans siblings must trust that others have heard us, and have faith that others are there for us. Many times they are, even when we cannot see that they are; even when we cannot see that they are. We have to trust that others are there for we trans people — even though sometimes that faith turns out to be misplaced.

If called again to serve my broader community, I will answer the call. I am not an armchair activist. I have to act on faith that if my peers are called on to support me as I’ve answered the call to support them, they will be there. This isn’t about you or me — about  your LGBT subcommunity or mine — it really is all about us.
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—  admin