TIME sexuality

Hook-up Apps Are Destroying Gay Youth Culture

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Many dating apps help perpetuate what people scorn about LGBT: promiscuity, impersonal behavior, and compromised interpersonal connection

Notification: You have 12 new matches!

When I get home from work and realize the silence of the end of the day, I open one of the many dating or sex-based apps I have — programs that provide literally thousands of people for me to choose from as a possible match to my personality. I assume that I am like most people on these apps: ultimately seeking a lasting relationship.

Coming out as gay in my hometown of Muncie, Indiana, was not an easy thing to do, so I didn’t. Like many LGBT folk, I flocked to a liberal university in a liberal city to feel accepted, but I found gay communities closed-off to LGBT youth. We all crave connection and intimacy, but there is nowhere for freshly out young gay men to connect. Feeling alone in a big city, walking from building to building without making a connection, I desperately wanted to meet like-minded individuals, but I found myself resorting to these apps to do that.

But instead of advancing the gay agenda of inclusion, I found the apps to perpetuate what people scorn about LGBT: promiscuity, impersonal behavior, and sexually motivated conversations. This is not the fault of the LGBT community, but these depersonalized conversations are what lead to depersonalized relationships. When an introduction to gay culture is through a sex-based app, it perpetuates the sex-based stereotype.

Because LGBT still face shame and disownment, our coming out is plagued with fear that we will lose those we love, which leads to a shame-based idea of relationships. Each dating app focuses on a different demographic, with OkCupid, Tinder, and Grindr thriving as probably the three most popular in the mainstream gay community. OkCupid is for the romantics looking for dates, Tinder is where you browse pictures and compare common Facebook interests before deciding to meet; and Grindr allows one picture and a brief description for guys who are looking for temporary company.

I never thought of approaching dating through this screening process, but many people inadvertently find themselves becoming a part of the hook-up culture. Compared to traditional dating methods, these apps provide many advantages: you save time on bad blind dates and boring conversations, you can connect to someone anytime you feel lonely, and if you are rejected you simply move on to the next person. But because there are thousands of people at your fingertips, it also creates a society of oversharing, superficiality, and instant gratification. You are on the grid 24/7 and you must advertise yourself. And there’s a paradox of choice: be careful who you choose, because there might be someone better out there—always.

Gay men want those perfect relationships that we see in romantic-comedies, instead of the ultimate fear of our generation: being alone. But there is nowhere that is not sex-based to connect. LGBT are still considered outcasts of society. Homosexuality, while popularized by the media, is still considered dangerous to teach to our kids. The way to solve this is through education. The history of talking about sexual orientation to children has been one of fear, regret, and ignorance. We need informed parents who understand how to support gay youth. We need college-aged LGBT to actively work their state’s capitals for gay marriage, harassment laws, and transgender equality. Most importantly, K-12 children should be taught about sexual orientation in an open, direct, and engaging way encouraging normalcy and assimilation. If we can openly discuss it, LGBT can defeat the sex-centered stereotype.

This generation will determine the course of healthy relationships while using future connection forums such as Ello or Hinge. If people feel supported during their formative years rather than making sex a dirty and scary thing, there won’t be a need to change our values because we are LGBT. There won’t be a need to comprise ourselves for connection.

 

Cody Freeman has worked extensively in the Philadelphia LGBT community through ActionAIDS, I’m From Driftwood, and The William Way LGBT Center.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Sex

Parents and Teens Aren’t Embarrassed by the Sex Talk Anymore

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But there's still a lot more conversations that need to happen, according to new data shared exclusively with TIME

Adolescence is an entirely new beast in the era of high-speed Internet and smartphones. People have never been so easy to chat with nor has content been so easy to download–and that adds a new layer to the parental ritual of having “the talk.” But new data shows that while parents and young people are perfectly willing to chat about sex, they may not be doing it as often as they should.

Planned Parenthood and and New York University’s Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,663 pairs of parents and their children, ages 9-21, to get a sense of how American families of all backgrounds are communicating about sex and healthy relationships. What the inquiry found was that eight out of 10 young people have talked to their parents about sexuality. Among those pairs, about half of the parents said they started having the talk with their kids by age 10 and 80% initiated the conversation by age 13.

While a high majority of parents (80%) talked to their kids about sexuality beyond the basics, like peer pressure and how to stay safe online, responses also revealed that they weren’t doing it all that frequently. Over 20% of parents said they’d never talked to their 15-21-year-olds about strategies for saying no to sex, birth control methods, or where to get accurate sexual health information, and over 30% hadn’t talked to their kids about where to get reproductive health services.

“The great news is that parents and teens are talking about these topics,” says Leslie Kantor, vice president of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Most parents and their children report starting these conversations before the age of 14, and they are talking about topics like peer pressure, puberty and staying safe online. The bad news is that people don’t necessarily have a lot of conversations, so [it] doesn’t become ongoing.”

Although most parents and young people said they didn’t feel embarrassed to talk about sex, nor felt they needed to rely on schools to do it, sometimes parents weren’t very clear about their stance on virginity. For instance, 61% of parents want young people to wait to have sex until they can handle the responsibility (45% advocated waiting for marriage), but only 52% of parents talked to their kids about sexual values, regardless of their beliefs.

Experts suggest that starting the conversation may be the trickiest part. “Young people are dealing with some different contexts than in the past,” says Kantor, citing the pervasiveness of social media. “When was I was growing up, I couldn’t meet up with someone by meeting them on a game online. These things didn’t used to happen.”

Kantor says parents are learning to deal with circumstances they never experienced themselves, and therefore feel like they can’t keep up, or don’t really know where to start when it comes to sexuality in the digital age.

Sometimes, using the same technologies can be the best way to ensure positive learning opportunities–an idea Planned Parenthood has adopted. If young people are getting a lot of sex education from the media other online sources—more than 75% of primetime programming contains sexual content—then parents and educators can harness that for the good.

Planned Parenthood has set up chat and text sex education programs that allow young people to chat in realtime with a PP staffer about everything from STD to morning-after pill questions. In September alone, there were 10,974 conversations, and since the launch in May this year, there have been a total of 393,174. The organization also has an Awkward or Not app that takes young people through an online quiz that gives them the chance to send their parents a text to start a conversation about dating and sex.

“We are very committed to ensuring that parents are the primary sex educators of their own kids,” says Kantor. “Use TV as an opportunity. Even if the show is sending a terrible message, it gives you a chance to get in there with something else. For example, asking, ”Is this what people look like at your school? Not everyone is size two.'”

Ultimately, 90% of parents surveyed said they think that sex ed should be taught in both middle school and high school, which is telling in a country where abstinence-only education is still a mainstay and often sex ed is reserved to a brief health or gym class period—or in some places is entirely non-existent. There’s a lot of incomplete or incorrect information out there when it comes to sexuality, and if parents and young people really don’t feel that embarrassed to have these conversations, then it’s time to break the ice.

Read next: How Nudity Became the New Normal

TIME sexuality

Take a Look at History’s Worst Contraceptives for Women

This video was made to raise awareness of family planning

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This article originally appeared on Lost at E Minor.

While the pill has been around for over 50 years, it took quite a long time to come up with a fuss-free method of contraception. Before the pill’s creation, there were some really awful ways to prevent pregnancy, and non-profit organization EngenderHealth has come up with a video to show us of all those methods. We’re talking crocodile dung mixed with honey, beaver testicles with moonshine, pig intestines, and even glass bottles.

The video was made to raise awareness of family planning through EngenderHealth’s WTFP?! initiative, which aims to give a voice to the more than 220 million women around the world who don’t have access to contraception.

(via Design Taxi)

TIME health

Disabled Teens Should Also Have Access to Birth Control

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BSIP/UIG—Getty Images/Universal Images Group

Leaving disabled teens without access to reproductive health tools (and sexual education) means that they can be exposed to higher risks than their peers

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Big news this week in the world of pediatrics, where the American Academy of Pediatrics has just released a new best practices guideline — the first since 2007 — on handling sexual health needs for children and adolescents. One aspect of the story is getting a great deal of coverage: The recommendation that teens be provided with IUDs and implantable birth control, as these methods are easier to adhere to than a daily pill.

That change in policy is important and has big implications for teens managing their sexual health, but it’s not the only part of the lengthy set of guidelines. For that, you’ll have to scroll further down into the report, to the section on “Adolescents With Disabilities and Other Complex Illness.”

It’s rare to see disabled and ill people, including teens, acknowledged at all as people who are sexual, or who might have reproductive-related healthcare needs. The AAP is reminding physicians both that disabled teens need birth control, and that numerous options are available for helping disabled teens manage their reproductive health — but that doctors need to reach out with information and advice to help their patients, instead of remaining silent on the matter.

Sexuality and sexual health care needs in this population are often overlooked, yet data demonstrate that, compared with healthy adolescents, adolescents with chronic illness have similar levels of sexual behaviors and sexual health outcomes (eg, STIs).

That may be the money shot, a sharp rejoinder and reminder to physicians that, yes, disabled teens have sex too. Not only do they have sex — they do so pretty much like everyone else. However, leaving them without access to reproductive health tools (and sexual education) means that they can be exposed to higher risks than their peers, and it can leave them vulnerable to higher rates of sexual exploitation and abuse. That’s why pediatricians, who are often the first point of contact for sexually curious youth, need to step up their game when it comes to dealing with disabled teens.

The document also notes that there’s more than one reason to use birth control:

In addition to pregnancy prevention, these adolescents may need menstrual suppression for heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding disorders, or chemotherapy. Other patients may be using teratogenic medications and need contraception for that reason. Issues that arise include safety concerns with estrogen use, medication interactions, and complications from the underlying disease.

These considerations highlight the importance of making birth control available to disabled teens, regardless as to whether they’re sexually active, as it should be considered another tool in the medication library. While its primary purpose may be to prevent pregnancy, birth control doesn’t need to stop there. While it’s dangerous to use non-sexual applications of birth control as a justification for taking it (people can take birth control simply because they don’t want to be pregnant and they don’t need to defend or explain themselves), acknowledging those uses can be important in contexts like these.

There’s also an important additional policy recommendation at the end of the document that could provide special protections to all minors, but especially disabled ones:

Pediatricians should allow the adolescent to consent to contraceptive care and to control the disclosure of this information within the limits of state and federal laws. There are a number of supports for protecting minor consent and confidentiality, including state law, federal statutes, and federal case law.

Many practitioners are already doing this, to some extent, encouraging their patients to play an active role in their care and treatment decisions, including when it comes to contraceptives. Having that reinforced in AAP policy, however, encourages physicians to remain aware of the issue, which can be critically important for disabled youth. Because disabled youth are often desexualized and treated as though they aren’t sexually active, it can be hard for them to access contraception and to be taken seriously when they request it and want to talk about sexuality with the people around them.

A disabled teen who might feel shy about talking to parents or guardians about birth control could still safely access it through a pediatrician under this policy recommendation, without having to worry about the doctor disclosing private information. While physicians may encourage their patients to reach out to their families and others about their relationships, the ability to maintain confidentiality ensures that the patient’s needs are met first, which in turn protects the sexual health of disabled teens.

Teens who can talk openly with their doctors about sex can get the contraception and advice they need, which, as this bulletin reminds doctors, includes a recommendation to use a condom with every instance of intercourse, even if the patient is already using another method of birth control.

The decision to include disabled teens in an update about sexual health care for young adults is a positive sign. It shows that physicians and medical organizations are recognizing that adolescent teens are as sexually active as their peers, that they need treatment, and that their treatment may be complicated by their impairments or medical conditions. This is a huge step for the rights and health care of individual disabled teens, as well as disability rights in general, as it represents one more chip in the myth that disabled people aren’t sexual and have no interest in sexuality.

S.E. Smith is a writer, agitator and commentator based in Northern California.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME LGBT

Taco John’s Sued Over Teen Employee’s Anti-Gay Nametag

Tyler Brandt, 16, says he was forced to wear a nametag with the word "GAYTARD" on it

A teenage former Taco John’s employee has filed suit against the fast food chain for allegedly being forced to wear an anti-gay slur on his name tag, in a case that has become a viral sensation thanks to an American Civil Liberties Union campaign.

Tyler Brandt, 16, said that he was required to wear a name tag labeled “GAYTARD” at the Taco John’s branch in Yankton, South Dakota where he worked, according to the ACLU. Brandt, after being repeatedly humiliated in front of customers and coworkers, finally felt that he had to quit his job.

The ACLU is representing Brandt in a discrimination suit again Taco John’s.

More than 32,000 people have signed an ACLU-organized petition requesting that Taco John’s apologize and speak out against workplace discrimination. Many have shared pictures of themselves on social media holding signs with the names of insults that have been leveled at them.

“No one should have to face slurs in their workplace – no boss should be allowed to label their employee with insults,” said the ACLU in the petition.

The company addressed the alleged incident on its Facebook page:

TIME sexuality

How Not to Be a Jerk to Your Child Who Is Coming Out

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Coming out is not about the parent

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This article originally appeared on xoJane.com.

Coming out isn’t simply one moment; it’s a process those in the LGBTQ community experience their whole lives. Regardless of how outwardly gay I am, I still have to come out occasionally.

Six months ago, I started a new job. I assume everyone who meets me knows automatically, including my new employers, but when I needed to request a day off for my girlfriend’s college graduation, I was still nervous. The truth is, I get nervous every time. There is always at least a little bit at stake. The anxiety one feels during these moments, however, is nothing compared to the terror during the moment — that first moment. That first time you look at your parents and say it.

That moment is life-defining. Eight years later, I still want to throw up when I think about coming out to my mother. Until you start coming out, your life is built on lies.

You don’t know how to talk to your peers because they’re starry-eyed over the opposite sex. You tell your parents that you don’t have a boyfriend because you’re too busy with school to think about boys. That cliche nightmare teenagers have about going to school naked — that’s what being closeted feels like. It’s a combination of feeling blatantly exposed and disconnected.

But that moment. That first time. That is when you first feel like a real person.

I collect coming out stories. I don’t pass them on to other people. They’re not trophies of mine to share, but I love hearing about when someone was first able to stop living their double life. Even an uneventful coming out story is the most raw and passionate piece of themselves a person can share.

And a lot of us wish we had or will have uneventful coming out stories, but the problem is that sometimes parents can be total dicks.

I realize many mothers don’t give birth and then immediately think “I hope this one grows up to be a flaming homosexual.” But this is not about you. So if you’re a parent, aspiring parent, or even if you hate children but there’s a possibility someday it could happen, let’s talk about how to not make your child’s coming out story a nightmare.

  1. Do not ask your newly out child about how they’re going to fare in the future.

I’ve heard this one far too many times. In fact, my friends’ parents will still occasionally ask, “Do you still want a family?”

As a lesbian, I feel like this questions secretly means “You don’t want a husband who’s going to support and take care of you?”

I don’t need a man to take care of me.

I think I do just fine on my own, thanks. If we’re really talking about an actual family of my own, sure I suppose some day I’ll want a wife and a couple of kids.

But being gay doesn’t stop us. There are a lot of different ways to have babies. We may have to do a little more work, but we’re a pretty resourceful community.

Parents will still ask this question. It seems to be a logical one, but it really just provokes a lot of guilt that we’re letting you down by not having that biblical sort of family.

Please don’t go there.

  1. Speaking of biblical, just don’t bring God into the coming out process, unless it’s to tell your child that he loves everyone.

Have you seen the video where the teenager from Georgia recorded his parents verbally and physically assaulting him because homosexuality goes against “the word of God”? The video may seem extreme, but this is a very real fear for many queer youths. If your child’s sexual orientation is such a violent contradiction to your religion, it’s time to disown your religion, not your child.

  1. Don’t tell your child that they’re too young to know their sexual orientation.

A good friend of mine was in seventh grade when he came out, but he knew a long time before that. I waited until I was 17, but my first crush was on a teacher when I was just six years old.

Generally, when we come out, we’ve been thinking about it a lot.

The words “I’m gay” didn’t just happen to fly out of my mouth as I was speaking because it was a fleeting thought I had 10 minutes ago. I agonized over my sexual orientation for years and spent weeks just wondering how I might begin to approach the topic with my parents. I spent the entire summer before my senior year sleeping with men, thinking maybe I could turn off the attraction to women.

We agonize over our coming out moments. We live in fear of our sexuality. Don’t minimize this freeing step by alluding to the idea that your child simply is too young to know.

  1. Don’t assume that your child is trying to be hip and rebellious by coming out.

No one “comes out” because they’re trying to piss off their parents.

When I was a teenager, bisexuality was trendy. Every high schooler who had more than a thousand MySpace friends was “interested in men and women.” But these weren’t the kids who struggled to sit down and have the serious sexuality discussion with their parents. If your child or teenager cares enough to begin a real conversation with you about their orientation, they’re not just gay for street cred. It’s the real deal.

  1. Don’t punish them. Like seriously, at all.

You can cry. That’s OK. Your child will understand. He or she will probably cry too. Any negative reaction that extends beyond that is unacceptable and a total dick move.

Coming out presents this newly found freedom, and your child will never want to return to the closet. Severe punishments and restrictions will only force them to rebel. You’ll create liars out of kids who were once model students simply because they’re avoiding the prison that was the closet. Your children will continue to be gay whether or not you allow it, but they would much rather be upfront and honest with you about it.

Coming out is not about the parent.

You didn’t make any mistakes to make your child gay. The most important way to not be a dick to your child when they come out is just to let them do it. Tell them you love them, and then move on with your lives. A gay child shouldn’t change anything in a familial relationship. We’re not asking you to hang a rainbow flag or go to a Pride parade with us.

Just be our mom, our dad, our family, our parents. That’s all we ever need you to be.

Biz Hurst is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Missouri Lawmaker Sues for Control of Daughters’ Sexuality

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Adult women should be allowed to make their own reproductive choices

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

Did you see this one coming? (From MSNBC)

One Missouri lawmaker has taken the fight against birth control coverage to a new and very personal place: His own daughters, two of whom are adults.

State Rep. Paul Joseph Wieland and his wife Teresa are suing the Obama administration over its minimum coverage requirements for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, which includes contraception. They say the government is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs because they have three daughters, ages 13, 18 and 19, who are on their parents’ plan and might get birth control at no additional cost.

Wieland’s lawyer makes this comparison:

[Attorney Timothy] Belz also said that making birth control more accessible under health plans was “as though the federal government had passed an edict that said that parents must provide a stocked unlocked liquor cabinet in their house whenever they’re away for their minor and adult daughters to use, and Mormons came in and objected to that. It is exactly the same situation.”

Except that that’s not how insurance works. No one is requiring Wieland to hand his daughters birth control, or to keep a stock of birth control on the kitchen table for easy access. What the law says is simply this: health insurance companies must cover birth control with no deductible or copay. That’s it. Yes, Wieland has his daughters’ on his health insurance plan. His wife is on it too, so she, too, has access to birth control as well. It’s about ensuring that insurance companies cover women’s healthcare, period.

Look, health insurance companies cover blood transfusions. I suspect they’re required to by law, too. Could a Jehovah’s Witness parent object, because his adult son might get a blood transfusion should he ever be in need of one? Applying Wieland’s logic leads to a mess. I mean by his logic, parents should be able to pick and choose through their children’s health insurance and pick and choose which things their children can have covered, provided they can make a religious justification and completely irregardless of their adult children’s religious beliefs.

Now of course, the fact that Wieland’s daughters can get birth control on their parents’ plan doesn’t mean they have to get birth control. And if they share their parents beliefs on the subject, they won’t. But Wieland is concerned that they might not share his beliefs.

One of the judges pointed out that parents might have more control over their kids than employers, and that parents could just say to their kids, “We expect you do abide by our religious tenets.” Belz replied, “Well, we all have high hopes for our kids, that is true. We all expect and want them to obey us, they don’t always …”

These girls are 18 and 19. They’re not children, they’re adults.

There are two ways to look at this. We could say that Wieland is trying to prevent his adult daughters from having access to affordable birth control, and we would be correct. But Wieland’s legal claim is slightly different. Wieland says that paying for his daughters birth control would violate his religious beliefs. In other words, he says this is about his beliefs and his conscience, not about whether or not his daughters are using birth control. But again, this isn’t how insurance works. It wasn’t in the Hobby Lobby case, and it isn’t here. Unfortunately, Hobby Lobby won its case, suggesting that the Supreme Court thinks this is the way insurance works.

Now, Wieland could simply drop his daughters from his plan, and maybe we should be grateful for them that he’s not going that route. Wieland is arguing that his religion requires him to provide birth control for his daughters. The problem is that he’s using this argument to prove that the law requiring birth control coverage violates his religious beliefs.

The Wielands have argued in their brief that providing health coverage to their daughters – which, thanks to the same Affordable Care Act, they can do until their children turn 26 – is also part of their religious beliefs. “The Plaintiffs cannot terminate their daughters’ health insurance coverage without violating their religious duty to provide for the health and well being of their children,” they wrote in one brief.

I think it’s awesome that Wieland believes he should continue to pay for his daughters’ health and well being through providing them with birth control. It would be even more awesome if that belief extended to all of women’s health care. The problem is Wieland’s view of birth control. You would think that a parent in his shoes might want his daughters to abstain from premarital sex, but also want them to have access to birth control should they decide to have sex anyway (after all, a parent cannot prevent an adult daughter from having sex). But no.

Christians who oppose sex before marriage tend to feel that access to birth control increases the likelihood that young people will have sex. This is probably not all that true for young people who are already taught that sex before marriage is sinful. After all, if you belief something is sinful and may send you to hell, whether or not you are protected against STDs or pregnancy is the less important worry. Christians who oppose sex before marriage also tend to believe that having unprotected sex is less sinful than having protected sex. This is because using birth control shows that the sex is premeditated. You can see this last point illustrated in this short video clip:

Wieland is Catholic, which adds another dimension. The Catholic Church teaches that birth control is unacceptable for even married couples. Families may use natural family planning to space their children out—provided they go about it with the right attitude of openness to children—but that’s it. So for Wieland, this isn’t just about his adult daughters having premarital sex, it’s about them using birth control at all. Of course, they’ll have to leave their father’s insurance when they marry, so Wieland won’t have any say regarding their use of birth control in marriage.

I have no idea what Wieland’s daughters think of all of this. They may be completely involved and invested, as I would have been at their age. I would have seen it as a way to fight back against the big bad government in favor of our religious beliefs. But at 21 I would have seen it differently. At 21 I would have felt used, and I would have wanted out. Frankly, I probably would have gotten off my parents’ plan entirely and found a way to make a go of it on my own, were I in their shoes. After all, that’s what I did when it came to paying for college. I didn’t want anything else they could use to control me and my choices.

When it comes down to it, Wieland wants the right to use his daughters’ insurance coverage to control their sexuality. He wants to have a say over whether the insurance he obtains for his family gives his adult daughters’ access to birth control. In a world where patriarchy reigns supreme, this request would be reasonable. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where adult women are allowed to make their own reproductive choices (or at least, that is the world we should live in).

Libby Anne was raised in an evangelical family, was homeschooled and was taught that a woman’s place is in the home. She became a non-believer after college and now writes on purity culture, Christian right politics, and the importance of feminism.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Pastor Mark Driscoll Called Women ‘Penis Homes’

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This article originally appeared on Patheos.

Things have been getting worse and worse for Mark Driscoll in recent weeks. But what I want to point out for a moment is one of Driscoll’s posts from 2001, when he was posting to a church message board under the name William Wallace II. I have rarely seen an evangelical man assert male superiority and prominence this directly.

The first thing to know about your penis is, that despite the way it may see, it is not your penis. Ultimately, God created you and it is his penis. You are simply borrowing it for a while.

While His penis is on loan you must admit that it is sort of just hanging out there very lonely as if it needed a home, sort of like a man wondering the streets looking for a house to live in. Knowing that His penis would need a home, God created a woman to be your wife and when you marry her and look down you will notice that your wife is shaped differently than you and makes a very nice home.

Yes, really. Men’s penises are on loan from God, and women were created to be “homes” for men’s penises. So much for any claims of men and women being “equal before God.” No, men were created by God and loaned penises. Women were then created by God to be penis homes.

Therefore, if you are single you must remember that your penis is homeless and needs a home. But, though you may believe your hand is shaped like a home, it is not. And, though women other than your wife may look like a home, to rest there would be breaking into another man’s home. And, if you look at a man it is quite obvious that what a homeless man does not need is another man without a home.

Notice that all women are portrayed as another man’s penis home, whether or not they are married. This squares with what I was taught—every woman is some man’s future wife, and that man owns her body even before they meet.

Paul tells us that your penis actually belongs to your wife, and once you are married she will trade you it for her home (I Corinthians 7:4), and every man knows this is a very good trade for him to make.

With his penis, the man is supposed to learn to please his wife and learn how to be patient, self-controlled and be educated on how to keep his home happy and joyous (I Corinthians 7:3). The man should be aroused by his new home, and the wife should rejoice at seeing his penis rise to greet her (Song of Songs 5:14b).

Oh yes, a man should keep “his home” sexually satisfied. And the wife, for her part, should be sexually arousing to her husband and “rejoice” when he has an erection. This sad attempt at mutuality fails when the one party is described as a penis home.

You can view the full screenshot here.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that this is the viewpoint taken by at least some evangelical men. All to many evangelical and fundamentalist advice books treat the man as the primary creation and the woman as, well, merely his helper. The man is primary, the woman is secondary. The man was created for God’s glory, the woman for man. These individuals claim that men and women are nevertheless equal before God, but that claim rings hollow when placed alongside the rest of their rhetoric.

The claim that women are uplifted and honored as caregivers and nurturers in the home also rings hollow in this context. In Driscoll’s treatment, women are no more than penis homes. Women were created to satisfy men. There is nothing uplifting or honored in that. Even many evangelical and fundamentalist women, who are attracted to those beliefs in part because of the rhetorical value they place on homemaking, must surely be appalled by Driscoll’s rhetoric.

In a sense, Driscoll’s downfall was only a matter of time.

Libby Anne is a blogger for Patheos.

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TIME sexuality

If Gay Rights Stop Moving Forward They Could Get Pushed Back

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If we are indeed at a tipping point, we are precariously balanced atop it

From the outside, it looks pretty clear: The LGBT equality movement is on the fast track, and the U.S. has reached that magic tipping point. The Supreme Court required federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages. Thirty-eight court decisions have been decided in favor of the right to marry for same-sex couples. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has begun to accept LGBT discrimination complaints all across the U.S. And 34 million workers now have protection from President Obama’s executive order regarding federal contracts.

Already 44 percent of the country (and half of same-sex couples) lives in a state with marriage equality, and 53 percent of U.S. workers have some kind of state or federal LGBT nondiscrimination policy coverage.

That’s all clear progress toward equality, but if we are indeed at a tipping point, we are precariously balanced atop it.

Let’s take, for example, the marriage issue. It has judicial momentum, sure, but no one knows when the Supreme Court will rule on the larger issue to ensure national marriage equality. In the meantime, more than 300,000 same-sex couples (and millions more single LGBT people who might someday want to marry) live in states that won’t allow them to marry or recognize their marriage. But the Court’s recent Hobby Lobby decision is already leading to a push for broad religious exemptions in LGBT-related laws that do pass, suggesting people looking for the full marriage and workplace equality pie might only get half of it.

If you’re not moving forward, you could be pushed back. (Especially during an election season where some pundits are predicting a GOP takeover that may not be LGBT-movement friendly.)

The momentum seems to have slowed on workplace equality laws. Although 21 states have outlawed sexual orientation discrimination since 1982, no state has taken similar action since 2009 (although six states have added gender identity discrimination protection since then). The long-fought-for bill granting federal protections to all U.S. workers, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, passed the Senate last year but has gone nowhere in the House. Many employers now provide domestic partner health care benefits for employees with unmarried same-sex partners–but the growth in the share of private sector workers with access to those benefits has leveled off, settling at around one-third of employees whose employers provide benefits.

What’s behind this stagnation? One look at a map of LGBT-related laws shows one reason why the spread of equality may be slowing: activists spent the past few years picking the low-hanging fruit – accumulating victories in states with the strongest support for LGBT equality. The west coast and northeast are zones of almost full formal equality for LGBT people, along with a few northern states along the Mississippi. The southwest has pockets of progress. That leaves the southeast and a large set of states in the middle of the country where change has been difficult and slow in coming.

It’s an important reminder that legal change at the federal level still matters. For example, although many big, national corporations now see the equal treatment of LGBT employees as a good business decision, improving retention and recruitment of valuable employees and demonstrating good corporate values to customers and the public, there are a few notable holdouts, such as Exxon-Mobil. That’s where a federal policy can make a big difference. In fact, as a federal contractor, Exxon-Mobil will now be held to higher standards to comply with the president’s recent executive order: It will have to add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to its nondiscrimination policies.

So how do we get movement on those other laws? One place to start could be expanding the LGBT policy agenda – and joining forces with new political allies. Today, many LGBT leaders see those hard-won nondiscrimination laws of the past few years as only one element of an agenda of equal opportunity. For example, research demonstrates that LGBT people are more vulnerable than heterosexual people to poverty and food insecurity. To address those issues, LGBT activists could team up with a broader coalition of organizations to increase the minimum wage or advocate for paid family leave. LGBT groups have learned a lot about how to create cultural and political change over the last two decades, and that knowledge could be a valuable resource for allies in new causes – allies who could help spread the LGBT equality message to even more communities.

Of course, laws alone will not be enough. Even as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act this year, the degree of continuing economic inequality between men and women or whites and blacks is still deeply troubling. The lesson there is that what comes after a policy change is at least as important as the new law, although enforcement and implementation are less exciting than the drama attached to their passage.

There’s still a lot of unexciting work to do on top of whatever drama awaits in the tougher states. But the LGBT movement is used to long odds. After all, no lesbian or gay man over 40 grew up thinking that they’d someday have the choice to marry their same-sex partner.

M. V. Lee Badgett is a Professor of Economics, and Director, Center for Public Policy Administration, at UMass Amherst. She is also a Williams Distinguished Scholar, Williams Institute, UCLA. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk.

TIME LGBT

Smithsonian Expands Collection of LGBT Artifacts

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
The facade of Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is lit up at dusk on June 4, 2013. John Greim—LightRocket /Getty Image

A donation from the TV show Will and Grace kicks off a wider effort to document the history of sexual orientation

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History announced Tuesday a significant expansion to its collection of artifacts documenting the history of America’s sexual minorities.

The expanded collection includes a donation of studio props from the television series Will and Grace, which debuted in 1998 with one of the first openly gay characters on primetime television. It also includes diplomatic passports from the first openly gay U.S. ambassador, David Huebner, and his husband, Duane McWaine, and a racquet that formerly belonged to transgender tennis player Renee Richards, who challenged a league-wide ban on transgendered players.

The museum said in a statement that the recent acquisitions mark a “long tradition of documenting the full breadth of the American experience and what it means to be an American. The LGBT narrative is an important part of that American story, and the Smithsonian has been documenting and collecting related objects for many years.”

 

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