Religious freedom in the United States is protected by the Constitution. It’s strange to have to state the obvious, but the Indiana legislature and Governor Mike Pence seem to need a refresher on basic civics. On 26 March, Pence signed SB 101 into law, a bill which supposedly protects religious freedom, though in this instance, that freedom largely applies to business owners who want the right to refuse service to customers they disapprove of. As with the Supreme Court decision on Hobby Lobby, the state of Indiana is giving businesses the same rights as people. Mitt Romney would be so proud of what he hath wrought.
In a perfect world, I would be able to think that we don’t believe rape victims because we just can’t fathom rape as a thing that an otherwise normal-seeming person would ever do. I would be able to give apologists the benefit of the doubt that the truth of what rape is, what a rapist does, is so horrifying that they have to believe rape doesn’t exist.
The cycle is predictable: a public figure says something inappropriate (usually racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic) – often, they claim, as a ploy for laughs. A significant number of people react negatively. Said public figure responds defensively to the negative reaction. And the public figure’s fans respond to the negative reaction by issuing threats (usually of rape and murder) to anyone who dared disagree with their idol. The public figure then blathers on, at length and incoherently, about freedom of speech, the ills of censorship and the scourge of political correctness.
I care about making the liberties that men enjoy so freely fully accessible to women, and if men or celebrities claiming feminism for themselves has become the spoon full of sugar to make that medicine go down, so be it.
Privacy is a privilege. It is rarely enjoyed by women or transgender men and women, queer people or people of color. When you are an Other, you are always in danger of having your body or some other intimate part of yourself exposed in one way or another. A stranger reaches out and touches a pregnant woman’s belly. A man walking down the street offers an opinion on a woman’s appearance or implores her to smile. A group of teenagers driving by as a person of color walks on a sidewalk shout racial slurs, interrupting their quiet.
Public intellectuals are often put in the position of having their words, no matter how off-the-cuff, treated as doctrine. Such was recently the case when, during a panel discussion about liberating the black female body, bell hooks referred to BeyoncÃ© as a terrorist and anti-feminist. She said, "I see a part of BeyoncÃ© that is in fact, anti-feminist, that is a terrorist ... especially in terms of the impact on young girls."
PR executive Justine Sacco wrote an offensive tweet before boarding a flight from London to Cape Town, South Africa. “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” she said. Between the time Sacco tweeted and when she landed in South Africa twelve hours later, the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet trended worldwide. A great many of the tweets including the hashtag were downright hilarious. Even Donald Trump, a paragon of ignorance, chastised Sacco on Twitter, saying, “Justine, what the hell are you doing, are you crazy? Not nice or fair! I will support @AidforAfrica. Justine is FIRED!”