Saturday, February 05, 2005

Ballot Measure 9 and Lecture 1/31

Ballot Measure 9 was a very thought provoking film. If the ballot passed in Oregon, it would have prohibited and revoked laws that practiced homosexuals from discrimination. That was only twelve years ago. Such a law would be taking basic civil rights away from people just because they are of a certain minority. This is democracy regressing. How could such a ballot be considered where a persons right would be unequal and unfair if it is passed? This is quite upsetting.

Several things from the film surprised me. First, the use of rhetoric by the Oregon's Citizens Alliance (OCA) in trying to gain support for ballot 9. This proved a significant tactic when average citizens that were interviewed reiterated the same words and phrases the OCA was campainging with. "Special rights" seemed to catch on quickly. One man continued to use the term "war" repeatedly. Sexual terms and descriptions were also thrown around in their "Yes on 9" campaign. People just so easily bought into everything the OCA was saying that I was dumbfounded. This happens so often though in many things, included politics in the last four years. People need to be educated so they can think for themselves.

The "special rights" aspect of the movie is what disturbed me the most. It makes no sense. How could equality ever be a special right? And this seemed to be the OCA's strongest argument. It made me quite angry.

I think the readings this week were really interesting. Rupp explored female relationships in the 2oth century, after there was a public lesbian identity. The women in the relationships she studied did not call themselves lesbians though. This is significant because they chose to not take part in the new lesbian subculture. Because they are not labeling themselves as lesbians, despite how we would label their relationship, they can not be categorized as such. I agree with Rupp's argument.

Smith-Rosenberg's article was about earlier female relationship (in 19th century). She talks more about the strong bonds that women develop. Women at that time were together until they became married. During that time they grew to love each other and sometimes those relationships developed further but it was based on love and friendship. She focused on the emotional bonds that women make and not on the physical. Rupp had an issue with this, saying that SR's research was "misused to deny the sexual aspects of relationships".

Why should we care whether or not prominent women in the past were lesbians or not? We shouldn't. Several people mentioned in lecture that it would be good for today's lesbian culture to have a strong ally from the past. However, if these women rejected the label themselves, then who are we to place it on them? Presently, our society is obsessed with labels. This makes for a very confining atmosphere that allows discrimination to exist more easily.


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