The Fathers Rights Movement Analyzed, The Gay Rights Movement Celebrated

Jocelyn Crowley shares her research into the fathers’ rights movement, and Amanda reviews the post-Prop 8 furor. Do kids who watch more TV have more sex? And is it just boredom?

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Links in this episode:

Slash for gay rights

Wanda Sykes stands up

Newt Gingrich demagogues

Dan Savage speaks reason

Stephen Colbert and Dan Savage on Prop 8

Just apologize, Dan

Jim Quinn rejects germ theory of disease

On this episode of Reality Cast, I’ll be interviewing Jocelyn Crowley about her new book on the father’s rights movement.  Also, the momentum behind the gay rights movement is growing, and teenagers who watch TV get knocked up more.  But why?

Sarah Palin’s gone back to Alaska, but her functionality as a way to bash feminists stays strong.  Dennis Miller, who never met a dying trend he didn’t think was something brand new and clever, kept the candle burning.

  • dennis miller *

It doesn’t really speak well of Dennis Miller’s sex life if he’s resorted to openly fantasizing about politicians.  Does anyone really believe this "you’re just jealous" stuff?  If you’d told me that I have to move to Alaska, tie myself to a snowmobile fanatic that runs with right wing nuts, have five kids, and join a fundamentalist church, I wouldn’t be happy.  I would probably be suicidal.


Prop 8 passing in California and banning same sex marriage was a terrible tragedy and setback.  However, I’m so proud of the good guys on this.  People are manning the battle stations and declaring boldly that this is far from over.  Not only did we see nationwide protests, but even Slash from Guns N Roses and his wife Perla Hudson are getting involved!  

  • insert slash *

Doing this in California means that the homobigotry movement is facing a powerful enemy: yep, that evil liberal Hollywood.  You know what they say about not picking fights with people who buy ink by the barrel?  How about not picking fights with people who get chased down in public for autographs?  Comedian Wanda Sykes hasn’t ever put herself out there as outspoken as a lesbian, though she never hid it, and she has hit the ground running.

  • wanda sykes *

Sometimes there’s a danger in celebrities getting behind a cause, which is that it’s easy for their opponents to paint them as small-minded idiots who don’t understand the issue and only get air time because of their fame.  But it doesn’t seem like it’s a danger in this case, because the issue isn’t what you’d call complicated. It’s a matter of amplifying our position at this point, and celebrities are a useful tool.  

One thing that’s frustrating is seeing this outpouring of activism after Prop 8 passed, when it would have been helpful beforehand, even though there was already a lot beforehand.  But you have to remember that up until the last minute, it seemed that gay rights activists were going to win this one.  Pro Prop 8 forces flooded the airwaves with dishonest commercials that told people that this wasn’t just about leaving your neighbor alone, but about forcing churches and families to change their private beliefs.  It was a lie, but it was enough of a lie to pass it at the last minute.

Newt Gingrich was pushing the same line on the O’Reilly Factor.

  • newt lies *

People didn’t have time right before the election to think about how it’s not imposing your will on others to marry who you want.  Now that there is time, and people learn that churches are not required to marry ANYONE they don’t want to marry, then same sex marriage will gain ground.  Nonetheless this is alarming. Gingrich is projecting here.  The people who are using government to impose their will on their neighbors are the anti-gay marriage people.  The people who are victims are gay people.  You are not victimized because you have to treat your neighbor with the privacy and respect they extend to you.  

Dan Savage has been all over the place pushing back against Prop 8.  He was on CNN, up against homobigot Tony Perkins. Side note to people who think that saying, "But it’s my religion!" is a shelter against being called a bigot: Segregationists claimed it was about religion in the day, too.

  • dan mormon*

I cannot believe that the media gives any credence to the idea that religion is beyond criticism.  And that therefore religious groups should be allowed, as Dan says, to demagogue against gays and women and racial minorities without there being any way to resist them.

No one who has power and authority over others is beyond criticism.  Trying to make it so is inherently anti-democratic.  Religion cannot be permitted to set up a shadow authority or even worse, a shadow government that controls people but is immune from accountability.  

Unfortunately, Dan Savage has tarnished his public advocacy by taking the bait that right wingers have laid out and blaming black voters, who voted for the ban in greater numbers than white or Latino voters.  He has semi-recanted, and refocused the discussion on a productive avenue, which is how the various churches are trying to use state power to impose religious dogma.  But like Renee at Womanist Musings says, he needs to apologize on top of recanting.  Religion and bigotry are the  issues, not race.

Dan was on the Colbert Report riling up the pro-gay rights troops.  

  • Colbert dan *

So he’s realizing that he stepped in horse manure, and he’s trying to redirect people’s attentions in the right direction, but an apology would help.

Stephen Colbert made fun of the way that the media is trying to make this a fight between African-Americans and gay people, which is exactly the sort of divisiveness that right wingers feed off of.

  • Colbert sows discontent *

I hope that people realize that this entire narrative is playing right into the hands of the right, which is why they’re pushing it so hard.


  • insert interview *


So the big news is that the conservative think tank called the Rand Corporation released a study showing that teenagers who watch a lot of sexual content on TV are twice as likely to get pregnant as other kids.  NPR interviewed their resident pediatric expert Dr. Spisel on the study.  One thing Dr. Spisel said was that the study is horribly flawed, because a lot of it is based on just asking kids what they watched instead of using more rigorous methods.  When you watch a lot of TV, it’s hard to remember exactly what you watch.  There’s more than that, though.

  • npr 1*

One thing that immediately comes to my mind, thinking back to my adolescence, was that the difference between kids who watched a lot of TV and kids who didn’t was usually that the latter group had a full schedule of extracurricular activities.  And the more you participate in those, the less likely you are to get pregnant.  Which probably has less to do with rates of sexual activity and more to do with self esteem.  Girls who have extracurricular activities have higher self esteem and more life goals, and are much likelier to be careful not to let an unintended pregnancy get in the way.

  • npr 2 *

That makes a lot of sense.  After all, you watch TV shows because they speak to you, and kids who are having sex are probably more likely to feel more grown-up and therefore more interested in grown-up shows.  But who knows?  It could be a lot of factors.  It’s probably not just one.

  • npr 3 *

What’s also interesting is that even if they proved that TV influences behavior to this extent, they still haven’t proven that sexual content for teenagers is bad.  After all, they measured likelihood of pregnancy, not of sexual intercourse.  Because contraception is still legal, the two don’t necessarily correlate the same for everyone.  But here’s the thing: They don’t show safe sex on TV much.  They show people falling in bed, passion overcoming them, but they don’t show the condom.

Honestly, I’d think the group of kids in the most danger of TV’s influence are evangelicals or anyone subject to abstinence-only education.  Because they haven’t ever had anyone tell them that you can incorporate contraception into loving, passionate sex.  And then they watch TV and see people get carried away with their passions.  The only model for sex they have is unsafe sex.  Kids who have another model are in a better position to think critically about what they see on TV.


And now for the Wisdom of Wingnuts.  With Prop 8 pushing gay rights more into the national consciousness, expect wingnuts to get even more hateful, to spread even uglier stereotypes, and to resort to old tropes to spread hate.  Radio host Jim Quinn unleashed the hate recently.  

  • quinn aids *

Actually, gay sex doesn’t produce AIDS.  The HIV virus does, and you can get HIV through unprotected sex with a positive person.  According to the most recent stats I could find at the CDC, 43% of HIV transmissions in 2006 were male to male sexual contact.  32% were heterosexual contact. Quinn is not only spreading misinformation and hate by implying that gay sex and not germs create this disease, but he is putting his straight listeners at risk by implying that straight equals safe.  Obviously, at 32% of transmissions,  it does not.

Tune in next week to hear about how Texas legislators are positioning themselves for another round of assaulting women’s health care.


Follow Amanda Marcotte on twitter: @amandamarcotte

  • invalid-0

    OK, here’s a reality check that no one is talking about and that all of us should be talking about LOUDLY.

    Religious factions in America were given the privilege to practice their faith unmolested by government through separation of church and State. But for the last 30 years religionists have been trying to shove religion down our collective throats and nearly succeeded in turning American into a theocracy. This should trouble us all greatly, especially the religious. We now have a situation where we elected a president who based his decisions on theocratical ideology instead of the rule of law, pragmatism, freedom, and science. This is not where religion belongs and this is not business as usual. Churches do not deserve their current elevated status of power and this must be corrected. America’s ratio of religious bigotry, racism, corruption, ignorance, and religious politics, has made us a laughing stock among industrialized and advanced nations and has created a world recession pulling our world financial circumstances down around our collective knees. These people do not have the same goals as our Constitution has tried to guarantee for Americans, namely that of the most freedom for the most people, a high standard of living, upward mobility, protection of our citizenry, and freedom of and from religion.

    Separation of church and State is absolutely necessary to freedom of religion. Anything else breeds what we have witnessed over the last eight years where one religion has gained the power to place itself ahead of the rule of law and all other religions. Their goal is spreading their own religion and gaining the power to enforce this goal. These are not American goals, plain and simply.

    And once again they have proven that you cannot run a country on ideology based on the supernatural instead of rule of law and reality.

    The most freedom for the most people means the religious are free to practice their beliefs privately without pressure from government as long as they stay out of government. That is the American reality. That is what separation of church and State means.

    If religions had as their goal having the freedom to practice their faith, they would have to acknowledge that they have that freedom and they would be grateful for that freedom. Instead they insist on attempting to force their beliefs on the rest of this Nation and the world. The reality check is that they need an attitude adjustment. This has been ignored way too long and now would be a good time.

    Thus, the Mormon church has no business acting as a political action group, coercing votes and financing legislative agendas. That is the reality check and that is the basis on which we need to talk about Prop. 8. Many other churches followed that same path during this last election and they too are culpable.

    I have some modest proposals to help the attitude adjustment along. And I would like to see some discussion of these realities.
    1. Pass a comprehensive hate crimes bill.
    2. Regulate the media. I couldn’t even find a Public Broadcasting Network station in Kansas and Washington a few years ago.
    3. Prohibit public religious symbols except on their own property.
    4. Make churches and other religious organizations pay their taxes like the rest of Americans. (This assumes that corporations will likewise be regulated but even if they aren’t, religious organizations should pay their way. Their freedom to worship privately is all that is guaranteed.)
    5. No mixing of church and politics at any time or place or risk prosecution for being a public nuisance and unlawful behavior. Take the phrase “under god” out of any and all government slogans, pledges, and publications.
    6. De-fund faith based initiatives and give the money back to the States to distribute based on social need and the public welfare unbiasedly.
    7. No religious proselytizing in any Government funded organization such as the military, schools, on public airways and spaces, and anywhere that is supported by taxpayer dollars, which would have another desirable outcome of leveling the playing field for real non-profits and the Arts.
    8. Insist that insurance companies and others base their coverages and practices on rule of law and reality. (Example: Insurance companies are allowed to make suicide grounds for nonpayment of benefits. This is strictly based on a religious belief that suicide is a sin.)

    I am sure all of you could think of other proposals as religious trespassing is ubiquitous and egregious.

    America was never meant to be a theocracy. It is a regulated Democracy and Federation of States based on rule of law and reality. Exercise your freedom and do your thing privately. If you don’t like it, go elsewhere. You are wasting our patience, our time, and our tax dollars. Get out of our collective face.

  • invalid-0

    The ‘Womanist Musings’ article was a bit too smug for my taste. Dan Savage has stated his own case about Black (and White) homophobia quite clearly, but the ‘Womanist Musings’ author takes it to mean he is simply racist, and is afraid of Black people. She suggests he and other (apparently only white?) gays engage in outreach to Black churchgoers and communities.

    This is laudable, but misses the larger point. There are Black people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. Why is outreach necessary (from White gays), Womanist Musings, if the people you need to be speaking to are, in fact, sitting right next to you?

    I would disagree with Dan on one thing — there is no Black or White homophobia, just the bad old h-word itself. It crosses other categories like race and class effortlessly, because it is part of the Patriarchy (or as I like to call it, The Cult of Toxic Machismo).