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    Ann Rostow: See You in September

    By Ann Rostow–

    See You in September

    As usual, I just reread my last column in order to make sure that I don’t repeat a story or let something fall through the cracks. What a dismal account I provided! And on the eve of Pride Day! Sorry about that. You’ll be happy to know that today I’m not in the mood to write about the law or indeed, anything sad. I’d actually rather skip the whole subject of GLBT news and write about love or summertime or puppies. But unfortunately, that may prove difficult. 

    For one thing, the Supreme Court ended their session by ruling in favor of Joseph Kennedy, the Washington state public school football coach who wanted to pray in public on the fifty-yard line after games. Further, as expected, they struck Roe v Wade in a disgusting opinion, spitting with disdain for women and secular Americans. But having allowed myself to become enraged by the previous week’s decision forcing Maine to subsidize religious instruction, I just can’t react to these final assaults on the Constitution. 

    I will say, however, that I read a New York Times article about Maine, where the state legislature passed an amendment that forbids GLBT bias in all schools that accept public money, an amendment to the state’s anti-discrimination that effectively rendered the High Court’s horrific school subsidy ruling (which I won’t rehash) toothless. Lawmakers did so in advance of the Court’s action, which is something I should have known about and should have written about while I was becoming unhinged in print in our last issue. That was kind of inexcusable on my part, so please forgive me.

    Finally, much ink has been spilled lately on the subject of Clarence Thomas, who went out of his way to remind us that he doesn’t think the Due Process Clause extends to substantive rights like the right to contraception, gay sex, or same-sex marriage. To call the man an outlier is a nice way to put it. He’s a constitutional nutcase and always has been. He’s just more dangerous now because his pal Sam Alito has become feral. I still say we will survive Thomas and Alito with our rights more or less intact. But it’s the “less intact” part that worries me. They won’t overturn Lawrence or Obergefell, but to what extent will these two justices convince three others to undermine our legal status in other ways? That’s hard to say. 

    Now, let’s agree to drop the subject of the High Court until the justices emerge from under their rocks nest fall.

    Give Bette A Break

    Let’s move on to an op-ed by Pamela Paul in The New York Times that bemoaned a new trend from the “fringe left,” to replace the term “women” with politically correct trans-inclusive lingo.  

    “Previously,” she writes, “a commonly understood term for half the world’s population, the word had a specific meaning tied to genetics, biology, history, politics and culture. No longer. In its place are unwieldy terms like ‘pregnant people,’ ‘menstruators,’ and ‘bodies with vaginas.’”

    The essay led Bette Midler to decry the phenomenon in a tweet that was considered trans-phobic. “They don’t call us ‘women’ anymore,” Midler tweeted, “they call us ‘birthing people’ or ‘menstruators,’ and even ‘people with vaginas’! Don’t let them erase you! Every human on Earth owes you!” 

    These words are not trans-phobic, dear Readers. I’ve been covering the GLBT community for a good quarter century, and I assure you that the community of transmen is not clamoring to be included in the lexicon of feminine health. Far from it. If Paul and Midler take a breath, they will find that the word “women” remains, and will remain, the go-to description of all things female. 

    Yes, there exists indeed a “fringe” as Paul put it, which tries desperately to phrase things so that everyone who breathes air can find themselves included. It’s a worthy goal, but one that can easily devolve into absurdity. Witness the (cis-gender) activist from Smith who found herself outraged that the all-female college does not have tampon machines in the men’s bathroom. As I asked when I first covered that incident, how many transmen are likely to be wandering the campus of a women’s college on their period without any protection? Does this minuscule population really need its own tampon machine? And ladies, have you ever actually encountered a stocked and operational tampon machine? No. It’s either broken, empty, or both, and in an emergency we all survive on toilet paper. 

    More importantly, who has the emotional bandwidth in this day and age in this country to focus on micro injustices of this sort? Again, not any of the transmen I know. They are not the ones calling for novel phraseology that replaces “women” with the awkward alternatives referenced by Paul and Midler. It’s a small minority of woke women who are busy with that, and although some may applaud their efforts, I agree with Paul and Midler that it’s counterproductive. 

    Finally, one of Paul’s points is that the far right and the far left are both in the business of “erasing” women. This is a false equivalency. The far right is actively and viciously attacking women. The far left is playing with semantics in an effort to be helpful and kind.

    Kill Me Now

    I’ve just spent some quality time reviewing the animal in each state most likely to kill you, one of those listicles that obliges you to repeatedly hit “Next.” In Florida, the most dangerous animal is a mosquito, which is not an animal. Period. It is a bug. You may as well list “the Coronavirus” as “the animal most likely to kill you” somewhere. 

    Several states list “deer” as the most dangerous animal, due to traffic accidents. I also object to this, since you are not killed by the deer, but by your careless driving. And another handful, including my wife’s home state of Kansas, cite “cows,” thanks to various accidents in the slaughterhouses. Again, these tragedies don’t make cows dangerous. I invested time and brain power in this listicle in order to read about scary animals, not learn about industrial fatalities or car crashes.

    Dogs are the prime offenders in many states, which makes sense, but fails to provide much of a frisson. At least California has rattlesnakes at the top of the list, truly a worthy and frightening adversary for human beings. But North Carolina ranks fire ants as the top killer. Like mosquitos, fire ants aren’t animals in my mind. But how the hell does a fire ant kill you? At lease mosquitos can give you some deadly disease. According to the commentary: “While fire ant bites are not usually deadly, they do have the potential to send the victim into shock, which can sometimes be fatal.” Really? Something that has the potential to put you in a situation that can sometimes be fatal cannot possibly be the thing most likely to kill you in the state. Surely North Carolina has some rabid dogs or aggressive cows.

    By the time we get to Oklahoma, the listicle jumps the shark, suggesting that “tigers” are the animal most likely to kill you in the Sooner State because they escape from zoos. I’m sorry, but I could not continue reading after this blatant piece of disinformation. A Google search informs us that the real villains in Oklahoma include black bears, feral hogs, and a variety of snakes. Tigers are not mentioned. 

    Who writes these dumb lists anyway? It’s like the lists of “best small towns in America,” which go on to describe places at random with no criteria or explanation of ranking. Whitefish, Montana! Carmel by the Sea! Galena, Illinois! Say, what? Why? And who would bother to read these useless presentations? Oh, wait.

    Lesbians Behaving Badly

    Moving on, my deepest thanks to loyal reader Jon Lowe, who forwarded a Guardian story out of Taiwan from last March. It seems a 24-year-old lesbian named Yang decided to have her girlfriend kidnapped, stuffed in a suitcase, thrown in the trunk of a car, and driven to the local marriage licensing office where she, Yang, would suddenly appear and propose. According to her plan, the two of them would then get married and live happily ever after. What could go wrong?

    Yang hired two teenaged boys to catch girlfriend, Huang, by surprise in her apartment early one morning. The guys, who had advertised on a part-time job app, agreed to proceed for 4,000 Taiwan dollars apiece, or about $150 each. Easy money, right? Sure enough, they managed to subdue Huang, get her into the case and get the case into the trunk, and drive over to the office. Since the office wasn’t open, the boys hung around waiting in the parking lot of a supermarket, where Yang joined them. Rather than release Huang, however, they all apparently cooled their heels, at which point Huang escaped from the suitcase (that they had left partially unzipped for her safety) and managed to open the trunk and jump out screaming. A cop was passing by and promptly arrested the men, while Yang ran away.

    Eventually, Yang came forward to explain the mix-up, and prosecutors determined that indeed the whole affair was an elaborate romantic scheme gone awry and dropped the charges. It’s not clear whether or not Huang agreed to get married after this debacle, but I can see it going either way. 

    I was unable to confirm this story through any other press reports, which made me think twice about passing it on. But then again, the Guardian is a reputable source and I want it to be true. It’s been so long since we’ve encountered the peculiar profile that justifies a “Lesbians Behaving Badly” headline. The passion, the obsession, the insanity that only a crazy lesbian can bring to a relationship. May it not be the last exemplar. 

    Hello Dolly

    Let’s conclude with an alert from One Million Moms, the American Family Association watchdog that more likely consists of half a dozen moms. (I have no idea, really.)

    “Mattel announced its launch of the first transgender Barbie doll as part of its #TRANSISBEAUTIFUL Tribute Collection, modeled after the Orange Is the New Black actor and LGBTQ activist Laverne Cox,” the Moms inform us.

    “Mattel created a Barbie in his likeness (sic), wearing a red, sheer evening gown with a faux leather strapless top, a tulle skirt, and a sparkly silver bodysuit underneath. The Laverne Cox doll promotes cross-dressing and glorifies the transgender lifestyle. Mattel has created a toy glorifying gender inclusivity while ignoring one’s biological sex.”

    I hadn’t heard about the Laverne Cox Barbie, but she sounds fabulous, doesn’t she? I was kind of impressed with the detail of the Moms’ press release, even quoting Cox, who thanked Mattel “for this moment for the trans and LGBTQ+ community in truly challenging times, particularly for trans kids. I am deeply honored and hope that this doll will be a beacon of hope and possibility for fans of Barbie and beyond of all ages.”

    The Moms were not impressed with Cox’s gracious comments. “It is outrageous that a toy company is marketing and normalizing gender dysphoria to young children,” they wrote. “Parents who are not already aware of the company’s agenda, please be forewarned: Children are being ‘groomed’ by Mattel trans Barbie dolls under the disguise of playtime.”

    They continued, “Now, parents will have to deal with the confusion experienced by their children when these inappropriate dolls are seen on store shelves such as Walmart, Target, and other stores that sell Barbie dolls.”

    Do you really think small children will be “confused” when they encounter a doll dressed in a sparkly silver bodysuit and a tulle skirt? Do you think the Laverne Cox doll is presented as a biological male? What do the children think about Ken and GI Joe who, as far as I know, don’t have anything between their legs but smooth plastic? Do the little boys wonder what happened to them? What does Mom tell the little guy when he asks why GI Joe doesn’t have a wee wee? Did he have a combat injury? Talk about difficult conversations in the Walmart toy aisle.

    arostow@aol.com

    Published on July 14, 2022