The past 48 hours have been a whirlwind for activists and fake Christians around America as Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has defied federal law by not issuing marriage licenses to gay couples in her district.
An elected official, Davis told prospective couples she would not issue any marriage licenses to LGBT couples because it went against her beliefs as a Christian. Even though she is paid by the taxpayers to do her job, she insists that God is her authority, not the laws of the United States.
Much to her chagrin, I am sure, is Davis’ own marriage history — four of them — and apparent adultery, plus a confusing back-and-forth of which husband she was sleeping with, when, and who was impregnating her at the time. While this all makes for great fodder in the online gossip-sphere, none of her sexual history has anything to do with the fact that Davis is an elected official, who is refusing to do her job and is violating the civil rights of citizens in her district, while pulling an annual salary of $80,000.
Having seen the news clips of Davis defending her repulsion of gay marriage, she is a “true believer”, and nothing anyone can say will convince her that LGBT are people, too, with the same civil rights as all other Americans. She has that crazed look in her eyes when she talks about Jesus and God, and she seems like the kind of zealot that will relish being a martyr for her beliefs. (I’m from the South. I know ’em when I see ’em.) And by the way, she has a First Amendment right to be as right-wing, Jesus-obsessed as she wants to be … on her own time.
The First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing any religion, so her failure to carry out her job as a civil servant is not protected by the First Amendment. We also have the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson’s view on the Separation of Church and State, which has been quoted numerous times by the United States Supreme Court, and then there’s Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, which says very plainly, “the government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion….” This treaty was ratified unanimously by the Senate, so I guess they really meant it — the United States is not a Christian country. The government of the United States is, in fact, secular. Therefore, a secular employee’s personal religious beliefs are irrelevant in regard to her duty to abide by and uphold the laws of the land. If she doesn’t like the laws, that’s what the justice and legislative branches of the government are for.
But let’s focus on the issue before us: Davis is being paid by the taxpayers while she is violating citizens’ civil rights. She needs to follow the law or leave the job, but slut-shaming her has taken over the conversation.
If this were a rape case at trial or a sexual harassment claim, a woman’s prior sexual history would not be allowed because it has no bearing on the incident at hand. And I’d be willing to bet that if this were a man who had had four marriages, no one would call him a “slut”.
Slut-shaming is a patriarchal tactic of humiliating and ostracizing women, to keep women in line and to control women’s sexuality.
As activists, we cannot get sidetracked. Focus on the issue in front of us, and address it head-on. For now, Kim Davis has two choices: do the job she was elected and is being paid to do; or quit. We will not allow Americans’ rights to be violated just so one woman can feel like a martyr in her own mind.
Today, I wanted to talk about some of the topics that are currently preoccupying my psyche as I work on ArousedWoman Magazine, my other works, my upcoming book about my Congressional run last year, as well as my regular activism for women’s issues and women’s rights.
The topic that is usually foremost for me is women’s rights and women’s issues. There is still a debate being waged on my Facebook wall about why women need to have the Equal Rights Amendment passed, along with a prolonged discussion on why the Bible does not exert authority over the United States Constitution — yes, some people still need that explained to them.
I needed to get this stuff off my chest, so I wrapped it up in a video. Enjoy! :-)
Review: “Masters of Sex” Season 3 Premiere Takes on Sex, Revolution, Women’s Lib, & the Human Sexual Response
The Season 3 premiere of the popular cable television show, “Masters of Sex”, is available for free viewing in advance of its airing on July 12, 2015. Similarly to HBO, Showtime is presenting its content online for a monthly fee as an alternative to watching it on TV. And it’s about time!
“Masters of Sex” follows the important work of sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia Johnson, wonderfully played by Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, respectively. After two successful seasons delving into the ground-breaking work that changed society’s perception of sex and of women’s sexuality forever, Season 3 of “Masters of Sex” promises to go even further, showing their work finally reaching the masses while exploring their personal relationships which are crippled by the very work they love.
This online episode offers a brief review of where the show left off at the end of Season 2 and picks up in 1965. Much like my dismay with “Mad Men’s” foray into the mid-1960s, “Masters of Sex” is now squarely thrust into a world of avocado green appliances in the home, false eyelashes and white eye shadow on the women, and some of the ugliest clothes ever designed. Be that as it may, the ’60s were also an incredibly important time for progress in the civil rights movements for blacks, women, American Indians, and other traditionally marginalized groups.
This episode alternates between Masters and Johnson’s press conference for the release of their pioneering book, Human Sexual Response, and the months leading up to that press conference. Masters is as work-focused as ever, and even when he is with his family physically, he is an absent father to his children emotionally. Likewise, Johnson also deals with her role as a mom to two teenagers and is determined to finish school, a personal and professional goal she repeatedly has put off due to her dedication to their work.
Masters’ wife, Libby, pops pills to get by as she deals with anxiety and depression. At one point, she admits she has been “medicating myself so I wouldn’t feel” all of the things wrong in her marriage. She confides in Johnson one night, “I think that a heart can only be broken so many times, and then it’s done. And I think that I’m done.”
Even though she is a sex researcher, Johnson has trouble talking to her own daughter about sex, which is difficult at the best of times, but the irony is not lost. Her son, Henry, wants to enlist in the military, causing Johnson another knock-down-drag-out with her ex-husband, George.
Now that the children of Masters and Johnson are growing up, the show focuses more on the relationships they have – or do not have – with their families. Masters and Johnson are much more equipped to help other couples even as they fail horribly in their relationships in their own families. A pivotal scene between Masters and his son Johnny, in which Masters’ past issues with his angry father come barreling to the forefront, shakes Masters to his core.
The mentality of the time toward women’s sexuality is also on full display. During the press conference, a reporter asks, “With your emphasis on female sexual pleasure, can a woman feel free now to say, ‘No’?” I laughed out loud at the stupidity of the question, and yet I had to remember that the timeframe of the show is 1965. Then I remembered misogynist Virginia politician Dick Black’s comments from just 2002 about how spousal rape was not possible, especially if the woman is wearing a nighty. Then I remembered by own marriage, when I felt like I had to have sex to keep the peace about bills or not to get kicked out. Johnson’s response to the reporter’s question was brilliant: “Our study gives women more freedom than ever to say ‘No’ because a woman will no longer be making her decision out of fear.”
By “fear”, she means the traditional fears regarding social ostracism, disease, and pregnancy. The point is that women would now have the information they need to make informed decisions in regard to sex, safe sex, and a better chance at preventing unwanted consequences. All hail, women’s lib!
The reporter presses Masters and Johnson, questioning if they think the current societal trends will lead to a culture of moral decay. Johnson emphatically responds by explaining, “Young men and women today are inclined to work things out emotionally rather than fixating on sex.”
At no point in the series has Dr. Masters been likable as a person, a husband, or a father; he fails on all three points. However, as a doctor, Masters is a vocal and unapologetic advocate for women’s sexuality, women’s equality – especially pertaining to sex and pleasure, and a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to be sexually active. A New York Times reporter remarks that clergy members are warning that lowering these traditional fears – and women feeling comfortable telling their husbands “No” when it comes to sex – means women will bring about the collapse of social order … because women living in fear and enduring spousal rape is apparently preferable. Masters bluntly and succinctly replies, “There is no universe where fear is a value worth preserving.”
Probably the best line in the episode occurs when one reporter insinuates that Masters and Johnson are trying to piggy-back on the sexual revolution, to which Johnson retorts, “We are the sexual revolution.”
“We know the fear that surrounds the subject of sex…. The legacy affects us all,” Masters points out to the reporters. He explains that the narrow-minded constrictive view of sex has only been around since the Industrial Revolution. Before that, “Sex was a given. It was valued, enjoyed, even if it wasn’t understood scientifically.” He states that all they want from their research is an approach to sexuality that is free of fear and full of understanding.
The reporter who grills Masters and Johnson throughout the episode dishes his final words about their book, Human Sexual Response. What does he say? You’ll have to watch to find out.
Overall, this episode is a great testament to the work of Masters and Johnson, while highlighting the hurdles they faced professionally and personally. The 1960s time period is firmly established by the production design, and Annaleigh Ashford, who plays Betty the office manager, has an all-too-brief scene at the beginning, but sporting a pseudo-vintage Streisand/Funny Girl wig makes it worth it.
My only complaint is the casting of Johnson’s son, Henry. The actor, Noah Robbins, looks nothing like Lizzy Caplan or Mather Zickel, who plays her ex-husband George; and Robbins seems more like a 14 year-old, not a 17 year-old who is ready to enter the military. This is TV, not the stage; a little more realism is expected. Also in this episode, this 17 year-old Henry has sex with a woman older than he is, and yet there is no mention of statutory rape or impropriety, except for the fact that she has a child.
For the other teenage Johnson kid, the casting of Tessa with Isabelle Furhman was a good choice as she resembles both Caplan and Zickel with her dark looks. And though she does have a nude scene, Furhman is 18+ in real life.
Extra kudos also go to the casting team for hiring Jaeden Lieberher to play Masters’ son Johnny, who perfectly expresses through body language and facial reactions how much he wants to be like his father and desperately wants his father’s love, but secretly resents Masters’ obsession with his work.
The real-life Virginia Johnson did have two children with George Johnson, but their names are Scott and Lisa. The factual William H. Masters had two children with his wife Elizabeth, and their names are William and Sarah.
This online freebie preview has been edited for content, with the more choice language silenced, naked breasts blurred out, and the best part – the sex – has been cut out completely. You’ll have to buy a subscription to get the full benefit of the sailor’s language, nudity, and sex scenes.
If you have never seen the show, check it out. And if you think we struggle with society accepting women’s sexuality in today’s world, “Masters of Sex” expertly portrays the narrow-minded environment that women endured as they struggled for sexual liberation just 50 years ago.
Catch the Season 3 premiere of “Masters of Sex” on Showtime.
With the landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States legalizing gay marriage last Friday, June 26, 2015, one would think only celebrating and rejoicing would be heard throughout these 50 states, which are founded upon the principles of “liberty and justice for all”. However, one does not have to look far to see the glaring reminder of the right-wing religiosity that plagues American culture and politics.
The vile response by evangelicals and fundamentalists has been most prevalent on social media with an extra helping of crazy being bandied about in the news media. The past seven days have offered a shocking reminder at just how deep the fundies’ misguided hate runs in this country. Lifelong friends have been unfriending and blocking each other. Preachers have threatened to light themselves on fire. Businesses have posted “No Gays Allowed” signs on their doors. Narrow-minded troglodytes everywhere have shown their true colors amidst the “rainbowification” of the United States.
The one thing that has not happened is the earth imploding, or falling out of the sky, or hell freezing over, or some other catastrophic calamity causing the end of life as we know it — even with the religious right prognosticating that marriage equality would end life as we know it. In fact, everything looks pretty normal from here … and I’m in the Red State of Mississippi. The marriage equality ruling was blocked by Governor Bryant — whose son is gay! — and Attorney General Jim Hood, but the people demanded their equality — backed by the Supreme Court, and won. Things are looking good here as gay and lesbian couples have been getting their marriage licenses around the state.
Amazingly, the LGBT community and allies have taken the high-road amidst all the vehemence spewed by so-called Christians. Yet, real Christians, who actually live by Jesus’ teachings of love and tolerance, do count themselves amongst the allies, and hopefully, they will drown out the cacophony of the religious nuts’ anti-gay and anti-equality rhetoric that has filled the media since Friday.
Sure, it’s a balmy summer’s day, but not because of the predicted fire and brimstone.
Apocalypse, anyone? Not today.