Well, it's been a month again, so let's play some Spring Break catch-up. Here's a list of interesting links:
First up, Stephanie Meyer has caused some waves by identifying herself as a feminist in a recent article on The Guardian. Says Meyers:
"I think there are many feminists who would say that I am not a feminist. But, to me ... I love women, I have a lot of girlfriends, I admire them, they make so much more sense to me than men, and I feel like the world is a better place when women are in charge. So that kind of by default makes me a feminist. I love working in a female world."
Can't say I'm a fan of any version of feminism that's defined by thinking "girlfriends... make so much more sense to me than men" and where Bella is the version of a woman "in charge" (whose boyfriend completely controls her...). But hey, maybe Ms. Meyer will have a change of heart in how she views relationships and eventually come to see why Edward's behavior is disconcerting. Dare I hope for a feminist-friendly rewrite 20 years from now? You know it would sell...
Next up, Utah has been surprising in the news recently, with support for same-sex marriage coming from an amicus brief that was authored in Utah and which includes support from 25 advocacy groups that are located in red states. The article I've linked is Joanna Brooks's coverage - Brooks is a Mormon who actively opposed Prop 8, despite general Mormon support for the proposition. Personally, I'm still relieved that as a Mormon who has never lived in California I was never asked to support the proposition, so I don't pass judgment either way on Mormons who did or didn't support prop 8. In a similar vein, Jon Huntsman recently offered his support for same-sex marriage and argued that it's actually a conservative cause to include same-sex couples in government-recognized marriage.
Meanwhile, Obama has praised Utah's immigration reform and is pointing to the firmly-red-state's progressive stance as evidence that Americans can hope for bipartisan work in producing much-needed immigration reform. To quote a Salt Lake Tribune article on the topic,
"A bipartisan group of civic and religious leaders, including two former governors, drafted the Utah Compact in 2010 in reaction to a wave of state-based attempts to crack down on illegal immigration.
"It comprises five principles, including that the issue must be dealt with in Congress and that the community should use a "humane approach" toward immigrants, legal or illegal, and strive to keep families together."
With the Catholic Church's recent change in leadership, Lindy west at Jezebel has published a controversial article entitled "F*** the Pope" (I'm censoring in case any of our more conservative readers have kids near the computer screen). Despite the sensational choice of title (doubtless intended to offend), the article raises several interesting ideas. For one, West points out that people across the world have put an intense amount of energy into discussing one pope's retirement and the next pope's selection - why good might we do if we redirected that amount of energy into discussing some of the Church's current policies? she asks. West also points out some troubling stances The Vatican has taken in recent history on issues that impact violence against women and the spread of HIV in Africa. At the same time, I'm troubled by West referring to the Catholic Church as a "corporation," a claim that I'm sensitive to as a Mormon.
Referring to any religion as a corporation and not a religion is a strong claim that carries some serious potential consequences. If it's not really a church but a business, the reasoning holds, then its tax-exempt status should be removed. The problem with that stance is that when only a few religions are targeted with those claims (and remember, the Mormon Church is one of very few international religions where the clergy aren't even paid, and the Catholic and Mormon Churches are both world-renowned for their service work) - when specific religions are targeted with that claim (a claim that's dangerously close to antisemitic stereotypes of Jewish people controlling money), we risk religious intolerance. As members of a country that has a history of persecuting both Mormons and Catholics, we Americans should be particularly cautious about making that claim against religious groups that fall outside of Protestantism. Note how much less likely we are to make those claims about Protestantism. We Americans have a bias in favor of Protestant churches.
Anyhow, getting off my soap box for a minute, Kristen Bell, an actress many feminists love for her work with the TV series Veronica Mars, has made news again for her role in a record-breaking Kickstarter movie campaign. The campaign, created by writer Rob Thomas, features a short video in which Bell and other stars from the series discuss how much they'd like to create a Veronica Mars movie. After studio executives agreed to produce a film as long as the group could demonstrate that fan interest would be strong, Thomas created the kickstarter campaign, with a lofty goal to receive 2 million in pledges, within just 30 days. Within 11 hours, the goal was met, setting a record for the fastest-raised million on kickstarter (I assume the fastest-raised 2 million, too). Last I checked, the raised amount was close to 4 million, and we're still only 3 days in. Let's hope Joss Whedon is playing close attention.
And lastly, because I think it's important and thus deserving of some emphasis, Zerlina Maxwell has published an article on ebony.com in which she suggests 5 concrete ways that we (meaning people in general, but perhaps parents specifically) can prevent rape. Maxwell argues that if we continue to make rape prevention a woman's responsibility things will never improve. Instead, she argues, we need to fight rape culture by teaching teenage boys to see women as people, not objects; how to understand consent (hint: rape is the absence of consent, not just the presence of "no."); how to express healthy masculinity; and the importance of validating victims who come forward; as well as the responsibility to intervene as a bystander. The comments are less inspiring than the article, so read them at risk to your gag reflex.