That little problem you have? It’s you.

While we’re in the midst of the current course of conversation (you know what I mean), let’s not forget religion’s long list of crimes in the sex wars either. And speaking of Islam…

Here’s the latest stupid shit from Indonesia: They’re making miniskirts illegal because they “make men do things.”

"...Let's see, need to pick up cat food, put this check in the bank, then see about dinner plans, and...huh? what the... BLGGHAAAH AAAAARRGGG MUST RAAAPEE!"

What religion does under the guise of “morality” is rarely more than flat-out misanthropy. The thinking here is both idiotically misogynist (the old victim-blaming) and misandrist (because mehnz are such weak-willed animals that the mere sight of female thigh-flesh transforms us into rampaging sex-Hulks). And you know, I really get tired of people who are so determined to avoid a little thing called personal responsibility that they’ll trade in both victim-blaming/slut-shaming and the myth of male weakness in the same breath, when what they should be doing is looking in the goddamn mirror and saying, “You know, maybe I’m the asshole.”

Here’s a little PSA.

Miniskirts do not cause rape. Bikinis do not cause rape. Cleavage does not cause rape.

Rapists cause rape.

This has been a public service announcement from a human being with more than single-digit functioning brain cells.

Have a nice day, Indonesians.

Ascend, Christian Youth! (Just…not your boners)

Via Hemant comes this weird peek into the world of Christian sexophobia. There’s this event going on in Chicago called The Ascension Convention, and someone snapped this facepalm-worthy photo.

Because, apparently, when guys and girls have thirty seconds alone and unchaperoned in an elevator together, the babymakin’ explodes! No young adult can be trusted with their own genitals for a single unguarded moment, because Satan is lurking around every corner with his little French Ticklefork to prod your naughty bits into action.

Folks, if you’ve just been utterly baffled as to what’s brought on the recent right-wing onslaught of anti-abortion, anti-birth-control, anti-marriage-equality, anti-anything you might like to do in the privacy of your own bedroom that might squick a Christian out legislation, this is it. These people are taught from a very young age that human bodies, presumably created and perfectly designed by their loving God, are evil. That’s a recipe for sexual neurosis all on its own. We’re not just fighting prudery here, gang. We’re fighting full-on psychological dysfunction.

Then again, we could turn this into a selling point for the next atheist convention. “Come to Skepticon for great speakers, panels, parties, and hawt secks in the elevators!”

Picking Up the Pieces

When I receive a communication like this one, I don’t know whether to be happy or to cry. On the one hand, it’s nice to be able to help someone. On the other hand, I’m sorry to have to help someone put their self-worth back together after it’s been badly damaged so unnecessarily.

I received this note privately from someone on Facebook:

I watch AE on ustream and just wanted to say that something you said really helped me work through a few things :) Forgive me for being candid about the subject!

While not brought up in the Catholic faith I went to Catholic schools and have suffered problems relating to sex due to various things (minimal relationship advice from embarrassed parents, virtually no sex education from school other than in science lessons). I have been in emotionally abusive relationships since a very young age and was taught to feel nothing but guilt and shame about anything sexual. Being English (and from Yorkshire to boot), we just don’t talk about those things with our parents.

Through my self-education over the past few years (and my interest in issues related to atheism) I have started to work through these things that have plagued me since I can remember. It really clicked for me however whilst watching you responding to a caller on one of the archived programmes a few days ago. You were explaining to the caller how we do not need saving from being human. You stated that seeing a person and thinking sexual thoughts is a normal state of being and entirely natural (even essential) to being human and why would we need saving from soemthing so inherant to us?

It sounds silly to say it now but I had never thought of it that way. I’d had so much misinfomation and guilt piled on me that I couldn’t see the blindingly obvious.

I’ve been reading John Gray recently and this concept of the human as animal and natural is only just now sinking in (I don’t agree with everything he says but that part got to me). It seems that you don’t need faith to be still affected by some of the dogma!

I turn 30 next year and have had so many good relationships ruined by this, so many tears and recriminations that I can’t explain it here. I can’t even begin to think how much I have lost.

I’d been working towards it for a while but you really made it finally click with your matter-of-fact approach. I felt like “duuuuuuuh” when I realised the crap I put myself through! And it was totally unecessary! :D

So thank you. I managed to open so much of my life recently and this was one part of the puzzle that bound me to that old guilt.

###

All I can say to her is “you’re welcome, and best of luck.”

And all I can add for anyone else is “Don’t tell me the average believer doesn’t cause any harm.”

Because it’s SCIENCE!

Today is Boobquake, the day when freethinking ladies everywhere prove to the world that science isn’t boring and show misogynist Iranian clerics a thing or two. I mean, I’d be the last to doubt the power of breasts in the course of human events. But actually causing tectonic activity? I’d say that’s due for some myth-busting. So in the spirit of research, I reiterate my support for this endeavor, and the dawning of a new age of global enlightenment it portends. I’m sure the day will rack up some revealing results.

Now, as in all worthy scientific efforts, the results of your research should be made publicly available for peer review. Over at Skepchick, some worthwhile boobular myths are examined, none actually having to do with geological activity, but still. And so far, among our fine AXP family of readers, Jennifer Juniper has documented her data points. I’m sure we’ll enjoy more results as the day goes on, which, even if we don’t have an actual quake, will completely rock the world! So I’ll just let Mike and the Bots from MST3K lead us out in song…and enjoy your experimenting. I certainly will!



Addendum, later in the afternoon: Holy cow, it worked! Well done, ladies!

Atheism in the news? Not really…

Read this post from the blog of the religion reporter at our local newspaper.

My comment was long, so I wasn’t sure if it got posted and thought I’d post it here, as well.

Three comments, in mixed order:

First, the study isn’t worth the attention it’s getting. In addition to all of the other problems with IQ, the variance here simply isn’t notable. This is a weak correlation and little more.

Second, the UTSA event is not to everyone’s taste, but your question; “why equate it with pornography?” is an interesting one. The implication is that you’d like to label porn as ‘bad’ but the Bible as ‘good’ or ‘not as bad’. I don’t find pornography objectionable, yet I find the Bible incredibly objectionable…so, your implication is correct, they’re not equal. I think most Bible-supporters know this which is why, despite calling it the “Good Book” not one of them would agree to let me read Bible stories of my selection to their children.

Some people are uncomfortable about nudity and sex, and that’s their prerogative.

Those, though, who would exalt a book that explicitly endorses slavery – the owning of another human as property, the beating of that property and the instruction for slave to obey cruel masters – just one of many objectionable points, can never claim the moral high ground. They have sacrificed their humanity for a poisonous and corrupt ideology.

And that, leads me to the third point – the focus on the fact that this individual had books on atheism and demons. There is nothing within atheism (because it’s a single position on a single question) that would direct one to burn a church. Atheism is not a necessary and sufficient cause for any act, let alone this one.

But the problem here is the self-righteous bigotry in both the headlines, the focus and the commentary. Where is the headline that reads “Bible found among clinic bombers belongings”?

Fundies rally behind McLeroy, give a big thumbs up to teen pregnancy

Time to get on the horn to your state senators, people. I’ll just link to the relevant TFN piece. You know where to take this from there.

In similar Christian War on Education news, the Texas house today voted down a bill that would require medically accurate sex education in the state. Bring on the teen pregnancies! Nice one, godbots.

Celibate men in dresses say dumb things about sex

Ah well, the Roman Catholic Church is always good for a laugh. This week they’ve come out swinging against the pill. It’s deliriously silly.

The pill “has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature” through female urine, said Pedro Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, president of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, in the report.

“We have sufficient evidence to state that a non-negligible cause of male infertility in the West is the environmental pollution caused by the pill,” he said, without elaborating further.

For real, you can’t make this stuff up!

Remember, the official position of the Church is basically that they don’t want you to have sex at all, unless you’re married Catholics trying to make little Catholics, or…well…we know what the other criterion is.

Today’s “Duh!” moment

From the WaPo:

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

The new analysis of data from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers

Abstinence-only sex education is an exemplar of the neocon/religious right way of handling problems: wishful thinking. But it’s no substitute for education. Teach students about the actual consequences of irresponsible and careless sexual behavior, teach them the benefits of protecting yourself and realizing that you’re the one who makes the decisions about your body and no one else, and they’ll be much better off. Basic human urges simply can’t be swept under the rug with ritualized denialism. But they can be properly controlled and channelled if you have a good idea what can happen to you if you don’t exercise a little common sense in knowing when to act, and when not to act, upon those urges.

Fundamentalist miseducation in Florida endangering kids’ lives

Florida is turning — scratch that and let me start over — Florida has turned into a fundamentalist hellhole that is bound and determined not only to miseducate its kids, but actively put their lives at risk as well.

It’s sad enough that Florida is the state that shamefacedly must claim such embarrassments as “hanging chads,” Katherine Harris (happily forgotten), Kent Hovind and the largest concentration of Scientologists in the country. But the cancer of religidiocy runs even deeper than you might have thought.

We’ve all heard about how a bogus “Academic Freedom Act” specifically designed to target science education, and machinated by the Discovery Institute, has passed out of its first Senate committee. But you might not be aware that what is already in place in the Sunshine State are abstinence-only sex education programs. And, like all miseducation programs put together by the religious, whose real motivations are to maintain ignorance and suppress knowledge rather than encourage, nurture, and cultivate it, the results have been disastrous. I mean, majorly disastrous, as in, we’re damn lucky we haven’t already seen some dead kids as a result of this.

A recent survey that found some Florida teens believe drinking a cap of bleach will prevent HIV and a shot of Mountain Dew will stop pregnancy has prompted lawmakers to push for an overhaul of sex education in the state.

The survey showed that Florida teens also believe that smoking marijuana will prevent a person from getting pregnant.

State lawmakers said the myths are spreading because of Florida’s abstinence-only sex education, Local 6 reported.

This is so staggering that you really need to read it a few times before it sinks in. A cap of bleach!? Seriously, kids down there are that stupid and ignorant about their own bodies? Gee, Christians, that “stick your head in the sand and hope all that scary reality goes away” approach to schooling just seems to be working out great, doesn’t it?

See, this is what we’ve been saying all along.

A sex education program, geared towards a segment of the populace whose hormones are rampaging through their bodies like Count Dracula at a blood bank, that delivers no actual information on the subject other than “Don’t do it, save yourself for marriage!” is going to be an epic fail. Every assessment that has been made of abstinence-only programs has determined this.

And lacking accurate information, well, what do you think the little adolescent horndogs are going to do? They’ll get their information from the usual oh-so-reliable places: their peers, the locker room, MySpace chat, wherever. And they’ll get idiotic ideas in their heads because you haven’t put facts there first. And that irresponsibility on your part will lead to irresponsibility on theirs, leading to more teen pregnancies, STD’s, and worse. O the irony. But hey, at least you didn’t have to subject yourself to the discomfort and embarrassment of having to get up in front of a class of horny teenagers and talk about the nasty, did you?

Fundies always have to learn this the hard way. Just because you don’t like a fact, because it offends you, or because it doesn’t flatter your religious preferences, doesn’t make it stop being a fact. And harsh truths don’t go away when you close your eyes to them.

You know, when you get right down to it, the worst that could happen if some poor dumb SOB grows up deceived about evolution is that, well, he’ll just be dumb where that subject of science is concerned, and sadly bereft of a sense of wonder for the pageantry of life, and all that. But on the whole, someone like that can more or less get by in life as a cog in the proverbial machine, selling insurance or managing an OfficeMax or whatever.

But here, we see an instance where the pernicious influence of conservative Christian fundamentalism on education is more than just a nuisance. It could actually get some boys and girls frickin’ killed!

Wow. Just wow. At least they’ve come to their senses and are changing course. I wonder how many unwanted pregnancies and abortions had to happen first.

American Idol beats up defenseless Christian virgin!

Over at Christian website CNSNews.com, they’re all in a kerfuffle over how mean the judges and host of American Idol were to poor Bruce Dickson, a 19-year-old from Bastrop (about half an hour from here) who, when asked to tell something about himself, admitted that he had never even kissed a girl.

“What?” Randy Jackson asked. “On purpose?”

“On purpose,” Dickson said. “On my wedding day, that will be my first kiss.”

Jackson’s advice to Dickson after the judges sent him packing: “Go kiss some girls.”

Simon Cowell, eyebrows raised, told him: “Avoid Ryan (Seacrest) on the way out.”

Seacrest himself ended the segment featuring Dickson with these words: “Maybe next year he’ll come back less a boy and more a man.”

Dickson, of course, didn’t take the ribbing well and went into full persecution mode.

“I respect women and don’t think of them as a sexual object, and I’m the freak?” Dickson said.

Dude, fer fuck’s sake! There’s such a thing as being a sleazebag who sexually objectifies women…and then there’s kissing a girl, something that is widely done by most heterosexual males at some point in their developmental cycle, and is not only not considered disrespectful (unless you’re forcing it upon an unwilling kissee) but entirely healthy, normal, and — you’d better sit down for this — fun to boot!

I cannot help but notice that there’s a big distinction to be made between the idea — perfectly sensible and sane — that you are the master of your own body and it’s up to you what happens to it, especially sexually, and the way in which Christianity reframes and sells this message, heaped with great globs of guilt and fear-mongering designed to make young people think the proper way to confront their budding sexuality is to consider it “sinful,” and suppress it until the magical day of your wedding, at which point everything bad about your body becomes good and holy and you can touch your pee-pee without fear of a lightning bolt up the back door.

There’s a healthy way to promote abstinence, and it’s not the way it’s promoted in Christianity. Rather, what Christianity sells are some bitterly unrealistic expectations of marriage. I mean, what do Christians think they’re protecting here? Do Christians really believe that if they remain virginal — and not just virginal, but refrain from any physical contact with the opposite sex at all — until holy matrimony, that this will have some kind of talismanic effect upon their marriages, rendering them perfect and idyllic in every way? No arguments, no financial strain, 100% contentment and happiness, and angelic obedient children? Well, it wouldn’t be the first foolish thing Christians have chosen to believe, I suppose.

If you’re looking for reasons why the divorce rate among Christians is so much higher — especially among Bible Belt Baptists — than any other demographic group, you might look to these “sexual purity” programs. These aren’t about giving young people healthy, sex-positive messages that incorporate abstinence at all. It’s about plugging this concept of “purity,” which comes, naturally, with the inevitable view that failure to live up to purity’s criteria means that you are impure and probably in danger of hellfire and damnation. Attaching the baggage of sin to sex is a recipe for some pretty debilitating neuroses.

Of course, a Christian reading this would offer the obvious false dilemma as a retort: “So what, I should just go out and have sex with everyone I see?” No, just be aware that your sexuality is part of you, and a good part of you, not something the Devil scotch-taped to your crotch in order to lure you into a fall from grace. Realize that part of acknowledging and growing in your sexuality means that it’s something you control. The choice to take command of your body and not engage in sex until you’re emotionally ready for it is a rational decision, and shouldn’t be one based on hangups over your body and fear of God’s punishment.

As for young master Dickson, well, if he finds it hard to get over Ryan Seacrest’s taunts, I suspect he can always find a sympathetic shoulder to cry on over at Clay Aiken’s place. Malicious rumors suggest he’s not all that into kissing girls either.