Event: The Catholic Church Is Not a Force For Good in the World.

I’ve always thought religion is bullshit, so when I saw a debate with the topic sentence “the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world” as part of the Intelligence2 debate series, I bought a ticket with my friend Laura immediately.

Going in, we’d both had our minds made up that the Catholic Church certainly wasn’t a force for good in the world, as did 34% of our fellow debate-goers, a door poll reflected.

The affirmative side didn’t do much to sway anyone’s opinion, as lawyer Julian McMahon and Sister Libby Rogerson were pretty poor debaters.

McMahon spoke about how love is the driving force behind the Church and Jesus’ teachings, which has obviously been lost in a lot of hot-button religious topics such as gay rights, and instead we have the “language of The Simpson’s”. I’d say this was true even ten years ago, but the language of today is very much a cyber one, which is perhaps why the Church is losing influence and followers. (Albeit, speaker for the opposition, Anne Summers A.O., pointed out that followers of Catholicism have increased less than one percent in recent years.)

Sister Libby went on to talk about Catholics who volunteer and work in Indigenous communities and in prisons. I don’t know too much about how the Catholic Church has been more of a hindrance than a help in Indigenous Australia, but Laura was obviously upset by the Sister’s assertion, rolling her eyes and groaning. My beef with volunteering being a primarily religious domain is that yes, perhaps a lot of Catholics volunteer, but a lot of non-Catholics volunteer, too. For example, I’m agnostic and I used to volunteer at the RSPCA. As event facilitator Simon Longstaff said, quoting Thomas Aquinas, “Not even the pope has sovereignty over a well-informed conscience.” Amen to that.

In the face of criticism, Sister Libby said the Church is a “flawed, human institution” and makes mistakes just like anyone else. Where have we heard that before?

The affirmative’s only saving grace was Helen Coonan, who actually read from her notes instead of waffling on about dot points. She said there is no excusing the past injustices of the Church, but we need to focus on the present. Coonan spoke at length about the Occupy movement, using their non-hierarchy (un)structure and myriad of messages to undercut all anti-establishment movements. (SlutWalk comes to mind.) That’s the trouble with Occupy: those in opposition to it judge all movements by its measuring stick. But that’s another post for another time.

She spoke at length about wealth in the Catholic Church and using it as a metaphor for how the world should structure its monetary dealings. Hmm… To be honest, as well as Coonan spoke, her focus on economics kind of bored me.

To rebut this, Father Peter of the opposition said the Church favours the idea of “pray, pay, obey” and doesn’t give its followers a voice.

Still with the opposition—debating for the notion that the Catholic Church isn’t a force of good—consisting of Summers, the excommunicated Father Peter Kennedy and writer David Marr, they brought the house down with their poignant points.

Summers spoke about the women’s movement in relation to the Church which, when Summers and fellow Catholic school-educated feminists such as Germaine Greer were at school, consisted of either “being a nun or a mother of six”. She spoke about abortion, birth control and choosing whether and when to become a mother.

During the floor debate, one woman about my age tried to debunk Summers’ theory that women who subscribe to the teachings of the Church don’t make their own choices. The fact that her mother was born in the ’30s, has several (Catholic school?) degrees and NINE CHILDREN leads me to believe that she wasn’t making a choice to do these things so much as she was brainwashed to do them. As Marr said during his time, sex as a non-reproductive act is frowned upon by the Church.

Speaking of Marr, he was by far the best debater and is my new favourite person! He talked about sex as a sin and that followers of the Catholic Church are supposed to engage in “no sex at all, ever!” unless it’s between a married, heterosexual man and woman for the purpose of procreation. How boring!

He pointed out four main problems with the view the Catholic Church has of sex:

1. Celibacy as purity. And we all know how damaging that is to young sexuality, in particular.

2. Condoms being outlawed. When Marr asked the affirmative panel if they support the banning of condoms to stop the spread of disease, like HIV/AIDS in Africa, McMahon awkwardly and roundaboutly agreed with the Church’s position. He said that abstinence and sex only within marriage would stop the spread of disease in Africa, forgetting that in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo rape is rife and abstinence only sex education doesn’t work. His response was laden with racism and rape-apologist attitudes, in my opinion. For all his accomplishments, this debate illustrated that McMahon is severely out of touch with the realities of our world.

3. Homosexuals are bad, okay? I think we all know the Church’s stance on homosexuality, despite most Catholics, according to Marr, believing in granting the right of marriage to the gays.

4. Shame. That sex, being sexual and looking sexy is shame-worthy. I would argue that this attitude has permeated secular society, but that secular society also laughs in the face of point #1, and also prude-shames those who aren’t having sex, being sexual or looking sexy. You can’t win either way.

By the end of the debate, in which Coonan rebutted that “ordinary Catholics”—those who acknowledge and agree with most points from both sides of the argument, and who aren’t caricatures of fanatical militant Catholics—“need a voice”, which I certainly agree with, 57% of the audience was against the Catholic Church as a force for good in the world. Hope for atheism—or at least agnosticism, which is the philosophy I subscribe to—isn’t dead yet, which is more than I can say for the Catholic Church.

Related: Feminism Respects Women More Than Anything, Including the Catholic Church!

“Who The Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna Break My Slutty Stride.

The Underlying Message in Glee‘s “The First Time” Episode.

Elsewhere: [The Telegraph] Tiger Woods Says “I’m Only Human” After Mystery Crash.

TV: The Underlying Message in Glee’s “The First Time” Episode.

 

Blaine, Kurt, and Rachel’s first times were surprisingly tender; taking place in front of the fire after Blaine, Kurt and Rachel had given the performance of their lives in West Side Story, and Finn had realised his college football dreams won’t come true—but not before Glee had effectively prude-shamed Rachel and Blaine.

The idea that an actor can’t truly portray an emotion or a situation unless they’ve felt it or been involved in it flies in the face of the theory of acting. That everyone else involved in West Side Story (except Coach Beiste, who finally gets her man. And is Emma Pillsbury still a virgin…?) has lost it except its two main characters, whose sexual awakening the play focuses on, further emphasises the virgin-shaming going on.

I’d like to point out at this juncture that these kids are 17 YEARS OLD! I have friends who are nearly 23 and 26, respectively, who are virgins—not to mention those who don’t air their sexual history (or lack thereof) as freely—and I don’t think it hampers their ability to do their jobs, enjoy life and make meaningful connections with people. I really resent the fact that not just Glee, but society in general, likens virginity to a handicap. Even handicapped Artie (who insensitively makes a joke about Chaz Bono being stuck inside a woman’s body, and is then subsequently picked on by the college football recruiter, asking if Artie wants a handicapped spot on the team. Been there, done that.) targets Rachel and Blaine for their lack of relatability to their characters. What happened to the days when virginity was a virtue? But, please; let’s not go back there!

Now that Rachel, Kurt and Blaine have lost their virginities in the dream-like way that Hollywood so romanticises, can we please go back to normal? Not everyone experiences their cherry-popping romantically in front of the fire. And the sooner this is drummed into young adults, along with the debunking of the “hopeless romantic” idealism of modern relationships, the better.

Related: Glee: T.G.Inappropriate.F.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “Asian F” Episode.

The Underlying Message in Glee’s “I Am Unicorn” Episode.

Glee Back in Full Force.

The Underlying Meaning in Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” Episode.

Glee “Sexy” Review.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Why Being a Hopeless Romantic is a Crock.

Images via Megavideo.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Case for Dry Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement.” [HuffPo]

Alone time is my siren call. Here, Jezebel’s Social Minefield tells you how to get more “me time” without offended those who want to have “we time” with you.

One woman goes mirror-free for a year. [Jezebel]

Lady Gaga’s run out of people to plagiarise, so she’s turned to herself for inspiration in her latest video for “Yoü & I”. [Fashionista]

Nipple slips from Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland in quick succession: shock, horror! [The Washington Post] (SFW)

Camilla Peffer on Beyonce as the anti-feminist. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The gender politics of Justin Bieber. [FBomb]

Is there a need for women to have their periods?:

“… I do want to raise the question that while we do the work of destigmatising menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and excited about their menarche don’t we also have a responsibility to question its necessity? We tell women they don’t have to have sex to have children, that breast cancer can be beaten, that they can have their tubes tied and then re-connected and their faces lifted and de-wrinkled. We live in a modern world with modern solutions, isn’t it time we started seriously thinking and talking about the need to bleed?” [Feminaust]

Porn star and new mum displays picture of her breastfeeding her newborn daughter in an exhibition challenging the Madonna/whore dichotomy of motherhood, controversy ensues:

“The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another. It’s a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! On the one hand, it’s surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on… [yet an]other hand, it’s perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishised in porn.

“…We don’t like to think of moms as sexual beings—except for in the taboo-busting world of porn (paging Dr. Freud). It’s fitting for a porn star mama, the rare industry ‘MILF’ who is actually a mom, to remind folks that, generally speaking, one has to have sex in order to become a mom.” [Salon]

Anne Hathaway’s new effort, One Day, has a “bleak worldview of co-dependence where men need women to improve them, and women need to improve themselves to deserve men’s notice and achieve their purpose,” with The Film Stage dubbing it “the most toxic romance of the year”.

Also at The Film Stage, a breakdown of Katherine Heigl’s stereotype-reinforcing rom-coms, from the career-making Knocked Up, which she subsequently dissed for being sexist, to the just-as-sexist Killers and Life as We Know It.

Here’s an extended version of Erica Bartle’s debut piece for Sunday Life. While I don’t necessarily agree with her sentiments on faith most of the time, this is a great read. Better than the published piece, dare I say? [Girl with a Satchel]

Taylor Swift VS. feminism. [Autostraddle]

Is it “time for an abortion pride movement”?:

“… Women should not merely have the right to end unwanted pregnancies, they should have the right to be proud of having done so. Surely, there is enough suffering in this world already without adding infants with Tay-Sachs disease and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome to the mix. Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets.” [Opposing Views]

Oh, the hilarity of Photoshop on this Glee/Vogue/Fashion’s Night Out advertisement. [Styleite]

It’s not just women who get the short end of the stick when it comes to Disney films: “Sexism, Strength & Dominance—Masculinity in Disney Films.” [FBomb]

The awesomeness that is Adam Lambert. [Autostraddle]

One from the vault: Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg destroys the world when her lesbian love is killed, calling into question the show’s support of the LGBT community. [Salon]

A mother’s perspective on the dysfunctional Twilight-saga relationship between Edward and Bella. [Persephone Magazine]

The politics of the SlutWalk. [New York Times]

Five of The Simpsons’ best recipes, including 64 slices of American cheese and Vaseline toast! [Warming Glow]

Image via Chubby Wubby Girl, Styleite, Salon.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

The disturbing, tragic life of Hustler’s Larry Flynt.

Dubai isn’t the pink-buildinged, “Middle-Eastern Shangri-La” of materialistic Sex & the City movies it’s made out to be.

“All Work, (Almost) No Pay” for the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. Fascinating stuff.

The cult of Oprah.

The case for women to serve in combat roles in the armed forces.

Hypocrisy and “male narcissism” in “political sex scandals”.

Got a problem with SlutWalk? Finally, some solutions to make it better.

Also, for all you anti-SlutWalkers out there, This is What Slut-Shaming Looks Like”:

“1. Was I suppose to just take it in stride that random pervs found out where my little sister went to high school and speculated about whether she, too, would become a ‘whore’? An anonymous asshole emailed her last fall asking her that. Don’t tell me that’s normal criticism.

“2. What about the manufactured ‘scandal’ that Internet vigilantes began in hopes of getting my boyfriend kicked out of his Ph.D program? They decided to email the entire sociology faculty list. I was a junior at the time in the same department. Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it is to force yourself to graduate when your professors have all read about how you’re supposedly being ‘raped’ on a regular basis? That is not criticism.

“3. Is trying to get me fired also normal? In 2009, when I was working for an education non-profit during my time off from Harvard, someone wrote a fake article about how my employer was so embarrassed to have hired a ‘porn blogger’. There were made-up quotes from ‘company reps’. They disseminated it online, not realizing that I actually told my boss about my blog during my initial interview. (He emailed me the article and totally had my back. It was one of the most touching things I’ve ever experienced from an employer, no joke.)”

I originally blew off Roseanne Barr’s New York Magazine take on sexism in Hollywood. But I read it this week and couldn’t recommend it enough. Great writing.

The Smurfette principle:

“Little girls learn to split their consciousness, filtering their dreams and ambitions through boy characters while admiring the clothes of the princess. The more privileged and daring can dream of becoming exceptional women in a man’s world—Smurfettes. The others are being taught to accept the more usual fate, which is to be a passenger car drawn through life by a masculine train engine. Boys, who are rarely confronted with stories in which males play only minor roles, learn a simpler lesson: girls just don’t matter much.”

This article on the sexual misconduct of AFL players from 2008 is just as pertinent today.

“In Defence of Prudes.”

“Women are pieces of art, men aren’t”?

What is the average Australian’s yearly income?

Sarah Ayoub-Christie writes her final post for Wordsmith Lane.

Why Psychology Today hates women.

How the celeb sex tape ruined America (NSFW).