I’m trying out a new feature on this blog—a record of what I’m reading this week, specifically news items, peer-reviewed articles, books, and reports that address my interests in hate and extremism, sex, women and gender, politics, religion, family life, and higher ed. Small amounts of celebrity gossip thrown in. If you have an item to add, email me or share it via Facebook.
The University of Tennessee finds evidence on campus that when you defund diversity, you devalue people. I’m fairly sure that was the intention, though. (Thanks to English professor Lisa King for bringing this hateful act of vandalism to my attention.)
Phyllis Schlafly died. There’s a lot to say here, and I appreciated reading Adele Stan’s account of one of the major paradoxes of Schlafly’s life: she was a woman shut out of power because of her gender who promoted the patriarchy. Stan’s archive of writing on Schlafly is available online.
If you can handle Schlafly only in small doses but want to read about powerful political women and their faith, pre-order your copy of Eleanor: A Spiritual Biography by Harold Ivan Smith. Smith is a bereavement specialist and educator I was privileged to meet during a recent talk in Kansas City. I can’t wait to read his spiritual account of Roosevelt’s life.
Anne M. Martin, creator of the Babysitters Club, has publicly identified as gay, following years of rumors about the woman who gave us a diverse group of 11-13 year old girls capable of running their own successful small business, solving mysteries, and, of course, babysitting.
I’m lesson prepping Mary L. Gray’s Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America and breaking out in frequent giggles at the thought of lesbian farmers overrunning the farming heartland. Also spending a bit of time in Country Queers, an online oral history archive of rural queer voices.
Though she was featured just a few months ago in Playboy’s (Don’t worry–the link won’t take you to the magazine but to an article about the shoot.) last issue featuring full nudity, Pamela Anderson asks us not to watch pornography in a letter probably mostly penned by co-author and right-wing reality show rabbi Shmuley Boteach and published in the Wall Street Journal. Highlights:
“[W]e are a guinea-pig generation for an experiment in mass debasement that few of us would have ever consented to, and whose full nefarious impact may not be known for years.” Digital natives are the “crack babies of porn” (though if that metaphor holds, we’ll be okay). Oh, and “The ubiquity of porn is an outgrowth of the sexual revolution that began a half-century ago and which, with gender rights and freedoms now having been established, has arguably run its course.”
Former Subway pitchman Jared Fogel, who was convicted on multiple charges of child pornography, is suing the parents of one of the children he victimized. According to him, the “severe emotional distress and personal injuries” that have afflicted the girl is not a result of his sex crime against her but of her parents’ marital discord. Fogle’s actions remind us that child sex predators select children who were vulnerable because of family discord.
Turns out that men who purchase sex by and large know that what they are doing hurts women and that these women are often coerced, trafficked, or otherwise forced to engage in prostitution. They also think about women in ways very similar to how rapists think about them.
I may have a problem with election polls. Like, I like them a little too much.Alan Levinovitz and Michael Schulson discuss theology and political polls over at Religion Dispatches in “Free Will, Fate and FiveThirtyEight: The Theology of Election Polls.”
Bob Smietana’s “Apocalypse Meow: How an End-Times Cult that Believes that Cats are Divine Beings Ended up in Tennessee” has me wondering, again, why I study religion and hate when I could have studied new religious movements.
I’ve got two books on my wish list right now: Jennifer M. Randles’ Proposing Prosperity: Marriage Education Policy and Inequality in America, which comes out in December and Kenyatta R. Gilbert’s A Pursued Justice: Black Preaching from the Great Migration to Civil Rights.
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