Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne: Dating women but no 'labels'. A new era of equality?

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne have become two of the latest celebrities to be openly dating women, but opting not to put a label on their relationships status or their sexual orientation.

In the past, people would have expected those dating the same sex to 'come out as gay'. But times appear to be changing. And it may just be another step towards equality. I mean, those dating the opposite sex don't have to 'come out as heterosexual' or describe their relationship as a 'heterosexual relationship'. It may be described as such by other people, but the couple themselves don't have to actively own the term, or identify with it. So why should there even be an expectation that people 'come out as gay' if they want to date someone of the same sex?

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Australian Marriage Equality Plebiscite: 3 Reasons Why it MUST proceed now.

As the Turnbull government continues to prepare its marriage equality plebiscite, likely to happen early next year, some activists have begun lobbying the senate to block enabling legislation. They have even received the support of two Labor senators. But I think it's a bad idea. Here are several reasons why:

1) Blocking enabling legislation LIKELY means no marriage equality for this term. Until recently this may have been seen as the government's grandstanding, but recently even crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm said that he believed letting the plebiscite happen would now be the quickest way to marriage equality, given the unlikelihood of a Coaliation conscience vote. Remember, back in 2014 he was pretty confident of a coalition free vote, so his current pessimism is not something to take lightly. Moreover, with the election of four One Nation senators and the unexpected return of Family First senator Bob Day, even with a free vote marriage equality may not pass the senate (unless a plebscite had been carried, persuading at least a few more Liberal senators to vote yes or abstain).

2) I've been fighting the marriage equality fight for 13+ years now, and I can tell you that it is impossible to sustain momentum for three years. In fact, with the election of Abbott in 2013, momentum for marrige equality took a huge hit, despite the efforts of myself and other campaigners to sustain it. It only recovered with the momentum from Ireland and the US. But now that all other English-speaking nations already have equality, there will be no outside help, i.e. if momentum dies now, it's gone. Plus you can't be sure that Labor will win in 2019 and equality will be won then (we thought Labor would win in 2001 and 2004 too, and that just didn't happen). Political situations are unpredictable and change rapidly, and we can easily end up with 6-9 years of no momentum and no action. Think of it like this: plebsicite now = 90% chance of a win, no plebiscite now = 50/50 chance of a win in the next decade.

3) Right now, with Turnbull in charge, and with either Labor, the Greens or Nick Xenophon required for enabling legislation to pass, you can be sure that the plebiscite question will be fair. However, if we let this opportunity pass and let marriage equality be delayed, in the future we may face the situation of a conservative PM (likely Abbott or Morrison) working with a senate where parties like One Nation control the balance of power. In that situation, a plebiscite set up to fail can then be potentially conducted.

In conclusion, while we may have preferred a successful conscience vote to pass marriage equality, it looks like the plebiscite in early 2017 is our best chance we've had so far and the best chance we may have in quite a while. It may be 'second best' (in Bill Shorten's words), but it's still too good to knock back.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jared Leto speaks up about Hollywood's discrimination problem. But it may be difficult to fix.

Jared Leto may be one of Hollywood's most successful actors today, but he's not blind to the fact that some people still have more opportunities than others in the industry. He recently spoke out about the fact that Hollywood remains a conservative business, where people from minority groups would not have the same level of opportunities as he had.

Jared should be congratulated for speaking up. But I don't think this is something that can easily be fixed. Hollywood is, after all, a business that wants to make money, and to make money from selling movies to large audiences, appealing to mainstream tastes, including having characters that the majority can readily identify with, just makes business sense. The number of characters who are from minority ethnic groups, who are LGBT, or who are disabled would generally have to be limited. It would then follow naturally that minorities would have fewer chances in the movie industry.

This is really a problem with mass media in general. Mass media has to appeal to many, many people at once to achieve enough audience to make enough profits to offset the huge costs involved, which means it generally has to go for a more 'common' appeal. On the other hand, 'narrowcasting' on the internet is not bound by such restrictions. That is why people from minority groups have more readily found success as independent cultural icons in the age of the internet. And ultimately, this is why we should be happy that the mass media can't dominate our culture as much as it used to.

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Clint Eastwood blasts PC 'Pussy Generation'. I think he has a point.

Clint Eastwood recently added to the already very loud chorus of voices against political correctness, blasting what he calls the 'pussy generation'. He also said that he would vote for Donald Trump in November.

While I don't think that voting for Trump is the wisest decision, I have to thank Clint for adding to the opposition to political correctness. For somebody like myself, political correctness is a detriment to the improvement of society, including in the campaigns to solve the problems of racism, sexism and homophobia. It's like, if you disagree with someone, just state your case. Free speech means debate, and debate means real progress. Shutting down useful debate isn't helpful to anyone.

While anti-PC used to be a mainly conservative concern back in the 1980s, nowadays it's one of the few things that unite conservatives, libertarians and progressives (including President Obama) alike, even if for different reasons. We may want PC gone for vastly different, even opposing, reasons, but it's clear that a building majority of us want our freedom of speech back.