The big media news of the week is that the New York Times actually printed the word fuck in a front page story — above the fold! The subject, of course, was Donald Trump, about whom nothing more needs to be said. According to Politico, the Times has printed a variation of the word before (which surprised me). But that earlier fuck, or more accurately fucking, was in the paper’s so-called style magazine, T, not the newspaper proper.
This time, the paper of record really had no choice but to print the word, because its news value so greatly outweighed editorial squeamishness. The Republican candidate for president, boasting of his sexual predations, used it. That in itself is newsworthy.
“‘We internally categorize these as involuntary terminations due to misalignment with InterVarsity ministry principles, which is a category we use for people who leave for theological and philosophy of ministry disagreements,” Greg Jao, an InterVarsity vice president and director of campus engagement, told Time in an email. ‘Our goal is not to go, “Oh we want you to do the dirty work of firing yourself.” I think our thing is, if you are in disagreement, then we are going to ask you, with integrity, to identify that and leave,’ he added in an interview.”
“With integrity.” What a lovely way to describe forcing employees into religious lockstep with management. The paragraph above comes from Time.com, and the subject of the piece is summed up by its title: “Top Evangelical College Group to Dismiss Employees Who Support Gay Marriage.” Well, that’s one way of convincing people that the boss knows best: fire them when they disagree. Curious that “dirty work” means firing yourself, whereas getting fired by management is somehow a cleaner option.
The article goes on to describe certain, shall we say, problems with the new policy.
“Bianca Louie, 26, led the InterVarsity campus fellowship at Mills College, a women’s liberal-arts school in Oakland and her alma mater. When it became clear several months ago that the policy would go into effect, Louie realized she had to leave, after four years of working with the group. She is not sure what will happen to the outreach she and others worked to create at Mills. ‘I don’t know how InterVarsity can do ministry on campus with integrity anymore,’ she says. ‘Mills is a women’s college with inclusive trans policies, and higher ed is overall making more efforts to be inclusive and safe for LGBTQ students… I could see us getting kicked off campus because of this.’ Louie and about 10 other InterVarsity staff formed an anonymous queer collective earlier this year to organize on behalf of staff, students and alumni who felt unsafe under the new policy. They compiled dozens of stories of individuals in InterVarsity programs and presented them to national leadership. ‘I think one of the hardest parts has been feeling really dismissed by InterVarsity,’ she says. ‘The queer collective went through a very biblical, very spiritual process, with the Holy Spirit, to get to where we are. I think a lot of people think those who are affirming [same-sex marriage] reject the Bible, but we have landed where we have because of Scripture, which is what InterVarsity taught us to do.’”
There’s more: “For Ginny Prince, 32, the consequences of the new policy are very difficult to discuss. Until last week, she was an assistant area director near Oakland and had worked for InterVarsity for seven years. She is an LGBTQ ally — and she has a transgender child. Already, she says, her husband has walked away from the faith largely because of how the church has dealt with the LGBTQ community. She knew she had to tell her supervisor she did not support the new policy. ‘This was very painful for everybody,’ Prince says. ‘I got fired… I sent an email and said, I cannot align, and I think that this policy is discriminatory, and I cannot align. That was it. We cried, we cried really hard my last day.’ Prince does not know what she will do next. But she knows two things. One: ‘I want the church to be a safe place for my child to grow up,’ she says. And two, she will miss InterVarsity. ‘They have a unique understanding of and willingness to engage in hard issues like racial justice and women in ministry and things of that nature,’ she explains. ‘I thought that they would be more able to contain difference in this area as well, difference of opinion. I think what they do is very important, and I am very sad to go.’”
This Time.com story is both fair and balanced, to use the mock-worthy self-description of the extraordinarily biased Fox News. Both sides get their say, despite the fact that only one side is morally defensible. The national trend is so obviously pro-LGBTQ — the article cites the fact that 60 percent of Roman Catholics now support gay marriage — that groups like InterVarsity are working toward their own obsolescence.
Then again, maybe not.
“In 2014, the US branch of World Vision, an evangelical humanitarian organization, announced it would permit the hiring of married gay individuals, but the board reversed its decision after it lost more than 10,000 child sponsorships in 48 hours,” Time.com reported.
It’s as though we’re living on different planets.
After AfterEllen. Killing time on the internet Working diligently on my column the other day, I came across a piece called “Lesbian Culture Is Being Erased Because Investors Think Only Gay Men (and Straight People) Have Money.” I read it, frankly, because I thought it would be over the top — a gal bemoaning lesbian invisibility from her perch at a popular website.
I was wrong.
The author, Marcie Bianco, and the website Quartz (qz.com) deserve our admiration and thanks. It’s a long article, and I can do no more than summarize Bianco’s findings here, but her point centers on the demise of a website called AfterEllen, which is, rather was, aimed at lesbians. Despite a readership of about 1.25 million every month and traffic that grew 48 percent in a year and revenue by over 100 percent, the website’s owner, Evolve Media, shut it down. Bianco theorizes why, and she’s right — it makes no sense.
“Within the umbrella community,” she writes, “the 2015 buying power of LGBT Americans was estimated at $917 billion. Nearly three quarters of that community is considered brand loyal and a major source of ‘word-of-mouth marketing’ — just ask Subaru, whose creative director of the brand’s ad agency once said of lesbians: ‘These women were practically commercials for Subaru.’” (There’s a joke just itching to be made here, but you’re going to have to make it yourself.)
“The problem, former AfterEllen editor [Karman] Kregloe told Quartz, is that brands do not know how to market to lesbians and queer women because they don’t see us as women. Kregloe continues, ‘If they did, they would try to sell us all the products that are marketed to (presumably) heterosexual women. Lesbians buy tampons, face lotion, shampoo. Maybe it’s most accurate to say that they just don’t think of us at all.’”
As Bianco puts it, Evolve claims “that the site will keep publishing freelance pieces occasionally and keep its archives online and available. Yet they appear blissfully ignorant of how journalism in the digital age works. If you kill the editor, the rest of the site wanders aimlessly.”
This is not to be taken as a threat, Mr. Schindler, sir.