Let's start by my conceding – again – that in the thread on Sally Ride, my tone degenerated fast in a manner I regret. But my first point remains, it seems to me. I was both thrilled by the fact that the first American woman in space was a lesbian and saddened that she chose not to reveal that until she died. This has prompted the following diatribe by Amy Siskind. It starts by misleading:
My first reaction to the bullhorn outing of Sally Ride—“America’s First Woman in Space Was a Lesbian”—was how dare the writer disrespect a deceased heroine’s wishes! We, the individual, determine and define our legacy. Ms. Ride’s choice in the public sphere was to be the first woman in space. Ms. Ride’s long-term relationship with a woman was part of her personal life, which she chose, quite purposefully, not to accentuate.
But I didn't out her; and never would have. Ride herself orchestrated and co-wrote the section of her obituary in which she came out. I was not disrespecting anyone's wishes. I was actually broadcasting them. But what's really striking about the piece is its rank sexism and homophobia. First, I am apparently disqualified by virtue of my gender from writing about Ride. A classic old left trope:
The person doing the outing, of course, is not a woman. Never spent a day on this earth as a member of a class so proportionately underrepresented, pervasively physically intimidated and brutalized, and discriminated against by myriad measures.
The person who did the outing was, of course, a woman, namely Ride herself. But what does her gender or my gender have anything to do with it anyway? The idea that men cannot comment on some topics because of their gender is as offensive as telling women they cannot enter discussions because of their gender. Now unpack this piece of rhetoric:
Gender is a more oppressive stigma than sexual orientation. While the LGBT movement checks off major victories, women’s progress is stalled and by some measures, moving backward. Sally Ride’s self-determined legacy as a woman astronaut is more consequential in moving our country forward than obfuscating this pioneer as a lesbian.
Seriously. Are straight women still denied the right to marry a man in dozens of states? Were they left behind while gays were first integrated into the military? It's crazy to start a victimhood game, and I won't continue it. But as for the stigma against women being greater than that against gays, I simply ask you: if a woman is called a lesbian, does that make her more or less stigmatized in society as a whole? Why do Sally Ride's defenders explain her silence because of the stigma against lesbianism, as opposed to feminism? Please. The argument is so absurd it refutes itself. But Siskind's main point is that she, a lesbian voice, is not needed in the battle for gay equality. She actually wrote this:
You don’t need me! You got Lady Gaga and a bevy of other big-name stars, too numerous to count. It’s ‘in’ to be pro-gay!
So a straight pop-star can have more impact than a lesbian woman without shame? Such a total misunderstanding of the real source of power in gay rights movement could only come from someone who knows nothing about it. Then this revealing statement:
On the other hand, women’s advocacy has had little to celebrate. There ain’t no Lady Gaga song, Baby, Where are the Women? Progress for women and girls has stalled.
We're now judging civil rights by the lyrics in pop songs? But more to the point, note the phrase "on the other hand," which I've italicized. For Siskind, it appears that equal rights for gays and equal rights for women somehow come at the expense of each other. This is both untrue and also homophobic – because it defines "women and girls" as different than lesbians. But lesbians are part of the women's movement and the gay rights movement, just as many straight women are. And they should not be marginalized in either. Suddenly you see the bigotry and shame beneath the veneer of progressivism. Then the ad hominem:
Ironically, the bullhorn-outing writer, who accused The New York Times of homophobia in its Sally Ride obituary, conveniently hides behind his own abhorrent bias: misogyny. He attacks women who share his political ideology, like Hillary Clinton (“I just can’t stand her” and her “cootie vibes”) and those who don’t, like Sarah Palin (and, despicably, her children).
Oh, and according to Mr. Sullivan, Hillary Clinton is not a feminist. Honestly. This man should be considered an arbiter of a historical woman?
I have never "attacked" Palin's children, least of all Trig; I demanded evidence that a candidate for vice-president's wild stories about her last labor were true, just as I demanded Obama's birth certificate and want to see all of Romney's tax returns. As for the alleged proof of my misogyny – that I have shockingly attacked women on the right and left – has it occurred to Siskind that the exact same thing could be said about my writing about men? Has she read me on Bill Clinton or Al Gore or Dick Cheney or Bill Kristol or Mitt Romney? You think Sally Ride was treated more roughly than my constant posts about these men? I just treat women public officials the way I treat the other gender – and do not hold back out of some dated, sexist idea of gender-etiquette.
But all of this detracts from what is staring us in the face: Here is a lesbian who refuses to be publicly identified as such because she thinks it would detract from her role as a feminist. There's a word for that: homophobia. And, along with hatred of men, Siskind's piece drips with it in every sentence.