Just When I Thought It Was Safe To Go Back in the Water

I wanted to bend my efforts toward something important, something worthwhile—like Kevin Keller, Riverdale High’s new gay student coming to Archie Comics on September 1.

But no, I’ve been caught up in the even more juvenile goings-on among supposedly grown-up real people—like the noise that US Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Barack Obama’s US Supreme Court nominee, must be gay, because she played softball back in 1993, and, you know, only lesbians play softball. They must be making this stuff up, I thought. They aren’t.

Not so long ago, Regina Benjamin was dissed because she was “too heavy” to deserve the post of US Surgeon General. “She should exercise more,” was the general grumble. What—so that she then could be called a too-heavy lesbian?

Whatever happened to 1972’s Title IX that stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Although Title IX didn’t mention sports specifically, it was able to free up funds for high school and collegiate women’s sports—supposedly a good thing for the health and well-being of the country’s young women—for all young women, not just lesbians.

As Mary Elizabeth Williams remarked in her recent online “Broadsheet” column on Salon, “But the double bind for ambitious females is that there’s always somebody eager to put you down. Read the comments on some of the stories about Elena Kagan—about what an ‘ugly’ ‘lesbo’ she is. And yet, had she been a former beauty queen who’d spent her youth working the pageant circuit, she’d be accused of bimbo-dom.”

Kagan’s main problem, at the heart of it, is that she’s a woman. As we forge ahead in the 21st Century, almost anything a woman achieves is too much (“Butch”) or too little (“Bimbo”)—or too assertive (“Bitch”).

For what it’s worth, “Bitch” is being reclaimed—in spades. Hillary Clinton is proving to be effectively steely-eyed as Secretary of State. Even Little House on the Prairie’s hateful Nellie Oleson (Alison Arngrim) has embraced her inner bitch (see the review of her Confessions of a Prairie Bitch in this issue’s “The Page Boy”) as an adult to use as an AIDS activist and an advocate for PROTECT to help abused children.

Stand back, and let Kagan step up to the plate.

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