Straight TV Host on the Hot Seat

Alicia Menendez and Janet Mock.

What happens when a transgender activist gets to turn the tables and ask her interviewer to prove her womanhood?
Transgender activist Janet Mock grilled host Alicia Menendez about her identity, genitalia, and womanhood not long ago in a segment for Fusion TV’s AM Tonight. Menendez answered a series of invasive questions like “Do you have a vagina?” and “When was the moment that you felt your breasts budding?”
The interview was a parody of typical media interviews with transgender people, with Mock asking Menendez—who is cisgender—many of the same questions she routinely has to deal with as a transgender woman. The segment highlighted the way that even trans-welcoming media personalities can objectify and dehumanize their transgender guests by focusing on their bodies and medical histories.
In January, Katie Couric was criticized for an interview in which she asked a transgender guest whether she had undergone surgery on her “private parts” (Winter 2014).
At the end of the AM Tonight interview, Menendez remarked that, even though she had helped write some of Mock’s questions, she “didn’t realize how awful and invasive some of them would feel.”

The Kiss Seen ‘Round the World

ESPN broadcast Michael Sam and his boyfriend celebrating his signing by the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Who had trouble when openly gay newly drafted NFL player Michael Sam was shown kissing his boyfriend on ESPN? For one, Amy Kushnir, cohost of The Broadcast, a Dallas, morning show. She walked off the set after a heated discussion with her other hosts about the airing of Sam’s kiss. Kushnir argued that the kiss was being “pushed in our faces” and objected to having her sons watch two men kiss. Kushnir also claimed she also opposed seeing heterosexual kissing on television, prompting skepticism from her cohosts and eventually resulting in Kushnir’s exiting the set.
Invited onto Fox News in mid-May, she described the kiss as “shocking,” “over-the-top,” and lamented that people with “traditional values” couldn’t express their views without fear of getting “lambasted.” During an edition of the Fox News program America’s Newsroom, radio host Lars Larson accused the gay community of showing a “lack of tolerance” for those who say “yuck” at the sight of two men kissing.
When Kushnir was asked on The Kelly File by fill-in host Shannon Bream if she also opposes risqué advertisements regularly shown on ESPN, she made clear her complaint is limited to the airing of the same-sex kiss. Though she claimed she would oppose any display of sexuality on television, she apparently had no problem being hoisted on the shoulders of two shirtless erotic dancers in a recent taping of her show.

Jimmy Carter’s Call to Action

Jimmy Carter's "A Call to Action" Book Signing at Barnes & Noble in New York City on March 25, 2014Former president Jimmy Carter has issued a call to action to end the abuse and subjugation of women, which he refers to as the “worst and most pervasive and unaddressed human rights violation on Earth.”
Carter issued his strong statements about gender equality in a recent interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell. The former president’s latest book is A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, and discusses the issue of women’s victimization around the world.
There’s significant data to back up his claims. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one in three women around the world is subject to sexual violence at some point in her life. In many parts of the world, women still aren’t receiving adequate health care and education. Every year, about 14 million girls under the age of 18 are given away as child brides, and an additional 4 million women and girls are bought and sold into slavery. And according to the United Nations, at least 125 million girls in Africa and the Middle East have undergone female genital mutilation.
In his book, Carter argues that conservative faith leaders have indirectly contributed to the ongoing violence against women by furthering a society that allows inequality to flourish. “Religious leaders say women are inferior in the eyes of God, which is a false interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. When [people] see the Pope, the Southern Baptist Convention, and others say that women can’t serve as priests equally with men, they say well, I’ll treat my wife the way I want to because she’s inferior to me,” Carter told NBC News.
Carter’s book makes the case that the United States is at least partly responsible for perpetrating the ongoing violence against women around the globe, since the U.S. wields such great international influence.

Be That Guy

A video urging men to be leaders in stopping violence against women broadcast at the Indianapolis 500? It happened. Breakthrough, a global human rights organization’s “Be That Guy” campaign video was screened multiple times on the jumbotron at the Indy 500, one of the highest-attended sporting events in the world.
The 30-second “Be That Guy” animation, presented in an edgy, appealing style—and taking place at a race track—depicts one racing fan stopping a buddy from harassing a waitress with the tagline: “Hands are for beer. And high-fives.” The crowd cheers for the guy who intervenes. The animation is designed to show that while it does take some courage to “be that guy,” most people want to be and, if encouraged more people will, according to Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough president and CEO.
To watch the animated “Be That Guy” PSA or find out more about ways to get involved, visit

Preventing Rape on Campus

In response to President Obama’s goal to prevent campus sexual assault, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), along with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR), have released recommendations for addressing sexual violence on campus.
According to the White House report, Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, one in five women have been sexually assaulted while in college, and 63 percent of men who admitted to committing rape/attempting rape said that they had committed an average of six rapes each (White House Council on Women and Girls, 2014). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in 71 men have been raped at some time in their lives and one in 21 men have been forced to penetrate someone else during their lifetime.
Sexual violence can undermine a student’s academic career, creating an economic and social ripple effect over the course of their lifespan. While the individuals who commit these crimes need to be held accountable, the NSVRC and PCAR know that they do not commit sexual violence in a vacuum, according to Donna Greco, NSVRC training and technical assistance director. In fact, sexual violence is preventable—it is a learned behavior that is shaped by individual, relationship, community, and societal factors (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2014). NSVRC and PCAR believe that in order to prevent these crimes, universities need culturally relevant, comprehensive strategies that engage the entire campus community on multiple levels—from recruitment to graduation. To read the in-depth recommendations, visit  For more, visit and

Dad Models Accepting Gay Son

letters 5The following note from father to son could serve as a model for other parents responding to their children coming out.

I overheard your phone conversation with Mike last night about your plan to come out to me. The only thing I need you to plan is to bring home OJ and bread after class. We are out, like you now. I’ve known you were gay since you were six. I’ve loved you since you were born.
P.S. Mom and I think you and Mike make a cute couple.