First let me address the gay / right to inquire into her “personal life” thing:
I’ve been writing and tweeting about the other thing that might trouble me about Kagan’s SCOTUS nomination process: that if she were closeted that I hoped she’d come out. For all the many people, who believe that her sexual orientation has no bearing upon whether or not she’d do a good job as a Supreme Court Justice I say: that’s the entire power of people being out-to show that the earth doesn’t cave in. And I thought, if she did happen to be gay and have a partner somewhere who was hiding, it’s not the gay that will undercut trust, but hiding something.
The argument that if she was closeted she should stay that way to keep conservative critics
from having ammunition, is to turn that ammunition into pixie dust. You do that by coming out. When you hide in the closet you are affirming that there is something inferior about being lgbt. When you come out you tell, you don’t ask
. It gives you power. The elephant in the room goes away and you are still the same person with all the same abilities.
For those of us who are LGBT and care about the fact that we are legally second class citizens in the US, you better believe it matters to us if a Supreme Court Justice is gay. If you think it’s tasteless or irrelevant to inquire into it (and believe me we inquire into it with every Justice that sets off gaydar
. If you don’t have to think about it, you’re probably in a position of privilege and power around this issue.
Of course personal experience affects our views of everything, including the law. Here I agree with Obama
and don’t buy the line given by Roberts in his confirmation hearings that he’s just calling balls and strikes or by Sotomayor that that she just applying law to facts. *How* we do things is affected by who we are.
It’s a privilege of power to not have your experience, identity and point of view seen as a world view or relevant to discuss. It’s just the water we’re all swimming in. Some people don’t know they’re fish. That’s why anyone who’s not a straight, white, conservative man does get these personal life questions much more (see Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan) for people for whom assumptions are happily made.
I never knew or claimed to know whether Elena Kagan was straight, asexual, straight or just plain too busy and involved with law to date (I’ve known some folks like that), but i was always sure of this:
Now that people are outing her as straigh
t its clear that Kagan “doesn’t look feminine enough” and is crazy smart and didn’t meet Mr Right. In other words, she’s a Jewish woman. An unusually brilliant straight Jewish woman but some of the gender presentation and what she looks like and acts like stuff is wrapped up in her being Jewish. I grew up going to shul with women who looked like Kagan. And sometimes i like to say, there’s a fine line between Jewish and gay. I just mean that what you think is gaydar can really be Jewdar. The culture has often encouraged strong women and culturally sensitive men. And to look Jewish has often meant what the general WASP -aspirational culture hasn’t always called attractive or “feminine” enough. Ooh. Scaryyy!
In Kagan’s second wave feminism generation, she had the opportunity to aspire to be Supreme Court Justice. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure she enjoyed softball and the pick up basketball games at law school but I played law school b-ball with the guys too. It’s not the butchest game—you are in law school after all–but it does help you become pals with the guys. It isn’t so easy for really smart straight women in the dating years. I used to date guys. I remember. I imagine in Kagan’s era it was a little tougher.
I’m glad, at the end of the day, that she turned out to be straight. Not that it’s better, just that it means there’s no lying, no closet. Kagan is gregarious and warm and knows how to work the room and bring different people together, another long tradition of Jewish women. I bet she ends up being the tummler
of the Supreme Court.
Posted via email from subvert with heather gold