All You Need Is Love Campaign February 4, 2011

All You Need Is Love Campaign

Deanna Joy Lyons has a wonderful way to take the money you plan to spend on Valentine’s Day gifts — typically a way to “show your love” for one person — and turn it into a way to show your love for a whole class of GLBT victims.

Instead of wasting that money on one day’s worth of superficial gestures, we are pledging to donate the amount we would have spent to achieving lasting equality for everyone.

We are choosing to donate to the Human Rights Campaign. From their website: “HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs.”

If you give a $35 donation, someone will get a “cuddly, Rainbow Equality Bear” along with the membership.

Even if you’re not a fan of the HRC, then consider donating to another pro-marriage-equality group.

Personally, I’d much rather receive a gift membership to a worthy nonprofit group than some V-day present I won’t remember a week or two later.

Then again, I’m also a guy…

Ok, ok, get her the chocolate she craves. And toss in the membership along with it. You’ll have the best of both worlds.

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  • Lauren

    I’m just going to mention again, that in the same week you posted a video about treating women as individuals, you are making a “joking” sexist remark.

    Really? Yes it is only a “little” thing. But it is hundreds of little things over time that make me not want to be involved in organizations and communities. They add up.

    Ironically it was the constant unabating low amount of sexism that caused me to burn out when I was actively involved in the marriage equality fight in CA.

  • Tizzle

    This (very mild) sexist joke mightn’t be funny, except that there are a ton* of people who take V-Day seriously. I think it’s okay to mock silly women. 🙂

    *supposedly. I don’t know any.

  • Richard P.

    Am I missing something? Which remark is sexist?

  • Rich Wilson

    The idea that guys would be more interested in getting a gift membership to a worthy non-profit, while women just crave chocolate.

    At least that’s my guy’s guess.

  • Very cool idea. 😀

  • Lauren

    The whole point is that lots of little remarks add up creating a hostile environment. and i think it is especially ironic given the video earlier.

    The statement is a blanket statement about women and valentines day, not a statement about how some people overreact and want what is culturally marketed.

    Deconstructing the patriarchal tropes of valentines day would hijack the post. Suffice to say it is unnecessary to make the statement and it reinforces gendered stereotypes.

  • tim

    Speaking as a gay man and former federal club member of the HRC – I would advise you to not give a cent to the organization. They are ultra-partisan and failed time and time again to move the ball forward for equality.

    Give to local glbt organizations – for example OutFront and Project 515 in Minnesota do more good in a single congressional period than HRC has accomplished in the last 15 years.

  • L. Foster

    I can get my own damn chocolate. Give to charity instead.

  • Allison

    I don’t think that was really a sexist remark; it was more poking fun at the whole Valentine’s Day shenanigans to begin with. He wasn’t saying that men would value the membership more than women; just joked that getting both things would satisfy the more traditional implications of the holiday plus this rather more awesome version of the gift. (As far as I’ve experienced, there isn’t exactly a traditional guy gift for Valentine’s Day for which one could make the joke…)

  • Claudia

    I take my cues on GLBT organizations from Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan, and their position on the HRC can be summed up in: Fuck Those Guys.

    They are a wing of the Democratic party. Their central goal is to make the party appear gay friendly for the liberal base (gay or otherwise) of the party. They give every appearance that actually accomplishing anything on gay rights or holding the Democrats accountable so that they earn the votes of GLBT+allies is secondary, at best.

    Stil, I do like the general idea. How about some FCKH8 swag for the equality loving person in your life? A Donation to Lambda Legal could also work.

  • Jenny

    If anyone is looking for “another [equally worthy] pro-marriage-equality-group” to donate to, please consider the Alternatives to Marriage Project (

    Not only are they focused on GLBT unions, they also fight for the fair treatment of singles, those in relationships who cannot marry or don’t wish to marry, and those in alternative family structures.

  • Claudia

    RE: Sexism. I think the implication is that Valentines day is generally more important to women than men. Which I’m pretty sure is accurate. Also that women like chocolate. The sexist horror!

    By this definition no jokes about women or men would be admissible. Also no jokes about any racial group, any cultural group, any religious group…any group at all. Any joke, even one as gentle as “X people love X food” would be considered prejudiced by definition, since they make generalized statements that are bound to be partially inaccurate.

    Alternatively, we could lighten up and learn to distinguish gentle fun from diminishing the worth of others, and an offhand remark from a pattern of disrespect.

  • Jon Peterson

    If anything, that was sexist against guys by implying that it’s his male-ness that causes him to hold little desire for V-day gifts.

    Everyone likes chocolate, and it’s a rather standard V-day gift. Who hasn’t seen an ad with a heart-shaped box of chocolates? Yeah, I didn’t think so. That he specified to get “her” the chocolates is pretty easily attributed to the societal norm that expects guys to give V-day gifts.

    And really, I don’t think there are too many guys out there who complain all that much about the expectation. It’s not like there’s an expectation that the partner can’t also do something special.

  • Akheloios

    Nice call on the (what I’d assume to be, silly and not conscious, comedic effect commentary) subtext Tizzle. It’s important we don’t make stupid generalisations about people.

    Also, It’s beholden on us as ‘the nice people’ to make our loved ones happy, as well as doing the right thing.

  • AW

    Yah, this rubbed me the wrong way too:

    “Ok, ok, get her the chocolate she craves.”

    I agree with Lauren.

    And there are already “lighten up” comments posted so… meh.

  • I do not approve of the gender essentialism, which is, incidentally, what makes the comment sexist. I would rather donate to a worthy cause then get a crappy box of chocolates. And I will set fire to the man who tries to give me a stuffed animal (seriously? like I’m a freakin’ toddler?)

    Thanks for the warning Tim. I do like the idea of showing love through charity. I’ll try to find one that’s trustworthy.

  • Hangnail

    Hmm, well I donated 50 bucks to get the bear and the hat for my sweetheart, then I came in here to brag and read all the comments. I hope I donated to a worthy group. I know the cause is worthy but is the HRC worthy of my money? Either way, it’s better then not donating and just buying candy instead I suppose. It’s the thought that counts, right?

  • Ubi Dubium

    Instead of a heart shaped box of chocolate, just give me a big bag of M&M’s and donate the difference. Instead of arguing about which organization to give to, you could just donate it to Foundation Beyond Belief. There’s a handy box for that just over to your right!

  • Richard P.

    Well I guess I can see where the interpretation of sexist can be induced from the article. I have to agree with Claudia on this one. I guess I had to look real hard to find that interpretation, I just don’t think in those terms.
    I don’t see how preferring chocolate or charity memberships would portray Hemant as a man with a chauvinistic belief in the inferiority of women, or that he is encouraging that stereo type.
    Is it really sexist to perceive differences in gender? Does perceiving those differences automatically make me sexist? What if I don’t think those differences make someone else inferior, is that still sexist?

    Don’t get me wrong, I understand how, as in the article Lauren posted, dumb blond jokes can be damaging and sexist. But, comparing differences in a membership or chocolate preference, really? This somehow perpetuates views of inferiority in women.
    I just don’t get it.

    Personally, I would prefer the chocolates, does that make me inferior?

  • ScarletA

    Can’t we just let some comments pass? Choose our battles? Just saying. Anyway, we’re raising a bunch of pink Z generation princesses who will propagate the whole girlie stereotype.
    Me? I want the chocolate AND to make a difference, so I spend my time and energy researching the right way to spend my money. BTW, a nice gift for someone would be a red “marriage is so gay” t shirt at to go with your chocolate!Even my 81 year old dad sports one!

  • Vas

    A sexist remark from a guy in pleated pants… Um I just don’t know where to go with this.
    Oh well at least Hemant understands that some, (myself included) have issues with the HRC.

  • Richard P.

    So what were not supposed to perpetuate a conversation started on the blog?
    I’m not trying to start an argument I really don’t understand. I am trying to see the gap in what I think and Laurens response. She may have a valid point I have missed. It wouldn’t be the first time I have questioned the validity of a response and found out I was wrong.
    I let comments pass, if I am interested I ask questions. Isn’t that the purpose of a blog? Or are we to suppose the only conversation allowed on each post is to be directly on topic of the actual post.

  • Cris

    Little jokes like that contribute to a larger culture of sexism. Specifically, this joke contributes to the idea that women are materialistic. Frankly, most of the women I know would be much happier with a donation to an organization which they support rather than a box of chocolates.

    I was genuinely surprised when I read that joke. While I’m rarely surprised to see sexist jokes and sexism in the skeptical community, it does surprise me coming from you, Hemant, considering you have posted several times in the past about the problems women face within the skeptical community.

  • Richard P.

    this joke contributes to the idea that women are materialistic

    Okay, say it is a joke like that, how does that infer inferiority?

    How does it qualify as sexist? Exactly how does materialistic translate into you being inferior?

    Especially in a capitalistic society where the almighty dollar and keeping up to the Jones is the national creed? Seems to me that would be a compliment.

  • Sexist? seriously? You should hear how my wife and I talk to each other sometimes, you’d have a heart attack lol. Here’s a great toy that’s hardly sexist at all (lol):

  • HRC isn’t solving any problems for the queer community and they continually show just how little they care for trans people. I’m with the other commenters: give money to local organizations. I suggest those organizations whose goal is NOT marriage equality. The movement is draining funds from many desperately needed social services for queer people.

  • tuntemanton kommentoija

    I do not approve of the gender essentialism, which is, incidentally, what makes the comment sexist

    There is plenty of evidence that Y chromosome affects how brains work. No amount of neo-lysenkoism is going to change that fact.

    It’s the thought that counts, right?

    It is the consequences that count in real life. It is possible to have good intentions while having bad consequences. Doctors used to prescribe Mercury for all kinds of ills.

    While I’m rarely surprised to see sexist jokes and sexism in the skeptical community

    I was surprised to found to out how easily members of “skeptical” community are willing to check their brains at the door when it comes discussing gender. Just because some postmodernists who claim to help people , demand it. That there is real differences between brains of sexes doesn’t have to mean that individuals have to behave according to stereotypes.

  • stephanie

    I know it’s been said, but I want to add my voice on this. Hemant, you have posted many times on why more women are not involved in the “atheist community.” I propose that part of the reason is that, even when we try to get involved, we’re treated as if we’re not there. Your joke about “getting her the chocolate she craves” instead of a worthwhile contribution to charity was sexist. Duh. But beyond that, it made me feel as if you were not talking to me in the first place. When you write your posts, and you imagine your reader in your head, do you imagine a man every time? I’m not trying to beat up on you. But if you want women to be more involved and feel more welcome, you need to start talking to us; not about us.

  • Richard, go google gender essentialism and get your 101 on. I’m sorry you don’t understand why we’re complaining; privilege will do that. This stuff has been explained a thousand times before, so please do the research before asking us to explain it again.

  • Dude, I’m female, and I don’t see any reason to get upset over a cute little joke.

    If you didn’t like it, fine, but there’s no need to go screaming about “sexism” over a joke, ladies. Save it for the important stuff, like the Republican jackwagons trying to redefine rape.

  • Claudia

    I’ve already commented, but seeing the pile-on I’d like to reiterate that I find this oversensitivity a little silly. I’m going to guess that Hemant has made jokes about men’s obession with ladies and/or sex in the past and I’d bet cold hard cash that the men didn’t cry out “Stop treating us as if we’re all sex-crazed cavemen!” or “By talking about how men want women you contribute to the invisibility of Gay men”. Really, it’s an extremely gentle joke, that you really have to be itching to find offense to interpret as being diminishing of the worth of women.

    I’m not saying that there aren’t examples of mysoginy in the atheist community, or certain consistent patterns of behavior in some quarters make for an atmosphere unwelcoming to women. This certainly does happen. However I have yet to see anyone point to Hemant showing a pattern of dismissive statements or other signs of sexism. If a lighthearted joke about Valentine’s day and chocolate is enough to make you feel that you aren’t welcomed in a community, you are unlikely to feel welcome in any community ever, including ones made up exclusively of women.

  • Oh my, this is quite the conversation.

    Here’s my 2¢:

    1. HRC isn’t terribly good on trans issues and yes, they have become a bit too infused with the establishment politics of Washington, DC. I love the suggestions of others to donate to other, smaller groups.

    2. Yes, small expressions of sexism do add up and they all work toward creating the gender essentialist boxes that both women and men have to struggle with (although, because of the societal power differential between the sexes, women tend to be harder hit).

    3. Unfortunately, we all unwittingly contribute to the problem in #2. We’re all steeped in an assortment of prejudices spanning multiple axes of discrimination/oppression (sexism, homophobia, racism, etc.). That doesn’t excuse it, but I doubt there’s an innocent person anywhere on this comment thread, including me.

    4. As for the “but women and men’s brains are different” notion. Look, I don’t care. I’m a transsexual woman. I’ve lived on both side of the gender/sex divide. Sexism is real, everywhere, and yes, it’s amazing how deeply incorporated sexism is in the smallest of social gestures. Try transitioning if you want to get a fuller picture. It’s fucking crazy. Trust me. When you move from looking like a guy to looking like a woman in less than a year’s time, you notice things.

    Last but not least, Hemant, it can’t be easy writing a blog where your words are scrutinized by thousands (?) of people every day. So, yes, please consider what folks have said regarding sexism, but at the same time, I shudder to think what it would be like to have that many readers on my own blog—it’s not so easy receiving that level of attention. I’m not perfect. I’ve got my own “issues”, too.

  • 101 for WMDKitty and Claudia:

    “The idea that feminism should be kept under glass, broken only in case of a “real” and “serious” emergency, is predicated on the erroneous assumption that “the little things” happen in a void, as do, presumably, the “real” and “serious” things, when, in reality, they are interwoven strands of the same rope. And as soon as one begins to judge the worthiness of feminists’ attention on a sliding scale, even generally-regarded “serious issues” like equal pay are dwarfed by global concerns like sex trafficking or government-sanctioned use of rape as a tool of war. It doesn’t have to be one or the other—feminists can multi-task.

    “And, in a very real way, ignoring “the little things” in favor of “the big stuff” makes the big stuff that much harder to eradicate, because it is the pervasive, ubiquitous, inescapable little things that create the foundation of a sexist culture on which the big stuff is dependent for its survival. It’s the little things, the constant drumbeat of inequality and objectification, that inure us to increasingly horrible acts and attitudes toward women.”

    You can read the rest of the article here.

  • Well, I’m glad that I’m not the only one who was a wee bit perturbed by the wee bit of sexism. To be honest, if someone said that around me in a face-to-face setting, I’d probably just say something about how I’d prefer some fruit to chocolate and move on with my life.

    On Hemant’s blog, though, I was a little more bothered by it considering the recent focus on addressing sexism in the atheist community.

    And, when you get right down to it, this women-are-more-materialist mentality is a huge part of the reason I left the Catholic church to begin with. Had my mother never expressed the opinion that women are “spiritually weaker” than men and more “distracted by the material world” (among other assertions), and so can not be the kind of spiritual leader a priest must be, I may never have started questioning. So yeah, I’ve got an axe to grind there.

    Concerning the whole “their brains are different!” issue… schizophrenics’ brains are different than non-schizophrenics, but we don’t know whether that’s a cause or an effect. Please remember that correlation does not imply causation. Saying that differences in brain structure are the cause of social inequality is a rather ignorant stand to take, unless you can point to some quality research that supports your claim.

  • Rich Wilson

    Let’s try rephrasing that for an alternate universe:

    “Personally I’d prefer to help the poor, but then I’m a Christian”

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