The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 02, 1995, Page 5, Image 5

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    Altar angst
Urge to wed not a universal phenomenon
As our college years come to a
bittersweet end, hordes of my peers
seem to be rushing to the altar.
Three of my friends will tie the
knot in the next year. That may not
seem like a horde, but I don’t have
many friends. So really, three is an
overwhelming proportion.
Watching them get married
hasn’t affected me as much as I
thought it would. I haven’t been
waking up in the middle of the
night, choking on pan i a and scream
ing, “MUST... FIND ... HUS
Probably the most traumatic part
of the experience has been the bridal
showers. Bridal showers are second
only to Tupperware parties in the
line-up of freakish social events.
If you’ve never been to a bridal
shower, I’ll give you a briefing:
Friends of the bride and friends
of the bride’s (and sometimes the
groom’s) mother gather to talk about
things they care nothing about.
Then everyone watches the bride
open her gifts, ooh-ing and ahhh-ing
at all the right moments. Guests
often discuss each gift in minute
detail as it’s passed around the
“Ooh Nickie, look at the handle
on this pizza cutter,” some obser
vant soul oozes. “That’s the kind of
plastic that lasts and lasts. That
pizza cutter will outlive you. You
can pass it on to your first daugh
And the rest of the guests coo in
amazement, wondering how anyone
could create such a sturdy pizza
cutter. Tears form in the eyes of the
“That pizza cutter is a blessing
straight from heaven,” the bride’s
grandmother whispers, and everyone
else nods vigorously. Yes, yes,
Nickie, God wants you to have that
pizza cutter.
Throughout the ordeal, everyone
Rainbow Rowell
7 could have enjoyed all
my days on this earth
without knowing what I
look like in tight, purple
polyester crepe. But now
I must live with that
horrific image. ”
eats a lot of whatever is available.
As long as you have food in your
mouth, you don’t have to make
insincere comments or answer
questions like, “So Rainbow, when
will we be invited to your bridal
shower?” or “Don’t you have a job
yet?” You just shrug and give
people that “Sorry, but I’ve got a
mouthful of Chex mix” smile.
Actually, the standard bridal
shower is much less traumatic than
the personal shower, in which guests
buy the bride skimpy lingerie or
other personal goods. Then make
f-color remarks as the bride
vraps her flimsy wraps. (This is
type of bridal shower they
always have on TV shows like
“Wings” and “Full House.”)
I’ve changed my mind. The most
traumatic part of having your friends
get married is trying on bridesmaid
dresses. I could have enjoyed all my
days on this earth without knowing
what I look like in tight, purple
polyester crepe. But now I must live
with that horrific image.
I haven’t actually been in any
weddings yet. Perhaps the most
traumatio moments are yet to come.
My first wedding is Saturday. I’m an
integral part of the ceremony — the
person who cuts cake.
That’s right, if you want some
creamy white icing, you have to get
past me. And if I think you’ve had
enough, I’m not going to give you
that third piece. Don’t hate me. It’s
my job.
At least it will give me something
to do with my time. Usually, I spend
wedding receptions sitting at a table,
making sure there’s always cake in
my mouth so I don’t have to say
“No, I’m not getting married and I
don’t have a job” over and over
I know more now about wed
dings than I ever thought there was
to know. I even know how to use the
Club Wedd bridal registry computer
at Target.
I was a little envious when my
friends first started making wedding
plans, when they first started picking
their wedding colors and selecting
china styles.
But now, I don’t envy them a bit.
Sure, no one is throwing me
parties. Little girls don’t get all
gussied up just to throw rose petals
in my path. But I don’t think I’m
ready for marriage.
I could handle a lifelong mo
nogamous commitment. But I’m not
ready (nor can I afford) to choose a
caterer and a cakemaker, a photog
rapher, a videographer and a florist.
If I want a nice pizza cutter, I
guess I’ll have to buy one myself.
Rowell is a senior news-editorial, adver
tising and English major and the Dally
Nebraskan managing editor.
Powerful taboo
Phallic fear causes unconscionable cutting
Like most men in this country, I
am circumcised.
If that first sentence makes you
feel a little queasy, maybe you
should read on. ^
Because if circumcision is only a
simple, hygienic medical procedure
then why does it carry such a
It’s not like it’s uncommon:
perhaps 80 percent of all white
males in America are circumcised
within the first few days after
The various reasons given for the
procedure change over time — and
seem hard to fathom in light of the
fact that the rest of the world gets by
pretty well without it.
But the truth of the matter is that
circumcision represents a peculiarly
American fetish and taboo. The
reasons for its continued practice
#are not medical but psychic,
magical, sacramental.
When circumcision was intro
duced in English-speaking countries
about a hundred years ago, it caught
on in a big way among American
hospitals. By the midpoint of the
century, however, it had almost
disappeared from every country but
our own.
Circumcision had been touted as
a preventative measure to ward off a
host of ills—everything from
epilepsy to masturbation, which was
considered a health hazard in those
dark days.
It took a couple of generations to
demonstrate that incidence of these
. conditions were not reduced by
circumcision. By then, of course,
new reasons to circumcise were
offered. -
Lets take a look at the most
common modem rationalizations of
this surgical procedure. %
1. It is supposed to lessen the risk
of penile cancer in the adult.
Cancer of the penis strikes about
one in 100,000 older men in
America. And circumcising all
Mark Baldridge
“We sacrifice a piece of
the sexual organs of our
boy children to our oivn
clean, manly, upright
self-image. ”
infants to lessen the risk of cancer in
a few old men might seem a shaky
policy at best — if any evidence
existed that it would actually work.
But penile cancer rates in Japan
are lower—without hacking off the
foreskins of infant boys — and rates
among the uncircumcised Scandina
vians are almost equal to our own.
2. It is supposed to lessen the
incidence of urinary tract infection
in boys.
Only one study is cited to
demonstrate this — one that has
acknowledged statistical errors: It
shows association, not cause. 1
Subsequent studies have failed to
confirm the findings of this original,
flawed one. Yet it continues to be
cited in the literature.
3. It is supposed to lessen the risk
of contracting venereal disease.
Well, cutting the whole thing off
would work even better on that
front, wouldn’t it? Maybe the money
spent on a circumcision would be
better invested for the little scamps
— so they can buy condoms with it
when they’re old.
4. Hygiene. t
We teach little girls how to clean
and care for their bodies. Maybe
little boys can learn how too.
5. Aesthetics.
This borders on the criminal. If a
similar procedure was carried out on
infant girls we would consider its
practitioners savages.
6. Everyone else is doing it.
My mom had a remarkably good
answer to this line of thinking...
something about everyone else
jumping off a cliff.
But my claim remains to be dealt
with: that routine infant circumci
sion is not medicine, but mojo.
America has a lot invested in its
self-image. We construct ourselves
as a clean, manly, upright society.
We also possess, or are pos
sessed by, the.strongest penis taboos
in known history — it must not be
seen, must not be touched, must not
be mentioned. To polite society the
penis does not exist. In its erect state
it carries an even more powerful
When was the last tune you saw a
full frontal nude in film or art?
Compare that to the infinite number
of female nudes.
As withall ritual mutilations
there is something we hope to gain
as a culture, some magic protection
or power or charm. Some potent
As a people we make an offering
of blood to this obscure, unknown
We sacrifice a piece of the sexual
organs of our boy children toour
own clean, manly, upright self
And it works, ft’s gotten us to-the
top of the greasy hill.
But as we feel ourselves slipping
from that ascendency, what new
pain will we offer on the altar of that
grinning, ghastly idol?
Bal0iMge Is foe Opiates page editor for
foe Dally Nebraska!.
i i!
Warner Kay Myers
Gay student faces
life after liberation
If you look at my backpack
you’ll see a rainbow patch.
The other day a girl I was
studying with asked me what it
I told her I am gay.
And she told me she knows a
few gay people. So I replied,
“I know a few heterosexual
Ba-Dah Boom!
(Hint: That was supposed to b(
an ice breaker!)
Every man and'woman who is
consciously gay has at one point
in time come out to themselves.
Obviously. That’s how they know
they are gay.
I can’t speak for all homosexu
als, but I believe that once any
person comes to terms with their
sexuality, how open they want to
be about it is their decision.
My decision to be open about
my sexual preference is why I’m
writing this column.
My entire life I have tried to
be something I’m not. Something
I can never be: a heterosexual
I’ve read romance novels by
the dozen hoping to one day
magically stumble into the same
emotional tizzies the teen-aged
girls always felt for Dan or Steve
I dated boys all through high
school and went to all of the
dances; I joined a sorority and .
looked through bridal magazines,
All in hope of discovering the
connection that would make me
normal. Like every other girl I
knew. Nothing worked.
This is not meant to be a sob
story; however, I was very
unhappy growing up.
Until this summer when I came
out to myself and my family and
friends, my life was one of
frustration, anger, hurt, isolation,
depression and loneliness.
My parents and I never seemed
to get along and we could never
figure out what barrier was
keeping me distant from them.
I began therapy in high school
searching for an end to my inner
conflict. It resolved some
problems, but I was still hurting
inside and unable to express or
identify why.
Finally this summer everything
clicked into place. I was at a
friend’s house and we were sitting
on his bed.
I blurted I was in love with one
of my closest friends from high
I still have no idea why that
revelation happened just then. I
told him her name. And then the
rest of the night we spent talking
and crying and hugging to work
out all of the emotions flying -
around in my heart.
I started seeing a new counse
lor to talk specifically about all of
these new feelings. I was seeking
understanding about myself and
looking for support. My old
psychologist continued to work
with me, too.
I also began to check out every
. book I could find at the city
library on lesbians. I had an
incredible appetite for knowledge
about people like me ...
I journaled. I cried. I did
charcoal sketches and I cried
some more.
Everything I read helped me
“I began therapy in
high school searching
for an end to my inner
conflict. It resolved
some problems, but I
was still hurting inside
: and unable to express
or identify why.
Finally this summer
everything clicked into
place. ”
find myself. The pieces of my life
had fallen into place and I felt a
connection with a group of
people. A feeling I’d never
known before/
The weight lifted from my
shoulders when I realized that —
while I’d always thought some
thing was horribly wrong with me
— I was just trying to force
myself into being something that I
thought I was meant to be.
You may wonder why I cried
so much if I was happy to finally
be liberated. I cried because all of
the books I read this summer told
about homohatred and phobia and
the discrimination gay people
I read about gay families being
tom apart and same-sex partners
being refused admittance to the
hospital rooms of their loved ones
— because of a lack of a piece of
I read about murders and other
horrible hate crimes. And this was
who I am. Who I can’t deny to be.
I decided to take it all back.
For about five minuies I consid
ered retracting my statement that
I thought I was gay and I planned
to tell my few close friends it had
been a joke or a huge mistake.
Blow the whole thing off.
But then I remembered the
years of depression and loneliness
and decided that putting up with
the hate of ignorant people was
worth it in the long run.
I know now that there is no
way I’ll ever go back to that
confining heterosexual helf
So I came out to my family.
My mother and father said they
love me and support me. Via e
mail my brother responded to my
announcement saying he thought
it was an interesting “choice.”
Oh, well, at least he’s trying.
I have never felt so liberated,
proud and happy in my entire life.
I feel complete. Finally. No one
can take that feeling away from
Basically, I have decided it is
my vocation to be OUT! To be
politically active in the gay
movement and not hide my sexual
preference anywhere. That is
what this column is about.
I want you all to know that I
am real. I could be your sister,
daughter, mother, aunt or girl
friend. We are everywhere...
So, look out UNL!
There’s one more out, proud
dyke on campus.
Myers b a Jaalor broadcasting ma
The Daily Nebraskan, will present a guest columnist each Monday.
Writers from the university and community are welcome.
Contact Mark Baldridge c/o the Daily Nebraskan, 34 Nebraska
Union, 1400 R St, Lincoln, NE 68588.
Or by plume at (402)-472-1782.