Archive for April, 2011

(There is a new drug available-that ‘blocks’ the onset of puberty, that is beeng piloted to use for trans ‘children’ to make transition more practicable and less traumatic)

You: Like all this kind of new technology it will produce new sexualities – and identities. Plenty of kids, trans or otherwise, would be drawn to the idea of forever postponing puberty. It’s like the ultimate form of edging

Me: I hated puberty but I don’t think I’d have tried to postpone it. i just postponed sex which probably wasn’t a terrible idea. Though I did it in quite a S/M way by tormenting my poor boyfriend at the time. I get annoyed with all those ‘sex-positive’ people saying ‘virginity’ should not be a thing, because sex is all number of things and it is sexist to assume a girl in particular has to ‘lose’ her virginity etc. But as a good puritan I got off on all that! If I hadn’t had my purity to lose, I might never have bothered at all.

Me: Sometimes talking to you is how I imagine it’d be talking to Foucault. But Foucault was so much more precious about how his own sexuality informed his ideas. You, whether it is intentional or not, imbue all your words with – what is the phrase- a visceral sense of your own response to them. Or to the idea that led to them. I find it very compelling. And I found Foucault compelling in the first place. I am an alien, who has the good fortune to receive these notes, as brief as they may be, that throb and pulsate with the blood and desire of a real human being. (The desire, as ‘desir’ is, obviously is not aimed at me or anyone in particular, but there it is, waiting…)

Of course, I rarely think what it must be like for you, interacting with me. Tiring? Er…  I just don’t know. On one or two occasions someone has remarked on my intelligence. As if it is something they wish I didn’t possess. Or if I must have it, could I just not leave it in its box sometimes. Instead of constantly bringing it out and haranguing others with it?

Can you have beautiful buff boy fatigue?

Beautiful, buff, hairless chest, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful, buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, homogenous homoerotics pretty young white boy fatigue?

Beautiful buff, hairless chest, a hint of sensitivity in the expression, homogenous homoerotics, perfectly coiffed, designer stubble, pretty young white boy fatigue?

Because I do.

h/t @homo_superior http://bigbutchmuscle.com/post/5049552865/cigar

These are a few thoughts following Mark Simpson’s recent piece (well recently re-posted) on ‘Hazing’.

Posting this on my own blog made me realise I am totally screwed up about ‘sex and violence’. I think I am pretty fine with homosexuality! But when it comes to violence I am completely confused. Part of me really really hates any kind of violence, even in sports etc. And yet I have willingly ‘voluntarily’ chosen to be hurt by people for the sake of sexual arousal.

I can’t make sense of that in the way some ‘masochists’ do, by saying that ‘consent’ and ‘sexual desire’ make all the difference. Because I have felt quite disturbed by some of my S and M sexual experiences. They have left me feeling frightened, vulnerable, freaked out. Indeed, I have been in ‘violent’ relationships that were not overtly ‘S and M’. There was no spoken ‘consent’ for what happened to me. And one of those relationships led to me being properly assaulted and stalked for months.

Many of the ‘rationales’ for S and M are written by ‘masochists’, and often by masochistic women. The role of the ‘sadist’ (and also of the masochist man) goes largely unexplored and undefended. ‘Sexual Sadism’ is still considered a psychiatric disorder.  http://allpsych.com/disorders/paraphilias/sadism.html It is difficult for people, especially men, to be open about the pleasure they get from hurting others.  Partly, I am afraid, because feminists demonise men’s sexuality, and make out that ‘sadists’ are rapists by any other name.  That men are rapists by nature, and they need to learn to curb their ‘sadism’ or else they will be labelled as such and punished.

For me, just as masochism is hard to explain and ‘defend’ solely in terms of consenting sexual relationships between adults, so is sadism difficult to tidy away neatly into the S and M box.

When I read about Hazing rituals, even the ones that don’t involve physical violence but more humiliation or discomfort, I feel conflicted. Part of me is in horror at the thought of being forced, or choosing to participate in such a practice. Another part of me is intrigued and a little turned on.

After I read Mark’s post the last time, I went and looked up ‘hazing’ online. I found some videos. Some of them were pornos and some weren’t. It was all mixed up. I like things mixed up. I find in my own life, pleasure and pain, sex and violence, consent and non-consent are often mixed up.

In The Notebook my first entry read:

‘The line between good violence and bad violence is blurred. I like it like that’.

I think Hazing is part of the blurring of the line between ‘good violence’ and ‘bad violence’. This is what makes it appealing/threatening to many of us if we are honest I should think.

It’s not just about fears around ‘homosexuality’ I believe. It also touches on our ambivalent relationship with sadism (and masochism). I think Mark is brave, not so much for pointing out the inherent homo-ness in all male groups (though he does that so well I’d hate him to stop), but for defending sadism,  even when it is not dressed up in ‘consensual sex’ terminology.

And, like I believe that the best chance we have of dealing with our need for sadism and masochism in a ‘healthy’ way is by openly practising them in our sex lives (or even just our fantasy lives, or our pornography lives, or our talking about sex lives), so I believe that we need to be open and not ashamed about how we enjoy ‘sadism’ and ‘masochism’ in other areas. Like sports. And group dynamics. And work. And voyeurism. Sometimes even looking is painful. And sometimes it is kind of sadistic.

The lines are blurred.

‘QRG is a good example of someone I want to respect because she’s smart and sometimes says interesting things — but her constant grandstanding and insistence on trying to dominate discussions that have nothing to do with what SHE wants to talk about*, always piss me off. She doesn’t listen to moderators, she dismisses attempts at facilitating a calmer discussion, she demands that everyone focus on her at all times, and she refuses to acknowledge that she might ever be at fault when discussions go explodey.

It’s a shame, because I think that if she were more willing to have a real conversation, she might actually be able to do some of what she claims to want to do. I am leaving this comment because there are always tons of lurkers reading these threads, and I want to make it really clear why I think her behavior is bad, because if someone else has the same level of intelligent disagreement she does, she’s a really good example of how NOT to communicate about it.’

-Lady Madame Princess Clarisse Thorn

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/04/26/i-know-i-can-fight-rape-culture-by/#comments

*This comment was made on a discussion about ‘rape culture’ in which I made comments about ‘rape culture’. It was not ‘nothing to do with’ what I wanted to talk about, it was just that I disagreed with the majority view on the subject.

Against Feminisms

Posted: April 28, 2011 in Blogging, Feminism, Uncategorized
Tags:

When I make my case against feminism, whether it be in a reasonable, rational manner or an exasperated, angry tone, I am challenging the basis of ALL FEMINIST THEORY. People say to me, ‘you can’t generalise like that’ ‘feminism is not a monolithic group’ ‘there are many branches of feminism’ ‘feminism is a broad church’ ‘feminism is not a  club’.

People such as these bloggers have taken offence at my sweeping generalisations about their precious ideology which apparently I am cariacaturing unfairly and simplistically.

http://cubiksrube.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/fem-vs-fem/#comments

http://stavvers.wordpress.com/

http://footstepsinthedarkzine.wordpress.com/

http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2011/04/20/an-occupational-hazard/

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/04/27/racism-is-exhausting/

So here is my rationale for why I oppose ALL and EVERY FEMINIST THEORY.  If you are a feminist but do not subscribe to any of these assumptions/beliefs, then let me know. But I expect there is not one feminist who doesn’t broadly speaking accept these tenets:

1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.

2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)

3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’  and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people, in general, as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) ‘norm’ of dominant masculinity.

4) The focus on men’s power over women in ‘patriarchal’ society ignores other divisions between people and is essentially, ‘heteronormative’. It makes out the division between heterosexual (cis) men and (cis) women is the one that is dominant in society, and the one that is most important for feminist analysis/critique. So feminist theorists such as bell hooks and Julia Serano and Beverly Skeggs, even when they are referring to other divisions such as ethnicity, class and transgender identities, are still relying on the reification of the man v woman binary to support all their arguments about gender.

5) Feminism does not allow for these above challenges to be made to it without it having a hissy fit or banning its critics from websites/fora or saying ‘but you don’t understand’ or ‘feminism is not monolithic’. Feminism cannot stand up to critique.

6) Feminism is based on self-interest. The adoption of a feminist analysis of women in society is presented by feminists as in women’s interests.  This is why feminists are able to look with contempt and/or pity on non-feminist women. As if they are somehow not valuing themselves as women and as people.  But making a whole political ideology out of self-interest of a particular group in society, is, in my opinion, conservative and selfish.  When feminists mock people who ask about men’s discrimination with their ‘whatabouttehmenz’ taunt, they are mocking women who think and care about others, and men who think about and care about each other and themselves. So feminism expects women to be selfish and men to be self-less. And people who do not or will not fit into the binary, to not exist at all.

This spread for Bello Mag as featured in Oh La La, continues that eerie theme shown to be popular in women’s fashion photography in particular at the moment: the corpse look.

http://www.ohlalamag.com/.a/6a00e54fb7301c8834014e880ca2be970d-pi

I don’t know why this is, apart from the general feeling of ‘end of times’ that pervades our visual culture these days. Vampires, zombies, ghosts,  mannequins, they all convey the ‘post-human’ atmosphere that I think we all experience when we go to the mall, watch television, look at clothes, see films, go to pop concerts.

But also, I wonder if these corpse-like bodies represent the death of women’s fashion in particular, the death of ‘femininity’ as we know it. As the metrosexual man continues his rampage through the (post)modern landscape, isn’t the ‘female body’ just one more thing that he has destroyed and discarded?

I’m looking forwards to a fashion shoot featuring a woman’s carcass being picked at by vultures next.

And you think I’m joking.

‘The scene in the Marabar Caves is a good substitute for violence.’ – E.M. Forster

‘Rape culture is the objectification of women, which is part of a dehumanizing process that renders consent irrelevant.’

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/rape-culture-101.html

When a man was jailed and placed on the sex offenders register for life in America, recently, for ejaculating into a woman’s water bottle, the woman whose water it was said: ‘I feel it was a form of rape.’

(Man jailed for ejaculating into a woman’s water bottle)

This really got me thinking about rape and how it can be ‘subjective’. The woman ‘felt’ his act was ‘a form of rape’ and he got punished as if it were. But what he did does not fit the legal definition of rape, which requires penetration of an orafice by a penis or finger or implement.

I then got into a discussion on the Feministe blog, about ‘rape culture’. I said that I did not feel able to state my views on this matter (i.e. that ‘rape culture’ doesn’t exist) as I would get ejected from the blog and/or called various names/insulted.

The response from the moderator was:

‘Asshole runs all the way across the gender spectrum. So there are plenty of women out there who want to contribute to discussions about sexual assault, and who care deeply about those issues, but who believe really incredibly abhorrent things (perhaps “women are asking for it” or “rape is a biological imperative” or “rape is an individual act and there is no such thing as a culture that enables it” etc etc). It’s each woman’s right to believe whatever it is that she believes, but it is not the right of every single woman in the world to spew those beliefs in any space she pleases. This space focuses on feminism, something that I believe is good for all women, but is not something that all women everywhere agree with or support; a lot of women are outright hostile to feminism and to other women. I don’t think I need to let them say whatever they want in a feminist space just because they identify as women. That is counterproductive to the purpose of this blog, which is to discuss issues at least partially through a feminist lens. It’s one thing to challenge that; it’s another to throw out the same shit we’ve all heard before (“rape culture doesn’t exist,” etc) and expect the entire comment thread to cater to the topic that you want to talk about’

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/04/26/i-know-i-can-fight-rape-culture-by/

Previously, I had got into a spot of bother discussing with a woman on her blog, about the way she portrayed men who ‘tried it on’ with her in various ways. How she presented the complex issue of  ‘consent’ only and always as predatory men needing consent from women to conduct a range of sexual acts, or else they would be labelled rapists. Like the woman in the water bottle incident, this blogger said some interactions with men had left her ‘feeling abused’. This feeling seemed to take precedent over any measurement of an ‘objective’ reality. In her blog she made this statement:

‘Aside: If you’re thinking, “that bloke had a sexual abuse problem, not a differing understanding of consent,” stick with me, we’ll get to the point. If you’re thinking, “sheesh! Bloody women with her mixed signals, she deserves all she gets,” you’re in the wrong room, you want, Not Becoming a Rapist 101, down the hall.’

http://notanodalisque.wordpress.com/2011/04/18/consent-non-consent-and-%E2%80%9Cget-the-hell-away-from-me%E2%80%9D/

All these separate but linked occurrences and discussions reminded me of A Passage To India and the unspecified incident that occurs in the Marabar Caves.

Adela accuses Aziz of raping her in the Marabar caves. He always protests his innocence. At the trial, the run up to which has involved much tension between the Indian and British communities, Adela changes her mind and says he didn’t do anything, though someone, or something did hurt her. The Marabar caves represent, among other things, our inability to be omniscient, to know the cause of everything that happens to us. All we are left with is our feelings, and an echo- ‘ou-boum’.

I hear so much about rape and ‘rape culture’. I am told my perception of the world is wrong, ‘abhorrent’ even. That I need to go to ‘room 101- how not to be a rapist’. I have been likened to a ‘rapist’ on more than one occasion, simply for holding certain views, for uttering certain words.

I don’t know what is going on in this world.

All I can hear is an echo-ouboum.

This is an excerpt from REFUSE  the debut novel/memoir by Elliott Deline. Mark Simpson has praised the book, saying:

‘All writers are born in the wrong body, but it happens to be the reader’s good fortune that Elliott DeLine was literally born in the wrong body…Funny, cynical, tough, vulnerable, honest, deluded, sagacious, self-loving and self-loathing, Refuse is irresistible.’

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52266

God how sex implores you, 

To let yourself lose yourself

-Morrissey, The Smiths: Stretch Out And Wait         

Dean went back to his room around noon to find Colin sitting at his computer in the dark, still in his plaid pajama pants. Craig had packed up and returned to Brooklyn.

“Hey,” Colin said turning around as Dean locked the door. His eyes were red and his face was puffy. He’d clearly been crying. “Maggie and I talked,” he said. “She told me what happened.”

Dean froze. “At the library?”

“No. About kissing you, when I was away.”

“I’m really sorry Colin,” Dean said, wincing. “I am such an awful friend. Seriously, I understand if you want me to move out. I can start packing right away.”

“No!” Colin said. “No, Dean, relax. I mean, sure, I’m upset, but I’m also a little relieved. Things weren’t working out. And Maggie doesn’t like you like that or anything. She was just drunk, she says, and I believe her. Still, she and I are through. It’s for the best. I’m so over it.” His blood-shot eyes and runny nose said otherwise.

Dean didn’t move. “I’m still awful for not telling you.” He looked at his feet, clinging tightly to his ratty book.

“Dean, seriously, it’s okay,” Colin said. “I don’t blame you at all. You didn’t ask her to come on to you. I realize you were in an awkward situation, and I’m not mad. I swear.”

Dean sighed, cautiously taking a seat on his bed. “Well, I still feel bad. But I’m glad it’s out in the open. I felt so guilty these past weeks.”

“You shouldn’t have,” Colin said, kicking off his slippers and revealing small, porcelain feet. “I know you don’t like her like that. I mean, I was mad at first, but now I just hate Maggie. She’s a fucking tranny chaser.”

“Mm,” Dean said, frowning.

“So yeah, I’m single,” Colin continued, moving to his bed. “I haven’t been in years. I don’t even know what to do with myself.” He let out a nervous laugh, leaning back against a pillow. “Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty depressed. I might go to this trans support group back home. It usually helps me to vent.”

“Mm,” Dean was tracing the embroidery on his pillow case with his pointer finger.

“So I was thinking I’d go home next weekend,” Colin said. “And I mean, you’re welcome to come with.”

Dean held his breath for several seconds, thinking. “Yeah, I’d go,” he said, attempting to sound indifferent.

“Awesome!” Colin said. “My parents are vacationing, but I should let them know. I’ll email them right now actually.”

Dean exhaled and then stared some more at the embroidery, biting his lip. Colin went back to his computer.

“I used to go to a support group in Syracuse,” Dean said.

Colin turned away from his computer again, surprised. Dean never spoke of his past. “Really?” he said. “Did you like it there?”

“No,” Dean said.

Colin nodded, waiting for him to continue. When he didn’t, he turned back to his computer.

“I only went a handful of times,” Dean said a half-minute later.

Colin turned back. “Yeah? Anything interesting ever happen.”

Dean grinned mischievously at his pillow. “Yes.” He inflected, so it almost sounded like a question.

“Yeah? Wanna tell me about it?” Colin took a gentle tone, swerving and just missing condescension.

Dean itched his hair with both hand like a beast, scattering dandruff. He was very caffeinated and wanted nothing more than to tell a long story. He looked up from his pillow, his eyes wild, as if brought back from the dead.

“Well, it was me, this older transgender fellow named William, this younger guy named Ethan, and… two transgender women, one named Melissa and… the other woman’s name escapes me. But they were both in their twenties at the time, and Melissa and Ethan had also brought their girlfriends with them. That was the usual crowd I guess. So we were all sitting in this room with this stupid rainbow mural on the wall. Oh God, don’t get me started! I was about eighteen, definitely the youngest person there. We were introducing ourselves when there was a knock at the door.” Dean knocked on the bed-stand, supplying a redundant illustration. “William thought it was the pizza man, who had actually been giving us trouble and acting weird. Even though it was super secretive, we suspected he knew what our meetings were about. In fact, it was so secretive you had to actually call this number to find out where the meetings were located. Syracuse is weird. But anyway, William answers the door and in walks this guy with a leather jacket and a pompadour, but in a cool, rockabilly way that wasn’t sleazy. I think he was Hispanic. He was really handsome, like a model. He was probably in his late thirties. In any case, most people would say he was too old to dress like that, but he pulled it off confidently.” Dean narrowed his eyes, as if daring Colin to challenge this. Colin didn’t.

Dean continued. “So he sat down on a bean bag looking rather out of place. He introduced himself as Hunter and shook all our hands. He had a really big hand. He smiled at me and winked. I think it was because I had this hairstyle. Maybe he was a creep, I don’t know. Everyone else introduced themselves, and then William told Hunter to tell us a bit about himself. Hunter said he was a car mechanic, owned a motorcycle, and recently adopted a border collie. He liked to collect and pin dead butterflies, and really loved Elvis. Everyone nodded politely, as they clearly were expecting him to talk about his transition like everyone else. Someone asked if he preferred male pronouns and he said, Sure.

Melissa then went on to talk about how she had scheduled her vaginoplasty with some surgeon in San Francisco. Hunter waited until she finished talking and then said that was where he went.

Melissa told him that was unlikely because the doctor only did male-to-female surgeries. Hunter said that was what he got.

Everyone looked confused, and someone asked if he was a transgender woman. He said no, that he identified as a transgender man, but that he was born in a male body. I remember William and Ethan’s eyes nearly popped out of their heads.   Hunter went on to explain he never felt comfortable in his body and that he hated his genitalia. He had wondered if he wanted to be a woman, but that wasn’t it. He felt like a man, he just didn’t want his genitalia. He said he read about transgender men in a book, and he related to them instantly. He said he wanted more than anything to be a part of their community. He said everything suddenly made sense; he was a man who was a transgender-man inside. So he had surgery to get female parts and started injecting testosterone, since his body could no longer produce it naturally. He said he finally felt like himself.

So of course everyone just stared, dumbfounded. Someone asked what kind of surgeon would let him do that. And Hunter repeated that it was the same surgeon Melissa mentioned, apparently not realizing it was a rhetorical question. No one spoke for a long time.

Finally Ethan said that he though that was incredibly offensive. Hunter said he didn’t understand. Ethan asked how he could mutilate his body like that. Doesn’t he know that trans men would give anything to have what he had? How could he be so ungrateful? What did he mean he felt like a trans man on the inside? Didn’t he realize how absurd that sounds? He made the rest of us look like jokes, Ethan said.

William said he agreed. He said Hunter could do what he chose with his body, because it was a free country, but that maybe he should have seen a therapist instead and worked out his issues. How did he know he wouldn’t end up regretting this?

The woman who wasn’t Michelle added that Hunter could never truly be a part of the community, because he hadn’t had the same experiences as transgender men. How could he ever relate? He was socialized as a man, grew up a man…How could he know how hard it was for these men who had been denied that?

And then Hunter looked around the room, looking amused. Finally he said that he made it all up, that he didn’t have a vaginoplasty. But he said he thought he should go, and it was nice meeting everyone.

And he just got up and left without saying another word. We heard his motorcycle rev outside. It was incredible. Just like a movie.”

Colin was sitting with his mouth open.  “Wow! What did everyone else do?”

“Well, we sat in silence for awhile. Then, at almost the same moment, Melissa, her girlfriend and I got up and left. What else could we do?”

“Jesus! That’s so weird. Did you ever find out what he really was?”

“No, I never saw him again.”

“Wow,” Colin said again. “Why would he do that?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what was the point? Seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it? Was he just trying to get a rise out of people?”

Dean stared at Colin. How many nights had he laid awake thinking about Hunter? How could he put into words the myriad of emotions that evening stirred in him? He felt like he grasped something for the first time that he didn’t want to accept: maybe Colin didn’t want to understand those kinds of emotions. And if not Colin, then who did? He felt a pang of loneliness, as if he were the last remaining member of an endangered species.

He didn’t have to wonder if Colin would have walked out of the room.

“Yeah, I guess it was just to get a rise out of people,” Dean said. “I’m going to go take a shower.”

‘Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband.’
-The Taming of the Shrew, 5. 2

There’s small choice in rotten apples.
The Taming of the Shrew, 1. 1


The last time I wrote about the royal family was in 1997. I had an article published in a Birmingham radical Afro-Carribean community magazine, about the death of Princess Diana. I commented, not a little pretentiously, on the way Diana’s body was brought back to British shores, draped in the flag featuring the Prince of Wales’ coat of arms. She escaped, all too briefly, the tyranny of the Windsor clan, only to be engulfed and wrapped up by them, by the Crown, by the Empire, finally, in her death.

Now Diana’s first born son and heir to the thrown is about to be married. And once again, I am struck by how the royal family marries its subjects to it, traps us in a bond we seem unable to escape. Kate Middleton appears on the face of it to be a willing ‘victim’. Unlike Charles and Diana’s, William and Kate’s relationship seems to be one based not on duty, but on love. They met at university. They lived together. They are the same age. Just as Diana and Charles seemed awkward, out of step, uncomfortable, so these two seem compatible, in tune, happy. But I think their union represents, as Diana and Charles’ did, a symbolic reinforcement of, not only the monarchy, but also of the institution of heterosexual marriage itself.


Kate Middleton  couldn’t be more different from the ‘shrewish’ Kate in Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew. She may have the dark hair and strong figure, and Diana may have been more like Kate’s sister in the play, Bianca: blonde, demure, ‘angelic’ and dutiful. But as we now know, Diana actually demonstrated she was the fiery rebel, and  the Windsors treated her as the ‘shrew’ that brought shame and trouble on their family. Kate Middleton it seems, has arrived at The House of Windsor ready-tamed. She has already placed her hand under Prince William’s  foot, and will probably serve and honour him for the rest of her days.

There has been a lot of hoo-ha in the press (from the little coverage I have read) about the class differences between the two. How shocking that a ‘middle class’ woman would dare to marry the  prince. I don’t have a window on The Queen’s mind, but I think that actually she may be quite relieved at her grandson’s choice of bride.  Elizabeth has not had an ‘annus horribilis’ since ‘that woman’ shifted off this mortal coil. But she knows that the monarchy is never entirely safe from the republican threat. The culture of empire, inheritance and entitlement is being challenged in the UK, as symbolised by devolution, the peace process in Ireland, the reform of the House of Lords, and, in a small way, that paint-splattered car carrying Charles and Camilla amidst the student riots.  Having a middle class woman marry into the monarchy is probably a good PR move for the Windsors. It shows them to be less ‘stuffy’ and ‘old-money’ and ‘aristocratic’ than they in fact are. It suggests ‘modernity’ and even ‘inclusivity’. And it means the people, though they may have been totally in love with the original ‘people’s princess’, have a chance to identify once more with the heir (to the heir) to the throne and his bride.

Because a royal wedding is not just a showcase for the royal family ( a family that needs some positive media coverage, as it still includes nefarious characters such as Prince Andrew and his dodgy dealings, and his hilariously dodgy dealing ex-wife). It is also a showcase for the institution of marriage itself. Marriage is on a steady decline in the UK. There is probably nothing anyone can do to stop this. And, if I were The Queen, or probably more significantly her heirs, I may be a little concerned. Because, as Shakespeare knew, the whole concept of being a ‘subject’, of serving your King or Queen and Country, is bound up with the concept of being a wife, or even a husband. If people can’t be bothered to show their allegiance to  each other in a formal declaration endorsed by the state, what hope that they will give a toss about serving an old lady in a crown and a big house?

Enter the Gays, sashaying and swishing in their wedding gowns and tiaras. ‘Gay Marriage’ ironic as it may sound (to those of us who remember when ‘gay’ meant something vaguely radical) could actually be the thing that boosts the marriage stats. And all those queens who will I am sure, before too long, get their chance to be princesses for the day, may also actually bolster our respect and loyalty to the actual Queen and princes and princesses of this land. Remember Diana? Remember how popular she was with the gays? Yes it was because she showed compassion to people suffering from HIV/AIDS, yes it was because she was a diva in the gay melodrama sense. But also I think some gay people like the idea of being truly embraced by the establishment. Of being ‘subjects’. And Diana held out her dainty princesses hand and they took it. Kate Middleton is no Diana. But if Gay Marriage becomes legal anytime soon, I expect her marriage to William will be up there in the gay diary of great gay moments in history, along with Diana’s funeral (because lets face it the gays loved that more than her wedding), with Cabaret, with oh you know all the big gay moments by now.

Peter Tatchell,  that well-known campaigner against the privileges of the few, and for the rights of many, has thrown his tiara into the ring. He has organised protests, not against the monarchy, or against the heteronormative oppressive institution of marriage, but to call for gays to be able to marry like Kate and William are. Tatchell’s statement, as part of the Equal Love campaign, demanding marriage and civil partnership rights for all couples (cross-sex and same sex) says:

“We wish William and Kate every happiness. May they have a joyful marriage and a wonderful married life together.

“The royal couple are lucky. They have the option to get married. Gay couples don’t have this option. They are barred by law from marriage.

“We urge Kate and William to support marriage equality: the right of same-sex couples to get married. Their support would mean a lot. They take for granted the right to marry. Marriage is something that many lesbian and gay couples want but cannot have.”

This is a clever move by Tatchell I think. If his goal is to achieve gay marriage rights, and the ‘heterosexualisation’ of homosexuality once and for all, how better to do it than to tie the rights of gay and queer people to the mast of the monarchy, the ultimate symbol of (heteronormative) power in Great Britain? Also it is a way of extending the ‘struggle’, so that, no matter how much ‘equality’ gay and LGBQT people achieve, if they can’t enjoy the same rights and privileges as the most privileged couple in the country, have they achieved true ‘equality’?

I write this when I am still feeling sickened by the news of a trans woman who was assaulted in McDonald’s in America, for entering the women’s WC. This assault was filmed by cheering onlookers and then uploaded onto youtube. I won’t link to the story as all the links include the video and I find that chilling in itself. Equally or even more chilling is the story of the Long Island sex workers who have been murdered recently, probably all by the same person. If Tatchell is looking for continued oppression of ‘sexual’ minorities, he might consider those women, rather than the wedding of Kate Middleton.

So I think Peter Tatchell has got his priorities all wrong. Foucault, a gay man who did not enjoy the ‘right’ to get married to the man he loved (if he had have wanted to – I do hope not) nor the ‘right’ to not die from complications arising from the HIV virus he contracted, said that it is the ‘fascist inside’ us that we need to be aware of and to fight, if we want to achieve some kind of liberated society. I think Kate Middleton represents quite well that fascist inside us. Mild-mannered, aspirational, insipid, respectable, that is how I imagine the fascist inside me.

And all I want to do with fascism is to kill it.

  1. ‘ Lucy, McDuff and QRG all think they are adding something to the conversation. They all think this massive derail, which allows them to post screeds of pointless whatever, is somehow useful in feminism – well maybe they don’t, but for some reason they still think it’s very important to say it. QRG thinks her “disruption” of feminism is something to be proud of because Derrida would have approved (who knew that when it came down to it postmodernism was basically the ideology of trolls?). They all feel that feminism needs criticising and that they are the ones to do it. The fact that feminism particuarly radical feminism is marginal, is always on shaky ground, is either ignored or mocked, of course isn’t taken into account. Feminism must be examined as to how it deals with “dissent” – the use of the word dissent making feminism sound like some kind of totalitarian regime that persecutes anybody who dares disagree with it. Feminism must face its accusers.Of course whilst all this accusation goes on in feminist spaces, nothing actually can progress in online feminism, not at least with regards to theorising, analysis or consciousness raising. It remains on square one – a little more battered and a little more undermined. The one place this currently doesn’t get to happen is on radical feminist blogs who have decided to reserve commenting for other rad fems so pro-sex industry feminists, haters, liberals, men – not welcome. And without those people there to disrupt the politics, the theorising has taken off. There has been some fantastic analysis recently of sexual intercourse, male violence, economic structures that keep women tied to men, trans. What’s been going on has been some of the most intellectually stimulating work I’ve read in a long time.

    All these people claiming that they are helping feminism with their “dissent” and “disruption” are kidding themselves. The truth is simpler – they are getting in its way.

http://toomuchtosayformyself.com/2011/04/20/an-occupational-hazard/#comments