Archive for September, 2011

There is an interesting – and epic – essay by Elise Moore about representations of men as psychopaths in the movies over at her blog, The Autobiography of  A Soul.

Elise tracks the development of the psycho trope from the 1940s, to the famous film, Psycho and up to the present day.

M Simpson has slowly and a little bit subtly (I hope he writes something more substantial on it) over the last few years, written about how metrosexual masculinity is becoming somehow ‘psychopathic’ in itself. At least in its imagery and representations.

Anders Breivik has been identified by Simpson as a real life ‘metro psycho’ but the Norwegian spree killer was not short of fictional models on which to base himself.  Patrick Bateman, mentioned in Elise’s post, but previously  identified by Simpson, in various places, as an important metrosexual murderer, is probably the most influential metro psycho in popular culture.  I haven’t even read or seen American Psycho but I feel I know that empty-hearted well dressed killer intimately. As does this young pornographer, The Black Spark:

In turn, Bateman must have been influenced somehow by Travis Bickle, but rather than doffing his cap to him, he and all the other metro psychos I see around me, seem to have appropriated him, ‘subsumed him into their steaze’. They destroy and devour previous incarnations of masculinity. There is nothing left but tits and abs.

I may write more in response to Elise’s post, but for now, I think I want to establish Who’s The Daddy of contemporary representations of masculinity, and masculine psychopathology. It’s Bateman. Or Simpson. Have you ever seen them both together in the same room? No, nor me.

I was sad to hear the news yesterday, about the death of David Croft, co-creator and writer of classic (1970s) British TV comedies such as It Aint Half Hot Mum, Are you Being Served? and Dad’s Army.

As a child in the 1970s I adored all those shows, particularly their irreverent approach to, well, I didn’t have the word for it then, but masculinity. From Windsor Davies’ sergeant major, to John Inman’s Mister Humphries, men were presented as funny, warm, varied, and usually very camp. You knew, even then, there was something naughty about these programmes. I doubt I knew what Mrs Slocombe’s pussy was, but I knew it was something ‘grown up’ and risque.

Homosexuality was only made legal in 1967, and Dads Army and It Aint Half Hot Mum represented an age even before that, when men’s love and desire for each other was illicit and unspoken. There was another word I didn’t know in the 1970s – ‘gay’. The lack of a strongly developed ‘gay’ identity and all the crap TV that seems to have emerged with it (Graham Norton, Queer As Folk, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Alan Carr etc etc), meant that comedy could play on homo-erotics and homosexual subtext in a subtle way back then.

As Mark Simpson has recently observed, even the ‘camp’ homoerotics of Top Gun, a 1980s classic, have been ‘outed’ and it is now seen as a ‘gay’ movie in many ways.

‘Perhaps we’re all more knowing now. Perhaps more people are clued-up about homoerotics. Perhaps it’s down to the Interweb making all the ‘incriminating’ clips always available. Perhaps it’s all my fault. Though I suspect it’s more a case of the past being a foreign country — so ‘gayness’ can be safely projected onto something in the past, even if it was once what hundreds of millions of straight young men saw as the very epitome of aspirational heterosexuality.’

I wonder where this leaves us. As Simpson suggested, homo-erotics are still brought to us via the back door of ‘heterosexual’ Hollywood films such as Captain America, Warrior and Thor. But as audiences are so much more ‘knowing’ now than they were in the 1970s, these films lose a lot of their charge. Contemporary culture is now  ‘metrosexual’ in its presentation of men. We see buff boys displaying their bodies on the screen and men and women in the audience feel free, on one level, to openly desire them. On another, men continue to be repressed. But they don’t have such a fun and therapeutic outlet for their repression as they might have had in the form of Dads Army and It Aint Half Hot Mum.

Gay sexualities  are very much out of the closet in 2011,  and prancing round all over our TV screens. But  this means we don’t get half as many laughs as we used to.

RIP – British homosexuals, and the brilliant comedy you brought us. Now where’s my box set of Hi De Hi?!

This photo of Matt Lodder, a ‘heavily tattooed art historian’ struck me for a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s just a beautiful photo of a beautiful man, in a setting he looks very comfortable in.

Secondly, it gives us a glimpse of some of the accoutrements that go with being ‘heavily tattooed’. The bottles of ink, the holding your arm out as if you were about to be injected, the way people who get tattoos are often amongst other people with tattoos, as if it is in some ways, though I hate the word, a ‘community’.

Thirdly, maybe partly because it is a black and white photo, this picture reminded me of a book Matt recommended to me, that I haven’t read yet, about Samuel Steward, who lived through most of the 20th century, and who was a tatooist, a tatooed person, and a historian. And a ‘sexual outlaw’. It made me think about the history of tattoos, which Matt happens to be writing a book about! The photo made me wonder if being ‘heavily tattooed’ makes you an outlaw in any way, either sexual or otherwise, even, or especially in the heavily metrosexual culture of 2011.

This is an extract from an article about Samuel Steward:

‘When the author Justin Spring finally tracked down the executor of Samuel Steward’s estate, he had no idea what this sexual outlaw and little-known literary figure had left behind after his death in 1993…

Ultimately Steward abandoned university life and entered the tattoo artist’s demimonde full time, but his determination to indulge his sexual identity fully came with enormous physical, professional and psychological costs. In Mr. Spring’s telling, the frustrations of living in this closeted era combined with his obsession drove Steward to alcoholism and prevented him from living up to the early promise he showed as a novelist. He suffered through long periods of dark depression, loneliness and self-destructive behavior. Dangerously violent characters and sex fascinated Steward, and his overtures and adventures frequently landed him in the hospital.

“He paid the price for being himself,” Mr. Spring said, “but at least he got to be himself.”’

I am delighted to find that the marvellous James Maker has been shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize with his searingly honest and sparklingly funny memoir,  AutofellatioAnd I am equally pleased his achievement has been picked up by the press. None other than our favourite Lesbianic Literary Lush (I mean that in a good way) Julie Birchill gave Autofellatio a rave review in the Independent:

But I have to take issue with Julie’s parting comment:

‘Amazingly, this wonderful book – shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize – began life as a self-published e-book before finding a publisher; think Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard finally finding Mr DeMille on her doorstep and you’ve got it. But with better shoes.’

This is a very outdated idea. That ‘paper publishing’ is higher in status and economic clout than e-publishing, and that everyone who self-publishes online does so whilst waiting for that elusive ‘deal’. Just ask Amanda Hocking, she will put you straight.

Even Susan Sontag, that other Lesbianic Literary (maybe not Lush) Lady, acknowledged the demise of print publishing back in 1996, when she wrote a letter to J L Borges, who’d been dead for ten years:

‘books are now considered an endangered species. By books, I also mean the conditions of reading that make possible literature and its soul effects. Soon, we are told, we will call up on “bookscreens” any “text” on demand, and will be able to change its appearance, ask questions of it, “interact” with it. When books become “texts” that we “interact” with according to criteria of utility, the written word will have become simply another aspect of our advertising-driven televisual reality. This is the glorious future being created, and promised to us, as something more “democratic”. Of course, it means nothing less then the death of inwardness – and of the book.

This time around, there will be no need for a great conflagration. The barbarians don’t have to burn the books. The tiger is in the library.’–a-letter-to-borges-666700.html

The ‘tiger’ in the ‘library’ was a reference to Borge’s surreal poem which could also be read as a lament for the demise of ‘literature’:

I think of a tiger. The gloom here makes
The vast and busy Library seem lofty
And pushes the shelves back…

But here’s the thing. The only reason I came to read Autofellatio, on Kindle, was due to a review even more glowing than La Birchill’s, on Mark Simpson ‘s blog. And it was on that blog that I also read a review (which inspired me to buy a hard copy)  of  Where The Stress Falls, the book by Sontag, including that letter to Borges.

So my appreciation of the literary merits of James Maker, Susan Sontag and J L Borges, have all been enabled by internet and electronic media and publishing. There has barely been a book involved.

The Tiger Is In The Library.

We can either sit here crying over that fact, whilst the beast ransacks the shelves and destroys the archives, or we can learn to live with it.  And find a way to keep alive ‘the conditions of reading that make possible literature and its soul effects’  in the actual world that we actually live in.

We are the tigers. It’s up to us.

I have been involved in some altercations online recently, due to my use of the phrase ‘Anti Gay’ to describe my opposition to the elitist, conservative club that is ‘Gay’. In doing so I have referred to the book of that title edited  by Mark Simpson. Anti Gay was published in 1996, and was one of a few books around that time that presented a challenge to the increasingly homogenous and commercial (and white middle class male)  ‘gay culture’ that was emerging in our cities and our media in particular. Canal Street, Queer as Folk, Queer Eye for The Straight Guy, Dan Savage, Pink News, Attitude, Gay Times: they have all contributed to a now dominant version of non-heterosexual life that is bland, boring and often bigoted.

One reason my use of the term ‘anti-gay’ has riled people so much, is, of course that genuinely homophobic and often right wing people also describe themselves as anti gay.  Simpson was aware of this fact when he used the controversial title for his book. But also I think he was incredibly astute as in that title he anticipated the polarisation that has since developed between ‘gay rights’ campaigners, including and supported by ‘liberals’ on one side, and ‘anti gay’ campaigners, including and supported by Christian ‘right’ wingers on the other. You have to pick a side. As a gay man, and quite a radical one at that, Simpson used the term ‘anti gay’ as a refusal to pick a side. It is a rejection of the ‘gay’ identity and the ridiculous us and them politics it leads to. An us and them politics that has now got out of hand.  It is the ‘you’re either with us or you’re against us’ of George Bush. It’s the way both sides resort to calling each other sick. One of the ironies being, of course, that the liberal left who advocate tolerance of gay people, are being spectacularly intolerant of those who disagree with them.

Anti Gay made Mark Simpson incredibly unpopular within the ‘gay community’ and the liberal media in the UK in 1996.  15 years later, my promotion of its ideas (which may be re-released unto the world in an ebook soon) renders me equally, if not even more unpopular. And this is where my defence of me comes in.

My enthusiasm for Simpson’s work, mainly his theories of metrosexuality, but also his work on sexual identities, sex and gender ‘science’ and internet pornography and hook up sites, has led me to be called his Disciple, an Ardent Simpsonista and many more unpleasant monikers. Underlying most of these names, and some other lengthier ‘taunts’,  has been a suggestion that I can’t think for myself. That I am merely a puppet or a parrot of ‘MetroDaddy’, spouting his ideas as if they were my own. That I am a fraud.

These accusations obviously have no merit. If I wanted to pass off Simpson’s ideas as my own, I would not refer to his work and credit him so diligently. And if I were just a ‘parrot’ I wouldn’t have critiqued some of Simpson’s approaches and theories so carefully.  How could I if I didn’t have a mind of my own? But even ideas with no merit (especially them?) have a habit of gaining ground and so this is my rebuttal to the false statements made about me.

One of the things gay rights campaigners, feminists and their allies claim to hate the most is bullying. But when it comes to people they don’t like or don’t agree with, they seem to change their tune. Bullying of someone like me, a known ‘anti-feminist’ and ‘anti-gay’ activist is justified.  When I had my twitter handle, @quietriot_girl stolen for example, the person who took it said it was because of my ‘transphobia’. Oh, well that’s ok then. And when I speak out about the misandry that riddles our culture, I am just laughed at and/or called a  troll.

If none of that shuts me up, the tolerant, liberal, inclusive feminists and gays shut down discussions (especially if I seem to be winning the argument), block me and ban me from their online spaces.

But I am still here. I am still anti-feminist, I am still ‘Anti-Gay’, and I am still a passionate supporter, promoter and critic of the work of Mark Anti-Gay Simpson. Because where I come from, independent, thoughtful and insightful criticism is the biggest compliment you can give a theorist or writer.

The haters are going to have to try a bit harder if they want to stop me. I’m Quiet Riot Girl. I am unstoppable.

Talking of bisexual men, and their erasure in our culture, which we were, here we go again.

Law and Sexuality is a brilliant blog by Chris, who writes on a wide range of subjects around sexuality, society and the law. I have an enormous amount of respect for him. But sometimes I pull him up on his use of the term ‘Gay’ as a catch-all phrase which in reality can mean anything from gay men, to LGBTQ people, to ‘lame’.

Today was no exception when I noticed Chris reporting on the Liberal Democrat Conference discussions about the ‘Gay Blood Ban’. Chris wrote:

‘Interesting piece on Pink News this evening reporting on a vote at the Liberal Democrat Conference, taking the recent gay blood ban repeal further.  Pink News reports that earlier this month, ministers announced that the lifetime ban would be scrapped and gay and bisexual men would be permitted to donate blood if they abstain from sex for 12 months.  According to Pink News, members at the party’s conference in Birmingham agreed that the new 12-month deferral period is “a ban by any other name”. Read the full story here.’

So the blood ban does not just affect gay men, but gay and bisexual men. Indeed, I expect it is aimed at any men who have sex with men. So the label ‘gay’ not only erases bisexual men from discourse, it also serves to maybe enable men who have sex with men, but do not identify as ‘gay’, or even ‘bisexual’, to give blood when they may be engaging in risky sex, but not actually acknowledging it. The term ‘men who have sex with men’ is well established amongst health organisations, for the very reason that it allows men to acknowledge their behaviour without having to give themselves a sexual identity label.

I think Pink News and other gay rights organisations are using this issue as yet another example of how ‘gays’ are discriminated against, without actually thinking about the wider social and health issues in the case.

Which, in my view, is Gay.



This comment from Impeus (see below the line) suggests that the Blood Donor org. is using ‘men who have sex with men’ and it is everyone else referring to ‘gay’ men:

‘I believe the wording in the current questions asked of potential blood donors is specifically inclusive, asking if you are a man who has had sex with another man, or if you are a woman who has had sex with a man who may have had sex with another man. It’s the media and other commentators (including myself if I’m honest) calling it gay blood, not the, um, blood people, whatever they are called!’


Bisexuality in The Shadows

Posted: September 20, 2011 in bisexuality
Tags: ,

Last night Tom Robinson, the man who sang ‘Sing if you’re glad to be gay’, way back when, discussed bisexuality on Radio Four UK. He is now married with children, but I am glad he has not presented his story as one where a man went through a ‘gay phase’ before settling down with a woman. Tom is bisexual and proud. As the programme shows, this is not as easy as you may think in the world of Gay Rights and Gay Marriage campaigns. Because gay people are just as ‘biphobic’ as straights if not more.

Over at Rabbit White HQ we have also been having a discussion about bisexuality, and why it is harder for men to be openly bi than women.

‘What is going on with this double-standard of the ubiquitous girl-girl kiss and the bi guy seen as a barely existent depressing weirdo? And, with a rise in awareness around male bisexuality– are we seeing this change?’ – asked Rachel.

One of my favourite comments from below the line at Rachel’s blog was:

‘But here’s a reason why bisexuality isn’t that open and it has nothing to do with 2 men fornicating. Heterosexual anal play. It is known enough that a man can receive great pleasure and stimulation from anal play but if a heterosexual man receives anal play from even the most beautiful woman in the world, many men would feel that is “gay.” Just the act of of having something stuck up your ass by a woman can be considered a “gay” activity. I think that stigma needs to be overcome before bisexuality among men can be considered accepting.’

I would add that I think the taboos around hetero men ‘taking it’ are actually a lot to do with two men fornicating. It is a representation of homo-sex and so difficult for men to accept (and women). And, even some gay men find it hard to ‘take it’ –  once again, this suggests what quite a lot of us have been saying for a while now- the ass really is, the final frontier.

As ever, Mark Simpson is the man with his finger on the throbbing pulse of  men’s bi-curiosity. And, on the reasons for its erasure in our culture.