The Possibility Of Independent Thinking

Posted: March 26, 2012 in Book Reviews, Freedom of Speech, Identity, Masculinities, Uncategorized, Writing
Tags: , , ,

‘The entire gay male community seems at times to be colluding against the possibility of independent thinking. The gay rights movement, too often, is focused on theatrics rather than on discourse; we want to be entertained and flattered, not criticised’. – John Weir

I was delighted to have a book review published today, at Sociological Imagination website. I sent it to my Dad (a sign I must be proud) and he responded with a lecture about the origins of the site’s name, coming as it does from the title of a book by renowned (long dead) sociologist, C Wright Mills.   ‘The Sociological Imagination’ reminds us that when we conduct social research, and produce social theory, it is not a totally dry, intellectual affair. It involves our imaginations and our hearts.

My review is of a book by Dr Mark McCormack  (@_MarkMcCormack on twitter) about declining homophobia amongst young people. But, due to events that have been mentioned a lot surrounding my recent ‘outing’ by Paul Burston and Julie Bindel, he felt justified in demanding my review be taken down from the site.

Thankfully, and to the credit of the editors, it wasn’t. The editors instead left an editorial note explaining (using only my detractors’ perspectives but dems the breaks) the context of me and my article.

The only people who commented under my piece were Mark McCormack the author of the book I reviewed, Grant Peterson (who posted under the name ‘UCLAScholar’), the husband of Eric Anderson whose work McCormack advocates, me and Matt Lodder  (@mattlodder). But most of my comments, and Matt’s one comment were not published.

So here is Matt’s comment in case any of you get as far as to read below the line!:

“I find astonishing that no-one is willing to engage with the careful, nuanced, referenced, footnoted, informed work Elly does on gender, sexuality and sexual politics. Instead, those who are the targets of her careful criticism resort to invective and insult, which leads her to lash out in response. It’s woeful, and depressing, that people are happy to cry foul rather than actually talk about the interesting and important issues laid out in this article and elsewhere.

If you read her blogs, and her body of work, it is abundantly clear that Elly is not homophobic or hateful in any way whatsoever. It is easy to categorise her as such by cherry-picking her (admittedly provocative) comments – her use of the term “gay” as a term of critique is (very loudly and repeatedly) informed by her pinning her ideas in the work of Mark Simpson’s book “Anti-Gay”, which is not a homophobic work (all the writers in it are gay, including Paul Burston himself), but one which critiques the identity politics of contemporary gay culture. The term “wanker”, as explained in the blog post to which Mr McCormack refers, is a reference to another blogpost by a feminist writer.

As for harrassment – Elly has been called all the names under the sun by high-powered journalists at the Guardian, the New Statesman, and others. People have contacted ex-business partners of hers, and “outed” her. All because she dared argue with them about the substance of their public, high-profile, powerfuilly platformed views with which she has a reasoned and reasonable dispute.

It’s all too easy to call her a troll. If she is substantively, academically wrong, UCALAScholar and Dr McCormack, let’s hear why. Despite all these accusations, let’s hear some reasonable, intelligent responses.

Is Elly rude? Sure. But she’s only rue to those who are rude to her first, or in whose work (particularly, say, Julie Bindel) she sees hateful, indefensible rhetoric.”

You can read an unedited version of my review here  

UPDATE: My review was taken down from the site in the end, due to the pressure from the academics involved – the author of the book and his colleagues.

  1. Dan says:

    As of now it’s been taken down 😦 Any chance you have an archive of the comments (if any of them were more than just abuse)

  2. Jonathan says:

    It was a decent review, I thought. Getting it taken down because the author doesn’t like you is just naff.

  3. well leta and Jonathan, obviously I couldn’t possibly comment.

  4. redwraith says:

    Wait, what?

    I can now have reviews of my work taken down, because I don’t like the reviewer?
    So that is the reason why so many shit-books are being hailed as bestsellers and stuff? 😀

  5. yep I think it might be Tim!

    Though actually amazon is one place you can leave bad reviews in peace. *goes to amazon*

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