Saturday, 29 November 2014
Neo-con gay writers like Andrew Sullivan talk a lot about how important it is for gay men to be good citizens. By good citizenship they mean getting married, supporting the police force, and going to church.
I don’t call that citizenship.
I call it conformity.
Then what after all, is a good citizen?
Recently I assigned a group project to my students. One student told another student that they didn’t care to participate in the group because ‘after all, it’s not being marked.’ I tried to make the students understand that this was very bad citizenship. I mean are you going to spend the rest of your life throwing garbage on your neighbour’s lawn?
President Kennedy said; ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’
That’s what good citizenship is.
To be fair, most people are bad citizens. They don’t give a shit about anything or anyone but themselves, and they’ll get away with what they can get away with, and certainly would never think of helping out those less fortunate than they are (‘after all, what’s in it for me?’).
To get back to gay men. A case in point. AIDS ACTION NOW tells us that ‘from the beginning of 1989 to June of 2012, at least 140 people have been criminally charged for allegedly failing to disclose their HIV+ status to a sexual partner.’ Many gay men — especially those who live in small towns with homophobic public health officials — are now often afraid to identify as HIV positive. This means not going to the doctor. This means, for many, getting ill, and perhaps dying.
Do gay men give a shit about this?
It seems pretty clear that emphatically, they do not. After all, gay men are not the only victims of the criminalization of AIDS — a disproportionately high number of sex trade workers and people of colour are demonized by these prosecutions. Gay men don’t seem very eager to associate themselves (even through philanthropy) with those who have less privilege than they do.
And what about all the gay men who are political conservatives? Their reasoning: get gay marriage, get rights in the workplace, and then turn around and support the very politicians (like Stephen Harper) who never supported you in the first place, politicians whose political party is filled with closet cases, and who support anti-feminist attitudes to abortion.
Also, I’ve heard lots of idle talk about queering gay marriage. People jaw on and on about the fact that gay men and lesbians could introduce the world to alternative forms of marriage — open relationships, polyamory, etc. That gay men and lesbians shouldn’t blindly participate in an institution that historically represses women and basically doesn’t work (so many marriages end in divorce!).
But who’s actually doing that?
And finally what about those in our gay community who happen to be feminine?
Many gay men shun them. They like their men to be ‘real’ men, and these days that means wearing beards and clomping around in construction boots (lumbersexuals anyone?). Many gay men certainly don’t want any ‘fats or fems’ propositioning them on Grindr.
So why are gay men such bad citizens?
Because we all are. This is just the way it works. Forget the golden rule. Forget doing unto others as you would do to yourself. Just get that privilege and run with it. If other people don’t have the same privilege as you — well tough for them in this dog-eat-dog neo-con world.
‘I’m happy to throw my garbage on my neighbour’s lawn. Hey, I do it in the dead of night, so no one is the wiser! Makes me happy, and I’m the one who matters to me, right?’
Right on, buster.
Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Recently the front page of The National Post featured two headlines side by side. One said: ‘Profiting from Vice’ and the other said ‘Proud to be Gay’. (The first article was about Rogers and Vice Media, the second was about Apple CEO Tim Cook.) Co-incidental placement? Perhaps. And yet I would suggest that many North Americans still think sex is a vice.
It’s important to remember our ancestors. Many of us are descended from United Empire Loyalists who migrated from the United States. Take it from me, those guys were a bunch of crazy religious zealots — Puritans and the like, kicked out of England because they hated their bodies, wore hair shirts and flagellated themselves for having lewd thoughts. Religious extremists, the lot. With our nutty ancestors, it’s no wonder we North Americans have a little trouble being human.
Commentary about the Jian Ghomeshi scandal has gotten out of control, and every uptight old fart (including Noah Richler) now has an opinion. Richler (oh dear, how far the apple has fallen from the tree!) takes Jian’s actions as an excuse to castigate young women for liking kinky sex. He suggests it would be a good idea for every Canadian father to ask his daughter “why she thinks being choked, even by a celebrity, is okay.”
All of this betrays a misunderstanding of what sex is, and that is typical of the Puritanical hair-shirt-wearing Canadians we are.
The misunderstanding is simply this.
Jian Ghomeshi’s actions were not sex.
Going out on a date with a girl, or meeting a girl for the first time, or having a girl over to your apartment, and then slugging her (surprise!) without permission, is not sexy to anybody. It’s not kinky, it’s not a turn-on, it’s not foreplay. In fact it’s the opposite of foreplay. What these young women experienced was abuse, pure and simple. And abuse is not sex, period. It is the opposite of sex.
Of course the whole issue is confused by Ghomeshi’s desperate, pathetic attempt to defend himself using Lynn Coady and Fifty Shades of Grey. Hey, I think we should leave poor Lynn Coady out of this. But just stop by any s/m chatroom and you will discover, in two shakes of a lamb’s tale, that no self-respecting kinkster likes Fifty Shades of Grey. Instead they rightly view it as nothing more than soft core porn romance for women who like their vanilla fantasies spiced with a little s/m, but wouldn’t dare admit to their desires or try them in real life.
When Jian Ghomeshi used the ‘kinkster defense’ he set sexual liberation back to the stone age.
Sex is all about power, and naturally contains elements of aggression. Have you ever seen an animal bite the neck of another animal during coitus? Have you ever heard a female cat in heat? Have you ever enjoyed your partner pressing you into the bed as he or she …..well, you know. We are animals, and that thing that gets our genitals excited is mixed up with aggression and power, tops and bottoms, butches and femmes, masters and slaves.
But in order for this thing that happens between human beings to be sex, both parties must know they are having sex, and agree to it. If they do, they can do anything they bloody well please as far as I’m concerned. One person’s sexual treat is another person’s nightmare (just like one person’s favourite desert turns another’s stomach) but that’s why there is consent, so we can agree about what we are doing beforehand.
But if you slug somebody or choke them — without consent - that’s not sex, it’s violence.
Do you understand the difference?
I know it’s difficult for some to understand. But it shouldn't be, really. I mean Jian Ghomeshi has a a very practical reason to pretend not to know the difference between sex and violence (i.e. he wants to keep himself out of jail).
But, hey, what’s your excuse?