Tag Archives: Homophobia

Misplaced male; a seasonal liability

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Misplaced male; a seasonal liability

This reblog from Girls Globe makes many pertinent points. Its original title ‘Take Action against Gender-Based Violence this Season’ along with the language and tone of its content also illustrates perfectly why the ‘inclusive’ language favoured by Western-model Liberalism actually excludes and annuls meaningful debate and any remote possibility of change. So-called ‘Gender-based violence’ describes violence commited mostly by males against, well, everybody and everything. Male Violence, or better yet, male-pattern violence is a more descriptive term, since it acknowleges that said violence is the responsibility of males and mostly perpetrated by same, whilst admitting the possibility and the reality that our system of hierarchy (patriarchy) is so pervasive, that often females can be brainwashed into adopting it, in microcosm at least. Witness that FGM is performed by women in the interests of male culture; that child-abuse by mothers and women in loco parentis is, if not endemic then certainly widespread; that corporations seemingly bend over backwards to promote their courting of female talent and that much of the focus of third-wave feminism rests on a nominal ‘equality’ in place of the previous generation’s vision of ‘liberation’.

If naming their agent(s) of oppression is the first step on the road to liberation, then today’s females, by constrast to their ‘gay’, ‘…of colour’ and ‘transgender’ (would be) compadres in activism seem reluctant. If that’s surprising to some, it shouldn’t be: the fight here is not to aquire the privileges accrued by deception and/or outright force by class male over millennia: rather, it is to disabuse said class of the notion that its privileges are righteous. ‘Gay’ men are men; Men ‘of colour’ are men; and whether ‘Transwomen’ are men is in most respects a moot point, since they anticipate retaining the same male-defined ‘human rights’ upon transition and any loss of same is incomprehensible to one raised with male biology in a male-governed (ruled) society.

If the point of liberation was to free all; then the object of equality is to subject all; from or to the same oppressive, impossible standard. Male nature provides a convenient spirit level: we may not all wish to fight; but we sure as hell all want to fuck (or as near all as makes no odds) which to those who don’t is as good a weapon as can be.

A remarkable thing happened to men during the AIDS years: sex (by which I mean PIV or, on the same pattern, PIA) became, for the first time since the advent of antibiotics, actually dangerous: a matter of life and death for men. We changed our sexual habits (on the whole) not a jot. We could read this as evidence of the inflexibility of male nature; or as proof of our own privilege; or as somewhere in between. Either way, men are the agent of gay oppression as much as they are the agent of female oppression. Transgender is a cunning wheeze to avoid either; one which only works half the time.

Somewhere along the way, the precision of second wave feminist writing  – which, to exemplify Germaine Greer confronted male hatred of the female and correctly identified transgender women as ‘pantomime dames’ – has been lost. There is a rush to accomodate any deviation from the male norm as if it is transgressive when in fact we are anything but. Would ‘Gay’ even be a thing were it not for the centuries-old (and long-in-the-tooth) male idea of heteronormativity: proponents in that bygone age could scarcely be expected to have forseen today’s overpopulation and consequent climate change…

Talking about violence being ‘gender-based’ glosses over these and much else, particularly for today’s reader whose notion of what ‘gender’ is is as wooly as the language itself.

Just remembered I’m only writing a comment, not my own post so I’ll now stop waffling 😉

 

Girls' Globe

Signs read: "Don't Bury Me." Photo Credit: Meliné Bilbulyan Signs read: “Don’t Bury Me.”
Photo Credit: Meliné Bilbulyan

Many of us look forward to the holydays – to lighting candles, traditional food and spending time with friends and family. But the higher economic burden following the mandatory spending on food, gifts and decorations and the pressure of living up to the perfect-holyday-expectations put strains on the household. The risk of domestic violence is higher during the holyday season and for women already experiencing violence at home, the holydays bring with them a promise of increased plague.

Numbers presented by UN women reveal that one out of three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. In some countries the numbers are as high as 70 percent. Violence against women is an urgent global problem.

Whether or not domestic violence occurs in your home or in any other home you know about, gender based violence…

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Heavy metal is gay…

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…is a statement guaranteed to trigger apoplexy in not a few rockers of the old school, not to say bafflement amongst some only passingly familiar with the genre. But bear with Tom Dare, writing over at Terrorizer.com about homophobia in the rock and metal world:

‘…metal is totally gay. It’s a predominantly male audience watching predominantly male bands act as butch and masculine as possible. It’s leather, denim, tight trousers … and a bunch of other shit that has more to do with 1970s San Francisco gay clubs than anything vaguely hetero. It’s all phallic metaphors, homoerotic imagery and sweaty (frequently topless) men grappling each other in a dark room.’

He’s got a point: consider the ‘classic metal’ look, as exemplified by Rob Halford of Black Country metal stalwarts, Judas Priest, amongst others from that New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era. That leather and stud look is still popular within certain of gay clubbing circles: and whilst Halford IS gay – now openly so – he’s very much the exception. German industrial metallers, Rammstein, took that camp/macho, homoerotic look to its natural conclusion more so than many latterday exponents of the genre, as seen here on Bück Dich (Bend Down):

Clearly a band comfortable enough with their sexuality to play around with it as camp, vulgar exhibitionism (mind you, this was their first album cover 😉 )

As Dare writes, though; such is not the norm. Homophobia in metal circles, as elsewhere, is undoubtedly an issue. Back in 1984, Queen lost a lot of fans Statesside with their cross-dressing video clip for I Want To Break Free. (OK, Queen aren’t a metal band per se, but they’ve flirted with the genre on many occasions and count not a few metal aficionados amongst their fan base). It would be heartening to think we’d moved on from there.

Homophobia, at its root isn’t a fear of male-on-male sex as such; so much as a fear of men not being seen to perform their proper gender rôle (i.e. fucking – and putatively impregnating – a bunch of women). As such, it’s rooted in misogyny – a fact that can be inferred in the colloquial use of gay to mean worthless or inferior. The best critical analysis of homophobia I’ve read is by American feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin in the ‘Law’ chapter of her classic Intercourse text.

What homophobia within subcultures such as metal tells us is that men still yearn for ‘safe spaces’ to indulge their homophobic – and thus, misogynistic – feelings without admitting it to themselves.

So I beg to differ with Dare when he writes

‘(When) Oli Sykes …screams about the girls he’s read about on the back of toilet doors (which paints a rather grim view of Sheffield, if that kind of misogyny is commonplace …) that’s a separate issue…’

But agree wholeheartedly with the following

 ‘…it brings love and shagging into metal. And that makes some people – particularly young people less likely to realise that phrases like “fuck this gay shit” or “faggot metal queers” cause real harm to real people – uncomfortable, and lash out.’

Metallers often adopt a posture of aloofness and superiority with regard to the ‘mainstream’ pop industry: I know I sure did back in the day – and that’s bullshit for any number of reasons, not least because much metal, as much punk, is really cranked-up, distorted pop – most often in the claim that for them it’s ‘all about the music; divorced from popular, consumerist trends; glossy, sexually-explicit marketing. It should be all about the music; and would be in a world less prejudiced.

Dare‘s call for metal fans to confront homophobia is, at heart, a call for them to know themselves better.

 

 

Man up (2)

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‘…[a] cynical set of institutional fetishes that rewards unhealthy behavior.’

Is how Grantland staff writer Brian Phillips describes the hyper-masculine culture of  ‘hazing’ – common to competitive sport and the military – that he so eloquently critiques in the above piece. Now, I’ll admit right off the bat that I know dick about Football in general or the NFL in particular. But the kinds of behaviour described, if not the specifics, then in general feel familiar: the toeing of a party line; the adherence to hierarchy; the pain and injustice swallowed by silence; the propensity for dealing with issues ‘in house’ in order to obfuscate wider political ramifications…

(Similar if not identical patterns of behaviour can be observed in other institutions: Phillips mentions the military; one might also bring up the family; schools and universities; corporations… In arenas such as high-level competitive sport and the military, even basically liberal-minded observers can be tempted to swallow the necessity of byzantine codes of ‘discipline’; justify inhumane means in the name of its universally-desirable ends.)

The word ‘gender’ doesn’t crop up until the penultimate paragraph, but that’s exactly what Phillips is interrogating from the start; and whilst it’s very much (hyper)-masculinity under the spotlight, the slippery slope from locker room shenanigans to naked hostility and violence  – ‘hazing creep’, so-called – parallels a process and a template more widely-applicable to systems of hierarchy in general. Whilst reading Phillips‘ piece, a quote from radical environmentalist Lierre Keith sprang to mind:

‘I have spent three decades fighting male violence … I believe that a social system of male domination starts with human beings who are biologically male or female and creates two social classes of people: men and women. Socialization to either group can be a brutal process.

Men are made by socialization to masculinity. Being a man requires a psychology based on emotional numbness and a dichotomy of self and other. This is also the psychology required by soldiers, which is why I don’t think you can be a peace activist without being a feminist.

Female socialization is a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls—otherwise known as “grooming”—to create a class of compliant victims. Femininity is a set of behaviors that are, in essence, ritualized submission. (my emphases)

The point of extending the quote to describe socialization to femininity serves both as contrast and comparison. Keith alludes to other types of ‘classist’ behaviour in her letter (which you can read in full here) and whilst not precisely equating them, points up commonalities:

‘…my position on race and class[:] … [t]he categories are not natural: they only exist because hierarchical systems of power create them (see, for instance, Audrey Smedley’s book Race in North America). I want a world of justice and equality, where the material conditions that currently create race, class, and gender have been forever overcome…’

It’s part of the class (gender) contract that men ought not only be prepared to wield but also field the ultimate sanction; the administration of violence – don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, as it were – and those that are unable or unwilling are tarred with the same brush and demeaned with slurs which, at least symbolically relegate them to a lower class. It’s not insignificant that Incognito invokes racist and sexist language when he excoriates and humiliates Martin via Twitter. The function of ‘hazing’ within a closed group in some respects resembles the ‘grooming’ that that groups performs on subordinate ones.

Phillips‘ polemic links to Matt Ufford‘s SB Nation piece, which whilst perhaps betraying a certain naïvité – the military’s policies work then? Radical analysts of Keith‘s stripe might well argue that responding to class violence with institutional policy simply replaces noise for silence as a means of obscuring the problem – yielded the following somewhat perceptive comment (from jbacon55)

‘First, anything that is both compulsory and non-beneficial for the present purpose … violates notions of human freedom and dignity we all hold dear.

Second, what may seem trivial to many could be deeply damaging to another. To many, singing in front of the team is fun and builds memories. To others, especially those with something like social anxiety disorder, that can be the stuff of nightmares. Singing karaoke neither makes you a good football player nor is it a test of some requisite skill.

Third, in authority-subordinate relationships permission can be a fiction. The forces of peer pressure among the subordinates combined with the implied or explicit influence of the authorities render it impossible to truly get someone’s permission to do something with any certainty.

Fourth, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, this kind of behavior creates that authority/subordinate relationship among teammates. Surely veterans should be in a place of authority when it comes to football matters, but otherwise it’s best for the team if it’s members are exactly that: teammates. Bonds are formed by shared hardship and mutual respect. Even “light” hazing violates that and can even render it impossible.’  (my emphases)

Reading his/her first and forth comments together one can infer a truth that (male) institutions are perennially loath to admit, to wit; the ‘present purpose’ is to create authority/subordinate relationship(s) [by means of] violating notions of human freedom and dignity. So long as such relationships (in which, as addressed in point three permission can be a fiction) exist, said purpose is forever the present purpose. The substance of jbacon55‘s comment echoes Keith‘s somewhat, even if she/he stops short of denouncing hierarchy as unnatural.

‘Hazing’, incidentally, is a moderately-popular sub-genre in (mostly American) mainstream pornography; notable if only that it highlights the sexual component – by some measure more observable in men – in hierarchical subordination. In popular parlance, pornification, but historically – and to reiterate Phillips – fetish(ising) by any other name: an all too frequently inhuman means to an all too frequently inhuman end.

[An] emotional numbness and a dichotomy of self and other.

Man up.

Woman down.

Man up…

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…except don’t 😉

Repeat until sane…

‘How many boys have to kill themselves … how many women have to be abused, how many trans* people have to get assaulted … [2.48] Heartening to hear a man lay the responsibility for sexism at the right front door…

‘…Miller Lite is not the most flavourful brew…’ [1.32] got that rite [sic] 😉

‘Nobody says WOman up [1.55] they just imply it … because being directly ordered around by commercials, magazines and music is dehumanizing … when will men figure that out?’
Now there’s a question…

‘I want to be strong in a way that isn’t about physical dominance or power, MAN UP! …’

Catholic distaste for bad press

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THE MOST DAMNING PHOTO PUBLISHED BY A BRITISH NEWSPAPER THIS YEAR?

From mirror.co.uk: ‘Jimmy Savile and the cardinal…’

Cardinal Keith O’Brien quit just 24 hours before he was due to fly to Rome to help choose the next pope. His resignation followed a series of recent allegations against him dating back to the ’80s by three priests and one former priest regarding inappropriate sexual behaviour. He ‘strongly denied’ those claims, but revelations of a relationship with Savile dating back to the ’70s will undoubtedly bode badly for his chances of being believed.

Another priest at Kilsyth (O’Brien‘s parish) at the time has been suspended following claims of abuse against two young victims. Ironically, it was Cardinal O’Brien who ordered the investigation last September; and when allegations against Savile first broke in the MSM last year, it was the cardinal who called for him to be stripped of his papal knighthood.

Also ironic is the fact that Cardinal O’Brien is known for his strong anti-gay views: he recently criticized the Scottish government’s plans to enshrine same-sex marriage in law by 2015, describing the latter as a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. No wonder he was named ‘Bigot of the year‘ by Stonewall Scotland in 2012. His stance on women’s rights is no less forgiving: six years ago he claimed the abortion rate in Scotland was equivalent to “two Dunblane massacres a day”, also describing the implications of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as akin to “Nazi-style experiments”. In all ways an exemplary Catholic, then.

It’s extraordinary that in the 21st century, an organization of such far-reaching social and political influence can continue to practice discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation with impunity. But the church has a real problem with sex, full stop. It’s clearly learnt it’s lesson from the last few years of public outrage over institutionalized abuse, and their media machine has been quick to swing into action following the O’Brien debacle:

Jack Valero, of lobby group Catholic Voices, said it was right for Cardinal O’Brien to resign.

He said: “I am very happy that this has been taken seriously, that the nuncio – the Pope’s representative in the UK – has written to the four people who have made the allegations to thank them for speaking out, and that the whole thing has been done so quickly.

I think this shows a new spirit.”

O’Brien tendered his resignation November last, and it was officially accepted by the Pope last week, but his sudden departure was unexpected. Was immenent exposure of the Savile connection a factor? New spirit or not, division, and confusion around the issue of priests and sex run deep in the church to this day, in particular the failure to grasp that the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sex tilts on consent, not the gender or sexual orientation of the participants. The church’s exception to homosexuality is not ‘homophobia’ per-se, so much as calculated propaganda in the interests of furthering it’s world-dominating, sex-dimorphic agenda. When O’Brien spoke of a ‘human right’ to marriage, it was the right of men to produce (Catholic) offspring he was defending. And who are ‘celibate’ priests to be dispensing this advice, anyway? That the Bible highlights the sinfulness of homosexuality*, yet not of paedophilia is scarcely surprising, given the social context of its time: that the church cleaves to those same standards 2000 years later, and that we give credence to the esoteric beliefs of this homophobic, misogynistic rape cult is the real scandal.

* See ‘Intercourse’Dworkin, Andrea. Ch. 8 ‘Law’ p. 185-211 for a penetrating, nuanced understanding of why homosexuality is such a ‘big deal’ within religious orthodoxy; and why policing men’s behaviour is really all about policing women.

GBHIV

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North Shields resident, Les Pringle has been jailed for 3 years (on a charge of Grievous Bodily Harm) by Newcastle Crown Court for infecting his partner, identified only as Ms ‘X’, with HIV. With respect to Ms ‘X’, who has undoubtedly been wronged, the details of the case make me uneasy (for reasons I detail below) and it seems to me that it ought to be possible to address her injustice differently and in a way that might not unfairly – albeit unintentionally – stigmatize thousands of people living – in some cases unknowingly – with HIV.

Man jailed for infecting partner with HIV

Disclaimer: As a worker within Brighton’s HIV/AIDS community I must make it clear that any opinion expressed within this post is entirely my own, and is not necessarily reflective of opinion either within that community in general or my workplace in particular.

As an adolescent and teen during the ’80s I was aware as many were, of the sudden emergence of HIV/AIDS into the public consciousness. In fact, its appearance wasn’t as sudden as the explosion of information via the press, medical and governmental sources then suggested. Scientific research during the ’90s suggests the virus may well have entered the human population as early as the late 1900s – scroll down to ‘When?’ – taking its own time – as viruses are wont to do – to mutate into the pandemic HIV-1 strain that is devastating many parts of Africa, South/Central America, Asia and to a much lesser, though scarcely insignificant degree, Europe and the USA today.  Much has changed in the intervening years – at least in the relatively affluent minority world – both in terms of scientific understanding and medical treatment options. In the ’80s, people, mostly gay, were dying of ignorance, in defiance of the infamous government campaign. The ad hasn’t aged well, and appears melodramatic and alarmist by today’s more ‘enlightened’ standards; nonetheless it presents factual information succinctly: there was then – as now – no known cure; sex was – and still is – the main route of transmission; and anyone can get it. Given that this campaign was launched during the Thatcher administration – originator of Section 28 – it’s not insignificant that an easy opportunity to stigmatize minorities was bypassed in favour of responsible advice. Nonetheless, stigmatisation quickly emerged, and persists to this day. As much as we’re spoiled living in Brighton – a city that at its best welcomes, oftentimes celebrates, and at least tolerates attitudes, ideosyncracies and persons that more frequently provoke consternation and rub-up against taboo elsewhere – I’ve personally been taunted with cries of ‘batty boy’ and ‘AIDS man’ when leaving my workplace. Homophobia, racism and misogyny are still prevalent, here as elsewhere, and these bigotries bear strongly upon attitudes to HIV/AIDS and those affected by it.  It’s been said before, and bears repeating that anyone can contract HIV: in Brighton, Britain’s gay Mecca, it’s forgivable – perversely – to an extent to perceive HIV/AIDS as a mostly gay issue – not because it actually is but because we have a higher-than-average openly gay population from which most of the longstanding support networks and organizations have sprung. The Brighton AIDS Memorial notably features two figures, one male and one androgynous (but no female); scarcely reflective of the fact that nearly half the HIV+ population of the world are women. As our support networks – both established and emerging – begin to increasingly embrace the needs of women living with the condition it becomes ever more apparent that the burden they bear – in terms of stigma and responsibility – is as great as that of men if not more so. Many of those women belong to ethnic minority groups, African and Carribbean in particular – and whilst prevailing scientific concensus suggests Africa as the origin of HIV it is again important to emphasize that HIV/AIDS is no more a ‘Black’ issue than a ‘Gay’ one: such reductive thinking leads to taboos that complicate the path to diagnosis, treatment, management and – one hopes – eventaul cure (it’s worth mentioning at this juncture that African conservatives often employ the reverse strategy – stigmatizing HIV as a ‘White’, ‘Western’ issue to political advantage; a common dictatorial trope historically employed my Mao and Stalin; and contemporararily by Muslim extremists).

If readers charge that I’m labouring a point, then I plead guilty – albeit for good reason: 26 years since ‘Don’t die of ignorance’, stigma is still a huge issue around HIV. Common sense says it shouldn’t be – after all, it’s a virus, not dissimilar in many ways from the Common Cold, Herpes or Flu. The difference is the degree of stigma that accompanies these disparate illnesses: no-one is ashamed to admit they have a cold, even if stubborn pride prevents us from letting its effects disrupt our daily routine (worth noting how gender conceits play a role here too, however – ‘manflu’. anyone?). In the world of HIV, stigma can erect barriers that, in the absence of correct information and adequate support, can appear insurmountable. Fear of passing on the virus, or rejection in the face of declaring one’s status, can trigger depression and/or anxiety which in turn might lead to isolation and/or self-medication with alcohol and/or other drugs, which itself feeds into criminal/antisocial activity such as burglary and prostitution … And so on… The cost of turning a blind – or hateful – eye is often paid twice-over and more by protagonists and innocents alike. In a less judgemental world, the likes of Pringle may have had no qualms about declaring his HIV+ status. He may be a rampant misogynist with no concern for the welfare of his partners – I don’t know, I’ve never met the guy except thru press reports – but his is just one case among thousands and it would be a shame if it became a precedent – either legally or morally – for our society’s attitude to HIV transmission and the responsibility thereof. In an ideal world I’d not hesitate to hold him morally and legally accountable; but the fact is that we live in a society that, whilst undoubtedly fairer than some, is far from Utopian. The ethics of my workplace reflect this social climate: I’m held legally responsible under confidentiality policy to safeguard the HIV+ status of our client group. In practice this means not mentioning names of clients to third parties and not acknowledging clients – many of whom I’ve served and got to know rather well over my last decade in post – ‘in the street’, unless they first acknowledge me; the better to avoid awkward questions from others that might, inadvertantly, disclose their HIV status.

It seems incongruous, then, that an organ of the press is free to disclose the HIV status of a person – criminal or no – to the public at large. And let me clarify something: as much as I believe in human rights I don’t believe all such are sacrosanct. It seems perfectly reasonable to me to deprive (some) convicted criminals of certain of their liberties as part of their tariff; to suspend voting rights during the period of a sentence for example. Nonetheless, given the continuing stigma attatched to HIV+ status – and paticularly the potential for it to persist beyond the period of the sentence – it seems unfair for this information to be made public.

The challenge facing the legal system – and invariably impimging upon the notion of a free press – then, is how to balance the rights of the ‘offender’ with the safety of the public at large. In the main, I’ll err on the side of (potential) victims: this being of particular concern in the case of sex offenders – arguably including Pringle, given that he engaged in unprotected sex without informing Ms X of a potentially serious risk to her health – when the publication of the perpetrator’s (or alleged perpetrator’s) name may act as a catalyst for the testimony of further victims. The witholding (from the press) of alleged rapists’ names, for example feels counterproductive: on balance, I believe the need to redress a historic legal imbalance in favour of (mostly male) sex offenders oughtweighs an overemphasized regard for their material and moral reputation. In respect of HIV, if  there’s an argument for full disclosure as a means of counteracting misperceptions of the condition – and whilst that may find a historic precedent, in cancer for example, let’s not forget that that particular stigma took centuries to dissolve; with certain associations still lingering even now – then first-round trialling the process with convicted felons (risking an apparent vindication of bigoted associations of HIV/AIDS with criminality/immorality) is scarcely likely to raise public consciousness. It may, as Ms ‘X’ does – and as Jimmy Savile‘s posthumous unveiling as a serial sex-offender did – enable ‘victims’ to come forward; but at what cost?

HIV/AIDS has fallen short of its catastrophic potential in the minority world mostly because the improving efficacy – and wider availabilty – of treatment has begun to outweigh the social entropy that flows from stigma. We would do well to avoid enacting any kind of legal response that hinders that process. When Lord McAlpine acted – in fear and anger – to protect his besmirched reputation in the light of apparently mistaken revelations following the Savile scandal, it was natural to feel sympathy: nonetheless, one cannot help but wonder if his actions – however genuine their intentions – and the surrounding media furore, might have discouraged further victims from coming forward with testimony.

Stigma is a weapon of mass-destruction. In the early ’80s when AIDS broke big, the joke was that it stood for ‘Arse-Injected Death Sentence’. By 2001, in the words of Afrocentrist Hip-Hop artist Professor Griff it was an acronym for ‘Africa In Deep Shit’. Far from being a joke, his satire points up a serious issue that we can ill afford to ignore. McAlpine, perfectly understandably, acted in his own interest: as a society we need to act, and mould the law, for the greater good.