FUFBUF

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: Gays and "identity politics"...  (Read 3233 times)

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
Gays and "identity politics"...
« on: February 25, 2007, 08:00:33 AM »

Quote from: "'berto"
... and which minority group do you think is most similar / most closely reflects the situation of gays?

I'd like to post an excerpt from a recent exchange between Fer and me -- and I trust Fer won't be upset with me for doing so. I thought Fer raised some interesting points, and I wondered if it might provoke some interesting observations from others...

Fer first wrote:

Quote
I have made a couple of interesting observations about identity politics and tactical allies  over the last two months. I suppose that having some real-world data on the topic is more valuable than simply concocting a theory on it in isolation...still, what I have observed is essentially identical to what I would have theorized. I am left with only one question on it:

Why is it that a group (any group) is so damn surprised to learn they have no natural allies? And why are tactical allies so "hurt" when they learn that they aren't 'natural'? Thus far I think it's a combination of naivete and stupidity.


I responded:

Quote
Well, I think you might be onto something there. One thing the feminists never seem to have understood -- even the smart ones -- is simply that while they may have to deal with sexism every day of their lives, when is the last time they have had to HIDE who they were, to DENY who they were, for fear of being beaten or killed? (And I obviously make an exception for lesbians, but that's not simply a case of their gender, but rather their sexual orientation.) For all the similarities in discrimination that we face -- and despite all their bleating -- "feminism" is not a core part of what they are, it's a political/social philosophy. And while being female certainly IS a core part of who they are, as I said, I have yet to hear of them having to hide the fact that they are females, in fear of being beaten or killed simply for that fact. And while blacks (f'r instance) could understand the irrational hatred of them just for being who they are, with the exception of those who are light-skinned enough to "pass", that's not exactly something that they can "hide". One of the few minority groups I can think of that might be able to understand the unrelenting hate, and the desire to "hide" who they are for the sake of safety are the Jews. Of course, the Jews not only have millennia of hatred that they can share with us, they also have things like Auschwitz....


And then Fer replied:

Quote
Your observation on the similarity between gays and Jews is astute. They share a great many things with us. Some points of diversion that are just as interesting as the points of similarity are: Hebrew, synagogues, Kosher laws, and Israel.

Not all Jews speak Hebrew, but I guarantee you all Jews are aware of their ability or inability to speak Hebrew. Otherwise, Jews speak most of the languages on Earth. Gays quite likely speak every one of them, but there is no common tongue that binds them together as a group, not even in slang terms. I'm not at all sure that this is a good thing. Alas, the chief reason against such a development is the arguments for assimilationism. Of course, something approaching a common language would indeed bind us closer together in terms of who we are as opposed to who we aren't, and this is exactly what the assimilationists do not want -- they wish to both deny 'who we are' and obliterate 'who we aren't.'

Not all Jews attend synagogues (and therefor share in both a common belief system and each other's company), but all Jews are aware of this place, this occurrence, and know if they are participating or not. The gay bar has been said to hold the social place for gays that the barber shop and the church holds for black people. Indeed, in many towns the gay newspaper is written in a gay bar, the Pride Parade is organized in a gay bar, and if politicians want to actually meet homos, they do it in a gay bar. And from this comes all the wailing and moaning about "the gay lifestyle" and "gay culture." This is the problem -- gay bars are NOT the social equivalent of the black church or barber shop, or the Jewish synagogue. We make do with them because they are there. We could, perhaps, make something more of this institution, but without making more of it there really isn't anything 'institutional' about it. And a world-wide cultural institution is what we need.

Jews differ on eating kosher, really they do. There are shades of it. Some even disapprove of the custom because it separates the Jews from the rest of the world -- as if any of the historical travails of the Jews had anything at all to do with what they will or won't eat. The gay people is young yet, and our culture has nothing similar. Though it is even more trivial than language, the assimilationist arguments are the same here. Why wear an earring, dress or talk a particular way? Why do the str8 people the favor of putting the pink triangle on voluntarily? A better question would be why are all the str8 boy porn sites so popular? Why is "str8 acting" one of the most common phrases in gay personals? Why do gay people dislike themselves so damn much? Are we oblivious to the fact that we can actually CHOOSE what constitutes "gay acting"? No. We all know perfectly well that we choose how we act, dress, talk. And more often than not we choose assimilationism, even in our most intimate choices. I believe in my heart that assimilation is not 'running to' str8 society; it is manifestly clear that assimilation is 'running away from' gay identity.

Then there's Israel. Let us not get into the ways and means of how the Israelis manage their affairs. For Jews there is Israel. They don't all live there. They don't all plan to even visit. Smaller in scale than Israel is the ghetto, and Jews have had ghettos for a very long time. Why is there no gay country? That's an easy one -- it's not like the idea is unknown. We don't want one. And we don't want one for the same reason we put "str8 acting" in the want ads. As a people we are convinced that we are worthless faggots who can't do anything. All things come from str8 people. The houses we live in, the clothes we wear, the restaurants we choose to eat out in and the grocery stores where we get the food we choose to eat in are all fundamentally str8 institutions. If there WAS a gay restaurant, would you eat in it? How about a gay grocery store? Is there some reason why gay men cannot build houses, pave roads, stock grocery stores? It would appear so. Visit the so-called gay neighborhoods in San Francisco, Vancouver, Chicago, Toronto, or New York. They're quite a sight to behold, until you look a tad deeper. How much of it was built by gay men? How much is owned by gay men? It's certainly more than it was, to be sure, but do you think that gay architects trouble themselves over the structure of gay neighborhoods, or do you think that gay architects gussy themselves up real fine for all their str8 clients? After all, the custom of str8 people is something approaching 'acceptance." The custom of gay people...well, does that even bear mentioning?


So... anyone have anything to add (or expand on)?
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
RE: Gays and "identity politics"...
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2007, 08:01:04 AM »

Quote from: "Feral"
Expand? Egad.

This is really three topics: 1) Do natural allies exist for anyone in the realm of identity politics? 2) What's up with the feminists? and 3) What is the role of internalized homophobia in gay politics and culture?

As for question 1, I've already said that I suspect that there are no natural allies for anyone, anywhere. Denneny says this about natural allies:

Quote
Proposition 10

We have no natural allies
and therefore cannot rely on
the assistance of any group.


We have only tactical allies用eople who do not want barbarous things done to us because they fear the same things may someday be done to them. Tactical allies come into being when there is a perceived convergence of self-interest between two groups. One can accomplish much in politics with tactical allies, as witness the long alliance between blacks and Jews, but there are limits that emerge when the group-interests diverge, as witness the split between blacks and Jews over school decentralization in New York City.

A natural ally would be someone who is happy we are here, rather than someone who is unhappy at the way we are being treated. It would seem that the most we can expect, at least in the immediate future, is a tolerance based on decency. No one, no matter how decent, seems glad that gays exist, even when they may be enjoying works inspired by our sensibility. As far as I can see, even our best straight friends will never be thankful that we are gay in the way we ourselves (in our better moments) are thankful we are gay. This is nothing to get maudlin over. It does, however, sometimes seem to limit communications葉he sharing that is the essence of friendship謡ith straights. It is a rare straight friend to whom one can say, 的知 so glad I知 gay because otherwise I never would have gotten the chance to love Ernie, and not draw a blank, if not bewildered and uncomfortable, reaction. It is understandable that they do not see it as something to celebrate傭ut we should.


"Someone who is happy we are here, rather than someone who is unhappy at the way we are being treated" does not fit many groups of people regardless of their circumstances. The Fundamentalist Christian support for Israel comes to mind -- they are certainly well pleased that Israel exists.

Pertaining to question 2: Any discussion of the feminists would best be done in a separate thread. It is way too tangled, particularly since such a discussion involves both the long-standing rift between the feminist and gay movements and the not-so-ancient rift which has opened between particular feminists and particular gays on certain message boards. My short answer: they're homophobic.

I don't actually mean to suggest that they're afraid of anything. I use the term 'homophobic' in it's vernacular sense, not it's clinical meaning. Any number of people suffer from psychological illnesses; it's not my intention to try to diagnose them. In the vernacular, common meaning of "homophobia" it is a direct parallel to "racism." 'Homophobic' means 'racist,' only it describes an attitude toward orientation rather than race.

This may seem harsh, it may seem excessive or too flippantly applied, but upon careful reflection, it is precisely what I mean to say. When a str8 woman says to gay men "now is not the time...you have to pick your battles," she may well be offering sincere tactical advice, but it should come as no surprise that a gay man would take outrageous offence at being instructed as to which political objectives are timely or practical. The example given is one of the milder instances I can think of...it gets worse. And they're shocked, SHOCKED to find that someone might think them homophobic. If so, however might they have gotten that way? I'll tell you: They were raised to be str8 people in a str8 society and that society despises homosexuals with a genocidal contempt. They can, and many do, combat their homophobic educations, but to do that they have to acknowledge that these issues exist, need to be corrected, can be corrected, and ought to be corrected. An awful lot of them fail at one of those four steps. It is understandable, really it is. It's just not forgivable.

This brings me to the third question, the role of internalized homophobia in gay politics and culture. What can I say? We're riddled with the shit. Here is some of what Denneny says about this:

Quote
Proposition 14

It is absurd to believe that
after coming out we are no longer
conditioned by the virulent hatred
of gays apparently endemic
to this culture. Homophobia is an
ever-present threat and pressure,
both externally and internally.


I suspect that by now I will have lost many readers who will feel that these comments are too militant, overblown, or emotional. One of the problems peculiar to this subject matter is that it is often hard actually to believe in the reality of gay oppression. The hatred of gays makes so little sense to us, seems so uncalled for and pointless, so extremely neurotic and so easily avoided (by 菟assing) that we tend to dismiss it from our perception of reality. How very dangerous this can be is apparent to any student of Nazism. In the thirties most Germans and Jews refused to take seriously Hitler痴 quite explicit and well-known intentions toward the Jews because it was too much of an outrage to common sense. 的t痴 only rhetoric, no one could be that mad. Even during the war, Bruno Bettelheim and other survivors have reported people refusing to believe their first-hand accounts of the concentration camps, to the point where they themselves doubted the reality of the experiences they had so harrowingly survived.

Something similar happens when one steps back to reflect on the clearly documented evidence of homophobia様et us not take the melodramatic examples of shock treatment and forcible sexual reprogramming but the purely prosaic refusal of the City Council of New York, one of the country痴 liberal strongholds, repeatedly year after year, to vote civil rights for gays. I suggest that not to give this simple fact its due weight is willfully to blind ourselves to the reality of the situation in which we live.

It is even more painful when this happens in our immediate private life. Often a chance remark or a passingly uncomfortable comment by a good friend turns out to have such devastating implications that we prefer not to think about it. And if we do think it through, the results are so harsh we do not know what to do with them. To dwell on it seems willfully fanatic, slightly hysterical, or 登versensitive, as straight friends are fond of saying. It is less painful to let it go, to go along, to accommodate ourselves to these people in spite of their quirks because we value their company and friendship.

The willing suspension of belief in the reality of gay oppression, however, has serious and destructive consequences. Chief among them is the widespread predisposition to believe that once we have accomplished the psychological ordeal known as coming out, we are suddenly and magically free of the negative conditioning of our homophobic society. This is obviously absurd. Nevertheless we tend to consider our problems庸rom alcoholism and unfulfilling sexual obsession to workaholism, inability to handle emotional intimacy, cynicism, the self-destructive negativism of attitude, and on and on預s simply our own fault. At most, we will trace them to our inability 鍍o accept ourselves. The point of the matter is no one starts off with an inability to accept himself; this emerges only after we find other people unable or unwilling to accept us. The conditioning of our homophobic society runs deep and is not easily eradicated; unless explicitly acknowledged and dealt with, it will continue to distort our psyches and our lives. We urgently need to understand the ways these destructive influences continue to pervade our immediate existence, to trace their impact on our behavior in bars and in baths, in the office and in bed, carefully and without preconceptions distinguishing what is useful for survival, if not admirable in an ideal society, from what can only demoralize us further. In this connection, I suspect we have, by and large, seriously underestimated the help gay novelists have offered us in books like Dancer from the Dance, Faggots, and Rushes.


Ah yes, internalized homophobia...there was a time when it was just about all anyone talked about. What happened? Did AIDS wipe out the entire generation that knew the secret trick to liking ourselves? I'm told this is most assuredly not the case. Is it that the massive influx of people, time, and dollars into AIDS politics gutted the gay people's ability to transmit culture across generations? Ha! That didn't go so well for us at any time for any generation. The situation does not look much different today.

I think it may be the limited successes the gay movement has seen over the last few decades. In many ways, things are much different than the 70s. In the 70s I most assuredly would have been fired from my job if my employer knew I was gay. Now, this year, I have a lovely anti-discrimination policy that specifically prohibits that. Of course, they would just choose some other reason to fire me to get around the piece of paper but the point is that I am quite out at work and have not been fired because of it. It actually hasn't been a concern for me since about 1990. Many places have hate-crime laws that apply to gay people (though that isn't working out so well in most of those places), the more outrageous slurs are no longer socially acceptable in a great many quarters and are quite illegal in some parts. So yes...strides have been taken, gains made. It would be easy to make the mistake of thinking we had succeeded...or succeeded enough.

I am put in mind of a Canadian poster who sputtered quite angrily that he was proud, dammit, of the strides Canadian society has made. Proud? That men are hunted like rabbits and beaten to death in public parks? Proud that teenagers in the hundreds kill themselves every year to escape what they see as insufferable mistreatment? By all means...Canadians should be well pleased at the steps they have managed to take; the US is an order of magnitude worse in just about every way.

In 1982 Denneny said that there was a virulent hatred of gays endemic to Western culture. In fact, several of his propositions deal with it -- it is central to his thinking.   No one thought he was wrong in 1982, leastwise not about internalized homophobia. Does someone actually think it's gone away now, 24 years later? I've seen precious little evidence that it has. It certainly seems to have decreased, but on both sides of the 49th parallel there are conservative pundits who are shocked, SHOCKED that fully half the population might be called "bigots."

Yup. Half.

And it's the mouthy half that says what they think often and loudly. The actual percentage of 'bigots' is much higher. See...they don't like being called bigots, so they keep their bigotry to themselves. But they don't challenge or even acknowledge their bigotry, so it remains a quite rot inside them.

Oh, homophobia is still common enough to be a problem amongst the str8 people. And where does that leave gays? Raised in str8 homes by str8 parents and filled with the same homophobia that the str8 bigots are filled with, from the same source, that's where.

The personal ads are crawling with references to "str8 acting."

The assimilationists want to be "just like everyone else."

But of course, "just like everyone else" means "just like the str8 people." As a mass, we want to disappear. We actually want to be closeted...we just want the closet re-decorated. Being a fake str8 person is ever so much easier if you don't have to hide the boyfriend's picture.
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
RE: Gays and "identity politics"...
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2007, 08:02:43 AM »

Quote from: "'berto"
Quote
The assimilationists want to be "just like everyone else."


*cocks eyebrow*

"All I ever aspired to be was THE SAME as most of them."
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
RE: Gays and "identity politics"...
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2007, 08:03:10 AM »

Quote from: "Feral"
Quote from: "Hephaestion"
*cocks eyebrow*


*sticks out tongue*

That little gem is ripped from its context in a conversation about ethics and superiority.

I was once a gay supremacist, if you can believe it. (Yes, I do believe you CAN believe that, can't you?) Us "gay guys" were smarter, more inspired, had greater conviction and determination, were superlatively more ethical...the veritable font of human civilization. Oh, yes we were...just ask me. I no longer believe any of it. We are but people. We differ from str8 people in many ways, and I happen to like those differences. In terms of essential 'goodness' or 'badness' we are "the same;" gays are neither angels nor demons.

I think the urge to be "better" than the str8 people is pompous and arrogant. It supposes a superiority that manifestly does not exist. It is also crippling. This effort to be "better" (which is doomed to fail anyway) causes gay people to disregard perfectly functional tactics. In the end, I suspect the real purpose of this endless "betterness campaign" is a convenient excuse for cowardice and impotence. The reason str8 people aren't bashed by gay people is not, as some would claim, that we are better in any way than str8 people. Get three or four drinks into just about any fag and they will readily admit that they would love to hear of it happening just once. No...gays don't bash str8s because gays refuse to acknowledge that they are worth the fury that would be required to do such a thing.

Quote
Internalized self-hatred is deep and pervasive in the gay world and the havoc it can work should not be underestimated, but to compound it by assuming guilt for the sometimes deplorable effects of society痴 hostility toward us is foolish and self-defeating. It leads to a miasma of depression when what is called for is anger.

The relative absence of clearly directed and cleansing anger in the gay world is surprising and worthy of note; it is probably a bad sign.


Denneny, Proposition 4

As inappropriate, immoral, and downright illegal str8-bashing would be, that it does not occur is most definitely a bad sign. That this absence is credited to a deliberate attempt at being "better" is an even worse sign.

We are just as good as the str8 people. This means we are also just as cruel, vindictive, and barbarous as the str8 people as well. Without embracing (and controlling) the more savage lights of our natures, we are, to put it succinctly, screwed.

Just as we really must stop this vain and idiotic quest to be 'better,' we really must stop this vain and idiotic quest to actually BE them. We aren't like them. Attempts at assimilation produce fake str8 people, not str8 people.
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
RE: Gays and "identity politics"...
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2007, 08:03:34 AM »

Quote from: "MonkeyBoy"
I have no interest in 'being better'... as if I can help it.

I keep thinking of a line in Angels in America wherewith a fictionalized Roy Cohn bellows to a young proteg: 'Do you want to be liked? Or do you want to be EFFECTIVE?'

No need to strive to be better; I'd have no problem if we were a damn sight worse. But there is a great need for us to strive to be effective-- that is, to get what we want.
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

Feral

  • Administrator
  • Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1984
    • Feral's Treehouse
RE: Gays and "identity politics"...
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2007, 08:04:08 AM »

Quote from: "vanrozenheim"
Quote from: "Feral"
Why is there no gay country? That's an easy one -- it's not like the idea is unknown. We don't want one. And we don't want one for the same reason we put "str8 acting" in the want ads. As a people we are convinced that we are worthless faggots who can't do anything.


The striking thing about us as a people is, that even in conditions of relative freedom, we are afraid of doing things which we actually could do. It痴 a kind of rigor which afflicts many gays when they are about to do something visibly gay be it investing into a gay housing project or launching a gay TV channel. Not that gay people were not able to build houses or produce television programms gays do such things routinely every day in straight companies but we seem unable to do the same things for us and under our own flag.

There was something you said about straight people, which fits gay people accused of internallized homophobia as well:

Quote from: "Feral"
And they're shocked, SHOCKED to find that someone might think them homophobic. If so, however might they have gotten that way? I'll tell you: They were raised to be str8 people in a str8 society and that society despises homosexuals with a genocidal contempt.


When talking with some guys about the idea of the gay state, I was confronted with statements sounding like Вut I would not want to miss straight people around me. Sure. As in every society, the gay country wouldn稚 be an exclusively-gay society, so there would be heterosexuals to be kept as friends (as there are foreigners in any other country). Provided then there is a heterosexual minority in such a gay state, what would be the argument against living in such a state? Sadly, the true reason (which most gays would not admit) is, they would prefere to live in a straight-majority society rather than in a gay-majority society. Now, how our progressive modern assimilationists would explain this state of mind?

Quote from: "Feral"
As inappropriate, immoral, and downright illegal str8-bashing would be, that it does not occur is most definitely a bad sign. That this absence is credited to a deliberate attempt at being "better" is an even worse sign.


Right you have. What is really astounding is the absence of self-justice-manner punishment to our enemies in countries/regions with weak legal system. Or can some of you remember when an outrocious homophobe was beaten up for his wrongdoings? No, жe are too good to act like them. We must overcome this impotency and finally learn to defend ourselves and our interests.
Logged
"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
Pages: [1]   Go Up