Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why isn't the Misogyny and Anti-Radical/Anti-Feminism in and beyond Queer communities being seen as just as important to challenge and uproot as Anti-Trans practice?

image of book cover is from here
As I see it and experience it, gender is force more than it is choice; it is dominance more than it is difference. As I see it, contemporary white, academically privileged Queer Theorists are increasingly rejecting that reality for one that is far more abstract and also far more supportive and protective of white het male supremacy.

I'm hearing from Lesbian and Queer women who are not transgender that misogyny is running rampant in Queer and Queer-friendly spaces, often in the form of anti-Lesbianism, as well as anti-Radical Feminism. In communities that often proclaim feminist values and politics, privileging the experience, views, theories, and politics of a few privileged trans activists and theorists has become the norm in spaces and places that are already anti-Lesbian, anti-Radical, anti-Feminist. Turns out the feminism that is being embraced is liberal at best and anti-feminist at worst. And radical feminism is being distorted, misrepresented, and/or homogenised into something it has never been.

Of particular concern to me, as someone who has attempted to find a home in Queer spaces as a radical activist and a pro-feminist, is the level of unqualified and unmodified misogynistic anti-Lesbian politics, views, attitudes, behaviors, and political practice, including the practice of theory-making, that attempts to shame or marginalise women who are not trans, who wish to acknowledge that they are women with no prefix.

I also have great concerns over the ways in which women who organise around various health and medical/social/cultural/environmental issues, like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other conditions, illnesses, and challenges that face girls and women in various ways (and in varying proportions depending on age, ethnicity, ability to get health care, and so on) are being shamed, ridiculed, or otherwise scorned with terms like "essentialist" by academically privileged (if not also race-, region-, and class-privileged) individuals who want us to believe "woman" is an identity more than it is the group of people targeted for violence, subordination, and many forms of discrimination, marginalisation, and ostractism due to not being men.

I have learned recently of a woman who has been treated medically/surgically for a form of cancer originating in one of her reproductive organs. There appears to me to be newly acquired post-traumatic stress associated with medical offices, doctor visits, and phone calls. Her body has been compromised by cancer but also by the misogyny and anti-woman's body practices which pretend either that women are only their bodies or, more recently, that female bodies aren't necessarily part of being a woman at all. I am a male person who has seen how the medical-surgical industrial complex hates on girls and women, and expresses this hate against girls' and women's bodies directly, and against female and intersex bodies when those bodies are socially treated as not boys and not men's. Some of the ways this has been done historically is by forcibly removing from women their reproductive organs or ability to conceive, by poisoning girls' and women's bodies, by interpersonally and intimately violating and doing violence to girls' and women's bodies, by equating sexual well-being with being heterosexual, and by medically neglecting women, particularly and especially girls and women without class, region, and race privileges.

I reject (as harmful to girls and women) a political theory of gender which would posit as inconsequential the bodies we have from birth in understanding the gender we are forcibly made to have.

We are told by PoMo academics to understand women's bodies as being "text" or "textual" primarily--bodies upon which men write misogynist myths and lies. I don't hear from women in my life that their primary complaint or experience with men is that they are being "read" and "rewritten" upon. The chief complaint is one of being subordinated--not necessarily using that term. "Put down", "insulted", "degraded", "raped", beaten, and violated in innumerable ways are major complaints I hear about and support being brought to the powers that be, to end. "Being read incorrectly" is one way to discuss the issue of violence against women without naming the violence done to women by men. I find that an anti-woman/pro-male supremacist practice.

As someone who has identified as intergender, who has understood myself as being under the umbrella with people who are transgender, I stand with radical lesbian feminists who refuse to not name misogyny and anti-Lesbian practices where and when they occur, including in Queer spaces.

For more discussion of some of these issues, please read the following:

Andrea Smith, Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide

Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch:Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation

24 comments:

Jessica Spain said...

yes! thank you.

Julian Real said...

You're very welcome, Jessica!

SuperMattTO said...

Sometimes you just have to let the past go if you want to change things. The lesbian separatist movement made the LBGT community deeply divided, and, yes, some gay men felt unfairly attacked by some lesbian feminist authors, and did many trans-women. We might just have to forget about the antagonism that used to be.

Julian Real said...

In my experience, honestly, it wasn't lesbian separatism that divided the community. It was male supremacy and white supremacy. Some women choosing to separate from various status quo society in various ways doesn't divide anything, any more than a group deciding to live somewhere else does. To decide to invest energy in women/wimmin-only spaces make sense to me. What also divides our community is the rape and assault of us as children by adults. And racism, and classism, and misogyny. Would you agree that white and male supremacy divides our community far more than lesbian separatism?

SuperMattTO said...

Well, I wasn't part of the community back then. In 1980, I was 8. But, when I read stuff like the following paper, I see that there is some truth to what some older gay men say about the early lesbian feminist movement. http://www.feminist-reprise.org/docs/fryegayrights.htm
Some of them treated us like enemies just for being gay men. It tends to be those older gay men who remember that period that sometimes express an anti-lesbian sentiment. There must be some men with male supremacist views in the gay community, but I haven't run into it very often. And, I certainly have never met a gay man who says that the reason why we should not be gay bashed is that we are not women. The author of that article seems to have just made that part up, but she accuses us all of being the same. As for your point about women-only space, I have nothing against that.

Julian Real said...

I want to be sure I'm following you here. What's the objection to Frye's essay? What do you understand the problem to be with it? Can you tell me on what page, and what paragraph? Then I can respond to something concrete.

You don't see the sexism and misogyny of gay men, but for those of us who register it in subtle and crude forms, it's fairly blatant and ubiquitous, particularly among white gay men with class privileges. From white gay drag (also blatantly racist, classist, and pro-sex abuse), to anti-feminism, to anti-lesbian politics. To white gay men assimilating into dominant male supremacist society with the only objection to that society being that it won't let in gay men.

Your comment reminds me of whites who say, "I honestly haven't seen much racism among the white people I know." Well, I see it among just about every white person I know. How can whites really know where racism lives, when it lives so invisibly to and among whites? What white person do you know who has a history of being negatively impacted by white supremacy day to night, week to week, year after year?

The same holds true with men, gay and not gay, re: misogyny. It's never far from the surface and too often is all over the surface.

I'm not saying that's all there is: everyone is human and three-dimensional.

Personally, I really liked Frye's essay--and the whole book--when I first read it. It made so much sense of my own experiences and explained why I had gravitated to lesbian-feminism and away from gay-male supremacist politics.

Lesbian feminism and radical feminism were the only two political stances that took sexual violence (including in media such as television and pornography), sexual exploitation and harassment, and child sexual abuse seriously.

Back in the day, if I described some of the abuse I endured in adolescence, gay men would find it erotic and tell me so. Not one woman--lesbian or not, feminist or not, made such a crass remark to me. I think that's because sexual violence and the threat of it is so real, that it's not anything to take lightly.

What is the transformative plan of white gay men you know? What's the radical social agenda? Assimilation is about all I see.

Lesbian feminism and radical feminism have had a consistently anti-status quo agenda and social analysis. Rooting out patriarchy is an agenda among both groups. I don't know of any gay organizations or activist groups who put that on the 'to do' list, even theoretically. Do you?

SuperMattTO said...

I'm too busy to give the long response that you want me to give but teen sexual abuse is very much frowned upon by the gay community. I am sorry that you ran into men that feel otherwise.

Gay men are the other group that has historically taken a stance against childhood sexual abuse. It only took one year for Nambla to be kicked out of most gay pride marches.

Everything is wrong with Frye's essay, but I will have to get back to you on that later when I have more time.

SuperMattTO said...

Part I...I had to split my response in half.

Let's take a look at some of her arguments.

1. The presumption of male citizenship.

She claims that gay men think that all men should have the right to certain things like a car and a job but that not all women should. I have never met a gay male who does not think that men and women should be equal in this regard.
2. Worship of the penis.
This is a ridiculous criticism of gay men. If gay men worship penises it is only in a sexual rather than a spiritual way. Gay men like dick because they are sexually attracted to other men. There is no assumption that the male body is superior, or a belief that society at large should worship penises more than vaginas It is just our sexual preference. There are some lesbians that worship the female body the same way that gay men worship the male body, and that is fine to us. It is to be suspected, and nothing about gender superiority should be read into it, unless someone really does believe in gender superiority.
She also says stuff like the following.
"The culture is one in which men are not commonly found laughable when they characterize the female as a castrated male. It is a culture in which an identification of the penis with power, presence and creativity is found plausible-not the brain, the eyes, the mouth or the hand, but the penis. In that culture, any object or image which at all resembles or suggests the proportions of an erect penis will be imbued with or assumed to have special mythic, semantic, psychological or supernatural powers. There is nothing in gay male culture or politics as they appear on the street, in bars, in gay media, which challenges this belief in the magic of the penis."
I'm sorry, but very few gay men believe in that type of male supremacism. She is simply wrong in the way she characterises us.

3. Male homoeroticism, or man-loving.
Again, it is simply because we are gay. There is nothing wrong with gay male homoeroticism, because there is nothing wrong with two men having sex with each other, and it is healthy to have sexual relations and sexual fantasies.
4. Contempt for women, or woman-hating.

She says that this is how gay men feel about being gay-bashed.

"Like most other men who for one reason or another get a taste of what it's like to be a woman in a woman-hating culture, they are inclined to protest, not the injustice of anyone ever being treated so shabbily, but the injustice of their being treated so when they are not women.'

No. I have known a lot of gay men very well, and they simply do not feel that way. Gay men are exceptionally critical of men who act violently towards women, or men who treat women as inferiors. Gay men, by and large simply do not think the way she says we do.

She also claims that all effeminate gay men are simply making fun of women. There are a few very politically incorrect drag queens out there. But, just like not all butch dykes are making fun of men, by and large, most effeminate gay men are not either.

SuperMattTO said...

Part II:
5. Compulsory male heterosexuality.
No. We don't believe in that. There might be some gay fathers out there, but compulsory heterosexuality is not one of our beliefs. We are completely offended by it. And, a lot of gay men are also completely bothered by straight men who think lesbians should have to do it with a man. We understand that this is offensive enough that it warrants significant feminist backlash against straight men, but it is totally unfair to lay the blame on us.
6. The presumption of general phallic access.
Who does she think she is protecting by supporting anti-gay sodomy laws. Does she not realise that in the gay male culture that largely condemns coercive sex, the men who take it up the ass want to because they like it? What business does she have trying to stop gay men from doing this? If she is a feminist, she should concern herself more with whether or not some straight men are coercive and whether or not certain aspects of the dominant straight porn culture might promote coercive sex. But, it is wrong to condemn gay men for this. Rather, the would could learn a lot from us, since we firmly believe that only people who really want to take it up the ass should do so.

Indeed, she misunderstands us so badly that she says this.
"The general direction of gay male politics is to claim maleness and male privilege for gay men and to promote the enlargement of the range of presumption of phallic access to the point where it is, in fact, absolutely unlimited."
In what way is it fair to say that about a culture of people who largely condemns people who are sexually coercive, sex with underage boys and girls, and bestiality.
Finally, take a look at this comment.
"The power available to those who choose, who decide in favor of deviance from heterosexual norms, can be very great."
Because she is opposed to male homoeroticism and she thinks that women who choose to live a lesbian lifestyle make more of a difference than lesbians who are simply only attracted to women, she is essentially claiming that only straight or bi women should be allowed to speak for the entire LBGT community. That is heterosexual supremacism showing its ugly head.

Returning now to an earlier comment she made in her paper that gay men are if anything anti-feminist. I disagree with this statement. But, back in 1983, a lot of gay men were being sick of being told what they think by straight women who were pretending to be lesbians, principally because we don't think that way. Many gay men actually to prescribe to a more-or-less feminist ideology.

SuperMattTO said...

And, yet another response to some parts of your post that I did not address earlier.

Yes, white supremacy is pervasive in white culture. My experience with gay men is that some of them have a grudge against straight men and some of them hold a grudge against lesbians, but very few hold much of a grudge against straight women. And, I am being as honest as I possibly can. SOME of the lesbophobia that is out there probably has a sexist component, but sometimes it is resentment towards radical feminists who seemed to agree with our oppressors about some issues.

I don't really agree that gay male politics has no feminist component. A lot of the people who oppose gay marriage are gender traditionalists. They say that, for a relationship to work well, there has to be a person with a vagina who cooks, and a person with a penis who mows the lawn. Gay and lesbian marriages violate the view of obligatory gender roles that they want to maintain. And, gay male culture tends to be quite genderless. We don't really maintain that there is such a thing as a male or a female role in relationships or that there is any advantage to introducing the notion of gender into a relationship. Mainstream acceptance of gay marriage will help to dismantle patriarchy.
I have seen a fair number of gay men getting involved in feminist organisations like becauseiamagirl.ca, which does fundraising for underpriviledged girls in third-word countries. But, a gay rights organisation cannot itself take on those types of issues, because it isn't a gay rights issue. That doesn't mean that gay rights activists don't support women's rights though.
As a sidnote, I honestly don't see radical feminists coming up with a viable way to overthrow patriarchy either.

Julian Real said...

Lots to respond to.

First, "Gay men are the other group that has historically taken a stance against childhood sexual abuse. It only took one year for Nambla to be kicked out of most gay pride marches."

NAMBLA was supported by many gay men, was supported by gay men to be part of the gay pride parade, and was critiqued most clearly and immediately not by gay men, but by lesbian and feminist women.

"Everything is wrong with Frye's essay...

How could that be? I'll assume that is uncareful rhetoric.

Julian Real said...

'I'm sorry, but very few gay men believe in that type of male supremacism. She is simply wrong in the way she characterises us."

Our experiences are different.

3. "Male homoeroticism, or man-loving.
Again, it is simply because we are gay. There is nothing wrong with gay male homoeroticism, because there is nothing wrong with two men having sex with each other, and it is healthy to have sexual relations and sexual fantasies."


The issue for me has been how gay men treat women, lesbians, and feminists over the years. When lesbian feminism began a systematic critique of male supremacist power as it displayed itself against lesbians, gay men parted company with lesbians in the struggle against heteropatriarchy. In and beyond the bdsm gay community, a very narrow kind of patriarchal masculinity and male power is eroticised: it's not just gay men being attracted to one another; it's the celebration of a kind of masculinity that, in the larger world, is deeply oppressive to women, and also to gay men.

You cite this of Frye's:

"Like most other men who for one reason or another get a taste of what it's like to be a woman in a woman-hating culture, they are inclined to protest, not the injustice of anyone ever being treated so shabbily, but the injustice of their being treated so when they are not women.'

You respond:
"No. I have known a lot of gay men very well, and they simply do not feel that way. Gay men are exceptionally critical of men who act violently towards women, or men who treat women as inferiors. Gay men, by and large simply do not think the way she says we do."

Most gay men I know oppose domestic violence and the rape of women by men. Many gay men are vague on what constitutes rape between men. Few gay men have an analysis, let alone organized opposition to 'rape culture', which explains the 'hard-core', uncompromising defence of industry pornography across the board.

Also, most gay men I've known oppose gay bashing because it is violence against queer people, not because it is an expression of misogyny directed at allegedly 'effeminate' men. The fact that straight gay bashing men, and other straight men, call us all manner of names that basically mean 'too much like a woman', demonstrate this is how we are viewed in dominant male culture. Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?

"She also claims that all effeminate gay men are simply making fun of women. There are a few very politically incorrect drag queens out there. But, just like not all butch dykes are making fun of men, by and large, most effeminate gay men are not either."

I think you mistakenly read feminist and lesbian analysis to think that when authors critique 'men' or 'gay men' they mean ALL people in that category. This is a sloppy misread, in my view. For if gay men critique hetero men, clearly we don't mean EVERY SINGLE straight boy.

Understanding white gay male drag, particularly when allegedly appearing to be 'Black women'--and I don't mean particular famous women like Diana Ross or Patti LaBelle, it is rarely anything but a misogynist minstrel show, garnering adoration and appreciation from other gay men, while turning 'Black women" into a caricature. That is my experience. Perhaps we live in different cultures, or have done so.

Julian Real said...

Also, you might wish to learn about Allen Ginsberg's position on sex with thirteen year old boys. And note how many gay men celebrate him as a positive libertarian.

Julian Real said...

Generally, I guess I see you attempting to speak for all gay men across eras, and ignoring a great deal about gay men's historical protection of abuses of male power. Why you rewrite history in this way is not clear to me.

For now, just to offer proof of a example of a prominent gay men who advocates or celebrates sex with children, I'm citing one historical figure who looms large in counterculture, especially if not only among men across sexual orientation. My reason for doing so is not to say Ginsberg is representative of all gay men. It is, rather, to note that when you speak for all gay men, you leave out a lot.

LOFTON: Did you say you had a sexual preference for young boys?

GINSBERG: We're not on trial here. I'm trying to explain.

LOFTON: But in a way, we're all on trial.

GINSBERG: Well, then you must excuse me if I don't adopt the submissive attitude you wish. I got on the air and said that when I was young I was approached by an older man and I don't think it did me any harm. And that I like younger boys and I think that probably almost everybody has an inclination that is erotic toward younger people, including younger boys.

LOFTON: How young were the boys?

GINSBERG: In my case, I'd say fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen.

LOFTON: That you had sex with?

GINSBERG: No, unfortunately I haven't had the chance. [laughs]

Source of the interview snippet is here here.

You may also read Andrea Dworkin's account of his unapologetic predatory attitudes in her book, Heartbreak.

Julian Real said...

Regarding this, "As a sidnote, I honestly don't see radical feminists coming up with a viable way to overthrow patriarchy either."

I'd phrase that dramatically differently. I'd say this is more truthful:

With the on-going militant pervasiveness and centuries-old stubbornness of racist patriarchy, it is not yet possible to overthrow it. Such a dismantling and transformation would require that many groups of people band together to fight various man-infestations of white male supremacy, including genocide of Indigenous people globally, opposition to globalisation, the creation of economic justice, the cultural overthrow of rapism, the end of rape, the dissolution of white power and male power, the statusing of lesbianism and radical feminism, and so much more. Ask your gay male friends if they'll get on board with such a project and let me know what they say.

SuperMattTO said...

You said:

"NAMBLA was supported by many gay men, was supported by gay men to be part of the gay pride parade, and was critiqued most clearly and immediately not by gay men, but by lesbian and feminist women."

All of the older gay men that I know who were around back then were vehemently opposed to Nambla. But, I live in Toronto. Maybe the situations was different elsewhere. They infiltrated the gay pride organising committees in a completely undemocratic way. We had to protest it. Yes, lesbians were a loud voice in getting rid of Nambla, but you are wrong to think that most gay men supported the organization. Those who did support it were political infiltrators.

SuperMattTO said...

Ginsberg was a pedophile, and he had some following. Do you know how much this pisses off the majority of gay men. A small group of pedophiles tried to assert themselves as the cutting edge of the gay rights movement even though the majority of gay men abhor the idea of kids getting molested.

Incidentally, the issue of raising awareness about the issue of child molestation is one of the areas where most of the gay men I have known identifies with and agrees with the feminist movement the most.

SuperMattTO said...

"With the on-going militant pervasiveness and centuries-old stubbornness of racist patriarchy, it is not yet possible to overthrow it. Such a dismantling and transformation would require that many groups of people band together to fight various man-infestations of white male supremacy, including genocide of Indigenous people globally, opposition to globalisation, the creation of economic justice, the cultural overthrow of rapism, the end of rape, the dissolution of white power and male power, the statusing of lesbianism and radical feminism, and so much more. Ask your gay male friends if they'll get on board with such a project and let me know what they say."

Nearly all of my gay male friends would agree with all of those goals.

SuperMattTO said...


"When lesbian feminism began a systematic critique of male supremacist power as it displayed itself against lesbians, gay men parted company with lesbians in the struggle against heteropatriarchy. In and beyond the bdsm gay community, a very narrow kind of patriarchal masculinity and male power is eroticised: it's not just gay men being attracted to one another; it's the celebration of a kind of masculinity that, in the larger world, is deeply oppressive to women, and also to gay men."

The problem here is that I don't agree with the analysis. Bdsm is consensual and it is all about exploring one's sensual limits, which is what some people find erotic and even sometimes spiritual. I also don't particularly agree with you that there any such thing as masculinity.

Historically, women were treated like sex slave, but there is a real difference between that type of a major human rights violation and consensual sex. Just the fact that some people like bdsm should show you how different these two things really are. I agree with you on the other points you made in the post.

"Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?"

That's always bothered me too. It strikes be to be quite politically incorrect, and far too common.

"Understanding white gay male drag, particularly when allegedly appearing to be 'Black women'--and I don't mean particular famous women like Diana Ross or Patti LaBelle, it is rarely anything but a misogynist minstrel show, garnering adoration and appreciation from other gay men, while turning 'Black women" into a caricature. That is my experience. Perhaps we live in different cultures, or have done so."

I know very little about drag. I know that there is some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there. There is a group of guys in my square dance group that dress in drag once per year, and there is nothing misogynistic about it. It is just having fun with outrageous costumes. The same guys come out with other types of outrageous costumes on halloween.

SuperMattTO said...

What does "the statusing of radical feminism and lesbianism" mean?

Julian Real said...

"Nearly all of my gay male friends would agree with all of those goals."

Where do you live? I don't mean specifically; what country and city do you live in? I don't know hardly any gay men who would be on board with that political project. I'm glad you do.

Julian Real said...

"Historically, women were treated like sex slave, but there is a real difference between that type of a major human rights violation and consensual sex."

I agree with the last part but need to qualify the first part. Rape and rough or bdsm consensual sex are not identical, of course. I don't think it's a profeminist position that they are. The point is that they rise out of a similar political ground. And: sexual slavery is far more prevalent now than in the past, of women and girls especially. And it's not about being treated as a sex slave, but actually being one as far as the slavers are concerned. That is: the problem isn't just men thinking some women and girls deserve to be treated as sex slaves. The problem is that women's and girls' humanity is so non-existent in the minds of millions of men, that making them into sex slaves doesn't seem like an injustice or mistreatment of the enslaved people. This has always been true of slavers.

"Just the fact that some people like bdsm should show you how different these two things really are.

This is where your argument is weak in my opinion. Because it leaves out a very crucial fact: that rapists, child molesters, and other perpetrators like what they do. They enjoy it. They get intense pleasure from it. So, if we focus on the perps, there's little difference, with regard to liking it. I realise you're talking about BOTH parties enjoying it, and base its acceptability on the presence of consent. But many women I know have experienced rape and the law would only define it 'consensual sex'.

An excellent critique of 'consent' as a woefully inadequate measure of genuinely respectful sexual practice exists. It ought not be what we base law on. For more, please see, chapter 18. Unequal Sex: A Sex Equality Approach to Sexual Assault, in Women's Lives, Men's Laws, by Catharine A. MacKinnon.



If being sexually assaulted, particularly but not only in childhood, results in dissociation, self-imposed silencing, and a terror of telling any man 'no' when sex is brought into an interaction, how might we know what's genuinely consensual? If she is not safe, or doesn't feel safe to say no, why should an absence of a 'no' be assumed to be a 'yes'?

I've never heard one gay man make these points, because consent is sufficient as a maximum level of agreement for most gay men I know, for most men generally.

As a survivor of child sexual abuse and adult sexual exploitation, I am suggesting that 'consent' is an inadequate measure of mutual respect and regard, particularly for law, but also for relationships.

I'll offer up these points: if society is soaked in misogyny, built on it, bred and raised in it, isn't it likely that what we will enjoy it sexually and socially? Put another way, how could we not enjoy it and absorb it as 'hot', on some level? I'm speaking about many levels of misogyny, not just the most overtly hostile forms that might seem obviously deplorable to more sensitive and aware gay males.

Julian Real said...

"Gay men's personal ads reveal this too: "no femmes". I have never seen an ad that reads, "no masculine or butch men". Have you?"

That's always bothered me too. It strikes be to be quite politically incorrect, and far too common.


The point isn't the degree to which you or I am bothered by it. Or by gay men's embrace of industry pornography. Or by white gay men's misogyny and racism in drag performance. Or white gay men's protection and defence of white gay men traveling to countries where much poorer people of color live to have sex with young men, or younger males.

The issue is that all of that and more is pervasive in gay community or gay male behavior in the Global North and Australia. That tells us something about our culture, doesn't it? It's not that those things are extreme practices--the problem is not that they are extreme. The problem is that they are normal and reveal the core values of the dominant society.

Gay men's practices aren't less innocent because gay men practice them. Yes, gay men are not positioned to rule society the way het men are. But we don't discount the harm just because the most dominant people aren't the practitioners in these cases.

I know very little about drag. I know that there is some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there.

I find that wording to be troubling. "Some very misogynistic and racist stuff out there." It's not exactly something kind of unfortunate, something only some people enjoy. Again, like the 'no femmes' thing, it's pervasive, embedded in our culture. It's not an entirely peripheral phenomenon. It speaks to something at the center of our world.

There is a group of guys in my square dance group that dress in drag once per year, and there is nothing misogynistic about it. It is just having fun with outrageous costumes. The same guys come out with other types of outrageous costumes on halloween.

How would you or I know whether there's anything misogynistic about it? We're not in a position to know it and name it because, let's face it, males aren't the best at doing so; we miss a lot. Nor are whites the best at knowing and identifying racism when it is expressed.

I don't know how the guys in your dance group dress up, so I won't speak to that. But those gay men who I know who do dress up in drag, actually say they are dressing up 'like a woman'. Such an understanding of 'women' is grossly stereotypical, and really has very little to do 'being like a woman'. For those people (female or male) who are threatened and endangered by the prevalence of such two-dimensionalising and distorting of 'womanhood', it is not confusing to me why so many women would oppose it as not at all progressive.

Julian Real said...

SuperMattTO,

Since our exchange has gotten so long and involved, I've made it a separate post and welcome your future comments to be submitted to that page. Here is the link to that new post:

White Gay Male Politics and White Lesbian Feminist Challenges