anitabuchan: yellow shoes (Default)
[personal profile] anitabuchan


I wish I had posted sooner about this, but I was struggling to know what to say (and also my dissertation's due in a week, so, panic). But then [livejournal.com profile] sparkindarkness posted this wonderful post, and I wanted to signal boost. And now I've ended up rambling on myself, on much the same topics he did. Only he said it all much better, so if you're going to read one of these posts, read his.

I've read elsewhere that the kyriarchy makes this debate complicated. I don't agree. I think this debate is very simple. There is a group of people, oppressed by society, who complained about being hurt and disrespected. There is another group of people who have been doing the hurting and the disrespecting. This second group of people, in response to these complaints, have used every derailing tactic they could get their hands on to avoid discussing the fact that some of them have been guilty of hurting people.

Some of the most common derailing tactics I've seen:

1. They want us to stop writing slash! (Um, no. The vast majority are not saying that. Stop using straw men.)

2. They didn't mention us lesbians/bisexuals! (No. That's because, and I say this as a lesbian, our sexuality is not relevent. We are not gay men, we do not have super secret knowledge of how to write gay men, and while we may be more understanding of certain issues that straight women, we are still very capable of hurting gay men with our writing. The endless posts on how lesbians/bisexuals/queer women are being ignored are just derailing from the real issue - because LBQ women are just as reluctant to face their privilege as everyone else.)

3. It's just fiction! (And fiction can hurt people. Fiction has a real world impact. It also ignores that it isn't just fiction - that there (or it sometimes feels to me like there is) an entire community built on the objectification of gay men. You want real world impacts? What about women going up to gay men in the street or in a bar, and asking them to kiss, or about their sex lives? Because that happens. What about all the straight women trying to get into gay bars, in order to ogle the men inside as if it were some kind of zoo? Because that happens too. Also affecting lesbians, because at many gay clubs bouncers are so wary of letting any women in. The 'it's just fiction' debate is obviously one that has been had many times before, in many different contexts, and I'm not going to try summing up all the arguments that have been made. All I will say is: yes, it does matter.)

4. Slashers have no responsibility to the LBGTQ community! (I saw this on linkspam this morning, and my immediate response was something along the lines of 'fuck you'. Here's an idea: if you're using gay people as puppets for your own gratification, then perhaps you could take a teeny moment out of the squeeing to, I don't know, think about someone other than yourself? Think about how your entertainment may be affecting an already oppressed people? You're right, you have no responsibility to do so. But not doing so makes you, IMHO, a very selfish person.)

5. Actual gay men have nothing to do with slash! (I would just like to quote [livejournal.com profile] sparkindarkness here: this is just pure silencing. It’s also grossly disrespectful. This is a genre about us. Not just some of the time, not just occasionally. M/m fiction and m/m slash is all about gay or bisexual men. To say it is a female space or that we have no place to comment or criticise is not just arrogant - it’s dehumanising. This really does emphasise how degraded gay men are to some of these commenters - gay men are presented as objects. We are characters, we can be used and claimed and appropriated - but real gay men are not considered or even welcome to many of those commenting.)

6. Men have oppressed women! (Yeah. And now some women are hurting gay men. This is the kyriarchy, people: just because, at some times, a group has privilege over you, does not mean that you will never have privilege over them. In this debate, women are the oppressing group.)

If you wish for examples, head over to linkspam: a community supporting derailings since, oh, the start of a debate in which the mods were the ones with privilege?

I could go on, but those are the main points I've seen raised. I think I've come across as angrier that I meant, but - I am angry over this. The example above, women asking a gay couple to kiss for them? That happened to a friend of mine. They wanted he and his boyfriend to kiss, so that they could take a picture. Because they thought it would be hot. And as a lesbian, I'm fairly used to the response of straight men responding in a sexual way to finding out my orientation. I don't think it's a sign of progress that that now happens to gay men as well.

Gay men are not objects, or puppets, or here for women to use, and hurt, and appropriate in search of gratification. They're people, and therefore deserve to be treated with respect. That has nothing to do with writing, or the responsibilities of an author, or the slash community. It has to do with being a decent human being.

I think the original complaints have pretty much been lost by now, buried under a pile of 'what about the lesbians!' and 'we've been oppressed too!' and 'gay men keep out!'. In other words, it's been a very successful derailing. I hope all those involved feel proud.


I thought writing this might help me feel less angry. It hasn't really worked.
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anitabuchan: yellow shoes (Default)
anitabuchan

September 2010

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