From: Malcolm Dunnachie Thompson <malcolmt@xxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 15:49:04 -0700 (PDT)
mmmph phmmmphth umphth *pop* aaahh.
now that i've got my foot out of my mouth, i will sheepishly and
deferentially admit my grievous blunder to malgosia - oops, he he - what
can i say?
you know what i find perplexing about the medium of e-mail? the fact
that, except where specific graphic clues (such as the smiley face)
indicate otherwise, every statement is interpreting according to one
enunciative mode. otherwise put, there's really no way of telling when
someone is joking. of course i don't *really* think that all men should
be gay - for one thing, gayness would no longer mean membership in an
elite club. :) <- note the smiley face.
i appended that so ill-conceived sentence because i've actually heard on
numerous occasions people respond to my paraphrasing of MacKinnon's
argument by saying "so you think all men should be gay?"
on a related note: i mean by the term "gay" something more than simply
sexual attraction to men. i wish to dislodge gayness from its position
within or underlying the individual, and make it into a political term of
identification - like "communist". thus, gayness would come to exist as a
signifier for a political choice involving loving relationships between
men, anti-sexism, anti-heterosexuality.
before people start screaming about straight-bashing, allow me to clarify
one point. just as i seek to dislodge homosexuality from its position as
an identity, something one *is*, so too i wish to dislodge
heterosexuality from its position as an identity. heterosexuality is not
something one *is* - it is something one *does*. it is not an identity,
in the sense that being against it opens me up to (really quite silly)
charges of reverse discrimination) - it is a cultural practice which
produces identity effects in order to naturalize itself. thus, one can be
(and i am) against heterosexuality in the same way that one can be
against racism, sexism, capitalism, homophobia, etc. it is not at all a
matter of hating people on the basis of who they are - it is a matter of
being politically opposed to a set of oppressive practices that people
partake of. (obviously, i mean much more by heterosexuality than
reproductive sex - just as i mean much more by homosexuality than just
same-sex sex or same-sex attraction, desire, or whatever.)
and slagging heterosexuality is in no way equivalent to slagging
homosexuality. to suggest that it does is to ignore the different and
unequal statuses accorded to straight and gay speech acts in our culture.
if i circulate a discourse of anti-heterosexuality in this cultural
context, no one is going to be bashed, killed, denied housing or jobs,
villified, rejected, etc., on account of it. in a different political
context, things might be different.
for those kind readers who are thinking "well, what has this got to do
with Foucault?", i will conclude with a quote that i believe is relevant
(from "Friendship as a Way of Life", _Foucault Live_):
"[Something] to distrust is the tendency to relate the question of
homosexuality to the problem of "Who am I?" and "What is the secret of my
desire?" Perhaps it would be better to ask oneself, "What relations,
through homosexuality, can be established, invented, multiplied and
modulated?" The problem is not to discover in oneself the truth of sex
but rather to use sexuality henceforth to arrive at a multiplicity of
relationships. And no doubt that's the real reason why homosexuality is
not a form of desire but something desirable. Therefore we have to work
at becoming homosexuals and not be obstinate in recognizing that we are.
The development towards which the problem of homosexuality tends is the
one of friendship." (page 308)
again, i am sorry i went off all half-cocked (so to speak). perhaps this
post is more level-headed.