Monday, March 16, 2009

Re-posted and Revised

This post was lost from my blog earlier today. Server issues or something. I'm too techno indifferent to grasp it. My friend James was able to retrieve it for me (thank you), plus he sent me some notes on revising it before I posted it again (double thanks). So here it is, re-posted:

      If we were to wake up tomorrow and find the world had been abandoned by those Siamese twins of bigotry and oppression, misogyny and homophobia, the greatest change wouldn’t be in the lives of gays, lesbians, straight women and our transgender brothers and sisters (though they’d benefit most obviously.) The most profound shift at a root level, of course, would ultimately be in the lives of heterosexual men – the fathers, brothers, uncles, and so on, whose attitudes and real-life practices spin out to shape culture, politics, beliefs and lives. They’d be able to breathe. They could take off the girdles of socially prescribed masculinity and let their natural selves hang out. They’d be forced to create new tools of co-existence, new definitions of power, but that would be their liberation. They could stop furiously policing themselves and other men, and then stop demanding simplistic renderings of womanhood and femininity to harmonize with their simplistic (but complicatedly, complexly damaging) renderings of manhood. The first-tap energy they put into molding themselves, their children, their churches, businesses, large and small scale cultures, would be radically altered. And of course, those who trip the gender light fantastic would not be so brutalized for their border crossings. Maybe it’s a mistake to say who’d benefit more. Maybe it’s better just to say that hetero men have as much to gain as queer folk, albeit in different ways, in throwing off the golden shackles of their hetero “privilege.” Too many, of course, driven by fear, only see what might be lost or taken from them. It’s a soul-dividend that’ll be paid. (Ironic: How many use religion and terms of spiritual warfare to justify their beliefs and tactics of oppression.) We see some of that happening now in the world – shifts and changes, the dismantling of hate and the tossing out of its fruit. But as things fall apart, there are many rushing in to reupholster the status quo.
      Those thoughts, a remedial breakdown of basic gender and queer politics, flashed through my head as I debated self about posting the following news report from Peru. (I first saw it on Pam Spaulding’s blog late last week.) It’s about Techi, a transgender woman and alleged prostitute, who was hunted and then forcibly “returned” to maleness by a pack of laughing, bullying, souls-deficient men. I worried that even posting the news clip would make me complicit in her humiliation. That humiliation was doled out not only by the hands of the assholes who attacked her after first alerting a local news station of their plans and inviting a crew and camera to document their assault, it was also doled out by the news station whose sensationalistic editing and repetition of certain images and moments from the attack – and whose generally sloppy construction of the piece – only served the purpose of cheap titillation. (Side note: What does it tell us about the comfort zones of social/cultural privilege and entitlement inhabited by the “real men” who waged the attack that they would not only alert the media of their plans, but laugh and boast on-camera as they do their foul deeds?) You don’t need to speak Spanish to grasp what is happening in the clip:

      I think it’s important that any conversations about this incident don’t collapse into rote, static condemnation of Latino culture(s) and “machismo,” which fall too easily into racist rants but also make it easy to be blind to the universality of this kind of bigotry. I read several queer-oriented news blogs a day, and a seemingly endless barrage of queer bashings and killings pours in daily from around the globe – on every continent, in countless countries, across race, across cultures and across religious beliefs.
      Irony: So many of those who think they are enforcing age-old cultural dictates on manhood are actually ignorant of their own history, of the dynamic culturally and spiritually significant gender-play they are dishonoring in their practices of hate. Check out the following clip. It’s wonderful because it opens up conversations around religion and spiritual practice, putting them in the context of the creation of art and culture. It roots spirituality and various worldwide practices of spiritual enlightenment, and in options of boundless human expression and creativity – including the creation of self. Especially pay attention to speaker Wade Davis starting just before the 7 minute mark, when he drops his audience into Peru and drops knowledge that truly shames the attackers in the Youtube clip:


Lorraine Hansberry


Anonymous said...

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Kim said...