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The almighty productive GLAAD is hard at work!

(See here for other blog posts by Jon Freeman.)

Sean Delonas with the New York Post blessed all our hearts with this beauty of Jim McGreevey:

In response, GLAAD has called us into action for this "gratuitous vulgar anti-gay cartoon." As usual, GLAAD is fighting hard!! So, what specifically is so defaming and anti-gay about this depiction? Because it takes a white ex-governor saturated with mainstream respectability and dethrones him into the hapless pit of 'pathetic disgusting drag queen impersonating trans blah' and castrates him into this 'pathetic woman' figure that no longer meets the warm (often superficial) embrace that straight liberals offer the LG(BT) community? Even if I wanted to stake up an argument that problematizes simply labeling this as "homophobic," I can certainly see how some might find it so.

Far more importantly, what's worse is that this reminds me of the old anti-pornography feminist debates. Anti-pornography feminists like Catherine McKinnon used to rave on how pornography is degrading to women, is coercive, and how it reinforces cultural and sexual attitudes that deride and disenfranchise women. They went as far as getting obscenity laws passed in Canada that had the capacity to take certain "obscene" materials out of commission. Anti-pornography feminists celebrated this success which allegedly had the power to take down pornography and patriarchy at once, until the first time the obscenity law was ever used---ironically on a gay bookstore in Ontario. The bookstore was selling copies of a lesbian S&M magazine---THE HORROR. Anti-anti pornography feminists---those feminists who were opposed to Catherine McKinnon and people fighting to take down porno and 'obscene' or 'offensive' or women-deriding materials---ironically had warned anti-pornography feminists from the get-go that the state would use the 'obscenity' space that these feminists cracked open in order to crack down on material that inevitably the state feels is the most obscene: that vulgar crap that dykes and fags and all those homos produce.

Finally, the debates defused when anti-anti pornography feminists made it resoundingly clear that censorship of materials--no matter how one might feel to be derisive or misogynist or exploitative--is not only a conservative and Cold War tactic that goes against the grain of feminist ideologies in general, but narrowmindedly misses that pornography in some instances can be and is feminist, demonstrates intolerance to sexual difference, negates that pornography has diffuse and multiple purposes for all sorts of various people, and worst of all, is complicit in conservative defenses of the sexual status quo. These feminists, if wanting to make a difference in pornography or bring down defamatory materials against women, would propose to radically alter or reform pornography by working both in and out of the system. It is pointless and ineffective to wholesale to reject or "counteridentify with" the entire industry, especially when you try to make use of things like legislative campaigns and recruit government support.

WORST of all, however, in my opinion (and getting back to my main point), is where anti-pornography feminists just missed the boat altogether. What good is it--especially as a feminist--to regulate or control culturally-produced materials? Other than being blatant censorship, it de-contextualizes the actual materials as if they're free-floating offensive manifestations of hate. And of course, many times these materials are offensive and hateful. But if there are people who have the right to opine and the right to free speech and the entitlement to thoughts in this country of ours, what good is it really to try and suppress these people's productions? If they have the desire and the thought, the cognitions and the emotions, and the associations, in their heads and choose to express themselves, what are we doing to regulate the end-products of these defamers? We're just silencing and forgetting about what underlied these productions. Again, mainstream LG(BT) is practicing what they're best at: tunnel vision.

Bringing it back, why do we have GLAAD to be our watch dogs and attempt to censor materials that are deemed "offensive" and "hating" of gays?. Other than being suppressive, conservative, and undemocratic, GLAAD thwarts efforts that ought to be aimed at reworking cultural assumptions, stereotypes, associations, and attitudes about gays from both inside the system and out. We must playfully and creatively reproduce materials and disseminate knowledge that counteracts or posits new ideas and challenges hateful social concepts that are reflected (and themselves are not) in materials such as Sean Delonas' crack at Jim McGreevey. It is crucial that we understand the idea that these images only reflect more important underlying cultural presumptions that we need to co-opt and re-author. We cannot go "call on" the gays or instate the aid of abiding institutions or the government or the courts to banish the production of such materials and prohibit the free expression of ideas--no matter how unfortunate we find these ideas to be. How better are we than right-wing conservatives in such an instance? Not any better. Instead, we need to focus on what is behind these productions. We must be creative and thoughtful in producing tactics and rhetoric to rework the associations and the ideas and the hatred that we refuse to submit to any longer. We need to fight ideas and cultural knowledge and systems of oppression, not pathetic New York Post jabs.


Anonymous said...

[by lyssa]

The cartoon is not anti gay at all. Period. It uses trans stereotypes (e.g. "man in a dress") to discredit Jim McGreevey.
Beyond that, I personally do not agree with you. This is not porn. This is a piece intended to be part of public discourse and to shape political opinion. Using trans imagery in such a negative way to discredit someone targets two entities, transpeople and Jim McGreevey.

Jon said...
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