The other night I saw a political performance poet called Attila the Stockbroker doing a performance about, among other things, 'real women' who aren't complicit in their own objectification by the media - that is, who don't shave (as Crass put it, 'shaved women - collaborators!'), present as sexual objects etc.
Thing was, though, this was one of the most stereotypically 'masculine' performances I've ever seen - shouting aggressively into the mike, rhetoric about how 'I don't care what you think and even though I'm a man I can criticise women for this behaviour' etc.
Recent discussion on this list raised the same issues for me - that is, how does a 'man' (however defined) 'do' strong opposition to sexual and gender inequality, and also
practice what they preach by not behaving like a stereotypical man in terms of aggression, domination, challenge etc?
On the one hand, rage is an important part of resistance to oppression. But on the other, traditionally, the expression of anger is an accepted male behaviour in a situation in which dominance is decided by strategies of verbal aggression. Is it any less oppressive for a 'man' to decide what a 'real woman' is, regardless of whether that's different from the sterotype? But we must accept that people who aren't speaking from personal experience have a valid viewpoint, inasmuch as any position is biased by the subject's experience.
In terms of sexuality, I'd say the question that follows is whether a man who doesn't
present in this way and is therefore read as 'gay', whatever the gender of people he chooses to have sex with, can feel mutual solidarity with and receive support from those who do
identify as gay?
Is it possible to be 'straight and queer' as, for example, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's work seems to suggest?
In a society in which, for the most part, sexuality is essentialised such that non-sexual behaviour is considered as demonstrative of sexuality, you don't need to be same-sex-attracted to experience homophobia and have that experience shape your identity. At the same time, though, despite utopian views on a rainbow of genders and sexualities, we as humans need
categorisations in order to live our lives, and indeed without solidarity based on categorisaton there can be no organised resistance to oppression.
So I guess the question I'm asking is, how do we address these related (I hope) issues in an era in which binaries of sexuality and gender are simultaneously being destabilised and reified?
x-posted to gender_theory