Thursday, October 18, 2007

Still not that simple...

Mike Rogers on Hardball keeps up the "Larry Craig is lying or in denial" meme....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

But it's not that simple...

Andrew Sullivan discusses the Larry Craig case, showing his usual combination of incisive insight and stunning obtuseness.

At this point in their lives, to allow the possibility that Craig is indeed homosexual, that he has sustained, lived, internalized a fundamental lie for his entire life, and involved his wife and children in that lie, would be to destroy themselves. I am not going to exonerate the man from hypocrisy because it is impossible. But I do think his problem is far deeper.
Perhaps. Such a case could be made. But Sullivan hasn't made it.
He grew up in a different time, and a different place, where even the possibility of being gay was inconceivable.
I don't think he even thinks of himself as gay, or has any idea what being gay might actually mean.
He's getting onto thin ice here. Agreed, Craig probably doesn't think of himself as gay. But what does Sullivan mean by "being gay"? As an identity? As an essentialist reduction, something you either are or aren't, and if you have sex with men then you are? Apparently...
I think he thinks of his sexual orientation as a "lifestyle" (to use that hideous term Lauer kept referring to) that can be overcome the way one overcomes smoking or poor eating or sexual compulsion. And he constructed an identity in opposition to this "lifestyle" early, out of pain and defensiveness and terrible fear.
Sullivan is assuming an awful lot here. Specifically, that Craig is gay as Sullivan understands the term; that Craig is misinformed at best, deluded at worst, if he doesn't see himself that way; and that his denials are a defense against the intolerable fact of being a gay man.
Craig was seeking in that toilet stall a connection, a shard of intimacy, that the world would not give him, or that he could not give himself.
Or maybe he just wanted a blow job.
No one should have to live without that intimacy and dignity - no one. Living a life like that - a deeply lonely, compromised, painful interior existence - is a very sophisticated form of hell. No human can keep it up for ever. No human should have to keep it up for ever.

He is a hypocrite; and he made his choices. I am not going to dispute that. His voting record helped sustain the misery for others that he lived with himself. He is for ever responsible for that.

But he is also a victim. And to see such a victim's pain exposed brutally in a public restroom pains me. He needs help. So do millions of others.
Yes, agreed. The closet is nasty and toxic. BUT.

After seeing the SNL "Oh Really?" video and the claymation "I am not gay" vid (to the tune of YMCA, and it's scrolled off whatever blog I found it on, can't find the link, my bad), I'm just noticing a rampant assumption that I'm not sure is valid.

As Sullivan correctly notes, Craig grew up in a different time and place. And yes, it may be just as Sullivan describes it. But is that the only possibility?

There's a general assumption that Craig is gay, and is simply lying or in denial about it. That either you are gay or you're not, and that if you were seeking sex with men then you are and that's that.

It's not that simple, though. The current definition of gay as an identity, with a social role attached to it (some behaviors prescribed, others prohibited), as an exclusive orientation, is a 20th-century phenomenon. (Actually, late-19th century England and Germany, or so my friend Harry who's studied this much more thoroughly than I have, says.)

But it's not the only possibility.

It's not the understanding the Greeks had, for instance. They had fairly elaborate rules about who could do what with whom, based on social class, rank, and a few other things. Feudal Japan had a different set of rules. South Asia today has a different set. I came across an online collection of photos of young Taliban in Afghanistan that are just now making their way out of the country. Many of them are vaguely homoerotic, the men are clearly expressing affection for each other, yet I'm willing to wager that few if any of them define themselves as 'gay' in the Western sense. Even though they're having at least a little sex from time to time.

Is this what Craig's getting at with his denials? Doubtful. Just as I doubt Ahmedinejad was showing his familiarity with queer theory when he maintained that there are no gays in Iran.

But it's not just a simple "you either are or you aren't, and you are, so admit it and get out of the closet, queen." And Sullivan, of all people, should know better. It's also possible Craig looks at gay culture--metrosexual, style obsessed, politically liberal--and doesn't see himself in any of it. That when he says "I'm not gay" he's simply saying "I'm not part of that culture." And gay culture is very upper-middle-class, very white, very urban. (There are reasons for that, but this post is long enough already.) He sees gay culture and not only doesn't see himself in it, he doesn't see anything he'd want in it, so of course he rejects it. And because he's been hiding from it, his view of gay culture is probably biased--centered around the highly-visible extreme minority. (Senator, for whatever it's worth, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence don't speak for me, either.)

Identity is extremely complex. We know this. Why are we so obsessed with putting people into labeled pigeonholes?

I'm not about to go off onto queer theory--and don't get me started with what all is wrong with Foucault--but this is ridiculous.

I think we survived

Our accreditation site visit wrapped up yesterday. Because of the rules about the confidentiality of the process, I can't say much more than that, other than woohoo! glad it's over...

Oh, and also, I have not been asked to clean out my office. I choose to take that as a good sign as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blog whoring

Check out my comment over here... Just because. Science fiction and porn... two of my favorite subjects.

Hell of a job you're doing, Bushie.

What a legacy.

Wish I'd Said That

Or at least, Wish I'd Found That Quote....

Some optimists say that in Army Gen. David Petraeus, Bush has finally found his Gen. Grant. That may or may not be true, but it is beside the point. The problem is that Petraeus has not yet found his President Lincoln.

But, alas, Mark Kleiman beat me to it.

It just never stops...

I've been offline a few days dealing with personal stuff...and what do I find when I get back? Priests trying to seduce young men... An accidental death during autoerotic play... What IS it with closeted clergy, anyway?

Never mind. I know. It's about the self-loathing and shame of the closet, and the institutional hypocrisy that pretends everyone in the hierarchy is 100% straight, or simply asexual. Other expressions of sexuality simply do. not. exist.

And while we're worried about this, the killing in Burma continues.

Update: The priest in question now says he was only pretending to be gay, in order to flush out other homosexuals within the church. The desperation continues as he searches frantically for someone to throw under the bus, before he himself gets thrown.