Monday, November 14, 2011

Not Just a Preference

via fabmagazine, by Alex Rowlson

We’ve all been there.

You visit a hookup or dating website, cruise somebody’s profile and are confronted with the list: no fats; no femmes; no Asians; no blacks; masc only; my age or younger; str8-acting, you be too; non-scene; and on and on. What we find is a lot of hate when all we want is head.

“Gay men have forgotten how to have sex,” says Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, editor of the forthcoming anthology Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? “For so long that was supposed to be something gay men were good at, but I’m not so sure anymore.

 They might be good at the technique but not the openness. Sex should be about opening possibilities, not closing them off.”

The negative language so prevalent on Craigslist and Grindr seems to signal that the culture of sexual liberation has been replaced by sexual segregation.

Gay sexual oppression is catalogued painfully on the Douchebags of Grindr blog, which sorts prejudiced profiles based on everything from racism and sexism to self-hating homophobia.

But even though we see it everywhere, most people are as willing to admit to the exclusionary aspects of their desires as Lindsay Lohan is to submit to drug testing — statements are qualified by “Sorry, that’s just what I’m into” or “No hard feelings, it’s just my preference.”

Sycamore says that while people have the right to say what they’re attracted to, they have a responsibility to watch how they say it.

“On the one hand, people are stating their preference, but on the other, these are not neutral terms. If we were living in a culture where everything was the same, it wouldn’t be a problem. But when sexual preference reinforces dominant systems of power in an unquestioning way, that’s when it becomes problematic.”

Michael J Faris, co-author of the essay “Fucking with Fucking Online: Advocating for Indiscriminate Promiscuity,” believes that sexual oppression too often is unexamined.

“Desiring one thing more than another I don’t see as a bad thing,” he says. “When you say, ‘I won’t date a black person or won’t sleep with a black person,’ that’s what I see as being racist. If you can’t interrogate your desire, that’s a problem.”

Sociologist Adam Isaiah Green, a faculty member at the Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at the University of Toronto, believes “the concept of sexual racism is too strong and too intentional.

Our liberation movement worked to remove shame from sexual desire, and I think we should take a lesson from it in terms of how we deal with the topic of racialized desires.

Sensitizing ourselves to the connections between our most inner sexual desires and the sociopolitical landscape we are immersed in also seems like a good way to go.”

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