Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Madame Noire and Looking for Evidence of Homosexuality

Madame Noir occasionally does the advice column routine.  I was flipping through the blog when I came across this:
Dear China,
I think my friend’s boyfriend might be gay. He has a lot of female friends (not booty call friends but shopping friends), he’s VERY well kept, and he’s overly sexual to prove his “manhood.” My other friend also saw him in a gay club. Should I tell her?
Don't Ask Don't Tell
 I hope this woman does not work as a private detective, because clearly her skills on reading people need work. The man likes to shop and he has female friends therefore he MUST be gay.  I mean, how can a man and woman possibly be friends with no sex involved?  Men and women certainly cannot relate in a platonic way, in fact, if left alone in a room  together for too long, genitals will suddenly become engorged and the desire to play human jenga will become overwhelming.  It's a wonder how men and women work side by side everyday without trying to porn hump each other.

And then there is the whole having lots of sex "to prove his manhood". Umm that sounds to me like she is saying that gay men who have sex all the time aren't men.  Okay that seems twisted, because it seems to me, that gay men are attracted to other men and therefore when they have sex, that means that there are two men have sex.  Yeah, that looks like 2+2 = 4 to me. Also, I don't know why it is impossible to believe that a man has a high sex drive, when the social discourse teaches us that men constantly want sex.  I think this woman is just twisting to be able to label this man gay.

Finally, there is fact that she ran into him in a gay club.  Umm so?  What was she doing in a gay club?  From reading the posts on this blog, it is clear that gay bars are constantly invaded by straight people who act like there are taking a tour of gayness for kicks.  Unless she saw him swapping spit with someone, his mere presence in the bar indicates nothing.  Finally, I have spent my fair share of time in gay bars with my friends.  Also, this is something I can verify without a doubt, the cleanest pubic woman's bathroom is in any bar that caters to gay men.  Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of that?  None of that makes me gay despite my presence in a bar.

Okay so we broke down the letter lets look at the response.
Dear Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,
Sure, you should tell her your friend saw him at gay club. No big deal…you’d probably tell her if someone else you know mutually saw you or him or whomever, at some other place, right? So, mentioning where you saw someone is conversational, and a matter of friendly chatting and networking.

Though the place in question is a gay club, followed by what you’re perceiving as mounting evidence that he’s gay, you should probably let your friend do much of the talking when you tell her. You can’t really be accusatory in tone, because being well-kept, over sexual, befriended by many females and getting your groove on in a gay club are part of your evidence files, but they’re not the actual act. It’s important to approach your friend nonchalantly if you’re to discuss her boyfriend’s sexuality. Make it less of a war room than a light-hearted girl talk exploration into the lives of your men…both yours and hers!
I am glad that the response pointed out that she really had no evidence that the boyfriend was a closeted gay male, but at the same time, I could not help but wonder why this question was even published until I read this:

I want the readers give you their thoughts on this hot topic as well. Readers, take it away!
That says it all doesn't it.  Pretend that the question is relevant, so that you can have people weighing in, thus leading to more hits. The very idea of a group of straight people weighing in to decide the sexuality of someone that they don't know, based on the most ridiculous evidence is homophobic.  This sort of post, is exactly what I meant when I said that bloggers cultivate a very specific kind of audience.

Like minded people have a tendency to populate blogs.  If I were to write a blog about cameras and photography, then the readers would most likely be interested in the same thing.  The problem with Madam Noire and its sister blog Bossip, is that it has such a long history of homophobia that this one somewhat reasonable response, means that it is highly likely that the commenters will take their cue, from what they have already been shown is reasonable discourse in that space.

One of the many complaints about Womanist Musings is that dissenters feel that they cannot disagree.  Quite honestly, that is not the case, because I actually allow comments that many social justice blogs will not.  The difference is that a tone has been strictly set, which demands the equal value of all people. Instead of the derision this letter actually deserves, many of the commenters will believe that they have the right to question the sexuality of another, simply because Madam Noire is a safe space to do so. 

Blogs are communities and though they exist online, they have great power.  On an average day, 4000+ people will stop by Womanist Musings to engage and read.  This is small by internet standards, but it is still constitutes a  significant amount of people, who are exposed to ideas that they might otherwise not be -- and as bloggers -- we have a responsibility to set a tone which flies in the face of conventional discourse. Every day access to the media includes the oppression of historically marginalized people, and if we are to believe that the internet is truly a brave new world, reaching out and connecting to people to each other, then we have a responsibility to ensure that all who have access are welcome. 

It is not silencing to demand that respect occurs in a comment section.  The problem with bigots, is that they believe they have the right to foul a community with their hate speech without any sort of reprisal.  It is absolutely appropriation on their part to claim that they are being silenced, when the oppressed defend themselves against attack.  I think that Womanist Musings galls them, because this is a place for traditionally marginalized people. There are very few places where marginalized people are not oppressed in real life and online, and I think it is important to recognize that this is specifically a choice on the part of dominant bodies. If you are a part of the dominant paradigm, you can choose whom you  associate with, and if your surroundings only reflect your privilege, that is a big warning sign that you have work you need to do.