File spoon-archives/marxism-thaxis.archive/marxism-thaxis_1998/marxism-thaxis.9804, message 22

Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 11:08:59 +0200
Subject: M-TH: Heterosexualism and heterosexuality

Yoshie writes:

>Judging by many men's (except for Carrol C., Doug H, James H, and to a
>lesser extent Hugh R) responses on to my comments about heterosexuality as
>social construct on this list, it seems that the dethronement of
>heterosexuality as naturalized norm is a huge threat to their
>identity-fetish (i.e. normative straight masculinity.) Lesbians are a
>threat to straight guys' sense of masculinity/identity-fetish in the same

The problem, Yoshie, is your wilful amalgamation of the social construct
"heterosexualism" with the evolutionary and biological fact of human
heterosexual behaviour. This is clearest in your collision with BodySack.

The automatic misunderstandings embedded in this approach lead to a
voluntaristic and sectarian proclamationism in your agitation in sexual
issues that leads you away from the actual struggles of the working class
and oppressed people -- the ones who are going to have to realize the
transformation to socialism.

This was apparent in your handling of the abortion issues, and I commented
on it then. I think it's more apparent now in the issue of gender and
sexuality. There is a utopianism here that is related to the misunderstood
hero-martyr position of say Baudelaire in art, as represented in his poem
L'Albatros. This is matched by the narcissistic, Bob Dylan-like
accusatorial stance: "Yer all unfeeling iggerant bastards cep for me and me
suffering mates down here on Desolation Row!", or as Baudelaire puts it in
Au lecteur (To the reader) when he claims that Boredom/Ennui is everyone's
universal monster:

  Il en est un plus laid, plus me'chant, plus immonde!
  Quoi-qu'il ne pousse ni grands gestes, ni grands cris,
  Il ferait volontiers de la terre un de'bris
  Et dans un ba^illement avalerait le monde.

  C'est l'Ennui! -- L'oeil charge' d'un pleur involontaire,
  Il re^ve d'e'chafauds en fumant son houka.
  Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre de'licat,
  -- Hypocrite lecteur, -- mon semblable, -- mon fre`re!

  (There is one among them more ugly, more malevolent and more monstrous!
  Although it makes no grand gestures nor great cries,
  It would willingly reduce the earth to rubble
  And swallow the world in a yawn.

  It is Boredom! -- Its eye filled with an involuntary tear,
  It dreams of scaffolds while smoking its hookah,
  You know it, reader, this delicate monster,
  -- Hypocrite reader, -- my likeness, -- my brother!)

The resonance of attitudes like this comes from the fact of extreme
oppression and extreme frustration in repressive class society,
particularly over-ripe capitalist ones like the Second Empire of Little
Bonaparte (the "real" French one, not the maffia boss in Some Like It Hot!)
or imperialism. But a fatalism and pessimism as regards change is always at
the bottom, and deflates the universal aspirations quite ruthlessly when
its exposed -- Lukacs is pretty good at this in his analysis of naturalism.
In Yoshie's positions I see deep contradictions between a quintessentially
petty-bourgeois narcissistic utopianism and a materialist Marxist analysis
that she tries to bridge by way of voluntaristic policies. There is no
doubting the seriousness of her project. What I would question is the
target of all that energy, its main focus.

That's why I suggested a while back that she might like to find a reason to
go to Liverpool and talk to the Women of the Waterfront for a few weeks.



PS Separate post coming up on Yoshie's admirable programme for sex
education and other matters.

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