The Other McCain

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The Queering of Feminism: Why Does ‘Equality’ Require Promoting Perversion?

Posted on | October 30, 2015 | 53 Comments

 

Boston University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program “fosters interdisciplinary research and teaching related to the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and other categories of identity that organize and disorganize our lives.” The director of the program, Associate Professor Carrie Preston, describes her “research and teaching interests include modernist literature, performance, and dance, feminist and queer theory, and transnational and postcolonial studies.” Boston University’s annual tuition is $48,436. Their web site outlines the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program’s history:

Our program began in the 1970s and emerged in the 1980s as the Boston University Women’s Studies Program, a site of intellectual inquiry and feminist consciousness-raising concerning women’s lives. . . .
Scholars began to problematize the very notion of sex as a biological given or social reality and focused concern on topics in sexuality that could not be reduced to concerns with gender. Current scholarship in the field examines the extent to which sexuality and gender have been linked together historically (through the recruitment of sexuality as the “performance” or “proof” of gender, for instance) as well as aspects of sexuality that are distinct from gender.

To “problematize the very notion of sex as a biological given,” you see, is what feminist theory requires. Part of the “interdisciplinary” exploration of gender, sexuality and identity is the annual Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick Memorial Lecture, a tribute to one of the early leaders of Boston University’s program, whose 1990 book Epistemology of the Closet is “widely considered a founding text of queer theory.”

How do Boston University students get their $48,436 of queer theory?

Faculty moderators held two workshops for undergraduate and graduate students on Sedgwick’s 1991 essay “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys.” This short, accessible text focused attention on the alarming rate of suicide among gay and gender non-conforming youth, and critiqued the failure of psychotherapists in the US to address this crisis with queer-affirmative interventions.

Anyone may read the “short, accessible text” named:

I am especially interested in revisionist psychoanalysis including ego-psychology, and in influential developments following on the American Psychiatric Association’s much-publicized 1973 decision to drop the pathologizing diagnosis of homosexuality from the succeeding Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III). What is likely to be the fate of children brought under the influence of psychoanalysis and psychiatry today, post-DSM-III, on account of anxieties about their sexuality? . . .
That one woman, as a woman, might desire another; that one man, as a man, might desire another: the indispensable need to make these powerful, subversive assertions has seemed, perhaps, to require a relative de-emphasis of the links between gay adults and gender-nonconforming children. To begin to theorize gender and sexuality as distinct though intimately entangled axes of analysis has been, indeed, a great advance of recent lesbian and gay thought.
There is a danger, however, that that advance may leave the effeminate boy once more in the position of the haunting abject — this time the haunting abject of gay thought itself.

You may read the whole thing, and note that Sedgwick assumes as her premise that any psychiatric problems (including suicide) experienced by homosexual or “gender-nonconforming children” can only be explained by society’s homophobia. According to Sedgwick, the psychiatric community’s “pathologizing diagnosis” of homosexuality as a mental disorder prior to 1973 was nothing but an expression of anti-gay bigotry and, in 1991, Sedgwick perceived a “danger” that psychiatry might continue to view “the effeminate boy” in this way.

Is there a direct cause-and-effect relationship between homophobia and teen suicide? No. Most homosexuals do not commit suicide, and most people who commit suicide are not homosexual. Furthermore, we cannot simply discard as obsolete (or “regressive”) the basic psychological insight that views homosexuality as a tendency arising from childhood problems often associated with family dysfunction. You don’t have to be a bigot or an advocate of “reparative therapy” to interpret homosexuality as a matter of psychosocial development. The same issues correlated with homosexuality are also correlated with problems like drug abuse and depression. Trying to make “homophobia” a simple cause-and-effect explanation for the gay teenager’s suicide is an error of logic, even if it is the suicidal teen who offers this explanation. (To climb up on the cross of martyrdom — to blame “society” for your personal problems — can be a temptation for anyone with a disposition to self-pity, and troubled teenagers are unusually prone to self-pity.)

More to the point, we must recognize how Sedgwick’s “queer theory” employed a sort of radical jiu-jitsu that reversed the entire purpose of psychotherapy. Whatever the troubled young person’s problem, psychology traditionally sought to locate the cause of the problem in order to help the patient successfully adjust to adult life. This emphasis on adjustment — being able to complete school, become gainfully employed, form healthy relationships with others, etc. — is rejected by radicals, who say that instead of helping the patient adjust to society, we should change society for the benefit of the patient.

This is why, when we look at feminism today, it so often seems as if the inmates are running the asylum. Disgruntled kooks and perverse weirdos flock to the feminist banner because it offers them a political rationalization of their personal problems, and gives them a platform from which to express their alienation from mainstream society.

Adjusting society to enable misfits to feel “accepted” — letting little Johnny wear a hairbow and a lacy skirt to school and teaching the other kids that this is perfectly normal — is one of the logical consequences of feminist theory that seeks to “problematize the very notion of sex as a biological given.” Rather than trying to teach little Johnny how to fit in with the other boys, Sedgwick’s “queer theory” rejects as invalid the categorization of children as boys and girls, and condemns as “homophobia” any expectation (by parents, especially) that children should grow up to be normal.

“The view that heterosexuality is a key site of male power is widely accepted within feminism. Within most feminist accounts, heterosexuality is seen not as an individual preference, something we are born like or gradually develop into, but as a socially constructed institution which structures and maintains male domination, in particular through the way it channels women into marriage and motherhood.”
— Diane Richardson, “Theorizing Heterosexuality,” in Rethinking Sexuality (2000)

“If we accept that gender is constructed and that it is not in any way ‘naturally’ or inevitably connected to sex, then the distinction between sex and gender comes to seem increasingly unstable. In that case, gender is radically independent of sex, ‘a free-floating artifice’ as [Professor Judith] Butler puts it, raising the question as to whether ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps sex was always already gender, so that the sex/gender distinction is not actually a distinction at all. Butler dispenses with the idea that either gender or sex is an ‘abiding substance’ by arguing that a heterosexual, heterosexist culture establishes the coherence of these categories in order to perpetuate and maintain what the feminist poet and critic Adrienne Rich has called ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ — the dominant order in which men and women are required or even forced to be heterosexual.”
Sara Salih, Judith Butler (2002)

Until I started studying radical feminism, I never thought of “normal” as an achievement, but Feminism Is Queer, as Professor Mimi Marinucci has explained. Feminist theory condemns heterosexuality as “the ideology of male supremacy,” and denies that behaviorial differences between men and women are natural. Any apparent differences between men and women are socially constructed by the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix (see Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 1990). Feminism seeks to abolish gender in order to achieve “equality” by establishing an androgynous society in which the categories “male” and “female” cease to have any significance. A radical ideology which denies that there is any such thing as “human nature,” feminism requires us to celebrate Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner as Glamour magazine’s “Woman of the Year.”

These bizarre manifestations of radical perversity do not occur spontaneously. They are expressions of a belief system promoted by the academic Feminist-Industrial Complex, the taxpayer-subsidized institutions in which professors indoctrinate students through “feminist consciousness-raising” and train them as activists committed to changing society. Because feminism condemns heterosexuality as “a socially constructed institution which . . . maintains male domination,” feminists encourage homosexuality in order to prevent “male power” from “channel[ing] women into marriage and motherhood.” Feminists therefore “problematize the very notion of sex as a biological given,” promoting the belief that “gender is radically independent of sex,” in order to destroy “the dominant order” of “heterosexist culture.”

What feminists mean by “equality” is “the end of civilization as we know it” (to quote lesbian feminists Sidney Abbott and Barbara Love) and this radical ideology exercises such hegemonic authority in academia that no one is permitted to criticize or oppose feminism on the 21st-century university campus. This is why feminists rant about “rape culture,” in order to demonize heterosexual male students, inciting young women to irrational fear by portraying young men as violent sexual predators.

To do what I have done — to quote what feminists say, to show what feminists believe, to explain what feminism is — would be condemned as a hate crime by the intellectual totalitarians who now control American universities. Opposing viewpoints are prohibited, so that the authority of feminism and “queer theory” goes unchallenged on college campuses.

“Spanking and Poetry”: A Conference
on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Annual English Student Association Conference
February 25-26, 2010
The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016

This two-day conference seeks to extend the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick by bringing together junior and senior scholars to examine her critical, literary, and artistic work.

That conference, “Spanking and Poetry,” incidentally, derived its title from a paper Sedgwick presented at a 1986 conference “Feminism, Sexuality, and Power,” at Mount Holyoke College, which erupted into a controversy over the issue of lesbian sadomasochism (see Gayle Rubin, Deviations, p. 213 and p. 399, note 72). So, what sort of topics do you suppose are discussed at a conference devoted to the legacy of Eve Sedgwick? Would you believe “queer theory in Classical studies”?

Michael Broder discussed the (almost non-existent) state of queer theory in Classical studies, arguing that despite brilliant foundational work by David Halperin and Amy Richlin, classicists have become curiously resistant to queer theory. And who doesn’t like hearing about Priapus, the Roman god of gardens who’d fuck any intruder, man or woman, in any available orifice?

Who, you may wonder, is Michael Broder?

My name is Michael Broder and I am The Queer Classicist, a freelance writer with a PhD in Classics from the City University of New York and an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU. I write about sex, gender, and kinship from my own perspective as a same-sex married gay man but also informed by perspectives including queer theory, feminism, and cultural materialism (this list is representative, not exhaustive). That means I’m going to write a lot about tops and bottoms, butches and fems, poz and neg, cis and trans, porn, hustlers, drag queens, divas, and queer fads and fashions of all sorts, including theater, film, television, music, and art. You may also find me writing about other aspects of culture and society including race, class, age, ability, religion, and more. I live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn with my poet husband and too many feral and domestic cats.

You need a Ph.D. to write about that stuff, obviously.

Feminism’s ironclad grip on academia means that parents who pay $48,436 a year to send their sons and daughters to Boston University can be certain that their children will never be exposed to any perspective on “sexuality and gender” that contradicts the “feminist and queer theory” advocated by Professor Carrie Preston.

Professors at Boston University, like practically every other university and college in American, reject “the very notion of sex as a biological given.” No American university student is ever exposed to any cogent analysis of human behavior based on the premise that males are naturally masculine and females are naturally feminine, and that family formation on the natural basis of heterosexual pair-bonding serves any legitimate or useful social purpose. Achieving feminism’s goal of “equality” means that “How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay” is now the essential task of parents who want to abolish the “socially constructed institution” of heterosexuality that “maintains male domination.”

Thank God, I can’t afford $48,436 a year. Maintaining “male domination” isn’t always easy, but it’s a lot cheaper than “equality.”

(Hat-tip: Wagner Clemente Soto on Twitter.)

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