Everyday Violence

"Assimilate My Purse," Maximumrocknroll, December 2006

Okay, so I'm feeling kind of frantic right now -- I just had a wave of wired energy, so of course that means I'm about to crash and I want to write this column beforehand, since it is the day of my deadline.  I always think I'm going to write my column way ahead of time, but you know how that goes...

A minute ago I actually felt like I had a libido, and wanted to write my column quickly so I could go out and cruise this terribly dull porn theater with video booths in hopes of some sexual salvation, but now my headache is surrounding me so I'm not so sure about that.  I've been thinking about the ways in which things happen in the world that disturb and traumatize me and leave me reeling and alienated but ready to write a brilliant scathing essay, but then I just keep thinking and thinking and the essay doesn't come about because I want to frame it in exactly the way that would make everyone fall into uncomfortable revelations but then I don't have the right amount of time or energy and then the essay falls by the wayside.  So I need to start writing rougher things and not always worry about the perfect epiphany, just to get the thoughts out there.  I might even start a blog -- I'll keep you posted on that.

Do you know those moments when something or someone who is supposed to be on your side makes you feel more desperate and hopeless than all of the horrible monstrosities who want you dead?  I had one of those moments when I first read "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage," this grand press release that got a lot of attention a few months ago.  In fact, even though this document says a lot of smart things about de-centering marriage and the different kinds of kinship structures queer people create and the need for universal access to the benefits that marriage can sometimes help procure... it left me feeling alienated and angry.  In the entire 4000 words, there is absolutely no call for mainstream gay people to be held accountable for the violence they have enacted by choosing to support marriage over every other issue, foaming-at-the-mouth over platinum wedding bands and participatory patriarchy instead of challenging any form of violence.  This statement, signed by hundreds of famous academics and “nonprofit” hacks, is basically about reforming marriage, and reforming marriage leaves me cold.  In attempting not to alienate the gaysoisie, Beyond Same-Sex Marriage even goes so far as to say that the gay marriage movement is a good start, but we need to go further.  Further into cultural erasure?

Speaking of cultural erasure, this document begins, “We, the undersigned – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and allied activists, scholars, educators, writers, artists, lawyers, journalists, and community organizers…,” avoiding any mention of those dangerous queers until well into the statement.  That's right -- LGBTs and “allies,” but forget about anyone who doesn't fit nearly into one category.  Furthermore, the insipid acronym LGBT, which has become popular over the last 10 years or so, really just means "gay, with lesbian in parentheses, throw out the bisexuals and put trans on for a little window dressing."  It's the creation of the exact same movement that wants gay people to have the right to kill people as soldiers in Iraq or marry that cute bank executive, but does nothing to fight for basic needs like housing, healthcare, food, gender expression and explicitly avoids challenging US imperialism, colonialism or any other system of tyranny.

Speaking of systems of tyranny, I unfortunately had more run-ins with Seal Press about my new anthology, Nobody Passes.  My editor managed to say one of the most preposterous things that anyone has ever were said to me -- specifically, she implied that by talking about both sexual abuse and sex work in my introduction, I was furthering the bullshit notion that says there is always a causal relationship between childhood sexual abuse and sex work.  I couldn't even believe that she was accusing me of articulating this stereotyped, sensationalized, simplistic rhetoric when so much of my work is about directly speaking against this and instead investigating all of the complicated, critical, raw and uncomfortable intersections between sex work and sexual abuse (obviously, she hasn't read my other books).  Furthermore, I was making no generalizations, but instead was speaking directly from my own personal experience as an incest survivor and a whore.  My editor thought all of this was just too "shocking."  We eventually worked through this, but not really to my satisfaction.

And then, just before the book was going to print, Seal insisted that I cut two essays, including Clio Sady’s scathing piece on the racism and misogyny at a femme conference that I mentioned in one of my past columns.  Additionally, they removed an essay by Fritz Flohr that critiques the psychiatric industry.  According to Seal, both of these essays were potentially libelous.  I can't even talk about it right now -- the whole experience was so stressful that it left me completely drained.  The book is still brilliant and inspiring, but I have to sit back for a little while to gain energy again so I can tour when it comes out (late December).

Moving on, today I turned on the radio to hear about how some Congressperson, Mark Foley, had resigned due to Internet chats he'd had with underage male former Congressional pages in 2003.  Actually, I turned on the radio to hear some ranting conservative interviewed on NPR saying that all “homosexuals” are sex-crazed and that Congressional leaders knew that Mark Foley was a homosexual, and so he shouldn't have been appointed head of the commission on exploitation of children or whatever.  Obviously, the issue isn't that Foley had sexual conversations with minors, but that these minors were male.  Let's be clear here -- we're talking about the monsters that run this country -- we all know that every underage girl working in Congress must get constantly harassed.

I actually went and read the chats online, and sure -- they show that Foley is jerking off online with teenaged guys, pushing them to be more explicit -- and sure, he's a lecherous old man engaging in exploitative behavior, but as a Congressperson I'm sure he does infinitely more horrible things every single day.  It's this everyday violence that should be the focus of all the attention.