By Kelly Jean Cogswell
I’m wary of revolutionaries. Scratch the surface, and you often get budding tyrants ready to whip out their cattle prods or guillotines. And even if they start out on the right side, all it takes is for the wind to change direction, and the Arab Spring becomes a long hot brutal summer.
We’ve already seen it in North Africa, how the women that took to the streets last year to protest dictatorships are finding themselves excluded from power, with their masculine co-demonstrators just as happy to indulge in “virginity” tests as their former oppressors. Ditto for the queers clamoring for democracy. They’d faced prison and torture under the old regimes (anybody remember the Cairo 52?), and now face a wave of Islamists that trumpet any electoral victory as a sign of mass conversion.
In Iraq, following Bush’s engineered revolution, “emos” are getting their skulls crushed in. They’re mostly queer guys, or at least men perceived as gay with long hair and tight pants and musical proclivities that are not sufficiently masculine. Unfortunately, you can’t really blame Bush for this. That goes squarely on Iraqi shoulders. Or maybe Castro’s.
Because they’re using a script that got perfected in Cuba more than half a century ago. Need a convenient enemy? Why not target those long-haired hippy, rock-listening faggots? The men get to feel more het, more macho. The puritans get to feel more righteous. And anybody that has a creative or individual thought in their head gets the violent message. Keep your mouth shut.
Because the attack on emos is not only an attack on queers, but on youth, and diversity, and creativity--any sign at all that the world doesn’t have to be run by bitter old men and their rancid ideological gods. Artists might emerge. And new ideas. Which eventually means political oppositions. When gender lines are blurred, women will start getting uppity, too, and start seeing the world afresh. Where we will be then? Nope, better bash in the heads of gays. Control women. Control the utopia of orgasm and sex. Get your enforcers in gear.
It’s a popular tactic. Tying queer sex to the interests of the nation. Political candidates in the U.S. are doing it now, as if two men screwing could bring down the government. In Namibia, a few years ago, violent antigay rhetoric from the state led queers to flee in vast numbers. I should make it clear: enforcers aren’t just men. Females are just as keen, torturing their daughters to be submissive women, browbeating their young sons to behave like brutal, thoughtless men.
In Liberia, only last week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf threw a curve to visiting Brit Tony Blair when she told a journalist that she supported laws that criminalize homosexuality. “We’ve got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve.” Like what? War-mongering? Slaughter? Rogue militias? Corruption? All those things are endemic there. Nope, she got a Nobel for standing up to all that.
The traditional values she supports keep women and men in their usual roles of sex and gender, that are apparently threatened by homosex. And probably females such as me. Like most official bigots, it’s hard to know if the Harvard-trained economist actually hates queers, or if she cynically jumped on the antigay bandwagon to distract her citizens from the poverty which has gone on so long it’s traditional, too.
Who knows? She could really hate queers. And not just fags. Plenty of dykes have fallen under the “feminist” bus. After all, we are not defined by men like they are. There are no husbands to beat us. We rarely wear the short skirt a rape can be blamed on. Birth control is not an issue unless we have bad cramps and need the extra hormones to regulate our periods. Without violence and children uniting us, what is the intersection except our biological equipment?
None really. To many women, the fact that dykes are free of men, somehow turns us into them, a masculinized enemy. And they hate us as much as those gangs of men performing “corrective” rapes on lesbians. It’s often women that furiously lock their lesbian daughters in their rooms. Send them to mental hospitals. Force them to marry. Harass them just for amusement. When I was eighteen or nineteen and working in a national park, it was a group of girls that would stand outside the room I shared with my girlfriend and yell, “lezzies, lezzies, lezzies.” It was humiliating. I was afraid to run through that gauntlet to get to my job.
Now, when people start making noise about change, my first ungrammatical questions is, “Who for?”