It’s Not the Homosexual… Panel Speaker Profile – Lizzie SodenNovember 13, 2013
It’s Not The Homosexual… Panel Speaker Profile – Kay FiáinNovember 15, 2013
Bradley Tuck is contributing co-editor of One+One and will be joining us to discuss It’s Not The Homosexual Who Is Perverse But The Society In Which He Lives at our screening on Saturday.
James Marcus Tucker: Are you now, or have you ever been a homosexual? If not, why not?
Bradley Tuck: Is a homosexual someone who is attracted to someone of the same sex or someone exclusively attracted to people of the same sex? I have never been one of the latter. I can be attracted to both genders, but am in a long-term relationship with someone of the opposite sex. I would identify as queer, but that has been more about exploring gender and expressing my political beliefs.
However, maybe I can appeal to another definition. There is a brilliant homocult poster where it defines the word “hetero” as “In composition, different, other – often opposed to homo” and then links it with the word “divide”. It then defines the word “homo” as “the human genus, in composition, same sapiens, wise, intelligent, able to reason.” It then links that with the word “equal”. Finally it concludes by saying “It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, or if you sleep with a man or a woman. We are all human sexual (i.e. homosexual). There is no heterosexual.” In that respect I am a homosexual; we all are!
JMT: Are you at all perverse? If not, why not?
BT: I am tempted to say that the idea of perversity is itself perverse. The topic of perversity creates a strange situation where, at times, evolutionary theorists and Christian theologians seem to converge on the idea that the ultimate telos of sex is reproduction. But from the perspective of the sexual act this idea itself seems perverted. I mean, can you imagine sex where the couple screams out things like “I want children” or “impregnate me so I can propagate the species”. That isn’t really what you think about when you are reaching climax. In a way I would be more tempted to say this is far more perverted behaviour than many non-reproductive sex acts that people engage in. From the perspective of the sexual act, its telos terminates within the act itself. You might be expressing your love for your partner; you might be gaining (and sharing) erotic pleasures; you may be playing and acting out fantasies, but whatever is going on it seems to terminate in the act. Phenomenologically it doesn’t feel like you are simply trying to propagate the species; it feels like sex has an intrinsic value.
JMT: Tell me something about the society in which you live.
BT: There are many things about our society that are unjust, unequal and reactionary and if politics continues to go the way it is going things are going to get worse. We face a larger gap between rich and poor, more social repression, more scapegoating, more exploitation and more oppression. The dominant ruling ideology places the power and wealth in the hands of a very small group of people and who seem to be benefiting from this “economic crisis”.
We also live in a society that places a lot of emphasis on being progressive. Everyone seems to be in favour of progress. Even the BNP uses the language of “Freedom” “Security” “Democracy” and “Identity”. Such language is persistently detached from any genuine progress and the words offer little more than a facade; a halo for unjust political orders. I am reminded of a song by the Tom Robinson Band, Power in the Darkness, which contrasts the two different ideas of freedom. The second half of the song focuses on the right wing conception of freedom.
Freedom from the reds and the blacks and the criminals
Prostitutes, pansies and punks
Football hooligans, juvenile delinquents
Lesbians and left wing scum
Freedom from the niggers and the Pakis and the unions
Freedom from the Gipsies and the Jews
Freedom from leftwing layabouts and liberals
Freedom from the likes of you…
When we hear the word freedom we should ask “whose freedom?”. Not just because reactionaries are using liberal language, but also because words like “freedom” are used as a central justification for the free market and neo-liberalism. For many of us this freedom means the freedom to starve; the freedom to be exploited in an unregulated global market. Today there is a strange coupling of this idea of freedom and tolerance. It is a politics of keeping out of peoples lives and leaving them to live it how they would like. This doesn’t leave much room for making radical emancipatory collective demands. Hurbert Marcuse tells us that “within a repressive society, even progressive movements threaten to turn into their opposite to the degree to which they accept the rules of the game.” Before long the call for racial emancipation transforms into multiculturalist festivals, radical workers movements are transformed into diversity-in-the-workplace and gay revolution transforms into gay marriage.
JMT: What is your favourite “perverted” film or film about perverts?
BT: As other responses this week have suggested perversity is hard to pin down and whilst it is tempting to simply list may of interesting examples from queer cinema (e.g. Pink Flamingos, Trash, Forbidden Zone etc.) I am not sure homosexuality is really perverse. I guess that is a topic for Saturday. For now, continuing to explore the perversity of reproductive sex I think it might be worth thinking about Jan Svankmajer’s Little Otik. This is a film that is interesting because it seems to denormalise parenthood and explore how pathological it can potentially be. It makes us view it from a new perspective. There is a childlike feel to Svankmajer’s animations, as if this is how the young girl next door sees it. Maybe by not being socialised into this adult world she sees the perversity where others see parental love. It is really a fascinating viewpoint on parenthood; the parents seem pathological, neurotic, clueless and amoral. I find it interesting to think of this as an example of perversity; the perversity of the normal.
JMT: What can or should straight people be learning from the queers?
BT: Everything and nothing. Queers are just people who make some good and some bad decisions. The same is true of straights. But queer and straights are oppressed in different ways. Straights have social pressures, gender roles and expectations that are detrimental too. Quite often we don’t realise how these things oppress the straights, because they are often complicit in their oppression. They think it is normal and accept it without question. The queer has the bitter-sweet benefit of being excluded, abused and derided. No-one wants to bare the brunt of violence, discrimination and hatred, but there is at least a benefit that comes from exclusion; you are freed from many of the social pressure to define your relationships and life in conventional terms.