Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pity the Poor Heteros

Oh for fuck's sake - come on.

I remember having to deal with this shit all the way back in 2001 when I was the Adelaide Uni Sex-O. I copped plenty of flak as my female equivalent and I set out to make the focus of the Sexuality Department purely queer. We even had a failed referendum on it.

But I haven't changed my mind since then and the fallacies are the same now as they were then.

1. A queer department discriminates against heterosexuals.

Yes - that's the point. I would love nothing better than to live in a world where uni queer departments need not exist - where queer students are not verbally and physically abused on and around campuses, where queer spaces aren't regularly vandalised, where they can automatically claim student payments when they're kicked out of home without getting their parents' OK first, etc - but so long as this continues, the presence of queer departments to advocate purely on their behalf is essential for the well-being of queer students.

2. Heteros have sex too.

And good luck to them. But the thing is, it's actually quite easy for them to do that in our society. They don't need to fuck anonymously in public places and jeopardise their lives. There isn't an urgent problem in straight world of increased HIV transmission arising from crystal meth fucking. There isn't pressure on heterosexuals to repress their sexuality for the sake of maintaining friendships and familial relationships, which leads to spiralling self-esteem, which can lead to the abovementioned and other problems.

3. Queer-exclusive spaces create an attitude of "Us and Them".

To quote the erudite Dave Allen, in fact: "It doesn't matter whether you're straight, gay, black, white or brindle, but when it starts getting 'Oh, we need a space for us to hang out', it's crap; just come down the pub and have a few beers with us."

(And as an aside: Isn't it heartening to see our third-year law students speaking so proper-like? "Everyone should be treated equal and everyone should get their fair share of the general service fee." Because of of course nobody should be treated equalLY or anything.)

Here's one out of the box for you, Dave: Maybe we don't want to go down the pub and have a few beers? I can't speak for all uni bars, but I know if I or friends of mine did anything even the slightest bit gay at Adelaide UniBar - discuss who had the longer staying power, Britney or Christina, for example (bearing in mind this was 2001) or, shudder, get in a bit of same-sex tongue action - you could be guaranteed a minimum of negative response, from the dirty glares to whispers to "piss off, you faggots" to a rumble on the balcony.

4. Mr Allen said he did not give "a rat's arse" about homosexuals as long as they were not being given special treatment.

(Ahh. Again such eloquence.)

I'm not quite sure which special treatment he has in mind. Is it the special way Centrelink denies the relationships of queer students? The special way we're bullied, victimised and vilified? The special sum of a few grand queer student bodies and social groups get thrown at them which might make up the grand total of less than 1% of the total student union fee collection?

I don't mean to straight-bash here, and I don't mean to adopt a victim mentality either, but a milder variation of both is needed to illustrate the point.

Heterosexuality officers/departments are the seed of complete and wilful ignorance - Asked if heterosexuals were a marginalised minority on the UNE campus, (Allen) said: "I don't know. I haven't done a study on it. I couldn't tell you what percentages we are."

Nevertheless, he had not seen or heard of any harassment of gays at UNE that would necessitate a queer safe space.

And I'm sure even if he had, he would dismiss an attack as something we poofs bring onto ourselves with our flagrant behaviour. We're talking about roo-shootin' redneck boys from Narrabri, after all. They can't help their biological urge to bash anything that's different - be it a roo, a poof or a non-Holden car.

Even other rednecks can see how fucked-up this is. Barnaby Joyce - who I'm guessing would not be a great ally for the pink man - sees right through it: He said the creation of Mr Allen's position was "a bit of a waste" of students' money and described it as "partisan and puerile".

"It sounds like they're trying to be deliberately antagonistic. It's a lot of rot," said Senator Joyce.

Sure is, Barnaby. But such students only get away with this rot in part because it's legitimised by your government - the one where your Education Minister, instead of identifying it as you have as the big steaming pile of poo it is, instead reduces the issue to VSU propaganda: "The best judges are always the students, who unfortunately are still compelled to pay compulsory student fees."

This may be the only silver lining on the VSU cloud - if it means students are not compelled to pay for wastes of space like Dave Allen and a Heterosexuality Department, then that's something.

PS - What the hell does it say for the state of Australia's legal fraternity that this bloke will come into its fold in a few years' time? Then again, John Howard and Phillip Ruddock were once lawyers too...


At 28/9/05 11:56 am, Blogger QM said...

I thought it was great that the article gave details of his relationship with his girlfriend - apparently in order to establish his hetero credentials.

At 28/9/05 12:52 pm, Blogger Sam said...

True, QM. The whole article is styled quite intriguingly - appears both to mock the "defender of heterosexuals" and his roo-shootin' ways but also be quietly contemptuous of the "urbane metropolitan campus groups" that are criticising him. I'm sure there would be other regional unis as well as the city ones that don't think this is such a great idea.

At 28/9/05 1:09 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more safe queer spaces at universities there are the better. It may be the only place where young students can be themselves and get enough confidence and advice to eventually come out to friends and family. If it even stops one gay person from suicide then it's worth it. Even though I'm straight, I joined the VGLRL because of the discrimination that leads to so many young people feeling that they have no alternative than to die.
Slightly away from the subject. The usual response from friends (now gone) was what would I do if a lesbian hit on me. I used to laugh and say I'd give her seeing eye dog a biscuit and try not to trip on her white cane. I've stopped the joke because it was in a way as homophobic as their question.
I wouldn't say that about a straight compliment and I wouldn't say it about a gay one, not now. JT

At 28/9/05 2:07 pm, Blogger QM said...

The thing that I find intriguing is that there seems to be a media shorthand at the moment that you go to the stereotypical antithesis of whoever is in danger of being discriminated against and if they say that they have no problem, then ergo there is no problem. QED.

So if even a redneck roo-shooting heterosexual has no problems with queers (except for the aforementioned preference that they not be allowed to congregate together in a dedicated space), then the whole homophobia thing is a myth.

It is similar to the anti-feminism line that is sometimes trotted out - we surveyed lots of ordinary aussie blokes and most of them thought that the genders were equal. Ergo sex discrimination is a myth.

At 28/9/05 2:15 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Unfortunately now QM, there are also women on hand to assure the world that the genders are equal - Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine etc.

And if the Australian had the interest, I'm sure it could compile an entire feature on gay men who think John Howard and the current government is just swell.

At 28/9/05 2:43 pm, Blogger mikey said...

Oh fuck, I think Dave Allen is a second cousin of mine...

At 28/9/05 3:11 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Bloody Queenslanders, you're hopeless, the lot of yas :-)

At 28/9/05 4:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I lost the plot in my last comment. That last bit just means I should have told homophobic friends to f**k off and it still doesn't sound as if it has anything to do with the article. Blame the Godsquad at the door trying to sell me salvation. JT

At 28/9/05 4:40 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Did you flash them your boobies JT?

I've always found opening one's door to the Godsquad during a bout of nudity and/or oral sex performance is the best way to send them fleeing to the (Baulkham/Pennant/Castle) Hills.

At 28/9/05 5:23 pm, Anonymous Stacy said...

He's a dickhead, and this is nonsense. The less publicity given to it the better.

For the record, I did plenty of regrettable same-sex things on the Adelaide Uni bar balcony. But I'm a girl, and you know, everyone's a lesbian at uni. Unless they're standing near a Young Liberals banner - those girls wait a few years before having a tortured coming out.

At 28/9/05 5:28 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about multi-tasking. How do you open a door while indulging in oral sex?
Besides I have manners, I never talk with my mouth full. JT

At 28/9/05 7:31 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its amazing how many straight, white men will claim they are more oppressed than any minority group!!

This article takes me back to my uni days out at good old UWS Macarthur at Campbelltown (which was only about 6 years ago mind you). We too werent allowed to have a Queer officer because that would be discriminatory towards the heteros so we had a Sexuality officer instead.

The first year it was bought in the SO tried to organise a few things but didnt get much interest. The second year the SO who had been elected resigned from uni about three weeks into the year and the position was never really filled again that year.

As if that wasnt farcical enough the third year the SO was in place the Liberal ticket won every position on the SRC and their SO was a 50 year old straight, married family man who had only agreed to stand for the position after being begged by the Liberal President so he could fill all the spots on the ballot paper. Of course once he got in he virtually resigned immediately and we were, once again, left without a real SO!

A few of us did try to organise a Queer group for regular meetings but we never got more than 4 participants (who were always the same people)! We certainly never had a queer space!!

I hope times have changed out there! Anyway i should really establish by own blog rather than using other peoples to reminisce! Sorry...C


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