I decided to write about the status of LGBT rights and legitimacy in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is perceived to be one of the few Islamic states which exercises considerable tolerance towards the issue of homosexuality. Practicing homosexuality is strictly prohibited by the law under Section 377 A of the CrPC (Criminal Penal Code).The law says- “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman, or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall be liable to fine.” In the Guardian Article we read, What’s it like being LGBT around the world?, they described a reality in which people of LGBT status live in a “comfortable closest”. They call it “comfortable” because the actual actions of same-sex relations are not policed well and are normally looked over. However, those citizens are still crammed into a closet, nonetheless! I think this really draws into the E. Patrick Johnson’s theories and the idea of Quare theory. There’s explicit restriction of personal expression and processes. How do you feel about this? It it worth fighting the traditions and outing oneself even if there’s loose enforcement? Things are slowly changing however, I have difficulty imagining real changes being made. How much of an impact do you think this restriction has on civilians of LGBT status? Do you think it would be best to live comfortably and not combat the tradition? Even with the support of many human rights groups and individuals, I’m not sure it will be enough to overturn traditional convictions. But, you never know until you try. Right?
Halberstam’s “Gaga Manifesto” laid out a series of promising liberatory possibilities outside of traditional institutional frameworks, but swept away the very real issue presented by the lack of directed vision in social movements without really addressing it in-depth.
I agreed with the piece’s rejection of the emphasis many modern social justice movements place on working withing existing institutional systems, and Halberstam’s allusions to new, more anarchic methods of organization struck me as prudent. Oftentimes, movements become so caught up in attempting to change things from within that they fail to see that they are becoming a part of the systems they hate and strengthening those systems’ legitimacy in the process. The university provides one such example, where, by allowing for limited forms of classroom-based dissent providing places for activists within the faculty, rich investors are able to harvest tuition from a larger, more diverse student crowd while strengthening the image of academia as a place of lively, enlightened debate. Thus, universities come to be considered progressive despite their role in exacerbating class and race divides—as a demonstration, next time you’re at the dining hall, take a look at the students ordering the food and the people serving it.
Unfortunately, Halberstam seems to fall prey to the same problem he critiques, as he goes on to name his new brand of feminism “Gaga feminism” after a woman who has a net worth of approximately $275 million and who, far from being an outsider, fits neatly in amongst the most finely groomed elites in Hollywood. Gaga’s deviance is performance, a temporary departure from normality that fades with the lights of the stage. This, also, is what Halberstam misses in his critique of Slavoj Žižek’s rebuke of Occupy Wall Street: Žižek desires societal change just as much as Halberstam, but he recognizes the futility of a movement content to waver aimlessly outside the castle gates. No matter how “revolutionary” the moment may feel, eventually the police will come calling with their guns and their tasers and their riot shields to make sure everyone finds their way back home. Žižek is calling for a greater revolution, not a lesser one.
Halberstam’s piece opens up many interesting avenues of discussion, but ultimately fails to pursue them in favor of a politics centered literally on “failure.” The worst thing to lack in a world spiraling towards disaster is a plan.
During class this week, we talked about Goldberg’s reading and how sodomy is associated with homosexuality. I see how it may be associated with homosexuals because it is a non-repoductive act, but in no way shape or form does it mean it excludes heterosexuals as well. Sodomy is made out to be this horrific action that only same sex relationships participate in. By definition, sodomy is “sexual intercourse involving anal or oral copulation.” Just by reading this definition I do not seem to understand why society makes it out to be such a “bad” thing to do. I mean if you really think about it, mostly everyone joins in on some version of sodomy in their partner relationships, whether same sex or not, at one point or another. Oral/anal sexual intercourse should not be looked at as a corrupt action… it is simply a part of sexual intercourse as a whole. Just because sodomy does not result in actual reproduction does not mean it should be automatically connected to homosexuality. Chances are heterosexuals are participating in sodomy just as much as homosexuals are. Once again, we see society falling into the binary norms and judging homosexuals for joining in sodomy. It is safe to say that basically everyone has or had oral/anal sex at least once in their life. For some it may not be their “cup of tea”, but for the most part, everyone around us has taken a part in some sort of sodomy as much as the next person does.
Today in lecture we discussed Munoz’s writing about “stages” and the Utopian performative. This reading really caught my eye to talk about for this blog post because it’s an idea/theory that I’ve never pondered on before. To be honest, when I first read the title and even once I got a good way through the writing, I thought there was only a negative connotation to the idea of “stages”. Munoz touches on this when he explains how the idea of “stages” intersects with unaccepting, or confused parents dealing with their child coming out as homosexual. He writes, “…how they sometimes protect themselves [parents] from the fact of queerness by making it a “stage,” a developmental hiccup, a moment of misalignment that will, hopefully, correct itself or be corrected by savage pseudoscience and coercive religion, sometimes masquerading as psychology.” I’m pretty sure anyone who’s ever came out as gay, lesbian, or anything straying from heteronormativity has dealt with this very real “stage”. But I do think that with time this stage will probably/hopefully start to occur less and less, because I am an optimist and hope that queerness will eventually be more accepted. However, not all stages are as somber. We discussed in class how these stages can represent opportunity, the spot light, and performance in a really positive light. There’s opportunity to perform on a stage where you can be yourself and who you are in that moment. Most people are fluid and constantly changes and a stage is a snapshot or performance of ones self at a particular time, but not permanent. Punk/ queer people intersect with their ability to not conform to societal norms, and I think that’s why Munoz picked these two subcultures and expanded on the idea of using a stage to “perform” and aim for this utopia. I overall thought that he was saying there are stages in which queer/punk men perform/go through, aiming to reach this idea of a true utopian performativity, although all stages may not be perfect. I feel like this reading could have been interpreted many different ways, so please let me know what you guys think, am I way off??