August 20, 2003
It's back-to-school time...
For many years I have wanted to know where it is written in granite that if you are a homosexual (or let's just say you have engaged in homosexual acts), you have to be a socialist. Or, to put it bluntly, if you are a male and you happen to have had oral sex with another male, why must you now love Barbara Streisand?
Here's a glimpse into the mind of that tenured academician:
"Let there be no mistake about it: lesbian and gay studies, as it is currently practiced in the U.S., expresses an uncompromising political militancy."Political militancy. What might that mean?
For starters, Halperin wants to make that founding purveyor of deconstructionist gobbledygook, Michel Foucault, a saint.
I guess that's his job. Lest anyone misunderstand, Halperin claims he is being misunderstood:
"It does not teach students to be homosexual," Halperin told The Washington Times. "Rather, it examines critically the odd notion that there are right and wrong ways to be gay, that homosexuality is not just a sexual practice or desire but a set of specific tastes in music, movies and other cultural forms — a notion which is shared by straight and gay people alike."I'm all for academic freedom, but shouldn't there be a disclaimer here? I mean, there may be a right way or a wrong way to engage in certain types of sex, but how does gay sex cause you to like Barbara Streisand? Or want socialism?
No one can tell me. I guess I should return to school to find out.
But frankly, I think I would fall asleep. Here is what Halperin has to say about an allegedly "gay" postage stamp:
As if by magic, each person who views the stamp -- no matter what his or her social location -- instantly and unreflectively reconfigures the image, constructing the pair of lovebirds not only as male and female but as a heterosexual and, presumably, monogamous couple (the stamp is not taken to depict a one-night stand). The viewer may also perform a number of other, subsidiary operations on this visual text, such as installing the "male" bird on the right-hand side of the field and even magnifying "his" size in relation to that of "his" mate, so as to motivate as well as to justify a heterosexist reading. But nothing in the text itself . . . provides the slightest impetus for such collective hallucinations. Rather, the apparently universal and unconquerable urge to read off gendered, heterosexualized meanings from the innocent surface of this unoffending text springs -- as the text's source in the figural repertory of European-American folk art implies -- from the traditional codes or conventions for "representing" love in European-American culture. These codes, which also govern the culture's visual rhetoric, restrict the use of erotic symbols, such as the valentine-shaped heart, to heterosexual contexts and employ exemplary animals, such as lovebirds, to typify and thereby to naturalize contemporary human social and sexual arrangements, such as monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Common to all those rhetorical practices is a discursive strategy whose effect is to (re)produce "love" as an exclusively heterosexual institution and to convert, under the sign of "love," all pairs of ungendered, identically figured bodies into heterosexual couples. . . .I think I'll drop Halperin's course. He might try to lick my stamp, but I'll never let him paste it on my envelope.
WAIT A MINUTE!
Just when I thought I had exhausted myself silly with this nonsensical tedium, Brian Stephens (a very articulate Michigan student blogger) came to my rescue, by supplying a description of Halperin's course:
Here is the original course guide description of Prof. David Haleprin's "How to be Gay" class. He sanitized last year, but i guess a lot of these stereotypes were still there.Phew! What the kids today have to do to get an "A." And by the way, according to another blogger, Left & Right, this course is offered by the English Department.
Of course, when I was a kid, I took a class called "Sex and Crime" (offered appropriately by UC Berkeley's Department of Criminology) -- taught by the distinguished Dr. Joel Fort. I performed independent field research into male prostitution, and I learned a lot. Without getting into too much detail, I'm pleased to report that I got an "A+" in the course.
So, I try to keep an open mind, and I recognize that many issues can be academic.
But brainwashing and fraud are not.
posted by Eric on 08.20.03 at 10:19 AM
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