Tuesday, 21 February 2012

On Girlf@g by Janet W Hardy

So Janet W. Hardy is writing a book that she has a kickstarter page to announce. And the book is called Girlf@g. (I am not linking to it, the last thing I won’t is for even one link from me to add so much as a penny into having this homophobic book put on the shelves)

Yes Girlf@g. Though Hardy, of course, doesn’t remotely have the respect to disemvowel the slur –if she did she wouldn’t have used the slur in the first place. And this book is about? Women who are sexually attracted to gay men. No, let's not even be that respectful. A book for women who fetishise f@gs, since that's the term this woman uses. Oh yay there’s a book about the fetishists now.

How to count the many things wrong with this?

Let’s begin with the slur shall we? Even if you wanted to write a book about women who were creepily obsessed in gay men, the very least you could so is not slap a gay slur on the freaking cover. I suppose I should be happy for honesty in advertising since it very clearly says "this woman doesn't give a fuck about you as people." A slur is utterly disrespectful and dehumanising. Using this slur already shows the extreme contempt Ms Hardy has for gay men. There are no doubt a dozen ways she could have titled this book

Her excuses so far are that she didn’t coin the phrase – what, so a slur is only offensive now if you invent it? Most slurs out there are older than I am, the fact I didn’t invent them doesn’t make them not offensive if I use them. That it isn’t meant to be hurtful (yay magical intent, that many gay fetishists absolutely love that word (got that, it may offend us, but the people doing the offending love it, so what’s the problem? Ye gods what is with that logic?!) and that it’s a reclaimed word.

Do we have to revisit reclaiming again? This is getting tiresome. You cannot reclaim a word that cannot be used against you. F@g is a word used against gay men. Ms. Hardy is not a gay man, she cannot reclaim this word. Ye gods can we stop having this conversation already?!

It is not ok to use a slur. Slurs are violence in spoken form. Slurs dehumanise, reduce us to things, reviled things at that. A slur carries the full history of violence and oppression and persecution. Slurs carry the full weight of societal prejudice and loathing. Slurs are so often trigger words that cause so much harm to so many trauma victims. Slurs are not acceptable and not excusable.

Now let's tackle the idea of women being sexually attracted to gay men. Note only gay men. Not men. Because we’re different from other men, apparently. We’re weird, odd non-men and a totally different being from straight men. That’s right, we’re so different from straight men that there’s a whole new attraction just to us that in no way encompasses the straight men. Let me reiterate – it’s not attraction to men or men of a certain body type, hobbies, interest or whatever – not, it’s gay men who are so very different from straight men. As is further revealed when I tried to email her to explain how offensive she was being (it didn’t work, she doesn’t care) she described her partner as “gay-seeming”. Yes, gay seeming. Whatever the hell that means. Born with a rainbow tattoo on his forehead?

She also seems to think being sexually attracted to gay men is a sexual orientation in and of itself. Yes, a woman attracted to gay men is a new sexuality. See, we’re so far away from “normal” men that a woman attracted to us doesn’t even count as heterosexual in Hardy’s world! (Dear fetishists, if you are attracted to gay men then do not even remotely claim that that makes you part of the GBLT+ umbrella because I may have to scream if you take your fuckery to that level of appropriation)

And, of course, we’re homogenous. Because it’s attraction to gay men – not a specific people with hobbies or tastes or a specific body type or anything like that. Not like there’s vast diversity among gay men so simply being attracted to gay men is ridiculously narrow. No its gay men in our nice, rubber stamped whole.

We could ask what she pictures gay men as being, but since the project mentions musicals, theatre, showtunes, we can see that the stereotypes are positively frolicking here. There’s not even a pretence here of seeing us as real people – just stereotypes and fetishisation. She’s not only denying our masculinity with this, she is denying our humanity.

And do I have to talk about what fetishisation does? How we’re reduced to objects to serve? How we’re presented as people who are worthy only when straight people area amused by us? How it ruins our safe spaces as straight tourists come in treating us like circus animals? How people ask us to kiss and pose on demand for their fetishising pleasure? Let alone the fuckeries in the m/m genre?

Reducing us to objects isn’t positive or friendly. It’s dehumanising, it’s demeaning, it’s reductive. We are people, we deserve more respect than this, we deserve to be treated as human beings. We deserve equality, not to hope to become your favoured pets or toys

Of course, speaking to the author she is quick to mention her gay friends. She waves them like a flag. I’m saddened that these gay friends are so willing to put up with her contempt since she has so little regard for gay men’s humanity. As is revealed by her willingness to use them as an excuse

Frankly, I’m almost impressed by the amount of contempt this woman has churned out for gay men, all the while claiming to like us.  If there’s one good thing that could come out of this offensive hot mess, maybe the fetishists will use this awful term more often – then we can start recognising them on sight and run like hell the other way/keep them out of our safe spaces. It’s be nice to be able see them coming.