I had been resisting the urge to write about the Brenda Power interview with GCN since it was published on 23rd April. Ever the self-publicist, Power blabbers on yet again, managing to include a plug for a book of hers. (Perhaps that was a condition for agreeing to the interview, who knows..)
Since then, however, I’ve been hearing the odd commentator – horror of horrors, including gays – agreeing with Power and some of the things she has to say in the interview.
This will not stand.
Us LGBTs, our relationships and our families are entitled to equality and respect in law and society. We’re currently denied that. This is an undisputed fact. Brenda Power and her ilk introduce several straw-man arguments to these issues in order to distract from the central issues of equality.
LGBT couples deserve equal treatment in our relationships. We also deserve equal treatment when it comes to being considered as adoptive parents; it’s up to the adoption board to decide who is eligible to adopt.
And, whatever your views on joint adoption, the fact is – NEWSFLASH – that gay couples in Ireland today already have children, any many others are planning their families’ futures. So this is not a discussion in the abstract of what might be – families are in need of protection right now, as you’re reading this.
One of the claims that Power makes, and with which some of her supporters agree, is that the criticism directed towards her has been as a result of misogyny. A connection is also made between drag (see below) and misogyny.
I would reject this first claim completely. Firstly, Power fails to cite any specific examples of the correspondence she has received since her article last year. She’s relying solely on her own unsupported assertion. Such assertions do not deserve attention in any serious discussion.
A second reason I reject her claim is that, for one, there are plenty of lesbians who are highly critical of her stance – this blog is an example – and there certainly is no misogyny motivating that criticism. There are also plenty of others who are highly critical of the view Power espouses – gay and straight, male and female – and again, misogyny is absent, where as rebutting the argument is very evident. Anecdotal as it may be, my friends and family members of varying hues are all examples.
If she can provide evidence of concerted campaign of misogynist abuse directed towards her – there may well be isolated incidences – then, let’s discuss that, as a separate matter to the marriage equality debate. And no, Brenda, the fact that everyone on the internet can read your ill-informed arguments does not a concerted campaign make.
Otherwise, it’s my view that the misogyny buzz-word is being bandied about in order to silence debate of her views.
Power also feels the need to introduce her views on drag performance into the mix. Presumably this is due to her recent awareness of Panti. She thinks that drag performance is misogynistic.
Reading the interview with GCN, Power clearly demonstrates a total lack of understanding of what drag is and where it’s come from. Even Tallyman, in his latest demonstration of Uncle Tommery, back-tracks on his initial statement – where he states that drag is misogynistic – to a different stance in the comments, where he then claims that some individual drag queens in Ireland can be misogynistic.
I have read and reread the article to try and find some glimmer of good journalism, and unbiased questioning, I have failed to find some. Brenda made some excellent points about drag – it is to a large extent misogynistic with over the top femininity and flamboyant exaggerations – often direct attacks at gay mens perceived weakness of women.
It’s not so much a blanket accusation on the motivations on all drag acts – but there is an element of it, and there certainly an element of it amongst some Irish drag queens – and I certainly don’t think it something that Ms. Panti believes in.
And indeed, I’d agree with the latter. There is an elementary mistake, however, in seeking to generalise from the individual to the general. Drag, however – whether we’re talking kings or queens – is subversion, parody, satire, art.
Specifically in relation to Panti, let’s make some things perfectly clear (again, for the nth time):
Panti did not choose to represent the LGBT community. The LGBT community did not choose Panti to be its representative. As events have played out, however, Panti – and the creator of that persona, Rory O’Neill – have made some impressive, strong and astute statements, rallying the community including perhaps many who previously would not have felt engaged in the marriage equality debate.
Moreover, Rory O’Neill/Panti is by no means the sole voice in the equality debate, and to try to insist this is just facile and misleading.
Diversity & self-expression
Power and her supporters also seem to have formed opinions on the various types of people in the LGBT community. Power bases this on the Dublin Pride march. She claims to have viewed it once, I think.
Number one: Forming an opinion about LGBT people based on looking at the Dublin Pride march is like forming an opinion about Irish people based on looking at the Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade: the gays are all “colourful” and “outrageous”; the Irish are all puke-covered drunkards.
Number two: Notwithstanding the above, our community is a diverse one. There is no one cookie-cutter type of LGBT person, and why should there be? Now, I’ve never seen “arses hanging out” at Pride, so it may have been that Power was at the Alternate Universe Pride, but I digress: there are all kinds of queer. Why should anyone expect another person to simply conform to someone’s particular type?
Should the gays just sit down and wait to be told how to look, behave, act, think? Certainly, if LGBTs never put their heads above the parapet, sex between consenting male adults would probably still be a criminal offence in this country.
We’re here, Brenda, and we’re not shutting up; we’re not staying quiet; and we’re not going to wait for your fucking approval.
Poor Brenda, though. She thinks that people who contacted her about last year’s article, and people who criticise her views, were getting personal. She says that people commented about her. They commented about her family. They commented about her children. They commented about her life.
Well. Welcome to every day of every one of our lives, Brenda.
Every day, the personal is political, particularly if you’re an LGBT person. So much so, that the Irish State – of which we are residents, taxpayers, citizens, voters – feels it has a right to interfere with our private lives and dictate how they should be lived.
So much so, that any busybody – like Brenda Power, like Kevin Myers, like Mary Kenny, like Pat Kenny, like Ian O’Doherty, like politicians, like Brendan O’Connor, like any wittering opinion-writer with a public voice – thinks that they have a right to make judgments about us.
And “us”, Brenda, means people. People with lives. People with families. People with loved ones. People who are trying to get on with the day-to-day despite constant interference.
Deal with it, Brenda. We do.
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