Let’s talk about s*x

21 Mar
George Christensen MP

George Christensen MP

 

…how is it that in a society like ours, sexuality is not simply a means of reproducing the species, the family and the individual? Not simply a means to obtain pleasure and enjoyment? How has sexuality come to be considered the privileged place where our deepest “truth” is read and expressed? For that is the essential fact: Since Christianity, the Western world has never ceased saying: “To know who you are, know what your sexuality is. Sex has always been the forum where both the future of our species and our “truth” as human subjects is decided. Michel Foucault

If you cast a quick eye over the events of the last few weeks you will find a common denominator – sex. Whether it’s religious/political controversy and manipulation over the Safe Schools program, speculation over the relationship between failed Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, the outrageous proposed plebiscite on same-sex marriage, slurs used by a former NSW Liberal campaign manager against a rival ALP candidate, the attempts by his own party to smear Liberal candidate Tim Wilson’s sexuality, or star footballers shagging their best friends’ wives, sex, how it is performed, by whom it is performed on/with whom, and the perceived legitimacy or otherwise of its performance is at the heart of these superficially disparate events, a small selection from the plethora of examples available.

That this should be so seems to me breathtakingly and incomprehensibly stupid. How, indeed, has sexuality come to be considered the privileged place where our deepest “truth” is read and expressed?

Straight, white, conservative men and women are fighting to retain their privilege to define what is sexually “normal.” Anyone who fails this test of normality is pathologised, demonised, marginalised, ostracised, and othered, and because straight white conservative men and women have such a narrow definition of what constitutes “normality,” swathes of  humanity are inevitably excluded.

For people such as Queensland Nationals MP George Christensen to accept programs such as Safe Schools, they must first acknowledge the legitimacy of sexualities other than their own. Christensen, along with the rest of the conservative crowd, claims to attach a profound moral value to traditional sexual expression: anything other than hetero and preferably in a committed relationship is immoral, and so disturbing it must be stamped out. In this world view, any efforts to assist the young among us who are struggling with sexual identity will only encourage them away from the deepest truth of heterosexuality, and worse, will put ideas into the heads of children who were comfortably straight before they heard about the program.

In other words, if we don’t offer any assistance to LGBTQI kids, they’ll just get straight because.

Lyle Shelton, CEO of the Australian Christian Lobby, recently claimed on Twitter that same-sex marriage would deprive him of his primary signifier of normality: if same-sex couples are permitted to marry, went his argument, people wouldn’t know he wasn’t gay. This is a terrifying and likely unwanted insight into the self-obsessed mind of Lyle Shelton, but it does articulate a deep fear of conservatives about their heterosexuality, and how they use sex as a moral marker of privilege, creating a distance between us and them that allows conservatives the illusion of rightness and safety.

What is conspicuously absent from the claim of sex as a privileged place of deepest truth is the question of power. Conservatives currently hold the power to to determine an overall sexual “normalcy” in Australian society, and the repercussions for those who do not comply with their limitations is considerable.  Sexual difference is a useful conduit for the exercise of power, and this co-option of sex for the transmission of power is exactly what we are witnessing in the Turnbull government, as the right-wing faction brings the PM to his knees, and forces him to act against his own beliefs on the question of sexual difference in order to save his job.

The relationship between sex and power is complex and fraught, both in intimate relations and politically. The focus on sex and its expression  as the dominant concern obscures what is actually going on. If you manage to establish a discourse in which sexuality and its performance are markers of acceptance or rejection then you have power, whether you’re in politics, a cult, a football club, a school or a family. Our sexuality is perhaps our most vulnerable aspect: who controls our sexual expression by whatever means, overt and covert, has immense power over our self-regard and well-being.

It’s not about sex. It’s about power. But don’t expect the straight white moral conservative men and women to admit to that.

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20 Responses to “Let’s talk about s*x”

  1. townsvilleblog March 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm #

    As a progressive heterosexual white male I can understand that sexuality comes (pardon the pun) in many forms. The progressive element in Australia allows people to be what they are with respect to sexuality, although I couldn’t think of a worse specimen than George to point out everything that his argument has going against it. People should be assessed on their value to society by their willingness to work and other character traits other than sexuality, sexuality differences make absolutely no difference to me, and should not to anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stewarthase March 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm #

    Nice to see the Foucault resurrected, for whom everything could be reduced to an expression of power. Nonetheless, I agree wholeheartedly with your social analysis of how manipulating the expression of sexuality is an expression of power.

    The psychologist in me can’t help thinking that there is another dimension and that has to do with personal power: the need to ameliorate insecurity about one’s sexual identity. And what bigger group with obvious sexual insecurities than the religious right. It’s all a massive projection, in my view. So, it’s not just a question of using sex as a means to express power, but it is sex as power. If it’s not heterosexual, then I am exposed (pun intended-can’t help myself) to all sorts of possibilities that I may not be able to resist. ‘Great fornicators Batman!’

    Let’s also not forget that a lot of religious people feel the need to bring others into the fold, to convince the non-believers because deep in the back of their minds is the nagging thought that maybe, just maybe their whole belief system is a lot of old hogwash.

    Incidentally, it may be time to visit that long lost irritant of the Christian right (and probably Muslim if it is in their lexicon) of Anthroposophy. It’s my word of the week.

    Liked by 4 people

    • paul walter March 22, 2016 at 9:36 am #

      “There are more things in heaven and hell than dreamed of in your philosophy”.

      For the reiteration of that we have the Frankfurt School as an example and easier to think of Rudolph Steiner as an example of the brilliant kaffeklatsch subculture of central western Europe, of people who are imperfect, outsider thinkers able to get at surprising insights into the root causes of human perplexion and disempowerment.

      The fascists will always deny the legacy of western thought through being unaware of the nature of the world they live in and necessarily devoid, as functionaries, of their own eventuation and on going condition.

      Reading the thread is like revisiting the philosophical thought of thirty or forty years ago, the French thinkers, Frankfurt Schoolers etc who peeled away illusions held within the bosoms of many as to the way of things and found their project of counter cultural thinking sabotaged by the control freaks and greedy who run things.

      Sex seems risky and tricky, and many people have weird ideas about it involving power and control and I agree with Jennifer that retreat from something that can be complex and challenging highlights the lived life aspect of the conversation, the slow progress toward some sort of fulfillment, or not, that seems intrinsic to life, with the added complication of technological change rewriting human existence, as imperfect modes of production maintain through resentment, the “churn” of lived life for the person. Not in our time or our childrens time, or their children’s time, but the hope of change must be fed, still and that includes the remediating of sexual repression and sexual illiteracy as applied by the also ignorant people who run things. Sex is one those things, like a good feed, that reminds people that here is more to life than habituated, unrewarded, unconsidered struggle.

      No, am not an anthroposophist or even a Scientologist, but these things have their place as components within a wider discussion of situation and and alternative. Also, anthroposophists make a cracking good potatoe salad, if an old neighbour of mine would be the criterion.

      “Make love, not war”… you bet!

      Liked by 1 person

    • stewarthase March 22, 2016 at 9:43 am #

      Whoops, liked my own post by mistake! Such is ego:))

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson March 22, 2016 at 9:51 am #

        That was a Freudian slip then? :-))))

        Like

        • paul walter March 22, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

          Of course you like your own postings. Nothing narcissistic in thát, even though they are the intellectual equivalent of a selfie.

          Everyone adores their own postings until they read them, and if they are naive enough to do that, they won’t do it a second time.

          Most of the time it’s evidenced through a near-universal tendency never to read other people’s comments, or misconstrue them to the opposite of their substance and then abuse the moron who dared write something you know above all else to be totally incorrect; in fact, utter bullshit.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Jennifer Wilson March 22, 2016 at 1:00 pm #

            The Internet has provided this previously undreamed of opportunity for abusing others.
            Also for refining that abuse so they don’t even see what it is that’s coming at them.
            So there is an upside :-)))

            Like

            • paul walter March 22, 2016 at 1:44 pm #

              (smiles).

              Like

        • stewarthase March 22, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

          More like Jung in free fall:))

          Liked by 1 person

      • doug quixote March 22, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

        It was worth a double ‘like’ this time 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson March 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

      Dear Dr Hase, Foucault has never been buried. Yrs, Dr Wilson.

      Like

  3. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a March 21, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    Ezekiel 16:49
    “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

    It would seem that Mr Christensen is guilty of the sin of being a Sodomite

    Liked by 1 person

  4. g2-5bba245eb6db01d36e28de6648a6336a March 21, 2016 at 6:06 pm #

    The other factor that is in play here is the director of the Safe Schools program once spoke at a MARXIST conference, to the likes of Bernardi and Christensen this proves beyond any doubt that she is a Commie Baby eating Atheist Muslim Satanist Lesbian terrorist bent on installing the Antichrist as world leader.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. davechaffeyhippie March 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    Isn’t George Christensen Mr April in Australia’s sexiest politicians 2016 calendar?

    It seems to me that those who believe themselves to be alpha males crave power and do whatever it takes to rise to power and maintain it. Harming others and maintaining the status quo are easy tactics for insecure alpha males who can’t just rely on their abilities and strong performance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter March 24, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

      He would be insecure and I reckon he has Asperger’s, he would be very anal, very prone to organising on doctrine abstracted from context in situ.

      The big parties both carry drones like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      • helvityni March 25, 2016 at 9:57 am #

        He has Asperger’s, where, where…?

        Like

        • paul walter March 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

          In the excuse god gave him for a brain.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson March 25, 2016 at 8:34 am #

      Mr April. I can’t even…..

      Liked by 1 person

    • helvityni March 25, 2016 at 9:55 am #

      What, what, GC pictured on a calendar. So glad I missed that one. Is he advocating obesity, sugar eating…loyal to his ancestors, sugar-cane cutters…?

      Liked by 1 person

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