4/09/2003

queerspeak

I was reading some more articles from the web I’d downloaded. There was one about socializing in the age of AIDS. Gay things just bore me nowadays. I mean, the whole queer theory thing has definitely had its time. It’s totally entrenched in the academy now, and so has become totally sterile. Reading this article, you can see how it got there, though.

There’s a program for gays that’s supposed to foster safe sex through friendship. A book called Gay Men's Friendships: Invincible Communities (a very typically Queer Theoryish title, don’t you think?—I mean absolutely no relation to the way things actually are) by a certain Queer Theorist called Peter Nardi is quoted.

Nardi writes: ‘Friendship may be the central organizing element of gay men's lives...[it is] the mechanism through which gay masculinities, gay identities, gay cultures, and gay neighborhoods get created, transformed, maintained, and reproduced. Friendship appears, as forcefully as any human behavior, at the intersection of self and society where the individual and the community reside.’

This is the way all Queer Theory sounds. Sort of mock scientific (‘central organizing elements,’ ‘mechanisms,’ ‘gay masculinities’ ‘reproduced,’ ‘the intersection of self and society’), and very sterile.

And what does it mean to say ‘friendship appears, as forcefully as any human behavior, at the intersection of self and society’? I mean, and? Like, so? It’s a commonplace, isn’t it? And anyway, if it appears as forcefully as any human behavior, what makes it a particularly compelling behavior?

This nonsense is dressed up, albeit in a lab coat, in the apparent hope that it will fool someone into thinking it’s more profound and scientific than it is. It’s queerspeak. Following in the footsteps of French theorists, gays realized the only way into the academy was to state the obvious sort of abstrusely and hope nobody calls your bluff.

I say sort of abstrusely, because this bloke’s not even clever enough to make a good compound-complex sentence, which should be a prerequisite for a position in the Dept of Gender Studies at any self-respecting university. He doesn’t use particularly long words, either, just mix-n-match, plug-in-anywhere kind of clinical pseudo social-scientific jargon. Not really social scientific, because this Gender Studies and Queer Theory has very little to do with real social science.

Most Queer Theory and writing on Gender nowadays is like Feminist writing, or Marxist theory. Really anyone can do it. It’s more or less a litany of catch-phrases, repeated like a mantra ad infinitum, or until it sticks. It doesn’t have to make sense or to be real (that’s why it’s theory), and people don’t have to understand it.

What Nardi’s done is to write a book claiming gay men actually invented friendship. I mean friendship could plausibly be said to be the ‘main organizing element’ of most people’s lives, couldn’t it?

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