"Writing is my passion. It is a way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word ecstasy—“to stand outside”—comes to me in those moments when I am immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything else, even flesh, falls away."
-bell hooks

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Suits vs. the Sluts

I came across this article called, “The Queer/Gay Assimilationist Split: The Suits vs. the Sluts” and it got me thinking about gay and lesbians and how society views them. The most crucial point of the reading is that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) movement is now split into two halves; the queer activists and the gay assimilationists. The split was due to the interests of each subgroup within the movement. For example, The Gay Liberation Front (GLF), namely gay liberationists, aimed towards tackling an “oppressive social structure” (Shepard, 2001). The Gay Activists Alliance’s (gay assimilationists) focus was more political and aimed for legislative reform, and social acceptance (Shepard, 2001). This divide has created a ‘right wing/left wing’ political spectrum within the movement, and has contextualized identity politics. The queer activists force themselves away from mainstream society and do not care about societal acceptance, whereas the assimilationists are trying to incorporate the gay movement into social acceptance, instead of tackling societal inequalities. The gay movement in general is seeking rights and freedoms regular citizens enjoy, however the approach to gain these rights has been split into tackling society, and tackling the government.
The author quotes in the conclusion that “class division within the gay movement” (Shepard, 2001). It is ironic to think a social movement that fights for equality and aims toward social change can experience similar turmoil within itself. Identity plays an evident role within the movement and in social issues overall, however it seems impractical to allow an identity crisis and division in status among a population, fighting for the same rights. I found the alliance of labour and queer activists very refreshing and a clever tactic to pursue the gay movement’s interests. Labour and money are an ongoing issue within society, therefore having the gay movement enter into that realm; it will gain great support and attention for their cause. The queer/gay assimilationist split is an unfortunate development within the gay movement; however it has also created opportunities to allow gay activists to coincide with other social movements. Therefore it raises social activism for two separate causes simultaneously, and creates a support system for both movements.

Although homosexuality is decriminalized in Iraq, it is still frowned upon by the majority of the people who reside there. It is evident that many gay men choose to be queer activists and not gay assimilates because there is still an increasing fear that they will not be accepted by the rest of society. Therefore, for now, merging into their own queer communities is ideally safer. In conclusion, I find interesting that Chaldean and Middle Eastern cultures choose to negatively criticize homosexuality while ignoring important issues such as rape and honor killings. It is clear that in Iraq, homosexuality is negatively viewed because it is looked as destroying patriarchy and what men symbolize-power, masculinity and strength. When this is destroyed, then it will appear as though society is being harmed.


  1. Sandra,
    I have previously read about the issues within the LGBTQ community of a hierarchy scale of individuals who want to become a members of society, and of those who feel uncomfortable with becoming a part of something that once excluded them. I think that it's so important to be able to discuss not only these issues, but also apply them to the Middle East and their own struggles with homosexuality. I feel that it's also important that you brought on the connection of these two cultures to show that the issues are not only similar, but are faced with in the same way by looking out for solutions to resolve the discrimination that homosexuals face in both regions.

  2. Lesbianism and homosexuality was for so long shunned by western culture, lesbians experienced invisibility as a group, which is similar to how Chaldean women were regarded as invisible. It is precisely this experience of invisibility or marginality that gives rise to the insight of lesbianism. Both sexual and political lesbian should critique Adrienne Rich’s ‘compulsory heterosexuality’ and how it should no longer be regarded as the norm. According to Rich, women have been socialized within a patriarchal culture to be heterosexual and how is that fair? Chaldean women like all women think they want to be with a man, but is that because they were socially constructed to think so, or did they really come out the womb thinking hmmm I want to date someone with a penis? This brings to light the question how do you know if you really are gay, lesbian or straight? Do you change overnight or over a lifetime? And why is it unacceptable? And why don’t we women as Chaldean and others challenge this notion and rather than sitting at home complaining about it or yelling at the television. Why don’t we deconstruct what it means to be normal? Rich argues that patriarchal socialization hides us from our true selves and encourages competition between women. Women need to create women’s spaces or women centred culture to allow women to be free from this oppressive prescription and learn to be woman-identified. We need to create consciousness raising groups and efforts of sisterhood to understand the need for women’s spaces. Hopefully one day a society will become more comfortable with social change and a non-exclusionary vision of social participation, these sorts of movements within and outside of feminism will continue to be very important in pushing us to greater understanding of oppression generally.


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