Notes on Andro-(ab)normativism
'While it is indisputably true that sexuality is always being politicised, the way in which having sex politicises is highly problematical. Right wing politics can, for instance, emerge quite easily from a sentimentalising of the armed forces or of blue collar workers, a sentimentalising which can itself prolong and sublimate a marked sexual preference for sailors and telephone linemen'
From Leo Bersani's Is the Rectum a Grave?, which I was recently sent by Dominic. The section of this essay in which various transgressive and/or utopian spaces are listed and found wanting spurred thoughts of Fassbinder's Fox and his Friends, in which a naif lottery winner enters the bathhouse world cited here, and finds that class, even (or especially here) came before sexuality. Which brings us to the inability or unwillingness of queer theorists to think about collectivity, with reference to this and this.
In conversation k-p has talked about the existence of a 'relationship normativity' rather than the heteronormativity that Edelman was using as an over-ridden hobby horse. Bersani writes precisely that it is 'the degeneration of the sexual into a relationship that condemns sexuality to becoming a struggle for power': and the two options presented by queer theory at the Edelman conference were the relationship or one-bedroom apartment serial promiscuity, surely two sides of the same coin. The notion that here inactivity or indeterminacy would be more genuinely anti-normative - Mark has mentioned Morrissey here. Some of the most interesting, and dare I say it truthful lyrics on sex can be found in his work: the seediness and desperation of 'Handsome Devil' or the languid doubt of 'Stretch out and Wait'. There is what Bersani calls, in reference to Dworkin, the desire for 'The Criminalisation of Sex Itself Until it has been Reinvented', and it seems to be this that motivated Morrissey's particular stance, rather than mere puritanism or disgust. The question, and one which Bersani doesn't quite answer, in preference for an obliterative jouissance, is what this reinvention would look like - and this why a new Sexpol is needed to think this out.
Another point not quite touched on: how this all relates to dress, and to style, given that the apparently transgressively privileged androabnormative is currently as sartorially conservative as anywhere else. Having been incorrectly identified as gay and subsequently subjected to verbal abuse and/or been knocked about a fair few times, I've never really enjoyed the irony that one's adversary would blend into a Soho crowd much easier than I would - and this is where the limiting of queerness to sexual activity is so tragic. Said pummelling/shouting was perhaps not because I looked like I might well have slept with men, but because I looked effete or effeminate, which was unnerving - queer, if you will.
Which brings us to one of the reasons why I've always preferred Bowie to Ferry: (save for the records being overwhelmingly better after 1972) partly because Ferry's suave mannishness was so much less interesting than how alien Bowie was. Not as in the early 70s Ziggy period when the alien was constantly flagged up, but from 75-80, where the lack of ostensible 'look ma, no eyebrowws' brought out the queerness of his body, gestures and expressions. What made Velvet Goldmine so fascinating (and, once you get past Ewan Macgregor's appaling performance so underrated - cf Mark Sinker) was its restablishing these links between queerness and glamour, a line which neccessarily sidesteps machismo, transgression and the merely parodic.