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June 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 9 Jun 1994 18:26:07 EDT
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Stephen -- While I share some of your annoyance at the ways straight society
often acts as if only us queers had a sexual preference or orientation, It is
worth making clear that the issue of whether to refer to sexual preference or
orientation is an active debate not simply between queers and the straight world
 but within the queer communities. Sexual orientation assumes a natural or
essential sexuality that those who believe in the social construction of
sexuality would probably reject. It also tends to fix sexual orientation as
perminent and unchanging rather than as something always fluid and evolving. As
 a bi, I am resentent to reading sexuality in those terms at all. Sexual
orientation is just as dangerous a concept in the hands of the religious right
who can then label sexuality as caused by the "gay" gene, as subject to medical
cure, as making us a "freak of nature," etc. Eve Sedgwick suggests that we
have to keep both concepts alive and on the table rather than settling on one
because both offer both potentials and dangers for reaffirming the validity of
queer identity and experience. I think I share her view. So, when I write within
 queer theory, I intentionally shift between one and the other as a reminder
that sexuality is too complex for either to fully explain what's going on.
But, No, I don't consider this a "boring" topic. That comment which was made
in response to Stephen suggests the smugness of someone who enjoys a dominant
and accepted sexuality and doesn't want to explore or question its dominance.
Sorry, but telling me and Stephen that our sexuality is "boring" and not worthy
 of public discussion is not an acceptable response to the question which
he raised. And, no, I don't consider "PC" to be the death of manners, as someone
 else suggested. It seems to me that what gets labeled PC are often attempts to
 encourage us to treat other groups with respect and sensativity while the
dismissal of PC ness becomes an excuse for the most ill-mannered and bigoted
of comments. I don't share all of Stephen's points but I think he did us a
service by raising them in this forum.
Henry Jenkins