Tuesday, August 31, 2010

On "Ramming the Gay Agenda" Down Throats

[Trigger Warning- Sexual assault language]

"I don’t mind gays. But I don’t want ‘em stuffing it down my throat all the time." -Senator Chris Buttars, Utah (R)

"Mainstream Americans began understanding the urgency of these threats, and ultimately decided that they could not stand idly by while the radical gay agenda was forced down their throats." -James Dobson, on why anti-gay advocacy "galvanized" voters in 2004.

"[The homosexual mafia] will not stop until they force their agenda down your throats." -Michael Savage, syndicated radio host

"The European Union has certainly been infiltrated by homo-fascists. There's just no doubt about it. They are using that body to essentially try to push the international homosexual agenda down the throats of countries that respect traditional values relative to sexual morality." -Matt Barber, Liberty Counsel

No, really, fellas. Tell us what you're really afraid of.

But seriously, let's talk about this.

It is men who most often use sexual assault imagery to describe their opponents' participation in the political process, no? And, while it is used in reference to a variety of political issues, one of the most common ram-it-down-our-throats usages is in reference to LGBT rights, right?

If we accept these proposition as true, this usage of sexual assault language is interesting to contemplate.

First, the statistical. Men are not victims of sexual assault at the rates at which women are. That, for one, perhaps explains why men, and conservative male pundits in particular, carelessly put this language out into the world via the large platforms they have been given. Those who have experienced sexual assault, or who have a genuine concern for not triggering the trauma of those who have, would be more hesitant to inaccurately compare legitimate political action to illegitimate violence.

This lack of concern or awareness that such language can be triggering to survivors evidences a privilege of not having to think all that much about actual sexual assault. Each time this clumsy comparison is made, privileged men leech the impact of sexual assault and direct it instead toward legitimate acts that are not at all like non-consensual oral rape. Just as rape "jokes" normalize and minimize sexual violence, sexual assault metaphors in political rhetoric service and sustain rape culture.

Psychologically speaking, one is led to wonder, is this careless male use of sexual assault imagery a channeling of anxiety about shifting power dynamics in society? For instance, when anti-gay folks use sexual assault imagery to describe LGBT participation in the democratic process, the subtext is that LGBT people's assertion of our common humanity is somehow an unfair, violent violation of the anti-gay individual's boundaries.

Like Average Joe Typical Man who throws his hands in the air and laughingly says "whoa don't kill me" when he finds out a female friend is a feminist, as if it is feminists rather than men who most often inflict gender-based violence in the world, this gay sexual assault language implies that it is LGBT people who regularly inflict violence and injustice upon heterosexuals, rather than the other way around. Whether we insist on marrying our partners like how heterosexuals marry theirs, or on holding our partners' hand in public like how heterosexuals hold their partners' hands, our very beings and our every action are interpreted as a gross violation of the anti-gay person's human rights

At its most symbolic, it evidences an anti-gay male fear of losing that entitlement to be on the dishing-it-out end of the political "ramming." Having lost this entitlement as a result of other people engaging in fair and open procedures, the still-entitled man nonetheless interprets Not Getting His Way as a grave injustice, an infliction of great harm, upon himself. He has not gotten his way, and instead others have gotten their way. He is no longer the rammer of social policies, but the ram-ee.

They have made a woman out of him. They have raped him.

One is led to an extrapolation. Perhaps these folks conceptualize policy positions as extensions of one's phallus. As though the "culture wars" are a swordfight and only he, the anti-gay male, possesses the necessary prowess to compete fairly. The only way he can lose is if someone else beats him unfairly, which is done by "ramming" stuff down his throat without his consent.

If we reverse the scenario and the anti-gay man wins, does he, consciously or not, in some way see himself as some sort of victorious sexual dominator assuming his god-given, rightful place in the world as humper of the little people?

Word choice is important.

There are many ways to say "I think it is unfortunate that LGBT people are winning rights." Likewise, people are free to say whatever they want to say. Perhaps one of the great victories of free speech is when folks reveal the true depths of their entitlement to inflict injustice, dominion, and violence upon others.

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