The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Yes, Germaine

Censorship is a dangerous game. Now, of course, we all censor ourselves to some extent in order to maintain some sense of civility and prevent violence breaking out (if your girlfriend or boyfriend
asks you if their arse looks ok in the new pair of jeans they’ve just bought, censoring your reply to ‘Oh darling, I love your behind’, instead of the more honest ‘No, you fucking fat lardass, get to the gym’ is fair enough).

But when it comes to an attempt by the mainstream media to censor the views of someone because they don’t deem them ‘appropriate’, we’re on dodgy ground. Take the recent media furore over Germaine Greer’s comments about Steve Irwin. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Germaine – her anti-trans philosophy and mentioning my girlfriend and me by name in her book The Whole Woman in a chapter entitled ‘Pantomime Dames’ didn’t exactly endear me to her. But she gets points for going against the popularist stance the media took over Irwin who died after being stabbed by a stingray. The words ‘iconic’ ‘animal-lover’ and ‘conservationist’ were used to describe a man who jumped on the backs of crocodiles and set up a zoo to ‘house’ wild animals captured from their native habitat so humans can gawk at them. “The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin”, Greer stated in her column in UK newspaper The Guardian. The next day she went further, calling those who mourned Irwin and labelled his death as Australia’s ‘Princess Diana’ moment, “idiots” and the whole mass grief phenomenon “embarrassing”.

The outcry against Greer’s comments was astounding. Interviewer Karl Stefanovic was hostile to her when she appeared on A Current Affair; The Daily Telegraph sent her a muzzle, printed her agent’s email address and called on readers to tell her exactly what they felt; political leaders including Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd told her to shut up. Whatever your feelings towards Greer, it makes you wonder whatever happened to the right to free speech. Stefanovic used Greer’s refusal to name a public figure who agreed with her sentiments, as proof that no one did, but conversations in the SX office, among friends and colleagues, as well as a trawl of various chat rooms and message boards this week showed she’s by no means alone in her views of Irwin – she just had the guts to say so publicly.

We should all take note. How often do you keep quiet, stay in the closet, or pretend to agree with the majority opinion so you’ll be liked? How often do we refuse to ‘rock the boat’ because we’re afraid of the consequences? Censorship in all its forms is a messy business. Yes, we rightly rail against homophobia and incitements to violence against us, but that doesn’t mean our critics should be made to be silent altogether, just as we have a right to speak out against them, against George Bush, John Howard…and their friend, Steve Irwin.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pick a Baby

With lesbians throwing themselves into the act of breeding like it's going out of fashion, I guess it had to happen: designer babies on demand. In the past, a section titled 'Pregnancy Help' in the classifieds section of a lesbian magazine wouldn't have existed. Now that it does and guys are offering up their sperm, they are also looking to ensure their 'product' (or should that be 'service'?) stands out from the rest. Like everything else, it's all about the marketing. No longer is it satisfactory for a sperm donor to be merely 'healthy' and happy to leave contact with any resulting kids up to the lesbian parents, additional attributes have become a selling point.

'Want clever kids?' asks one 'gay-friendly, Caucasian, creative' guy in this month's LOTL (Australia's national lesbian magazine). He's healthy (tested) and active, with the added bonus of being a 'professional' with a 'high IQ' and 'master degree' (I think he may mean Master's Degree, but then again, perhaps he is a BDSM connoisseur). No name is given, just an email address of brainy.baby@hotmail.com.

Now there's nothing wrong with wanting a brainy child, of course - the sooner it can wipe its own arse, clean up its vomit and change a plug, the better. And if the little runt grows up and gets an exceptionally well-paid job that keeps you in style in your old age, all well and good (although, political correctness aside, you could argue it might be better to opt for a pretty child in that case). But if GLBTI folk must breed, can we not be a bit more discerning than our heterosexual counterparts in the type of baby we require? If a clever child can be produced from someone with a high IQ, just think what bundle of joy will result from a sperm donor whose ad reads 'Screaming drag bitch, drug-fucked, creative, polyamorous pain whore, email babyinbondageandglitter@hotmail.com'. Or 'Want your child to be a green, scene queen? Ecologically aware, low-rent Abba fan can help. Email dancingvegandiscobaby@yahoo.com'.

Seriously folks, the straights are going to be busy seeking out donors who advertise themselves as 'clever', 'sensible', 'obedient' and all those other traits deemed by society as worthy and admirable. Whether we like it or not, this sort of eugenics mentality has arrived, so it's up to queers to get a little creative and ensure the most colourful among us don't become extinct. I can't see myself embracing motherhood anytime soon (even the $4000 from the government's Baby Bonus scheme won't tempt me - in fact, John Howard should be paying me $4000 for not having children and thereby not adding more pressure to the planet which is already vastly over-populated with humans), but for those of you who can't help yourselves, be picky with your donors. There are enough straight and straight-acting moral conservatives bringing forth their spawn - some of whom will, of course, turn out to be raging poofs or dykes in spite of their genes and upbringing (gotta love irony) - but it doesnât hurt to be proactive. Email fabulousfreakyqueerbabies@aol.com to register your interest.

Choose Your Research (Gay Sheep)

In a previous post, I noted how researchers seem to have a field day studying all manner of phenomena and coming to various conclusions ranging from lesbians and bisexual women not hearing as well as our straight counterparts, to the number of brothers determining whether a man will likely be gay or not. Whether this sort of research of any great use and worthy of the finances and resources thrown at it is debatable, but hardly offensive. Not so the carryings-on at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in the US, which is currently under fire from animal and gay rights activists as well as other scientific experts for its 'gay sheep' experiments.

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), OHSU is conducting multi-million dollar experiments, funded by US taxpayers, through 2008 in which vivisector Charles Roselli kills scores of sheep and cuts open their brains in an effort to 'cure' homosexuality in humans. By studying the brains of what he calls 'male oriented' (homosexual) rams, he hopes to be able to find the hormonal mechanisms behind gay tendencies so they can be changed. In other words, this person is hoping to find a biological basis for homosexuality in humans by 'studying' sheep.

What the fuck is wrong with these people? Can they not find a more worthwhile job? Like forging ahead with the creation of artificial sex partners and remote sex. American sex researcher, Julia Heiman (hehe), envisions a "multi-sensual experience of virtual sex" to be available before 2016. Teledildonics (remote control of electronic sex toys by computer), first conceived in the 1980s, is set to take off big time it seems, with the advent of modern technology such as broadband, streaming media, Bluetooth and mobile phones. A company called Sinulate Entertainment is at the forefront of the cybersex revolution, with its 'sinulator', a gadget containing a USB transmitter you plug into your computer, a receiver that powers any Sinulate-enabled toy and special software that allows you to control your lover's vibrator or dildo, even though they may be physically on the other side of the world. If you don't have a lover, don't worry: the helpful company has thought of that and offers the opportunity to "meet new people, join a community, or search [for] girls who want you to control their toy" at www.sinulatorcams.com. Well, if you're going to sit at a computer for several hours a day anyway, it sure as hell beats trawling through spam emails - the Sinulator retails at a mere USD $139.95 from www.sinulator.com.

As for the 'researchers' at OHSU, feel free to send an email to Dr Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University, requesting that OHSU immediately stop the needless use and slaughter of animals in these experiments and instead use taxpayers' money for beneficial research that does not involve the use of animals or for funding a sexual diversity acceptance and tolerance initiative.

Email: ed.ray@oregonstate.edu