The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Gender Schmender

So, another young man vents his rage against the world with guns and kills 30 people. The press coverage of the shoot-out at Virginia Tech University in the US last week unsurprisingly focused on trying to allot blame. The Daily Telegraph, with its usual dearth of integrity, offered up a story which began "This is the face of the girl who may have sparked the worst school shooting in US." Yeah, like it was really 18-year-old Emily Hilscher's fault that the shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, may have been infatuated with her and unable to process his overwhelming emotions in a constructive manner. Just like it's always the fault of the mother, wife, girlfriend, sister or any random female whenever men turn violent, eh?

Obsessed as they appear to be with physical appearance (especially faces), the Tele also ran a front page story whose headlines screamed 'Face of Evil'. But was Cho, a 23-year-old guy really 'evil'? Or was he, himself, a victim of a society that has spiralled so far downwards into a pit of self-destruction in which consumerism, money and outward appearances are revered while compassion and any sense of deep communication is deemed taboo or unworthy? His alleged diatribe against "Christianity and rich kids" is pertinent. But rather than examining the societal factors that may have led to this tragic course of events, we look for skeletons in Cho's cupboard to try to explain his actions and comfort ourselves in the knowledge that he was just a "nutter", or as Lynne Eccleston, a forensic psychologist at Melbourne University, put it in The Sydney Morning Herald suffering from a "schitzotypal personality disorder", which is apparently a person "characterised by social isolation, 'bizarre' behaviour, paranoias and unusual thinking and speech." Hmm, sounds like me and most of the people I enjoy hanging out with.

Still, it's enough to make me want to embrace the all-female Utopia that lesbian separatist feminists (known nowadays as Autonomous Lesbian Feminists or ALFs for short, the irony of the acronym being a male name not withstanding) are no doubt clapping their hands with glee over as it's finally set to be a possibility. Last week SX reported that researchers in the UK have found a way to create babies from bone marrow, which could mean that two women can have a daughter of their own without any input from a man. I predict that this is the start of the lesbian revolution. Men will be phased out in these Sapphic communities that will form across the globe; underground cells will draw up manifestos outlining the takedown of the patriarchy; militant dykes clad in combat gear and stilettos (who said saving the world can't be glamorous) will roam the streets, hyped on feminist anthems like 'I'm Every Woman' or 'Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves', and surrender themselves to their hormonal impulses, unleashing centuries of repressed rage toward men in suits. At this point, disgruntled college students will be the least of the government's worries. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sex with kids

The current ire of feminists and some GLBT people towards a paedophilia website is reminiscent of the vitriol lambasted at the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which advocated the abolition of age-of-consent laws during the 1980s and 1990s, believing that gay liberation for minors implied the permission to engage in sexual relationships.

Discussions are heated in groups on MySpace, and online petitions are circulating furiously to close down Puella.com, a website which purports to show the world the ‘human face of paedophilia’. Puella.com is the brainchild of Lindsay Ashford, a male with a sexual attraction to pre-pubescent girls as young as six. As distasteful as this may sound, he claims not to have acted on his impulses nor broken the laws of any countries he has resided in. Furthermore, the site claims to offer a safe place for paedophiles (those attracted to children), as opposed to child molesters (those who act on their impulses), along with advice on how to live with this particular orientation while not breaking any laws. The site itself has been investigated by the FBI and deemed (albeit unwillingly) legal.

When people think of paedophilia it is, more often than not, man-boy or man-girl and even woman-boy attractions, but you don’t hear too much about woman-girl stuff. So, I was quite fascinated to read on Puella.com the story of one of its female columnists, known as ‘Cat’, who has had a sexual relationship with her own (lesbian) mother since the age of eight, and continues it as an adult today. “Basically I realised I was attracted to my mom, and gradually began to express that attraction until it led up to kissing and touching,” she says. “I understood why I wanted my mom to touch me a certain way – it felt amazing and loving and relaxing, and it satisfied my attraction to her.” Cat, incidentally, was conceived by artificial insemination courtesy of her mum’s best friend, a gay man, who, along with his partner, knows about and is cool with the long-term Sapphic relationship between mother and daughter.

What to make of that, eh? Being a curious puss, I tried to get an interview with Cat a few months ago when I first happened upon the site, to ask her some pressing questions, but got no response. Maybe she’s not real, or she’s reluctant to reveal her true identity to anyone outside her immediate family in case mum ends up behind bars. But as a queer community, what do we do with the ‘Cats’ who come along and throw society’s assumptions into disarray? On the one hand, we can say, ‘Way to go, onya girlfriend!’ or we can insist the relationship between Cat and her mother is wrong and that Cat has been abused. Her response to that is: “The same society that said I shouldn’t want to nibble on my mom also said that some of the finest people I knew were evil because they were gay.”

Complicated bunch, aren’t we?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Celebrity liaisons

Oh here they come again. More straight female celebrities jumping on the lesbian bandwagon. First up is Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie who, according to The Sydney Morning Herald has “confessed” that she had a “series of lesbian relationships” when she was younger, in a bid to rebel against her parents and strict Catholic upbringing. What’s notable is that she feels it’s ok to “reveal” this titbit now, because it was all just a phase she was going through when she was 18. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s playing a lesbian in Quentin Tarantino’s new horror film, Grindhouse. Can anyone else hear the wheels of those PR machines turning?

Next up is Jane Pratt, former editor of fashion magazine Jane, who has now “finally” admitted to a “steamy sexual encounter” with actress/producer, Drew Barrymore. AfterEllen.com reports that, years ago, Pratt alluded on shock jock Howard Stern’s TV show to having had a lesbian liaison with a famous Hollywood actress, but declined to say who it was. Now she’s spilling the beans because … you’ll never guess … her brand new show has just made its debut on Sirius Satellite Radio. Pratt allegedly told listeners she’d “had sex” with Drew, and now wants to return as a guest on Stern’s show to “tell him the truth” about their Sapphic romp. Whether we are supposed to believe the timing of her revelation is sheer coincidence and nothing whatsoever to do with ratings is unclear, and Ms Barrymore is currently remaining tight-lipped on the subject.

How the tide has turned. As SBS’s recently-screened documentary Gay Hollywood: The Last Taboo illustrated, claiming to have had queer liaisons in the past would have spelled the kiss of death for the careers of straight, bisexual or gay celebrities. Barbara Stanwyck was so far in the closet she was practically in Narnia, even though her press agent apparently later said she had “no doubt” that Babs was “intimate” with fellow screen siren, Joan Crawford. Now there’s an image thoroughly more enticing than a less-than-memorable pop singer’s same-sex teenage dalliances. Jodie Foster’s probably done the best job of keeping her gob shut about her sexual preferences. That hasn’t stopped the press speculating about it over the years though, and Out magazine has even gone so far as to put her on the cover of its May issue with the tagline ‘The Glass Closet: Why the stars won’t come out and play’.

Perhaps the real lesbians are staying in the closet so as not to be lumped in with boring faux Sapphics (Madonna, Britney anyone?). And if you’re wondering how to distinguish between the two, I refer you to the story on Reuters of Daphne Wright, a deaf, black lesbian in the US state of South Dakota who is accused of murdering and dismembering with a chainsaw a straight woman she thought was spending too much time with her girlfriend. The benchmark has been set. Message to Fergie, Jane et al – you’re not even close.