New Set of Books in Media and Communication Studies Unlatched

The project Knowledge Unlatched (KU) offers a library sponsored model to ensure open access for monographs and edited collections in the arts & humanities and social sciences. Libraries can take part in Knowledge Unlatched by pledging for the offered title list. The KU project started in 2013 with a pilot of 28 books from 13 publishers to create a platform where authors, publishers, libraries and readers could potentially all benefit from open access for books. Authors see their work disseminated on a global maximized scale and in the KU model they won’t be bothered with BPCs. It is a fact that free accessible books have been downloaded extensively, on top of the normal sales of the paper version. Citations are not necessarily increasing, but they will come faster.[1] Publishers can experiment with generating new revenue streams for open access books. Libraries are paying (you could have a discussion on where the money should come from) but in return are supporting open access for books and deliver accessibility for their researchers (online and with a cheaper acquired paper version – see below). And readers can read and download the books for free.

KU is an example of a crowdfunded, or better, consortium open access funding model. This model spreads costs and offers a broad access for books. It is currently the most important platform, and most likely the biggest in terms of scale, offering a constant stream of open access books. But is this model working?

I have mentioned it before in a previous post that some libraries [2] and commentators [3] see that the model could be sensitive to double-dipping and others have raised the the issue of free-riding (non-paying members taking advantage of the open access books made available by paying members). KU is aware of these issues. As Frances Pinter, the founder of KU, points out in an interview: “in order to deal with the free rider issue, we’re giving the member libraries an additional discount. So, when they buy into the free and they buy the premium, the total will be less than any non-member would have to buy for a premium version.”[4] The collections offered are still fairly small considered to the global output but we’re still in the early days of open access monograph publishing. If more publishers are involved and participating in the growth of the entire collection more libraries could become interested as well.

The KU project started in 2013 with a pilot (Pilot 1: 2013-2014). The pilot consisted of a collection of 28 new books (front list) covering topics in the humanities and social sciences from 13 scholarly publishers including the following university presses: Amsterdam, Cambridge, Duke, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester, Michigan, Purdue, Rutgers and Temple, plus commercial presses: Bloomsbury Academic, Brill and De Gruyter. The pilot was a success and all 28 titles were made available on the OAPEN repository. OAPEN is an online platform for peer reviewed academic books in the humanities and social sciences. In collaboration with the Directory of Open Access Books index it offers services for discovery, aggregation and preservation of open access books and related metadata. Just recently the library passed the milestone of 4 million downloads since it started reporting COUNTER compliant usage statistics (September 2013).

User statistics for books unlatched by Knowledge Unlatched in the Pilot and Round 2 have been published in the fall of 2016 by KU. Just to give you an idea of the impact the Round 2 collection contains 78 books and these titles have reached just under 40,000 downloads. The average download per title (via OAPEN) is 503.[5]

Schermafbeelding 2017-04-04 om 21.34.09

Back to the yearly rounds of open access books. The second round (Round 2: 2015-2016) was much larger and consisted of 78 new titles from 26 scholarly publishers. In this round, the collection was built on five main disciplines, namely: anthropology, literature, history, politics and media & communications. Of course, I’m really happy with the last one, being one of the main disciplines of the KU book lists. This round was a success too and 78 books have been unlatched. 10 of them are dealing with the subject media and communication. This collection of 10 can be viewed and downloaded here.

The third round (2016-2017) includes 343 titles (147 front list and 196 backlist) from 54 publishers. Just recently it has been announced that for this round sufficient libraries have pledged.[6] This means that in the next few months the entire list will become available for free downloading.

The good news is that of those 343 books, for the media and communications studies list, 9 titles are brand new (front list) and 13 books are back list titles (not older then 2 years). I think it is a good move to add back-list titles as well, since we tend to focus on only the new and latest stuff. But as we all know in the humanities and social sciences books have a long(er) life. Publishers of these 22 media and communication titles are amongst others Amsterdam University Press, Duke University Press, Intellect, transcript Verlag, UCL Press, Ottowa University Press and University of Toronto Press. The books of round 2 will be made available on the OAPEN platform. Note that some of these publisher don’t charge BPCs. They see the KU project as an addition to their business model and an option to publish books in open access. Some, like UCL Press and Amsterdam University Press, have a standard open access option for all their books and charge BPCs.[7]

Normally I won’t post links to open access publications, since we have other spaces for this (Film Studies for Free and recently launched OpenMediaScholar) but for the sake of completeness I’m adding the following list of books that have been or will be published in the OAPEN library from early to mid-2017.

Frontlist

Backlist

*Update (05-02-2017): Added more links of books available in the OAPEN library.

Notes

[1] Montgomery, L. (2015). Knowledge Unlatched: A Global Library Consortium Model for Funding Open Access Scholarly Books. p.8. http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Montgomery-Culture-8-Chapter.pdf 

[2] Blog by Martin Eve: On Open Access Books and “Double-Dipping”. January 31, 2015.

[3] Interview with Frances Pinter, Knowledge Unlatched, January, 2013.

[4] Some literature on this topic: Ferwerda, E., Snijders, R. Adema, J. ‘OAPEN-NL – A project Exploring Open Access Monograph Publishing in the Netherlands: Final Report’ p.4.

Snijder, R., (2013). A higher impact for open access monographs: disseminating through OAPEN and DOAB at AUP. Insights. 26(1), pp.55–59. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/2048-7754.26.1.55

Snijder, R. (2014). The Influence of Open Access on Monograph Sales: The experience at Amsterdam University Press. LOGOS 25/3, 2014, page 13‐23, DOI: http://doi.org/10.1163/1878‐4712‐11112047  

[5] User Statics for the KU Pilot Collection and Round 2

[6] http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org/2017/02/ku-unlatches/ (February 2017)

[7] For a list of publishers active in the field of media studies and their OA models, see the Resource page.

Image credit: Designed by Photoangel / Freepik

Journal Subscription and Open Access Expenditures: Opening the Vault

For years, there was no overview of what the total amount being paid for journal subscriptions was per institute or on a national level, due to restrictions in the contracts with publishers (the famous non-disclosure agreements). The information on universities’ expenditures on subscriptions has therefore been secret information up to now.

With the transition towards open access and the related recent (re-)negotiations with big publishers to have an open access publishing option in their journals, there is a growing attention on the institutional and national expenditures. It is for several reasons that we need to have an insight in these costs to know what the cost-benefits would ideally be if we have a full shift to open access. But above all it should be standard policy to know what is happening with tax-money anyway.

In Finland, The Netherlands, U.K. and at some institutions in Swiss this data have been published publicly because in these countries several Freedom of Information (FOI), and Government Information Act (WOB – in The Netherlands) requests have been submitted, and above all, granted.

The following information is to give you a quick overview of the status and the available data:

Finland

In 2016 information on journal subscription costs paid to individual publishers by the Finnish research institutions has been released by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, and its Open Science and Research Initiative funded 2014–2017 (Academic Publishing Costs in Finland 2010–2015). Since this data is spanning all expenditures, Finland is the first country to release this data for all its institutions.

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Total costs by publisher

More information on the dataset can be found here and here.

The Netherlands

In 2016, two requests for information have been submitted. The first request arrived on 28 April 2016, and requested the publication of the total amount of the budget that the university has spent annually on subscriptions to academic journals over the past five years and the purchase of academic books over the past five years.

This request has been granted in September 2016 and the subscription costs data has been released here.

Schermafbeelding 2017-03-31 om 13.07.51

Costs incurred by universities, 2015

In September 2016, all Dutch universities received a second request relating to the open access license deals. Since 2015 negotiations started with the big publishers about the implementation of open access into the existing ‘big deals’. Currently the Netherlands is the only country where this is happening on such a united scale. All higher education institutes are acting as one party towards the publishers. Normally the details of those deals are contracted as a non-disclosure agreement but this second request asked for publication of those open access contracts. Just recently it has been granted as well and now contract details  publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, ACS, Sage, Karger, Thieme, Walter de Gruyter, RSC, Emerald have been publicized. [1]

A list of the publishers’ contracts can be found here.

U.K.

In the U.K. Stuart Lawson, Doctoral researcher at Birkbeck, University of London, has done some great work on getting insights in the journal subscription expenditures at U.K. higher education institutions. Not all instisutes are represented, but he managed to collect pricing data of 150 institutions with ten of the largest publishers from 2010-14. The raw data can be found here.

For the last three years (starting in 2014) for transparency reasons he systematically collects the APC expenditures data of several research institutes as well. This data can be found here.

Swiss

In 2015, also after a FOI request, the ETH Zürich published an overview of the costs for journal subscriptions (2010-2014) with the three largest publishers, Elsevier, Springer and Wiley.

Schermafbeelding 2017-03-31 om 13.26.51There is some more data on the financial flows in Swiss academic publishing to be found in this report.

Image credit: Designed by Kjpargeter / Freepik

#WorldsUpsideDown Exhibition

#WorldsUpsideDown 11 March – 2 April @ Firstsite, Colchester Riots. Revolts. Revolution. All flashing moments which throw the world – and our relationship with it – in question. From the uprising against the Russian Czar one hundred years ago to the Arab spring and protests against war, austerity and the continuing failure of politics as usual, people have pinned their … Continue reading →

Call For Papers: Happiness

Emergent research into happiness is still largely situated in fields such as sociology, psychology, and neuroscience. Traditionally the uncontested domain of the Humanities, the question of “How should we live?” is too rarely approached in contemporary literary and cultural studies. Indeed, even in a thriving field such as affect studies, research still largely focuses on negative emotions, ugly feelings (Ngai), shame (Probyn), paranoia (Sedgwick), failure (Halberstam), and the cruelty of optimism (Berlant). But perhaps the critical tide is turning. Scholars are beginning to theorise the end of our well-rehearsed “hermeneutics of suspicion,” and conjecturing what comes after (Felski). They are mapping the potential path for a “eudaimonic criticism” (Pawelski & Moore) and an “ethics of hope” (Braidotti), looking towards a more positive future (Muñoz). Critical and historical studies on empathy (Meghan; Keen), joy (Potkay) and happiness itself (Ahmed) are also emerging.

Inspired by the growing body of scholarship on optimistic representations of gender, sexuality, and queerness, Writing from Below enters the fray with this invitation to explore and interrogate positive, successful, fulfilling, life-affirming expressions of gender and sexuality in contemporary or historical literature, culture, and society.

Papers could engage with (but are not limited to):

  • Pleasure, joy, jouissance, delight, splendour, enchantment, empathy, and kindness
  • Love, passion, and amour fou
  • Middlebrow pleasure
  • Living the queer life, and queer(ing) happiness
  • Eudaimonia, mindfulness, and wellbeing
  • Eudaimonic reading, and the eudaimonic turn in cultural and literary studies
  • The hermeneutics of suspicion, paranoid and reparative reading, and their aftermath
  • Ethical criticism, the ethics of hope, and hopelessness
  • The body as site of happiness, joy, pleasure, etc.
  • Affect, the theories and/or histories of positive emotions
  • Celebration, and celebration as protest
  • Burlesque, clowning, circus, carnivals, and the carnivalesque
  • Kitsch, camp, and drag
  • Sex and play, sex lives, fun
  • Vitality, verve, vigour, and liveliness
  • Biological life, bioszoe, survival, sur-vivre [living-on], affirmation
  • The utopian tendencies of gender studies and queer theory
  • The (queer) future, queer futurity, and happy endings

Gender studies and queer theory are located across and between disciplines, and so we welcome submissions from across (and outside of, against and up against) the full cross-/inter/-trans-disciplinary spectrum, and from inside and outside of conventional academia.

Do not be limited. Be brave. Play with form, style, and genre. Invent, demolish, reimagine.

The deadline for submissions is 29 May 2017. 

Written submissions, whether critical or creative, should be between 3,000 and 6,000 words in length, and should adhere strictly to the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.

All submissions—critical, creative, and those falling in between; no matter the format or medium—will be subject to a process of double-blind peer review.

For more information, please contact our guest editor, Dr Juliane Roemhild: J.Roemhild@latrobe.edu.au

Tilda Swinton by Brigitte Lacombe (2012)

Québec africaine

Québec africaine. Portraits

Auteurs et auteures : Collectif d’écriture sous la direction de Florence Piron

Date de parution : 22 février 2017

  • Prix de vente de la version imprimée : 25 $ CAD
  • Prix de vente du duo ePub : 10 $ CAD
  • Prix de vente pour les participants au livre : 8 $
  • Cliquez ici pour lire en ligne gratuitement la version html (permet de partager et commenter, chapitre par chapitre)
  • Bientôt le PDF sera téléchargeable gratuitement

En cas de problème d’accès, écrire à info@editionscienceetbiencommun.org.

Résumé :

Le racisme et la discrimination sont attisés par l’ignorance mutuelle. « Qui sont ces étrangers qui viennent s’installer dans ma ville? », se demandent les habitants qui y sont nés ou qui y ont grandi. « Qui sont ces personnes qui habitent la ville où je souhaite m’établir? », se demandent les immigrantes et immigrants. L’absence de réponse à ces questions peut engendrer la méfiance, le rejet et le repli sur soi et nuire à la construction collective d’un vivre-ensemble harmonieux auquel tous et toutes aspirent.

Ce livre, comme l’ensemble de la série Québec ville ouverte, répond de manière concrète et simple à ce besoin de mieux se connaître et se comprendre. Il propose des portraits d’hommes et de femmes d’Afrique subsaharienne qui, pour une raison ou pour une autre, vivent actuellement à Québec, que ce soit depuis 40 ans ou depuis quelques mois, avec le statut d’immigrant, de réfugié ou d’étudiant. Ces courts portraits, réalisés par des étudiantes et étudiants en communication publique de l’Université Laval, nous montrent à la fois les différences, mais aussi les ressemblances entre les aspirations, les rêves, les manières de vivre et les valeurs de tous les citoyens et citoyennes de Québec, nés ici ou ailleurs.

Illustration de couverture : motif de Jane Rixie, design de Kate McDonnell

  • ISBN epub : 978-2-924661-08-6
  • ISBN du livre imprimé : 978-2-924661-19-2

Livre publié avec le concours  d’Accès savoirs, la boutique des sciences de l’Université Laval, du Conseil panafricain de Québec (COPAQ) et du Centre international de recherche sur l’Afrique et le Moyen-Orient (CIRAM).

Dans les médias :

Pour acheter le livre au Québec, par chèque ou virement bancaire, écrire à info@editionscienceetbiencommun.org.

Le livre est aussi disponible à la Librairie du Quartier, 1120, avenue Cartier, Québec G1R 2S5
Téléphone de la librarie :
(418) 990-0330 et à la librairie ZONE de l’Université Laval (https://www.zone.coop/) (418) 656-2600.

Pour commander en ligne (des frais de port de 9 $ s’ajouteront) :


Version papier ou ePub



Lettre reçue par Florence Piron de la part du lecteur Claude Cossette, professeur émérite de l’Université Laval:

Je viens de parcourir ton beau livre. Un gros livre. Un grand livre ! Quelle belle initiative ! Quelle présentation intéressante sur le plan anthropo-sociologique pour les lecteurs québécois !
 Quelle expérience formatrice pour les jeunes ! On constate d’ailleurs jusqu’à quel point ces rencontres interculturelles les ont touchés. Les ont ouverts. Changés peut-être. C’est assurément le cas pour plusieurs.
La partie Réflexions et apprentissages est riche. Les Réponses collectives braquent un projecteur sur un nouveau « pays humain » qu’ils ont découvert. Les Témoignages individuels sont particulièrement touchants. On voit que, pour plusieurs, cette expérience a donné un nouvel éclairage à leurs études, de perspective à leur métier. De sens à leur vie peut-être !
Sur le plan de la langue, je reste surpris de la qualité générale. Et c’est une belle réussite sur l’ensemble du projet éditorial.
Impressionnante expérience pédagogique ! BRAVO ! Je t’envie de jouer ce beau rôle d’éveilleuse, d’attiser le feu de la passion et de l’esprit critique chez ces beaux jeunes.
Claude

To speak and/as connect

Editorial

To speak and/as connect—beyond the silencing of violence, and the violence that is silence

Amelia Walker, Travis Wisdom, Shawna Marks, Sarah Pearce and Biannca Challans

“Before writing trauma this way I did not think of cycle, smell, check

Remember you are there you live here a home changes”

—Cee Devlin, 'Begin: now go deeper'

On July 13–14 2017 the fourth annual South Australian Gender, Sex and Sexualities conference took place at the University of South Australia’s City West campus. Founded in 2014 by Petra Mosmann and Adele Lausberg, the annual staging of the conference brings together academics, artists and activists who work in the gender, sex and sexuality space. We write “staging” because of the necessity that this conference act as a meeting place between these three, often separate, sites of critical inquiry, each of which addresses violence, in all its articulations. The metaphor of the stage reflects a critically creative intervention into contemporary society, knowledge, and culture—an installation that calls out, as theatre, literature and art often call out, the absurd cruelty in oft-unspoken everyday customs, norms, rituals of language, and other practices that ultimately need not limit and harm life and lives as they presently do. The stage also represents a coming-together of those who want to—who must, for survival’s sake—enact this calling-out in and upon the various scenes and stages we daily play upon as thinkers, writers, makers, academics, queers, artists and/or human animals in this violent world. The conference then represents an opportunity for a coming-together of like-minded individuals to collectively strategise and share ways to make change happen. In support of this coming-together, the conference provides a necessarily safe and supportive space in which we can confront all that renders us unsafe, or indeed tries to squeeze us out, to cram us down, to deprive us of space(s) for simply living, loving, breathing, speaking, for being and becoming who we are.

The full title of the 2017 conference was “Art(i)culations of Violence: Gender, sex, sexuality and the politics of injury and revivification” (henceforth “Art(i)culations”, for simplicity). Our focus on violence and the redressing thereof came at the suggestion of committee member Shawna Marks, who proposed that the 2017 conference raise awareness of the violences people face, including intersections between racially-motivated and gender-based violences. Fellow committee member Travis Wisdom then suggested that this be adapted to also encompass non-consensual bodily modifications on children, and that the conference highlight ways in which intersex and non-intersex people in the LGBTQIA+ community can work together to make our world less violent and more liveable. To support this aim, we sought the expertise of Michael Noble, who—in addition to his important PhD research into the life and works of seventeenth-century author and translator Nicholas Culpeper—has long been recognised and respected as a pioneer for intersex activism in Australia and elsewhere. A scholar of profound wisdom, intelligence and ethicality, Noble invested incredible energy into the conference. He became an educator and a mentor for us all, generously sharing his knowledge and experience, often exhibiting commendable patience with us as we struggled to grasp issues that had not previously crossed our radars. Without his insights and recommendations, “Art(i)culations” could not have been what it was.

Noble enlisted keynote speaker Morgan Carpenter, the co-executive director of Intersex Human Rights Australia, who spoke compellingly about intersex bodily modification, autonomy and consent. Our other keynote was the creative writer and researcher Quinn Eades, who specialises in writing the body, and who with poetic eloquence probed critical issues of queer wounds and woundings, ghosts and ghostings. Eades encouraged the audience to move around during his talk and gently guided those present through topics of trauma and violence, a move that acknowledged the safety inherent in the conference space and how this underpinned the aims of the event. Eades also delivered a queer writing workshop, in which he guided participants safely through processes of writing their own bodies and bodily experiences. This workshop was attended by general community members as well as academics, reflecting our goal to bring together activists, artists, and academics in the conference space. This special edition then is an exercise in sharing work at the nexus of art, activism, and academia in that many pieces written in or as a result of the collaborative, community writing workshop are published in this special issue, some as peer-reviewed works of creative writing research, and some simply as non-peer-reviewed works of creative writing in its own right.1

The conference focus on violence prompted all committee members to consider the many forms and processes that violence can take and through which it may occur. Crucially, violence is not only—or perhaps ever—restricted to the physical. Assaults upon the body leave their scars in places unseen, as is observable in cases of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and as queer writing on wounds and wounding eloquently details (Brown 1993; Munt 2007; Eades 2017). Furthermore, there exist many forms of violence in which no physical wound or action necessarily occurs at all. For instance, postcolonial theory elucidates the very real, lived and material implications of epistemic violences—when domineering cultures silence, devalue, intervene in, co-opt and degrade, or otherwise suppress the knowledges of the people they attempt to suppress (Spivak 1988; Morris 2010). This often entails linguistic violence—depriving people of the words and grammar needed to speak, write, think, read, hear and thus live as they (or maybe we) desperately need to live (Fanon 1952, 18). Additional kinds of linguistic violence include naming, shaming and labelling, among other semiotic acts, as Judith Butler’s early work on performativity details (Butler 1993), and as any bullied schoolchild ever stung by the common (but senseless) adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” would likely agree. Then there are psychological violences (Elouard and Essén 2013), social violences (Wilchins 2000), cultural violences (Oyedemi 2016) and violences of privilege (Harris 2017), to name but a few of many that bear so harshly upon so many lives.

“Art(i)culations” sought presentations discussing violence in all its many modes and permutations. By bringing these presentations together, we aimed to recognise (to identify and radically re-think) intersections between different violences, as well as potential alliances between groups and individuals subject to violence in differing, yet connectable ways. We were inspired by the seminal and ongoing work of Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (Crenshaw 1991, 2018), among other proponents of “intersectionality”, who have since the late twentieth century asserted “the need to account for multiple grounds of identity when considering how the social world is constructed” (Crenshaw 1991, 1245). “Intersections” had indeed been the theme of our previous (2016) conference. Partially as a result of conversations arising at that conference, we were, however, conscious of certain risks that arise when white queers and/or feminists and/or people of privilege attempt to engage (with) intersectionality, a theory notably born of black feminist political struggles.2 Ironically, even in the very act of seeking to change and undo situations of privilege, privileged activists and/as academics are notoriously capable of violence and harm, including through the “whitening of intersectionality” (Bilge 2015). To temper this risk, feminist sociologist Sirma Bilge of the Université de Montréal recommends practicing intersectionality together with Stuart Hall’s theory of articulation, which by Bilge’s (2014, 65) account doesn’t search to unite differences under one singular political banner but instead encourages an ethic of non-oppressive collaboration. 3

Hall’s theory of articulation (1985) plays on two meanings of the verb “articulate”: to speak, and to connect. Articulation can thus be understood as the radical act of speaking or otherwise making known (for instance, through writing) connections previously unrealised. The unrealised connection might in some cases be one that existed but was not spoken about—for instance, the connection between some violent act and the later distress caused. In other cases, the connection could represent an opportunity to forge connections between things that are not necessarily always connected, but which can be, in certain situations and for certain purposes—as in the case of a strategic alliance between groups whose needs and experiences are vastly different, yet sometimes compatible, as the needs and experiences of the many diverse groups implied within the acronym LGBTQIA+ are arguably different yet compatible. For Hall, articulation was about working “in and with difference” (1985, 92)—a way to find common ground and pursue common agendas without overriding important differences, and without one group’s cause becoming co-opted or exploited by another. As cultural studies theorist Tony Bennett, a contemporary of Hall’s, notes, articulation thus offers both a theory and a practice—a praxis—“according to which the elements comprising any hegemonic formation could always be broken apart, and be given new meanings and political directions, through the conduct of politics as—for Stuart—mainly a set of ideological-discursive struggles” (Bennett 2016, 284).

In line with Bennett’s explication, a key benefit Bilge (2014, 69) identifies in articulation is its emphasis on relationships of “contingence”, which suggests joining or touching without merging or absorbing the one into the other, always maintaining the possibility of separation at a later point, and which also evokes contingency as possibility or chance. This includes chances and possibilities of the incidental and relational, which for us serves as a reminder of the key ways in which chance meetings, incidents and interactions often shape creative processes, especially those of the arts, arts research, and indeed all research—for these three, while not conflatable, are articulable in that they may all be called processes of knowledge-creation, albeit via different methods, in differing contexts and for distinct purposes. Hence the bracketed small “i” in “Art(i)culations”, which draws emphasis to the word “art” and thus to the important place presentations of or about visual art, theatre, poetry, prose, music and other creative mediums held at our 2017 conference—as they have in previous years and, we hope, shall in future continue to hold.

The works collected in this special issue all, in and of themselves, enact their own creative and critical articulations. Bringing them together within one publication evokes points of contingence between them and the issues they raise. The special issue is separated into three sections, each of which includes art images, critical research papers and creative writing. Each section reflects particular sub-themes of the overarching theme. Section one focuses on historic, institutionalised, social, linguistic, epistemic and symbolic violences, showing how these seemingly intangible forces inflict deeply-felt violences upon breathing bodies and lives. For instance, in his rigorous critique of government-driven and institutional narratives about anti-queer violence in 1980s Australia, Curtis Redd asks whether such narratives are “about addressing and redressing the past, or… about rewriting it?” As Redd points out, this rewriting obscures both past and present acts and implications of anti-queer violence—a “subjugation of queer knowledges” that ironically enacts “a form of symbolic violence in itself”. Similar points are raised by Alex Dunkin, who scrutinises Australian patriotism and national holiday rituals, illuminating “how blind adherence to socially condoned behaviour may lead to devastating outcomes”.

Section one also includes two poems, one by Nat Texler and one by Sarah Pearce, that show how anti-queer violence in contemporary society is not only or simply perpetuated by straights against queers, but also—thanks to internalised phobias—bubbles up in and jeopardises our interpersonal relationships. Texler depicts this through the speaker’s account of being threatened and punched by an intimate partner. Pearce reflects on the felt impact delivered through a biphobic and self-denying lover’s biting words of rejection: “with no cock, it’s just foreplay.” Following this, Jessica Liebelt’s “The Gender Reveal Party” likewise emphasises violences perpetuated symbolically through words and naming, this time with an emphasis on the deep harm inflicted—especially but not exclusively on transgender and non-binary people—through gender-assignment and the emergent cisnormative social ritual of parties at which parents and their friends celebrate the child’s assigned gender in ways that deepen the difficulty of that child (or adult) later rejecting the false assignment and/or (re)claiming their authentic gender. The final piece in the section, “mMyth is” by poetic duo In Her Interior (Francesca Da Rimini and Virginia Barratt), then reminds of the violent ways in which assigned binary gender is reinforced by cultural myths that insidiously permeate so much of contemporary day-to-day life. “mMyth is” also recalls the points raised in the papers by Redd and by Dunkin—about the force and effects of narrative, historicising, patriotism and social ritual—thus issuing a warning not to underestimate myth, nor the symbolic practices through which myths and their social implications are sustained. These implications are inferred in the section’s selection of art images, by Keith Giles, which reference historic tropes, and in which the faces of queer figures are removed, defaced or obscured, signifying erasure and/or misrepresentation at the hands of hegemonic institutions and social forces.

If the first of this issue’s three sections considers histories, myths and their (re)inscription on (and in) our present, the second even more strongly emphasises the real lived impact of contemporary violences on contemporary lives. In particular, it raises problems of toxic masculinities, as reflected in Jessica Seymour’s analysis of how these manifest in the recent reboot of the Mad Max film series, in Shawna Marks’s paper about stealthing, sexual violence and sporting culture, and in Jessie Byrne’s examination of “wounded” masculinities in Australian crime fiction. Brave poems about rape by Heather McGinn and Gabrielle Everall speak of violent experiences that in our society still too-often go unspoken and unreported. So too do incidences of violence against sex workers, as the compelling account by Angel Parker lays bare in no uncertain terms. Lydia Heise’s photographic art pieces reflect this theme of silence-as-violence. For instance, the image also selected as our special issue cover depicts white-petticoated legs swamped in hairy curls of tape ribbon. The figure’s head and upper torso are amputated by the image’s frame, suggesting disempowerment and objectification. The positioning of the tape meanwhile readable as a comment on desires spoken-over, drowned out and thus suppressed by dominant, domineering noises and forces.

The third and final section of the issue then turns to squarely face violence upon bodies and/or/as violence at the hands of medicine, science and the law. The cover art of this section, by Sonja Hindrum, features images within images—posters or projections of children displayed in medical and/or scientific settings, recognisable through the presence of intravenous fluid bags, charts, test tubes and other equipment. That the children within these images are framed within frames enacts a distancing and containment that speaks vulnerability. This evokes the exploitative ways in which medicine, science and related institutions violently subject the bodies—and thus lives—of intersex and non-intersex children to non-consensual interventions including but exceeding irreversible surgical and hormonal interventions. These are issues fleshed out in the collaborative interview piece between Travis Wisdom, Quinn Eades, Aileen Kennedy and Amelia Walker, which confronts current practices of non-consensual bodily modification in Australia and elsewhere and demands bodily autonomy for everyone.

The second piece in section three, by Gabrielle Everall, likewise evokes issues of consent and autonomy, in the case of current practices affecting those individuals deemed “mentally ill”. This includes enforcement of medications that sometimes bear devastating side-effects, and the socially-normalised assumption that people deemed “mentally ill” cannot properly understand or speak for their (and our) own needs. The placement of Everall’s article in this section serves as a reminder of the present need for LGBTQIA+ communities to think harder about issues of inclusivity. It particularly reminds us of the need to create spaces accessible to and safe for neurodiverse people, as well as people with mobility requirements. Articulations between neurodiversity, mental health and queerness are also readable in Cee Devlin’s two critical and creative pieces, both of which evoke the psychological effects of violence and trauma through “body-writing as a political, literary intervention strategy that can be harnessed by the traumatised subject”, in Amelia Walker’s re-membering of lithium carbonate’s bodily side-effects, and in Alison Bennett’s stunning “Leaving My Body”, which articulates physical and psychological forms of violence and trauma, demonstrating the intricate ways in which these often inextricably interweave.

Through poetry, art, storytelling, theorising, research and critical prose, the papers in this special issue thus forge their articulations between art, activism and academia in order to call out violences including but exceeding the social, epistemic, psychological, symbolic, linguistic, institutionalised and/as physical. They question medicine, science and law, confronting issues of patriotism, cultural myth-making, cis- and heteronormativity, white privilege, neurotypical privilege and ableism. They also signal contingencies—points of potential convergence and collaboration—between different groups and individuals subjected to violence. Yet, in the spirit of Stuart Hall and articulation, it is important to remember that this work only matters if it is ongoing in the world—if it carries on and through into activism as a process always in-progress, always subject to its own continual critique, re-evaluation and re-making. Hence, it is important to note that the gathering of these papers was a signal to us not only of what the conference raised, but of all that remains yet to raise and/or yet to explore from the perspectives and to the degrees of detail present circumstances demand. For instance, although the LGBTQIA+ community’s need to better support neurodiverse allies does, as noted, surface within this issue, we feel this is an issue requiring greater attention at future conferences and especially requiring attention from those identifying as both neurodiverse and queer. In order to facilitate this and other necessarily ongoing discussions, the 2018 conference is themed around “Space and Place: Conceptions of movement, belonging and boundaries”, with the intention of producing another special issue to redress what this one doesn’t say and build on what it does by questioning how we move through communities, institutions and the world at large. Pertinent, then, is the title of this issue’s final piece, by Cee Devlin—“Begin: now go deeper”. That is ultimately what all of the critical and creative works gathered here individually and collectively remind us we must do. For we have and are always and already, yet barely just begun.

Endnotes

[1] Creative writing and visual art papers that have undergone peer-review are accompanied by ERA research statements. If the creative works are published without an ERA statement, this indicates that they have been treated not as research pieces, but simply as literary or artistic works in their own right. Works in the latter category have nonetheless undergone rigorous selection processes equivalent to those that would apply for any standard literary or art journal.

2 It must here be noted that our 2017 conference committee was mostly white—not by deliberate design on our parts, but probably as a sad reflection of who in our society presently can and cannot with relative ease gain access to the privilege that is postgraduate study. We aim to change this situation that brings us unearned racial privileges at others’ expenses (even while this situation also simultaneously often marginalises and harms us where factors including but exceeding gender, sex, sex characteristics and sexuality are concerned).

3 Birge’s original article is published only in French, but the paraphrased summary of her argument is based on the lines “ne chercherait plus à fédérer les différences sous un toit politique unique” [not seeking to unite differences under a single political banner/roof] and “une éthique de collaborations non oppressives” [an ethic of non-oppressive collaboration] (Bilge 2014, 65). These bracketed translations are by Amelia Walker, with assistance from Christopher Hogarth, Ian Gibbins and David McInerney. However, Walker acknowledges and accepts responsibility for any inadvertent inaccuracies or errors that might remain.

Works cited

Bennett, T. (2016). The Stuart Hall Conjuncture. Cultural Studies Review, 22(1): 282-286.

Bilge, S. (2014). La pertinence de Hall pour l’étude de l’intersectionnalité. Nouvelles pratiques sociales, 26(2): 62-81.

Bilge, S. (2015). Le blanchiment de l’intersectionnalité [The Whitening of Intersectionality]. Recherches Feministes, 28(2): 9-32,307,314,319,325.

Brown, W. (1993). Wounded Attachments. Political Theory, 21(3): 390-410.

Butler, J. (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”. New York, NY: Routledge.

Crenshaw, K. W. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review , 43(6): 1241-1299.

Crenshaw, K. W. (2018). On intersectionality the essential writings of Kimberle Crenshaw. New York, NY: New Press.

Eades, Q. (2017). Queer Wounds: Writing Autobiography Past the Limits of Language. In Talking Bodies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Embodiment, Gender and Identity (ed. Emma Rees). Cham, Switzerland: Springer / Palgrave Macmillan.

Elouard, Y. and Essén, B. (2013). Psychological Violence Experienced by Men Who Have Sex with Men in Puducherry, India: A Qualitative Study. Journal of Homosexuality, 60(11): 1581-1601.

Fanon, F. (1952 [1986]). Black Skin, White Masks. (trans. Charles Lam Markmann). London, UK: Pluto Press.

Hall, S. (1985). Signification, Representation, Ideology: Althusser and the Post-Structuralist Debates. Critical Studies in Mass Communication , 2(2): 91-114.

Harris, K. L. (2017). Re-situating organizational knowledge: Violence, intersectionality and the privilege of partial perspective. Human Relations, 70(3): 263-285.

Morris, R. (ed.). (2010). Can the Subaltern Speak?: Reflections on the History of an Idea. New York City, NY: Columbia University Press.

Munt, S. (2007 [2016]). Queer Attachments: The Cultural Politics of Shame. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Oyedemi, T. (2016). Beauty as violence: ‘beautiful’ hair and the cultural violence of identity erasure. Social Identities, 22(5) 1-17.

Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak?. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Wilchins, R. (2000). My perspective: Words that kill; Violence against people who break gender rules is not born in a vacuum. It is born out of the smaller social violence that first robs us of our full humanity. The Advocate (Aug 29 2000), 819: 9.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546

© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

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Challenging Repression

Section 1

Challenging repression: exploring the violences of censorship and self-censorship through visual art practice

Keith Giles
Abstract

Challenging Repression includes three visual art images, all of which in different ways explore the violences of censorship and self-censorship. The images feature cultural symbols evocative of the past, particularly the twentieth century, and of LGBTQIA+ culture. A common trope across all three images is the partial-to-complete erasure or distortion of human faces, which suggests the ways in which mainstream heteronormative histories have silenced those of LGBTQIA+ people. This silencing includes the silencing of mainstream culture’s violences against those who do not fit its norms, and may furthermore be considered a form of violence in and of itself.

Keywords

Gender; Sexuality; Queer Art; Censorship

FIGURE 1: IMMORTELLE, SERIES 2, #1, 2017

FIGURE TWO: RED ROVER, SERIES 2, #1-3, 2017

THE OLD SCHOOL PHOTO, SERIES 2, #1-7, 2017

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

CRICOS Provider Code: VIC 00115MNSW 02218K

“Those were the bad old days”

Section 1

Those were the bad old days”: challenging straight histories of anti-queer violence

Curtis Redd
Abstract

The context of queer history telling is different from that found in many other social movements and identity-based organising, due to the absence of familial intergenerationality. Therefore queer history telling is significantly influenced and defined in the public imagination by heteronormative representations. When queer histories of violence are told by heteronormative sources, especially those implicated in the events and their (re)telling such as police and the state, the consequences can include subjugating queer knowledges and setting the limits of acceptable queer anger and grief, as well as the political priorities of queer communities and divisions within them.

The telling of this history, and the creation of a homophobic past in the public imaginary, also has to do with a shifting heterosexual subject and identity. With an increasingly socially acceptable queerness, heterosexuality must reconfigure itself. I argue that the historicizing of anti-queer violence is part of a larger shift—one that involves queer politics being oriented towards homonormative goals such as marriage in which queers are made more palatable, while straights become more tolerant and by extension more queer as is shown by the rile of “ally” as an identity, and that is incompatible with a recognition of violence against queers as continuing.

Keywords

Sexuality; Violence; Homophobia; Queer; Heteronormativity

FULL TEXT

In 2012 I presented at a school retreat for first year Humanities and Social Sciences PhD students. I optimistically expected that my research so far into homophobic violence in Australia would perhaps stimulate some discussion, but after the presentation I was approached by another PhD candidate who told me I had “got it all wrong” and that “homophobia doesn’t exist anymore”. Rejecting my use of scholarly sources and reports on rates of violence and discrimination, my colleague instead drew on her own evidence—that she had been friends with people in the 1980s who had gone “gay bashing” and that “they wouldn’t do that anymore” (she asserted, despite no longer knowing these people). I offered anecdotes of my own and friends’ experiences, but she was not swayed, even when I recounted incidents increasing in seriousness. My “proof” was not able to stand in the way of this unsubstantiated narrative of increased tolerance, based on nothing but the passing of time, the same kind of argument as simply stating the year—“it’s 2017!”

Over the past few years there has been a spate of government and police apologies in regards to the actions of police and state governments in perpetuating homophobic laws as well as an increase in media portrayals of past homophobic violence. There is clearly something happening in regards to the history of homophobic violence and repression in Australia, particularly with relation to the state. These apologies are about changing the story, or bringing it to light, which I’m sure those delivering them would agree. But it matters what the story is being changed to, and how it positions queers. Is it about addressing and redressing the past, or is it about rewriting it? Is the emphasis on changing the course of the future, or is it on the way future queers remember the past? These moments of negotiation – of acknowledging a history of homophobia while presenting a more tolerant present, are potentially also about negotiating a shifting straight identity. The historicising of this violence can obscure the ongoing nature of violence against queers, and this subjugation of queer knowledges can be seen as a form of symbolic violence in itself.

This narrative of progression of tolerance only through the passage of time and age is replicated in the history telling around narratives of gay bashing, in particular recent narratives around the Bondi beat murders. Representations that historicise this violence also prioritise straight protagonists—usually police, as the “heroes” who uncover this history and right the wrongs of police and governments past. There is an emerging discourse about the 1980s and 90s and police ineptitude in response to gay bashings and deaths (Feneley and Abboud 2016). There is also a growing awareness, if not acceptance, of a narrative that implicates the police (and the government) in this history—these appear both in the representation around the Bondi Beat murders and Operation Taradale and in the apologies from the South Australian and Victorian Governments and police. But there are simultaneous discourses coming from the police that deny the existence of anti queer violence in the present or place blame on the individual. This includes warnings around the risk of “beats” (places that men can meet and have sex with other men, often parks or public toilets), and advice not to “frock up” when going out and other forms of self-surveillance and victim blaming (NSW Police Public Site 2016), including the continued existence of the Homosexual Advance Defence. How do we untangle these seemingly contradictory narratives? For whom does an apology work? For whom and from whom makes it “enough” when we are dealing with a diverse range of people and experiences and the ever expanding acronym of non-hetero identities.

I propose that the historicizing of anti-queer violence is part of a larger shift—one that involves queer politics being oriented towards homonormative goals such as marriage in which queers are made more palatable, while straights become more tolerant and by extension more queer, as is shown through the rise of “ally” as an identity politic. This homonormativity can be seen in the debate surrounding the same-sex marriage survey, and as we see the “no” campaign target trans people, including children, the response from the “yes” side is—this is about marriage not gender.

This paper will explore the consequences of heteronormative entitlement to define queer histories of oppression, and the impact of these official and heteronormative voices in defining this history as well as the acceptable limits of queer anger, grief and the popular imaginary. The context of queer history telling is different than that found in many other social movements and identity based organising due to the absence of familial intergenerationality (Shulman 2009, 38). Therefore, queer history telling is significantly influenced and defined in the public imagination by heteronormative representations. Representation matters for queers, as Barbara Baird noted in 1997 in regards to engagement between gay and lesbian community groups (including anti-violence groups) and the police. Our engagement with the state will “always be discursive as well as material, that is, that contests over representation will be as important as, indeed inseparable from, the practicalities of meetings and lobbying…a struggle with a state institution over meaning and material resources” (Baird 1997, 78). Twenty years on this seems particularly relevant in the case of apologies from the police and State Governments in regards to past violence. Yet there seems little space for critique and the histories of anti-queer violence are represented as neutral despite the discursive power for these representations to override or subjugate the knowledges of queers. In the fictional miniseries of Deep Water(which premiered before the documentary), the killer is not the ordinary gay basher but a psychopathic serial killer, positioning the violence as abnormal and homophobia as an abnormal trait in the psyche of the individual. These narratives make no tangible difference to the lives of queers in the present, and perhaps even do harm in the way they position violence as abnormal or as a thing of the past, and subjugates contradicting queer knowledges of this.

A comparison between Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ apology for criminalisation, the final scene from SBS’s documentary Deep Water: The Real Story and the NSW Police response to the show, reveal similarities in their historicising of homophobic violence but also notes the progression of time as in itself an indication of change. Daniel Andrews absolves individuals and the police also:

“And it would be easy to blame the courts, or the media, or the police, or the public.

It is easy for us to condemn their bigotry. But the law required them to be bigoted […] I suppose it’s rare when you can’t even begin to conceive what was on the minds of our forebears in this place. But I look back at those statutes and I am dumbfounded. I can’t possibly explain why we made these laws, and clung to them, and fought for them.” (Andrews 2016)

In responding to the Deep Water program the police did a similar thing:

“…the NSW Police Force was a part of society – yes, there was homophobia in society. The conclusion from that is, yes, that there was homophobia in the NSW Police Force.” (SBS 2016)

At the end of Deep Water: The Real Story there is a voiceover of a statement from one of the men convicted of murders at Bondi:

“8th march 2016. I am writing this letter from prison. In 1990 I murdered a gay man and seriously assaulted his companion. I was convicted of these crimes along with two other men. The night of the crime at Mark’s Park was one of dread, fear, anger, confusion. On the way to Bondi that night I was fearful, confused, yet all of this was overshadowed by false pride, teenage bravado and a desire to make others feel as miserable and lonely as I did as a kid . It did not matter if they were gay or not. Gay men were simply an easy conduit. There was no exhilaration. The most accurate way to describe what went through me emotionally and physically was release. When I drank and took drugs it opened the spillway just like a dam. I had no emotional intelligence at all so that was my mechanism for a long time. In hindsight I now see that gay people at that time in my youth were shown to be an easy target for an angry maladjusted young boy . Gay people were much maligned in the 1970s and 80s. My opinion of gay men now is one of compassion support and friendship. I believe that gay men should be allowed to marry. I believe they do the nation more justice than the rest of us do. Yes, I have gay friends, one of my closest mates is gay. He’s a good bloke. He knows my past and cannot identify the man I am now with the person I was then. ” (Deep Water: The Real Story 2016) (emphasis mine)

These statements absolve the individual of blame and place it instead on a period of time and a society past. Homophobia as a term has problems because of its location in the psyche of the individual. Warner (1999) notes “homophobia” as “a misleading term” which “suggests that the stigma and oppression directed at this entire range of people can be explained simply as a phobic reaction to same-sex love” (Warner 1999, 38). I would argue that the current articulation and (re)definition of homophobia is limited to state regulated exclusion rather than a range of discursive and interpersonal experiences that shape the lives, desires and behaviour of non-hetero bodies. Homophobia does not describe or indicate the range of ways people experience stigma, shame, aggression, isolation, ridicule, harassment and violence at the hands of heteronormative society. It does not go far enough to explaining the schisms within the broad and weak alliance of the ever-extending acronym (GLBTIQA+ at last count) not just along traditionally considered intersections of race, class, ethnicity, religion and gender, but also in terms (especially in these homonormative times) along lines and cracks we have not yet named, which we may not have yet identified, which operate to isolate and separate. An identity politics lens inevitably fails at trying to categorise or recognise the myriad ways non-heterosexual and gender nonconforming bodies are shaped by violence, including that sanctioned and perpetrated by the state. Homophobia is also something that is easy for a straight subject to be against, and has taken on an almost identity like quality of “the homophobe”—arguable the binary partner of “the Ally”.

Queer has been added to the ever-expanding rainbow acronym but is often used as an “umbrella term” rather than in the theoretical context of queer theory. I will be using the term queer as per Michael Warner’s definition in The Trouble with Normal. Warner (1999) defines queer to refer to the “many ways people can find themselves at odds with straight culture” (38). He critiques the use of the terms of reference “gay and lesbian” as “blind” to the “the subtlety of the oppressive culture and to the breadth of the possible resistances” (Warner 1999, 39). Warner even critiques the expanded GLBT (which has now been expanded further to include IQA+) as “often rightly perceived […] as afterthoughts, half-hearted gestures at being politically correct.” (39) The inclusion of Q in the acronym sits somewhat uncomfortably given its difference to the other list of identities. Warner defines queer to include a range of “sexual stigmas” that may or may not have anything to do with sex, but include:

“the ways people suffer, often indiscriminately, from gender norms, object-orientation norms, norms of sexual practice, and norms of subjective identification […] it is possible to have a concrete sense of being in the same boat with people who may not share your sexual tastes at all—people who have had to survive the penalties of dissent from the norms of straight culture, for reasons that might be as various as the people themselves” (Warner 1999, 39)

Warner’s definition of queer allows us to include the trans children and young people who in 2017 Australia were thrown under the marriage equality bus by those distancing same sex marriage from “radical” gender ideology and programs like Safe Schools and inclusive sex education. It allows us to think about those who experience being “at odds with straight culture” and “suffering the dissent” before they can articulate an identity politic (or a “radical gender agenda”). Those who the Christian lobby attack—the “boys who want to wear dresses” and the 13 year old kids like Tyrone Unsworth who kill themselves before they even have had the queer sex they are being told is so wrong it shouldn’t be taught in sex education at school. It is important to include this next generation in the concept of history telling—a looking forward as we look back. We need to make discursive place for our histories, especially our experiences of resistance in the face of violence, so that we will have a next generation of queers onto whom to pass these histories

Using Warner’s definition of queer in conjunction with Duggan’s term “homonormativity” allows a way of looking at those who fall under the LGBT banner but who have not found themselves “at odds with straight culture” or had to survive “the penalties of dissent”, those gays and lesbians who may in fact benefit from heteronormativity. Lisa Duggan identifies this normalizing shift as integral to the politics of neoliberalism calling it “The New Homonormativity”:

“This new homonormativity comes equipped with a rhetorical recoding of key terms in the history of gay politics: “equality” becomes narrow, formal access to a few conservatizing institutions, “freedom” becomes impunity for bigotry and vast inequalities in commercial life and civil society, the “right to privacy” becomes domestic confinement, and democratic politics itself becomes something to be escaped.”(Duggan 2003, 65)

This also impacts on heterosexuality, and representations of queers and violence against them as historical can be viewed as part of negotiating a shifting heterosexual subject and identity. In Gay TV and Straight America, Ron Becker analyses the emergence of gay and lesbian representation and notes how in the 1980s and 90s the appearance of gays and lesbians on our televisions was part of negotiating a shifting border between heterosexuality and homosexuality. With an increasingly socially acceptable queerness, heterosexuality must reconfigure itself and this can be seen through what Becker calls “straight panic” (Becker 2006, 15), or through a kind of pleasurable consumption of GLBT content or confirmation of socially progressive values. Networks in the 1990s also used gay characters to target what Becker calls “Slumpy” viewers—Socially Liberal, Urban-Minded Professionals and notes that “gay rights debates also gave homo-sexuality a cutting-edge allure dulled just enough by their assimilationist goals to appeal to a relatively broad base.” (Becker 2006, 81)

Becker defines his concept of “straight panic” as “what happens when heterosexual men and women, insecure about the boundary between gay and straight, confront an increasingly accepted homosexuality” (Becker 2006, 15). The impact of civil rights movements and the emergence of multiculturalism as a discourse that not only acknowledged difference but “celebrated” it, as well as homosexuality’s newfound visibility on television, caused the previously ‘unmarked’ identity of heterosexuality (among others) to become not only visible, but to have its presumptive authority questioned. Becker extends his concept of “straight panic” to:

“also identify a broader social anxiety experienced by a once naïve mainstream confronting the politics of social identity and difference. Increasingly, Straight America(ns) faced a world where being gay wasn’t so bad, where being straight wasn’t so effortless, and where social identities in general and sexual identities in particular were increasingly relevant even as the line between them became ever more indeterminate” (Becker 2006, 23)

This renegotiation of heterosexual identity through representation fits with the narrative of gay hate crimes and violence at the same period. Straight people could no longer avoid thinking about gay people, and the assertion of social difference combined with the demand for social equality was (and remains) difficult to reconcile. A way of doing this is to distance straight identity from homophobia by historicising it. The emergence of a historicising narrative around violence in the 2000s can be seen as part of a continuing negotiation and redefinition of straight identity.

In 2006 I was queer officer for the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), which is a role that requires running collectives and organising events as well as providing some pastoral care and liaising with University services. I was asked by a campus Jewish group to take part in a Holocaust memorial service, to light a candle for the “queers, gypsies (sic) and others” that had died. Attending the service, I was struck by a kind of disconnect that I felt in relation to those I was symbolically recognising. Who were these queers that I was mourning for, whose shortened lives stood apart from mine in time and space, but to whom I was linked on the basis of potential persecution? The room was filled with those who could trace their lineages, had faces and names and stories of near escape or tragic separation. Had I been born in a different time or place I could have suffered the same fate, yet it didn’t feel like these were my tears to cry.

In Ties That Bind Sarah Schulman notes that:

“most social movements have been constructed by people who were related: civil rights and labour movements involve multi-generations of rebellion by the same families. Even feminism has tried to be a movement of mothers and daughters. But the gay and lesbian movement, like the disability movement, is made up of people who stand apart from the fate of their family members, and whose most intense oppression experiences may be at the hands of those same relatives” (Shulman 2009, 38)

The heteronormativity (and often homophobia) of families of origin has consequences for our ability to form connections both with our families of origin and with other queers. We are queered into an orphan-like subject hood, looking for our forbearers, clutching clues and scraps of paper or trawling the internet for someone like us, for our family, our history, ourselves. In After Homosexual, Daniel Marshall remembers “the familiar solo queer sleuthing work I performed as a boy, ignorant of the gay liberation struggle of the 1970s and its efforts to reimagine life and learning. Here and there my childhood curiosity would dart, piecing together assemblages, collages, of meaning and interest” (Marshall 2013, 250). As a result, mainstream and heteronormative representation can take on an important role for those who don’t know how to, or can’t, find queer community. These representations continue to be important to those of us who are lucky to have constructed queer families of choice, as we negotiate how to support and love each other outside the social scaffolding of heteronormative models of relation.

There is a gap in the transfer of knowledge and history around violence, state repression and activist responses to younger queers. We have also lost a generation to AIDS, and—as attacks on Safe Schools show—older queers engaging with other (straight) people’s children may be met with paranoid accusations of paedophilia and/or recruitment ( Safe Schools, Sniping and Senators 2016). Often in mainstream narratives of queerness the intergenerationality is left out also—when young trans people are talked about there are no trans adults, only straight parents and teachers expressing how hard it is and how wonderful they are trying to be (Four Corners 2014). As a result, straight voices tell and define this history, and institutions such as the police and the government cannot narrate this history of violence they are a part of in a neutral way. There is a legitimised state discourse that presents a narrative of progress, positioning violence—including that at the hands of police—as in the past and incompatible with current practices and culture. This is more audible than the lived experiences of queers.

The reopening of unsolved murder cases, including Operation Taradale in 2000, position “one good cop” as redeeming the institution and as an indicator of progress. This is also shown in fictional and documentary representations such as Deep Water. Since 2013 and the international attention directed at the Scott Johnson case (Kontominas 2017) there has been an increasingly audible and legitimised narrative of police incompetence, complicity and involvement with homophobic violence in the late 80s and early 90s. The shift to the rhetoric over “the bad old days” aligns with the shift to assimilationist goals such as marriage (revived by John Howard’s Marriage Amendment Act 2004 (Cwlth)), which not only fail to challenge heteronormativity but actually reinforce it (and reinvigorate it—arguably marriage had become quite unfashionable before gays and lesbians made it cool again.) This coincides with the increasing involvement of police with gay and lesbian liaison officers (GLLOs) from the 1990s—an investment from the state in being perceived as “dealing with” homophobia (symbolically if not in practice).

The representations of the Bondi Beat murders, such as Deep Water, tell the story of gay “hate crime” positioning the telling usually through the eyes of police, and through the popular and palatable framework of crime show narrative. There is a lack of remembrance of gay community responses or connections such as the use of “vigilante” tactics of recording numberplates, and patrols by Dykes on Bikes (Whittaker 2016). Instead the focus is on the brutality of crimes, the danger of beats, loss to biological family, and a society from “a different era” that created the conditions both for gay men taking risks and young men bashing gays as part of a formative masculinity. This age group (men aged 18-24) is noted in particular in most narratives, as being a stage in which most perpetrators, (except the psychopathic scapegoat as depicted in the fictional Deep Water), have moved through and past and now see the error of their ways. In a 2005 study by Flood and Hamilton, the age group of boys 14-17 was identified as showing “relatively high levels of homophobia” (Flood and Hamilton 2008, 35) in comparison to the general trend of homophobic attitudes being “most common amongst the oldest age groups, less common among younger adults, and least common among the youngest adults” (2008, 35). Flood and Hamilton state that this “declines by the time they reach early adulthood” (2008, 35) and conclude that “this suggests that a belief in the immorality of homosexuality will lessen over time as these cohorts age” (2008, 35). The closing scene and monologue of Deep Water: The True Story blames society and masculinity, and by stating that he now has friendships with gays and is unrecognisable from his younger previous self he replicates this progression. The apology acts (as is arguably its intention) to sever, to demarcate, and in doing so to imply an ever upward progression towards tolerance and acceptance, even if it takes time. This allows individuals to adopt the same narrative in terms of their own heterosexual identity, one that can go from “I used to be homophobic” to “now I’m not” with only the passage of time as any measure of change. Changes in police attitudes are likened to the changes in DNA technology. The depiction of the 1980s “Grim Reaper” ad in both the fictional and documentary versions of Deep Water acts also to place direct state-based homophobia as in the past, as it is used to demonstrate with some disbelief the values of a different era.

It is also significant that although State-based apologies (and representations of violence more broadly) are directed at the LGBT community, they are primarily apologies to gay men, with some limited reference to lesbians. Arguably gay men have been the most visibly or “officially” targeted by state repression, however this historical narrative also requires analysis as to its cultural construction, and we shouldn’t assume that because someone’s oppression is not visible or audible to us, or to straight society, it is not there. Apologies set the scene for which lives are worth memorialising, which deaths are worth apologising for, and whose repression is no longer seen as acceptable. In the context of these events being unfamiliar to young or disconnected queers, the impact of these histories being told by the authorities who perpetrated them is significant. This potentially creates a distance between those whom the state legitimises as victims or survivors and those it does not. This could cause a split, gap or schism between queers who continue to experience oppression and violence and those to whom the state (government and police) are apologising. This may end up being along generational lines, as young queers continue to be overrepresented in terms of homelessness (Lewis 2016), violence, and suicide (Beyond Blue 2018), while the most audible gay and lesbian voices in mainstream discourse advocate for marriage.

Within a police force that still continues to be violent against minorities including queers, the few “bad eggs” from the past are given the majority of blame. Violence and police corruption are situated in the past, producing a present which allows straight people to feel relieved of an oppression they don’t believe themselves to be a part of. The state takes responsibility away from individuals and individuals put their responsibility on the state—as shown in the apology at the end of Deep Water: The Real Story.

This paper was given prior to the announcement of the same-sex marriage postal survey. It seems impossible to speak of anti queer violence, the schisms within GLBTIQA “communities” and the entitlement of straight people to weigh in on queer politics and history without addressing the 2017 same-sex marriage postal survey. The range of attacks on queer bodies and politics has come into conflict with the single issue and homonormative goal of same sex marriage. Attacks from the “no” side and the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) on gender non-conforming children, the Safe Schools program and inclusive sex education, have been met largely with a distancing by the “yes” campaign and Australian Marriage Equality from these issues, and a focus on the technicalities of marriage rights versus de-facto rights and the rhetoric of “love is love”. While trans people have been used by the “No” side to evoke fear of queers, the “Yes” side has “largely ignored gender nonconforming bodies altogether in its fight” (Gallagher 2017) and trans people have been “excluded by the respectability politics of the mainstream same-sex marriage campaign” (Gallagher 2017). The singular focus of same-sex marriage as good, or important, for the LGBTIQ community as a whole ignores the far more pressing trans issues of access to health care and changes to identity documents as well as high rates of suicide, violence and homelessness. Claims that these issues can be addressed after same-sex marriage is won, or that they are separate concerns, ignores the fact that the issues are not separate in the eyes of the “no” campaign and trans people are being targeted by opponents of same-sex marriage now.

Anecdotally rates of violence have increased as a result of the 2017 postal survey, circulating throughout queer networks and social media. As is the case generally with anti-queer violence, most is not reported to police (Leonard et al. 2008, 37). As a result, the ability to collect statistics in relation to violence from a diverse and somewhat unidentifiable group is difficult. Arguably, there is no data that will be deemed to “prove” homophobia because of the strength of the discursive hegemony of heteronormativity, however even 2016 attempts by the Australian Bureau of Statistics to collect data on sexuality and gender diversity was flawed. If a person wanted to identify as neither male nor female, or transgender on the 2016 census, they were required to call the ABS and request a special log in or paper form (Karp 2016). This meant an “opt in” rather than extending the opportunity to everyone, and also raised some security concerns in regards to the name retention of the 2016 survey when matched with gender identity (Goldner 2016).

In their 2016 analysis of the cost to the Australian nation of the then proposed plebiscite Price Waterhouse Cooper used the statistic of 2% to represent the rate of GLBTIQ people in the community (PwC 2016, p 6)—an incredibly low estimate which they themselves acknowledge, noting that “other evidence suggests this could be anywhere between 2.3-10%” (PwC 2006, 5). This 2% is based on “a conservative estimate consistent with Psychologists for Marriage Equality”; the estimate only addresses the experiences of LGB people “as there was generally less information available for transgender and intersex Australians in this part of the analysis” while acknowledging that “the impacts are higher for transgender and intersex Australians” (PwC 2016, 5). Most statistics on the existence of LGBT Australians use a 10% estimate, with some slightly higher at 11% (Australian Human Rights Commission 2017). Nevertheless, even with PwC using such low stats their 2016 estimate of the financial cost of LGBTI Australians loss of productivity at work, sick days due to affected mental health and accessing mental health services as the result of a plebiscite was $20 Million (PwC 2016, 7).

These numbers do not reflect (or allow space for the truth and extent of) anecdotal and community knowledge. The Bondi Beat murders are a case in point—the extent of men being assaulted and killed was well known to gay men and other queers in the community but treated by police as unrelated cases of robbery, suicide or misadventure. It wasn’t until police made the connection between the murders post-2000 that they were officially recognised as related, and only in retrospect are these murders referred to as “hate crimes” or a “blood sport”. Similarly, during the postal survey there have been incidents of violence such as the burning of rainbow flags, rocks thrown through windows displaying “yes” posters, homophobic graffiti, and even a dog wearing a “yes” bandana being kicked (Wade 2017). However this is often positioned as an acceptable part of the debate or as “coming from both sides”; there is no recognition of structural homophobia or that this is part of ongoing violence against queers. Even as we are seeing this “shocking increase in harassment and assaults” (Hirst 2017), we are being told by politicians that there is no homophobia in Australia and we are having a “respectful debate”. This is a demonstration of why, in these times, how public discourses of homophobia are told is vitally important as the knowledge of those of us who experience violence is not legitimated or audible, often even by those within the GLBTIQA+ community. When it comes to learning and understanding the history of violence against queers in Australia it matters who is telling this history and how. With a lack of familial intergenerationality, mainstream representations take on a greater significance in the context of queer identity and organising. Those implicated in this history of violence, such as police and the state, cannot present this history neutrally. Through an analysis of media representations and state-based apologies, this paper has argued that the historicising of anti-queer violence found in these discourses has implications in terms of the absolving of individuals of blame and a shifting straight identity that can obscure the violence, and homophobic oppression more broadly, that continues today.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546

© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

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Symbolic acts and reactions to violence in the name of patriotism

Section 1

Symbolic acts and reactions to violence in the name of patriotism

Alex Dunkin
Abstract

Cannibale is an Italian literary genre that provides new methods of social commentary and critique of established norms through depicting violent and extreme implications of these norms. The genre and its unique grotesque satirical qualities have primarily been restricted to the Italian literary and cultural spaces due to the general ineffectiveness of translation in this case. The hindrance occurs due to the high level of inclusion of specifically Italian dialects, tropes, products, profanities, concepts of the ‘other’, and many localised social attitudes that feature in cannibaletexts. To overcome these difficulties, the creative artefact entitled Fair Daywas produced to match the cannibale genre’s requirements but to replace the Italian attributes with Australian ones. It is within this artefact where, among other social and cultural norms, critique of patriotism and “white pride” is presented.

The sample text selected from Fair Day demonstrates the cannibale commentary confronting such issues while maintaining the essentials of the genre, including the constraint of sourcing the opening creative content from the author’s individual background and lived experiences. The initial representations shown follow canniable trends by developing from casual, unchallenged behaviours and gradually escalating in a manner that appears as the characters’ next natural step toward an extreme and brutal outcome.

Keywords

Grotesque Satire; Patriotism; White Violence; Nationalism; Accepted Social Attitudes

FULL TEXT

Cannibale is an Italian literary genre that provides a method of social commentary and a critique of contemporary norms identified by the author, through depicting violent and extreme implications extrapolated from these norms. Cannibale authors have used this approach to critique widely-accepted aspects of Italian culture, such as class and gender structures and social obedience (Lucamante 2001, 98-107; Jansen & Lanslot 2007). This genre, unique to Italian literature, is intentionally restricted by the author’s own perspective, incorporating the specific background, time of writing and local colloquialisms along with the broader social context. This restriction renders the task of direct translation, while maintaining the original intent and impact, difficult to impossible (Maher 2012, 367-384). Some superficial analyses introduce “overstated” connections between cannibale and pulp in film. However, nuanced examination demonstrates separate evolutionary paths (La Porta 2001, 57-75).

Research conducted in order to produce an Australian cannibale artefact implemented linguistic analysis to produce a creative text that assessed how cannibale may be applied to the Australian context, in this case critiquing norms around journalistic approaches to race representations and acceptable levels of violence in public protests and demonstrations. The creative artefact presents a new representation of Australian cultural norms utilising the distinctive style of cannibale, a successful genre and satirical approach that currently exists in only one country. Such work provides a fresh understanding of everyday Australian experiences, particularly of divisive tropes such as “white pride”, in order to undermine representations and biases that might otherwise pass unnoticed. It is also the first creative artefact to demonstrate that the cannibale genre can be transposed to new cultural spaces without relying on direct translation.

The research demonstrates the suitability of the cannibale genre to circumvent the limitations of translation by creating new narratives that specifically mirror experiences of the target culture, in this case Australia. Utilising the structure and style of cannibale is important as it engages the reader via the inclusion of popular writing styles, recognisable brands, colloquial language and relatable characters. In doing so, it allows commentary on cultural mores and social attitudes to be disseminated to a wider audience, and therefore invites critical self-reflection on how blind adherence to socially condoned behaviour may lead to devastating outcomes.

The creative artefact was published in November 2017 through Buon-Cattivi Press.

SELECTED EXCERPTS FROM THE CREATIVE ARTEFACT, FAIR DAY.

Context statement: The selected scenes depict some of the final moments from Fair Day. The escalation to violence occurs following a drug-fuelled sexual interaction between two male characters who celebrate Australia Day at an exclusive beach house.

CASSANDRA

“Good evening, I’m Cassandra Cummings with your 5CCB news update.

“Founders Bay residents are being instructed to initiate their wildfire survival plan as a sudden change in gusty winds is blowing an out of control fire directly toward the town. Emergency services say the sudden change has created a larger uncontrollable front and warn everyone not to drive into smoke even if you think you know the roads. If it’s too late for you to leave, police recommend you shelter yourself indoors or make your way to the school hall where an evacuation centre is being set up.

“In more local news, a race riot has taken over the town square in Founders Bay. Early reports say that members of a non-local white pride movement have attacked a local Indigenous event chanting anti-immigration epithets. Police are making their way to the scene.

“In other news, the local hospital is reporting a record number of people presenting with burns to their feet. A local hospital nurse told 5CCB the majority of people on the beach wear thongs or create their own temporary shade but some have spent prolonged periods standing barefoot on sand at temperatures up to forty-eight degrees Celsius, causing severe burns. Alcohol consumption is believed to also be a factor.

“Rolling blackouts have been reported in the Coonawarren district with many local businesses and homes affected. People are asked to check in on any elderly or vulnerable people who might be unable to escape the heat.

“In sport, the cricket will still go ahead on schedule despite forecasts showing the current heatwave extending for an extra few days. Cricket Australia assures 5CCB that extra water, shade and ice vests will be available for all players and spectators.

“To weather and it’s not cooling down just yet with the temperature currently sitting on forty-two degrees. Hotter temperatures are expected for tomorrow.

“I’m Cassandra Cummings. Stay tuned to 5CCB for all breaking news on the wildfire emergency.”

RONALD

“Good evening. This is Ronald Ray for Today’s Affairs. We interrupt Jamie and Marge’s Cooking Juices to take you live to the scene of a race riot in the tourist town of Founders Bay. Local reporter Rachel Kind is on the scene. Rachel?”

“Watch it f****r. Thanks Ronald. This is Rachel Kind. I’m here at Founders Bay where a peaceful Australia Day celebration has turned into a race riot. Sirens are ringing out behind me. Smoke is rising all around the town square.

“The riot began when racial slurs were exchanged between Muslim immigrants to the town and the local Indigenous community. The verbal insults quickly escalated to violence that has so far left five white Australians who were caught in the crossfire dead from apparent knife wounds.

“Nowhere is safe in this town at the moment. This riot is the most violent event this town has seen in its history. It is unlikely that anyone will be safe from the impact of today’s ev—”

“Rachel? Rachel? Can you hear me? We appear to be having some technical difficulty. We will have coverage back up and running as soon as possible so that we can return to the brave reporting of Rachel live at the coastal town of Founders Bay. In the meantime, we leave you to return to Jamie and Marge’s Cooking Juices. We’ll be back breaking the news for you. Until seven-thirty or when the real news breaks, I’m Ronald Ray. Good evening.”

JACKO AND JONNO

“Fuck them. Those brown bastards up the road,” anger sparks in Jonno’s eyes. “It’s their fault I was almost no longer a man. We gotta get ’em.”

“It’s all their fault,” Jacko shouts. “I can’t believe this. We need to make sure it never happens again. This is our country. Fuck their queer shit.”

Jonno stands still and nods viciously. His head nods enthusiastically with each word from his mate. Their eyes meet each other’s in a wild stare; they are together in this moment.

“They think they can just come over here and mess with our way of life. We need to get out there and make things change in this town,” Jacko continues. “Those immigrants are to blame for everything being fucked.”

“Fuckin’ oath! Let’s go show them whose country this really is. I’m getting my flag.”

Jacko marches off with Jonno in tow, fired up as they charge out to their car and rip open the door. The sizzling of hot metal on their fingers fuels their rage. Red pulses under their skin and through the purple burns across their flesh. They snatch the flags out from under the car seats. A few empties clink as they fall off the flags and onto the torn car carpet.

The flag corners knot around their necks with ease. The red, white and blue, and the green and gold flap proudly out from their necks. Jonno and Jacko stand with fists on their hips once their costumes are complete.

They march on, down to the beach where their fellow diggers await.

“My fellow Australians!” Jacko shouts from the top of the dune. A few heads twist around from under their shade next to where the cricket wickets fell and now rest. “My fellow Australians. We are in grave danger!” More heads from their Australia Day party turn around and start sitting up. “We face a very serious threat here today. There is a cult that threatens to harm us. It promotes only death and destruction and faggots. It almost overwhelmed us today but we have seen the light,” he slaps Jonno on the back. More of their entourage turn, a few begin to stand. A drunken fire kindles in some of them. Their purple, inked skin flushes with blood, ready to fight for their nation at the drop of a hat. “These unStrayan traitors to our nation have invaded our lands. They steal our jobs. They spit on our traditions and pervert our very way of life. Those muzzos come here and try to make this land their new muzzo territory.”

“Yeah,” a couple of blokes grunt from the beach. They stumble as they step closer to Jacko and Jonno. More of their mates turn and stand to hear what Jacko has to say. Jacko’s eyes twitch fanatically at the swelling pack of deadset fair dinkum ridgy-didge true blue dinky-di Aussies. “Fuckin’ muzzos!” a few of the pack add to the chorus.

“Those fuckers can’t take our land from us. They don’t belong here. We do. This is our land!” Jacko yells over the gusts of wind. The bright red flush of his mounting rage looks like war paint. “Let’s show those fuckin’ muzzos that this is good Australian land they’ve invaded. We’ll make them too scared to bring their filthy ways here again. Who’s with me?!”

“Fuck yeah!” the building crowd shouts.

“This is our land. We need to take it back! It’s ours! Let’s go get ’em. Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!”

“Oi! Oi! Oi!” the mob shouts back.

“Fuckin’ oath, let’s get ’em,” Jonno shouts, his chest filling with pride.

Jonno and Jacko take the lead. They kick through the sand heading in the direction of the town square. A mob of thirty patriots follow their lead. Australian flags worn as capes flutter behind them, chasing them into their just cause.

Timmo looks up from where he’s bobbing in the shallows of the sea. His arse bounces roughly on the sand as each wave draws back out to sea. Tamie lies back next to him, her body moving serenely in time with the water. Behind them on a beach a crowd gathers in front of the toilet block. The people chant and punch their fists into the air.

Timmo looks amongst the crowd and spots Jonno and Jacko at the helm. They shout into the crowd, their faces wild for war. A glimmer of concern emerges in Timmo’s eyes. Tamie glances up at Timmo, blissfully ignorant of the commotion beyond the lapping waves.

“What are you thinking about?” Tamie flirts.

Timmo nods towards the beach. Tamie pulls herself up, her bikini dragging across the wet sand. She jerks around and plants herself cross-legged facing the seething throng.

“I see Jacko and Jonno finally got their clothes back on,” Tamie laughs. “I didn’t realise fucking would be such a big high five moment for them.”

“I don’t think it’s funny,” Timmo stands up. Water drains noisily from his boardies. “It looks like a lynch mob. All they’re missing is pitchforks.”

“What? Why the hell would you say that?”

‘Because they’re cranked up. I’ve seen Jacko and Jonno get into all kinds of shit when they’re like this. And now they’ve got a crowd cheering them on.’

Timmo kicks through the water—and the sand and the flies—as he makes his way up to the group. Movement ripples out from the crowd as it parts like a bogan red sea to allow their two leaders to head the march along the beach. Timmo sprints across the hard, wet sand. His chest heaves in his rush to get in front of the crowd, gritting his teeth through the pain of exertion. The sand flicks about wildly as he runs directly for his two friends.

“Jacko, Jonno, hold up,” he says out of breath. He holds his arms out to stop the leaders’ march.

“What is it?” Jacko barks. “We’ve got some illegals to bash.”

“Wait, what? Why?” Timmo puffs back.

“They’re over here taking all our jobs. They’re ruining our culture, they’re ruining our country.”

“Yeah fuckin’ muzzos!” the crowd shouts back.

“Come off it, man. You’ve never applied for a job in your life,” Timmo replies.

“Yeah, well why the fuck should I?!”

“Are you seriously going to do this? Do you really think this is a good idea?” Timmo asks, straightening up.

“Absolutely!” Jonno retorts, his eyes wide with mania. “We need to protect what’s ours. We created this country from nothing and we made this country awesome! We need to fight to keep it that way. Come on guys. Let’s get ’em!”

“Wait, stop! That wasn’t even a Muslim celebration we went past before,” Timmo pleads futilely. “You’re heading for an Aboriginal event!”

“Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” the crowd chants. “Oi! Oi! Oi!”

Jacko and Jonno are gone, the chanting of the crowd drowning out Timmo’s cries as it flows forward like a river around a boulder. No one touches Timmo as they trek by.

“What’s all that about?” Tamie asks once she catches up to Timmo.

“They’re starting a riot. They’re totally wasted, they have no idea what’s going on, and they don’t know who they’re about to beat into.”

“Shit. What can we do?”

“We can’t stop this from happening.” Timmo says. “All we can do is call the police. I’m dead if they find out, but we can’t do nothing. Come on, let’s get to our phones and warn them a fight is about to break out.”

“Go back to where you came from!” Jacko chants into the incited mob.

Jeers shout back at Jacko over the scuffles in the town square. Jonno bounces nearby, each drop-kick he unleashes smashes into the brown bastard that lies unmoving on the ground.

Jacko shivers with the tight little thrill of destruction. The urge to hurt them more dances in the forefront of his mind. His eyes dart around in search of a target. He spots groups of patriots punching into a muzzo they’ve singled out. But that’s no good to him—that situation is already sorted and there’s nothing more for him to contribute. His mind races with the possibilities of how he can further their cause.

Then, before him, he sees three flagpoles rise like monumental pillars against the dark sky. In the centre stands a symbol he recognises. The Australian flag flickers like a beacon, but is under siege by two other flags, a green and blue eyesore grasps at the edge of the Southern Cross while some red, black and yellow abomination obscures the Union Jack.

Jacko marches towards the flag poles with an insatiable feeling of strength. A flying brick that slams into the side of his leg doesn’t penetrate the patriotic determination controlling his thoughts. He lines up the nearest pole, grabs onto the rope and untangles the knot that fastens the flag in place. The flag steadily descends as Jacko tugs the rope, and as soon as the blue and green flag hits the ground Jacko unclips it. Jacko repeats this feat on the opposite side and pulls the flag to the ground with little difficulty.

With two flags clumped under his arm Jacko strides out into an open patch within the town square, empty except for a limp bouncy castle and a pine tree. He dumps the fabric onto the ground in an awkward clash of colours and spits on them in contempt. He rips on the velcro in his pants and pulls out his cock to complete the insult to these migrant invaders. He pisses on the flags, the colours darkening with the yellow stream of liquid.

“What the hell are you doing man?” Jezza asks from behind Jacko. Jacko snaps his head around. Derek stands next to him rubbing a fresh bruise on his face. Jonno spots the fresh cuts on Jezza’s face too and bounds over to inspect the war wounds.

“I’m fighting against the migrants’ fuckin’ attempt to invade our country with their halal and bullshit religions. Women should wear as little as they want!” Jacko says.

“And how is pissing on the Aboriginal flag helping you to do that?” Jezza wonders aloud.

“Nah mate,” Jacko insists. “They’re muzzo flags.”

“Nope. You fucking idiot.”

“Yeah, well they’re still not Australian flags, are they?” Derek points out. “Let’s burn the bastards anyway.”

Jacko’s eyes light up with an intense joy.

“You got a fuckin’ lighter?” he asks. His eyes bulge with mania.

“Nope,” Derek answers. “Hold on.” Derek turns to the pursuing mob of proud Australians. “Oi! We need a lighter!” he shouts.

Three small coloured tubes are hurled at them on command. Derek picks one up and sparks a flame.

“I have one now. You got any petrol?”

“Shit,” Jacko says. “Who the freakin’ hell has petrol round here.”

The wind howls over their yells. The smoke embellishes the sky with another smother of grey soot. Gusts drive through the town square in a fury of heat and despair. A hollow crack startles the trio.

“What the fuck was that?” Jacko asks.

The aged pine tree fails under the constant beating of the hot wind. The branches cast a dull shadow across the square on its descent toward the sea. Jezza looks up and points uselessly at the tree. The weight of the trunk crashes down on the group holding the piss-stained flags. The smaller branches snap under the force of the fall; the thicker branches hold their own, skewering their soft flesh in multiple places.

Jonno looks up at the pandemonium of the fallen tree. Somewhere in all of that he thought he heard his name. He picks his way through the smoke across the town square. He can’t make out much among the tangle, until some movement catches his eye. Among the branches, suspended like bloody puppets, hang Jacko, Jezza and Derek.

“Holy fuck.”

WORKS CITED

Jansen, M. and Lanslot, I. (2007). Ten years of Gioventú Cannibale: Reflections on the anthology as a vehicle for literary change. In Trends in Contemporary Italian Narrative 1980-2007. United Kingdom: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

La Porta, F. (2001). The Horror Picture Show and the very real horrors: About the Italian Pulp. In Italian Pulp Fiction: the new narratives of Gioventú Cannibali. London: Associate University Press.

Lucamante, S. (2001). Everyday consumerism and pornography “above the pulp line”. In Italian Pulp Fiction: the new narratives of Gioventú Cannibali. London: Associate University Press.

Maher, B. (2012). Taboo or not taboo: swearing, satire, irony, and the grotesque in the English translation of Niccolò Ammaniti’s Ti Prendo e Ti Porto ViaThe Italianist 32 (3): 367-384.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546

© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

CRICOS Provider Code: VIC 00115MNSW 02218K

With no cock

Section 1

With no cock

Sarah Pearce
Abstract

This performance poem is an embodied response to a lover who enacted an insidious kind of interpersonal and anti-queer violence against my self. I use physical memory as a starting point to address issues of trauma and to unpack the violent clashing of normative and queer expressions of self. This piece speaks to a personal experience of being silenced, in addition to a far broader issue of female bisexual marginalisation in heteronormative society. Through dialectic opposition, and the consequent undermining of past events, I seek to erode the marginalisation and silencing of bisexual female experience, and provide an alternative narrative regarding female-female sexual experience. Through iteration and the painful excavation of memory, the poem seeks to redress trauma and thus redress some of the oppression faced by bisexual women.

Keywords

Sexuality; Violence; Trauma; Biphobia; Memory

FULL TEXT

With No Cock

 

We don’t talk anymore

You and I

 

But I remember

the way we danced

in that club

you licked salt from my neck

sucked lemon from my fingers

and every line of your body

swayed and demanded

that I not look away

 

I remember closing the door and turning to you

—after almost four years,

it was time

 

After…

You said

with no cock

it’s just foreplay

 

But honey

I remember—

you led me

every step of the way

you pushed me down

you pulled my clothes up

I remember

the way the ink curled round your ribs

and your lips circled my tit—

You couldn’t believe

how soft

I was

 

You said

with no cock

it’s just foreplay

 

But honey

I remember

the way you melted in my mouth

and almost fell

as I knelt

between your legs

 

I remember

your hand in my hair

and the way you came

on my tongue

again, and again

 

I remember

cherishing every curve of your body

and the look in your eyes

as you rode me

 

I had never seen anything so beautiful

You said

with no cock

it’s just foreplay

 

But honey

I remember

waking in the morning and

turning to you

because we hadn’t had enough

couldn’t have enough

of flesh and lips

and gasping wet

 

They had to air that room out

because it was full of cunt

and joy and sweat

 

A few months ago

you posted some meme about

bi-erasure

and how hard it is to get people

to take your sexuality seriously

and my heart

           shattered

for the hundredth time

 

You said

with no cock

it’s just foreplay

 

I say—

Honey, it’s a shame

but I will always

know the difference

between foreplay

and fucking

And you?

You didn’t need a cock

to fuck me

       over

ERA RESEARCH STATEMENT

RESEARCH BACKGROUND

This performance poem is an embodied response to a lover who enacted an insidious kind of interpersonal and anti-queer violence against my self and the consequences of which are felt in my body to this day. First drafted in the workshop “Life Writing/writing the body” (Eades 2016), the poem uses physical memory as a starting point to address issues of trauma and the consequences of violence: the body, after all, “iterates, reiterates, archives, and (echoing), is heard” (Eades 2015, 11).

This poem confronts the lingering spectre of heteronormativity, or heterosexual ideology, which “bears down in the heaviest and often deadliest way on those with the least resources to combat it” (Warner 1991, 9). The exclusion of bisexual women, and their repeated marginalisation in queer communities, denies them resources such as community peer support and identification, rendering them less resilient and more susceptible to trauma and violence. The poem therefore seeks to demonstrate “the devastating and often unconscious influence culture can have on our sexualities and sexual orientations” (Obradors-Campos 2011, 224). Fundamentally, the poem communicates the dual experiences of confusion and hurt, as the consequence of denial and rejection. The outward expression of biphobia is revealed as an act with deep internal significance.

RESEARCH CONTRIBUTION

Performance poetry is a way of conveying and documenting history orally, particularly experience which has historically been silenced, such as bisexual experience in both heterosexual and queer societies: “Oral history is more than a research method; it has democratised the study of the past by recording the experience of people who have been hidden from history” (Wong 2007, 30). This piece therefore speaks to a personal experience of being silenced, in addition to a far broader issue of female bisexual marginalisation. In performing this poem, I seek to erode the marginalisation and silencing of bisexual female experience, and provide an alternative narrative regarding female-female sexual experience. This body resists, because it “insists on creative process, on writing its way out of the structures in which it finds itself” (Eades 2015, 15).

The iterative use of the phrase “but honey/I remember” indicates the confusion experienced by myself, the contradiction or dissonance between my own experience, and the words used by my lover—the words that cut deeply. Opposing iterations of this phrase and the title phrase evoke the violent battle, between my lover and me, between normativity and queer expressions of self.

RESEARCH SIGNIFICANCE

This poem is significant because it seeks to redress some of the oppression and tangible trauma faced by bisexual women. According to recent research, bisexual women are more likely than both lesbian and heterosexual women to suffer from mental health issues and eating disorders (Kerr et al. 2013; Koh and Ross 2006). The poem aims to combat this via drawing attention to the ways in which “people with non-heterosexual sexualities… unconsciously reproduce the heterosexist system through values, ideas and actions toward others and themselves in what is known as internalized heterosexism that may lead to internalised biphobia in the case of bisexuals” (Obradors-Campos 2011, 213; see also 224). The poem foregrounds the trauma experienced by myself, in terms of silencing, erasure, and invalidation of sexual experience and sexuality. It also draws attention to broader issues of biphobia as an act of violence against queer women and, in so doing, gestures obliquely to the internalised biphobia of my lover as an act of violence against the self.

WORKS CITED

Eades, Q. (2015). all the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body. North Melbourne: Tantanoola.

Eades, Q. (2016). Life writing/writing the body: workshop with Dr Quinn Eades. SA Gender and Sexualities Studies Postgraduate Conference 2016: Intersections. 17 September 2017. Worldsend Hotel.

Kerr, D. L., Santurri, L. and Peters, P. (2013). A Comparison of Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual College Undergraduate Women on Selected Mental Health Issues. Journal of American College Health, 61(4): 185-194.

Koh, A. S. and Ross, L. K. (2006). Mental Health Issues: A Comparison of Lesbian, Bisexual and Heterosexual Women. Journal of Homosexuality , 51(1): 33-57.

Obradors-Campos, M. (2011). Deconstructing Biphobia. Journal of Bisexuality, 11(2-3): 207-226.

Warner, M. (1991). Introduction: Fear of a Queer Planet. Social Text, 29: 3-17.

Wong, D. (2007). Beyond Identity Politics: The Making of an Oral History of Hong Kong Women Who Love Women. Journal of Lesbian Studies, 10(3-4): 29-48.



		

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.

ISSN: 2202-2546

© Copyright 2015 La Trobe University. All rights reserved.

CRICOS Provider Code: VIC 00115MNSW 02218K