[Marxism] Re: Radical Homosexuality and "Sex-positive"

lrubemp at netscape.net lrubemp at netscape.net
Thu Apr 29 13:24:13 MDT 2004

Ian Pace posted an article by Peter Tatchell, which critiqued the equal-rights fight for gay/lesbian rights in favor of a "sex-positive" perspective.  My thoughts:

1.  Agree completely about the construction of an
inherently reformist LGBT "culture" that offers no
challenge whatever to the bourgeois class sytem. 
However, the struggle for equal rights, e.g. gay
marriage, does not imply the perpetuation of
homo-hetero duality.  Quite the opposite.  The
securing of legal equality undermines the social
stigma and pariah status of nonheterosexually-oriented
people, thereby facilitating the breakdown of
"difference".  This is seen, in very truncated but
real form, in the out-migration of gay and lesbian
couples from mid-town ghettoes into more diversely
populated inner suburbs, the growing numbers of young
people proclaiming their sexuality at earlier ages and
winning family support and solidarity, and the
withering away of anti-gay prejudices in the
mainstream culture.

This fight for equal rights has important progressive
implications because it encourages lesbian and gay
people to come forward and participate in political
life with confidence, free from the fear of rejection
or backlash.  And as the vast majority of these
non-ghetto folks are WORKING CLASS, this development
will play an important role in the revitalization of
the labor movement in the years ahead.

In this way the gains of the equal-rights struggle
closely parallels the breakdown of racist attitudes
that accompanied the defeat of Jim Crow in the 1950s
and 1960s.  These are facts not easily dismissed,
especially in the name of some vague "sex-positive"
perspective that has serious contradictions.

2.  There is nothing particularly progressive about
encouraging sexual activity, especially those rooted
in the capitalist law of value, such as prostitution
and the exploitation of children.  Age-of-consent laws
were PROGRESSIVE conquests of the working class,
because they protected the children of workers from
the manipulation and sexual exploitation of adult,
middle-class men.  To claim that a 14-year-old is both
capable of understanding his/her sexuality and
protecting him/herself against adult attentions is
reactionary through and through.  

There is also nothing progressive about legalizing the
degradation of human beings that is prostitution. 
Understanding the class character of the trade is
crucial to getting a grip on this.  While prostitutes
should not be penalized -- they are almost always
forced into this line of work because of the
oppressive conditions imposed on them by the class
system -- their "johns" definitely should, since by
holding up cash in return for "favors" they are
asserting their class privilege over the physical
integrity of another human being.  It is no accident
that in this culture, the reverse is the case.

I would suggest that it is the "sex-positivists" who,
through their narrow, class-neutral, individualist
outlook, more consistently express petty-bourgeois and
socially regressive values than the equal-rights camp.
 Twenty years of "sex positivity" have yielded
precious little besides death, disease, cynicism,
denial ... and profits for bar-owners, porn kings and
drug peddlers.

It will take a new generation to sweep aside the
post-modern rubbish of our time and reconquer the
revolutionary values of community, class solidarity,
and human dignity that are the only guarantors of real
liberation, sexual and otherwise.

Peter Anestos

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