Friday, February 19, 2010

Quebec: Gay Tempest in a Teapot

Quebec Olympic broadcasters Claude Mailhot and Alain Goldberg are in hot water for making comments that were deemed "homophobic" by the Quebec Council of Gays and Lesbians (Le Conseil québécois des gais et lesbiennes).

The broadcasters were commenting on American figure skater Johnny Weir.

Alain Goldberg is reported to have said on air that it would not be wrong to criticize Johnny Weir's appearance. "He is wearing lipstick. He is dressed in a feminine manner. He tries to be as feminine as possible on the ice." He then added "he has the right to be that way, the right to be what he wants." And then he said "It's unfortunate because people think that all little boys who skate will become like him, so it sets a bad example."

Then Claude Mailhot said that, to be fair, Johnny Weir should pass a gender test, like the South African runner Caster Semanya. "I'd really like to see him pass that test!"

Claude Mailhot issued an apology later on. "It seems that when we spoke about clothing yesterday, it angered some people. If you felt criticized by that, we are very sorry."

The head of the Council Steve Foster said that it wasn't enough because people who tuned in to the apology would not understand the context. And he said that it was not a matter of clothing. The figure skater's masculinity was denigrated, and it was suggested that he should compete with women and that he was a disgrace to his sport.

Foster has contacted the consortium in charge of Olympic broadcasting Canada to express his anger. His organization is also looking to put forward a complaint to the CRTC

Now I didn't view these comments on television.

But it seems to me that the part about not wanting to give the impression to little boys that all male figure skaters grow up effeminate is true. Who wants their kid to grow up looking like a freak? I think Johnny Weir looks terrible in that picture (I didn't actually watch performance). Isn't the broadcaster allowed to think that he looks weird, and to speak him mind to that effect?

The gender test remark was somewhat insensitive. But so what? Should we censor everything that's insensitive? No.

I'm not mad that Steve Foster is upset about the comments. What I'm miffed about is that this guy wants to use the instruments of the state to make these broadcasters conform to his form of thinking.

I also dislike this attempt to make people's sense of aesthetics conform to an ideology.

Whether you are gay or straight, very masculine or naturally effeminate, putting on lipstick, and trying to be effeminate (or even more so if you already are) is disgusting to me.

Some men can't help being effeminate. That's okay. It's when they try to exaggerate that femininity. It's just ugly.

Now many people consider that opinion to be homophobic because it's based on what is deemed as an essentialist view of gender.

But you can't make people like what they don't. You can't feed people manure, call it honey and expect people to like it. A lot of people (maybe most?) would not consider the feminization of men to be very attractive.

This is not about clothes. This is about trying to force people to speak a certain way, even though their minds are thinking something else in order to satisfy a political agenda.