Australian opposition leader. the Liberal Party's Tony Abbott, has decided to bring back the 'Pacific Solution' as a way to ‘turn back the refugee boats’.
Last week a court in Malawi sentenced a gay couple who staged a same-sex wedding to 14 years in prison with hard labour for "violating the natural order". Magistrate Nyakwawa Usiwa told the two men that he was handing down a particularly "scaring sentence so that the public [would] be protected from people like you, so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example".
Malawi is one of 37 African countries in which homosexuality is considered illegal. Around the world, there are another 26 countries where all homosexuality is considered a criminal offence (and an additional 17 countries where male homosexuality is illegal but female homosexuality is not criminlised, largely because it is thought not to exist.)
Punishments range from whipping and incarceration (including life sentences) to the death penalty. The systemic homophobia and widespread persecution of gay and lesbian individuals across the globe is absolutely appalling.
Under Australia's Migration Act, individuals can appeal for refugee status on the basis that they hold a "well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion".
A week that began celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) ended with closet ‘scandals’ in sport and politics. Only days after the IDAHO and the GLORIA awards for homophobic comments made in public, AFL player Jason Akermanis announced that the ‘AFL is not ready’ for openly gay players and the former NSW Minister for Transport, David Campbell, was ‘outed’ leaving a sex on premises venue for men. While one controversy suggested the value of silence surrounding one’s (non-heterosexual) sexuality, another emerged hours later highlighting the consequences of managing sexual visibility. Akermanis suggested that players should remain silent about their sexuality sending out a troubling social message that being gay is not only disturbing but also something to keep hidden in sport.
"Wherever there are surf contests there are heaps of girls hanging around. We gee a few up and get them to come back to the house. If there’s not enough girls we’ll have a go at getting the girls to text their mates. If that doesn’t work we’ll talk a girl into doing it [sex] with a few of us."
"Sometimes you’re in the room and the other boys come in and see if she’ll let them join in. If she’s smashed it helps … You get a slap on the back from the crew. You feel like a bit of a legend hey?! Sometimes it gets ugly but you’re swept up in it. I have felt a bit guilty afterwards. If I’m really keen I’ll nag her and nag her until she gives in. But she can say no if she wants to. If the girl wants us to stop we’ll stop. If she feels bad a few of I will try and talk to her, take her home and stuff."
"I think it’s classic to have sex alongside your mates. We talk about it the next day, about what we did. Slapping the girl on the arse and doing funny shit. You try and make your mates laugh. It’s sort of … like … an adventure together, you know?"
Every person on the planet is affected by masculinity in some shape or form. This is why getting masculinity right is so important. If we get it wrong, everything falls apart. You might have noticed that everything seems to be falling apart... But the debate about masculinity rarely seems to progress.
On one side (I'll put my cards on the table here and say my side), progressive academic types mostly take a feminist position and talk about patriarchy and power, and how this marginalises women (and atypical men). Increasingly, these types also refer to queer theory, which is not solely about gay and lesbian people, rather resisting ways of pigeon-holing the identities of all people.
On the other side, are those who (often quite rightly) identify the many problems suffered by men in society, and simply do not see claims about patriarchy and power as valid any more, chiefly because they are looking at individual men who appear not to be enjoying the privileges of power, rather than the systemic and institutional nature of power. The very words 'systemic and institutional nature of power' will often make these types wince.
This debate has been going on for years: one side claiming they cannot state their watertight case about patriarchy any clearer, the other finding that case unrepresentative of the truth. We have to start finding different ways to frame this debate to make any progress. This is not about finding a middle ground; it as about finding a different ground. It is about finding a different lens through which to view the 'problem' of masculinity. Recently I have been using the lens of conspiracy logic.
I wanted to write about my relationship to feminism, as a trans-masculine person. I identify as a queer transgender masculine person who has in the past, identified as a queer woman. My feminist politics have strengthened and solidified throughout my transition, despite the fact that I no longer identify as a woman. I think that my realisation of, and my acceptance of my own masculine identity, has transpired partly because of this consolidation.