Thursday, 23 February 2012

Blip: Gay Role Models

A plan was announced recently to introduce kids between the ages of 4 and 12 to what they are calling "positive gay role models". The idea is to expose children early to the idea of other sexualities and other ways of life, so that they can grasp a better understanding of the complexity and diversity of human endeavour and thus, stop bullying eachother based on such traits. The only flaw as far as I can tell here is the entire plan is ill-conceived, misinformed nonsense reached through faulty analysis of faulty premises.

I don't know where to start on how monumentally stupid this is so I suppose i'll just dive right in. Kids do not bully because of sexuality, race, gender, the financial state of eachothers parents or any of the contentious issues that we adults choose to busy ourselves with. When I was a child I found such concerns trivial, I barely noticed the ethnicity or possible sexuality of those around me, at 4 I was much more concerned with spinning myself around and around as fast as possible although I suppose that could just be me. Point being, kids bully eachother because they're kids and the supposed reasons for bullying (being fat or smart and so on) are just excuses to act that way. 4-12 yr olds are still heavily in the growing stages, they're irritable and uncomfortable, they're unsure of themselves and their place in the world, they're confused by most things around them and are sole-mindedly going after what it is that they truly want. For most of them that is to discover themselves, who they are, where they are, how to act etc. Part of this discoverey process is to learn about the balance of power, some will choose to oppress, some to lead and when oppressed some will fight back and some will roll over, these experiences will shape who they are and who they become. Studies have shown that these archetypal roles in the natural order of the playground will always exist and if shaken up, they will swiftly adopt a new role. The bullied become those in charge, the bullies become subservient etc.

Don't get me wrong, I detest playground bullying, I was bullied for being tall, articulate and intelligent. I accept that a certain amount of it catalysed my search for myself but a certain amount of it was unnecessary and simply caused me a great deal of stress and distraction from the schoolwork. It's one thing to try to quell bullying in general but it is too far to try to impose an issue based way of looking at the world on children that young.

Lets concede that though for the time being for the sake of arguement, lets say that kids are bullying eachother because of their sexuality and masculinity/femininity. Even if that were true, "positive gay role models" won't do anything functional whatsoever, bar possibly providing ammunition to the oppressors to fire down at the lowly peons. So to continue lets make more concessions and accept that flawed premise too, who have they chosen to spearhead this liberal movement of forced tolerance? The charmingly irritating Graham Norton, alongside the failed word smith and general scourge on the literary world Carol Ann Duffy. What template of a succesful life can they give to gay people that they can't give to non-gay people? The answer is simple, they have achieved what they have despite the fact they're gay. Sadly that is the only reason that a group of gay 'celebrities' would be chosen to lead this campaign. The fairly evident problem here is that it displays any alternate sexuality as a disability, in a society where official discrimination has just about died out and personal sexuality discrimination has certainly diminished somewhat, we still talk about people who aren't deemed 'normal' as being impaired and treat it as a big deal when anybody 'abnormal' achieves something.

I've conceded nearly everything, just for the sake of argument, so let's treat this with a bit of "in for a penny, in for a pound." Let's make a huge leap of faith and say that 4-12 yr olds bully based on adult concerns and that they are open to discussion of this matter. I can still easily discredit this scheme by bringing up the issue of stereotyping. Given that this initiative won't explain different preferred sexual preferences (hopefully anyway) it will only send out one message and that is that a sexuality is just a way of presenting yourself. Graham Norton acts in a particularly camp way, it's simply part of his exterior character. Contrary to popular belief it is not caused directly by his being gay. People connect camp and gay such that if you're camp, you must be gay and vice versa, This can even lead to people being accused of not being gay (or bi) because they're not camp enough.

Seeing as I've dismantled it this far I may as well point out another glaring problem, if we insist on sectionalising role models how do we decide who follows which one when it comes to less convential ways of life. For example, I am bisexual so I don't have an assigned role model, so should they pander to everybody and every division and find a candidate for emulation for all of us? I guess this just leaves me with the likes of Billie Joe Armstrong and Angelina Jolie. I'll go get the rope.

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