The Politics of Dismissal & the Gay Debate

Reading helps us to think in ways that were initially foreign to us, and for some of us pursuing better and more advanced ways of thinking, reading is so much important. I was reading Sarah Ahmed’s essay, ‘Against Students’ on The New Inquiry, in which she talks about the politics of dismissal and how the ‘problem student’ is conceptualized in our societies.

She talks about how different student protests can be conveniently dismissed by posturing arguments such as “they are suffering from too much will”, they have “weaknesses of moral character”, they represent a “general decline in values and standards.” All these arguments help to dismiss, sometimes genuine student concerns, and sweep them under the carpet because the administration, for whatever reason, doesn’t want to deal with them.

Now that the gay debate is once again, all over, I was thinking about this argument, this politics of dismissal, to the gay debate, and whether I could see something. Most emotional arguments against gay persons lament the demise of humanity, ‘the end of the world’, ‘Jesus is coming’ or even those comments that implicitly voice ‘disgust’ and ‘anger’ at how other people, not related to them and not under their direct care, are living their lives.

Of course in all these cases, there is a certain assumption of purity or ‘righteousness’, of ‘living the right life’. But then we can as well ask ourselves a question: what then is the ideal life, and how many people are living it? How, in my mind, is other people’s sexual lives less ideal, and why should its less idealness make other people, not party, to the consensual act angry? But more importantly, I was thinking about what such dismissal justifies. Does a dismissal of their agitation for equal protection under the law justify the need for their persecution by law or by people, their being cut off from the face of humanity, a sort of ‘cleaning up’. I’m also interested in such kind of thinking because Africans, I think more than any other race, have suffered from this politics of dismissal.

And every single day you wake up “you sense the vigour of the sweep. How convenient.”

4 thoughts on “The Politics of Dismissal & the Gay Debate

  1. I don’t support homosexuality, but I don’t discriminate gays as to make them feel less human. Same way we may not, as human beings, agree on everything, but that does not stop us from sharing meals and hospitals. Hehe.

    For many of us, even Christians, we have not mastered the art of grace and living with people who seem to openly support practises which might be deemed us ungodly, even though we are way off perfection ourselves. But this issue isn’t an African problem only. It’s a sensitive subject worldwide, and methinks it’s going to remain so for quite a long time to come.

    • Supporting is a big word. Let us flesh this one kidogo my brother. Homosexuality is just a state, an orientation that defines a broad list of individual identity and sexual behaviours and practices. So maybe what you don’t support is male-male sex or female-female sex, which for me being a non-participant, I simply don’t care about, so long as the parties to it engage consent. In short what I don’t support is sex where there is no consent or in cases where people have no ability to, or have not reached the age of, consent. It is also important to note that not all people who identify as ‘homosexuals’ actually engage in same-sex sex.As for anal sex, we all know that there are heterosexual guys who engage in it with their women.

      I know as a Christian, sometimes the issue really puts guys in strange positions. On one end, you want to open your heart and accept all persons, despite their behaviours or practices you may deem to be morally deficient. On the other hand, because of the ‘culture’ part in Christianity, you want to openly condemn, which is difficult because one also has to deal with the ‘do not judge’ scriptures.

      So its really complex. But with tolerance, we who are not homosexuals can remain peaceful, even as we learn to understand others, and let them live their lives in peace even if we do not approve of what they do or what they believe in. Tolerance helps us to win both ways, I think.

  2. We don’t complain about hypersexual music lyrics & videos & when the government moved to ban pornography in Nigeria, there was an uproar in days. So no, I don’t think it’s about morality or religious arguments. I think that’s just a guise for our collective fear, confusion & disgust. And I’d be infinitely happier if we’d just admit this & address it so we can move on. The morality arguments lead nowhere. Brilliant writing, as usual. I’d like to read Sarah Ahmed’s essay too.

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