Friday, November 15, 2013

My Peak Queer Theory Moment, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Expose Misogynistic Garbage

This blog post is one I've been meaning to write for quite some time now. But, before I delve into critiquing the monstrosity known as "Lockpick Pornography" by Joey Comeau, first, a story.

So, a few years back I was invited by a former friend to attend a "toaster party."  There were no set plans for the evening, only that attendees bring food items that could be toasted.  I was intrigued and so I ended up asking my friend if the toaster theme had anything to do with "The Brave Little Toaster."  She said it didn't, but that the idea sprang from a sentence contained in "Lockpick Pornography." The quote can be read here:
What about those androgyny loving people. They're still jacking something off, though, aren't they? They're not just sitting around looking at chrome toasters and having instant orgasms. Are they?
So eloquent and special, isn't it?

Well, needless to say, she sent me a link to the story, which I hastily read in time for the party the next evening. I remember feeling glad that we were going to be able to discuss this "book" because I had quite a few concerns that I wanted to have addressed about it.

Now, at the time, I was still very much fully immersed in queer politics, so I was much nicer to asshole men than I am now.  I made a statement in a semi sugar-coated way that I didn't like how the lead character punches a woman in the stomach simply because she is a straight woman, how a male character gets raped in his sleep, and how the only female characters in the book were "genderqueers" and were constantly sexually harassed by the main character, who has serious impulse control issues.

A guy in attendance at the party, we will call him "Turkey" since he's named himself after a bird anyway, except calling him a Turkey is more fitting because those birds show off for no reason and are generally quite dull, addressed me:  "Well, you see, you just, like, didn't understand the, like, metaphor that the author was, like, using."  Which in retrospect was just Turkey's nice way of saying "shut the fuck up, you dumb bitch."  I said "I disagree. I feel like he was being very clear with his words and that this book was very misogynistic."  My friend dispersed the tension by reiterating in heavily-laden bourgeois academic jargon what Turkey had said. And so, I shut up. Any real sense of feminist discourse effectively silenced by the penis in the room and one of his female enablers/fangirls.

The sad thing is, some of the people in my former community actually look up to the lead character in this book as a role model.  To give you an idea of the type of person the lead character is, just think of a genderqueer gay male version of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.  I don't *recall* if the lead in Joey Comeau's book ever kills anybody, but he damages property (both private and public), physically assaults women and men, makes obscene phone calls to women and men, breaks into people's homes, participates in theft, and, if memory serves me correctly (though I HOPE I am just blocking out some terrible shit), he and his band of cronies leave pornography behind in childrens books at public schools.

But don't listen to me. If you really want to read this atrocious piece of pro-queer "literature" then here you go.  Trigger warning for almost every possible trigger I can think of at the moment. Just, proceed with caution.  This work is a piece of shit, along with every male who agrees with it.


Unknown said...

Wow, I cannot believe anyone could read that and actually think it was healthy, sane, and some form of ideology they could agree with. What a terrible piece of garbage and the main character is consistently intrusive, hateful towards women, and out of control. It literally scares me to think that anyone could have even written that, let alone agree with it, or WORSE YET, look up to the main character. JUST WOW.

Jacob VanGundy said...

I realize this post is pretty old, but I wanted to point out that this book is an expression of the authors misgivings about certain aspects of queer theory and the queer community. Comeau has talked about how horrified he was after the book came out and fans started telling him about how much they loved/admired the protagonist. There are certainly some aspects of the book you're right to call out (the lack of female representation, though you do ignore that the book has a non-queer lesbian character who is the only character presented as remotely ethical) but for the most part you're missing the point just as badly as the assholes at that party who think the protagonist is a hero. It's not a metaphor, it's Comeau pointing out the violent, misogynistic, side of a political movement he's part of. I mean, Comeau describes the characters as terrorists. How much more clearly can you tell readers "These are not good people."