The why is explained by the discursive circumstances surrounding the complex associations made by the idea of homosexuality, and the circumstances surrounding the constant creation and re-creation of these ideas in late school years. Ideas and memories negotiated in everyday discourse fueled by desire in language.
The politically correct surrounding the word [homosexuality] differs greatly on a national levels today. Whats ok in Norway is forbidden in Russia, and death sentenced in Uganda. These differences all comes down to the constant creation and re-creation of this unstable unity we call nation. We seldom think of all the work it takes to keep ”this group of people living on a limited territory” together, or [how] it is done. People we probably never will meet, but never the less feel ”we” with. This text digs deeper into how it comes that homosexuality as idea works so well as a psychologically unconscious ground for nationalist propaganda.
We will take a closer look on five dialogues in the Norwegian television series ”Skam” (Shame) focused on Isaks pre-coming-out-process. Thinking this a good way to display why homophobia works as such an effective anchor for nationalist propaganda. Messages created specifically to sell politics, religion aimed at ”defending the territory” against [?].
Lets dive directly into contemporary rhetorical theories on the formation of this floating center of ourselves we call identity, the first thesis being:
The sexed/gendered body materializes through the dynamics and processes of discourse. (Judith Butler)
I´ve used several filters when analyzing, all of them focused on highlighting why homophobia seems to work so well, as this is the explanation to why it has become so abundant in our contemporary national and global politics (these rhetorical methods was central in Nazi German propaganda too). I do this as this nationalist/fascist politics (with enormous resources) do block progressive politics to meet climate and ecological crises. Besides Judith Butler, I´ve used Eric Anderssons concept of homohysteria:
Homohysteria” consists of the fear of being perceived as homosexual in the social sphere. Being perceived as gay or too effeminate does not correspond to the image of masculinity that is set in western culture. Three factors that encourage “homohysteria” (2009): 1. People, in general, are aware of homosexualitys existence. 2. A cultural disapproval towards homosexuality. 3. Gender roles are associated to each sex, femininity in men and masculinity in women are not allowed. When it happens, it is directly linked with homosexuality. (Anderson Eric, 2002, Openly Gay Athletes – Contesting Hegemonic Masculinity in a Homophobic Environment, Gender and Society, vol. 16, n°6, pp 860-877).
I focus one persons continued process of producing masculine self in the Norwegian television/youtube series Skam (Shame). My aim have been to write a narrative that will make Butlers ”the sexed/gendered body materializes through the dynamics and processes of discourse”, a bit easier to grab . Contemporary masculinit(ies) research today explain the ”thing” thought of as identity in a different way by displaying it metaphorically as chemical processes, identity as matter – floating, crystalized, stabilized and/or dissolving: ”this process is not, however, one of construction of the subject; rather it is:
…a process of reiteration by which both `subjects´and `acts´come to appear…There is no power that acts, but only a reiterated acting that is power in its persistence and instability…What I would propose in place of these conceptions of construction is a return to the notion of matter, not as a site or surface, but as a process of materialization that stabilizes over time to produce the effect of boundary, fixity, and surface we call matter. (Whitehead Stephen M, 2002, Men and Masculinities, Polity Press, Cambridge, p 193.)
This description of the selves we call ”identity”, will here be viewed as the floating products of ongoing discourse fueled by what Nietsche called ”will to power”. The body gets named in discourse which through the coding of language make it appear as natural, sovereign and given, and thus apparently, outside of discourse, this conceals the means of its own invention.
What kind of discursive forces provokes the male body into existence, make it materialize? What do we expect this male body to perform (and why?). What is this masculine body forbidden to perform if it wants to pass as normal, or even better, legitimate it(´s)-self? My analysis will take a closer look at the shaping forces of homophobia/homohysteria. A decision in line with thoughts that the production of hierarchies and structures have to be reviewed from a perspective of processes rather than as individual causes.
The world as presented in Skam offers a schizophrenic landscape for contemporary teenagers to handle. Cruel demands and a tempting reality at the same time, where these young Norwegian children-with-grown-up-bodies, constantly have to perform/prove/produce themselves as successful. Aiming at passing the floating border to adulthood in the gaze of each other. Bodies without adult experiences expected to perform in a normative landscape, formed by ideologies in constant flux around them. They have to prove themselves worthy of adult privilege by living up to expectations from friends, gender, school, parents etc. A reality where rules are in constant negotiation. Rules blurred by feelings, expressed as verbal messages and silences.
Desire in the series Skam is manifested by sudden razor sharp reactions, focus of the camera moving in and out, producing a no mans land with power floating around in and through discourse and movement. All this in a time where the patriarchal `normal´ is both challenged and profoundly formative at the same time.
The lifes of the participants in Skam is situated in and around a reputed bourgoise highschool in central Oslo, Nissen. Each season is focused around one of the main characters life divided into 10 – 12 episodes. The performances are given emotional now-color by music, text-messages, facebook and and other kinds of interactive platforms. References teenagers (and adults), easily relate to. The global success and the fact that today there is are french, spanish, german versions of Skam is proof enough.
Isak – the focus of my analysis
I follow Isaks performances before his `coming out´ in different settings. This, as it gives a chance to exemplify how the sexed/gendered body materializes through the dynamics and processes of discourse. Its a try to exemplify Butlers `bodies that matter´ in a context with high explanatory value, using the concept of hegemonic masculinity filtered through Hutchings:
…privileged versions of masculinity feed off contrasts both with alternative masculinities and with an oppositional, feminized “other” (Hutchings Kimberley, 2008, Making Sense of Masculinity and War. Men and Masculinities, volume 10 number 4, p 389-404.)
This filter will give an Alice-in-Wonderland-view of gender, as men here stand out as the weaker sex when it comes to the formation of this thing we call identity, never being able to be sure of who we are. The male desire forcing us to constantly produce our selves by performing masculinity if we want to benefit from the priviledges offered by the masculine hegemony. The requirements of personal performance is risen dramatically by the forces and expectations of libido that sets in when a childs body start to develop towards an adult body. The personas of the young women in the series is presented as equally complex, rich, giving high explanatory value in this floating hegemonic model. I will not go to deep in the female roles here however. This to be able to highlight the forces of homophobia/homohysteria and the version of hegemonic masculinity pictured in the series. This feminist theory picture males more like victims than perpetrators:
For most males, however, the desire to be associated with a hegemonic form of heterosexual masculinity has more to do with the personal avoidance of stigma than with the promotion of all men over all women. The desire to be perceived as heteromasculine is understandable in a culture that distributes privilege unequally according to gender and sexuality (Connell 1987; Lorber 1994), (Andersson Eric, 2011, The Rise and Fall of Western Homohysteria, Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 11/2011, Number 1.)
This is an important remark, men are not evil or bad. Unconcious forces make us behave in ways we are not even aware of. Becoming aware is learning. These performances are grounded on the basis of how individuals perceive privilege – unconsciously. The script of Skam offers many scenes where the role of homohysteria play an important part. I have choosen a few scenes where the forces in and around Isak stands forth in different ways. Below is the first one.
Performatives governed by homohysteria
Jonas and Eva (a couple) and Isak (friend) are in Eva´s mothers little cottage (”hytte”) for the weekend. Isak is there on graces. Eva, as most teenagers show insecurity in several areas (schoolwork, parents, female friends), but is presented as being secure with her own sexuality. All three of them have left Oslo for a relaxing time in this little cottage belonging to Evas mother. Eva have been looking forward to this weekend and some time of her own with Jonas, away from the pressure of school. Her dream blown to pieces last minute though, as Jonas has taken pity in Isak being lonely and brought him along. The first scene from the cabin starts 9.00 am and the camera focus Eva sitting on top of Jonas in bed on the verge of going from intimate to sex.
Suddenly Isak opens the door exclaiming: ”Sorry, sorry, sorry”, Isak excusing himself for not knocking, he close the door from the outside. Eva and Jonas starts discussing if they not ought to send him home in a joking manner, giggling, their conversation accompanied by Isak singing ”Lonely, I´m so lonely…” outside the door.
Next scene starts with the camera focusing a sundown over a fjord and big digital numbers on the screen announcing 20:32, accompanied by ominious music fading away that slowly merges into Jonas playing the guitar.
Isak asks Jonas to play: I´m yours…”
”You just know those gay:ish tunes”, Jonas replies in a teasing way.
”Shut up, is that a gay tune?”, Isak replies in a friendly, questioning way, performing surprise.
Two friends teasing each other in a boyish manner guided by homohysteria. Whats ok to like in a society where desire is guided by the masculine hegemony? To Jonas this wordplay between friends probably meant nothing. For Isak, it (might) become an unconscious ”Oops”, guiding his doings in the future. Taste taking shape in and through discourse.
The scene continues with Jonas getting a message on his mobile.
”Who is it?”, Eva asks,
”Elias”, Jonas replies,
”your new beloved?” Isak comments.
”What are you talking about?”, Jonas replies,
”You know what I am talking about, you follow him all day long in school and after” Isak answers, Eva smiles amused.
Jonas get a call on his mobile and starts talking.
Isak starts to talk as if he was Jonas talking to Elias, mimicking their dialogue in a homohysteric, ridiculing way ”Oh, Elias, how wonderful to talk to you, I´m so happy to talk to you, I think I love you” (Eva smiles amused).
Isak continues pretending he´s Jonas talking to Elias ”Maybee we can marry and go on honeymoon, then we can live together alone and love each other our whole lifes”.
Jonas, keep on talking to Elias in his mobile, stands up and walk away without paying much attention.
Andersson describes possible forces behind Isaks behaviour in the scene above:
a homohysteric culture is characterized by a viscous game of homosuspicion. I have previously called this “fag not it” (Anderson 2005a) as young boys know that someone must be gay, and they therefore point fingers at others to reduce their own homosuspicion. (Andersson Eric, 2011, The Rise and Fall of Western Homohysteria, Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 11/2011, Number 1.)
Next morning: the camera focus on Eva reading a book, seemingly boored, the focus turns to Jonas and Isak playing Trivial Pursuit. The boys displaying encyclopedic knowledge while teasing Eva, making fun of her not being able to answer the questions. Suddenly there is a gunshot outside and the three of them run to see whats going on, it turns out that its Elias arriving to the cabin.
When Elias gets to know that he will sleep in the same room as Isak he bursts out ”So I´ll sleep with the gay guy”.
”Why do everybody call me gay?”, Isak replies, (upset, protesting).
Elias picks up his gear and replies ”because you´re gay”, while passing Isak with an aggressive smile.
Jonas tries to pick the situation down by saying ”hes joking”, to Isak, trying to ease the weight of Elias words…
These scenes can be interpreted in different ways. If we use Butlers ”a process of reiteration by which both `subjects´and `acts´come to appear”, where Eva and Jonas is in the process of being reiterated as heterosexual (a process of materialization that stabilizes over time to produce the effect of boundary, fixity, and surface we call matter). Isak on the other hand not knowing in which direction he is going sexually; suspectecting he might enjoy something else than the mandatory heterosexuality. Having no idea of what this ”something else” really means, no guidebook handed down by culture. Unconsciously he is being told that this ”something else” is not rewarded – on the contrary. His former ”fixity” as a kid, with years of experience of being ”ok” in the gaze of others becomes less stable by every performative questioning of his heteromasculinity – the normal development constantly signaled by dominant discourse. When it comes to Elias there is no further explications than the scenes from the cabin, but he seems very eager to produce himself as heterosexual in a quiet aggressive way…(this is most often deemed as ok and rewarded in our contemporary culture and often spoked about as ”natural”). Now, lets get into the relationship identity/voice.
Ethymology of the word person
If we dig a bit deeper by using the ethymology of the word person coming from the latin per sona ”through sound”, we can interpret both Jonas and Elias as taking on per-sonas as heterosexuals, both verbally and by choice of music, and we all know that fake can be revealed, not just consciously, but unconsciously as well. There is power in the ability to perform with authenticity. Thus, having a materialized body seem much easier to handle from a social perspective, uncertainty is not rewarded.
Association/dissociation – codes of sexuality
Next scene starts with Elias singing Eminems Loose Yourself :
Love!……If you had…one shot…or one opportunity…to seize everything you ever wanted…in one moment…would you capture…or just let it slip?
Jonas accompanying Elias on guitar, in the background a heavy, threatening bass, spreading an aggressively masculine atmosphere on the screen, occupying the whole space with the sound and vibes of masculinity.
…the spatiality wherein the male body is privileged and prominent and how the masculine body tries to render the environment passive to itself instead of the other way around. ( Whitehead Stephen M, 2002, Men and Masculinities, Polity Press, Cambridge, p 190.
While Elias continues singing the camera focus turns to Isak laying the dinner table and then sweeps to Eva looking bored and disappointed, cooking in front of the stove. This scene can be interpreted as Elias and Jonas strengthen their patriarchal, homosocial bond, while Isak becomes sort of forced out of this constellation of masculinity in process, degraded to perform feminine care together with Eva:s
…heterosexuals and homosexuals wishing to be thought heterosexual are compelled to avoid associating with anything coded as homosexual. This is accomplished through the repeated association with cultural codes of heterosexuality and disassociation from codes for homosexuality. This promotes the degradation of gay men and women, alike. (Andersson Eric, 2011, The Rise and Fall of Western Homohysteria, Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 11/2011, Number 1.)
The above is an important remark in relation to the workings of `the `hegemonic masculinity´ as a concept with great explanatory value; making it possible to pinpoint the forces dividing work according to gender, where masculinity in our culture still is valued (money/esteem) higher – systematically.
Homohysteria, sex, drugs & rock´n roll
This scene is situated in the third season of Skam, the narrative in these episodes are here centered around Isaks life. It starts with party scenes accompanied by pumping disco music and flashing lights, raising the tension with a suggestive (feminist) text ”feeling like a prison”. There are short cuts on young (beautiful) women dancing, doing what teenagers try to do at private parties – adjust and perform ”fun and attractive” (within the scripts they are given). The camera ends up focusing Isak smoking marujuana from a plastic bottle (a bong). He is sitting in a bathtub flanked by Jonas and Mahdi, a forth guy sits on top of the toilet.
This dialogue starts off with Jonas giving admiring remarks about the girls at the party ”…she and Emelie are nice as hell”
Isak responds ”naay”, in a reluctant, protesting way, performing expertise.
”why?” Jonas asks
”she is not fuckable”, Isak answers.
The other boys in the toilet protests, ”I could have sex with all of them!”, says the guy on top of the toilet (he is a virgin too and open with this).
”There is one, listen to me, there is one, short, dark hair, I don´t know her name”, Isak says, continuing to perform heterosexual expertise.
”I know who you mean, she looks like Natalie Portman”, Jonas exclaims.
A discussion takes off, Jonas telling Isak that he have no chance with this girl ”her x-boyfriend is 20 years old”.
The boys in the tub starts throwing a small plastic bag filled with marijuana between them while discussing who´s going to take care of it, worried of the illegality of possession. Isak ends up taking the responability, seemingly proud (performing masculine courage, taking a risk?). A blond woman opens the door telling them she has to pee, seconds after the woman with the short dark hair Isak referred to earlier enters. She says something to the blond, complaining that the party is ”so boring”, then starts looking for drugs in a cupboard, telling the blond girl they smoked some pills before coming to the party.
”do you know who you look like?”, Isak asks her, smiling in a daring way.
”Yes”, the dark haired girl answers.
”Her, the small guy in `Stranger than things´, he, the little boy that actually is a girl…”, Isak continues… the boy sitting on the toilet bursts out laughing hysterically with the broken voice cracks of a teenager, another marker of androgens and a limit to pass.
Emma (the dark haired beauty), looses her cool, not sure if its an insult or not and how to react.
”I´m kidding, you´re beautiful”, Isak says, continuing his performance as expert taking on the role as judge.
Emma looks perplexed, not knowing how to respond, takes some pills from a drawer and show them to Isak asking him ”Do you know if these works?”
”Let me have a look” Isak answers, stretching his hand towards Emma, looks at the little box and replies: ”those are Zyrlex, for allergy, makes you tired, would you like something that works?”…
”do you have it?”, Emma replies, eagerly.
Isak then place an ecstasy on his tongue, and offers it to Emma in a kiss. His friends looking at them from behind seemingly impressed starts to leave the bathroom to give them some space, Jonas patting Isak on his shoulder on his way out saying: ”damn good Isak”, Isak responds with a happy smile. They keep on kissing and Emma shows signs of going down on him….but, Isak stops her smilingly, with an ”hey” together with a face that shows more of his feelings than he is aware of or capable to consciously recognize, and even less understand.
This is the startoff of a cruel relation/process that stretches over several episodes in Skam, where Isak try to perform heterosexual masculinity despite the lack of desire, while Emma perplexed keeps on trying, not being able to decode the confusing signals she´s getting from Isak. They both try, both guided by the inner, confusing desire to perform truth at the same time as satisfying/impressing the people surrounding them by doing ”normal couple”. Isaks unconscious erotic desire closed off as illegitimate to himself. In the end Isak will be forced to be honest towards himself and others around him, to begin with, Emma.
In the end of this episode with Isak in focus he gets interested in a gay guy, Even. They get together after passing several obstacles and are presented as happy towards the end of the series. (Which means Skam could never be shown on national television in Putins Russia (”just a comment”)).
Interpretation – homosocial toilet scene accompanied by drugs and women.
I start from the exchange of ecstacy and the offered blow job from a Deleuzian perspective (Capitalist forces combined with eros): this can be seen as erotic capital offered in the exchange for heterosexual legitimacy (Bordieau´s social capital. From a Butlerian view Isak talked himself into a position of a possibility of crystalized heterosexuality, he didn´t succede though due to lack of erotic desire. We can conclude that homohysteria have an extremely strong regulating effect, performed heterosexuality is applauded in the scenes described above. Another way of looking at this scene (and more specifically, the boys in the bathtub), might be that drugs ”allow” the boys to act out homosociality without feeling to intimate, the positive drugged feelings ruling out the prohibition of a homosociality as ”to close” (drugs here as a form of male ritual?). At the same time this corporeal closeness, almost seem to force them to talk about women in a sexualizing way as a kind of safe guarding verbal distancing. Isak sexualizing the talk with his remarks performing masculinity, maybe feeling a bit courageous being drugged, his judgement blurred and compelled to act according to heterosexual masculinity by the forces of ”wanting to belong”, desiring the benefits inclusion offers through the forces of masculine hegemony.
Isak and Emma – a false performance
The pair becomes a ”false couple”. Isak forced by his own actions into a situation by forces from the outside, Emma not being able to read the situation nor Isaks intentions correctly. Isak having the information needed to know whats happening, is lead on by exterior common sense. The latter here based on homohysteria, Isak tries to act as if, not being in sync with his interior desires. Both, step by step forced by interior feelings to act in a moral landscape where hegemonic masculinity keep on forming common sense through language, creating and re-creating performable/unperformable actions in a mix where Isak & Emma moves/are forced, towards a total crach of their individual inner sense of truth (both gets very depressed as a result). An ugly dance where Emma on top is enticed and challenged by the reluctance of Isak. Isak in turn pressed between a very religious mother and his flatmate, the flamboyantly gay Eskild (who is impossible to identify with for Isak), and all others in his surroundings. A relation where Isak also is trying to perform the for him there/and-now – that is still unperformable (his erotic attraction to Even). The libidinal desire Isak have directed towards Even makes it impossible for Isak to avoid being stigmatized in the structure of masculine hegemony, betraying both Emma and himself in the strife and desire for legitimacy in the gaze of ”others”.
The unconscoius feeling used in propaganda
Lets move towards where I´ve been heading, how this ”idea” and the feeling associated with it that can be, and are used to create a ”we” and a ”them”. First, lets do a detour, there are other ways of creating a we, one of them is a national flag. Down below me on a selfie parading my belonging. ”I am one of you” (the ”swedish” people).
The swedish flag invokes complex feelings in me nowadays. I associate it with many happy moments. We used to decorate our christmas tree with small swedish paper flags when I was a child, the flag on my boat is another (love it!). But, the latter decade our national flag has been used by nationalists to make people feel ”we”, in a way that clearly aims at excluding people living within our borders and this frightens me.
I write this (191007), just some month after that the fascist party of Sweden have started to use homophobic propaganda openly. Being part o the majority in the small town of Sölvesborg they managed to decide to forbid the rainbow flag on the town hall. The symbolic value has beem high as this is being not politically correct in contempory Sweden. This is a real challenge and a sign of a ”politically correct” being negotiated . The possibility to make people feel ”we”, a we associated with heterosexual masculinity, and a politics that isn´t climate change progressive is not possible to deny. Sölvesborg have been made into an rhetorical battle ground serving as a rhetorical example by the fascists.
The fascists will have to act rhetorically balanced (like Trump), say ”yes” one day and ”no” the next, and with time the politically correct will start to shift. Putin has been using homophopia to create we-feelings amongst russians systematically for a decade or longer. Like this he have managed to make ”democracy” less popular among the russian people (we don´t need ”western democracy”). Now, lets get to this feeling fascists use to manipulate people, how do they work to get into our brains:
Disgust is the paradoxical experience of a pleasure that arouses horror, and it results from the removal of the distance between subject and object, or self and other. This means that disgust is the affective response to an identification between self and other and the corresponding loss of difference. It is partner to the fear of homogenization and the loss of distinction. Kristeva has shown this experience which she calls abjection to be the fundamental principle of subjectivity – the means by which we constitute and maintain the boundaries of individual identity. (Vitanza J Victor, 2013, Writing histories of Rhetorics, sid 152.)
Many men and women have felt an erotic impulse directed towards somebody of the own sex, most probably a close friend and often unconsciously. This erotic impulse remain buried in our unconscious, Kristeva call these remains – the abject). This part of our unconscious, the abject can be used in propaganda.
When we rhetors want to change logics in politics, we use feelings (pathos) this is the only way. The stronger the feeling, the bigger the potential. Or, the more difficult your message is to ”sell”, the stronger the feelings you will have to use (not forgetting that rhetorics is no science, it started as a bunch of good advice on how to augment your chances to deliver a message (without any guarantees). Considering that most men have this complex [homosexuality] in their minds in western societies and many of us react with disgust (not just men) when we are confronted with it, the potential to use this idea to sell other ideas is quite huge. I´ll give the word to Stephen Whitehead once again:
It is the fact of masculinitys illusory and fluid character that leaves it amenable to being manipulated in the promotion of empire. Indeed, masculinity (as discourse) has the capacity to be employed in any cultural validation that involves males. It is no surprise, then, that few if any empires have been founded on the real and/or mythologial acts of men; moments of bravery, endurance, and selfsacrifice that have lent themselves to interpretations by politicians, populists and propagandists and have subsequently drawn on the masses for meaning and comfort. (Whitehead Stephen M, 2002, Men and Masculinities, Polity Press, Cambridge, p 121).
Historically this possibility have been used again and again to create ”we” (Nazigermany being the most severe example). Now, talking history, before we get into the finishing dialogue of Skam meant to highlight why homosexual men in no way can be considered less sensible to messages propagated with the help of homophobia/disgust (we have fresh examples in our own time: Front National/France, Milo Yiannopoulos (used as gay fascist alibi in the US)).
Next – Isak on a gaychat
Isak is laying on back on his bed looking on a romantic movie (hetero), turns it off and roll over on his back with a computer on his stomach staring at the ceiling.
After some staring he reaches for his mobile and starts registering an account on a gaychat. It doesn´t take many seconds before the first message pops in ”horny?”, from [B-toy]. Isak stare at the message on the screen.
Some seconds later the next ”hello, top or btm?” is seen on the screen, from [niceguy69].
Isak looks at the screen, wondering look in his face while the third comes up ”is your cock big?”, from [Bigdaddy]:
Quickly followed by ”do you ejaculate a lot?”, Isak looks a bit distanced while ”you can fuck me and ejaculate in my ass” pops in.
Isak turns the mobile upside down disgusted and upset, roll over on his back and starts staring at the ceiling again, looking dejected.
Isak is seventeen years old on his way to identify his (libidinal) desire consciously as being directed towards men. So far, he has not been able to produce self this way in discourse, even less so corporarly (the-silent-discourse-of-skin-towards-skin). From a Butlerian bodies-that-matter-perspective, he is totally homeless in the dominant discourse and a gaychat cannot offer the home he is out searching for, on the contrary. He seem shocked by the conversation referred to above.
Desire and curiosity made him log on but as he is taught to judge from the hegemonic masculine perspective (as we all are), the abject awakens and forces him to leave the site. A discourse between gays will give us the last part, how homophobia directs the gay unconscious (as well).
Isak here have met Even (a guy) who has stayed the night. Even has just left and Isak is now having a chat with Eskild, his openly gay (flamboyantly so), flatmate.
Isak have just told Eskild that he´s got a ”thing” going on with Even.
Homohysteria shaping homosexualities
”I´m not homo `like that´”Isak tells Even
”Okey, how do you mean?”, Eskild responds, ”Like you…”, Isak replies…
”How am I?” Eskild questions.
”You know, you speak of sucking cock, Kim Kardachian and the smell of lavendar [silence]. I respect that you do this homo-thing all the way, but I´m not like that, if you know what I mean”. Eskild replies ”I´m not doing a homo-thing, I´m just trying to be myself”.
Isak continues ”Yes I understand that…Of course you are being yourself…I just mean it seems that everybody [emphasized] associates homo with being like that…and this is a little bit bad if you´re not like that…It´s not like I will go around with mascara and tights and walk the pride parade just because I´m together with Even”.
The camera shows Eskild turning away, not being able to look Isak in the eyes at the end of Isaks little speach, he replies after a while [with force]: ”Okey, let me tell you one thing of the persons you don´t want to get associated with Isak…about them, that has taken on tights and mascara and gone out to fight for the right to be who they are. It´s people that have endured baiting!…hate!…assaults!…sometimes to death!…And it´s not because they have a sick desire to be different, it´s because they rather die than pretend to be something they are not!”,
All this with a serious, ironic smile, he continues ”and this takes courage on a whole different level than most people know of!”.
Commentary on the dialogue above
I showed these two dialogues too demonstrate how masculine hegemony shape gay (homosexual) discourse as well, I know for certain that I have been, and continually will be formed by it in the future, this includes my libido.
Now, try to imagine Isaks reality if he lived in Russia and people around him would start to associate him as on his way to become a paedophile? Imagine how people around him would react. I have now begun to lift everything what I´ve written here to the level where I started off, populistic propaganda on national and international level. To do this we have to pinpoint the feeling explicitly used by populists when they use antigay propaganda. A feeling used by propagandists us all due to our own sexual maturation process, to some conscious but to most of us unconscious.I feel it and you feel it, and Isak obviously felt it visiting the gay dating site referred to above – disgust. The professor emeritus of rhetorics Victor J Vitanza describes disgust like this:
Disgust is the paradoxical experience of a pleasure that arouses horror, and it results from the removal of the distance between subject and object, or self and other. This means that disgust is the affective response to an identification between self and other and the corresponding loss of difference. It is partner to the fear of homogenization and the loss of distinction. Kristeva has shown this experience which she calls abjection to be the fundamental principle of subjectivity – the means by which we constitute and maintain the boundaries of individual identity.” Vitanza J Victor, 2013, Writing histories of Rhetorics, sid 152
This is the exact feeling what that starts a homophobic reaction. And if all men (in democracies too), have this desire to constantly perform masculinity, and homophobia is inherent in our unconscious this reaction makes our organisation vulnerable to homophobic propaganda. This abundance in every mans unconscious in the western world is what makes this the perfect (unconscious) anchor for propagandistic rhetorics. And we see it working everywhere in contemporary national politics, religious leaders use it (not all!), Svenska Kyrkan (”the swedish church”), have done a lot of good work last two decades.
Getting back to how it´s done, here is a practical example. Before the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sotji, Russia when Putin was asked by worried gay volunteers if they could feel safe in Russia, Putin answered:
A message that was broadcasted all over the world, not just in Russia. Putin aimed at making Russians associate homosexuals with paedophilia to create feelings of ”we”. His way of using homophobia have not just helped to keep him to get into and stay in power, it has created a murderous hatred towards hbtq-people, and it has been followed up with decriminalisation of domestic violence […] Gay people are getting tortured and killed in Russia today – rhetorical purpose: to create a ”we”. Just as Hitlers and the nazis did. Americas president Trump is using homophobia as anchor for hate speech as well, leading to an epidemic in murders of trans women. Of course I think these are catastrophic figures being gay myself, but, in the long run the worst will be how these regimes manages to install themselves with this kind of rhetoric (a method), and how they all seem to be totally against any political strategy meant to meet the demands of Climate Change.
I started learning on hate speech/homophobia as a concequence of being mentored towards using homophobia to sell a curriculum promising to solve school problems with moral inspired by a (classical) Rhetorical World View. I refused and ended up being harassed both by teachers and headmasters at Södertörns Högskola and Uppsala University.
This is a work in progress…