Monday, 1 March 2010

milk and homosexuality

One of the philosophical issues / questions that arise from time to time in debates between Peter and me is the question of tradition. Even more strange when this "issue" is put into opposing terms: tradition and modernity. Irk!

I've actually read a very interesting interpretation from the feminist studies' point of view (standpoint feminism) about the patriarchal dualistic thinking: "Hilary Rose argues that caring work potentially engages thinking and feeling, bodily and cultural dimensions, autonomy and relatedness in ways that undermine fixed oppositions between nature and culture, reason and emotion and self and other. It is potentially the basis in women's lives for an alternative rationality to the polarizing, abstract, and destructive rationality of the patriarchal world" (in Benton and Craib,Philosophy of Social Science, 2001).

What is it that I'm up to here?

First, I watched Milk (actually, Sean Penn rehabilitated himself in my eyes, as I found his performance in "The interpreter" with N. Kidman, so so superficial - despite Maputo's dilapidated stadium showing there...) this week. Well, isn't it that the persona that is Harvey Milk / Sean Penn does have this non-dualistic standpoint? This is to say that through these insights one can really understand the difference between sex and gender (although sex is also engendered but this is too complicated for this post), meaning a man can be feminine and so on.

In my life, I came to terms with my complete absence of need for a clear and dualistic view of the world. Excuse me? Black and White? Good or Bad? Right or Wrong? Modern or Traditional? National or Foreign? You don't get me there. Exu não precisa de casa, no doubt.

Dualism has given birth to so so many problems and suffering in this (male dominated) world. As it happens, I also watched Skin this week. Wow! I really feel sorry for South Africans, who still have so much racial talk around here. I feel sorry for so much suffering, and Skin also shows how much patriarchal is morality.

Oh, oh, sorry men, I must commiserate for you, as only compassion can give you peace of mind... No, I'm joking. Duality is not a gendered thinking only, although it is, a lot.

Let us see, for instance, the issue of homosexuality in Africa (Africa, what's that?). In my Master's thesis I had already tackled the subject, which was quite innovative, but as everybody knows few people read Master's theses... I asked various young political leaders in Tanzania what did they think about homosexuality and sexuality (among other "issues").

In our Master's course at Wits University some weeks ago, I was quite surprised with my own emotional attitude related to the same topic. A man in the group hinted at a "problem": it is difficult to relate to other men (we were playing a group game). So, I just managed to say some very emotional words about our duty in opposing what's happening in Africa (see mostly Uganda's legal bill criminalizing sex between same sex people) regarding the lack of rights for people who want to love / have sex / whatever with another person without lying. Yes, because lying is ok, as everybody knows.

In the Mail&Guardian this week, there is an article ("not safe to come out"), showing quite a few examples of hate, prejudice, intolerance and radical ignorance in a few countries in "Africa" (although this is not to say that intolerance is worse here than in some other parts of the world).

Some weeks ago, I also wrote a comment to a magazine that published an article about one's reaction when one finds out that one's son or daughter is gay (I cannot find the reference just now), coming back to the same "issue".

So, WHY do I care about all this? Am I an homosexual? A lesbian? Imagine, myself getting into this trap, defining myself by a hetero/homo duality. NO WAY! But why do I care?

I guess it's because I care so much about breaking dualities. About repudiating traditions. I can't help it but laugh when I hear about tradition and modernity. I argue with Peter: this is a useless duality, they're useless categories, why would one need such a thing as separating what is "tradition" from what "modernity" is.
African philosophy has a lot of dualities: just see one example here. They won't get me!

To finish this long post: my viva to Mario de Andrade, the author of AMAR VERBO INTRANSITIVO, written in 1927 (Love, an intransitive verb), which gave birth to Lauro Escorel's movie Lição de Amor (1975). Isn't it really good?