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Space for Rent: Media and the Boxing of LGBT Culture



Tweet of the Day: The Islamic Roots of Science Fiction


What do I mean when I say, “boxing?” I mean that you take a group, such as members of the LGBT community and dropped them in a cultural box for the convenience of those outside of the group, in other words, stereotyping. First LGBT folk were dropped in the villain box associated with male predatory behavior. Gay men were a threat because they remained biologically but interested in other me, and lesbians also fell into this trap because they, “acted like men,” which again, meant being sexually predatory.  The next box was the funny box, LGBT folk as jesters: the funny cross-dresser, the flaming neighbor, and the gay best friend. No longer a threat, now they became the funny sidekick that dropped truth bombs and acted, well, queer. Their lives were never explored outside their relationship with their straight counterparts. A walking, talking joke wearing a feather boa.

Now the current box is fetishisation, creating same sex romantic couples to fulfill the fantasies of straight men and women. This is not something new, of course, pornography aimed at straight males has indulged in the  lesbian fetish for decades. It is a variant of the threesome fantasy. The women start the sexual encounter, go through the process of foreplay with the implied promise that all that is left is to presence a penis to round out the scenario. These women are available, with uncontainable sexual drives, and yet still require a penis to be satisfied. Same sex fetishes aimed at female audience put more emphasis on the romantic angle (as does most erotica aimed at straight women) but again, it is not done out of an attempt at diversity or a fair representation of the LGBT community although often disguised as such. Why do I say that? Because this is just another box, with a single label. LGBT folks are defined solely by sexual identity and sexual behavior just as they were when placed in the other boxes above. Nothing makes this phenomenon more clear than James Bonding in video games, where characters are created for the sole purpose of fulfilling player fetishes, so much so that people have made list of who is and who is not available for a romantic tryst in the upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition (a fantasy computer RPG by BioWare, a division of Electronics Arts) and have sent death threats to the developers when they didn’t get their way. And content creators have noticed the trend and have develop ways to exploit it through tactics like queer bating, which again, are not really directed at any LGBT viewers, but at the straight viewers.

Of course this is not unique to the LGBT community, other minorities are treated the same: the horny black man that can not get enough of white women, the black face minstrel, the Hispanic lover, the murderous Arab, you get the idea. And it is just as harmful to drop others in a box and suffocate their identities with whatever label we feel is useful for us. Not to say that romance and erotica involving LGBT folks is out of bounds, but we should note who is the intended audience and whether it really furthers the causes of diversity and equality or simply drops another group into another box.


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