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'Loving Men' By Leo Bersani

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EN 2012
Terry Goldie

Loving Men By Leo Bersani thEN 2012Terry GoldieJanuary 19 2011Recent feminist Marxist subalternist gay and lesbian and race studies we were reminded have helped expose the bigotry and intransigence of current gender divisions and the section on masculinity and representationthis onewould it was predicted explore the extent to which overt and sublimated images of male domination and power are complicitous in the formation of sexist racist classist and homophobic attitudes Task as authors would be to suggest how these complacent representations of masculinity can be subverted in order to refigure the balance of power in dominant culture A gay man hardly be uninterested in the possibility of such subversions and yet there is a certain complacency in the assumption that it is unnecessary to examine how we might be complicitous in the complacent representations of an oppressive masculinity It seems to me not entirely irrelevant also to explore what might be called the erotic complicity of gay men in the very representations of masculinity that excludes us While it is indisputably true that sexuality is always being politicized the ways in which having sex politicizes are highly problematic In his desires however diverse they may be and however many other determinants help to constitute them the gay man always runs the risk of identifying with culturally dominant images of misogynous maleness A more or less secret sympathy with heterosexual male misogyny carries with it the narcissistically gratifying reward of confirming our membership in and not simply our erotic appetite for the privileged male society Samesex desire includes the potential for a loving identification with the gay mans enemies Our phantasmatic investments are frequently countered by more consciously and more rationally elaborated modes of reaching out to others such as liking or admiring people we do not necessarily desire In that tension lies an important moral dimension of our political engagements The cultural constraints under which we operate include not only visible political structures but also the phantasmatic processes by which we eroticize the real Even if we are born straight or gay we still have to learn to desire particular men and women and not to desire others the economy of our sexual drives is a cultural achievement
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