Friday, December 16, 2005

A 'bareback' Brokeback Mountain

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From Bill & Kent: Is Morning Sedition Homophobic? On my way to work this morning, I was listening to CNN trying to catch up on the daily news. Pretty much the same old stuff; Iraq is still going to crap, President Bush “accepts full blame for misinformation that took us into the war in Iraq, but...”, etc.... I switched to a different channel. I tend to channel surf a lot to try to get a different take on things from different news sources. I somehow think that will give me a more well rounded view of the world. But lately, everything has been pretty much the same. Iraq is going to crap, more people are dieing, Iran wants Israel wiped off the face of the earth (which the Bush Administration is quick to respond, “SEE!!! THAT is why they must never have nucular [sic] weapons!”), and yet, we wonder why they are hanging gay people in Iran. A strange world. I grew tired of all the news propaganda (these days, that seems to take about 10 minutes). I switched over to Air America Radio. You know, the place where “enlightened people” talk; a place where our “friends” talk. They are on XM Satellite Radio (XM channel 167). I only listen to XM now for pretty much everything. The program on this morning was “Morning Sedition”, with hosts Marc Maron and Mark Riley. They were responding to a call left on their answering machine concerning a remark they made yesterday concerning “Bareback Mountain”. They were making a remark about the new movie that is out called Brokeback Mountain, and they made a reference to it as “Bareback Mountain”. The message on their answering machine said that the remark was very insensitive and homophobic. Marc and Mark said that they were not homophobic and that the term “bare back” is used to describe two people, homosexual or heterosexual, who have sex without condoms. In all my years, I have never once heard the term “bare back” used to describe any sex act performed by a heterosexual couple. It is always used in terms of two gay men (to my knowledge). And, it is often used to describe men who still have multiple sexual encounters who get a thrill from having unprotected (no condom) anal sex (hence the term “bare backing”) with their partner. Most of the time, neither one knows the HIV status of their partner. Of course, this is highly risky and dangerous business. I’m not going to comment on it further, because I could devote an entire entry to just “bare backing”, and what I think of the practice. That is not the point with this entry. The point is, when heterosexuals have sex without a condom, it is called “unprotected sex”. That same term is also used for homosexual sex. But, the term “bare backing” has only been used to describe gay men having sex without a condom. This all leads up to the argument that the hosts of Morning Sedition were trying to make, that 1) they are not homophobic, 2) “bare backing” is a term used regardless of sexual orientation, and 3) people are too sensitive and that the real problem is that people take ownership of terms so it’s really impossible for radio hosts not to offend someone these days. Point 1 - they are homophobic: Yes, the comment was homophobic, so yes, at some level, they are homophobic. Whether or not they want to own up to that is doubtful. They pretty much tried to dismiss the comment left on the phone as some wacko making a stupid comment. Basically, they tried to get away from making a crude joke at the expense of the gay community. For this listener, they aren’t going to get away with that. If the movie was about a heterosexual couple in love against all odds, their comment about “bare back mountain” would have made no sense to any listener. They therefore, if they are being honest about it, would not have used that term. Point 2: “bare backing” is a term used regardless of sexual orientation: Not true. As I just mention, if the story was about a heterosexual love story, the comment would have made no sense to listeners. The comment holds no merit. Point 3: People are too sensitive and that the real problem is that people take ownership of terms so it’s really impossible for radio hosts not to offend someone these days: We have “taken ownership” of some terms, but not by our choice. I sometimes call myself “queer” or “fag” or “gay”. I suppose I have taken ownership of the terms because that is often how this fucked up society has chosen to describe people like myself - as a way to put us in our place, I suppose. Society still has the need to put everyone in a category. Terms such as “faggot” is still used freely in society to describe us in derogatory terms. African Americans still have labels. They are called “African Americans”. The term “blacks” is less acceptable now and the “‘N’ word” is always referred to as the “‘N’ word”; not an acceptable way to refer to people of African decent, but we all know what they really mean. It’s just makes the racist comment a bit more sanitized. And for the record, in terms of being derogatory, the “‘N’ word” = “faggot”. So yes, I have taken ownership of the term “faggot”. On average, I get called the term 5-6 times a year, along with “queer”. It used to be much more often so I suppose that society is making some progress in terms of our community if you can go by that. I don’t bother countering it because quite frankly, it’s no longer worth my time. Also, by not countering it I take away the homophobes’ power in using the word. It simply is beneath my dignity to respond to the comments with a response. But, that does not make the comments right. The fact that I have accepted being called these names does not make it “ok” to call gay people these names. And, when I’m paying for a radio subscription, I’m not paying to hear my community being patronized and used as the punch line of some crude, cheap joke. I changed channels and just chalked it up to ... “morons”... and decided that for me, I will avoid “Morning Sedition” from now on. In contrast, Randi Rhodes makes absolutely no excuses for bigotry in any form. She openly attacks homophobia and racism for what it is. I like her show a lot. I just wish that other “enlightened people” (which Air America claims to be made up of) would exist across their spectrum. For Morning Sedition, this is sadly not the case. Original Source Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments:

Matt, you're wrong on this one. I don't know about the white community, but in the black community, the term bareback has long been used to describe the act of sex without a condom without regard to whether it was heterosexual or gay sex. As a matter of fact it is actually used much more when describing heterosexual sex. When I hear the term "bareback" used in reference to sex, the first thing that springs to mind is hetero sex sans condom. I think the conclusions you're coming to here are based soley on your very limited scope of experience.
posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 12/20/2005 09:11:00 AM  
This was a post from another blog... it was from Bill and Kent. I didn't come to any conclusion, I thought their writing was good so I posted it. Maybe you should read it more carefully and notice the little "From Bill and Kent:" at the top of the post.

If you disagree with what they wrote, please feel free to leave them a comment on their blog as well.

But I will say that, like Bill and Kent, I have never heard the term "bareback" to refer to heterosexual sex. Many of my heterosexual friends (white and black) have even asked me what the term means before.