Friday, 5 August 2022

I'm a transgender woman and I don't like Drag Queen Story Time

...but before the Daily Mail beat a path to my door waving chequebooks, I think it's important to make something clear: the reasons I dislike this popular family activity have nothing to do with the reasons queerphobic right-wing twats hate it. Those guys - who, incidentally, when investigated at even the most cursory level, usually turn out to be a right den of diddlers themselves - claim their objections to Drag Queen Story Time are based on the idea of defending kids from sexual predators. Which is bollocks for one simple reason: predators don't try to stand out. Yes, there was a man in a frock who used to come to my school and abuse kids, but he'd have got thrown out of the priesthood for wearing make-up. Predators seek camouflage, and as every trans woman finds out when she makes her first experiments with cosmetics, looking like a drag queen is exceedingly poor camouflage. 

Wow, they really seem like they wanna defend kids, huh?

These people will then usually try to make some kind of argument based on the idea that DQST is about (big scare quotes) 'normalising sexual deviancy' to, in some insidious way, soften kids up for the nonces. I'm not really sure how this is supposed to work, mainly because, like most normal adults, I can tell the difference between someone who happens to be gay and someone who's a paedophile. To be honest, it doesn't really matter. These people literally get given their arguments by genitally-obsessed freaks online who have literally publicly tweeted about how they have a deliberate agenda to conflate queer people with paedophilia. That this anti-drag agitation is a smear campaign is obvious. 

And while it's going on I will, obviously, defend the right of people to attend and enjoy Drag Queen Story Time by any means necessary. But I'm going to be angry the entire time because, as I say, I don't like Drag Queen Story Time myself. In fact, in all honesty, I find it cringe.

And I find it so because it seems, to me, to be based on a philosophy of queer assimilationism that I have no time for. It is, frankly, an appeal for queer people to be involved in reproductive futurism. This is the motive which bigots consider so sinister and call 'normalisation': I call it cringe and see it as collaboration with the forces that would normalise us

'Reeproductive futurism', a concept outlined by the literary theorist Lee Edelman, can be summed up as

The horizon of politics for reproductive futurism is the child. The purpose of politics in a reproductive futurist framework is to make a better world for our children. Edelman says that one of the freedoms we enjoy as queers is the freedom to reject this idea, to refuse to collaborate with our own suppression in order to create a better world for this hypothetical innocent, pure, hopeful, naive, yearning, grasping, deeply annoying little twat. Let the heterosexuals shackle their lives to reproducing themselves like the monkeypox virus: us queers get to live in the now!

This is, of course, a deliberate, dramatic detournement of the homophobic idea that queer people are unnatural because we cannot reproduce, a notion which has seen us constructed at various times as sinister or tragic depending on the biases of whoever's doing the constructing. A good example of reproductive futurism being used to other queer people is the failed Gladiator Sharron Davies' tweet saying she is 'fed up of drag shows' (which rather begs the question of who is kidnapping her and forcing her to go to them, but let's put that aside for the moment): 

Women - real women in fully paid up tervert Sharron's view, not like us filthy trannies - are seen, in Davies' formulation, as having value only in as much as they conform to reproductive futurism. They are doing the unpaid labour on which capitalism relies for social reproduction, 'rushing out a wholesome dinner, doing the laundry and cleaning', all the while bearing the effluvia of child-rearing, those 'leaky boobs', with an almost heroic pride ('boobs', it would seem, are much on the mind of terverts: if they aren't, like big-time loser Alison Bailey, thinking about the breasts of teenage girls 'feeling a lover's caress' they are, like LGB Alliance founder [and big-time heterosexual] Ann Sinnott, shoving their tits in a six-year-old's mouth. These are the people, remember, that the likes of the Daily Mail consider the moral superiors of you and I.).Incredibly, Davies is so intent on demonstrating her commitment to reproductive futurism here that she even effaces her own achievements: are women winning swimming medals in Sharron's world? Like Hell: they're whipping up a feast for the man of the house and the 2.4 children instead. 'Enough of the stereotypes' indeed!

(If you want to see another take on Davies' diatribe, which locates it in the different, though linked, discourse of heteropessimism, see Dr Eleanor Janega's excellent blog about it.)

But the thing that gets on my hormonally-grown tits about Drag Queen Story Time is that at its core, for all the fulminations of the likes of Davies or the Nazi nonces at Patriotic Alternative, it, too, is an act of collaboration with reproductive futurism. Because it, too, is centred on children, and more to the point on children constituted as the political horizon of the future. Indeed, one of the ideas behind it is not that far removed from the paranoid ramblings of the weirdos who protest against it: DQST is about normalising gender variance for kids, about letting them know gender expression and identity is a space of possibilities instead of a Black Iron Prison you get assigned to when a sleep-deprived midwife has a dekko at your neonatal crotch and ticks one of two boxes. As someone who would have avoided a lot of unnecessary suffering if that had been demonstrated to me earlier in life, I think that's a good thing. As people who like to make gender-variant folks the whipping bis for their own florid psychosexual neuroses, the anti-drag arseholes think otherwise. And they phrase their objections in terms of - what else? - reproductive futurism. It's just in their view equipping the children of the future with a greater awareness of the fluidity of gender identity and expression is dangerous, because they intend to keep the political horizon of the future as limited as possible. 

But let me state my position: 

But not like, in that way. Who do you think I am, Dane Cook?

Seriously, I don't care about your kids. I don't care that they broke their elbow, or they didn't. or whatever. I don't actually believe that children are the political horizon of the future, because I still think the best assessment of that political horizon is the opening sentence of Neoreaction: A Basilisk - 'Let us assume that we are fucked.' I feel sorry for kids who are going to have to grow up and find a way of surviving in that fucked world, but I think at a time when scientists are saying we need to start thinking seriously about facing the reality of human extinction, holding hands and singing that we believe the children are our future is laughable. 

And the thing is that that's what Drag Queen Story Time does. It may hope to influence that future in a more queer-friendly direction, but to do so it's forced to collaborate with a cultural complex which is deeply, structurally, heteronormative. It looks to me like queers centring our appeal to the hetero crowd on how helpful we can be to them in their child-rearing. Drop the kids off at Drag Queen Story Time while you and your DH ('darling hubby', come come, don't you know your vomit-inducing Mumsnet slang?) go and grab a coffee. We don't mind! It's what sad little eunuchs like us are here for! Looking after the kiddies for the real people! Nah. Fuck that. 

Obviously I am well aware I am in the minority on this. And I am not going to begrudge Queens a revenue stream in these troubled times, or Library Assistants the opportunity of holding events which will bring more people into the building and help get kids reading (yes, for all my fulmination against reproductive futurism I do think teaching kids to read is a good thing. How else are we going to teach them how much reproductive futurism sucks?). And while fascist scum are attacking these kinds of events I will defend them against attack with all my might (the amount of might this might amount to varies in terms of how I'm doing with my disability on any given day but I assure you it's non-zero). I just find it incredibly annoying to be forced to fight these fascist scum on a battleground I find so cringe.

But then, when these creeps are besieging libraries, hurling abuse and threatening to harm mothers, children, performers and library staff, my feelings aren't what's important. 

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