Friday, December 12, 2008

Sexual politics.

The Minsters of Finance and Heritage, pictured with the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.

I was going to hit at Harper for his latest switcheroo on the appointment of 18 neocon sympathizers to the Senate, but to be honest, it doesn't have much impact unless it's accompanied by a list of his crimes and misdemeanors, and I really don't have the energy right now to fisk a man's entire political life. And to be honest, it's just a dick move that's sure to be added to the greatest hits compilation of a man who has built his career on dick moves. He was probably a dick when he was studying economics, he was almost certainly a dick when he worked at the National Citizem's Coaltition (a misnomer true to the whole "conservative" ethos), and he has been a dick as head of the weirdest and youngest political party in Canada. Oddly enough, Harper, according to Wikipedia, left the Progressive Conservatives because of the economic policies of Mulroney, which resulted in Candada's kickass debt and integration with the US. He has apparently had an epiphany.

I want to explore the phenomenon that gets a dick like this elected.

First, I apparently need to debunk some illusions about Canadians. We're supposed to be neat, polite, helpful and cooperative. We are big into the UN, proud of peacekeeping, and don't litter. We are respectful of nature, not necessarily because we love it, but because we know it can fucking kill you. We're supposed to walk a fine line between our twin parentages of England and France, constantly in the shadow of our big brother to the south, and we have neatly obliterated our history of genocide. We are, in short, like the quiet guy on your street that turns out to be a serial killer.

Because apparently we have either one of two things: a dom streak or a sub streak. This is the only way I can make any sense of it. I have to put it into a kinky sexual context.

The submissive fits our outward personality quite neatly. We are all the things listed above, plus obedient. We do what we're told, and are grateful for the opportunity. It also explains our support for the UN (an unsuitable top, to be sure), and our toadying (particularly recently) to the US. Dubya is one hell of a top. He even likes torture.

The upshot Canada being a bottom is that we like to be told what to do, punished when we step out of line, and keep asking for more. Harper is a pretty good top. He's pushy and belligerent, he's antagonistic and mean, and he's "tough on crime" (I get a little thrill just typing those words). He likes soldiers and body armour. He likes "cutting". He's stoic and capricious.

I have just figured out what Steve can do when he leaves politics. You thought he looked stupid in that cowboy hat? Wait'll you see him in leathers.

When Canadians vote for the CPC, they are finding their own dom among them. They seek to be punished for a hundred years of Liberal rule or something. They are signing up to get their spankings, and they are loving it. You can tell because they voted for him again. The problem is this. The safe word "non-confidence", doesn't work. When we say "non-confidence", he's supposed to put down the paddle and undo the handcuffs. He's supposed to remove the ball gag and get us a glass of water.

He's not supposed to walk out the door and leave us tied up for six weeks.

Our bottomness has bitten us, and we are powerless to do anything about it.

I think, though, that here is where this explanation falls short. It's the powerlessness of being a bottom that appeals. It is relinquishing control, and being subject to the whims of a much stronger person. It also tends to appeal to people who have a great deal of control over things: they like to relinquish the decision making, and being subject to the whims of others is arousing. Historically, Canadians have been a lot of things, but "in control" is not one of them. Sure, we managed to kick the shit out of the locals when we arrived, but not only did we have biological warfare, alcohol and gunpowder on our side, we weren't even Canadians yet. We were still British and French, and those two societies have not been known for going around being nice to other people. Ask the Indians and Algerians if you have any questions.

Canada has been historically support staff. We've not been CEOs, we've been Board Members. We've not been quarterbacks, we're defensive linemen. We're not Superman, we're the Wonder Twins. In essence, our entire history has been as a bottom, and when you're a bottom in real life, you like to get on top, which brings us to the alternate theory.

Harper is our projection as a dom. We didn't elect him to dominate us, but to BE us, as we be a top for a while. Harper has his whip, and he doesn't colour our bums, but the bums of... who, exactly?

To answer that, we need to have a look at conservative mythology. The problem with this is that you have to at least buy into conservative mythology to accept the following premises, but if you accept the traditional "left/right" dichotomy, you are halfway to accepting these myths.

  • Communists are bad.
  • Gays are bad.
  • Liberals are bad.
  • Human rights stifle free speech.
  • Frenchies are bad.
  • Europeans are bad.
  • America is good. All the time. No matter who they kill.
  • Greed is good.
  • Social programs are bad.
  • Politicians are bad.
  • Government is not the solution, but the problem.
  • Except when it comes to punishing small criminals. Then it rocks.
  • Progressives are anarchists.
  • Tradition is good.
  • Human rights are for sissies.
  • "Human rights" is just a way to make white people, particularly men, feel inadequate.
  • The environment is bad (or simply a way to make money).
  • God (particularly our god) is good.
  • Athiests are actually in denial, or actively on the side of the devil.
I've heard variations of all the above, and while the last two are more prevalent in the US, I've been accused of the same thing. Here in Canada. Right. Where the Constitution recognizes that "Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law". People I had assumed were in the centre all have their pet prejudices. My uncle is a huge corporatist, and a big fan of NAFTA. My friend the history teacher digs the tough on crime schtick. A student was shocked--shocked!--when I suggested that she could pluralize the word "god".

You need not buy into all or even any of these memes. There are others about artists, Natives, Blacks, immigrants, Catholics, politicians, lawyers, social workers, activists, students, youth in general, Cubans, unions, and a bunch that I've missed. All you need to do is recognize that some part of the Canadian population has been in charge for far too long, and it's their turn to be on the bottom. Harper manages to spank someone almost daily.

Sometimes it's just a generalized spanking, like when he closes Parliament Hill in a pique, or whips us with his "transparency and accountability", and then tries to fire the guy who suggests that maybe Harper should be more transparent and/or accountable. He spanked us with an election last August. Sometimes he spanks specific groups of people. He managed to spank environmentalists from Bali without even going himself. He spanked minorities and poor people when he cut funding to legal aide. He spanked the Liberals like when he hit us with his "senate reform" which means filling it with neocons instead of Liberals, independents or Dippers. He spanked tradtional conservatives by spending his surplus. He spanked women when he tried to end their recourse to the CHRC for pay inequity. And he spanked the politicians when he tried to cut their funding.

He even managed to spank Natives while it looked like he was caressing them. By apologising for genocide, he took some of the teeth out of the criticism. "That'll teach them Indians to go around looking all decimated and shit." And he's somehow managing to spank Afghanistan with democracy.

The rest of us don't even have a safe word. We can't make him stop.

He's one hell of a top, and Canadians like to see someone with a spiked collar in charge. Steve weilds it masterfully, either hitting us seperately, dividing us and making some other part of society the bottom for a change, or he spanks us all, and the doms thrill in a little S&M way. It's all very perverse, while somehow refraining from perversion.

It is this division and the persistence of these myths about liberals of all kinds, "libruls", that allows a bully like Steve to stay on top. People still use the word "pinko", and people who are concerned about the environment are moonbats. The decay of the family is blamed on the gays and women are viewed with suspicion. I doubt anyone would say it out loud, but I'm sure that there are some who think things started to go wrong when we took the chains off the Negros, and if not then, certainly when we let them marry whites. The affluence and emptiness of the system is not the problem. It's those assholes who want us to treat people like equals.

Steve's success relies on two things, and both of these rely on myth. First, he needs to victimize each and every Canadian, pointing out that they are the bottoms, and it's time the got on top. He doesn't need to do it himself; he's got people who will. Lorrie Goldstein is a good example. The entire editorial board of the National Post. CTV and its affiliates. John Baird. My nemesis, Michael Coren. My uncle. Ordinary Canadians have been getting screwed, goes the narrative (see list above), and it's time they did some screwing. He then needs to villify other Canadians (see list above). These people are responsible for your misfortune. You lost your job 'cause of unions. Your marriage is failing because gays have infected it. Ecoterrorists threaten your petro dollars. They hate our freedoms.

The third thing he needs that he can't control is our willingness to seek easy answers. He can take this for granted. Every time I'm called a fag, godless, a secularist or a "librul", I win a phyrric victory. I have won the battle, but I know I will lose the war. The world is not divided into good and bad, left and right, black and white, or bottom and top. It's complicated, and the right thing to do isn't always the right thing to do. Ambiguity is hard, and bottoming is easy. Topping is easy, too. It's vanilla that's hard.

I have no prescription. No suggestions.

No safe word.

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