Published on February 12th, 2013 | by Dylan Ce0
Fierce Logic, FOX News Fails in Accidental Queer-Photo Flop
Recently, there was a bit of a mix-up over at the FOX News website. Their trusty anti-feminist woman writer, Suzanne Venker, was explaining how ladies and men are different and how feminism is hobbling all of our true natures. “Each gender,” explains Venker, “has its own energy that flows in a specific direction. For God’s sake, let it flow.”
I have to admit that Venker sort of intrigues me, ever since I found her first FOX News contribution, “The War on Men.” Her worldview is curiously myopic. She blames feminism for creating the uneasiness around traditional gender roles, which makes us curious where feminism itself came from. (Vengeful cat ladies? Uppity uteruses? A repressed desire for lady pens?)
If feminism didn’t come from dissatisfaction with traditional gender roles (since, according to Venker, feminism is the source of these gripes, not their solution) perhaps feminism came from a minority of perverts…that is, lesbians. I’m not entirely sure if Venker believes in the existence of lesbians, or if she sees them as just another sort of woman who has not “surrendered” to her femininity. Certainly, lesbians aren’t queuing up to purchase Venker’s much-self-promoted book, How to Choose a Husband and Make Peace with Marriage (now available on Amazon.com). That alone is probably enough to get them on her bad side.
Ironically, as the internet swiftly noticed, Venker’s own article was orginally illustrated with a photo of two (seemingly) female-bodied (whatever that means…) people kissing at their wedding. The staff at FOX News had evidently glanced at the photo and seen it as a typical heterosexual shot. The emphasis on gender duality, the yin-yang of the wedding photo, seemed perfect to illustrate Venker’s point. But soon after the article was published, ever-watchful netizens found the source of the photo and confirmed it to be a shot taken at a lesbian wedding. Strangely, the photo serves as not only a FOX fail, but as a sly refutation of Venker’s premise– that the core of every person with ladyparts is an identical sweet bastion of peaceful femininity, waiting to be unveiled.
For Venker, a woman’s “surrender to femininity” is always a sweet surrender. It is never forced. It is not coerced. It is fought against, perhaps, at first, because of the wrong ideas of feminism– but then, ahh. I imagine each woman transformed by Venker’s viewpoint surrendering, slipping under a lavender-colored wave, deeper and deeper into a quiet ocean. No screams are heard. Only bubbles.
In a way, Venker may only suffer from a case of over-generalization. I have no doubt that she herself surrendered to her femininity– finding peace and happiness in a role as a wife, in traditionally feminine attitudes, in letting her husband drive the car. She perhaps fails to realize that she surrendered, not to a universal femininity lying hidden in the core of every female-bodied person, but to her own desires, her own preferences.
Venker does not imagine another kind of surrender. She does not imagine a surrender to a different kind of femininity, one that likes to drive the car. And especially not a surrender to a femininity that finds pleasure in being the primary provider, or being sexually dominant, or being single. And certainly she does not imagine a female-assigned person’s surrender to androgyny, to masculinity, to gender ambivalence, to a non-binary identity, or just to being human in itself. She does not imagine that some male-assigned people have had to ultimately surrender to their femininity, too. She does not imagine that femininity, masculinity, and androgyny might come in shades and textures as numerous as the stars in the sky.
Perhaps she just cannot imagine looking with pleasure at the gender presentation of someone who has surrendered to a different sort of truth. It’s hard to say. I won’t try to guess at how she’d respond to someone who says that they are queer or trans– it’s just not in her script. For those of us who live it, we need more than Venker’s simple logic. Our lives and our survival require fierce logic. We need feminism and gender theory and big love and street smarts. We need logic that will defend our right to exist.
Venker is only important because she subscribes to a view of reality that afflicts many conservatives, and it’s a viewpoint that also permeates across the political spectrum in subtle and obvious ways. It’s a worldview that I could call quaint if it weren’t so problematic. Venker, like many conservatives, really believes that there is a sweet order underneath all of the apparent discord of modern society, and that the order has nothing to do with the discord. The ruckus of social change could be cut out of society with a clean swipe of the knife, according to conservatives like her, underneath, would be American as apple pie.
In a way, Venker is right. We need to surrender– to our inner voice, our desires, our yearning for our place in the world, to the compass-needle that tells us where we should go, what we could become. And she is wrong, because no simple, one-size-fits-all ideas will take us there. This is the biggest of challenges, a challenge fit for the human experience. Because each of us is different, subtly and wildly different and beautiful in our own ways. Underneath the discord is the order, but they are one thing, fighting to become aware, fighting for real equality and big scary beautiful love that breaks our hearts and breaks us open and makes us ready for a whole new kind of surrender, one that is ready to tear down barriers, one as fierce and whole as we are.
“Be Brave, dear one. Be ye changed or be undone.”
-My Brightest Diamond, “Be Brave”.