More tiresome discussions of gender in popular culture

Today I posted a comment on some recent discussion of writing on “virtual transvestitism”: at the “Terra Nova”: blog. My comment is “here”:, and the text is reproduced below:

The “fact that people are studying and talking about these ideas” (gender studies and queer theory) would not be objectionable if it had not reached the level of an extremely tiresome obsession.

In the Department of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne, where I am a PhD candidate, a majority of staff seem to spend a majority of their time writing and teaching about gender studies and queer theory. Past a certain point, such a focus becomes sheer narrow-mindedness. It is liable, too, to push other topics out of their proper place in studies of culture: things like aesthetics, history, biography, and so on.

What’s objectionable about Ruberg’s writing on Terra Nova is, as Endie points out here, that she is pushing an agenda and prepared to do some intellectual contortions to do so. In her post on Virtual Transvestitism, for instance, Ruberg writes that

these virtual cross-dressers are using the medium of cyberspace to experiment with the bounds of gender ideologies and performance… whether they like it or not. (emphasis added)

The structure of thought underlying this is, I presume, the standard gender-studies indoctrination that there is something terribly sinister about contemporary constructions of gendered identity and their connection to biological difference, and that people ought to rebel against the straightjacket of identity that they find themselves in. And as the Marxist ropes in all working people to the socialist cause, then blames their false conciousness when they fail to rise up, so Ruberg makes all men who use female avatars, and women who use male avatars, part of the gender-bending revolution… “whether they like it or not.”

No-one has a chance to respond that their choice to be a virtual ‘transvestite’ is meaningless, or borne out of a sheer desire to watch a wiggling, polygonal, female Night-Elf bum wend its way across Azeroth. If that happens to be a fact, then it’ll be beaten down by the agenda.

And that, my friend, is sheer intellectual dishonesty.

Thanks to “Joystiq”: for bringing this to my attention.

Author: Ben Hourigan

Ben Hourigan is a novelist from Melbourne, Australia. His books Kiss Me, Genius Boy and My Generation’s Lament are Amazon category bestsellers, and are available wherever good books are sold online. Ben also works as an editor, copywriter, and self-publishing consultant at his own firm, Hourigan & Co. For news and book release updates, sign up to his email newsletter.