Saturday, 25 November 2006


If that subject offends, look away now.

I am driven to this subject by a couple of similar but unconnected incidents that have caused me to ponder.

The Scottish writer Ian Rankin (he does the Insp Rebus books) was commenting on how graphically violence was depicted in the modern crime novel. He said that the most detailed accounts came from women writers and a fair number of those were lesbians. This remark was given an outing (pun intended) on the BBC radio programme Womans' Hour. Rankin, wisely perhaps, declined to appear but the programme had gathered a number of women writers who, quelle surprise, included outed lesbians. Within a very short while the debate degenereated into a crusade for the joys of sisterhood and how dare anyone include the word lesbian in any uncomplimentary comment.

Nothing against women defending their corner or even being forthright in their views and comments when doing so. However, this trait of attack-dog behaviour came close to two other incidents that had involved me. These involved a couple of forum I (used to) read and contribute to. We were all going along nicely with the usual banter one meets amongst people who may have known each other prior to joining the internet community. Then, something I cannot now recall, led one of the women to write a thread in which she disclosed that she was a lesbian. This attracted no untoward remarks but two other women also revealed that they hade similar life styles. There was some to and fro as to whether being a lesbian was a choice or a gene thing and the thread died down.

About a week after the minor upheaval, a comment was posted that was not out of line with previous topics. It was not - prima facie - in any way connected to lesbianism. However, the women who had outed themselves all jumped to attack the poster as if it had been a direct and vicious attack upon them. They were ultra-defensive and extremely strident.

Within a few days, the same course of events arose on another forum I used. As soon as the woman wrote about her previously secret lesbianism, I groaned. I knew what was to happen. And it did. The same misapprehension as to being targetted. The same wild-cat spitting and clawing at anyone who came near.

Both forum are dead in the water. Contributers are afraid to write lest they be accused as gay and lesbian bashers.

It is the stridency that annoys me. I do not really care what anyone gets up to in their own life. My attitude to gay and lesbian attitudes is that I have no problem with them so long as they do not affect me or mine. I cannot understand why reasonable-minded people should reveal their likes and dislikes and then react so violently at the slightest self-perceived adverse comment. They do neither their cause or themselves any favours.

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