In a revealing discussion on Doug Henwood’s Behind the News, Suzanna Danuta Walters, Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Professor of Sociology at Northeastern University, argues that, with respect to sexual preference, “(We need to) push back against the discourse of acceptance.”
That, according to her, is why she “always cring(es) when (she) hear(s) about court cases about gay families and our side says ‘look all the data shows that kids from gay families do just as well as kids of straight parents.’ That’s the weak argument,” Walters suggests. Rather, “Don’t you want to say that queer families are ‘queer’ and do something to undermine traditional family forms?”
I wonder whether Walters at all realizes how contemptuous this rhetorical question is for those who can’t maintain any kind of family arrangement whatsoever-traditional or otherwise?
In fact, our country, or more specifically, its political class is doing a great job of achieving her objective of “undermining traditional family forms.” By destroying the economic basis of working class communities through attacks on unions and the minimum wage, deindustrialization, withdrawing support for public housing (as discussed in the second segment of the show) etc. neoliberalism has made the maintenance of any kind of stable family unit impossible for many segments of the population.
It’s hard to imagine that communities devastated by it are joining with Walters in cheering on undermining of families. A broader politics which celebrates this would seem to be a sure loser, not to mention morally degraded.
Revealing in this connection is that in her entire segment, there is not the slightest mention of the primary victims of neoliberal austerity: the words poor people, poverty or economic injustice are never once uttered.
That’s likely because economic victimhood is a reality which barely exists in the circles which dominate Walters’s consciousness and that of many self-described academic radicals.
A good indication of this is her claim that “all families are to some extent the same (in that, for example) we all have to deal with college apps.”
No, WE don’t all deal with college applications. In fact, well less than the majority of African American high school students attend college, with only 24% having completed a bachelors degree.
In the circles which Walters moves, and to which she is directing her remarks, all this, and the tens of millions living in poverty or near poverty is a world away-out of sight and out of mind.
But that, of course, begs the question of why Walters should expect any support for initiatives she believes should be central to the left agenda.
Orwell once asked whether’s it’s any wonder why “we”-by which he meant the British intellectual and upper middle class-are so hated.
In a short and very useful segment, Walters provides a clear answer to this question.