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The homosocial - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
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Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 12:00 am
The homosocial

Let's consider "the homosocial"; the idea that men have a suppressed, de-sexualised homo-orientation which operates in the social realm, making their business, work and leisure relationships particularly intense, and their world of power particularly difficult for women to break into. The homosocial can express itself positively -- in the form of pacts, squash games, beer quaffing and other jock-type male bonding. But it can also express itself negatively as fierce rivalries, sparring and conflict. Even when this happens, though, women are often surprised by the intensity of the hate, which can seem like the flipside of a peculiar form of male-on-male love.



I'm not really sure how the homosocial applies to me; I prefer to spend my time with women. So much so that I undervalue and ignore excellent male artists in favour of their girlfriends. I've mentioned Hikaru Furuhashi quite a few times on Click Opera, for instance, yet passed over her brilliant (ex-)boyfriend, Sean Talley, whose new blog is great.

It reminds me -- I remind me -- of Leos Carax. I loved Carax's films in the 80s, so when my wife Shazna befriended him in Paris (partly in revenge for me spending so much time with Kahimi Karie) I asked whether I could join them for coffee one day. The answer came back: Leos only likes the company of women. Carax was apparently too like me to like me.

Of course, it could be that this avoidance of homosocial bonding is itself an intense form of male-on-male passion. "You're a secret macho," Hisae told me when I explained the concept of the homosocial to her yesterday. "You can't deal with men because they bring out your aggressive, competitive side." It's true; anyone who's read my comments on Neomarxisme knows how intensely savage I can be.

Or how about the strange, fraught tale of my relations with New York indie record store Other Music? Last year, I blogged rather critically about their newsletter. The next time I entered the store, manager Josh Madell confronted me with an angry, betrayed, emotion-filled rant. "I'm on the verge of crying," I wrote at the time. It was all oddly intense, much more than a spot of tension between an artist and a record store.

This year, I didn't dare go into Other Music at all. I just didn't want to mix my record-shopping with the kind of feelings you get visiting an ex-lover with whom you've had a painful break-up. Just as I'd done with, say, John Peel or the NME (to name two of my failed homosocial bondings back in the UK music industry), I pretty much assumed I'd never be stocked by Other Music again, never be mentioned in their newsletter. It was just as well I had an alternative world to flirt with, a world less fraught with paranoid misunderstandings, a world generally better aligned with my own worldview: the art world. Sure, Pitchfork might not be returning my calls, but I had Chrissie Iles and Roberta Smith giving me a big thumbs up from the art world (a career path dominated by women, heterosocial bliss for someone like me)!



So it was with a rush of emotion -- the return of the homosocial repressed, if you will -- that I discovered that Other Music has this month reviewed Ocky Milk. And reviewed it rather kindly.

"I'm actually a bit nervous reviewing the latest Momus release," wrote -- gasp! -- manager Josh Madell, "as I'm all too aware that he frequently critiques his critics in his blog, and he took strong offense to what he (absurdly) viewed as a slight in these pages last time around". Palm frond duly extended, Josh ends with an ever-so-slightly mocking pean: "You're great Momus, a genius and a true star, also handsome and smart and cool as can be…OK?"

Okay, that's acceptable flattery. Now what do we do, keep our clothes on?

See, there's the rub. I'm so used to seeing sex as the ultimate reward for my cultural activity that "success" defined in terms of selling records, making money, gaining the respect of male peers, having the industry behind you, and all the rest of that homosocial stuff seems... well, gay. And if I actually were gay, this homosocial bonding thing would be logical enough -- it would lead to sex. But I'm straight, which is why I want women to run the world. I want making it and making out to be the same thing.

56CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)

"So much so that I undervalue and ignore excellent male artists in favour of their girlfriends."

"See, there's the rub. I'm so used to seeing sex as the ultimate reward for my cultural activity"

Well at least you're honest, if a little crass.

Your friend, Willy fae the OSP


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 10:20 pm (UTC)

You harbour a bit of homosocial attitude yourself, don't you, "Willy"?


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand



cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 10:22 pm (UTC)

It is a wonder why the concept of being male hasn't been fully figured out in the 15,000 or so years that human males have been on the Earth.


Women gave up on figuring out themselves long ago when they found out they had tits and could get men to do all the work.


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niddrie_edge
niddrie_edge
raymond
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)

Why succeed when you can succumb?


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instant_c
instant_c
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 11:43 pm (UTC)
Escape from freedom?

I must admit I am also a blatant heterosocial. It is rare that I feel comfortable in male dominated social situations. In fact, the few times I met you I felt incredably awkward. What is your typical role in a social setting? I find I am either completely quiet or I talk way too much, which I find is not as acceptable in a generic male dominated conversation.


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tigerrain
tigerrain
DaveStar
Fri, Oct. 27th, 2006 11:48 pm (UTC)

I think that in the homosocial world instead of sex you get a high-5 or maybe pat on the back or man hug (I'm huggin ya, but I'm HITTIN ya!). And I'm OK with that.

I will say one thing about the homosocial world, though, men can forgive and go from enemies to friends in a heartbeat (or in this case, a kind review and apology). I've noticed, as I'm sure you have too, women aren't quite so forgiving.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 12:31 am (UTC)

in slight elaboration on the "man hug/slap" I find it interesting to note that i was reading this forum where a guy was describing how he had just had really intense buttsex with his male friend and it was this rough, crazy experience...and then when he leant over to kiss him, the friend said "no I don't do that--that's gay".
Kinda adds another degree to the whole homosocial thing, eh? ;D


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
nicepimmelkarl
.
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 12:47 am (UTC)

add me, mate. we sort something out.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)
homosocial kitty imomus?

Well, perhaps it has nothing to do with homosociality, but I thought you might like to see a photo of your image brilliantly pasted into a Kitty Chan outfit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/troutfactory/271238472/

I recently went to the open studios at Kyoto Zokei Geijutsu Daigaku (an art school) and in one of the studios was this fabulous Kitty Chan couture. Which I'm pretty sure I've seen featured somewhere, but I couldn't find it or figure out where. Oh well. Anyhow, the artist — whose name I didn't pick up — also had several images of famous people pasted into the Kitty clothes, including yourself, the Mongolian sumo wrestler Hakuho, and the young Emperor himself:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/troutfactory/271238187/

And here's a shot of the outfit itself:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/troutfactory/271237661/




Enjoy.



Trane






p.s. Once upon a time you were asking about "Japan" blogs and since I live in Japan you might call mine a "Japan" blog, though it might be too personal and idiosyncratic to qualify in any universal sense. Maybe more of a local blog that happens to find its locality in Osaka:

http://www.troutfactorynotebook.blogspot.com/


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 07:02 am (UTC)
Re: homosocial kitty imomus?

Ha ha, excellent Hello Kitty shots, Trane, thank you for linking those!

I've added your blog to my daily rounds.


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riotdorrrk
riotdorrrkz riot
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)

i know some guys that are 'homosocialphobic' - some are afraid to even hang out with other guys, as that may be seen as 'gaaaaay'. having a large and nearly-exclusive body of woman-friends is the only way to guarantee their perceived (by others) heterosexuality (and to guarantee competition-free access to a ready dating pool, even if life doesn't actually work out that way).


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)

Haha one of the gayest people I know has always surrounded himself with girls, and for this reason, I was always unsure until recently about his sexuality, because it could've either meant one of two things :P


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cerulicante
cerulicante
cerulicante
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 04:10 am (UTC)

I feel comfortable being around men because I was socialized normally as a child and never felt the need to compete. It's quite possible to be around lots of men without being uncomfortable, but if you're a limp-wristed art type or a fruitylicious musician with a neckscarf, it's harder to find normal guys that are comfortable around YOU.

Men who are uncomfortable around other men are probably just feeling insecure . Men who are only comfortable around women are probably just eager to get the pleasure that comes from being an alpha male or desirable male that gets lots of female attention. Not a bad thing, but you're apt to get left in the dust when other men show up...


I dunno. I used to think I was like this until I went to a Japanese bath house and talked about baseball, pro wrestling, hookers and booze with some old Japanese dudes. Then, I was better at being an adult male.


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myani
.
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 05:04 am (UTC)

what's even more fun is when you're weird enough that you can't find *anybody* who is comfortable around you!

maybe i'm just too far out of the city. who knows.


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akabe
akabe
alin huma
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 07:46 am (UTC)

there's the other thing where two intense homosocials can only get close to each other through (the medium of (the body(?) of)) a woman.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 08:21 am (UTC)

That's what my song "The Hairstyle of the Devil" is about. "Based on a true story", as they say.

I was dating N, a beautiful woman, who also happened to be my plugger (the person who promotes records to the radio stations). She was also dating M, a record company boss. I had "heard so much about him". Finally met him... and he became my music publisher, making lots of money from my Kahimi Karie hits and encouraging me to find a female singer (Laila France) in Paris -- a strongly destabilizing factor in my marriage, as it turned out. So, although I certainly never had sex with him, he was a big part of both my material and sexual life for about five years. N, meanwhile, moved on from both of us, leaving us "together".


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dr__ben
dr__ben
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 07:59 am (UTC)

it's possible that men are less enthusiastic than women about rewarding social and cultural power with sex, although i don't know what the evolutionary psychology hocus pocus artists have to say about homosexual sexuality.

this all reminds me very slightly of an excellent king missile song:

http://lyrics.rare-lyrics.com/K/King-Missile/Gay-Or-Not-Gay.html

"Discussing sex with a guy is gay. Discussing sex with a woman is straight, even telling a woman "Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to suck a cock" is straight...See, look, I, I know I'm homophobic, but not about gay guys. They don't bother me at all. It's straight guys who don't know they're gay. They f**k my sh*t right up. Like a guy calls me up and says "A bunch of us guys are gonna sit around in our underwear and watch a football game and drink beer and eat chips, and, you know, maybe wrestle with each other a little, you know, just us guys! You wanna come over?" And I'm like "No.""


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kaipfeiffer
kaipfeiffer
Kai Pfeiffer
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)

you don't like football & wrestling? - your're secretely gay.


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adam_alligator
adam_alligator
adam
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 08:31 am (UTC)

not once have i ever felt relaxed in the presence of another male, to my memory.


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charleshatcher
charleshatcher
charleshatcher
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)

Tell me about your father.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)

I'm so used to seeing sex as the ultimate reward for my cultural activity

I predict you're going to find life after 50 quite difficult


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 08:48 am (UTC)

Oh, probably. Me and Madonna both. We'll have to pay our lovers. And she's got more money than me, but a man can't fake an erection.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 10:03 am (UTC)

"You're a secret macho," Hisae told me when I explained the concept of the homosocial to her yesterday. "You can't deal with men because they bring out your aggressive, competitive side."

Oh, that's interesting, I've got that, too.

In the past I've always likened it to dog behaviour.

Like being an alpha-male that for whatever reason refuses to dominate.





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kaipfeiffer
kaipfeiffer
Kai Pfeiffer
Sat, Oct. 28th, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)

"a world less fraught with paranoid misunderstandings, a world generally better aligned with my own worldview: the art world."

i'm shure you very well know that's procrustean seeing from your part: the art world jumped in your bed, and you chopped off the bits you don't want to see.
you saw enough art fairs to know: the beautiful young girls at the stands are just decorative assistants, they don't run the gallery. just like in a pop music fair.
"paranoid misunderstandings" would have been a good title to lable the impression i had of the berlin art fairs this year. 80% of the galleries showing crap paintings they hoped to sell to american collectors with big enough sofas.
but that's just natural. in in the art world, as anywhere else, it's maybe 5% percent interesting, substantial, ethically enjoyable (difficult term - some really evil people make my cut, and it would need a complicated discussion, why, in each case. l. -f. céline, for an example) people/works one has to search for. that's my unoriginally generalizing procrustean view.


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