Friday, March 21, 2008

Faggot, what's a faggot?

Querelle ponders over the meaning of the word "faggot" after he calls the lieutenant one in his mind. "Faggot, what's a faggot? One who lets other guys screw him in the ass?" (88). He arrives at the conclusion that he is one himself. The word pops up more and more in these pages. We give the label of "homosexual" to all the characters who populate this fictive rendering of Brest, which is only natural for us because of how our particular culture chooses to define sexuality... the biological sex of the object(s) of our desire (or of the act itself, if you like). All these (mostly violent) masculine power struggles are overtly eroticized and then we have the men who participate in these struggles who are openly talking about s*cking and f*cking each other all the time. Yet at the same time they are all worried of being labeled a "faggot" or a "fairy" and sodomy even appears to be a punishable offense (another crime to add to our growing list: prostitution, drug trafficking, theft & murder). I admit I don't know if France still had sodomy laws at the time, or if they would apply in this fictive world even if she did... but given the lieutenant's fear of being discovered by Mario when he is being questioned about Vic's murder, and Robert's reaction to hearing his brother gave himself willingly to Nono or Momo or whatever his name is... I have a hard time believing some of the very frank, sexy stuff going on here... like Gil presenting his anus to the masons and then screaming at them to f*ck him even though he's got hemorrhoids. Crazy. I really have to give it to Genet. The image he puts in my head right there is one that probably won't quit me for a while.

I like how the woman, Paulette, enters into the story only in a fantasy of Gils... and then only because he is terrified of being penetrated by Theo. In revenge he shouts: "Me, I'm a man... ... I shove it up other guys! I'll screw you too!" (109). Theo then turns into Robert. I don't know what thats about... but what's interesting to me is that masculinity here is linked directly to sex with other men (as long as one is the giver and not the receiver). There is another good part on the bottom of page 116 where it talks about passive/active roles in sex, this time talking about fellatio (where the passive/active roles are reversed).

One last thing I will point out this morning: the text specifically says that the fight between Querelle and his brother is a "lovers' quarrel" and that "rather than trying to destroy one another they seemed to want to become united, to fuse into what would surely be, given these two specimens, an even rarer animal" (123). Aside from the suggestion of incest, we return here to this eroticization of male power struggles, but perhaps laced a bit with sadness, because the fusion of these two men can (probably) never be complete. Is that all men really need, to feel connected to other men? Les pauvres. *sniff*

2 comments:

Amanda said...

@ the time, and still today France has laws against sodomy

fehrer said...

I think that (last paragraph) is what all people want. We just want connection and intimacy. Not necessarily with people of the same sex, but with people in general. Humans are social animals, and even people who are a bit antisocial need some sort of connection with other people to feel like a whole person in themselves.
We need friends and lovers or (my theory is) we'd go insane. We need to talk and to share and communicate to survive.
I think that the idea that all men really want is to feel connected to other men is a valid one and a romantic one, really.