NEAR the end of s0metim3s’ post about the creepily titled “Little Children Are Sacred” report on child sex abuse in Aboriginal communities, she draws attention to a disturbing dynamic which emphasised how much the guilt/innocence binary works to homologously inform and reinforce the function of so many others. In this case, the distinction between ‘Australia/ns’ (designating the intertwining of white Australian bodies with the imagining of the body politic; see earlier posts for clarification) and Aboriginal/s works, as s0metim3s points out, to ensure the innocence of ‘Australia/ns’ with regard to sex abuse. It informs the horror expressed at the way ‘Muslims’ ‘treat their women’ (a phrase intriguing for the proprietorial inflection produced). Especially, as was pointed out at a forum at UTS a while ago (the ad for which I, under my pre-blogger pseudonym and with probably terrible blog etiquette, stuck in a comment on the archive (linking coz I can’t remember which speaker said it)) in the Sheikh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly case (see October 2006 comments; and please don’t take this link as advocating a position, I didn’t read the details): Howard expressed horror at the comments made, as if the well-she-wore-a-short-skirt-so-she-deserved-it rhetoric weren’t alive and well in ‘Australia/ns’ and affecting our truly horrifying rape conviction rates (estimated 1% of all sexual assault ends in conviction). It informs the proposed new cut-welfare regime for Aboriginal people, because innocent ‘Australia/ns’ always ‘respect housing’ (giggle: I’m sorry, that’s just such a ridiculous concept!), make sure their kids attend school and never ‘abuse substances’ in contrast to guilty indigenous communities. It informs the characterisation of pedophilia as merely a product of ‘monstrous individuals’ in the churches (“no, no, we are innocent; they, they are guilty, nothing to do with us or how we produce sexuality! (And we don’t like that Foucault guy!)”). The scapegoating of the already-othered other as a way of disowning responsibility for issues entire tangles of cultures and people and economies are actually responsible for is horribly problematic most of all because it works, appealing to and reinforcing bodily (in)tolerances, appealing to and reinforcing the imagined body of ‘Australia/ns.’ Over and again, innocence is claimed merely in the act of pointing out the guilty; and the configuring of the innocent as innocent in and through that move is never drawn attention to, because everyone’s too busy looking at the awful people they’re pointing at.

It reminds me a little of some comments the totally awesome Susan Stryker made at a conference in Brisbane in April, when discussing (an image taken from) 300. I didn’t see the movie, so I can’t speak to it directly, but she pointed out the characterisation of Xerxes (with his hand on the Spartan dude’s shoulder): kinda camp, kinda queer, kinda feminine, kinda giant, kinda animalistic, kinda Oriental and always hedonistic. The horror of a totally-guilty other composited of all the others against which the Spartans became innocent and good; and authentic, and straight, and masculine, and normal, and human, and white (implicitly, at least) and disciplined. An image for our times (and no, I didn’t keep up with the Zizek debate, sorry, so if I’m repeating/crossing debates I’m unaware of, feel free to comment and fill in my unexamined parentheses!)

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