When It Comes to Gay Politics, Sophie Hawkins Should Sit Down

by: Derrick Clifton

“Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” might’ve been a big hit in 1991, but Sophie B. Hawkins has a new record out and she wants all your love and attention. Except she’s going about it all the wrong way.

In an interview up on Huffington Post, Hawkins decries Obama’s record on LGBT issues. Among the bits of the trainwreck:

He’s all talk. He hasn’t done anything…

Why are we so easy? Why are we so cheap? You can buy a gay person’s vote for nothing. Unbelievable. Low self-esteem.

Gay people are all about publicity and show. Even the marriages… Stop having affairs, and stop acting like straight people.

Yawn.

The last time this woman was even a topic of conversation, I was still watching Barney & Friends. And after an eight year hiatus, which came after the lukewarm-to-cold reception of 2 previous albums,  it’s no surprise that Sophie is scrapping for any media attention she can get in order to regain a slither of relevance.

Conventional wisdom might dictate that pressing the “mute” button works best for folks resorting to outright stupidity for the sake of publicity, but it’s only fair she gets called out for slamming a president that has done more for LGBTs than in any other White House administration.

Let’s see, where do we start:

  • Repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy
  • Openly endorsing marriage equality
  • Creating a heartfelt “It Gets Better” video, along with holding a White House conference on bullying
  • Signed into law hate crime measures that included sexual orientation and gender identity

The list goes on, yet there’s so much to still be done. But Hawkins dares to say that Obama “hasn’t done anything” for the community? Talk about clueless.

And instead of putting the brakes on politics talk after slamming Obama, Sophie derides gays en masse by employing unfortunate, judgmental tropes of gay men as morally decrepit, promiscuous, crazed sex addicts who have no capacity for sustaining interpersonal relationships. For someone who, according to the interview, identifies as ‘omnisexual,’ you’d think she’d understand why that’s problematic.

But money is green and she’s clearly desperate for the media hits and record sales.

The fun doesn’t stop there, though, since she also says to gays “If you want to get married stay fucking married.” Sure gays can commit to one another, but given that many states still have not legalized same-sex marriage and candidates like Mitt Romney are advocating a federal marriage ban, getting “married” isn’t even a reality for many.

So who are we supposed to support, Sophie, Mitt Romney? He doesn’t even have a section on his campaign website to discuss LGBT issues other than a blurb on his marriage position under the “Values” section. But check out your president, who’s actively working with the community and has an entire section explaining his values, actions and goals on LGBT issues over the past four years and if he gets four more.

And you still say he’s not doing anything for the community? Please.

The next time Sophie B. Hawkins, who’s basically a washed-up predecessor of Ms. “Call Me Maybe” herself, wishes to comment on politics, I’d suggest she leave it to the pros or at least to folks who educate themselves before going on outlandish rants.

Not like she could care anyway; she’s only in it for the record sales. That’s save for her campaigning for Hillary Clinton and environmentalist causes.

Perhaps someone should ask her what she’s done politically for the LGBT community. But I’d wager that, in Sophie’s own words about Obama, she’s “all talk.”

Note: This post was originally featured on the author’s site and was republished with permission. You can find the original here.

Derrick Clifton is a columnist and opinion editor for The Daily Northwestern, the award winning student-run daily publication for Northwestern University and the City of Evanston, Ill. Derrick is also editor and publisher of DailyDerrick.com, a blog highlighting pop culture criticism and social justice, and an opinion contributor for NextGen Journal. His works have been featured on Gawker, National Review Online, The College Fix and various other blogs. Clifton is a senior in the School of Communication at Northwestern University. He enjoys inserting curt humor and sass in columns when appropriate and considers Beyonce his second religion after Jesus. Follow him on Twitter @DerrickClifton or email him: dailyderrick@gmail.com.

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4 responses to “When It Comes to Gay Politics, Sophie Hawkins Should Sit Down

  1. While I feel her viewpoint may have been poorly worded, it’s still fully taken out of context.

    Where is it that Sophie states that homosexuals are “morally decrepit, promiscuous, crazed sex addicts who have no capacity for sustaining interpersonal relationships”? Her objection isn’t on the grounds that gays are “immoral”, rather that there is more of a movement to conform to the heteronormative standard, which she is obviously against, given her claim that she is “omnisexual”. So you haven’t necessarily called her out on any hypocrisy, which is what I took as your intent in pointing this out. That’s why she wants them to stop acting like “straight people”, who, if you have been paying attention to any mass media, have long since taken marriage itself for granted. Long story short: stop embodying the worst habits of those who you are trying to imitate.

    I do agree that Obama has done good for LGBT rights in this country. It’s good considering the opposition Obama has hit, set up by conservatives and fueled by the blind, inane rhetoric of “news” sources such as Fox News. She only argues that he has done these, and all other actions to appeal to the LGBT vote. Seeing as how Obama has always been a progressive as far as civil rights for LGBT folks, you and I agree on this point, that the President of the United States “coming out” in support of Same-Sex Marriage (or as other countries call, “Marriage”), is a big deal.

    • Thank you for reading the piece and for sharing your thoughts.

      I actually wrote that Sophie’s remarks recall tropes typically used in media to deride gay men as morally decrepit, promiscuous, etc., not that she says that about gays. The piece links to the Huffington Post’s interview, in which I excerpted a few of her remarks. I could not include them in full since I would’ve needed permission to take such a large hunk from that article, but I’ll quote what I was referencing here:

      “Gay people are all about publicity and show. Even the marriages. If you really want to get married, fucking stay married. Show the world. Stop having affairs, and stop acting like straight people. Don’t just yell and scream about having rights and then treat each other like shit.”

      While she may have been speaking out with regard to attempts to assimilate with heteronormative standards, keep in mind that she is answering an open question with regard to her feelings on marriage. That’s where she, as seen above, says that gays are all about show. And then Sophie goes on an ill-informed tangent regarding how gays operate in committed relationships and marriages. Her answer to the question doesn’t necessarily discuss the political implications of the issue as much as it seeks to make very broad assumptions about an entire community’s approach to marriage and relationships. That indeed falls into the typical right-wing trap of making unfortunate moral judgments about gays and does employ those same nasty tropes.

      That’s not to say she could have elaborated better or been a lot more intentional, rather than assumptive, in her remarks. And indeed they apply to some people but, again, that makes an unfortunate judgment about how one approaches their sex life, whether or not they are monogamous, poly or otherwise have an understanding with their partner on the sexual nature of their relationship. That said, my point is that political conversations are clearly not her strong suit and that she should avoid making broad, blippy assumptions both about gay relationships and about our president’s track record on the issues.

      Thanks again and feel free to email me to continue the conversation 🙂
      -D

      • I can understand that. I felt the need to interject, as she and I have the same views on this matter, regarding heteronormative conformity, as well as how same-sex and opposite-sex couples often treat marriage. That being for the sake of keeping up appearances, upholding oppressive institutions, and “traditional” standards, rather than being with someone for love. Let me simply start off by saying, that I’m against ALL marriage. I am, however for any legislation or movement that would leave that decision solely to me and my would be partner. That being said, I do have to say that I completely agree with her. Pro-same-sex marriage stances are more supporting the conformity, rather than embracing love. It’s a shame that everything is so poorly worded, but while she was passing judgment on homosexuals, it was not for the sake of demeaning them because of their lifestyle, but for lack of identity as a whole. Hence the “low self-esteem” remark. You have an entire group of oppressed people trying to validate themselves through fairly superficial means such as this legislation, when it should be a matter of common sense that any group is fully human. This does not mean that the passing of such a bill would not have real consequences within this country.The frustration here is that there is somehow still a question as to whether to the humanity of any given “minority” groups. It feeds into a false dichotomy that keeps people fighting and distracts from any of the much more necessary subjective changes from occurring. Both sides feed into it, and Sophie is only calling out the role that the gays have in it.

        Given what I have said, do you feel that I hate or am demeaning of homosexuals as a whole for the same reasons that conservatives do?

      • There’s validity to criticisms of marriage equality stances, as typically articulated in the gay mainstream, because some activists and advocates do so as a means of assimilating with heterosexual norms rather than affirming and promoting equality based on the differences between the communities and a shared desire for rights and recognition. I think it’s a fundamental question of approaches, but with end goals that are not too far off from each other. And I would actually agree with such critiques, given how other forms of privilege and marginalization within queer communities are affected by a political approach that assimilates and/or colludes with privilege rather than fully question it and seek to change it.

        As an “institution,” marriage as we understand it today has largely evolved from where it was when the country was founded (exchange of women as property, race and class implications, etc.), so it’s not nearly as oppressive as it once was. Even still, the system must be questioned, which is why there are debates, public votes (ick) and court rulings over how we “define” marriage legally. If we can deconstruct the “institution” and reform the system to allow someone to share benefits, etc. with their partner, that would be wonderful.

        That said, political progress in America comes in increments as evidenced throughout history, and marriage equality is a strong step in the right direction. Yet the attitudes around it must be examined and questioned, and that’s what I believe your stance encourages, which I agree with. Love can still be embraced with having the rights of marriage, and without conforming to heterosexual norms. Additionally, marriage is not the end all/be all issue — things like employment protections, adoption rights, immigration reforms, etc. touch not only folks within queer communities but also share threads with heterosexual counterparts in the changes sought out. But that becomes a conversation of political engagement, agenda setting, etc. and some feel marriage will have a “trickle down” effect with regard to the other debates. That’s true only to a certain degree, legally.

        Where I take exception with Sophie, however, is how she attached that opinion (which had factual errors) along with wide application of tropes typically used by the right-wing to demean gay men. How she articulated her opinion, as stated, shows a lack of political awareness and education before she raises her voice as (somewhat of a) celebrity. Claiming that Obama has done nothing for queer communities was also factually inaccurate. Hence the title of the piece, which nudges at the fact that she needs to pause and educate herself more, and pay attention to the impact of her words/stances before so forcefully articulating them. Her first job is a musician, after all.

        (And no, I don’t think you’re hating on homos :). How you articulate yourself is much more clear and impactful and evidences critical thinking. If only Sophie proceeded as such during her interview, the piece as written would haven’t been devised)

        Thanks again and sorry for the four paragraph response, but I wanted to take enough time to thoughtfully respond to your comment/feedback and keep the discussion going.
        -D

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