Stamp out homophobia with the Cannabis movement!

For those of you who don’t know, Peter Reynolds is the leader of CLEAR (Cannabis Law Reform), a single issue political party which seeks the legalisation of cannabis. I’ve always been wary of single issue parties, because someone may be good on a single issue but be awful on the rest. Peter Reynolds is such a man. Recently a blog post from him blaming the size zero phenomena on the “gay culture which infects [the] … fashion industry” from 2 years ago has been doing the rounds and causing a bit of controversy is something I find incredibly problematic on a number of levels.

Tagged with “perverted”, his blog-post explains how:

The uncomfortable truth is that all these designers are either homosexual or entirely submerged in the “gay” culture that infects their industry.  They aren’t interested in designing for beautiful women.  They want pretty boys.

The vast majority of us have a healthy interest in beautiful women in beautiful clothes.  These trivial but talented individuals are out of step, out of time and out of any more excuses.  They are responsible for too much misery and suffering.  The modern prevalence of anorexia and bulimia is almost entirely down to these brightly coloured, beautifully tailored, perverted fools.

It is time that wiser minds with far better taste prevailed.  Do what you want to do in the privacy of your own homes but leave our young women’s minds alone and turn your talent in a positive direction.”

His original blog post is problematic on a number of levels:

  1. The lack of understanding of gay culture. Gay culture is not homogenous entity wishing for “pretty boys” ( a sentiment which brushes dangerous close to the old “gay men are paedophiles chestnut), but a diverse culture which celebrates a variety of body shapes and sizes. Look up “bears”, if you don’t believe me!
  2. Peter misses the point *entirely*. The size zero phenomena is the more extreme edge of a culture of patriarchy which ensures that womens bodies are objects for men and as such women should strive to attractive for men. What a society sees as a desirable body shape is based on class – the body types of the rich have always been “in vogue”. In the past when food was scarce and rich people didn’t go outside, portly pale bodies were attractive and people used to paint their faces white to chase after that ideal. Nowadays, personal trainers and holidays to exotic realms are symbols of a privileged life and so thin, tanned bodies are attractive.
  3. Alongside the written text, he provides two images, one  of a rather thin fashion model captioned “poor, pitiful girl”, and another Anne Hathaway (I think…?) captioned with “A Real Woman”. Its nice that you can tell us what the standard for “real woman” is Peter, thanks. Its just a shame that Anne Hathway (or whoever it was) is no larger than a Size 4, which is a UK Size 8, and entirely conceivable that she is medically underweight.
  4. Setting a standard of the “real woman” at a Size 8 is part of the problem and can only serve to make the situation worse, considering that the average UK dress size is 14 or 16, depending on where you shop. There are quite a lot of women falling outside your standard of a “real woman”.

Since the original blog post was flagged up as problematic by cannabis activists, Peter has added some text dealing with the criticisms:

“Recently I have been subject to a vicious hate campaign in which this post has been circulated around the internet to support the false allegation that I am homophobic…

I have carefully reviewed every word.I stand by it 100%.  It says very clearly “Do what you want to do in the privacy of your own homes” and that is precisely my position.  I would defend the rights of all consenting adults to whatever sexual activity they want to indulge in with other consenting adults. I can understand that the phrases “culture that infects” and “perverted fools” may upset some but this article was not written to be politically correct.  It was written to be provocative and to highlight the abuse that some gay men in positions of power are inflicting on vulnerable young women.  Homesexuality is a perversion from the norm and gay culture has been allowed virtually to extinguish heterosexual influence in the fashion industry. That anyone should choose to twist and distort my words in support of their vile allegations must say a lot about their motives and integrity.  I believe that their conduct is in fact far worse than that which they falsely accuse me of.  They are liars and dishonest, scheming perpetrators of a hate crime.  They seek to pervert the cause of gay rights for their own selfish ends. The principle instigator behind this abuse is in fact a major cannabis dealer who, though he promotes himself as pro-cannabis, actually seeks to sabotage the increasing success of my efforts as leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR).  His income depends on cannabis remaining prohibited and his record shows that over many years he has been responsible for fermenting conflict and division in the cannabis campaign..”

This response is also problematic, for a number of reasons.

  1. Your original post is deeply homophobic, regardless of whether you support the “right to do what you want in the privacy of your own homes”. The fact that you seem to be making an (misplaced) attack on gay people which seeks to remove access to public life is homophobic.
  2. You talk about “heterosexual influence” on the fashion industry as something that is preferable than “gay influence”, which is homophobic. Regardless, your original analysis of the “influences” at play is incorrect.
  3. You seek to appropriate the term “hate crime”, a term used traditionally as a way to reference crimes based on prejudice (i.e. racially motivated, homophobic, etc.) as a tool to attack your critics with. It is not a “hate crime” to oppose homophobia. Nor is it a “hate crime” to attack a political opponent for reasons not relating to their membership of a minority group. Homophobia, however, is a hate crime, and one I would wager you stand guilty of.

A note: frankly, I couldn’t care less about the wranglings for political power within CLEAR. I don’t know the so-called “major cannabis dealer” who is apparently leading the “vicious hate campaign” against Peter, and I don’t really care to. I do care about homophobia, however, and since drug prohibition disproportionately effects LGBT people, I think the people who are leaders within our movement shouldn’t be homophobes.

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