This title quote comes from a February, 2013 interview with Morrissey, by Amy Rose.
For those of you who are asking ‘Morrissey? Who?’ he was the lead singer of The Smiths in the early 80’s before going solo in 1987. The group was massive and yet had a cult status and the same could be said for Morrissey himself. The personification of an anti-hero and the absolute antithesis of those we would call superstars today, Morrissey’s angst-ridden lyrics spoke to a whole generation of bedroom-bound teens and young people. Strewing gladioli over his audience and singing songs with titles like ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now’ and ‘Meat is Murder’ he struck a chord with those who felt alienated from the mainstream and still has one of the most loyal fan bases of any of his generation. People literally swear that he saved their lives!
I never got Morrissey and probably never will and although I admired his daring as a gay entertainer, I couldn’t cope with the relentless depression. but then again, I was also the wrong generation and looked at the bleakness of 80’s Britain and the rise of the ‘loads of cash’ generation more with cynicism than despair. Nevertheless, he became a cult icon and considering the fact that he hated the very idea, success like that can’t be denied.
However, in this recent interview, he comes out with some pretty controversial statements, the validity of which you will need to decide for yourselves. One of these is the theme of this article:
“War, I thought, was the most negative aspect of male heterosexuality. If more men were homosexual, there would be no wars, because homosexual men would never kill other men, whereas heterosexual men love killing other men. They even get medals for it. Women don’t go to war to kill other women. Wars and armies and nuclear weapons are essentially heterosexual hobbies.”
Has he got a point? I believe we’d really like to think so. In the best of all possible worlds, LGBT people are non-aggressive, pacifist and have no secret longings to play with war toys. I’m not sure Jeffrey Dahmer, Huang Yong, Fritz Haarmann and many other serial killers would agree but maybe psychopaths are cases apart and can’t be said to be representative.
However, surely most people would find Morrissey’s statement naïve to say the least? LGBT people are surely as susceptible to rage and violence as anyone else. Because we are more often than not victims of violent crime doesn’t mean that we wouldn’t kill under the right circumstances. Surely history has taught us that if you scratch the surface of a human being in certain situations, any person can quite easily revert to the animal and behave like the beast. Every civil war in the last fifty years has shown how easily people can turn on their neighbours and slaughter them because of their different beliefs. It’s an instinctive kill or be killed drive that often stems from following the herd.
Why should LGBT people be any different? We don’t have a peaceful gene that distinguishes us from the rest of society. Enough gay men and women join the armed forces, or the police, or criminal gangs; are we saying that they would eschew violence when required in their line of work? No of course not, so what on earth is Morrissey on about?
There isn’t a shred of evidence to prove that children who are brought up to be gender neutral in respect of their toys (no toy guns, tanks, swords, bows and arrows etc.) grow up to be any less susceptible to aggression and violence than others. Girls are no less prone to aggression if they are denied Barbie’s and Cinderella costumes. That said, they, may well be more tolerant and less inclined to gender stereotypes but despite what Morrissey claims, I don’t believe that aggression is a gender stereotype; it’s a universal human instinct that is easier aroused in some than in others.
To underpin his argument by claiming that women don’t go to war to kill other women is just too simplistic. As more and more women find their way into armed forces across the world, they will inevitably end up indulging in same-sex killing because it’s part of their job and like all human beings, integral to their nature. Apart from the legendary Amazons, all-female armies haven’t existed, although historically, many cultures have had female military detachments within the main army. That however, is a social construct and nothing else. When women are forced to raise the children and be housekeepers; fighting is left to the men. Male pride has denied female warriors their chance because males have traditionally been the hunters and physically stronger but whether that’s nature or nurture is open to debate.
There are two other reasons why I disagree with Morrissey’s idealism. Anger management in the LGBT community is one of the largest topics of discussion on therapists’ couches. Repressed frustration; anger at stigmatisation and unfair treatment; aggression through guilt or even illness (as with people living with HIV, cancer, hepatitis and more) are growing problems amongst the LGBT community. I would claim that there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a perfectly natural reaction due to stress from outside influences. If LGBT people were really non-aggressive by nature, that wouldn’t happen because we’d all look at life’s setbacks with a Zen acceptance. Rage against the machine is a universal reaction to injustice and LGBT people are as entitled as the next man to do it and they do!
Secondly, if you go into any gay social situation, you will encounter the same aggression towards other like-minded people as in the heterosexual community. Okay, it doesn’t often end in killing but neither does it amongst heterosexuals. The aggression is there however. Look at gay humour. Bitchiness can be cruel, direct and words can hurt, even when cloaked in humour. It’s generally a safe escape valve. In the heterosexual social environment, that may end up as a full blown argument, with a physical fight as a result but they don’t have the humour as a catharsis. However, take both situations and move them one step further and violence can be applicable to both groups.
Morrissey’s main point I suppose is that LGBT people would never go to war because they don’t love killing like heterosexual men do. That supposes that heterosexuals enjoy killing as a hobby and gay people don’t. Sorry but where’s the proof and is that anything more than pure stereotyping? If we take an honest look back at our childhoods, I’d wager that we got the same perverse satisfaction from squashing the poor fly or spider as the rest of humanity.
Anyway, men or women don’t go to war of their own volition, politicians, political idealists and religious leaders do. Their armies are professional employees who are ordered to do a job but the orders come from above and we know there are enough LGBT people in the corridors of power!
Okay, you might assume that LGBT people are less inclined to become soldiers, policemen, or other positions who occasionally need to implement violence but is that because that’s their nature, or is it because they aren’t accepted in those jobs thanks to their sexuality?
I would claim that actually, LGBT people are just as violent and able to kill as their heterosexual counterparts. Put any man or woman in a situation where it’s kill or be killed; protect your loved ones, or give them up and fight for what’s right, or surrender. I believe that the human animal in us all, fuelled by the adrenalin in us all, will then kill or maim if necessary.
I’m not saying that Morrissey’s talking out of his ass and he’s entitled to his opinion but I do believe he’s way off the mark with this one. That said, if any one of the generation who, locked in darkened rooms and overwhelmed with depression are prevented by his words, from taking out their frustrations on society in ways that have dominated recent headlines, then I’ll be the first to bow down and join the ‘Morrissey for sainthood’ movement.