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The (in)visible gay in academic leadership: implications for re-imagining inclusion and transformation in South Africa. In Daisy Pillay, Inbanathan Naicker,

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Presentation on theme: "The (in)visible gay in academic leadership: implications for re-imagining inclusion and transformation in South Africa. In Daisy Pillay, Inbanathan Naicker,"— Presentation transcript:

1 The (in)visible gay in academic leadership: implications for re-imagining inclusion and transformation in South Africa. In Daisy Pillay, Inbanathan Naicker, Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan (Eds.) Inside Teaching in Higher Education: South African Academic Autoethnographies. Sense Publishers. Seminar to Sociology, Faculty of Arts, NWU By Robert J. Balfour, PhD (Cantab), FCCS Faculty of Education Sciences, 13 May 2014

2 What's the issue? Rancière argues that “… the rights of (people) and of the citizen are the rights of those who make them a reality. They were won through democratic action and are... guaranteed through such action” (2006, p.74). De Vos (2004) argues that “A mere extension of marriage rights to some same-sex couples will also not lead to a necessary and fundamental re-imagining of …..our society” (p.182) on the grounds that “Because of homophobia, gender inequality and patriarchy in our society, gay men, lesbians and many women ….do not have the social or economic power to freely ‘choose’ to set the terms of their relationships” (De Vos, p.183).

3 Appiah argues that the need for such measures arises from the fact that the simple right to human dignity is not sufficient protection in a State where a group or individual might still be attacked on the basis of not conforming, amongst others, to a heternormative ideal (2005, p.109). Where identity cannot be considered as chosen (gay people do not choose their desires), and where the consequences of such identities are severe, rights and protection cannot be assumed. The question this paper addresses is: why are gay people as a vulnerable and minority group, rendered invisible in the world of work when it comes to considerations affecting transformation or affirmative action?

4 Identity, theory and the individual's choices…. Appiah in The Ethics of Identity (2005, 45) and Cosmopolitanism (2006) argues… that…conceptions of autonomy (as a key feature of identity) are based on a false binary of self and other and distinctions made between full or partial autonomy of the agent do not cohere (2005, 52). Appiah draws upon psycho-social theory of identity associated with the work of Erikson and Gouldner stating that “ideas (and values) shape the way people conceive of themselves and their projects (their choices)” (2005, 66).

5 Three arguments that suggest gay rights have not yet been fully recognised…. First, the struggle is not yet won… The struggles in South Africa to ‘assert’ gay identity to enable the individuation for gay people, suggests that acceptance is neither unproblematic, nor cause for (legal or other) restitution (for example, employment equity). The Employment Equity Act (EEA) 55 of 1998 defines 'designated groups' as black people, women and people with disabilities. Thus, whilst explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, no further provision concerning the status of gay people as a group, is made.

6 Second, identifying as gay is still dangerous… Identifying as gay in academic leadership is rare, but also risky. Michael Warner (1993) defines heteronormativity as arising from heterosexual culture’s ability to interpret itself as co-extensive with society, as the elemental form of human association, as the very model of inter-gender relations, as the indivisible basis of all community, and as the means of reproduction without which society wouldn’t exist (viii & xxi).

7 Third, higher education institutions don't protect vulnerable groups…. Higher education makes few other provisions even for spaces that are considered safe, or ‘gay friendly’. The choices for gay people seem binary: marginalisation and othering, or assimilation and invisibility. Soudien (2008) confirms that discrimination against gay persons exists and is silenced: However, although sexism has been raised in...interactions with institutional constituencies in relation to employment equity, with a few exceptions there has been a deafening silence on sexual harassment in general and in residences... The silence... does not mean that the problem does not exist... it is clear that sexual harassment, of women and gays and lesbians, is rife (Soudien et al, 2008, p.95).

8 Perspectives on power and difference…or why difference still makes a difference? Morley (2012) argues that equality does not equal quantitative change: there is sacrifice, punishment; there is an unstable relationship to power. Barad (2007) states that differences are made and re-made depending on the relationship between observer and observed. Leaders are made via the politics of difference. Botha (2004) suggests that rather than focusing predominantly on issues of personhood and identity, the Court[s] should concentrate on questions of domination and access to the means of political and economic power.

9 Why does race ace gender? Dealing with gender within the context of race-based prejudice has been more complex because as Fraser (1996, p.218) argues, gender equity is best understood as “a complex notion comprising a plurality of distinct normative principles”. Beyond biological sex its not easy to see gender. Gender without disclosure is thus invisible. Unsurprisingly, queer theory (Diana Fuss and Jeffrey Weeks) focuses on the politics of disclosure and identity. Being out (of the closet) Coming out (of the closet) Being outed (from the closet)

10 Why auto-ethnography? Quantitative modes do not account for the experience of difference. Qualitative methods (interview, survey) can distort agency even while describing the experience of difference. In a post-Apartheid South Africa still trying to be free, the voices and experiences of people Still drives the current preoccupation in higher education with qualitative research in the social sciences. Autoethnography: 1) inserts the political agency of the subject into scholarship as a valid source of data; 2) and is a subjective contestation of the normative objectifying discourse of research which seeks cases, studies, and generalisations; 3) and allows a refusal of non-disclosure.

11 Experiential accounts…telling on authority Political-identity experience: Who I am/ who am I? Who you think I am/ what do I think of you? Psycho-spatial experience: Without creating space, people become invisible in order to fit into the spaces that are available. Migrants move, immigrants seek to stay, emigrants seek to move; refugees are compelled to move. Discursive-spatial experience: Finding myself in your text (script); Concealing myself in text (script); Not fitting the texts (script). Gay people are often migrants from themselves, immigrants in the land of heteronormativity, and the refugees of heterosexism. Acceptance (as leader comes) at the price of concealment.

12 A tale of three (univer) sities… What is a totem? An animal with which the person or group identifies in terms of traits and values. Evans-Pritchard, E.E "The Sacrificial Role of Cattle among the Nuer", Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (Edinburgh University Press) 23 (3): 181–198, retrieved 20 November A totemic experience? An incident which confirms the group or individual identity and values. Ebony and ivory together in disharmony: race and sexuality at KwaZulu University Private dancer: values and sexual orientation at Angelis University Go West young man: Western University and the leader’s erasure

13 Refusing conclusions … 1) Transformation as concept is applied selectively in higher education institutions because of the ambiguities between the Constitution and legislation. It is for this reason that South African interpretations of gender in EEA terms remain inadequate. 2) Rendering gay people invisible as a historically disadvantaged group remains a form of symbolic violence that encourages, by default, real violations, because no accountability for what occurs to gay people is expected. 3) Higher education institutions do not challenge interpretations of transformation to include all historically disadvantaged groups because this would challenge heteronormative practices and make sexism unacceptable. 4) The problematic of disclosure is only problematic because of the social stigma ascribed to sexuality as site for political contestation.

14 Thank you


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