Category Archives: Transsexualism

60th Discussion: Mehmet Murat Somer’s THE KISS MURDER

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Moderators: Raj & Timmy
Attendees: Dominic, Sharad, Jiaqi, Aaron, & Alexius

We had such a fun time reading Somer’s The Gigolo Murder, we decided to read a second novel of his.  We started with some complaints, recurring among our members: stereotypical, vain, self-centred protagonist (Dominic & Aaron); underwhelming ending (Sharad, Raj, & Timmy); convoluted (Timmy); homophobic and sexist (Aaron); and predictable (Alexius).

THEMES

1. Homophobia: Sharad brought up that the novel depicts straight men as “real” men, and gay men as not “real” men. Gay men are being made fun of. Aaron was unhappy that protagonist tries to force Hasan into a gay stereotype. Sharad noted the use of the word, “fag.”

2. Women: Dominic mentioned that women in the novel are either subservient or laughed at if they are strong and powerful.

3. Men: treated either as sex object or useless (Aaron). Raj noted men are potentially bisexual, ie, she  attracts all men but nobody can satisfy her.

4. Difference between transgender and transvestite: Doesn’t seem to differentiate them in the novel.

5. Middle class. Sharad hypothesized that protagonist’s dislike for middle class is because middle class rejects her, so she rejects them as a form of defense mechanism.

6. Family. Raj noted that Buse is accepted by her blind mother. Dominic also noted the queer family between Sureyya Eronat and blind mother.

7. Religion. Timmy argued that protagonist is a left-wing Muslim: she doesn’t want to pray so she dresses up as a woman to attend the funeral. Raj saw the act as a form rebellion.

8. Queer Sex. Sex in front of the blind mother? Dominic also brought up the pederastic relationship between Suleyman and Sureyya Eronat.

9. Asexuality of Sureyya Eronat.

10. Fat shaming. 

11. Disability. Seems like the only positive portrayal of differences from the norm is the blind mother. Raj admired her for her guts to cry and that she accepts Buse. Alexius likened her to X-Men, she disappears when people want to kill her. Her blindness is her immunity.

somer - thekissmurdertomerhanukadesignCHARACTERS

1. Both Timmy and Raj pointed out nameless narrator is narcissistic, and bashes everyone except herself. Raj also noted she has no attachment to people and she has little backstory. Aaron felt that she possesses a “Before you judge me, I judge you first” mentality: in other words, she has a victim’s mentality. Dominic claimed that her insecurity is demonstrated when she is perpetually concerned with her masculinity. On the other hand, Sharad read her as being comfortable in both her masculine and feminine identities, like, Timmy quipped, “Hannah Montana.”

While Aaron disliked the narrator, Timmy loved her because she represents 90% of the bitchy gay population. Ouch, jaded much? Sharad also found her sympathetic because of her defense mechanism.

2. Dominic’s favorite character is the cleaner because she can put the nameless narrator down without comeuppance.

3. Aaron found the trinity of men, policeman, Huseyin, and Suleyman hot. He said that Huseyin is determined, and he perserves; he knows what he wants ,and he goes out to get it, and he gets it in the end. But everyone else, including Sharad, protested saying Huseyin is a pesky little puppy.  Alexius also objected to the policeman because he can’t give no satisfaction. 10 minutes?! But Timmy said, most men last about that anyway.

4. Raj hated Buse because the novel started because of her; Timmy, Sofya because she places herself above others; Dominic, the female journalist, because she bites off more than she can chew.

In the end, we thought this novel was MRT friendly (Raj), short (Alexius), enjoyable (Timmy), and a better read than Beauty Queens (Jiaqi). Both Sharad and Dominic could identify the protagonist with friends in their lives. Aaron said he could find nothing positive about the novel, and Raj riposted, “At least there is a word ‘positive’ in that sentence.”

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Filed under Class, Disability, Family, Mehmet Murat Somer, Queer, Religion, Transgender, Transsexualism, Transvestism, Turkey

21st Discussion: Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (18 Jun)

This was a short session, which didn’t do justice to such a complex book, because the festivity of Pink Dot made it difficult to discuss.

It’s a 2-2 vote for the book. Timmy disliked the book because it was overly scientific and ambitious although he is willing to give the book another go; Alex disliked the later part because of the tedious description of the journey. On the other hand, Raj and Aaron loved the book very much. Not his preferred genre, Raj was surprised at how he could relate the book to real life. Aaron liked the complexity, intricacies and the journey of a homophobic to a non-homophobic person.

1. Favorite character: Alex and Aaron both liked the handsomest “man/woman” in the book because he is evil.

2. Sex: Timmy felt that Le Guin seems to be playing god because she dictates the roles of sex in beings.

a. Incest: Both Timmy and Alex felt that the incest isn’t creepy.

b. Lesbianism.

c. Mother/Father figure: Timmy thought that a being which can be either a mother or a father questions religion.

d. Estraven-Genly Ai: Do they have sex? Alex didn’t think so; Aaron thought it was suggested, like the camera shifting from a kissing scene into the embers of dying fire. Aaron said that it is reasonable for them to have sex because then they would be connected by soul and body. Timmy said that’s cheesy.

e. Prostitution: Alex brought up that it is interesting that there are bordellos and that part should be explored and would potentially be interesting. Timmy related the bordello to a gay sauna.

f. Sexuality: The sexuality of the beings defies any forms of categorization. They are gay, straight, bisexual, and transgender, all roll into one.

3. War: Do wars exist only because of the aggression in the male sex? The novel is ambiguous.

4. Politics: Aaron thought the “shifgrethor” (saving face and avoiding confrontation) is reminiscent of Singapore’s politics; but Timmy suggested that it is applicable to Asian societies.

5. Style: Alex brought up the style of the novel, claiming that the novel is overly complicated with two narrators, legends, myths, etc. Aaron suggests that this would provide an holistic picture, demonstrating Genly’s flaws.

Other issues not discussed are technology, ecology, post-colonialism, religion, and race.

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Filed under Bisexuality, Classics, Family, Intersex, Politics, Post-Colonialism, Queer, Race, Religion, S/F, Space, Technology, Time, Transgender, Transsexualism, Ursula Le Guin, USA, War

10th Discussion: Mehmet Murat Somer’s The Gigolo Murder (17 June 2010)

1. The general mood for this discussion was sluggish probably because after a hard day’s work and dinner at Maxwell.

2. Yisa kicked off the discussion asking if transvestites would be offended reading the book. We talked about how the book doesn’t differentiate between transsexuals, transgenders and transvestites.

3. Appending to Yisa’s question, Aaron asked if this book is offensive to women (misogynist), as the murderer has to be a beautiful woman who is “over-reaching” for power and money. That is, why does a woman who wants power have to be punished? Aaron claimed that the wise, old Nimet, Faruk’s wife, acts an excuse for the author to say that “Hey! see, I have a good woman character too, so you can’t accuse me of misogyny.” But Nimet plays the virtuous, domestic, supportive wife, giving an example of how women should behave in an Islamic society. Isaac liked the book too much and disagreed with Aaron.

4. Aaron asked if the book sensationalizes Turkey. Yisa replied that this certainly isn’t a tourist guidebook. But Aaron insisted that there are all kinds of sex in the book, making the book sensational and in a part, the author contradicts himself as he said that the nameless narrator isn’t interested in boys yet s/he has an orgy with some schoolboys in uniform. This led to a discussion on paedophilia and how one character in the book argues that while girls can become wives and mothers at 13, why is it that when he has sex with a 14 y/o boy, people call him a pederast?

5. Disability: Pugnacious Aaron thought that it was nice to include a disabled character (Kemal), why does Kemal have to pay for sex? Why isn’t he capable of looking for ONS himself? Why doesn’t the nameless narrator sleep with him? Does the narrator despise him? Why must Kemal engage in SM, and like to be whipped, as if he were ashamed of his own disability?

6. FAT: Aaron asked why is the nameless narrator’s fat good friend, Ponpon, asexual? Timmy said that there is another character who is fat and has sex. Like-to-win Aaron said, But that character is curvy and curvy is not fat. Why is it that for all the subversive elements in the book, Aaron asked, the book is oddly conservative regarding women, fat people and the disabled? Yisa said he doesn’t care what the author is saying about fat people, women and disabled. Isaac was increasingly irritated at Aaron’s finicky political-rectitude.

7. Subversive because the narrator doesn’t have a “core” gender self, so the book is not essentializing.

8. Narrative Style: (a) Aaron asked how come the author didn’t allow the narrator to progress by allow the narrator to shed tears in the end? Isaac said maybe the author isn’t very good. (b) Yisa disliked the emo beginning of the book but Aaron said that it was stated in the book that no other books or movies have depressive people and that’s what the author wants to portray, although Aaron also thinks that the author doesn’t read enough because there are books with depressive people.

9. Gay Bashing: Yisa deciphered what the gay bashing incident is about.

10. Happy Ending: We all agreed that the book is really deeper than it seems but we had to get our alcohol early. When we were at DYMK, the uncle said that we were skiving, closing the library so early.

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Filed under Crime, Disability, Mehmet Murat Somer, Queer, Transgender, Transsexualism, Transvestism, Turkey