Posts tagged ‘gay’

December 7, 2011

Misogyny in the Gay Community

ETA: I wrote this a while ago and totally realize (now) just how cissexist and transmisogynistic this post is. I’m sorry. I’ve posted an apology here¬†and a much longer and complete apology here.

One of my pet peeves is misogyny in the gay community. I have always found the way that this manifests in the community problematic. Well, okay, I find *all* manifestations of misogyny problematic. I find it extra irritating in the gay community because we should be standing in solidarity with women. Particularly, given how frequently homo-hating uses the tools of misogyny and sexism marginalize gay men (the spectre of the femme gay man haunts the nightmares straights). The stereotypes of gay men are feminized to take advantage of the deeply ingrained cultural hatred for women. Homo-hating, as it applies to men, cannot be separated from sexism.

So, the, what the fuck is up with how often I hear and see gay men denigrating women’s bodies? And, for all those gay men who *always* shrug their shoulders and act like they don’t know what I’m talking about, just because misogyny is so deeply embedded within the gay community this doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. It is. I’ve experienced this over and over, first hand.

I will say this, I do have some fear of vaginas. But my fear is more of the, “I don’t know what to do with one and wouldn’t want to disappoint my partner” brand of performance anxiety. Other than that, I think vaginas are wonderful. I’ve touched them before and enjoyed their uniqueness and difference from penises. Vaginas are *fun*. I’ve said as much before to gay men and, the most common response by far, is disgust. Yes, disgust.

Gay men often react this way when encountering references to vaginas. And it is always the vagina, since most gays will admit that breasts are fun. Margaret Cho, very popular amongst gay men, has essentially made a career out of her comedic routines parodying gay men’s disgust with vaginas (the other part of her career has been made via confirming racist stereotypes). And it is in this expression of disgust that we see how gay men’s identities become not just about an attraction towards men and their bodies but also about an explicit and hateful rejection of women’s bodies.

I brought this up in a discussion with a group of gay men recently and they (of course) reacted with a lot male privilege denial. They are gay, why should they *like* vaginas? They are just disgusted with vaginas and don’t actually hate women. It is just meant to be a *joke* (especially in Margaret Cho’s case).

Um, no. Just no.

Denigrating women isn’t funny. And using women and their bodies as butt of a joke only serves the patriarchy and doesn’t challenge anything. Our cultures continuously devalues and demeans women and their body. Actively participating in this by making hateful jokes about it doesn’t actually do anything but continue the cycle.

You don’t have to like vaginas. But you shouldn’t be disgusted by them either. There is a world of difference between these two positions. Just as there is a world of difference between saying that you love cock and making gagging noises when someone mentions a vagina.

Why is this important? Because there is no difference between the disgust you feel towards women’s bodies and more direct instantiations of misogyny. I mentioned to this group of gays that their proposal that disgust doesn’t equal misogyny only works if we assume Cartesian dualism (wherein the mind and body are considered to be two distinctly different ontological entities). Except that Cartesian dualism is generally not supported by either science or much of modern philosophy. The mind and the body are not two different things. Thus, if you hate a person’s body you hate *them*.

If vaginas disgust you then you hate women. If vaginas don’t actually disgust you and you’re just doing it for comedic effect, stop. I’m not laughing about living in a culture that so devalues women’s bodies that the statistics for violence against women make me shudder. More importantly, I sure as shit can’t tell the difference between someone who hates women and is just joking about it. No one is saying you have to go for a muff dive, but understanding and behaving as if women’s bodies are beautiful and valuable is simply the right thing to do.

November 2, 2011

The gay lifestyle

I’ve seen other criticisms of the ‘born this way’ argument advanced by many gay, lesbians, queers, and trans folk. This is my ontological exploration and/or criticism of the argument (as I’m not quite criticizing the notion of being born ‘fill in blank.’ Also, for the sake of the argument, I’m just gonna use ‘queer’ even if it applies to other identities because it is better than writing ‘something.’).

First, there is a distinct difference between being queer and living as a queer. Strangely, I think this distinction is at the heart of the ex-gay philosophy and why queers and conservatives seem to be discussing this issue in parallel universes. A conservative will always say, ‘you don’t have to choose this lifestyle’ and a queer will respond, ‘it isn’t a choice, I was born this way.’ Both parties fail to realize that they are *both* right.

How you live your life, ultimately, is up to you. Just as you can become an engineer so can you decide to live as a gay man. Gay is, after all, a lived experience. If you have homosexual desires and attractions but are happily married to a woman, you ain’t living this experience. More importantly, there is no moral imperative for you to do otherwise. Some people will say that you have to be true to yourself: as if you were a one dimensional person who must prioritize their sexuality over religion, family, or any other competing value.

To a certain extent, passing is a privilege afforded to these, often, invisible identities. It is true that a person is equally born Brown but rarely can chose not to live as a Brown person. But, as a Black friend recently told me, she is often said to talk ‘white.’ Whatever that means. Part of what it means is that there are cultural norms that go along with any identity. Rejecting the norms is tantamount to rejecting the identity.

Now, this isn’t wholly accurate, since you remain gay or Brown even if you reject the cultural norms. Until we create cultural identities so broad that they really can include everyone, however, it will be difficult to reject the norms without the identity. It is the norms and stereotypes that allow a person to become ‘ex-gay.’ Is there space in the gay community for a christian man abstaining from gay sex or homo-romantic love and married to a woman? Not really. We don’t accept this as ‘gay.’ Not really. We are, as a community, responsible for contributing to the conditions wherein being ‘ex-gay’ is both plausible and real.

More importantly, we can only use the outward expressions of a person’s identity to apprehend what that identity might be. This culture is always obsessed with some deeper ontological reality, being born this way, and often rejects these outward expressions as being indicative of the lived experience and identity of people. This is most dramatically, and hatefully, used against trans* people.

While it is true that there are times when our outward expressions conflict with our inner realities, the only real disjunct happens when we essentialize identities. We don’t like to believe that the woman with a deeper voice and who shaves is a woman because ‘women’ don’t do that. Just as gay men don’t marry women for love.

Tags: , ,