Monday, May 01, 2006

I love this post. It is the blog entry I have been waiting for my entire life. Gay Prof takes on misogyny in the gay community:

Regardless of the racial, educational, or class make-up of the queer group, I have been dumbfounded by how easily self-identified gay men fall into misogynist dialogues or jokes. For many gay men, degrading women’s bodies as dysfunctional, inferior, or just plain icky becomes a means through which they attempt to build unity with other gay men.

Come on, boys, we can work this out. Loving cock does not mean hating vaginas.


His blog is called The Center of Gravitas and it's great. He's funny, poignant, hard-ass when he needs to be, and wise. And every entry comes with at least one vintage Wonder Woman comic book cover. What's not to love?

I have way more to say about gay men and lesbians, but I don't even know where to start. Would that post be called "I'm a girl, but I can still be a queen, can't I?" or "Learning not to get pissed off when gay men refer to each other as she"?

7 Comments:

Blogger GayProf said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Margo, darling. You seem like a hip queen to me.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Holly said...

Thanks for the link, Margo, because I needed to read this too.

7:12 PM  
Blogger dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

The quickest way to feel you are getting out of oppression is to foist it onto someone else . . .

10:07 PM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

I keep hearing comments abut gay men being honorary women or just one of the girls. this bothers me. I mean, they're gay not female. have I gone crazy?

8:32 AM  
Blogger Oso Raro said...

The use of female pronouns in gay male popular culture has its roots in the pre-Stonewall era of having to code behaviours and relationships, to hide them from heteronormative forces of oppression. When one couldn't talk about one's lover as a "he," he became coded as a "she" for public conversation. Its continuance in various communities post-Stonewall can be read in a number of way, both friendly and hostile. I prefer (and use) this tradition in a campy and specific manner, as an acknowledgment of a certain history as well as a sort of camp code between and amongst other gay men (although its use is not universal).

A simplistic critique is to identify such pronoun use as misogynistic or anti-woman, when in some ways it has nothing to do with real women, per se. It has to do with gay men, and gay male culture. The critique of second-wave feminists and lesbian separatists in the 1970s centred around misogynistic elements of gay male culture, of which examples are legion (as remarked in CoG's post), but aren't necessarily centred around the use of female pronouns. My critique of the critique, I suppose, would be that such a facile read of a complicated social phenomenon is just too easy, and tends firstly to avoid the hard questions of patriarchy (which involves women as much as men) as well as repathologises gay men in a heteronormative patriarchal culture as gender anormative ("What are they? Women?" or alternatively, "Don't call me she. I like being a man!" both utterances being deeply problematic). The fundamental mistake of feminist radicals was to not take seriously the innate and internal dimensions of such practices (along with the sexual subculture) for gay male identity, which caused an incredible amount of friction between gay men and lesbian feminists in the 1970s.

There has been a decline of these tensions, caused by a number of factors, not the least of which is the reunion of lesbians and gay men around the HIV crisis in the 1980s. Is there room for discussion, debate, and indeed improvement? Yes, of course. It is a continual conversation. But following Dennis Altman's critique (1982) of lesbian feminist gay-baiting, there needs also to be a recognition of the legitimacy of certain gay cultural practices for gay men themselves. But this is all part of a huge debate that is hard to encompass in a blog comment thread. I would recommend one consult the anthology "We Are Everywhere" (1997, Ed. Mark Blasius) which I have used in my teaching, and in which Altman's piece is reprinted.

On a different note, the use of "she" on my own blog has left some readers confused as to the true genders of the people I write about (it has lead some people to confuse my own gender, which is interesting as well). Initially, I thought about correcting this misapprehension, but decided to let it stand, sort of in a genderqueer moment, not out of a committed stance of GQ itself, but rather as a critique of the notion that knowing one's gender determines one's knowing, in other words, the tautology of gender and race and sexuality which do not lead us to question, but rather comforts in some extraordinarily reactionary ways.

Just some thoughts... :-)

2:30 PM  
Blogger Sfrajett said...

This is a great discussion. I have some issues with the pre-Stonewall oppression argument, but I'm glad it was raised. Oso raro has done a nice job delineating the transgressive politics that might attach to "she."

But what if we still say that "she" has some problems? Is it fair to say that "she" is a take not only on gay object choice, but on effeminate gender? And that it is always funny to call a man "she"?

Because let's face it, it IS always funny. And it isn't so much the older men who do it, at least not the ones I know. In fact, the people I know who say "she" are not pre-Stonewall types who are camping it up. Those older men, those that we still have left with us, are often much more serious than their younger counterparts in their late 30s and early 40s. The younger "girls" who were toddlers and young children in 1969 are the men I hear call each other "she." And it is funny, and it is affectionate, and it is about effeminacy, or the playful accusation of effeminacy, and we all laugh--especially we older feminist and academic lesbians, let in on the joke. And it is misogynist, and that misogyny is a vital part of our gay culture, as is "fag," and "dyke," both of which are affectionate barbs about femininity in one form or another.

But it is not ONLY misogynist. It is also about non-normativity, and it archly ventriloquizes the classic stereotypical conflation of effeminate gender and homosexual object choice, as if to say "Girl? Am I that name?"

In short, the problem is that humor is not politically correct, and camp, especially, is almost NEVER politically correct (although, contre Sontag, is IS often political). So what do we do with that?

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two flaming queens in my office that use the pronoun "she" when they are describing a male friend or in refering to a man. Sometimes I have no idea what they're talking about it, because of the misuse of the pronoun. Their are other gay men in the office, but those men are not feminine and are just regular male guys and they speak normally. I was wondering if their is some corralation between a overtly feminine man using the "she" terminology over the regular guy using it. What does it even mean?

12:27 PM  

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