It makes me cringe when I hear a straight guy embark on a long tirade about how he could never possibly have sex or be intimate with another guy. I sigh and think to myself, "Not this again. What an asshole. You don't like dick. I get it!"
It's understandable that a straight guy doesn't want to have sex with another guy. The problem for me is the drawn out and debasing lecture in which he frames his dislike. It's the soapbox diatribes about the awful, repugnant, I'd-rather-die-than-yada-yada-yada aspects of male-to-male intimacy that rub me the wrong way. It's the subtle and innocuous way that heterosexism keeps homosexuality on the margins while reasserting its own dominance that I resist. Intentions aside, this rhetoric by straight guys regarding homosexuality only serves to devalue homosexuality — posing it as a distortion, an inferior derivative of heterosexuality.
Even though I'm fresh out of the closet, I've noticed that gay guys have countered this dominance by imitating and flipping this rhetoric on its head — "I could never have sex with a girl. Pussy is so nasty!" In order to affirm their own validity and push heterosexism off its pedestal, gay guys adopt this same technique — that is, to speak casually about heterosexuality as a perverted, strange, and repulsive orientation. However, it usually goes along the lines of expressing disgust for the female body in another demeaning soapbox tirade. If someone is not attracted to women, fine; but these exaggerated discourses are unnecessary and harmful.
This is where the misogyny of gay rhetoric surfaces.
I find this misogynist tone in everyday speech uncomfortable and problematic. Uncomfortable, because it leaves little room for those of us who are situated somewhere between/outside the gay/straight terms to express our desires honestly. It has become taboo for a queer guy to admit that a girl is appealing (sexually or otherwise). The dynamic created by this misogyny mirrors the fear that makes straight guys shout "No homo!" if their hand brushes against another's. Moreover, this speech is problematic because it tramples on many aspects of feminist struggles. Throughout our history, women have been marked economically, socially, and essentially inferior to men based solely upon anatomy — submitting them to lack of credibility in public life, to objects for men [to conquer or to romanticize], and to insecurity.
To express such overwhelming disgust for the female bodies only reinforces this oppressive tradition — male dominance and misogynist rhetoric. If gay guys are not attracted to women, fair enough; but the drawn out or exaggerated monologues are not necessary.
Historically and currently marginalized, LGBTQ must tirelessly fight for identity, voice, and validity on all fronts. However, I'm concerned when the struggle to find identity by one group is based on antagonism toward another; when one oppressed demographic finds a way to stand by stepping on another. Employing misogyny to combat heterosexism is hypocritical and simply unjust. It polarizes identities and weakens movements for liberation by advancing the oppression of others.
Even though our histories are different, women and gay men suffer under similar forces which try to confine gender roles and control sexuality. However, if we are secure enough in our own identities, we won't need to degrade others in order to find a voice; we won't have to push others aside in order to stand. In fact, we can resist heterosexism more effectively if we refuse to perpetuate oppressive rhetoric and become allies for others in their struggles. Such solidarity leaves little room for the tyranny of hierarchies. Rather than imitating heterosexism, solidarity will enable us to stand with, rather than on, others and it will give us new strength in our fight for liberation.
This post originally appeared at The New Gay. Republished with permission.
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