What Feminism Can Teach Gay Men
by Lucas Witherspoon
As of late, it seems that feminism is having a third-wave resurgence. For some reason, gender equality continues to be a hotly contested source of debate, even though the principles of feminism are quite simple: people of every gender should be afforded equal treatment, legally, economically, and socially. But, what’s continuously interesting is the correlation between feminism and same-sex equality.
Let’s examine the parallels:
Objection to feminism often stems from heterosexual males’ own insecurities.
Straight men are odd in that they will go from objectifying women to cowering from them when they perceive their ever-so-delicate egos are at risk of being deflated. Analogously, this principle frequently applies to gay relationships. Even though gay relationships are comprised of two men, often societal gender roles are still projected upon them, meaning people expect that there is a “man” and a “woman” in the relationship, which in itself is a double-whammy form of degradation, given it demeans both women as being lesser-than in comparison to a man and disrespects the fact that homosexual relationships are autonomous in comparison to heterosexual relationships. Within gay relationships themselves, though, one would expect there would be an even playing field, but what happens seemingly more often than not is gay men still subconsciously subscribe to the social idea that people in relationships are supposed to conform to roles within the union. Relationships are give-and-take and require those involved to work in conjunction with each other, but the fact remains that all partners involved should be viewed and treated as unabashed equals.
Gender norms are an antiquated form of oppression.
Walk into the toy aisle of any big-box chain store and you’ll find abundant examples of the forcible ingratiation of so-called gender “norms.” We’re basically taught from infancy what defines masculinity and femininity, and that daring to venture from one gender role into another is taboo and carries a likelihood of being ridiculed. By and large, it wasn’t until the early 20th century in America that something as arbitrary as colors (among a slew of other supposed gender-specific qualities) were being assigned to particular genders, so the belief that certain colors correlate to finite genders is a fairly modern concept. Nonetheless, as much as the gay community likes to tout itself as a progressive group, the same sort of discrimination is rampant among gays. Look no further than Russell Tovey’s recent comments concerning effeminacy:
I feel like I could have been really effeminate, if I hadn’t gone to the school I went to. Where I felt like I had to toughen up. If I’d have been able to relax, prance around, sing in the street, I might be a different person now. I thank my dad for that, for not allowing me to go down that path.
The insinuation is that men should be gruff barbarians, whereas women should be submissively dainty, so any male who dares do something as risqué as show emotions that don’t range outside of the realm of ‘stoic’ or ‘indifferent’ are automatically the victims of symbolic castration, to which I say, grow a pair.
Sexual consent is an issue that is prevalent, but vastly overlooked.
When we hear the word “rape,” the presumption is usually that it’s a heinous male-on-female crime, but the reality is that (a) most rapes are never reported, (b) those that are reported are generally treated with flippancy and legal leniency, and (c) people find it humorous when a male reports being raped. Realistically, gay men are unique in their susceptibility to rape (the rates of sexual assault are astronomically higher if you’re bisexual or transgender), but because they’re males, accusations of sexual assault and/or rape are usually overlooked or brushed off altogether. Because of the image of what comprises an archetypal male, there’s a prevailing belief that males can’t really be raped because somehow having been born with a penis exempts you from being that reality. To be clear, any form of non-consensual, sexually malicious contact is a form of sexual assault, and as such makes you a terrible human being if you partake in it, in addition to being a felony in most states.
Ageism is punitive.
If women think they have a hard time facing getting older, try being a gay man. Gay men basically age the same way dogs do: for every one year older you get, it may as well be 15 years older. What’s always perplexing about the concept of aging, however, is the fact that we all get older. You can insult middle-aged people all you want, but the reality is that eventually you’ll be their age as well, and you’ll be on the receiving end of that ageism. Call it karma. Moreover, beauty isn’t like a carton of milk; it doesn’t expire. Rather, the problem is that people are ingrained to believe that youth and beauty are equated, which isn’t always necessarily the case (see: Helen Mirren, Jane Fonda, Meryl Streep, Cher, Shirley Bassey, etc.)
Always remember your life was the result of a woman’s sacrifice.
Even if you’re intrinsically abject to vaginas (read: gay), the biological reality is your entire existence is in part the result of one. The fact your mother managed to pump you out in order for you to be alive to read this is miraculous in itself, so, please, give vaginas the respect they deserve.
Relationships don’t necessitate happiness.
More than anything, the belief that being in a relationship is the key to happiness is the biggest intergender fallacy of them all. The people who make you happy are mere accessories to the blitheness that has to begin with self-acceptance. But, whereas straight men can get away with being self-proclaimed bachelors for as long as they want, pressure is put upon women to marry and have children as soon as possible. Subsequently, that societal ideal has trickled down and infiltrated the gay zeitgeist as homosexuality has become more socially acceptable. Being gay is a privilege that affords you the sui generis luxury of actually making the conscious choice to marry and/or have children, a voluptuary concept feminists espouse, but instead of recognizing that fact, a lot of gays still feel the need to be considered “normal” by societal standards, so they feel pressured to fulfill the gregarious demands of a patriarchal society that respects heterosexual reproduction above all else. Gays shouldn’t be barred from having the option to be married and/or have children, but they should take a step back and realize that you’re an individual capable of determining for yourself when and if you’ll get married and/or have children.
Equality hurts no one.
Inevitably, whenever there’s a debate about equality in any sense—be it in terms of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.—there are detractors who spew the misguided belief that equality will somehow hinder or negatively affect the population as a whole. You know what other faction of American society has historically purveyed that mentality? Racists. When you stop viewing others as fellow human beings and start mentally defining them based on aesthetics, you’re no longer a Homo sapien, you’re a Neanderthal.