In the past 2 weeks, there has been some interesting, albeit sometimes alarming, “discussion” on various sites of the relationship that gay men have with misogyny. It all started with TV celeb Rose McGowan, famous for her role in late 90’s series Charmed and a podcast hosted by the usually controversial writer, Bret Easton Ellis. In response to McGowan’s comments, Patrick Strudwick wrote this op-ed in The Guardian and there was this article on pinknews.co.uk.
As an early 30s same-sex attracted man, I grew up watching Charmed. From ’98, when the show first came out (pun intended), were formative years when I craved some semblance of my story in the media. Even though Buffy holds a bigger place in my heart, Charmed was the story of three seemingly normal young sisters who discover they have special powers which make them different, and which they had to keep secret. We followed the sisters as their frayed relationship became one of solidarity as their powers grew. Basically, an allegory for the story of my/any queer kid just discovering their difference and feels threatened by coming out.
Possibly this is why her comments gained such traction. Honestly, I didn’t listen to the whole hour-long podcast. Instead I regurgitate what I read in Strudwick’s op-ed and an article in PinkNews.co.uk with my own slant. I agree with Strudwick that McGowan’s statements that “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so …” are alarmist and offensive. McGowan is (was?) a vocal LGBTQ supporter, and her role as a girl-power sexy witch that saves the world (in the latest fashions and leaving all the boys drooling), has seemingly increased her credibility on such issues. She said: “You wanna talk about the fact that I have heard nobody in the gay community, no gay males, standing up for women on any level? There is Sharia law active in Saudi Arabia, there’s a woman who’s about to be stoned – I have not heard [AIDS activist] Cleve Jones discuss her, and nor will he.” One gay man’s silence does not a whole community’s silence make. Oh, btw, the same punishment exists for homosexual acts, and McGowan is a white, 1st world hollywood actress. Know thy privilege.
Sure, some gay men have misogynist behaviours, some are even misogynist. There is a line between being bitchy (passive aggressive or not) and hate. Strudwick suggests this is in reaction to the “jealousy of presumed sexual power” that gay men have of women. Sure, I’m jealous that heterosexual women have more fish in their pond, but I don’t hate them for it. I’m more frustrated that heterosexual men aren’t in my pond! The difference, for me, is to whom the anger is directed at.
My journey with identity has been a murky one. Lately though, my emotional attraction with some women has led to sexual attraction. I’m not yet waving my bi/pan-sexual flag yet, preferring, if asked: homo-fexible. But I’m coming to the idea of being attracted to a person rather than their sex. This brings me back to my annoyance with straight men. Specifically, straight men that I am attracted to. Teenage classmate infatuations aside (and there were many), I have met a few straight men with whom I have felt a strong affinity with. I ain’t pissed cause women are in their (the straight men) pond, I be pissed cause they ain’t in mine!
So, misogyny and me. Sure, I don’t do the really terrible things misogynists do or believe, but I do have privilege, as a cis-man Australian citizen. I don’t fit the hegemonic normative form, but the formation of my life has been impacted by my masculinity. I disagree with Strudwick: straight men are not the enemy. Heteronormativity feeds misogyny and does negatively affect straight men, albeit with much less impact than for women. Call me naive, if you will, but empathy can challenge the patriarchy from both sides, cascading to heteronormativity and hopefully misogyny as well. Then we can all be in one (happier) pond with plenty of diverse fish.
N.B. Fish (Fishy) – A term used to describe a drag queen who looks extremely feminine, or one who convincingly resembles a biological woman. The term is a reference to the scent of a woman’s vagina, which is colloquially likened to the smell of fish.