If you’re a regular reader, you know I take issue with gender roles and the patriarchy and all that jazz. I have written before about how such things harm men as much as women, but I haven’t delved into the specifics. Today, I’m going to touch on one.
Mark and I were having a discussion. It started with a tweet I saw not too long ago in which a woman (@emrazz) wrote that “men care deeply about what other men think of them” This struck me as interesting, since just the evening before I had witnessed a man have a full-on meltdown over the idea that another dude might think he was gay. I brought this up to Hubs and he commented that this was a very specific issue; straight men do not want other men to think they’re gay. I took this to a friend who confirmed that yes, dudes do care more about what other guys think, they just don’t let on that much. They kind of transfer it over to what women think of them, because that’s the comfort zone, but men’s opinions matter, too.
So, I posed the question…what are some totally human being things that you have done that someone called you gay for? The results are gross.
First of all, there’s the obvious life skills: Cooking. Cleaning. Grooming. Things that any living, breathing human creature needs to know to survive. Then there’s the hobbies: gardening, sewing, interior design. All totally non-gendered stuff that has nothing to do with sexuality and yet…here I am writing this blog.
We then arrive at the emotional elements: saying “I love you” to another dude. Hugging a relative (more on that later.) Having a “bromance,” or even a best friend. Admiring anything physical about another man.
Then there’s the flat-out ridiculous: your wrist going limp at any point, even if it’s just comfortable like that. Wearing a tux on your wedding day (I really wish I was joking.) READING.
I know at least one man who has been called gay or “f–” for everything I have listed. And there’s still lots more.
Now one subject brought up that he’s gotten more crap from women than men, actually. Which, makes me real mad at my sisters….do better, ladies. However, it is MEN who do things like think its gay to NOT be homophobic. I mean, Hubs has been called a “f–” just for being an ally…just for refusing to participate in the hate. CMON, guys…why the hell do you care so much?
I still maintain that homophobia in men is simply their fear of homosexuality in themselves. Whether or not they are really gay, they are scared to be gay. And why wouldn’t they be? Look at what they have cultivated for each other. I mean…y’all can’t read a book without an insult being hurled your way, apparently. You have a faction that will beat the crap out of you if you’re gay. You’ve seen trans people get murdered and gay men die from AIDS and all the ostracization…so no, you wouldn’t want to be gay, would you?
And you certainly don’t want anyone to think that either.
Now, I had a friend in high school who thought I was a lesbian for a while. This was because I did not care then and I do not care now about a lot of things that other girl’s I know used to care about. I mean, I liked boys and I had tons of crushes, but I didn’t care as much for makeup and clothing and things like that the way they did. She used to tease me often about my supposed lesbianism. She just didn’t get that I wasn’t subscribing to gender roles, because it was 2000 and that was still a taboo topic for which I had no words. But none of it bothered me, for two reasons: 1. I honestly did not care if the women I knew thought I was gay, because 2. I knew I wasn’t, and that was enough. So why is it not enough for most men I know?
Likely, and this is my hypothesis, it’s because they are not allowed to openly express themselves in the same way women can. Society does not look kindly on a crying man, unless he’s at a funeral.
Speaking of…a few years ago we were at a BBQ at my brother-in-law’s and Mark went and greeted his step-brother with a hug, for which he was promptly called a “f–” and then was smacked on the ass. He walked away, angry and humiliated, vowing not to hug any of his brothers ever again. Cut to their father’s funeral, where his other two step-brothers welcomed him with open arms, literally. He hugged them and felt better, but then angry…why is it only in mourning that he gets to be sad? Why is it only in death that men can show love to each other?
If you guessed the patriarchy…you are, as always, correct.
My husband has gender roles ingrained in him that he is still trying to unlearn, because homie (me) don’t play that. We keep things as equal as possible, and yes, sometimes we have a spat about who is in charge of which household chore, but for the most part we resolve everything with equality in mind. It saddens me to think there are men out there who would literally call my husband “gay” for actually giving a crap about his home.
It boggles the mind. Really.
Anyways, to all my male readers out there, please…try to RELAX. Try not to care what the dude next door thinks of you, because I’ve been paying close attention to the men in my life for the past month so I could write this, and ohmygod, it has been exhausting watching you suffer by holding yourselves back. Just relax, and be who you are, and stop worrying about what Joe Schmoe thinks of you. Cook a fabulous meal. Dress up to make yourself feel good. Learn how to knit. And for god’s sake, stop caring about what other people are doing in their flippin’ bedrooms. Because some dudes may think you’re a super-straight-tough-guy, but most of us think you look like an idiot.