Sunday, May 10, 2020

Today We Have Naming of Parts

A younger (but on the verge of middle age) gay male acquaintance of mine recently posted a meme of Tupac Shakur demanding respect for women: "A woman brought you into this world, so you have no right to disrespect one."  This doesn't really make any sense: I must respect Margaret Thatcher, Madeleine Albright, Hilary Clinton, Ma Barker?  I don't think so.  I suppose it was intended to refer to women in heterosexual relationships, and I don't know enough about Tupac or his oeuvre to know how well he honored his own mandate.  Once again, "respect" was being made to carry a lot more weight than it reasonably can.

Later on the same day my acquaintance posted another meme featuring a fictional conversation between an ostensibly straight guy complaining that his girlfriend demanded he perform cunnilingus on her even though her vulva stank like fish, and a gay guy offering to fellate him without demanding cunnilingus in return.  R-E-S-P-E-C-T, am I right?

Then this morning - Mother's Day! - the same acquaintance posted a meme comprised of a photo of a rather lethargic, sullen-looking white guy, and a caption assuring him that for every woman who wouldn't go down on him, there were three gay men who would, as often as he liked.

This is a style of misogyny that is very common among gay men, which I've often called out, and I did so on both these occasions.  I've done it in person, and in gay male chat rooms, but there was a fascinating difference between those occasions and this one.  In gay male chat rooms there were no women present, but my acquaintance posted these japes on Facebook, where he has many women friends whom he knows offline, in classic gay-man-straight-woman friendships.  It didn't seem to occur to him that he was revealing publicly what he really thinks of them.

Oh, of course he didn't mean his friends, they're different.  His best friends are women, he loves and respects women.  Sure.  I wonder what his friends thought.  Maybe they just brushed it aside, maybe they would agree that there are women and there are dirty sluts, or some such, and he wasn't talking about his women friends, just about those others.  In which case they deserve him, I guess, but I'd bet that at least some of them felt a little twinge of pain when they read his jolly posts.

I don't doubt that there are women who neglect basic hygiene and smell foul Down There.  There are also, I can report from personal experience, men whose unwashed nether parts stink, and some of them are gay.  And maybe I shouldn't take my friend's adolescent joshing seriously: like a lot of offensive humor, it's only half-meant, and is mostly intended to invite and cement solidarity.  It's related to Eric Berne's psychiatric game "Ain't It Awful?": you complain about stinky vulva, he complains about stinky vulva, you're both regular guys together, you bond, maybe the pants come down, all's right with the world, and I'm just a humorless PC prune who doesn't want guys to have a little fun.  I know, however, that my friend would not be as indulgent about homophobic humor by bigots, of white racism, transphobia, and the like -- he's been reposting a lot of stuff this weekend raging about the racist murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, and rightly so.  But what's a little friendly misogyny, nobody got killed, so chill out, okay?

Okay, deep breath.  Nobody got killed, folded, spindled, or mutilated.  I was just startled by the crudity and openness with which my friend expressed his loathing for women's bodies, where his women friends would see it.  I have known him for several years, and he hadn't said such things in my presence before.  I've also been away from gay men's society for a long time, and I guess I imagined that younger gay men might have left behind this misogynist humor.  Live and learn.

Something I couldn't help thinking about, though: When nominally straight men express their disgust for homosexuality, we often suspect that they protest too much, that they are hiding a more or less resisted craving for dick.  When nominally gay men exult in their disgust for women's bodies, what conflicted desires are they hiding?