In a recent interview Brian Simms, the out Representative from Pensilvania, recognized a great deal of misogyny (hatred of women) among gay men. I thought I would take this opportunity to explore gay mens’ relationships with women this month. We’ll look at things from a few angles, tackling the good and bad.
I find it disheartening that so few of us seem to have learned from our oppression and instead are equally oppressive to others. Our attitudes towards women, treatment of gay men who don’t fit in, and our racism are shocking given what every one of us has experienced. But, we are not alone. In fact, almost every minority group is a powerful oppressor of another. All people tend to target other oppressed rather than their oppressors.
One of the things I hear gay men complain about is the behavior of straight people in gay spaces. Young women in particular can be extremely obnoxious. Many seem to have no interest in understanding appropriate etiquette in our environments. I have also encountered a number of straight guys who get upset when they receive attention from gay men, even though they’re in a queer space. Understanding where one is, and the basic rules of conduct in an environment are key to showing respect. I tis something we should all try to do when in a different cultural milieu.
Questioning bad behavior in gay spaces tends to end up creating very negative reactions from those being accused. How is asking women to be respectful on a dance floor in any way unacceptable? Straight guys in gay spaces need to deal with the possibility of someone finding them attractive, and equally with no one being interested at all.
Of course no post about gay men and women would be complete without commenting on the extremely close relationships that we often share. Again a double standards sometimes apply. While it is unacceptable for us to question a woman’s right to be in gay spaces, some women exclude gay friends from guest lists at weddings, and other functions, because of family homophobia. My friends have never operated like that. I do not accept prejudice from my family and love interests and neither should anyone in my circle.
I think what we really need to remember is that we are a sub-culture. Rules of conduct in gay spaces are different. While it is important for us to be tolerant, and welcoming, there are limits. I am happy that the days of the “private men’s club” are over. I love having mixed groups of people in gay spaces. But, they must offer us the same courtesy as one does in any foreign culture. Own their discomfort, and learn the rules.
Are gay men misogynists? Yes, I’m sure some are. However, some of the behavior that leads people to think that has more to do with others’ disrespect for us than any kind of hatred towards women.