Queer Corner: War Against the Femme

Eugene Riordan

Let’s face it: we all have different types of people to which we are attracted. I have a friend that goes ga-ga over redheads, and another that only cares about how well a person dances. I always like to ask someone to describe what his “ideal” partner is like, or have him tell me what he looks for in a person to whom he is attracted. It’s interesting because people have so many different things they look for, and usually no two people are looking for exactly the same thing.

Over Christmas break, I asked some of my gay guy friends about the kinds of men they were attracted to (pretty much a normal conversation for me to be in), and in almost all of the cases they stated that they were looking for someone who was “more masculine,” and not like the “guys who should just get a vagina because they act like girls so much.”

Oh jeeze. I was really shocked and taken aback when my friends told me this, not because it is rare, but because of the violence that’s apparent in the statement. Masculinity is one of the most sought after things in attractions towards males, but linked to that attraction almost seems to be an inherent and outright anger towards the non-masculine, which always seems to be femininity. Do you know how people say that nice guys finish last? Well, for the most part this is true because, for the people that are attracted to males, the idea of masculinity defines maleness and is used almost as a scale to determine the goodness of someone. And femininity? Whoops, move back two spaces.

My problem with defining masculinity and femininity as opposites is that we lose all sense of the words, and end up just creating a duality of positive and negative. We compartmentalize men and women into strict categories as to better understand them, and end up using the outliers to define the entire set. Every man isn’t the star quarterback, and wasn’t meant to be, but we believe that it is necessary to think that they should be.

What do you think of when you think of “men” or “masculinity”? Are they the same? I remarked a few times last semester to my close friends how I didn’t feel like a man at college, in the sense that I didn’t fit into the heterosexual paradigm that is masculinity. What I mean is that I like dancing and ironing, I prefer reading to baseball, I’d rather wine to beer, and for the most part understand what not to wear (probably debatable). But I also like to hunt, fish and hike, I hate cooking and shopping, and I don’t follow fashion trends or “American Idol.” So where does that put me? To what degree does my masculinity or my sexuality define me, as a man or otherwise?

The feminist movement, whatever you think of it, has secured a lot of things for women. One of them has been the ability to act more masculine: to wear men’s clothing, to be employed in stereotypical male jobs and to even act like men sexually. However, while this movement has broadened the definition of a woman, men haven’t done the same and are still holding onto a hypermasculine ideal. Is this really better? Is it good to live in a world where men define themselves as not-women and avoid doing anything that could relate to them as being feminine? Or worse, being a sissy? A homo?

Personally, I don’t think it is. Why should I (or anyone) have to worry about a student on this campus who is comfortable enough with his sexuality to carry a purse getting beat up or somehow hurt because he is being himself? Why should people be surprised when I tell them I know gay athletes or they find out that someone who is straight-acting sometimes who really isn’t straight? For males, why is there a need to distance ourselves from femininity? For those attracted to men, why are we attracted to the stereotypical guys? For everyone, how afraid are we of just acting like ourselves?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to hate on those that think of themselves as super masculine; you’re all hunky dudes, and I’m down with that. What I’m against is the anger and hatred towards femininity in men, from both men and women. It’s reinforced from every angle and it needs to stop. It’s hurting our campus and hurting our world. We really need to analyze the places that men and women have in our society and see how harmful our status quo is. What are you willing to do to change it?