Life at № 42 by E.M. Coutinho
What do you think gay boys fear being called the most when we’re young? It’s not a short list, is it? I bet you came up with at least three almost immediately. Now I want you to ask yourself why? What makes those words insulting? Do they describe actions? Ideas? Manner? Perhaps, but it’s all code. What they actually describe is gender.
The gay boy’s greatest fear is to be seen as doing anything like a girl. That is because, obviously, doing anything like a girl is inferior. Run like a girl. Catch like a girl. Talk like a girl. The feminine is second-rate. More than second-rate because a whole range of insults only exist in their feminine form. Bimbo, bitch, whore, slut. Who wants to grow up to be one of those? We learn very early on that if we want to succeed socially we’re going to have to be real men. That means adopting all (or at least many) of the behaviours society has categorised as masculine.
We’re tough. We don’t cry. We’re blunt. We certainly don’t want to talk. We don’t care about feelings. We’re decisive and adventurous. It’s our responsibility to fund our family unit. We don’t complain. We suck it up. We walk it off. We don’t want to be whipped. We want to wear the pants. Our measure of value within male groups relates to externalisation of these things in three forms: sexual prowess, athletic prowess and/or success in business. This happens at all levels of life. In some circles this is taken to the level of Trump’s comments to Billy Bush, which he was happy to brush off as just locker room banter. In others, it’s much worse. I believe that in the case of the Rio gang rape in June the attackers tweeted pictures and comments of the episode as it happened.
You might think it’s extreme to use the example of gang rape, but it isn’t. That sort of behaviour is the direct result of the subjugation and inferiorization of women. As soon as it’s clear a group of people is less than, we get to treat them that way. That’s the sort of thing feminists have been fighting for a very long time. Which is why I despair when I see posts like this or like this. I despair first and foremost because of the exceptional arrogance. The sort of arrogance I’ve seen and heard before, the millions of times when heterosexual people told me what LGBT people should really be worried about. Because they know better, obviously.
Secondly I despair at the lack of perspective and knowledge. To be able to deny the existence of a system which colours every aspect of life on this planet is utterly shocking. Patriarchy is where people are coming from when they oppose birth control, when they oppose reproductive rights, when they oppose LGBT rights. It’s why we see stories about Hillary’s pant suits or her cankles. It’s why the Catholic church doesn’t have female clergy. It’s why the vast majority of countries on this planet haven’t had a female leader. It’s why we actually hear people trying to explain away the gender pay gap… you know, because the pay gap only refers to one part of a woman’s work life, so it’s okay!
Now back to the issue of the need for feminism- I’ll leave you with some (recent) clips and you can tell me if we’re in a post feminist world or not.
Here’s what happened when a French (female) government minister wore a dress to work at the National Assembly (3 years ago):
And here’s an amusing one. Watch out for the first question this high ranking (female) politician gets on a major news program (last year):
And in case you missed it, or if you want to see it again here’s John Oliver on Lady Bucks: