‘We like cock around here’, and ‘don’t you think he’s well-hung?’ a gay guy bursts out (directed at me), pointing at another’s penis at a mostly-moffie gathering I was invited to recently. A collective titter went up into the testosterone-riddled crowd.
‘Uhh…du-u-u-h’, I thought, not the first time I’d heard similar comments at other male-driven socials. But was he stating the obvious emphatically and loudly because he himself wasn’t convinced of what he liked? Was he just being a melodramatic queen? Or was he trying to provoke some type of response from me? Maybe he wanted to shock me – the only lesbian within earshot – into submission or incite some kind of deep, anti-male sentiment he was certain lurked silently within me.
Of course, I merely tittered in response along with everyone else, at the time.
Although it wasn’t the first time I’d been left wondering, those couple of utterances got me thinking about other similar experiences I, and those of my friends, have had that left us with the subtle whiff of lesbophobia at work. Yes, it does exist between the sub-cultures of gay men and women, no matter how much more comfortable it may be to deny it.
While what motivated the above scenario may have been hard to pin down, how many of you women have had experiences involving gay men’s comments that are derogatory, yet subtle, and aimed at you? But left little or no room for your response, because of their slick, humorous and lightning speed delivery. You know, those remarks, which unapologetically carry elements of hostility, misogyny, resentment and that inevitable bitchy tone.
At the other overt extreme and particularly popular amongst comedians and cabaret queens proudly mouthing off Barbra Streisand songs are the overtly misogynistic, lesbian-bashing jokes.
Many moons ago I used to haunt The Meat Market (i.e. – Cape Town’s Bronx). Once I returned to my stool from dancing and two guys together at the bar became very hostile very fast toward me, telling me the chair didn’t have my name on it and this was a venue for men, anyway – not straight women! (I’m quite femme to look at). That was one of my more overt experiences.
“Fact is; there are many more gay men out there with a close, straight female friend and comparatively fewer with a lesbian one…”
When I saw responses to an article about the Knysna Loerie Festival on Mambagirl.com by Jeanine Cameron, I knew I had to explore this further. Many of them, including others I knew who had been there, commented about feeling sidelined, marginalized and acutely aware of the misogyny present.
With just two Festival events for women out of 100 confirming this, one of the organisers was told ‘there was no interest in even attempting to arrange lesbian events’ for the festival.
I wondered how much effort behind the scenes had consciously gone into keeping women out. Or was it more a case of: just ignore the lesbians and they’ll go away or be naturally discouraged from arriving in the first place. A sad irony, since Hot Salsa Media, responsible for surveys on the power of the Pink Rand, found local lesbians earn as much as hetero men, with 25% earning more. Their survey also showed one in three lesbians is a successful entrepreneur, with one in four gay men being an entrepreneur!
What all this goes to show, in my opinion, is that no matter how much intelligence, logic or filled with marketing-savvy the organisers believe themselves to have or be, prejudices (which I interpret as deep fear) always end up taking control and having power over a better judgement. Even if this should mean financially shooting themselves in the foot.
A friend of mine has a particular theory on what this lesbophobic intolerance means. And she’s not alone. She believes all homosexual men hate lesbians – whether acknowledged or not. Her theory runs along these lines: Because gay men have unresolved issues with women, they often choose not to have women as friends. But when they do they’ll primarily opt for heterosexual women friends, rather than lesbians.
They feel safer, she believes, with straight women who they can wield some influence and subsequent power and control over, as opposed to lesbians, who they generally cannot wield much over at all and therefore feel threatened by and fearful of.
And how do you react when you’re afraid? Defensively and offensively. I’m totally in support of the ‘whys’ in this theory, but wouldn’t go as far as to say all gay men hate lesbians.
Then I’d also have to say all lesbians hate gay men. And that wouldn’t be accurate in my life experience or observations.
Fact is; there are many more gay men out there with a close, straight female friend and comparatively fewer with a lesbian one, of those who choose to befriend women.
To be fair, I’ve also come across more than a few militant, man-hating (read: fearing) lesbians in my time. A gay woman I know openly acknowledges being “anti-male because it’s inbred in me, but I don’t go around calling them ‘whores and bitches’ as they do women ”.
I was involved with a more covert anti-male operator years ago. She had a very soft, but fairly high-pitched voice and was a quiet, intense kind of person. But when we went out socially together, I could almost feel her putting on her invisible armour.
One time it wasn’t expected that men would arrive at an all-women social. When she spotted them at the entrance her entire body language took on an aggressive stance, she dropped her voice by several decibels and I could almost hear her inaudibly growling at the invasion. I was mildly amused.
How about this? Next time you’re on the receiving end of a biting aside about your body, behaviour, dress or sub-culture, ask him what he’s really afraid of? His straight female friend may well laugh it off or meet misogyny with silent acceptance – as our sisters have for centuries. As proud lesbians, are we going to choose to do it any differently?
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