Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Reader Writes: Cute Androgynous Lesbians and Post-Gay America

A reader, colkoch, has just left a valuable, sharp observation about my posting re: Rachel Maddow and "post-gay" America. Colkoch writes,

The problem I have with this article of Widner's is that Maddow and DeGeneres and all the other 'cute' androgynous lesbians is not about gay, it's about 'cute' androgynous lesbians.

The issue of GLBT rights is about the G, much more so than the L. Suburban society may be accepting the L but it is sure not accepting the G. I've maintained for decades that the biggest fundamental mistake the gay community made was separating into two gender camps. I've also maintained that it was the undercurrent of misogyny within the male community which really pushed the separation.

Kudos to Maddow, but the fact she's an out Lesbian means zilch when it comes to gay men.
And I agree, completely. For a variety of reasons, gay women have entree that gay men lack. Gay women don't threaten the central gender norms that, for so many in the mainstream carry such weight, that to question these norms is to court cultural disruption.

There's a strong assumption of male superiority running through our culture, and of the need for men to be men in stereotypical ways. By our very existence, we gay men butt up against those assumptions, in which those in the cultural mainstream have invested everything, and which churches of the right tell them they may not question, because gender roles and gender division are assigned by nature and revelation.

Because women are regarded as peripheral to the power structures we regard as central to our society, what women do is seen as less important than what men do. Women being intimate with each other? Just a sideline to the real games of power and influence, male games--and a titillating one, at that, for straight men, since female-female intimacy reinforces their fantasies of absolute control over all creation.

The male-dominant perspective also regards lesbians as women aspiring to be men, which is not altogether bad, in the eyes of heterosexist males. Gay men, on the other hand, are thought to be letting down the side in the most atrocious way possible, by aspiring to be women.

I agree completely with colkoch, too, about the need for solidarity between gay men and lesbians, and about the fact that this solidarity is often not there--as she says, primarily because of the misogyny of some gay men. Last night, I just finished John McNeill's new book Sex As God Intended. I'll probably post something substantive about that book soon.

But for now, I want to note that he points out the need for both the gay male and the lesbian perspective as corrections of the prevailing homophobia and feminophobia of our culture. In his view, there is a divine plan for a new cultural consciousness that will correct those toxic ways of viewing the world and allocating power, and both gay men and lesbians are an integral part of that plan.