Gender Roles

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    Apr 14, 2008 8:26 AM GMT
    Why do a lot of gay men often exhibit effeminate traits to the extreme and why do gay women exhibit masculine traits?

    I thought about it last night... and though I can offer hypotheses, I still really can't understand why. I know I'm jumping into a potential flame war thread here LOL, but I really am curious. I am not the strutting overcompensating macho type myself, but nor am I effeminate. So, I truly can't understand why.

    And no, I don't mean transsexuals, that I can understand quite easily - they were 'born in the wrong bodies' to quote the cliche. I do believe that though, wholeheartedly so. Anyone who is willing to undergo surgery has got to be sure that he/she is born of the wrong gender. icon_smile.gif

    However, what about simply gay men/women? I know I'm generalizing something as unquantifiable as gender here, but aren't gay men/women simply those who are attracted to their own sex? What does it have to do with behavior?

    Some reasons that come to mind:

    1) Liberation At least it applies to gay men. Straight male gender roles are so constricting, if I may say so. There is always the undercurrent of expectation as to what a 'true man' acts like. If someone falls short of it, they are immediately labeled 'gay' and shunted to the sidelines. When a gay man comes to term with being gay, he's suddenly free of those chains. He can act, talk, walk, in any way he wants. And let's face it, female behavior is much less structured and competitive than male behavior. However, that doesn't explain why lesbians would choose to abandon the freer female gender role and enter the male role.

    2) Rebellion Does this need an explanation? LOL. Simply going against what the society expects of you.

    3) To conform to perceived Gay 'norms' I dunno... upon coming out, they see other people of their orientation acting this way, so they emulate it.

    4) It's Innate It's part of the person. Like being gay. They can't help it if they feel like they have to act that way.

    5) Caffeine Too much coffee? icon_lol.gif

    Even bisexuals are not immune to this. There are a lot of bi men who are effeminate, and a lot of bi women who are masculine. And, yeah... the newly sprung metrosexuals...

    So, what do you think? Are gender roles really hardcoded into us? Is it a matter of choice? Is it a matter of social pressures? Or is it something else entirely?

    Are gender roles merely illusions? The instances of 'straight' guys falling in love with other men comes to mind. Plus the Kinsey scale, which says that exclusively gay and exclusively straight people are the exception and that bisexuality is actually the norm.

    P.S. Please note that I am not in any way denigrating effeminate men/masculine women. I don't put too much importance to it in terms of getting to know a person. I'm a fan of cyberpunk after all. icon_razz.gif I do have a preference for the masculine behavior (the 'normal' kind, LOL, NOT hypermasculine), those with no hangups though. Hehe. That means, a guy who's more comfortable in pants but has no problems getting into a tutu when situation demands it. LOL After all, being gay means we aren't expected to conform.

    P.P.S. Hold yer tempers, guys!

    P.P.P.S. (Lotsa P's! icon_razz.gif )I haven't read anything about this at all. It's my first time to ask this question to myself actually. heh So if I'm repeating past discussions, etc. Sorry icon_razz.gif Just point me to where I should look.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 14, 2008 9:57 AM GMT
    One theory of the origins of same-sex orientation is the influence of hormones on the human brain in utero. Basically the brain's default is "feminine" and is masculinized by the release of male sex hormones by the mother. The amount of hormones can be altered by a variety of factors including stress, age of mother etc.. Therefore, some gay men may be effeminate in external characteristics from day one. Other effeminate men though may be heterosexual (I have known a few) just like some very masculine men can be gay. There are likely be other influences at work including genetics.

    Of course gay men who lean towards the feminine side may act more so based on environmental factors. They may be rebelling against straight society when they come out, or they may be subtley influenced by other gay men.

    The development of human behaviour is extremely complex, far more so than people give credit. The only thing to keep in mind is the earlier the event in the development of the human brain, the more permanent the behaviour. For example, a mother's alcoholism has a much more pronounced impact on her child in the womb then it does when the child is 8 years old.

    I believe more and more each day that behavioural neuroscience should be mandatory teaching in High School. It is not only a fascinating subject, but it deals with the building blocks of human behaviour. I personally think that is important to learn.

    That is why sexual behaviour, including abhorrent ones like pedophilia, are virtually impossible to change. They are set from day one.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Apr 14, 2008 10:59 AM GMT
    I wouldn't say gender roles are the same as the behaviors associated with gender.

    Personally, I think culture reinforces the notion that gay men are 'supposed' to act more feminine and it gets picked up on.
  • CincyBOJ

    Posts: 306

    Apr 14, 2008 1:04 PM GMT
    Timberoo saidI wouldn't say gender roles are the same as the behaviors associated with gender.

    Personally, I think culture reinforces the notion that gay men are 'supposed' to act more feminine and it gets picked up on.



    This helps explain the gay accent, or gay lisp.

    Interesting, just had this conversation recently.
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:13 PM GMT
    In 1895 Oscar Wilde went on trial and was convicted for gross indecency. Here was a man who is the very image of a dandy fop: those girly locks, wearing large flowers in his lapel. Yet, people were shocked, SHOCKED to hear that this man was having sex with other men. They couldn't believe that the most effeminate man before Quentin Crisp was gay.

    At the turn of the century there weren't strong notions of hetero/homosexuality. Sexuality had to be invented. In a sense, heterosexuality was created in opposition to the image of Wilde. Thus, the lisping, limp wristed, sashaying Wilde became the model for homosexuals.

    At least that is what Alan Sinfield's theory is, and I like it.
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:43 PM GMT
    But before Wilde there were men having sex with men, or at least dreaming of it. I wonder if the prevalence of effeminate men was the same as it is today and how many were attracted to their own sex? We will never know of course, but it still is interesting to think about.

    When I read 19th century and early 20th century books and come across the bachelor uncle who never married I think "closet case".
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    Apr 14, 2008 1:56 PM GMT
    Oh ya! Men were fucking men since we first stood upright. The book I was summarizing is talking about gay identity rather than sexual acts.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:00 PM GMT
    Men were fucking men since we first stood upright.

    Only to bend over after standing upright!icon_lol.gif

    My apologies for the crudeness, I could not resist.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:00 PM GMT
    What i thought about is that maybe some gay men want the attention of some straight men (we all want what we cant get!) so by acting in a feminine way they delude themselves in to thinkning that straight men might want to be with them?
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:03 PM GMT
    TroubledMind saidWhat i thought about is that maybe some gay men want the attention of some straight men (we all want what we cant get!) so by acting in a feminine way they delude themselves in to thinkning that straight men might want to be with them?


    That is an interesting theory. Perhaps in some cultures that could be true.

    I hope that Sedative14 does not get upset at me for saying this, but I have met very few masculine-acting gay Filipinos (my partner is one of the few). Nearly all seem to be effeminate. I think it is partially due to the strong traditional gender roles in that culture.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:06 PM GMT
    Everything seems to spring up from people's culture... Im greek. In ancient greece they had gay orgies hence i like orgies! icon_razz.gif Never been in an orgy but i always seemed to be very fond of them icon_lol.gif
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Apr 14, 2008 2:14 PM GMT
    Hrm... You know, there are a lot of theories that could be discussed here, but I'm gonna go with the simple one.



    'Cause they feel like it

    And that's good enough for me.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    DiverScience saidHrm... You know, there are a lot of theories that could be discussed here, but I'm gonna go with the simple one.

    'Cause they feel like it

    And that's good enough for me.

    HAHAHA! I love you Diver!
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:18 PM GMT
    Ditto to what DiverScience said ...
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:25 PM GMT
    I am fascinated by people that from a very early age do not fit into the traditional gender roles. We all know people that for as long as they can remember exhibited behaviour that is traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

    Little boys that wanted to dress up in women's clothes and play with dolls, or little girls that wanted to play with other boys and hated anything to do with feminine things (my mom is one of those).

    For some people it is perhaps what they want to do and their behaviour changes as they become adults, but for many they never made a conscious choice that is who they were from the beginning.

    Not that it really matters one way or the other!
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:29 PM GMT
    Alexander the Great was gay, right? Yet he still got the label of "Great". I'm with MunchingZombie in his agreement with Alan Sinfield's theory (which I will now have to read up on).

    MunchingZombie very accurately statedSexuality had to be invented


    I've always said this but always found opposition. I mean, primates are known to have gay sex, and since we evolved from primates the logical leap would be to say it's natural but I guess it's hard to fight jaded, loudmouthed bigots.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:30 PM GMT
    Wysiwyg60I am fascinated by people that from a very early age do not fit into the traditional gender roles. We all know people that for as long as they can remember exhibited behaviour that is traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

    Little boys that wanted to dress up in women's clothes and play with dolls, or little girls that wanted to play with other boys and hated anything to do with feminine things (my mom is one of those).

    For some people it is perhaps what they want to do and their behaviour changes as they become adults, but for many they never made a conscious choice that is who they were from the beginning.

    Not that it really matters one way or the other!


    And then society comes along a sticks a big huge label on those people, isolating them in a group so they have no other choice but to continue to act that way between themselves and slowly with others...
  • DiverScience

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    Apr 14, 2008 2:31 PM GMT
    Not properly, no. He was male, he had sex with both men and women. He certainly never partnered for life with a man, or really showed any particular inclination for it.

    So the "gay" identifier would be a little disingenuous. He did have some homosexual relations, though.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:38 PM GMT
    Sometimes I think we tend to over analyze stuff. I suppose that's just a human quality but ... does it matter?
    It's like the question about is being gay or lesbian an inherited trait or a learned trait? No one knows and why does that even matter? We're free to choose.
    One of the wonderful characteristics of gay culture is the incredible diversity. In example, those poor straight guys, they're stuck on straight. We're free to explore our sexuality.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:41 PM GMT
    John43620Sometimes I think we tend to over analyze stuff. I suppose that's just a human quality but ... does it matter?
    It's like the question about is being gay or lesbian an inherited trait or a learned trait? No one knows and why does that even matter? We're free to choose.
    One of the wonderful characteristics of gay culture is the incredible diversity. In example, those poor straight guys, they're stuck on straight. We're free to explore our sexuality.


    I disagree, straight people can do that to! They can CHOOSE to be gay like all of us! icon_razz.gif
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:43 PM GMT
    TroubledMind I think boys have it much worse than girls when it comes to not conforming to society's narrow views on gender appropriate behaviour. I don't recall my Mom saying she had any issues. She wasn't mercifully teased or anything (and she would have beaten up any kid that tried).

    Boys are laughed at if they cry for heavens sake let along play with dolls. So wonder so many guys end up with behavioural problems (suicide and crime are much higher than women, and perhaps substance abuse as well).

    Guys are kept on a very short leash when it comes to the behaviour they can exhibit. I am always fascinated to watch straight males in a group compared to when they are by themselves. Their behaviour can really change. They act like the stereotypcial male jock jerk when around other guys, but when they are themselves they become quite civilized!
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:44 PM GMT
    4barbela saidAlexander the Great was gay, right? Yet he still got the label of "Great". I'm with MunchingZombie in his agreement with Alan Sinfield's theory (which I will now have to read up on).


    His book is called The Wilde Century. It is an academic book, so it can be dry as toast sometimes, but Sinfield is an entertaining writer.

    And Alexander the Great was not gay. He was Greek.
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    Apr 14, 2008 2:50 PM GMT
    I know what you mean Wysiwyg60. I even have male friends who act differently in groups just to show how manly they are but so much different around me because i dont really care. Most of these issues have risen because of the way men act and how dominating the man is. Look at lesbians for example. Because straight men love to watch to women together its not bad to have posters and movies where women are intimate with each other but its disgusting and horrid to see men do the same in those cases! The "wild" nature of man has brought all these stereotypes into society now and it is very very hard to change them even though the past decade or so things have changed dramatically but not enough!
  • Timbales

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    Apr 14, 2008 3:32 PM GMT
    Wysiwyg60 saidI am fascinated by people that from a very early age do not fit into the traditional gender roles. We all know people that for as long as they can remember exhibited behaviour that is traditionally associated with the opposite sex.

    Little boys that wanted to dress up in women's clothes and play with dolls, or little girls that wanted to play with other boys and hated anything to do with feminine things (my mom is one of those).


    I think that the reaction of the family and parents also plays a part in the development of a child's personality and eventual sexuality.
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    Apr 14, 2008 3:36 PM GMT
    I had the hots for Timberoo ...even as a young boy. That's what determined my sexual behavior.