Why are we so quick to justify/excuse our bad behavior?

  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 08, 2008 9:48 PM GMT
    Okay my title is a little hyperbolic (is that a word?) but it's my first forum topic so bear with me.

    After yet another forum topic on our collective inability to commit compared with straight men or whatever, I am left wondering - are gay men just a bunch of Peter Pans that can't or won't accept reasonable constraints on our behavior as most grownups do? Is this seemingly innate promiscuity a manifestation of something else? I think so.

    Much of the divide seems to form into two camps - assimilationists and expressionists. These were defined for me back in the 80's in Madsen & Kirk's excellent book on the state of the gay rights movement at the time "After the Ball". Assimilationists see no difference between themselves and the larger society. They crave ordinariness, normality, blending in and generally not being seen as outsiders (Broadway theme song - "Somewhere That's Green", from Little Shop of Horrors). Expressionists are just the opposite. They crave diversity, fresh experiences, the attention that difference brings, and unfettered self-expression Broadway them song - "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls).

    Each group views the other with no small degree of suspicion, clearly. In this particular matter, obviously assimilationists accept without question the overarching societal norm for monogamy, at least serial monogamy. Expressionists espouse the natural instinctive impulse of the human male to fertilize anything that stands still long enough to do the deed.

    What is natural? What is normal? Are societal demands reasonable? Do we want to be part of the mainstream or not? And if so, shouldn't we play by the same rules everyone else does?
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    May 08, 2008 9:50 PM GMT
    Does there have to be just one answer?
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 08, 2008 10:04 PM GMT
    Caslon,

    I don't know, really. I asked a lot of questions. Just trying to stimulate another discussion.
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    May 08, 2008 10:08 PM GMT
    All I can say is that there are a lot of guys on this site who profess their love of monogamy and fidelity (which I think is what this thread is really about).

    However, most men I seem to meet are partnered or want no-strings action/fun.

    So, my conclusions are that there are a lot of liars.
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    May 08, 2008 10:09 PM GMT
    i'm biased, not seeing the point of assimilationist attitudes, and preferring the radical faerie approach. but then again i'm belligerent, so that makes sense. if i worked at a corporate job and wore a tie i might feel differently. but i'm a stripper who writes for an lgbt newspaper, so i don't feel obliged to conform. i don't think it's reasonable to expect people to all be the same, and i definitely don't think that gay marriage should be the issue on the top of people's priority lists. sure it's important, but isn't enda and hate crimes protection more important for the greater good?? most marriages end in divorce anyway.

    anyway, i'm rushing out the door and not thinking in an organized manner, but to sum up my view: both perspectives have something to add, but i don't like it when each treats the other with contempt. if it weren't for radical faeries and drag queen the assimilationists wouldn't even be able to conceive of the reality of gay marriage, but without assimilationists putting a friendlier face on the lgbt community the radical faeries would still be yelling in front of the white house instead of inside it.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 08, 2008 10:17 PM GMT
    dancerjack is correct, there are more important things than gay marriage at the moment, although I think that is one of the ultimate goals (never would have guessed that, would you?). There is a heirarchy of rights to be won. As long as we can be beat up on the streets, denied a job or housing, or cannot visit loved ones in the hospital, the really important stuff (marriage, adoption) will have to to wait.
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    May 08, 2008 11:50 PM GMT
    and then there is everything in between!
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    May 08, 2008 11:51 PM GMT
    hy·per·bol·ic Pronunciation[hahy-per-bol-ik]
    –adjective
    1.having the nature of hyperbole; exaggerated.
    2.using hyperbole; exaggerating.
    3.Mathematics.
    a.of or pertaining to a hyperbola.
    b.derived from a hyperbola, as a hyperbolic function.

    Yup, its a word!
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    May 09, 2008 12:05 AM GMT
    lilTanker saidhy·per·bol·ic Pronunciation[hahy-per-bol-ik]
    –adjective
    1.having the nature of hyperbole; exaggerated.
    2.using hyperbole; exaggerating.
    3.Mathematics.
    a.of or pertaining to a hyperbola.
    b.derived from a hyperbola, as a hyperbolic function.

    Yup, its a word!


    Realize that there are 2 very different words being defined here......HYPERBOLE vs HYPERBOLA.
    Hypebola is this mathematical function http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbola

    HYPERBOLE is an extreme exageration http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole

    so actually..."Yup, THEY are wordS!"icon_cool.gif
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    May 09, 2008 12:10 AM GMT
    Oh icon_razz.gif bite me hehehe
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    May 09, 2008 2:23 PM GMT
    There should be a very large grey area between being assimilationists and expressionists. I would see that those two types occupy the very narrow ends on a normal bell curve.

    I am now in a 17 year old monogamous LTR and got married legally in 2006. I have been in one other monogamous LTR before that lasted several years and ended only because my mate died. Should I consider myself an assimilationist? Hell no!!

    Before my first LTR, I was what some people would call a “whore”, although, that designation is way to negative a term for the fun I was having. Between my two LTR’s, I was single and I returned to having a great time with lots of guys.

    What is wrong with either one of these lifestyle choices? I am not going to even try to justify or excuse either set of behaviours. They were perfectly right for me at the time.

    Let us not make this too complicated. There is nothing wrong with having multiple sexual partners and there is nothing wrong with committing to a monogamous relationship. Oh yeah, and I almost forgot, there is nothing wrong with committing to a non-monogamous relationship.
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    May 09, 2008 3:03 PM GMT
    I prefer the terms "liberationists" and "legitimationists", since both of these are positive words, while "assimilationists" seems to me to have quite a negative connotation.

    I fall on the liberationist side myself.... but I think a significant problem for us as gay society is that we often fail to acknowledge the political diversity amongst gay people as a legitimate, valuable and essentially *symbiotic* phenomenon in of itself.

    The paradox is this: Can legitimationists advance our cause within the framework of society if liberationists have not already raised the issues? Conversely, by rejecting the rules of the game, how can liberationists expect to achieve political ends? Liberationists may mistake media access for political power, and legitimationists may mistake political access for political power.

    This ought to be enough for us to recognise that both are valuable, and depending on the times, either may appear to be more successful. Like Diogenes the Cynic, we must be ready at all times to expose the intellectual bankruptcy of either side if they purport (as they often have) to have a monopoly on the right thing to be done.

    My solution to square the circle of a coherent gay society is to introduce the african notion of "ubuntu", i.e. that who we are as individuals depend on who we all are as society. It is, alas, a double-edged sword, and it is not confined to gay people.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    May 09, 2008 4:09 PM GMT
    Expressionists have gotten us this far, no question. The assimilationist Mattachine Society got zero traction precisely because they were so mild mannered and unobtrusive. The cultural realignment that was the 1960's demanded in your face activism, and that's what the sainted (if not saintly) drag queens and hustlers at Stonewall gave us. Likewise, the inaction of the Reagan administration in the face of AIDS demanded the red-faced rage of ACT UP as an appropriate response.

    After a while though, doesn't it start to feel like Cuba? I mean, Castro was screaming at the top of his lungs until the very end about "La Revolucione" when the revolution was clearly long over. Lawrence v. Texas took away our inherent criminal status, which was the most significant, if underreported, event in the history of the gay rights movement. Everything after that is a slow eroding of enshrined discrimination.

    My own personal opinion, big surprise here, is that the more we just like everybody else, the more walls come down and prejudices vanish. Once the term "normal" encompasses us, the outrageousness, gloriousness, and fabulousness of our community's diversity can be embraced by others besides ourselves. In the meantime, the primary goals for me and other assimilationists (marriage and adoption rights) are institutions to be respected, not assaulted.

    I don't say that because I feel anyone in the GLBT community is making an assault, but you better believe that is how it is being framed on the other side. To gain entree, we will have to demonstrate unambiguously that we are capable of the required commitment, never mind that straight people don't necessarily have to do the same. It's sort of like blacks a generation ago. They had to be better at everything just to be considered equal. Not fair, but ultimately beneficial for the individuals trying to fit in.
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    May 09, 2008 4:44 PM GMT
    I personally like being monogamous and really don't care whether people group me as an "assimilationist" or not. It is my life so f**k off to be quite blunt.

    I am just glad I was not sexually active in the 1970's when gay men who were in monogamous relationships were considered to be freaks and self-hating, because they did not want to "express" themselves sexually with a different guy every night.

    I am looking forward to the day when behaviourial facism comes to an end, and people really start letting other people live their lives the way they see fit.
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    May 09, 2008 5:45 PM GMT
    promiscuity exist in almost every aspect of nature. example female penguins prostitute themselves for food and rocks. Even the human male penis evolves, in some breeds of human the head is often larger. The reason for this is because it is used to scoop out previously deposited semen before he deposits his own.

    Promiscuity arguments only half brought to light in the media and politics because of the arguments in relation to gay marriage. The media doesnt openly publish the facts regarding failed marriages and thei causes in the hetero world. Nor do they publish the surveys which show they are just as promiscuous as homosexuals.


    I dont believe your two camps exist any longer in todays world as more people are turning to individuality and what was once considered taboo is becoming the norm and vice versa.

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    May 09, 2008 6:03 PM GMT
    When I read the thread topic my immediate response was - "So we can continue engaging in that behavior." Then, I read your post and the ensuing discussion and frankly, my answer's the same - We like our bad behaviors and will engage in them until something stops us.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    May 09, 2008 6:28 PM GMT
    I think what bothers me is that both groups seem so *angry* all the time at the other group.

    Why do we feel SO invested in each other's lives? Why do we feel SO jutified in telling each other that whatever they're doing is wrong?

    For God's sake, we all need to get the LOGS out of our own eyes before we start picking the splinters out of our neighbors'
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    May 09, 2008 6:31 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidOkay my title is a little hyperbolic (is that a word?) but it's my first forum topic so bear with me.

    After yet another forum topic on our collective inability to commit compared with straight men or whatever, I am left wondering - are gay men just a bunch of Peter Pans that can't or won't accept reasonable constraints on our behavior as most grownups do? Is this seemingly innate promiscuity a manifestation of something else? I think so.

    Much of the divide seems to form into two camps - assimilationists and expressionists. These were defined for me back in the 80's in Madsen & Kirk's excellent book on the state of the gay rights movement at the time "After the Ball". Assimilationists see no difference between themselves and the larger society. They crave ordinariness, normality, blending in and generally not being seen as outsiders (Broadway theme song - "Somewhere That's Green", from Little Shop of Horrors). Expressionists are just the opposite. They crave diversity, fresh experiences, the attention that difference brings, and unfettered self-expression Broadway them song - "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" from Dreamgirls).

    Each group views the other with no small degree of suspicion, clearly. In this particular matter, obviously assimilationists accept without question the overarching societal norm for monogamy, at least serial monogamy. Expressionists espouse the natural instinctive impulse of the human male to fertilize anything that stands still long enough to do the deed.


    What is natural? What is normal? Are societal demands reasonable? Do we want to be part of the mainstream or not? And if so, shouldn't we play by the same rules everyone else does?



    Answering to the title of the topic and the emboldened text, I have to say that I believe that what people concider to be normal varies from person to person, sometimes dramatically, sometimes slightly. Excuse my creative ability to state some of the obvious; if it seems so, but it's all relative to who the individual really is inside and out.

    Homosexuality alone is concidered amongst some heteros to be extremely unnatural(of course icon_razz.gif); while there are still those whom say that it's one of the most natural things in the world next to feeling love for someone else.

    I think that the differences between the many different kinds of people should be respected no matter how self deprecating or boring it may seem to others. It's not for me to understand why some 30 something hetero christian republican wants to father 17 kids, but I'll respect it; though I disagree with the practice itself. But as a general rule, noone's perfect... anyways, this goes for the various groups and subgroups of gays and lesbians whom choose to express their sexuality differently. And the possibilities are endless.

    For me, putting people in boxes does't do anyone any justice. I don't like to be solely discribed for this one aspect of my being, even if it's more prominent than others. From your comparisons of assimilationists and expressionist I found that I was similar to about half of each discription... so it doesn't work in my opinion. I'm sure your okay with that.


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    May 09, 2008 9:56 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 said
    My own personal opinion, big surprise here, is that the more we just like everybody else, the more walls come down and prejudices vanish. Once the term "normal" encompasses us, the outrageousness, gloriousness, and fabulousness of our community's diversity can be embraced by others besides ourselves. In the meantime, the primary goals for me and other assimilationists (marriage and adoption rights) are institutions to be respected, not assaulted.

    I don't say that because I feel anyone in the GLBT community is making an assault, but you better believe that is how it is being framed on the other side. To gain entree, we will have to demonstrate unambiguously that we are capable of the required commitment, never mind that straight people don't necessarily have to do the same. It's sort of like blacks a generation ago. They had to be better at everything just to be considered equal. Not fair, but ultimately beneficial for the individuals trying to fit in.


    I do understand where you're coming from, and I do in fact sympathise with this point of view. But you must realise that this argument has certain axioms that ought to be questioned: e.g. that the "they" are rational and able to be persuaded, that we are in fact similar to 'them' and that the system is capable of being changed from within. I think, for example, that there are a significant number of people who cannot be persuaded by any arguments that our lives are legitimate. How do we deal with these people? Do we marginalise them (surely not a project for a legitimationist!)....

    It is also perhaps worth remembering that the great legitimationist project, the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, was a failure. It seems that there is little mood amongst either Clinton or Obama to commit to a resurrection of that project.

    Indeed even supposing we 'win' (whatever that might mean!) what about the next minority group that is discriminated against? And here there is a persuasive argument in favour of a not-so-common kind of liberationist manifesto: what if we can *reform society* to stop discrimination and *sexual repression* in all its forms?

    In actuality, what gives me great hope for the future is that the liberationist/legitimationist debate may be as two dogs that fight on the beach as the tide comes in. Even in Ohio, even between freshmen college students and high school groups I've seen there is an amazing difference: most of our undergraduates were not out in high school, and yet even in really rural areas I have seen new fledgeling LGBT groups appear in high schools. I think noone can stop the oncoming tide.

    Really good topic, Jarhead.
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    May 09, 2008 10:39 PM GMT
    Is it just me or do others get bored of this continual comparison of gay men being so so so different from straight men in the issues they face in life?

    I really dont see there is any difference in any of the threads on these subject matters. Even in this case divorce rates in the US dont support the argument either. The only difference I would see is that women are less likely to accept an open relationship, but I would also be very surprised if this was as acceptable in the lesbian community too.

    Men are men, if society didnt put pressure on a heterosexual man to settle down and have a family as great as it did then they would be just as many open rampant F*** bunnies on that side of the fence.

    Monogamy as a concept to some tho is just alien and thats wether you are straight, gay or a monkey
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    May 09, 2008 11:34 PM GMT
    bfg1 saidIs it just me or do others get bored of this continual comparison of gay men being so so so different from straight men in the issues they face in life?

    I really dont see there is any difference in any of the threads on these subject matters. Even in this case divorce rates in the US dont support the argument either. The only difference I would see is that women are less likely to accept an open relationship, but I would also be very surprised if this was as acceptable in the lesbian community too.

    Men are men, if society didnt put pressure on a heterosexual man to settle down and have a family as great as it did then they would be just as many open rampant F*** bunnies on that side of the fence.

    Monogamy as a concept to some tho is just alien and thats wether you are straight, gay or a monkey


    God freakin bless you my man...very well put...I'm sick of this comparison with straight men and the hidden acceptance of some inherent disability in being gay......
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    May 09, 2008 11:47 PM GMT
    Its nothing more than victim mentality and does more harm than good when we all claim we want social acceptance and integration.

    I see its as "They've started accepting our rainbow flags damn man what the hell can I find now to set us apart and make us stand out or seem different"
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    May 10, 2008 12:09 AM GMT
    bfg1 saidIs it just me or do others get bored of this continual comparison of gay men being so so so different from straight men in the issues they face in life?


    I find the whole concept that homosexuals and heterosexuals are so radically different from each other both sad and laughable. We're still people and the sex really isn't all that different.
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    May 10, 2008 12:13 AM GMT
    Timberoo said[quote][cite]bfg1 said[/cite]Is it just me or do others get bored of this continual comparison of gay men being so so so different from straight men in the issues they face in life?


    I find the whole concept that homosexuals and heterosexuals are so radically different from each other both sad and laughable. We're still people and the sex really isn't all that different. [/quote]

    Hoo bloody ray

    Well thats three of us then! I was starting to think I didnt fit in as I didnt come from the planet Gay and I was a different species that didnt have the same emotions and feelings as other gay guys. yes we all have our own life experiences that make us think a certain way but the grass is always greener or lusher on the other side
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    May 10, 2008 12:15 AM GMT
    Timberoo said[quote][cite]bfg1 said[/cite]Is it just me or do others get bored of this continual comparison of gay men being so so so different from straight men in the issues they face in life?


    I find the whole concept that homosexuals and heterosexuals are so radically different from each other both sad and laughable. We're still people and the sex really isn't all that different. [/quote]

    I'm amazed at the stuff I read here.....I've heard that so much shit about how gay people are bad at relationships, bad at managing money, bad at being true friends.....how gay people drink too much, do lots of drugs..how having short hair is a gay thing, being stylish is a gay thing etc etc. Wheather or not its true is not the point.....the point is that people are people and you will find the same in society at large.