MASCULINE AND FEMININE and the gay man

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    Mar 30, 2010 1:22 AM GMT
    As a gay PE teacher and varsity football coach at a high school here in the South San Francisco Bay area I often think about the subject of masculinity and what that exact word means to gay men. I live/work in a world of hyper masculine men that would rather shit a brick than admit they are gay. This has always bugged me. Nonetheless, gay culture also has a boastful attitude towards masculinity. The word comes up all the time in personal ads - you know, "masculine guy seeks same." I have concluded that gay culture often equates masculine gay men with being the better type of gay man. If you are feminine in any way as a gay man it is a characteristic that is less than desired.

    So what is masculinity, anyway - a hairy chest and the ability to change the oil in your car yourself? Being congenitally unable to ask for directions when lost? Can you be "too masculine?" Is being a top somehow more masculine than being a bottom?

    One of the ways homophobes misunderstand gay men is in assuming we secretly want to be women. Gay men sometimes respond with camp humor, calling one another "girl" or "she." This is a funny way of defusing hate directed toward us, but it can cause us to become confused in relation to how we feel about being men.

    Growing up, gay boys are sometimes taunted with words like "sissy," that imply they are deficient in the masculinity department. I hear my guys on my football team say, "Quit acting like a girl or you run like a faggot." Both examples of which I have a zero tolerance.

    Many of the images of gay men in the media are unmanly in way that's supposed to be funny - the two gays on Modern Family, La Cage aux Folles, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Small wonder that one of the things that so upset the 'phobes about Brokeback Mountain was the image of two virile men with their lips locked on one another. More than one right wing critic has speculated that John Wayne must have been spinning in his grave.

    It's easy to over-generalize about gender roles, but it's clear that some qualities are positive and some are negative. On the plus side, being masculine is often associated with strength and competence, as well as secondary sexual characteristics like big muscles and lots of body hair. On the negative side, manly men often seem over-aggressive, stubborn, defensive close-minded... perhaps not too bright.

    I will be the first to admit that I am primarily attracted to rugged, muscled men. However, what I have a real hard time when gay men using the term MASCULINE ONLY as a vehicle to claim that if you are less masculine you are less worthy of being a valuable gay man. Masculinity should not be a tool gay men use to put each other down. Gay culture needs to cultivate those parts of ourselves that can lead to a healthier and less distorted sense of our own masculinity.

    Also - yes I am "OUT." icon_razz.gif

    How about them apples?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 30, 2010 1:50 AM GMT
    Nice to see that you are! Nice that you are a good example for your students icon_cool.gif
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    Mar 30, 2010 2:35 AM GMT
    hahaha interesting title change hahaha
  • mcwclewis

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    Mar 30, 2010 2:42 AM GMT
    Its good to see a good role model in a field of work such as yours. Keep up the good work.


    Great post.
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    Mar 30, 2010 9:48 PM GMT
    Thanks. Appreciate hearing that.
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    Mar 30, 2010 9:55 PM GMT
    What do you do or say when you hear kids call each other sissies or fags?
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    Mar 30, 2010 10:35 PM GMT
    Love your post. The kids are lucky to have you as a teacher.

    BTW, I had an enormous crush on a student PE teacher when I was in middle school.
  • Space_Cowboy_...

    Posts: 3738

    Mar 30, 2010 11:01 PM GMT
    I'm glad that you have a no tolerance rule about stuff like that, when I moved to a new school I tried out for football and I made first string and a lot of the guys didn't like that, well people can tell I'm gay even though back then I was in denial. But long story short the guys on the team would gang up on me and call me a faggot and I ignored it until it started to escalate and then I got hurt pretty badly during practice because the guys kept tripping and tackling me for no reason and I told the coach I was quitting because of my asthma that I didn't have. and I couldn't walk right for a week after the last few tackles.
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    Mar 30, 2010 11:18 PM GMT
    TheIStrat saidWhat do you do or say when you hear kids call each other sissies or fags?


    Good Question!

    I made this point when I had a teacher's collaboration meeting and the baseball coach said he was taking the lead on a campus wide bullying campaign. However, I also added, "If adults criticize other forms of name calling but ignore anti-gay remarks, students are quick to conclude that homophobia is acceptable."

    As a high school we agreed on the following:

    - Know your students. Spend a few days listening for the kinds of name-calling that take place in your classroom, hallways, lunchroom, playground, gym, team practice, etc. As you hear words or see gestures that are hurtful, write them down. If there are hurtful words that you generally "tune out," practice tuning them in. Make sure you hear these words, even when you are focusing on other tasks.

    - Make and enforce class/team rules. At the beginning of the school year (or at any time), brainstorm with students a list of safe school rules. Make sure that "No Name-Calling" is on your list and that students understand what this means. Post rules in the classroom and go over them whenever necessary. Clearly explain consequences for violating the rules, including the no name-calling rule. Send home a list of the rules and the consequences for their violation. Be strict and consistent in enforcement.

    - Build positive relationships. Stopping name-calling does nothing to repair relationships between students and may even intensify bad feelings. Make a conscious effort to enhance relationships in your classroomand on your teams, using such strategies as cooperative learning, team-building activities, etc.

    - Don't rely solely on prohibitions. Discuss the stereotypes that can lead to name-calling around gender. Ask "what does it mean to say a boy acts like a girl or a girl acts like a boy?" Ask students to consider their own home lives. Do the male and female members of their families live up to these rules? Present information on prominent men and women who break gender stereotypes. Read aloud books on different kinds of families (including families with gay or lesbian parents). Invite gay or lesbian parents in your school community to talk to your class about their families.

    - Educate on the origins of the words - for example: When I hear a student use the word faggot, I explain that "faggot," literally, is a stick used for kindling. I also explain that gay people used to be burned in medieval times simply for being gay, and they had to wear a bungle of sticks on their person to indicate that they were about to be burned. I also add that at times, gay men were used as the kindling to burn women accused of witchcraft.

    Overall I make it very clear as a coach that name-calling is NOT acceptable. The guys on my team rarely break that rule.
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    Mar 31, 2010 1:25 AM GMT
    TheGuyNextDoor saidYou know.. A lot of times when the OP starts out with a long note, I get lost or bored about half-way through. This was definitely one of the better posts I've read in a while. Good points and very well written PE!
    Dang, you'd think a teacher wrote it or something..
    hehe... That gets a Gold Star and 2 Jocks Up from me!...icon_wink.gif


    you know it is almost impossible to get a gold star on RJ icon_cool.gif You are more likely to get a flying fat lady or flying scratch kitty with a cock ring icon_rolleyes.gif

    Soooo what do EX-Teachers get????? icon_eek.gif
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Mar 31, 2010 1:29 AM GMT
    marry me
  • KinesiologyMa...

    Posts: 123

    Mar 31, 2010 1:36 AM GMT
    Thanks for trying to say what I have been trying to say forever! I totally believe and understand everything you say, but my poor communication skills or writing skills make people think I hate effeminate men. Which is not the case. Thanks for being a real role model for some gay kids in your school. It is the biggest problem with the gay community there are no role models
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    Mar 31, 2010 1:51 AM GMT
    I think what people call masculine varies from person to person anyway .. I've known guys so obsessed with it that they have a system in their head to measure femininity .. like what kind of job you have, what kind of music you listen to, what kind of movies you watch. The funny thing is also that some of the ones that touted masculinity had notably stereotypical feminine characteristics themselves ..
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    Mar 31, 2010 1:56 AM GMT
    PE_Teacher said- Educate on the origins of the words - for example: When I hear a student use the word faggot, I explain that "faggot," literally, is a stick used for kindling. I also explain that gay people used to be burned in medieval times simply for being gay, and they had to wear a bungle of sticks on their person to indicate that they were about to be burned. I also add that at times, gay men were used as the kindling to burn women accused of witchcraft.

    Overall I make it very clear as a coach that name-calling is NOT acceptable. The guys on my team rarely break that rule.
    I am glad you are trying to teach students not to be hateful, but I have to tell you the idea that faggot orginated because they burned homosexuals in England is a little bit of an urban legend as the punishment for Homosexuality in England was not burning (although it was death by hanging) .. here is some detail about the origin of the word ..
    WikipediaThe origins of the word as an offensive epithet for homosexuals are, however, rather obscure, although the word has been used in English since the late 16th century to mean "old or unpleasant woman," and the modern use may derive from this.[8] Female terms, it should be noted, are often used with reference to homosexual or effeminate men (cf. nancy, sissy, queen). The application of the term to old women is possibly a shortening of the term "faggot-gatherer", applied in the 19th century to people, especially older widows, who made a meagre living by gathering and selling firewood.[9] It may also derive from the sense of "something awkward to be carried" (compare the use of the word "baggage" as a pejorative term for old people in general).[7]

    It is sometimes claimed that the modern slang meaning developed from the standard meaning of "faggot" as "bundle of sticks for burning," presumably with reference to burning at the stake.[7] This is, however, unlikely to be the case,[7] and there is no tradition of burning at the stake being used as a punishment for homosexuality in Britain,[10] although supposed witches and heretics were burnt to death in many parts of Europe, and were often accused of homosexual behaviour.[11]


    Here is another article on the words origin:
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2112/how-did-faggot-get-to-mean-male-homosexual
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    Mar 31, 2010 2:05 AM GMT
    KinesiologyMajor said... It is the biggest problem with the gay community there are no role models


    yes, that's are biggest problem...
    nevermind

    I'm going to let it slide and play nice.
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    Mar 31, 2010 3:39 AM GMT
    KinesiologyMajor saidThanks for trying to say what I have been trying to say forever! I totally believe and understand everything you say, but my poor communication skills or writing skills make people think I hate effeminate men. Which is not the case. Thanks for being a real role model for some gay kids in your school. It is the biggest problem with the gay community there are no role models


    You seem fairly articulate here, not sure where else you're communicating.
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    Mar 31, 2010 3:58 AM GMT
    Facebook has spoiled me, because I am looking around to click the "Like" button on this post.

    I'll have to settle for old-fashioned words.

    What a remarkably well-spoken, articulate, and relevant topic. One that's a source of constant discussion in our community. Rarely, though, do I find one's examination of the topic so succinct and thoughtful.

    Bravo!
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    Apr 01, 2010 1:34 AM GMT
    COJock1974 saidFacebook has spoiled me, because I am looking around to click the "Like" button on this post.

    I'll have to settle for old-fashioned words.

    What a remarkably well-spoken, articulate, and relevant topic. One that's a source of constant discussion in our community. Rarely, though, do I find one's examination of the topic so succinct and thoughtful.

    Bravo!



    Thanks for the compliment!
  • BlackBeltGuy

    Posts: 2609

    Apr 01, 2010 2:07 AM GMT
    I agree and think the same. The saddest thing I know a few karate professionals and "I'm out" and I KNOW by gaydar they are into men but so repressed. The title is spot on. kudos. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Apr 01, 2010 2:35 AM GMT
    I really enjoyed your post, OP. This is something that a lot of gay men struggle with I think. It has bothered me for years. Here are a few of my thoughts.

    I have contemplated that the two sexes are not actually all that different; society tends to emphasize 'masculinity' and 'femininity'.

    Another concept I have considered is that gay men and lesbian women often act unlike their hetero sexual counter parts for a means of release. You sense there is something fundamentally different about you from a young age and you want to convey that to the rest of the world. I have experienced this first hand. It's the kind of a notion like "Yeah, I'll wear this bright pink shirt and gay mullet cut hair. So what? Fuck all you close minded assholes."

    After reading a few blogs and articles on the topic I thought perhaps that our physical body has nothing to do with our sexual identity (this is not Earth shattering by any means). There was one website in specific which stated that (I quote loosely) "A masculine man who prefers men is straight. A gay man is more or less a woman in a man's body". Most effeminate men prefer men for the same reason that most women prefer men. Accordingly, most masculine men prefer women. All of that seems a little preachy; what about those that fall directly in between those gender lines? There is so much grey area that it seems very simple minded and presumptuous to make those sort of conclusions.

    Whatever the reason, there is something intensely appealing about masculinity and femininity in both men and women.
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    Apr 02, 2010 10:52 PM GMT
    TrowelMonger saidI really enjoyed your post, OP. This is something that a lot of gay men struggle with I think. It has bothered me for years. Here are a few of my thoughts.

    I have contemplated that the two sexes are not actually all that different; society tends to emphasize 'masculinity' and 'femininity'.



    Smart responses. Valid points. Thanks.
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    Apr 02, 2010 11:12 PM GMT
    . . . I think you are trying to articulate something similar to Jung's anima and animus concept . . .

    . . . but I think guys, generally, are merely expressing a partner preference, and not making a value judgment as you assert, when they state they are looking for "masculine only"

    . . . just because a guy is turned on by large biceps doesn't mean he doesn't value a nicely made souffle . . .
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    Apr 02, 2010 11:14 PM GMT
    Brilliant post.
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    Apr 02, 2010 11:16 PM GMT
    noren said
    . . . just because a guy is turned on by large biceps doesn't mean he doesn't value a nicely made souffle . . .


    Now THAT is funny!
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    Apr 03, 2010 12:27 AM GMT
    When is the world going to realize that it is up to each individual to decide what is masculine or not to "them" Who are we to judge or determine what is a good or a bad example within the scale of gayness to school age students!?

    When I was in High School the only known and often acceptable gay stereotype by both the gay and straight students was the flamboyant types. I remember quite well how the masculine gay teens of my school were often harassed and looked down to as a threat to the flamboyant gay groupies of my High School. When I enter college the students who were too masculine but were gay, they again, were harassed and often times even criticized by the flamboyant gay groupies, as the kind of gays that were a threat to them?? in a nutshell teaching the importance of respect is the key that will help open the way to a much healthier gay youth. I like to add that I also do volunteer counseling for the the local High School gay youth of my town, and rather then put so much emphasis on stereotypes I try to teach them the importance of respect.

    Stereotyping is what educators, parents, and the media needs to get away from. We as adults need to closely observe, listen, and allow the young to self-discover and encourage them to be confident of their newly found mannerism, likes and dislikes, and most importantly their core value foundations. After having said that none of this can be accomplished if we don't teach the young to respect differences within our own gay community.


    Leandro