Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Which Gay = Male, Again

Silly me for thinking that when former President Jimmy Carter said we might be ready for a gay president, we were actually talking about a president that could be either male or female.

Maureen Dowd, and those she cites, confirms yet again that in cultural narratives about "gay" rights, the default gay is still a gay man. She writes:

"Others feel we’re not ready for a gay president, citing the fear and loathing unleashed by the election of the first black president. 'Can you imagine how much a gay president would have to overcompensate to please the macho ninnies who control our national debate?' Bill Maher told me. 'Women like Hillary have to do it, Obama had to do it because he’s black and liberal, but a gay president? He’d have to nuke something the first week.'”

I called Barney Frank, assuming the gay pioneer would be optimistic. He wasn’t. 'It’s one thing to have a gay person in the abstract,' he said. 'It’s another to see that person as part of a living, breathing couple. How would a gay presidential candidate have a celebratory kiss with his partner after winning the New Hampshire primary? The sight of two women kissing has not been as distressful to people as the sight of two men kissing.'”

Gay men often cite that "straight dudes love watching ladies kiss" rule as proof that the public isn't as "distressed" by queer women as they are by gay men. What they fail to consider is that the above rule usually only holds true if the two women's looks are in compliance with conventional standards of beauty. That is, if they're hot according to, not just the straight male eye, but the queer male eye as well. But more on that in a minute.

The gay-male centricity in this narrative about whether we're ready for a gay president perhaps illustrates that the thought of a woman president, any woman president, is still too unimagineable for some to even hypothetically consider.

Yet oddly, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign told Maureen Dowd: "[A] lesbian would have a better shot at the presidency than a gay man. 'People are more comfortable with women than they are with men because of stereotypes with gay men about hypersexuality,' he said."

You know, as a real life lesbian myself, I've found that once you scratch the surface of someone's homophobia and remind them that queer women exist too, we often find that people aren't actually more comfortable with queer women. We are an afterthought, mostly. But still a deviant, immoral, and/or ridicule-worthy one in many people's eyes.

Someone named Andre Leon Talley, who is apparently a "Vogue visionary," adds his two cents by basically demonstrating that some gay dudes (or maybe just him) don't really take the idea of a female president seriously. What would be most important about a lady president would be, natch, her outfits:

"[He] pictures a lesbian president who looks like Julie Andrews and dresses to meet heads of state in 'ankle-length skirts, grazing the Manolo Blahnik kitten heels.' She would save her 'butch trouser suit for weekends at Camp David and vacation hikes in Yellowstone. No plaid lumberjack shirts at any time.'”

Har har har-wait a minute, I thought stereotyping was wrong. Oh, that rule only applies to "gays"?

But seriously, after Dowd gives us quote after quote about how it is unfair to gay men that negative stereotypes define them as oversexed sissies (and it is unfair), we learn from these men that (a) being a lesbian is so much easier and (b) that a lesbian president would be subject to some serious fashion policing, this time grounded in the lesbian lumberjack stereotype, effectively demonstrating that contrary to popular gay male opinion and no matter her sexual orientation, a female president's campaign for the highest office in our land would be no fucking walk in the park.

Male privilege FAIL.

No comments: