Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blogging Against Sexism (A Day Late)

A casual perusal of my archives will show that I frequently blog about the women I love and why I, as a gay man, love women. Therefore, although I have no significant thoughts, I want to make a small contribution to Blogging Against Sexism Day.

One, I'd like to quote a section from a previous entry because I think it's perfectly relevant:

If you've never seen the documentary Trembling Before G-d, do take time to see it. It's a great look at being Jewish (especially orthodox) and gay/lesbian. Recently, Rabbi Steven Greenberg was on a local radio interview program "Charlotte Talks." Listen to his interview here. What I thought was very interesting was his discussion of the relationship between homophobia and misogyny. I've long held this notion in my head, but the rabbi articulated it beautifully: "homophobia is a smaller room in the larger hotel of misogny." He goes on to talk about the threat that out gay men pose to traditonal patriarchical structures and notions of masculinity.

Women and gay men (and really all minorities) need to be concerned about what happens to each other. We're all in the same boat, people, and laws and unfair practices that impact one group impacts us all. If we can keep qualified women from earning the same as a man, what keeps us from denying qualified gay men that same equal pay? (Nothing is the answer - we're not even a protected group by law.) If gay people expect straight people to fight with us for our rights, we must help fight other injustices in our society.

The men who hate women hate queers. The men who hate queers hate women. We should stand up for each other.

Also, I can't seem to find anywhere that I've ranted on the slutification of American girls. Our culture has become obsessed with sexualizing children it seems. (And ironically it seems that the most conservative parents are the ones who permit the most porn-star-like attire in their girls.) Only in a society where slutification is a beauty standard can Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears be celebrities and role models. I've seen some brief clips of the Bratz cartoon via my weekly dose of The Soup (on E! TV - the irony/potential hypocrisy does not escape me). Bratz are these big headed big eyed dolls that look like they stepped out of a bizarro Steve Madden commercial. In any case, this cartoon features the characters at a bar and dressing in high slut fasion (and gossiping and of course the female characters are mean and vindictive to each other). And Bratz is outselling Barbie currently (not that Barbie doesn't have her own gender politics, but she's never been about being an evil porn-star wannabe).

Mature women can make the choice to dress however they want to; I'm concerned about how we're socializing our children, however. If we teach young girls that their value in not only in their bodies, but in how flamboyantly they expose their body parts, we are setting them up (and likewise our future selves) for trouble. This is the breeding ground for sexism: teaching that beauty is makeup (and a lot of it) and clothing (and little of it). We set our girls up to be objectified by young boys (potentially before they even hit puberty) and send the message to the girls that sexuality is their best and only attribute.

A Fevered Vision

Hi, all, well this past week Peter fell dreadfully ill and in the course of tending to him, I caught the durn stuff as well, so while I've not been as sick as him, it hasn't been a fun week to say the least. Togetherness is not so wonderful when you can't breathe (literally).

In any case, during the recuperative process and whilst reading the regular e-mail newsletter from (go visit Mary there - she's a sweetie), my thoughts ran to the late stage in life in which I came out. I finally came out to myself at the age of 29, younger than some do, but older than most men (on average). Peter was the first man I connected with emotionally and physically. For six years we've kept that connection, although at times we were apart from each other. We've maintained our relationship continuously for the past three and a half years. Peter knew he was gay at a very early age. I had certain expressions of homosexuality starting in my pre-teen years, but never realized what they actually were, such was my sheltered life. (Not that I am blaming my parents for sheltering me; they absolutely gave me the appropriate information when I asked for it and was ready for it. Society today is far too obsessed with adult-izing and sexualizing children -- I know I've posted somewhere on here about the slutification of American girls.)

So, sometimes I wonder what I might have missed out on: that early fumbling kiss with another exploring young man, being able to take advantage of my more lithe (I was never athletic) and young body and looks to attract other guys, discovering other young gay friends in college, etc. Yet, I'm constantly drawn to one conclusion: I came out when it was right for me.

I firmly believe that God graced me (for some unknown reason) with the ability to grow to a point in my life where I could accept and deal with my sexuality. I almost certainly didn't miss out on anything. Growing up in Mississippi, there weren't a lot of outlets for gay people (or at least none that I would have had access to then). And at points in my life I was fiercely evangelical and fundamentalist. I would sent myself to a re-orientation camp (and did briefly consider this after watching a tv program right early in the coming out process). And, I did have gay friends in college, some of whom where out and the time and others who weren't. Of course, they knew about me, but wisely weren't going to force that on me.

No, I was in an emotionally and spiritually mature enough place to accept this part of me. I also had the right support structure: a good town to come out in (Atlanta), a friendly and affirming co-worker, and my sister, who was at that point old enough to be fantastic emotional support and come to her own indepent, thought-out conclusions. Even with all that, it took me another year and a half/two years to come out to my parents. Had I been much younger, I would have certainly suffered in silence for decades (even though I know they would have been loving and supportive as always).

I wish all gay men and women could have the opportunity that I did, to have the gift that I did. Thank you, God, for the gift you gave me. Please extend Your grace to my brothers and sisters who need it.