Homophobia, Friendship and Dependency

Belledame has some thoughts in this post about men calling some feminists ‘moderate’ that coalesce some things I’ve been thinking hard about lately: 

“I think that male homophobia is -key-, here, not just a side issue, because it affects straight men in a -number- of ways.

 

… that other men aren’t safe for one’s emotional needs, are a source of competition; and that at the same time, women must needs be approached only in certain ways, relationships must only take x forms (these messages come from all sides, including some aspects of some feminisms, yes), AND–and this is more a message from let’s call it mainstream society–that The Eternal Feminine Beckons Mens Upward, and can–and should–save and elevate the beastly mens.

 

… and also are sulking because goddamit, they were OWED: -now- who’s gonna love and take care of them, huh?”

I think she’s absolutely right.

 

There’s a noticeable emotional dependency that men have that women don’t.  And sure, part of that is difference in emotional expression, etc.  But part of it is that men aren’t getting emotional support from other men, so we’re obliged to turn to women.  Which is why we get so desperate about being in a relationship, because when we’re not in one, we’re alone in a way that women aren’t.  And it’s worth thinking about why that is.

 

My answer has to do with the sexualization of emotional connections.  If sex is the only way to really be intimate with someone, then being intimate with other men means being sexual with them.  And that’s where the homophobia comes in.

 

I used to think that I wasn’t homophobic; after all, I wasn’t offended by homosexuals, I had no trouble being friends with openly gay men or lesbians, and so on.  But now I’m seeing that homophobia is also about the way that I relate to other men in general.  Now, admittedly, I’m an extreme case here.  I vastly prefer the company of women to men, and I’ve never had a great deal of male friends.  I’ve never had a “crew” that I ran with, not really.  And that doesn’t seem typical of most men.  But, extreme though I may be, I’m thinking my tendencies may be symptomatic of the male gender role.

 

Introspection on this point reveals that feeling emotionally intimate to a man actually disgusts me.  Literally makes me cringe.  I remember how, when another man touches me outside of a handshake – puts his hand on my shoulder, or slaps my back – I have to restrain myself from responding with force.  It’s not hard to so restrain myself, mind; I don’t think I’m a walking time bomb, about to explode on some innocent back-slapper.  But the reaction is there.  Only women can touch me.  But, of course, a women’s touch is always sexually tinged with me.

 

And, being honest, this is why I feel so abandoned by women when I hear feminists say that men need to go deal with our shit by ourselves.  Because we can’t.  I know I can’t get the emotional support I need from men.  And even that knowledge is worthless.  Even if I work on my issues, and become comfortable with getting and giving emotional support to other men, I’ll still be in a society where those other men won’t be able to receive or give.

 

And so, at the end of the day, I’m still right here, where I began.  Just me and the dog.  Alone.

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~ by arkhilokhus on April 10, 2008.

3 Responses to “Homophobia, Friendship and Dependency”

  1. Thanks for noting and engaging. Yeah, that’s pretty clearcut.

    As for being in a society: well, as we’re currently going through yet again in the feminist ‘sphere, you create these little subcultures, these communities; and…but, that’s fraught in itself, because people put so much stake in -them-. Safe haven, you know, from the outside world. And then you realize that the problems are inside too.

  2. Hi Belledame! Thanks for stopping by.

    I hear what you’re saying about ‘safe spaces’ – I’ve been following the recent…discussion a little – but I wonder if the problems that are inside those spaces are the same as those outside? Or, to put it another way, are the problems with them acceptable because the spaces themselves are necessary to deal with certain things that can’t be addressed in ‘the mainstream’?

    I’m wondering because, as you know, white men get told that ‘our’ space is the mainstream. But, as I see it, that’s not really true, since we need to step back and share the mainstream with non-privileged groups. So, I’m wondering, is it worth it to create our own space where we can deal with our issues in a productive way (for once)? I do understand, though, that it’s not as pressing for us since the mainstream is not as hostile, so we don’t hve as much of a need for safe havens.

    As for my little angsty ending here, I’ve actually gotten more hopeful since I read this post. I’m beginning to wonder if a pro-feminist men’s movement, or whatever you want to call it, couldn’t reach out to the LGBT community, and find male friends who could help us heterosexual men learn a new model for same sex friendship.

  3. “I’m beginning to wonder if a pro-feminist men’s movement, or whatever you want to call it, couldn’t reach out to the LGBT community, and find male friends who could help us heterosexual men learn a new model for same sex friendship”

    well, you know, personally I think that’s an awesome idea.

    per safe spaces: will come back to it. just, well, ime a space’s relative safety has at least as much to do with the people in it MAKING it safe as who’s in it. and that goes much more so when “who’s in it” has less to do with personality/levels of evolvement/ability to be in a group and more with simply meeting a demographic checklist.

    off to read the other post now.

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