neyronrose (neyronrose) wrote,

rambling on stereotypes

This is along the lines of what I've been discussing with A., with some thoughts going off on different tangents.  I remember how in college we (the GLB students) had a crude system of listing who was where on the butch to femme spectrum.  I had nothing to do with making this system up.  I was pretty close to the femme end, with only a couple guys considered more "femme."  Some of the lesbians were more to the butch side than most of the men, although some guys were labeled fairly masculine, or figured they were much more so than others of the group.  It was pretty sexist, but several of the guys were pretty sexist, with some going along with institutional racism, as well.  This was twenty years ago, and there's no need to glamorize it.  Once people got to know me, they said that I was a gay man trapped in a woman's body.  I thought that was fair enough -- quite accurate, actually.  I mean, I'd say that I was bisexual (really, my only objection to the characterization was that I wasn't straight), but other than that, I felt that a lot of my sensibilities were much the same.

I was pretty alienated, as the gay students were, though many would not have come to think of themselves as any different from their peers if it wasn't for their sexual orientation.  Being alienated wouldn't have even occurred to them if not for that.  I was already alienated anyway.  I had a bitchy sense of humor -- I was one of the ones called a "bitch queen."  There were three or four of us, but I was right up there.  I used my hands when I talked, from flowing gestures to a princess wave.  I had no interest in machinery and was terrible at math (the math part was probably due to an undiagnosed learning disability).  At the time, I was quite interested in clothes, with my friend G.L. taking a keen interest in having me dress stylishly.  He called me his "shopping hag," and we spent many hours at malls in the Philadelphia area.  So my outward mannerisms and a lot of my behavior were quite femme indeed.

I've since gotten a better understanding that how a person acts out gender is separate from sexual orientation.  Sometimes they coincide, and you get stereotypes (or "typical" behavior), and sometimes they're very different.  There's that old stereotype that gay=feminine.  Gay can equal all kinds of different mindsets and manners of acting.  There's a huge variety.  It's just that straight people who aren't informed will judge all by one person they know, or the people who are easy to peg, who match the stereotypes they have in their minds.  The opposite of straight here can have nothing to do with the feminine at all.  (The opposite of straight is "bent," actually.)

When I say someone isn't straight-acting, I clearly have something in mind, but I don't mean it as an insult or a put-down.  S. thought I did in a post where I described a couple of his fellow students as not being straight-acting at all.  "Oh, no.  I wasn't being bitchy about them," I said.  From me, it's an observation, but it's not an insult.  Just because some gay men think of "straight-acting" as a compliment or a positive thing, it doesn't mean that I see it that way.  If I say a woman isn't straight-acting, that may well go along with me thinking she's cute.

So many writers of m/m romance just make the men white-bread homogenized in their mannerisms and mindsets.  There isn't that variety that there is in real life.  To outward appearance, they might as well be straight guys, and emotionally they're all too often women.  I look for variety of characterization, and for a good male viewpoint.  Josh does very good male viewpoint, and his characters are nicely varied.  Adrien English is clearly far from butch, and is aware of that, but he's still a guy.  James does it well, too.  People can peg Nicky as gay from some of his mannerisms, but he has masculine interests and quite the male mindset, in his own way.  Jordan did it with Anton of Body Art and Nathan Adams of Hue, Tint and Shade.  People figure, correctly, that they're gay, but they're very much individuals.  In no way are any of these characters just stereotypes, but they're certainly not homogenized male characters, either.  I like the variety of characters you get when the authors know what they're talking about.

Tags: glbt, rambling

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