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It’s Time to Call Out Women-Hating or Sexist Gay Men

by Mark Daniel  Snyder
Contributor
Thursday Jul 28, 2011

I was dancing in the streets during Pride when I noticed an acquaintance of mine reach out and grab the breasts of a young woman. He cupped them with his hands, shook them up and down, and told her how much he loved her "tits."

I don't think he loved her breasts. I think he viewed her breasts as nothing more than a plaything. It offended me but I didn't say anything. I asked a girlfriend of mine what she thought about it. She hated it but also didn't want to make a scene. It was Pride after all, and I'm always "that guy," calling people out when they say or do things that I find offensive.

People even take to calling me the "p.c. police" sometimes. I'm not, however, overly politically correct by any means. I love a good, dirty, raunchy, sex joke or a loud episode of "Family Guy." I just think people should be culturally competent and treat others with respect.

In addition to refraining from grabbing women's bodies without asking, I think it's time for gay men to stop calling each other bitches and cunts. I know it will be hard for those of us who use those words on a daily basis, but they are meant to objectify and denigrate women, and they aren't ours to use against each other or against women, even jokingly.

There's a terrible history behind why there are hundreds of derogatory words for women and only a handful for men. Let's also stop complaining every time there are a few women at the gay bar. They have a right to be there, and they make it more fun, okay?

A preview of the second season of the "A-List" on Logo shows gay men throwing the word bitch around, and later a woman yelling at one of A-List gays, "I'm a woman, you don't touch a woman!" I can only imagine what happened.

There's an epidemic of sexism among young gay men. You've seen it: Gay guys yelling obscenities at women on the street, excluding women from their friend circles, throwing around derogatory words. A lot of us, me included, feel pressured to go along with this form of peer-led bullying.

I'm not suggesting we speak for women or take their place in advocating for themselves in anyway. I'm suggesting that we become out, proud, allies and advocates for women's rights in the same way we want our friends and families to be out, proud allies and advocates for gay rights.

It's easy for gay men to forget that even in 2011 women are not treated equally in the workplace or society. Despite being gay, many of us still benefit from male privilege. Women are paid less on the dollar than men are, and are not equally represented in company boardrooms or the federal government. It's very much a white man's world.

Many of us in our 20s were never exposed to or never sought out information about the rich history of our own gay rights movement, and therefore do not realize that women played an integral role in advancing equality for gay men. In fact, even around 1910 a woman named Helene Stöcker was advocating for both LGBT rights and women's liberation. When the Nazis took over her native Germany, she fled country to country for many years. More recently, in the United States, two of my heroes Del Martin, who passed in 2008, and Phyllis Lyon have fought tirelessly for adequate health care and relationship recognition for the gay men and all families.

Both lesbians and straight women engaged in direct action with ACT UP and also stood by the bedsides of thousands of gay men during the AIDS crisis. They had the courage to stand with our community and our sick elders when no one else did.

In high schools across America today it's young women who are the leaders of their Gay-Straight Alliances and marching hand-in-hand with their gay friends at Pride marches. It's the female pop stars who are first to speak out for gay rights. And poll after poll shows that women are more likely than straight men to support equality for the queer community.

Gay men and women continue to share the same adversaries and should begin to work together even more to build a better society because bigoted groups like Focus on the Family want to deny equality for the LGBT community and restrict reproductive choice. The bigots who want to send gay youth to conversion camps also want women to stay at home barefoot and pregnant. It's time for the leaders of statewide equality groups to work in coalition and solidarity with statewide women's rights groups to fight against right-wing attacks.

Megan Dowdell, my friend and feminist, scholar-activist blogger at Tikkun Daily put it this way: "Gay men certainly have a role to play in the struggle against gender-based oppression and sexism, one that is based on consent and follows a legacy of justice work led by women and transpeople. I would encourage male-identified people, especially those that identify as gay, bisexual and queer, to support the leadership of women and transpeople."

Women do so much for gay men. The least we can do to give back is stop engaging in behaviors and using language that puts them down. If you're really feelin' jazzed up, donate a few bucks to Planned Parenthood or a women's center near you.

Mark Snyder grew up on a mountain Snyder County Pennsylvania where the nearest house was a mile away and attended West Snyder High School (no relation) before fleeing for Boston. He is the founder of queertoday.com, an online hub for queer social justice activists. Mark is a proud sissy and the son of a gay father and a straight mom. He currently lives in San Francisco with his partner and their Jack Russell Terrier, Willy.


Comments

  • , 2011-07-30 18:50:07

    I totally agree !


  • karari kue, 2011-08-24 04:47:47

    And while we’re at it, can we PLEASE stop calling each other the t-slur? Trans women started our movement, let’s start showing some respect.


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