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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Identity

First, have a look at an amusing interview with the creators of the "Shit Girls Say" videos, now a forthcoming book:



You notice one of the guys in there says "As gays, we identify with women." Which got your Head Trucker to thinking.

That's something I might have said when I was young - as a kid, it was the heroines of books and movies I tended to identify with, rather than the heroes - though with some exceptions.

Now, I would never say that. I strongly dis-identify with women, especially the weak, manipulative, self-centered, whiny types that the guys satirize so well in their videos.

Though many of my interests and inclinations might be typified as traditionally feminine ones: without delving into a tedious recital of examples, I'll just speak very broadly and say I incline more to the humanities and arts than to the sciences and technology, more to words than to numbers, more to domestic life than the business world.

On the other hand, as years have gone by I have come to admire more and more the traditional masculine virtues of being steady and strong, decisive and none too talkative. A personality that is calm, cool, capable, self-controlled, and rational is very attractive. Though of course the downside of that is being an ignorant, arrogant asshole. Boring too.

However, I am not sure I measure up very well on that yardstick of positive masculine traits. At this late age, I would rather have developed more of those traits, and more deeply, than I perhaps did.

Which makes me wonder: is our admiration as gay guys for one sex or the other - I'm not talking about sexual attraction, mind you, just personality types - something that changes as we get older? Or not.

I can tell you that I have always felt that as a personality, a soul, I am something different from both men and women - again to clarify, I am not talking about "gender identity" and transsexual issues here, not at all - I like my penis just fine, thank you - but being a gay man, when I consider the sum of all my talents and abilities and interests and inclinations, I just feel like - a third sex. Not one or the other but something else, sui generis: a different kind of soul, combining elements of both male and female. Can you relate?

My best bud M.P. and I have talked about this stuff and we agreed that gay men are nearly all actuated by a passion for beauty: creating, developing, nurturing, expressing, or transmitting it. Yet to that feminine love of beauty, we add a large admixture of masculine energy. Which makes us both like straight men and women, and yet at the same time unlike them too.

Be interested to hear what the rest of you fellas think about this topic, which I may not have expressed too well here, but maybe you get the gist of what I'm trying to say.


10 comments:

Stan said...

You expressed it well and I tend to agree with you. As a side note I've only done drag once for a party and hated it.

Harper's Keeper said...

You expressed it very well. I mostly agree. When I was younger I formed friendships more easily with girls/women that with boys/men. That changed as I got older.

I'm not sure how many of the characteristics you mention are truly gender-specific. I think the way boys vs girls are raised makes it "ok" for them to display characteristics but I am not sure I think love of beauty (for example) is particularly feminine. I wonder to what extent we might see ourselves as 'something else' because we accept traditional definitions that limit our view of what it means to be a man.

Theaterdog said...

yes russ you expressed it beautifully.
We have to remember the social pressures that may have made bonding/identifying etc with women more easy.
The new landscape where gender associations can be dismissed will create an interesting one.

We are 3rd spirits...

thank you for cerebral blood flow this morning.

tim

Davis said...

" weak, manipulative, self-centered, whiny types"

Well for the most part I think your post is spot on, except when it comes to the above quote - what I think is gay men very often find themselves attracted to the qualities of strong women not the weak etc. But the older I get the more appealing I find the tried and true masculine qualities of honesty and personal integrity.

Russ Manley said...

I think perhaps you misread me. We are not in disagreement, Davis. I didn't say gay men were attracted to the weak, whiny girls - I said I totally do not identify in any way with that type, as portrayed so comically in the video. And yes, strong, got-it-together women are attractive personalities, with whom gay men in general share a certain élan.

But the many self-centered princesses of the world, whether female or male, are a major turn-off.

Davis said...

we agree and are correct

Frank said...

I think this is a very complex issue. Speaking of gay men only here. On the one hand is how closely one identifies with the feminine or the masculine; gay men have a wide range here; something that always puzzled me if there is a "gay" gene. I almost suspect that there are several different and completely separate genetic variations of "gayness". Native Americans believed that some individuals were "two-spirited" or berdache, i.e. had both masculine and feminine souls - a "third sex" if you will. (See "Gay Spirit, Myth and Meaning" and "Gay Soul" both anthologies by Mark Thompson; and a book about contemporary gay identity "Soul Beneath the Skin" by David Nimmons.)

Now, I've seen a number of drag shows over the years and they don't do much for me. I could never quite "get it". I may not be the most masculine guy but I don't want to dress or act feminine, nor do I care to hang out with those who do. However, I also am not musically inclined nor do I generally like classical music or the arts. I've always leaned toward the natural sciences and was decent in math. I can cook quite well and can wield a chain saw if necessary. Most gay men I know have little use for sports, especially national sports like NFL or ML Baseball; yet some gay men thrive on it. Some actually play sports. So what does it all mean?

As far as "masculine virtues" are concerned, I'm not so sure that "virtues" are particularly masculine or feminine. That strikes me as a bit sexist. I don't think virtues are sex-specific. The qualities mentioned in the post and comments can be found in both men and women.

There was a time I thought we (gays) were all quite special. But I've since learned there are plenty of assholes, losers, and of baggage-ladden guys among us.

Russ Manley said...

Some good points Frank, let me try to reply briefly here (though perhaps I should write another blog post on this complex subject):

1. Yes, I don't quite get how somebody gay can be a gung-ho jock or military dude when all that is alien to me; perhaps there's more to it than a simple "gene" but I don't know what that would be, and nobody else does yet, as far as I know. One day maybe it will all be figured out.

2. I've read about the two-spirits and berdaches, though it's important to note that while many tribes had many different words for all that, the majority did not accept and honor it, as some writers would have us believe. The problem is, almost none of the Indian tribes had a written language, so it's hard to learn much about their customs and beliefs without the interpolations and retellings by modern white men.

3. I'm going to maintain that there are certain virutes that typically are found among most men or among most women - just as, by the same token, there are certain vices that are common to women or to men. Yes, Frank, anyone male or female *can* display one behavior or another - but most men, most of the time follow a certain "script" as I have come to think of it - the same for women. And you know this and have seen this yourself - look at the video again: it wouldn't be funny at all if we didn't *recognize* that the guy wearing a wig is acting in the ways girls generally do, most of them, most of the time. Of course, you could do the same kind of satire (and I wonder why the gals haven't done so yet) with a girl dressed like a dude, scratching his balls and belching his beer, etc., etc., etc.

Certainly women *can* display typically "masculine" traits - you should come to Texas and check out our big supply of strong, brave, resourceful women, true daughters of their pioneer great-great-great grandmothers. Conversely, men *can* display typically "feminine" traits, like empathy and a love of beauty - I knew a retired Marine colonel one time, straight as a board, who would rhapsodize at length on how much he loved growing roses, if you gave him a chance.

Like you, I have no desire to wear a dress or act feminine - but why would you even say such a thing unless you already recognized some behaviors as typical of most women? This is not sexist, which is judging without knowing - it's realist, judging on the basis of long observation and experience of life.

Also, it's not that one mode of being is, in some cosmic scale of values, better or worse than the other - the virtues are complimentary, you know: yin and yang. But human beings are a mix of good and evil, as well as of masculine and feminine. It's just that some sit better on a man or a woman, depending on how they use it - which is why you and I both prefer to look and act more on the masculine side, no?

4. Yes, gay people are just as flawed as straight people - which proves we're just as fully human as they are!

Frank said...

Got it.
I guess I was hung up on the words "behaviors", "traits", "virtues", "characteristics", etc. as used in the post and comments.

Russ Manley said...

Great, now that we have that settled, should we tackle world peace? Grin.

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