Gay Chauvinist Pig

This piece is from Life magazine from April 2005.

Gay Chauvinist Pig

When it comes to dealing with women the prevailing assumption is that gay men fall into two packs. The first are those hardened misogynists who view females as competitors and only sleep with men as a coping mechanism for their repulsion towards women. The second are those who view themselves as honorary women and as such treat their girlfriends as co-conspirators and confidantes.

In fact, most gay men, like most straight men, neither hate women nor have any special insight into what makes them tick. And they often find them confusing, exasperating and just plain annoying.

It’s generally thought that women are more ‘accepting’ of homosexuality than straight men and agony aunts will often advise confused teenagers to ‘confide in an older sister’. But, truth be told, the sickly condescension that is part and parcel of female tolerance can often leave one longing for a good old fashioned queer bashing.

Most of the time when I allow my leanings to be known to a new female acquaintance I can expect a few reactions. At first she will give my hand a meaningful squeeze and tell me she ‘just knew’ (according to recent research half of all women consider themselves to have ‘some level of psychic powers’ and it would appear that an even great percentage believe they are natural psychologists). Despite this ability to read my mind she will then express ‘relief’ that I am not, after all, trying to go to bed with her. Finally she will act as if I had just announced my castration and extend to me automatic membership of that universal Joy Luck Club at which shoes, menstruation and The Trouble With Men can be freely discussed. (Several times I have had female friends slam down a phone in my presence and snort ‘that’s men for you!’, as if no others were present.) She will also assume that every single other gay male friend of hers, however ancient and haggard, is a suitable match for me.

In fact if anything, far from having some kind of natural empathy with women, gay men are even less likely to understand them than straight men. It’s all about biological programming. A young heterosexual man spends his life carefully watching women, all the while making mental notes as to which comments provoke black sulks and which comments result in the removal of clothing. He can weather the storm of catty, naggy comments in the name of survival – he knows that one day he will almost certainly share a home and a bed with a woman. Career homosexuals, on the other hand, can afford a little more detachment. Call me a gay chauvinist pig but why try to decipher the veiled statements or put up with the wild mood swings when we enjoy none of the fringe benefits? We don’t even have to be chivalrous, since even that is a kind of heterosexual role-play, which women themselves have fought against. As Quentin Crisp once said ‘you can either be ladies or people, but not both. If you want to be treated as equal then you can hold your own damn door!’

One of the best things about being gay is that you’re generally involved with people you would probably be friends with anyway i.e. other blokes. This can give scoring the feeling of a somewhat mechanical transaction but on the other hand it has a kind of matey simplicity to it. If you go out with a guy and feed him a few drinks and he’s smiling at you and looking out suggestively from under his fringe, then you can take it as read that he’s going home with you. You know he wants it every bit as bad as you do. Pity the fool who spends hours flirting and drinking only to be ‘rewarded’ with a goodnight kiss on the cheek. He has a lot of spadework ahead of him before he gets further than the doorstep.

There is another reason why, even if it weren’t for the issue of sex, gay men, straight men and even women themselves mostly prefer the company of men. Women can be bubbly, good humoured, jovial, clever and fun but, crucially, they are seldom ever genuinely funny. Think about it. Do you know any witty women? They generally have a certain type of vanity and watchfulness, which prevents arch self-deprecation – unless it’s used as a method of fishing for compliments or reassurance.

They laugh at other people’s jokes but make crap ones themselves. Perhaps what is needed is to make comedy a Leaving Cert. subject or a points heavy college course in Trinity. Then maybe girls would redress the balance.

Nowhere is this lack of humour more apparent than the workplace. Women can be lovely to work with but often hell to work for (present bosses excluded, all rights reserved). Give a woman a little power and she assumes the megalomanical demeanour of that creepy nurse from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Her instinct is to curb you. I once had a female boss who noticed that I had copied her on an email, which contained a spelling mistake. Rather than coming to me and telling me, or even more reasonably, ignoring it, she printed it off, used a highlighter to underline the mistake, presented me with the page and asked with a scolding look ‘if you wouldn’t mind getting IT to install spell check on your computer’. Even women themselves would rather work for a man.

Then there are the catfights. Men will bawl at each other and occasionally punch each other in the office but women sublimate their rage into bitchy emails and longstanding grudges. The most vicious office row I ever witnessed was conducted between two women in calm, modulated voices, while neither looked up from their work.

Gay men might receive invitations to the Bridget Jones slumber party but they’d probably rather be at an all male orgy. Although we are lumped together in everything from university courses (women’s studies and queer theory sit side by side on most curricula) to marketing research, gay gays and straight dolls have little in common. Without the magnetic force of sexual attraction, the girls just seem like more trouble than they’re worth.

Incidentally, I was startled recently to see for the first time evidence that the feeling may be mutual. I had always assumed that all women had bought wholesale into the myth that gay men were fashion savvy aesthetes who had some special insight into the female psyche but recently a friend emailed me complaining about the lack of understanding that one of her male friends had shown for her period pains. ‘Gay he may be’ she sniffed, ‘but he’s still as crap as any man.’

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~ by Donal Lynch on March 25, 2008.

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