May 29, 2005

Gay Rites

From the New York Times, via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: The Man Date

(or, "Everything you always wanted to know about homophobia, but were afraid to ask".)

New York Times writer Jennifer "8." Lee (the '8' stands for 'OCR gone WILD!') last month blew the lid off a scandalous new cultural phenomenon: the 'man date'. Lee claims rather self-importantly to have invented the phrase herself (which will no doubt come as a surprise to those of us who have been using the phrase in everyday conversation for several months now), and defines it as "two heterosexual men socializing without the "crutch" of business or sports" (sarcastic quotation marks not in original).

Lee then goes on to spout a homophobic truckload of trite 'rules' about what is acceptable behaviour for heterosexual men. Lee, of course, is not openly homophobic (hell, she probably thinks she's pretty progressive for writing about this stuff)-- but by formally (and completely uncritically) codifying these 'acceptable limits' of heterosexual behaviour, all she's doing is crystallizing out-dated and ridiculous ideas about what it means to be a 'real' man-- and, making it more difficult for straight men to form the sort of emotionally meaningful relationships with one another that the article claims are so important.

For instance (according to Lee), hetero guys shouldn't go to Italian restaurants together-- or, in fact, any restaurant that has a coat check or that serves mineral water. If you absolutely have to have a one-on-one meal with another guy, it should be at a bar or a steakhouse. Similarly, you should never cook for another male friend at home, unless you're grilling or deep-frying-- because we all know that only fags like to cook.

Now, assuming you're risqué enough to go to a bar with another man, make sure you only order beer or hard liquor. Wine is "risky" according to Lee, probably because it originated in Europe, widely acknowledged as the 'gayest' continent. Sharing a bottle of wine with another guy is completely verboten, because it is (quote) "odd".

Finally, if you want to see a movie with another guy, make sure it's rich in explosions or special effects, and if at all possible, leave an empty seat between the two of you.

I'm sorry, but if you need to leave two feet of space between you and your male friend just in case you spontaneously burst into homosexuality, you are pathetic. If you need to leave two feet of space between you and your male friend just in case other people might think you are homosexual, you are even more pathetic. You know you're straight. Your friend knows you're straight. So why don't you stop being such a fucking baby about it and enjoy each other's company?

Interestingly, although the ideal heterosexual man date for Lee involves two guys drinking lots of beer while watching a movie from opposite sides of the theatre and yelling to each other about sports and how much they like steak, not once does she advise against kissing, cuddling, or having sex with one another. So I guess those must be pretty hetero.

*Frustrated scream*

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