As you can see our self-concept and self-image is influenced greatly by social media and societal views. Within a general population certain social groups and individuals are expected to portray a certain image of masculinity or femininity to society which can throw individual attitudes and values into turmoil to match people’s stereotypes and question ourselves. This leads on to talking about a specific minority group and their own dilemmas in relation to stereotyping and gender roles. As this blog refers abnormal behaviour we found a generalised definition to gain a better prospective, “On the whole, we would define abnormality as being outside the parameters of what is accepted in our society”. However this definition does not give a clear concept on who defines what is abnormal or normal behaviour so it is slightly flawed.
(Picture illustration taken from publication of Abnormal behaviors https://uk.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/61003_ramsden_ch1.pdf)
Budden (2009) referred to negative emotions such as shame linked with sexual orientation as “It is the painful self-conciousness of, or anxiety about, negative judgement, unwanted exposure, inferiority, failure and defeat, manifesting in sexual and gender identity minority”. Kaufman and Raphael’s (1996) further supported this statement identifying shame as a primary source of low self-esteem. Greene & Britton (2013) conducted research that found relationships between the gay community and feelings of self-esteem, shame proneness & forgiveness of self. Mruk (2006) defines self- esteem as “Self-appraisal of one’s personal worth and competency” the focus on high self esteem is that it brings happiness.
When people think of a gay man what usually springs to their mind is a tall, skinny, effeminate guy wearing makeup, stilettos and exaggerates every syllable accompanied by jazz hands. Unfortunately for the gay community this often-negative stereotype is perpetuated by mainstream media characters such as Jack from Will and Grace reinforcing this stereotype, and unfortunately heterosexuals see this as the norm and class every gay man as feminine and mock the gay community due to ignorance and possibly fear giving them names such as poof and fag. This is damaging to our community as a whole as seeing one class of gay man is not a good representation and could in fact inflict a stereotype on other gay men.
While some gay men are in touch with their feminine side shall we say, a lot of gay men are finding this stereotype having a negative impact on the gay community as a whole and are moving on to develop their own identity and chase after a masculine ideal that is verging on obsession and creating unhealthy behavior and idea’s of self image. We are turning this hatred inwards and attacking the very nature of our being and in some ways turning against each other manifesting itself as “femmephobia”.
Heather Sosa, a senior anthropology major at UC Riverside said in 2012 “If you’re femme in any way possible, people think you can’t be dominant. You lack leadership skills, you’re emotional. All these stereotypes that used to be employed against women as a whole during the last 50 years.”
Already what we perceive as feminine traits such as compassion, sensitivity and flamboyancy have negative connotations associated with being less than a man and somehow a lesser being in society and as homosexuality is defined as a man being attracted to a man in a sexual and emotional way to be “femme” is considered unattractive and undesirable and unfortunately men who are considered feminine are not considered real men and are “letting the side down” as some would argue. This negative attitude towards someone else for being who they are is the kind of thinking that represses people and oneself to try every effort to reach a masculine ideal which is creating low self-esteem and self-destructive tendencies in the individual
Many gay men are guilty of this aversion to feminine traits in other gay men as one can see from a quick glance at the many profiles on Grindr, Scruff and Growlr and other gay dating sites and apps that state “no camps” “Str8 acting” and “masc4masc” not all gay men however have this problem with femininity in men as my friend who is considered masculine himself, mockingly changed his profile name to “masc4cake” in response to another’s profile name “masc4masc”
One of my friends sees this attack on “femme” homosexual men as degrading and not helpful to the cause of equality for homosexuals and understands that everyone is different and what makes us different makes us beautiful and attractive not the other way around. Sadly, not everyone has the same open-minded way of thinking and still think it’s okay to pre-judge a guy who possesses feminine traits as bitchy, weak and likes to wear women’s clothes.
Possibly in response to this stereotype and in rebellion, the gay community has evolved to develop their own “tribes” as it were their own individual races with their own individual identities and characteristics, one of these tribes is the “Bear” community a tribe that is well known to have a large frame, and be hairy, bearded, strong powerful, deep gravely voices, big bushy beards and overwhelming high testosterone levels a stereotype of masculinity the epitome of what people think a man should be like but is this a reachable and realistic ideal? For some men, maybe but for others this could lead to internalized homophobia, low self-esteem, depression, drug and alcohol abuse and even body dysmorphic disorder such as “bigorexia” all to be accepted and loved by a society that can often seem cold and unwelcoming.
Even high profile gay celebrities like Alan Carr in his book Alanatmoy: The inside story. Penguin; Reprint edition (1 Jun. 2017) says that terms like “str8 actin” are homophobic. Graham Norton a well-known gay comedian says this about being camp ‘Being gay is easy, it’s harder to be camp’ (Telegraph, Matthew Stadlen, October 2003) he continues to say that being gay comes with judgment all around That moment when you realize that you are quite fey and quite camp, it’s a difficult one because these are not qualities that are admired by anybody. As you move forward you can own it and camp it up to the hilt or you can try and tone it down.” And some men do try and tone it down, some men pretend to be something they are not, some men try to fit the stereotype of masculinity and put on act.
I do understand the aversion to stereotypes to put everyone in the same box creates problems and resentment not just from one’s own community who want to stray from this idea as far away as possible but also from heterosexuals who use this cookie cutter idea to label us all as “fairies” and assume we all love musicals and make up when that is only a small number of gay men. Some of the strongest, fiercest and most masculine people I know are gay.
In terms of potential causes of depression and suicidality in gay men, relationship problems, accepting one’s homosexuality, experiencing homophobia, institutional discrimination, and alienation from gay communities have been reported as underpinning issues (Cox, 2006; Haas et al., 2011; Wang, Plöderl, Hӓusermann, & Weiss, 2015). (Carrie lee et al).
As we can see there are many factors that affect the gay man and lead to depression, alienation from the gay community being one of them. One can be alienated for many things, being too fat, too thin, not masculine enough even for not being attractive to the other person and this is a sad fact unfortunately. Perhaps if we learn to accept ourselves and each other can the rest of the world accept us too, we cannot ask for equality and not treat each other as equal, it starts with us as my friend so eloquently put it “build bridges and get over it”
We must all get over it. we all have different views on masculinity and these should be appreciated and celebrated not become a strict ideal to live by.
By Nicholas Robinson 2017