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Stop Murder, Ban the Gun – Stop Rape, Ban the Penis!

Posted on Tuesday, 26th July 2011 @ 11:25 PM by Text Size A | A | A

 Stop Murder, Ban the Gun – Stop Rape, Ban the Penis

 In the following essay, I am writing about a conclusion that came to me during one of those years and during one of those college classes while I was teaching gendered communication. That being said, homophobia is the fear another man will succeed, either by seduction or by force, meaning it is not acceptable in today’s society, for a straight male to be victimized by a gay male. My conclusion (the victimization is the important part) kind of slid in there sideways during a series of classes in which we discussed rape, homosexuality, self-protection, gun ownership, and the spoils of war. (This last is a whole-nuther subject for a whole-nuther time.) If you follow along in the right direction, meaning with just a wee bit of non-linear reasoning, don’t stop too soon, and aren’t too frightened, it wouldn’t take too long for you to arrive at my conclusion yourself. However, the conclusion is easier to see after a fairly lengthy discussion and description of our mating dances and/or dating rituals or anything else you care to call them.

I need to begin by extending and paraphrasing one of those glib bromides often quoted as factual by many in our society.

Some folks believe guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Others disagree:

People don’t kill people; guns kill people. Don’t blame the person pulling the trigger; just ban guns. At the very least men should register the weapon and comply with a five-day waiting period before using it. In other words, people don’t kill people; the weapon kills people. It is the weapon doing the killing. Therefore: Ban the weapon, ban the gun!

Sometimes, a rapist uses a gun; sometimes, he uses a knife; sometimes, he uses neither; but he always, always, always uses his penis. Some folks must disagree:

Men don’t rape women; a penis rapes women. Let’s ban the penis, but don’t blame the man wielding his penis. At the very least, men should register their penis, subject it to a background check, and comply with a five-day waiting period before using it. In other words, men don’t rape women, the penis rapes women. It is the penis doing the raping. Therefore: Ban the penis!

Among heterosexual males, their covert fear of being a rape victim is overtly denied. Concomitant with the fear is their clear need to re-claim their ruined manhood by ardently rejecting any claim associating homophobia with being a rape victim.

Regardless of the seeming strength of their protests to the contrary, I now believe, homophobia results from the male’s fear of rape. But not merely the fear of rape, it is the fear of being raped. It is the fear of being the victim of rape. Even more so, it is the fear of not being the perpetrator of rape, but the victim of rape. It is the fear of losing the rapist’s arrogance. It is the fear of suffering the victim’s taint. It is the fear of losing the ‘male’ status. It is the fear of gaining the status of ‘woman’. It is the fear of becoming the equivalent of ‘woman’. It is the fear of becoming a woman’s equal. It is the fear of remaining a woman’s equal.

Homophobia recognizes vulnerability. It is a manifestation of the straight male’s fear of becoming the object of another man’s desire, conflated with fear of having the other man actually act on that desire, and (no matter how well he, with well-practiced bluster, tries to keep it hidden) the potential for success.

In other words, the intrinsic problem, the one almost never mentioned or at least the one most fervently denied, exists among those straight males who fear the gay male will be attracted to them and will act upon that attraction (or maybe not find the individual straight male attractive enough to act – but that’s another story). Moreover, if the gay male does act on this magnetism, his decision might not stop at a mere proposition, but just might include attempted and conceivably successful rape. When the all-powerful, all-macho, all-straight, all-male considers the perpetrators who could re-make him into a rape victim; the result is fear, deep fear; the result is homophobia.

At this point, if any straights are still reading this article, I imagine many (but not all) of them to be thinking, “Oh bunk” or something similar but less printable; and I imagine any gays reading this article to be rolling around on the floor in uncontrollable laughter.

Early in their lives, young women learn they own an object of enticing and enduring value; an ineffable “something” of such significance as to cause it to never be explicitly named. Even though no one will directly tell the young women what it might be, young women sense a duty to protect it. Among the earliest of their childhood memories, women recall being instructed act like a lady, to sit with their knees together, have their legs crossed in a ladylike manner, and among many other commands, to  keep their skirt down; all of which are done to maintain the sanctity of the un-named object. Additionally, they recognize the object has value so great, their fathers and other family members will aid in its protection; and most realize their fathers will not merely aid in the protection, but to comply with social demands from outside the family, are mandated to protect it from all possible predators. Some women even sense the objects value to be greater than their own.

So, the young women learn this unsaid “something” of theirs must be protected at all costs, and it must be protected at all costs from the “stranger”. Without ever being directly told, the young women somehow come to know that “stranger”, means “male”. At some point, some also recognize the depth of their fathers understanding of their situation; to their horror, they notice he appears as the stranger to other young women. Now they know just why, their ‘Dad’ knows how those boys are, and just why their Dad knows what motivates them and just why he knows what drives them. Dad knows, and Dad especially knows the lengths to which her suitors will go. Even then, with all this freshly discovered and rather urbane wisdom, they understand (for sure) their ‘Dad’ will protect them.

Young women learn to hold the object close for obviously its greatest value is too men who will attempt to take it by hook or by crook, by lure or by luck, by charm and charisma, by flattery, cajolery, by enticement or inducement or even enchantment, by coaxing, beguiling, inveigling, deceiving, or by invitation, temptation, fascination, persuasion; all of which goes by the name of seduction. If seduction doesn’t work, if it is unsuccessful or seemingly inappropriate, then some of those same men will take this possession of hers by force. In other words, women learn men are the enemy.

Women live their lives continually aware of the threat of becoming a rape victim. Women learn to keep the rape potential forever tucked into a corner of their conscious mind and always at the forefront of their daily behavior. Women, accordingly adjust every behavior; they walk in groups, stay in lighted areas, and if possible, live in safe neighborhoods. They make sure friends know of their whereabouts.

Conversely, men rarely temper their behavior. Unless you count their macro-manliness (meaning their large-scale reputation), compared to women, men possess no object of similar value worth defending, (certainly not their micro-manliness). Vigilance is necessary to preserve their dominant position from any threat. Men believe they must protect their macro-manliness amongst themselves. To lose it, even a little, by not paying attention, or by engaging in a behavior normally and culturally considered as female, would individually, and potentially for all men, result in shame, opprobrium, and disgrace. Most often, a slip results in verbal slurs and accusations of ‘girlishness’, or more damningly, of homosexuality. Among each other, straight men pay a high price to avoid this label. To please other men, men restrict their behavior and adjust their performances to evade any suspicion of homosexuality.

To display macro-manliness, men strut their stuff, go where they want, live where they choose, exhibit their wares, travel in packs, and pursue women. Much of their lives are founded on and organized around pursuing women. As young men, when they are the most full of themselves, while crackling with testosterone and verve, they learn and practice pursuit strategies. Occasionally, they even share those strategies, but only to demonstrate their prowess.

Rape is never considered as among those ‘women acquiring’ strategies. Mostly, rape is never even thought of by straight males. It need never be considered and no adjustment in behavior is necessary because men know only women are rape victims, never men. Without fear, men can walk alone or in the dark, or in the park, or even alone while in the park. If men consider their own safety, it is in terms of being mugged, but never in terms of being raped. Men understand the natural order of things mandates men get to do the raping and women get to be raped.

Somewhere along the way, women are taught to be coy; men are taught to expect them to be coy. Men learn very early on to expect women to say “no”, thus the males primary response strategy exists in the old saw about never taking “no” for an answer. Men learn to ask; women learn to say no. Men learn to ask again, women learn to say no again. Men ask, women reject. Men beg, still women reject. Movies, books, musicals, and plays are based on it. The chase is on and he chases her half way or all the way around the world to finally convince her he is the one – the one to whom she should not say no. She can be single, footloose and fancy free when she begins saying no to him. She can be engaged, living with someone, or even married and still be saying no to him. Eventually, and everyone knows far in advance (usually when purchasing their movie tickets or buying the book), she will end up saying yes. The myth is satisfied.

(As an aside, some argue that this myth has been unfortunately replaced by another suggesting women want to be raped. With the advent of new types of media, primarily movies, it appears trendy to show women resisting her suitor’s advances until he finally begins the rape; she then succumbs to her own natural desire and enjoys it.)

Overtime, men become good at asking and women become proficient at saying no. Men learn many new and unusual ways of asking (some of which are rather indirect although ingenious), while women learn many polite ways of saying no (some of which, perhaps unfortunately for the woman, are also indirect – at least as far as the male is able to understand it). Women learn to reject. Some men learn to accept rejection while others do not because another old saw, the one about never taking no for an answer becomes, she doesn’t really mean it when she says no (to me).

So how do we get from the vagaries of dating rituals to concluding that homophobia results from a straight man’s fear that a gay man will forcibly act and possibly succeed, which really means the straight male fears becoming a woman’s equal. We get there by identifying some of the most obvious but most often avoided assumptions. We get there by reducing relationships into their most basic constituent parts; including those parts normally seen as so obvious as to go unnoticed and unexamined; as well as for the straight male anyway, among the most feared and shunned. We start by asking and elaborating upon who is sexually interested in whom and why. Of necessity, one of the responses requiring scrutiny is among the most obvious yet self-evident and thereby neglected of all courtship idiosyncrasies: Gay men are not sexually interested in women! Meaning, gay men are not sexually interested in straight women or in gay women.

With that said, we can then ask in whom are gay men sexually interested, as well as perhaps the more salient question – the easy and most common answer to which is intentionally designed to mislead us down the rosy path of the narrow and straight – in who do straight men believe gay men are sexually interested; or better yet, in who do straight men want us to believe gay men are sexually interested? To either question, the glib answer of the straight male is “all males, me included”. Gay men respond by repeatedly claiming they just are not interested in having sex with heterosexual men, and especially are not interested in having sex with uncooperative heterosexual men. Because the “all males” part of the straight mans answer is so conveniently self-serving and narcissistic, it enables the entire in-group of straights to extend its reach to the putative and oh so convenient “me included” conclusion despite the protests of gay men.

Straight men make this assumption because they believe all men, straight or gay, think alike. (For confirmation, just ask any woman.) Straight men make this assumption because they really are sexually interested in most women and it matters not to them if the individual woman is also straight. (I can’t quite bring myself to say straight men are interested in all women, because of plain old everyday selectivity, as well as my assumption the straight male is sober.) Therefore, even if the female object of the straight male’s attention is a lesbian, and despite the overwhelming potential for rejection by her, he is still interested; and some men are even more interested (because everyone knows, once she has sex with him, it will be so earth shaking she will never go back to having sex with women).

Thus straight males, being sober (or when occasionally sober), selective, and believing when it comes to sex, gay men must think and behave as shamefully as themselves, therefore erroneously assume gay men must also be sexually interested in almost all men, including straight men. Because of this original misguided assumption, their sexual sophistry, though enormously self-satisfying, is silly, shallow, defective, dishonest, fallacious, and perverse (yes perverse). Therefore, said presumption must lead them to an equally misguided and erroneous conclusion. You know, the one that includes, “me included”.

The correct answer to my original question regarding in who gay men are sexually interested becomes, gay men are sexually interested in other gay men; which also means gay men are not sexually interested in straight men. They aren’t because the gay male knows straight males are not interested in them, whereas other gay males are. Gay is not a synonym for stupid. Gays are not going to devote time or energy to chasing around straights, meaning those who most assuredly will reject their advances. It is difficult enough being a gay man in a straight world, therefore it is inconceivable for a gay man to make his life more difficult by wasting time and emotional energy seeking to become sexually involved with someone who he knows in advance does not want him, when he can easily find others who do.

To the straight male though, the thought of not being attractive to a member of the opposite sex is complete anathema. Seduced by his very own immense charm, the straight male is convinced of his sexual attractiveness; he firmly believes in his irresistibility to anyone female, and of course is convinced gay men must be at least partially female, as defined by their interest in having sex with men. The thought of gay men not being sexually interested in straight males, along with being disconcerting, confusing, and believed to be untrue, bewilders most of the kingdom of straight males who, by their very nature, of course believe, like the Sirens, their allure is boundless and compelling, meaning their charm surely must beckon all gay men as well as all women. The attitude is, “I know she wants me, so of course he must want me too”, resulting in his state of turmoil and terror.

However, this erroneous assumption by straight males regarding their uniform desirability should not frighten them in the least, because another man’s request for sex, can be met with a simple refusal by the straight male in the same way women are supposed to respond to him. You know, he can be coy and just say “no”. Or can he? Maybe not, in this instance the straight male is trapped. He can’t be coy (that’s not manly, it’s feminine behavior), he can’t just say no, because this person propositioning him has also been trained to never take no for an answer, and intends to act upon it. Maybe, just maybe, this guy looking upon him oh so longingly, is one who really believes no always means yes, and could actually succeed if he acts upon his training. Furthermore, recognition of this kind of success is, as a matter of course, followed by a wide-eyed realization of vulnerability conjoined with fear.

Homophobia then, ensues when straight males apprehend, that a gay male’s presence forces a reassessment of their oh-so-comfortable paternalism (just where did that God given dominion disappear to anyway) caused by a reconsideration of their personal safety from the physical and perhaps more importantly the cognitive perspective of a woman.

In other words, being wanted as well as pursued is not quite enough! The deeper reason for the homophobia is the fear of success. The straight male fears the gay male might actually succeed. The straight male can’t or won’t admit to fearing the gay male will succeed by the process of seduction (although that may well be rattling around in there someplace); the deeper fear, the one going beyond the pale, the one capable of reversing the natural order of things, the one to which he fears he might actually be vulnerable, is the fear another man will succeed, not by seduction but by force. Bluntly, the straight male fears being raped by the gay male, he fears becoming a rape victim. This particular type of fear is supposed to belong exclusively to women, not men, and especially not him.

More than that, homophobia extends from the male’s fear of the consequences of becoming a rape victim instead of a rapist. (If there were no gay men then straight males would never have to contemplate rape from any position other than rapist.) To consider rape by acknowledging the potential for both men and women to become rape victims is an ineluctable move toward gender equality. Here is where men and women truly become equals, and a move toward equality always includes a loss by the previous beneficiaries of inequality. A raped man loses status because men are supposed to rape not be raped. Homophobia ensues when this loss of status is seen as causing equality, and not equality with another man but equality with women.

Being in the presence of gay men causes straight men to recognize the possibility of being the victim of a crime previously thought as limited to women; a crime here-to-fore only ever considered from the perspective of perpetrator or protector.

Without being afraid, a single man can be in the company of a group of other men or in the company of a group of women. Without being afraid, a single woman can be in the company of other women or in the company of a group of gay men, but not in a group of straight men. Although, women commit a small-percentage of rapes, this percentage is so small it can mostly be disregarded, and men simply never consider it a possibility. Thus only when in the company of gay males does the straight male encounter the potential for being a rape victim. In no other situation does the straight male have the potential for being unwillingly or forcibly taken.

When in the presence of gay males, the straight male is reminded of the potential for him to become a rape victim. If he considers the meaning of becoming a rape victim, he may partially recognize the extremity of personal shame the act causes the victim. More perniciously, he knows that if society discovers he has been raped, or for him to publicly admit to being raped by pursuing legal recourse, it would be tantamount to admitting to a new found station in life, including being doomed to the second class citizen status of woman and the disgrace of losing membership in the boy’s clubs forever.

Anticipating the rape, the straight male agonizes over the same negative consequences he so effortlessly attached to the fate of any woman who is raped. He realizes that if raped, some folks, both male and female (although he is mostly concerned with the males) will always look at him slightly askance. The straight male imagines these folks will always wonder what he did to cause the rape, or what he was wearing to cause it, or why he put himself in a position to cause it. He assumes they will always wonder if he asked for “it”, or believe he could have stopped it if he was more manly or less weak, and most damningly, he believes, they believe he could have stopped the rape if he hadn’t wanted the experience.

Additionally, he knows the human mental and physical sexual reactions are not necessarily connected, therein he is terrified of what his own body might do to him even while his mind screams “no”. In other words, he is suspicious of his own physical reaction to being raped – what if he gets hard, what if he experiences some pleasure, what if he experiences maximum pleasure? What will that make him? What will he become?

For the straight male then, the potential for personal shame & a loss of status greatly contributes to spawning his homophobia; meaning the straight male fears his dominant status will diminish, only to be replaced by what he believes to be a woman’s second-class status. Anxiety over this role reversal means the straight male actually fears becoming the equivalent of ‘woman’ during and after the rape. In reality then, homophobia is the fear of becoming a woman’s equal. It is the fear of remaining a woman’s equal.

 

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