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Hypermasculinity, Homophobia and Homo-eroticism

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Today while at work, I received a few heads up from some folks who were quite irritated with the rants my relative was making on his Facebook wall. I started wondering what the hell was going on and what he’d said to make that much of an impression on these people. So I head on over (really Facebook is the devil) and I read the status. It was a screed on how pink is a feminine color and how men who wear that aren’t masculine; in fact they aren’t real men and men wearing pink are very “gay”. Very few people tried to provide a different point of view–myself included–but others kept chiming in that they agreed. We were evenly matched but I was still distressed at what I was reading. I started to ask where these beliefs came from because I don’t share those views, especially after finding out we have the Nazis to thank for how we view the color pink as feminine. I’ve disagreed with my family before on their views on gays. Their views border on the Conservative (if they aren’t already) and my views are liberal.

Either way, when I tried to explain how society forms gender roles and how the majority of us have come to believe in those roles and accept them wholeheartedly; effectively internalizing them, he refused to see that point of view. He said that pink looked like the “inside of a vagina” so therefore, in his mind, that only served to prove his point.

He’s not alone in this thought process and flawed, draconian logic. This is a societal problem. What does add a little bit more sting to this whole thing is the fact that he is a black man and that is where his screed, false logic, whatever you want to call it becomes troublesome. He in reality is another pawn in this game of black male hypermasculinity and the pervasiveness of homophobia and homoeroticism within that sphere. As a woman of color, specifically a black woman, this left me deeply troubled. I know and have had the misfortune of experiencing the vitriolic nature of hypermasculinity, but black hypermasculinity–which is not simply a problem perpetuated by men, believe that–is even more harmful because it just compounds the already difficult situation black men and women find themselves in on a day to day basis. It does not build cohesion, cooperation or respect. It does not breed love and appreciation. It excuses the worst men and dismisses the best. It breeds contempt and it is firmly rooted in racism. This is just one of the forms of PTSD we are dealing with. The only problem with having a mental health problem is not acknowledging it is in fact a problem and ignoring it. That’s what we’ve done as a society and as a race; a people.

Perhaps I should have left him alone because in all reality, those rants and raves are indicative of this person’s own insecurity. When I see brothers conducting themselves in this way I recognize the reasons why, but they aren’t excuses. Just ask a sister how hard it is to be black and female to boot. We get it. Systemic racism, aversive racism, and the like are seriously taxing. Many of us have been beat the hell up before we even reach puberty or the age of 18. The answer isn’t to become angry, but righteously indignant and nothing about homophobic rants, hypermasculine and dangerous hijinks is righteous.

When men police other men in this way and measure them up for masculinity is somewhat homoerotic in and of itself. One would think that assessing a man for masculine and acceptable qualities would be a heterosexual woman’s job… Or a homosexual man’s job (depending on what he desires in a mate, of course). Evaluating another man and placing this much emphasis on what makes that man a man or not is more telling than anything. After all, these are conversations that I’ve only ever had with straight women and gay men. The men I know who are comfortable in their sexuality are busy assessing women and the qualities they find desirable or undesirable.

Ultimately, I hate to admit that someone I grew up with has internalized racist and supremacist doctrine. This person is a black man who is in effect angry for no good damned reason, cannot hold down a long term relationship without cheating or hiding things, cannot form long lasting intimate relationships without having to denigrate the person or degrade the love that person has for them, is not a fan of white women, but is almost vitriolic (unwittingly) when it comes to black women, busy focusing on posturing and is proud of the fact that his size and attitude intimidate people… This like watching someone willing walk back on to the plantation because this behavior is not healthy. It’s reduced this person to a buck and a brute all at once. Unfortunately, he believes that this in fact makes him a benefactor of some sort of black male supremacy, but if we look at the system that is behind the hypermasculine attitude that is pervasive in black and Latino communities, we will see that it is right off the plantation; right off the hacienda.

There’s not much else I can do. I tried to educate this person, but it wasn’t working. I wish I had all of the answers but I don’t. I just hope he comes to realize that he is far more valuable than he thinks he is.

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Written by:

Published on: August 15, 2011

Filled Under: Culture, Gender, Race

Views: 1166

  • Ivan Ivanovich Renko

    I once worked with someone who had spent a good deal of time in Japan.

    There, he told me, pink is the colour of badassedness.  I found that easy to believe– the Samurai were warrior philosophers- hell, the symbol of the Emperor is a chrysanthemum.  

    Your cuz is totally wrapped up in not-just-Western, but specifically American concepts of masculinity and strength.  

     

    • Jonne Austin

      Ivan, thank you!  Which is very perplexing to me because we grew up in a foreign country and he makes it clear that he is an “alien” here that he is here by circumstance not necessarily by choice.  Yet, he’s adopted this John Wayne attitude. 

  • http://mrwizzardsmind.blogspot.com Wizzy Jr.

    OK. I’ll wear any damn color but pink and purple. I don’t know why. They just were never colors, ya dig? I don’t think I can get away with it. BUT….to say that dudes who wear pink are not masculine is a STRETCH. Hell, it’s down right BULLSHIT! 

    • http://rippdemup.com Jonne Austin

      Right!  I don’t like pink because it’s not bold enough.  I like bold, usually dark colors.  I like all of the colors associated with men in this country, but I am straight.  It’s one thing not to like the color but not to like it because of some societal pressure is too basic for me.

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunate. Nice insight on the very overt homoerotic and homophobic nature of black male hypermasculinity. I find it especially shameful that many internalize much of the same prevailing stereotypes of black men that go back to before the colonial period in America. In a way, it’s created a climate of paranoia where many feel they have to reinforce their identity in order to live up to what ultimately is an unrealistic and exaggerated point of view.

  • Reggiesblogspot

    The very first time that I ever owned a pink oxford one of my college girlfriends bought it for my birthday. Initially I didn’t wear it: but when I finally did I got so many positive comments from women, that I’ve had at least one pink shirt in my closet. Its just a color. To me its just not that big a deal.

  • http://primaldata.blogspot.com/ PRIMALDATA

    Look as a guy I will say things are gay, I have nothing against gay people but I mean lets be real if something is in metaphorically attempting to screw me or any other guy in the rectum is that not gay? I don’t care if you wear pink, not my color(I hate bright colors for the most part so if it’s dark I will wear it if it ain *makes crucifix with his fingers* out damn spot grey is the exception) but unless along with said pink you are wearing pig tails, a tutu, ballet slippers, and some grape smugglers I’m only gonna say you’re gay when you are slobbing down another guy.

    Yes America is hypersensitive on everything. I mean sheesh they had to change the theme song of the Flintstones because homosexuals started calling themselves gay, like the rest of the viewing public was down with the latest counter culture lingo. Hell we still aren’t sure what Puff the Magic Dragon was really about and I know for a fact they were still singing that to kids in kindergarten until at least 2003. In a world that BEGS for acceptance there are only two roads to hoe:either be quiet and unassuming and cover up with the bully comes by for your lunch money or be the BULLY. Because lets be real, even those “cool guys” who seemed to be above it all, if they were approached in such a way that threatened their stature and thus could put them amongst the  weak they too would bring out a monster with whom to defend their status and send back the offending bully. Call it a left over from our baser instincts but you are either hunter or prey, and prey will always be eaten.

    I’m sure plenty of posts can be found here where while I may be known for my more nice guy tendencies that I have let the asshole run rampant because, it really doesn’t pay to be nice. People don’t respect it and for the most part try to find ways to take advantage of it because hey “I better get mine before it’s all used up”, doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t display my kind side, it just means that if I feel that it would be a waste of my time to be nice expect a swift move towards the jugular. And as a note it’s male culture period:the quest not to be a wimp, wuss, punk is never ending. While a large percentage of our lives may be spent(if we are straight) in the pursuit of females there is still no greater insult than being compared to one no matter how great she happens to be. Call it a lack of maturity, call it not wanting to feel slighted, but for now that is who we are.

    There are things seen as an “affront to masculinity”, most of them are just people who aren’t willing to try harder in a brave new world. They were happy with the way things were and are hoping that they stay that way. Others meh affront no, an evolving yes. Just like to be honest as long as you were born with the equipment a lady is a lady, how she enjoys her femininity is on her, my masculinity is rarely threatened by what another man does. Now if you intend to test me physically fine, I can do the cave man dance if we so must some things will never change because sometimes the simplest things are really the only way we will understand. 

  • http://primaldata.blogspot.com/ PRIMALDATA

    Look as a guy I will say things are gay, I have nothing against gay people but I mean lets be real if something is in metaphorically attempting to screw me or any other guy in the rectum is that not gay? I don’t care if you wear pink, not my color(I hate bright colors for the most part so if it’s dark I will wear it if it ain *makes crucifix with his fingers* out damn spot grey is the exception) but unless along with said pink you are wearing pig tails, a tutu, ballet slippers, and some grape smugglers I’m only gonna say you’re gay when you are slobbing down another guy.

    Yes America is hypersensitive on everything. I mean sheesh they had to change the theme song of the Flintstones because homosexuals started calling themselves gay, like the rest of the viewing public was down with the latest counter culture lingo. Hell we still aren’t sure what Puff the Magic Dragon was really about and I know for a fact they were still singing that to kids in kindergarten until at least 2003. In a world that BEGS for acceptance there are only two roads to hoe:either be quiet and unassuming and cover up with the bully comes by for your lunch money or be the BULLY. Because lets be real, even those “cool guys” who seemed to be above it all, if they were approached in such a way that threatened their stature and thus could put them amongst the  weak they too would bring out a monster with whom to defend their status and send back the offending bully. Call it a left over from our baser instincts but you are either hunter or prey, and prey will always be eaten.

    I’m sure plenty of posts can be found here where while I may be known for my more nice guy tendencies that I have let the asshole run rampant because, it really doesn’t pay to be nice. People don’t respect it and for the most part try to find ways to take advantage of it because hey “I better get mine before it’s all used up”, doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t display my kind side, it just means that if I feel that it would be a waste of my time to be nice expect a swift move towards the jugular. And as a note it’s male culture period:the quest not to be a wimp, wuss, punk is never ending. While a large percentage of our lives may be spent(if we are straight) in the pursuit of females there is still no greater insult than being compared to one no matter how great she happens to be. Call it a lack of maturity, call it not wanting to feel slighted, but for now that is who we are.

    There are things seen as an “affront to masculinity”, most of them are just people who aren’t willing to try harder in a brave new world. They were happy with the way things were and are hoping that they stay that way. Others meh affront no, an evolving yes. Just like to be honest as long as you were born with the equipment a lady is a lady, how she enjoys her femininity is on her, my masculinity is rarely threatened by what another man does. Now if you intend to test me physically fine, I can do the cave man dance if we so must some things will never change because sometimes the simplest things are really the only way we will understand.