Monday, December 20, 2004

What a Waste?

Before his site was taken over by guest bloggers, Andrew Sullivan had this discussion regarding whether it is an insult for a straight woman to say "what a waste" to a gay man.

A reader then sent in this reply posted on the Letters page

I have read this now about 18 times and am still baffled. First the correspondent indicates that he doesn't have a problem with being hit on by gay men - he rightly takes it as a compliment. OK, so far, so good. I have a strong loathing for straight men who get all funny about being admired by another man - get over yourself already! But then he goes and says this:
"But oddly enough, there's one place this compliment would almost always be taken as offensive: if a straight man said it to a gay woman. Female homosexuality is politicized in a way that other sexual orientations aren't. Lesbianism is held up as admirable, even superior to heterosexuality, by many feminists, and it can often entail a rejection of maleness and male sexuality. My college crush became a lesbian after college -- and that entailed not just sleeping with girls, but working in a women's bookstore, going almost only to lesbian parties, et cetera. If I saw her on the street, what I'd be thinking would be, "damn shame; you're gorgeous". But if I said it, I'd be an asshole. Why is that?"
My answer to his question - I haven't got a clue why, and I have to wonder, are you making this up? Have you ever actually been called an asshole in this situation, or are you just assuming you would be? And if it is the latter, then why are you assuming this? If it is the former, did you really just say "your gorgeous" and then go on with your life, or is there more to the story?

Personally, as a lesbian myself, I wouldn't be offended in the slightest by his compliment...provided it stopped there and the guy didn't badger me to death. Really. Maybe I'm not the right kind of lesbian, since I came out during the 90's (1996, to be precise) and have never worked in a women's bookstore. Maybe he's talking about attitudes from the 80's or 70's here. I don't know.

Furthermore, I don't have a clue about his comments about how female homosexuality is "politicized" in some way beyond male homosexuality. For me it has absolutely nothing to do with politics - it is all about who I am attracted to and who I am not attracted to. Politics is certainly important to my life because it is through politics that my rights to exist are secured. But politics is merely a means to an end, not the reason for my sexuality.

I think the part of this letter that bugs me the most is this:
"often entail a rejection of maleness and male sexuality."
Is it just me, or is this incredibly self-centered here? The fact that I am a lesbian has nothing to do with men and everything to do with women. Is it really a "rejection" of male sexuality to not be attracted to men? If so, then wouldn't we also have to say the following:
1. Straight men reject male sexuality since they are not attracted to other men.
2. Straight women reject female sexuality since they are not attracted to other women.
3. Gay men reject female sexuality since they are not attracted to women.
Does anyone out there hold to those sentiments? If not, why would you then hold to the fourth statement:
4. Gay women reject male sexuality since they are not attracted to men
They all go together - you cannot consistently believe number 4 while rejecting 1-3. All or nothing.

The whole thing strikes me as a guy who just can't get over the fact that someone would pick a woman over him. She must have done it for some devious, feminist, political reason involving the rejection of all the maleness in the can't just be that, you know, she happens to find women (or maybe one specific woman) attractive.


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