On Gay Men and Misogyny

I was asked on ask.fm:

I’ve recently ‘come out’ & have also moved from country NSW to Sydney. I’ve made an effort to connect with with the gay community via events/volunteering etc. I’ve met some great ppl but admit to being put off by, if not exactly misogyny, but a real dismissive/nasty attitude towards women, especially mothers, commonly referred to as ‘breeders’ by gay men?? I don’t get it & it makes me very uncomfortable. Is this common? Not sure if I shld be speaking up?

There is definitely a culture of misogyny in certain gay circles, and although our starting point always has to be “sexism is always unacceptable, and we should conduct ourselves as sexism is always unacceptable”, I think it is important to understand that apparent misogyny in gay “scene” culture doesn’t just come from male supremacy. As gay men we face our own oppression, very often from women who would treat us as accessories or pets, and from male supremacists who treat us as they treat women. Our response is often to present as hyper-masculine, and sadly this often involves targeting and hating women (and this is easy because society tells us we should be hating women anyway).

I do not in any way condone or excuse misogyny in gay men’s culture, but it certainly comes from a different place than your usual anti-women stuff. That said, we don’t fight oppression by becoming oppressors. Our own oppression does not validate any oppression that we become involved in.

Should you be speaking up? That’s up to you. The world would be a better place if every act of sexism was called out by men who don’t want to be a part of a male-supremacist culture, but as gay men we face oppression ourselves, and we rely on social networks for support and solidarity. Absolutely, if you feel safe doing so, speak up, try to make the world a better place, but remember that in gay culture, statements that sound disgustingly misogynistic are not necessarily coming from misogynists, but often from vulnerable, terrified men trying to project an image of strength and trying to fight back in a way that society tells them is acceptable. Speak up, call it out, create change, but be sensitive and supportive.