Most of the girl-on-girl bullying I experienced happened to me in dance class when I was in the 5th and 6th grades. At school, my silly, geeky friends and I could stick together and insulate ourselves from the already fashion-conscious and sex-conscious "popular" girls. But I was the only silly, geeky girl in my dance class. Add that I certainly wasn't the most talented in the group and you have a pretty good recipe for bullying. Of course, they never outright assaulted me, but the rolled eyes at my non-Danskin, non-Nike/Adidas gear, the blatant non-invites to parties and the giggle-fueled questions about my taste in music--you see, I was committing a grave sin by preferring the work of Lennon and McCartney to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony--let me know that I would never be "in."
So I certainly identify on some level with the bullying victims in this upcoming documentary, the "Kind Campaign." What I'm not sure about is whether "kind" is the answer:
Today in Salon, Thomas Rogers makes a bold, practically taboo statement: I may be gay, but ladies, I am not your gay boyfriend! Rogers, never himself on the fag end of fag-haggery, talks about the problems of being tagged and marginalized by many straight women in his life who felt inclined to attach themselves to him on a basis of ... what? An episode of Will and Grace or Sex and the City? The shows, he says:
... turned what was once a special relationship between two cultural
outsiders--gay men and the straight women who love them -- into an
eye-rolling cliché. It also turned me and other young gay men into
something unexpected: a must-have item.
This resonated with me. As a graduate of New York University, and as a straight female graduate of that school, it was practically assumed that the first gay boy I ran into in the dorms would become my four-year confidante on all things relationship- and fashion-related. The school was already sixty percent female, and of the forty percent of men there, it was generally accepted that at least half of those dudes were gay. And yet I never ran into that fate-supplied gay boy. (I will say that at the time, as a just-released-into-the-wild conservative Christian, I was far too concerned with straight boys to have much time for boys who didn't want to make out with me.)
I was, however, confused by the way many of the women I knew at school treated their "fags." The relationships seemed to waver between inappropriate, hopeless lust (see Episode 74 of the Savage Love podcast for a further discussion of this) and downright emotional abuse--as in, "Please listen to me whine about why don't I have a boyfriend, also, pick out some shoes for me, and take me to the gay bar, where it'll be too loud for me to hear you talk."
Of course, these are generalizations, and I'm happy to say that I knew many women who loved their fags and vice-versa and on the whole seemed to have healthy situations. I'm not sure why I never became one of them, apart from the fact that it's hard for a serial monogamist to, again, have much time for someone she's not screwing. Alas, generalizations are something Rogers does not shy away from in his Salon piece. They do create a mood even if they don't paint Rogers as having the world's most nuanced understanding of hetero women:
gave me panic attacks. Most of my close friends smelled vaguely of
patchouli and, instead of show tunes, I spent much of my time listening
to Scandinavian drone rock. For most of high school, I had the social
skills of a terrified third-grader. I didn't particularly understand
what I had to offer as a confidant to anybody, much less straight women
with endless romantic problems and a passion for trying on Capri pants.
Ah, dear Thomas, as all of you gays are not Liza-loving twinks, all of us ladies are not shopping-fetished dippy-doos. Going on, in his discussion of the degeneration of the term "fag hag" itself, Rogers illustrates an interesting point: gay men, in many places, perhaps no longer need the leading hands of straight women to make it into the mainstream:
Michael Cera is no heartthrob. He's not even a nerdy heartthrob. He's a whiny, self-involved creep and it's about damned time the hipster girls of the world stopped falling in love with him. I've been trying to understand the attraction while at the same time formulating why everything that seems awesome about him is, in reality, completely creepy. AMIRITE, LADIES!?
Here are a few starter points:
Appealing: Michael Cera's boyish, unassuming charm Unappealing: Michael Cera's boyish, unassuming charm means that he can say totally creepy things and get away with it because, hey, he's just Michael Cera being charming, and, oh, yeah, he'll find out where you live, but he's so boyish and unassuming, when he sneaks into your bedroom at night and stabs you in your ladyface, you'll be like, 'Michael Cera, you are so boyish and unassuming when you murder me!'
Example: Paper Heart trailer
Appealing: It's so cute when he acts prissy and hateful! Unappealing: It's also so cute when he acts endearing and charming, and he's equally good at both. Will it be cute when he goes alternately batshit and adorable throughout your relationship because he can't decide if he wants to play-fight or play-make-you-a-weepy-mixtape-and-cry-on-your-duvet-cover?