Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wondering what gay men around Australia are thinking this week ...

... after last week, when the David Campbell ministerial car gay sex club Channel Seven revenge thingy broke in Sydney on the same day that Jason Akermanis 'wrote' a column for the Herald Sun (I mean, really) in Melbourne saying that gay men in footy would make life uncomfortable in the locker room.

One hopes that one's gay friends and acquaintances have been heartened by the public response to both of these things, which has been mainly scornful of both Akermanis and Channel Seven not only in the press but also in the comments threads at the media websites and blogs, usually a sink of Neanderthal sewage. Even Miranda Devine came out defending Campbell, sort of; as one blogger remarked, the day you find yourself agreeing with Miranda Devine is the day you know Channel Seven has done something really, really bad.

But the Akermanis thing has me thinking. Anyone who has ever seen him talking on the teeve knows that Jason Akermanis is pure Id -- no mediating ego or controlling superego, just a direct line from gut to mouth, with similar results to those you get when that route is not a metaphor. It makes for good, occasionally great, football: don't think, just do it. But in this case Aker's subconscious spat forth a notion far more common in, oh, 1950 than it is now: the conviction held by a certain sort of man that everyone who fancies men at all must therefore want to have sex with him personally. It's the same assumption that underlies Tony Abbott's classic 'homosexuality makes me feel threatened', and in both men it seems grounded in and overweening and clearly visible physical vanity combined with a failure (albeit for different reasons) to keep up with the tenor of the times.

Commenting over at Adelaide from Adelaide's blog on the Akermanis thing, it occurred to me that an assumption that everyone wants to have sex with them is probably what lies behind such men's attitude to and treatment of women (looking at you, Wayne Carey) as well. And it explains something that has always puzzled me: the common conviction among men of a certain kind that if a woman wants to have sex with one man, then she wants to have sex with all of them. They believe, apparently, that the sexually active Other, whether female or gay, has no discrimination, just a kind of sexual omnivorousness.

It would certainly explain why Aker and Abbott think that if there are poofters about then they need, in the good old army phrase, to keep their backs to the wall.


Red Horse said...

The vast majority of women have - often or occasionally - been subject to the male sexual gaze. You know: that speculative, ever so slightly threatening Look. Some women find it flattering, others ignore it and hope it goes away. Indeed, sometimes I find it flattering, and other times I ignore and hope it goes away. And it IS going away as I get older, but that's a different post...

The vast majority of men, of course, do nothing more than look. But still, nearly all women get used to it - an ever present threat that is usually (and thankfully) nothing more than background noise.

I think at least some men's homophobia is based on the fact that the threatening male sexual gaze is now turned on them (or, as PC noted, they egotistically assume it is).
They feel the threat of implied male sexual violence that women live with every day.

I'm not gay, and I'm not a man, and my theory is purely speculative. It seems to resonate, though, with the friends (gay and straight) I've run it past.

Red Horse (and no, I'm not the infamous RH)

Lucy Sussex said...

Don't insult the Neanderthals, they are 4% our ancestors.

tigtog said...

LOL at agreeing with Miranda Devine - what has the world come to?

They believe, apparently, that the sexually active Other, whether female or gay, has no discrimination, just a kind of sexual omnivorousness.

Ties neatly into that whole virgin/whore thing, plus a whole heap of rape myths about "but look at what she was wearing" as if they simply can't comprehend "up for it with someone I fancy" as in any way different from "up for it with anybody".

Mindy said...

I'm not sure if their egos could cope with thinking that someone might not be interested in them.

Adrian said...

I think Red Horse is right, and I'm a man. It's not a vanity thing, it's "the threat of implied male sexual violence", which can become very real in closed, all-male environments such as prisons and the military. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch for it to become "real" at a football club, but it shows where Jason's fear comes from.

The big flaw in his argument is that coming out is the problem. He doesn't mind gay players in the showers, he just doesn't want to know they're gay.

The other big flaw is that it's the ostensibly heterosexual who tend to be the sexually violent, even in prison.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Adrian, if you're right, and I'm sure you are (though I would still argue that vanity also comes into it) then that is a little terrifying. If men fear incipient sexual violence from other men, how do they know that male sexual violence (irrespective of its object) is always already a possibility? Is it because they have felt this impulse themselves?

Feral Sparrowhawk said...

Possibly Kerryn, although the other explanation is that they've witnessed it in others enough to be scared.

Terrible as last week was, I do think there were a couple of upsides. In the case of Campbell there's the fact that most people have taken the right position, as you mention. Responses to Akermanis are more mixed, but I think even the way he phrased his comments, and that car-crash of an interview reveal something more positive than might first be thought. I've expanded on that at my blog.


(Hope that's not the sort of self promotion you were complaining about recently)

Red Horse said...

How do they know? The same way I know, when I hold a small bird in my hands, that I could crush it. I don't want to crush it. I'd never ever choose to crush it. I don't have an impulse to crush it. But, technically, I know it's a possiblity.

So I choose to be careful and try very hard not to harm it. But it's a choice. Just like the choices men make about inflicting sexual violence.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Acker and Abbot's feelings are really about what gay men might do to them; the uncomfortableness is about how they, themselves might respond. What's unsettling about *knowing* there's a gay man in the locker room is that it adds, for the knower, a sexual element to a place where sex has always been strongly repressed. Acker and Abbot are worried about the possibility of stirrings in their own nether regions; if they don't know their companions are gay, the (ahem) issue doesn't arise.


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Oh, that's an interesting take.

What have you done with Burgess and McLean? (I'm sorry, I would have liked to have put that another way.)

Anonymous said...


Fine said...

I think Philby is onto something here. Aker wrote in the article that the locker room was already a homoerotic space, therefore it was no place for homosexuals. Nice logic, eh? You can act gay, but not be gay.

Apparently, the Bulldogs are very upset with him now. Caroline Wilson has an interesting article in today's Age, in which she reveals some interesting stuff about how these ghost-writing gigs work. All of Aker's articles get checked by a senior person in the club before they're published. They're now claiming the ghost-writer changed the article after it was approved and added material they would have never agreed to. A claim which the ghost-writer denies.

Anonymous said...

You might like this study:

Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?
Adams HE, Wright LW Jr, Lohr BA. Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-3013, USA.

The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

J Abnorm Psychol. 1996 Aug;105(3):440-5

I think it explains a lot of homophobia.

Bisexuality is not that scary guys.

Infense said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Infense said...

Continuing the gay stories-in-the-media theme there was a story in The Advertiser that did not have an obvious connection to homosexuality, yet somehow homosexuality featured. The paper ran a story this week about unreliable lifts at the Court House breaking down leaving prisoners and guards stranded. Valdman's strange cartoon accompanying this story showed a male guard desperately trying to get the lift to start up again because the much larger male prisoner was making 'eyes' at him and called him his 'cellmate'.
It may not be homophobic but it is odd that someone would jump so quickly to the thought that a prisoner would want to rape/have sex with him...

gavgams said...

In part defense of Akermanis I think he said he beieved others might have an issue with homosexuality and it wouldn't be in the interests of a gay man to out themselves in this environment.
I think he's become a bit of a whipping boy on this issue. The frame and thesis you put on both is probably too neat.
Akermanis is a pretty lay back guy and did a share house with a gay guy for a couple of years, apperantly. Did you know he learnt proficient signing (language) so he could communicat better with his partners family? Also he's a bit of an outsider himself and suffered much for really just being himself.
As for Tony A...