THE MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL OBJECTIFICATION OF FAG-HAG CULTURE
By Samuel Leighton-Dore
Otherwise known as the fruit fly, queen bee, homo honey, fruit loop, Goldilocks, flame dame or fairy princess, the fag hag has become an integral strand to the silken fabric of modern day LGBTQIA society and night life. Often spotted shouting rounds of long island ice tea at Stonewall on a Friday night, the term originated in U.S. queer culture as derogatory, but has since come to be embraced by many as a badge of honor.
You know, kind of like a drunken allegiance to the rainbow flag.
In his brilliant article titled The Myth of the Fag Hag and Dirty Secrets of the Gay Male Subculture for Jezabel, Rohin Guha claimed that gay men only sought the companionship of straight women for their transactional value; a case of what can you do for me?
“Taking your female friends to a gay bar is like taking a vegetarian to a butcher shop. There is a lot of meat, a lot of prime cuts, and even a little tripe, but nothing they can eat,” wrote Guha.
It’s true that gay male privilege indulges us the right to scowl, laugh or vomit at the very mention of female anatomy; casually referring to our best girlfriends as a bitch or cunt as they attempt in vain to explain period pain or the chronic inconvenience of gym bras, tampons, contraceptive pills and pregnancy scares. Yet on the flip-side, it’s inherently expected that our hags stomach the gruesome intricacies of anal sex gone-wrong without flinch, flare or judgement.
“So many of us are only familiar with the idea of male privilege being the province of straight men that we discount how gay men are able to exert dominance and control over women,” Guha reflected in his essay.
Yolo Akili at The Good Men Project has also explored the subject of gay-female objectification, writing:
“At a recent presentation, I asked all of the gay male students in the room to raise their hand if in the past week they touched a woman’s body without her consent. After a moment of hesitation, all of the hands of the gay men in the room went up. I then asked the same gay men to raise their hand if in the past week they offered a woman unsolicited advice about how to “improve” her body or her fashion. Once again, after a moment of hesitation, all of the hands in the room went up.”
When you think about it, this is pretty easy to understand. As a collective, us millennial gays have been raised by the deliciously bitchy composite characters of Will & Grace, Sex & The City and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. For many of us, without the presence of mature gay men in our early developmental stages, we absorbed the behavioral traits of these fictional characters with the uninhibited gusto of a parched Christian in Jonestown.
Just as Jack would adjust Karen’s titties and give her a frisky slap on the bum, the very phrase “Don’t worry, I’m gay” has become an unlikely smokescreen for misogyny and degradation as we selflessly volunteer our moisturized, manicured hands to grope, feel and poke female bodies everywhere. However, I can’t help but wonder whether the relationship between a gay male and straight female is as one-sided and self-advantageous as some (including Guha) would like to suggest. While it’s becoming increasingly apparent (as I write this article) that gay dudes can be massive fucking jerks to women, surely it takes two to tango.
In the smoking alley of ARQ.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had a close friend introduce me as her “gay friend” or a drunken lady stranger squeal “Oh my god, are you gay?” followed by a slurred “We should totally be friends!” and, of course – “I need a new gay best friend!!!” I reckon I’d be heading towards a comfortable early retirement with more pomeranian-shitzus than I care to admit.
But what does this mean, exactly?
Well, it suggests that gay men (despite our endless flaws and characteristic bitchiness) can just as easily be objectified as social accessories by heterosexual women. While our general cuntiness and penchant for stereotypes might make us, um, vocally assertive towards the fairer gender, it could be a doubled-edged sword that opens us to becoming metaphoric handbags… unqualified personal shoppers… uneducated relationship counselors… teachers of twerking… suppliers of gossip… the exhausted “life of the party”.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Exploring the subject further, this week a Texan researcher in social psychology has claimed that the “fag hag” phenomena might best be explained through the lens of evolution – further complicating (or clarifying?) an already complicated dynamic.
BECAUSE SCIENCE, YOU GUYS!
“Because gay men don’t mate with women – or compete with them for mates – women feel a certain level of comfort with gay men, and the process of forming a close friendship can occur relatively quickly,” writes Eric Russell.
“In other words, because gay men are attracted to their own gender, they’re a ‘safe bet’ for women – at least, from a sociobiological standpoint.”
Over the past three years Russell has been conducting a series of experiments, forming the foundation for his research program on gay-straight relationships. These experiments have included creating a number of fake Facebook profiles (including gay men, straight men and women) and asking heterosexual female participants to browse each profile and decide who they would most likely trust with dating advice.
This process was then repeated with gay male participants.
The results, which were initially published in the Evolutionary Psychology journal, concluded that gay men and straight women perceived one another as the most trustworthy source of relationship advice; demonstrating a strangely instantaneous level of trust and connection.
However, throughout a number of follow-up studies conducted by Russell and his colleagues at the University of Texas in Arlington, it became clear that this implicit trust wasn’t necessarily replicated in matters not of the heart. Basically, it would appear that women only seek out our opinion on subjects of love, relationships and dating; becoming notably less likely to value our queer wisdom on serious matters of career, finance, family etc.
SO would it be fair to summarize that gay men are inclined to objectify women as way of asserting the same masculine dominance so readily available to straight men?
And, in turn, women objectify gay men as #trending social accessories and risk-free bandages to their jilted romantic notions?
Could it be that the fag-hag relationship IS actually the relational vehicle for an emotional transaction – subconsciously using one another to feel better about ourselves?
If so, it’s fucking deep and it’s fucking real.