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Monday, June 30, 2014

SL Letter of the Day: Queens of the Retail Stage

Posted by on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 5:17 PM

I have listened to your podcast for a long time and it has made me a more open-minded person in so many ways. So I am turning to you for help with a prejudice that I have been grappling with. (I would have recorded my question for the podcast but was worried I'd be recognized.)

Rather than tip-toe around it, I'll just come out and say it: I don't like queens. I know, love, and am friends with gay men. But men like the character Cameron on Modern Family I find it very hard to be around. I used to think it was because they are so affected, and I don't like affected people in general. But I have come to understand that some of the things I saw as affectations are characteristics that are hard-wired and cross-cultural.

I also used to hate that this kind of behavior was called "effeminate" because I'm a woman and I don't act anything like Cameron. I get now that effeminate and feminine mean different things. It's like there's masculine and there's feminine and there's a third thing called effeminate. (And I guess there's a fourth thing called butch, and somehow that doesn't bother me at all.) Now I don't have to like people to consider them full human beings with all the rights that go along with that. So I don't have friends who are queens. So what?

Well, I work for a national retail chain and I'm in the management program and within the next year I will be getting my own store to manage. I will have a lot of say over who I hire. I probably wouldn't hire a queen. So my aversion could affect someone's livelihood. Which isn't fair. And while I was chewing on this and feeling badly about myself... the universe sent me a queen. Another assistant manager was transferred to the store I work in now. He's driving me crazy. He makes catty comments to me under his breath about customers and co-workers. He complains in a really dramatic way. Every day he tells me about having the sniffles or a tummy ache. These aren't things you would want in an employee, but they aren't fireable offenses either. So if I was the manager and I fired him, it seems like it would be because he's a queen. My performance evaluation of him would read: "Be less of a queen."

I'm not asking you to tell me how I should feel. I just know you can walk me through this issue. I value your opinion highly.

Princess With A Queen Problem

My response after the jump...


I'm not sure that effeminate and feminine mean different things entirely, PWAQP. But let's see what those bitchy queens at Merriam-Webster have to say...

fem·i·nine adjective: of, relating to, or suited to women or girls.

ef·fem·i·nate adjective: having or showing qualities that are considered more suited to women than to men: not manly.

I don't wanna be pedantic about this—it's not the cocktail hour quite yet—but based on these definitions, PWAQP, it would seem that a woman could be both feminine and effeminate. You, for instance, could wear feminine attire (a darling little black dress) while at the same time displaying qualities "more suited" (ahem) to women than men (daintily crossing your legs as you knock back cocktails in a bar with your gay pals who meet or exceed your minimum masculinity requirements).

Anyway, whenever I hear a straight woman complaining about feminine/effeminate men—especially when that woman says something like, "I'm actually a woman and you don't see me acting like that!"—I can't help but detect overtones of internalized misogyny. Just as some gay men suffer from internalized homophobia, some women—straight, lesbian, bi, trans—suffer from/struggle with internalized misogyny, PWAQP, and your brand of internalized misogyny seems to manifest itself in disgust at men who "act like women." Effeminate guys—or queens—most of whom are gay, piss you off. Because they act like women—or they act like certain female stereotype or cliches—and that pisses you off... because... there's something wrong with being that brand of feminine?

Before I get to the advice section of my response, PWAQP, I want to applaud you for working through one aspect of your bias against queeny gay men. Most people who dislike queens can't get it through their heads that gay men with feminine traits/mannerisms/inflections aren't pretending. But to your credit, PWAQP, you've come to realize that queeny behavior is not affectation. It's who these guys are. (And if effeminacy were affectation... what gay man in his right mind would choose to affect it? Male effeminacy attracts violence from certain kinds of straight men and renders a gay guy less sexually attractive to many gay men. Gay bashing and sexual rejection! Sign me up!)

Okay, PWAQP, two quick pieces of advice...

1. Get over it, gurl. If you're in retail and you're not selling tires or power tools or ATVs, PWAQP, you're gonna wind up working with—sometimes over, sometimes under—lots of queens. And you know what? If the store you wind up managing sells clothes or makeup or flowers or furniture, PWAQP, many of your customers will prefer buying from queens. Why is that? It seems that many Ladies Who Shop enjoy the safe/amusing male attention they get from the Queens of Retail and just as many buy into the notion that gay men have better taste and figure, "The gayer the guy, the better the taste." But whatever it is, PWAQP, it's not a fluke that queens do well in retail. So if you want to run a successful store, you'll have to learn to not just tolerate the queens you're going to inherit (when you take over a store) or hire (some will butch it up for interviews and only start gurling once they're hired), you'll have to learn to love them—for the sake of your store's bottom line and your own professional success.

2. Learn to separate shitty behavior and queeny behavior. The coworker you describe—the guy who complains about customers and coworkers under his breath and whines about his aches and pains—sounds like a toxic asshole who'll be bad for business and morale. Your performance evaluation for him shouldn't be, "Be less of a queen," PWAQP, but, "Be less of an asshole."

Queen ≠ asshole, asshole ≠ queen.


Comments (51) RSS

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Dougsf 1
People bothered by others affectations certainly aren't burdened by self-awareness.
Posted by Dougsf on June 30, 2014 at 5:32 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
This person has no business being in management, especially retail management AT ALL. If I was HIS manager, I'd let him go the first time he said the word "queen" in my presence.

Perhaps he'd be happier working in a more manly man field like lumberjacking or professional wrestling.
Posted by Fnarf on June 30, 2014 at 5:33 PM · Report this
@ 2 - Maybe I missed the irony in your answer, but the LW is a woman.

@ LW - Have you considered telling the "queen" in question that you're not interested in hearing him bitch about clients and colleagues? That should do the trick.

And also, you need to ask yourself if his complaining about his aches and pains would seem more tolerable to you if it was a non-effeminate man or a woman doing it. After all, we all complain about our health problems at work at one time or another. So there's the possibility that you find fault with him for that just so as to confirm the feelings you already have about him.
Posted by Ricardo on June 30, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Fnarf: the author clearly identifies as a woman, so...
Posted by arson on June 30, 2014 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Also, to Ricardo.

Keep in mind that the behavior and personality characteristics that most tolerant, not-overtly-homophobic people find adorable/endearing about queens are the same ones for which women get shit on all the time (ditzy, giggly, shallow, gossipy, petty, snotty, bubbleheaded, etc.). Perhaps this has something to with it?
Posted by arson on June 30, 2014 at 5:48 PM · Report this
Fnarf 6
23, @4, well then. I dunno what field she's going to have to go into after she gets fired.
Posted by Fnarf on June 30, 2014 at 5:55 PM · Report this
@ 6 - She could start working for the Republican party. No queens there.
Posted by Ricardo on June 30, 2014 at 6:01 PM · Report this
@ 5 - Good point, but it could be a number of things, and we can't read her thoughts. It could be entirely cultural, what she's been raised to expect of a man, etc., and she just can't shake it off.

I have gay friends who are still hung up about this question, they can't even tolerate the physical proximity of effeminate men because they don't want to be associated with them - they see themselves as "real" men, according to the cultural values they grew up with, in comparison with effeminate men. They've managed to convince themselves of the fact that their homosexuality, being of the "discreet" kind, is acceptable because it doesn't show, therefore it doesn't make them less of a man (this even when their cultural standards say otherwise), but that's because everybody is more generous and understanding towards their own self than towards others, i.e. somewhat hypocritical in their judgment. To me, that reeks of internalized homophobia, but many see gender roles as extremely binary, and will say they are just uncomfortable around people who take on characteristics of the other gender, and it seems a totally logical and defensible position to them.

I know I have a double standard which I can't and do not want to shake off: I have never had any problem with having effeminate men as friends, colleagues, whatever, but I never wanted one in my bed. This might be the way I am wired, but it's most likely a question of cultural indoctrination.

To get back to my point: one thing I do know, though, is that when you (impersonal "you") don't like someone, for whatever reason, it's easy to find a bunch of little things that irritate you about that person, thus justifying your dislike, even though you would never find those same things irritating if someone you do like did them. I've seen this in myself and in many other people. Hence my comment.
Posted by Ricardo on June 30, 2014 at 6:25 PM · Report this
I think Dan's right on the money about internalized misogyny at work. I used to loathe femininity in all its forms - pink, princesses, giggling, girliness, dolls, dresses, makeup, ear piercings, timidity, daintiness, etc. I gave birth to a daughter who is as strong-willed and opinionated as I am, and as the fates would have it, is determinedly feminine. I don't know where she got that gene, but she's got it and I've learned ... if not to love it, then to love her, and to stand up for the right of all to be as feminine as they wish.
Posted by Gamebird on June 30, 2014 at 7:03 PM · Report this
I agree with Dan that making nasty comments about co-workers and customers has nothing to do with being effeminate or queeny. The letter writer should tell the guy to stop it, and if he can, to look for the good qualities the co-workers and customers may also have.

I hear the same kind of conflations about black people, asian people, white people, christians, atheists - if someone is lazy, hyper, sloppy, too neat, uneducated, over educated or whatever, that condition or behavior is the problem, not some general category they fall into.

A woman who's a bad driver is just a bad driver, she's not that thoroughly disproven cliche, a "woman driver" - we all know women who are excellent drivers and men who are dreadful drivers. Learn to separate behavior from cultural category.
Posted by ECarpenter on June 30, 2014 at 7:39 PM · Report this

I kinda disagree with the general tone here. It sounds like this person grew up a lot like I did -- in a town where gay was associated with this almost satirized bitchy behavior. There was something of a race for the gay guys at my schools to be bitchier and queerer than thou. And should anyone have a problem with their obnoxious asshattery, that person was a homophobe.

And so I grew up thinking that gay people = bitchy. I didn't get it until later, when I met nice effeminate men that there didn't have to be this over-zealous cattiness, that it wasn't part and parcel to the package. As far as I know, the place where I grew up still rewards bitchy, catty behavior from gay men in a maladjusted way, and if it does, I'm sure other places do.

I feel like the letter writer is confused, not nasty.
Posted by MameSnidely on June 30, 2014 at 8:05 PM · Report this
I suppose I will have to concede that there may be screaming queens with whom I can be friends, but it hasn't happened yet. Those I have met have been superficial fashion slaves who are almost entirely self-centered.

I will try to keep an open mind. Problem is that when I do hang out with the gay community, it's usually doing volunteer stuff with lefties like me and thus far I haven't encountered any in this milieu.
Posted by JJinAus on June 30, 2014 at 8:11 PM · Report this
Registered European 13
@11 is right. There is nothing wrong with men being effeminate. The bitchiness that often accompanies it is annoying, though.
Posted by Registered European on June 30, 2014 at 9:01 PM · Report this
milemarker 14
I remember back when I was dating the GM of a Wards store. He hired the most delicate guy I'd ever seen to work in the jewelry and cosmetics department and I remember thinking how this was going to be a major disaster. Two years later that sweet guy with the perfect hair had eight Employee Of The Month honors under his belt and he was the assistant manager of the store. He was snatched from Wards by Neiman Marcus. The dude could sell water to fish and I swear he was the catty stereotype the LR mentioned.

So when I met my friend Terry, years later, I didn't have to go through this second guessing. Terry is a stereotype of the effeminate queen, there's just no doubt about it. He was that way from birth. He was a hair burner for about 10 years then, on a whim, took a temp job working for Tiffany. The guy was the lowest on the totem pole of 12 people in his division when he started there and in three years he was the ONLY person working in that division because he could work circles around everyone else. He was daily walking into the homes of the most famous movie stars and Hollywood talent and he spent 22 years prancing through that environment selling jewelry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He just had that elegance and refinement about him that was natural and, at the least, I think all of those people and customers recognized him as a man who was genuinely himself. I'm telling you, that guy would make a lot of people cringe even today but, god damn! He was/is fucking amazing! And there simply wasn't any difference in personality in his working and private life. To this day (he's 68 now) he gets invited to birthday parties and wedding by Hollywood elites who kept in touch with him after he retired from Tiffany. I LOVE this guy. He has been one of the most enriching and valuable friends in my whole freaking life. You just have to open you eyes and your heart and let people be what they are.
Posted by milemarker on June 30, 2014 at 9:16 PM · Report this
venomlash 15
I too find that the "swishy" sort of effeminacy, whether practiced by straights or queers, men or women, just GRATES ON MY NERVES.
Posted by venomlash on June 30, 2014 at 9:35 PM · Report this
wingedkat 16
Yeah... If i could fire someone who bitches about customers and co workers and complains of constant stomach aches and head aches I would fire them, and I wouldn't care whether they were feminine, or masculine, or "effeminate".
Posted by wingedkat on June 30, 2014 at 9:36 PM · Report this
(Man, whatever, effeminate dudes are the greatest.)

Yes to internalized misogyny -- especially because butch women are OK with the LW but effeminate dudes aren't. The central idea could be that men are a step up from women in any number of ways. Butch women are stepping up, so that's fine and perfectly understandable, but effeminate men are stepping down, so why the hell are they doing that, auggh.

Also, yikes on the discriminatory hiring/firing. I hope she's successful in getting this harmful societal bullshit out of her brain before she's in charge of employees.
Posted by SpaceGirl on June 30, 2014 at 9:52 PM · Report this
I was with LW until you drew the line, Dan. I'm a woman who just can't stand drama. I don't care what sex or orientation it comes from, SPARE ME. But the queen who flips his wrist and is a little lispy isn't a problem, the DRAMA queen is. I'm so out of the DRAMA that my girlfriends are often shocked I don't know the details of the latest breakup saga. I just say "they broke up, it was apparently bad...I said I was sorry and would buy her her 6th drink, and left it at that."
Posted by Ms. D on June 30, 2014 at 10:03 PM · Report this
What Dan says: "Learn to separate shitty behavior and queeny behavior."

Whiners & complainers of any race, religion, creed, gender, or persuasion can get old easily.

So she could start with that angle and see if it solves the problem.

If not, write back.

Posted by caution&daring on June 30, 2014 at 10:35 PM · Report this
lolorhone 20
I've always counted myself lucky that the only type of person who bothers me is an asshole. Mostly because every time someone runs down their list of unacceptable types, I almost always have heard their type run down on the lists of many other people before them.
Posted by lolorhone on June 30, 2014 at 10:39 PM · Report this
Absurdist1968 21
How about this:

Let's take the :queeny/effeminate" out of it, and throw in the word "unprofessional." It won't take out all the stuff that bothers LW, but at least one legitimately relevant point will be dealt with.
Posted by Absurdist1968 on June 30, 2014 at 11:38 PM · Report this
sissoucat 22
I strongly disagree with the "internalized misogyny" comments.

A random woman who is faced with another party, male or female or anything else, who seems to ape the worst stereotypes ever of women, should be allowed to feel some level of discomfort without being told that she hates her own gender.

Let's replace the random woman with a random Asian woman. Suppose she's faced with another party, who is or isn't Asian but who'll speak only pidgin to her, and who'll only wear the kind of Asian costume you see in 19th century drawings, and who'll squint at her more than needed. Should the resulting discomfort be labelled with "internalized anti-Asian racism" ?

I'm not saying that women have an inherent right to discriminate against queens. Queens are not aping women... I think. Well, I'm not a queen and I don't personally know of any, but if they they do ape stereotypes of women, I'm sure it's not in an intent to bring harm or hate towards women.

But if a woman does have a feeling of uneasiness around over-the-top effeminate displays (from either males or females or anything else), let's not put it down to internalized misogyny.

In the case of LW, it seems that not yet knowing personally any non-asshole queen, makes her mistake all queens for assholes. Meeting more queens should help there.

I know I'm prone to mistaking people in camo for violent uneducated assholes ; show me a non-violent educated non-asshole in camo and I'll be cured.
Posted by sissoucat on July 1, 2014 at 1:26 AM · Report this
persimmon 23
I hold no ill will toward more effeminate men (I, too, work in retail management, and in a particular specialty that is rife with gay men), but I would disagree that it's self-loathing misogyny that's at work in LW's bias. Women dislike the stereotypical representations of femininity because they're shoved in our noses all day, every day--either through misogynistic insults that reinforce what is "feminine" versus "masculine," or by way of falling short of some unrealistic standard. Now, it doesn't make it wrong for someone to naturally be that way, but it can be grating to see someone who is a living representation of the stereotype we'd be very eager to eschew. The real underlying problem to all of this is that society has deemed certain traits of queens as feminine, which suggests that half the population cannot be more diverse than those traits would allow.
Posted by persimmon on July 1, 2014 at 1:51 AM · Report this
persimmon 24
...or what sissoucat said.
Posted by persimmon on July 1, 2014 at 1:51 AM · Report this
sissoucat 25
I realize my sentence "who'll squint at her more than needed" in #22 could be offensive. My apologies if it is. For the record, I don't think that Asian eyes look like squinting at all, but people who want to simulate Asian eyes often do it by squinting in my country.

Would the sentence "who'll make an effort to squint at all times" be less offensive ?
Posted by sissoucat on July 1, 2014 at 2:23 AM · Report this
I think Sissoucat hit on somethng interesting. It's easy to think of others as passing comment upon us, especially if we're not very secure.

I find it difficult to be around butch women, as I feel they're criticising my rather girly presentation. When I think about it, I concede it's rather unlikely someone would construct their entire dress sense, demeanour and haircut to attack someone else. But there it is. I can't seem to stop my gut reaction, all I can do is recognise it and try to stop it influencing my behaviour.
Posted by misspiggy on July 1, 2014 at 5:35 AM · Report this
In my experience, plenty of women want to keep men inside their rigid male gender role box. Some of them are open to considering letting men out once women are free of their box; they just have a highly prioritized approach to fix the worse problem first and then look at the lesser problem instead of working on everything all together with generally more emphasis on X than on Y (whether the attitude of the X-first-and-only set about Y will change once X is fixed is perhaps open to interpretation).

M? Arson -

[Keep in mind that the behavior and personality characteristics that most tolerant, not-overtly-homophobic people find adorable/endearing about queens are the same ones for which women get shit on all the time (ditzy, giggly, shallow, gossipy, petty, snotty, bubbleheaded, etc.). ]

"Tolerant, not-overtly-homophobic" or "patronizing and condescending"? As "tolerant" seems to be acquiring a nasty edge, it's perhaps becoming increasingly recognizably the same thing.
Posted by vennominon on July 1, 2014 at 5:51 AM · Report this
Sissoucat your analogy is wrong. This is not someone putting on a geisha outfit, this is not a minstrel show. This is an effeminate man. He is not trying to reflect sexist stereotypes back to women. He is just behaving how he naturally behaves. The offensive part of your comment is your implication that some people are affecting their effeminacy and it's OK to be offended by them. As an effeminate man let me tell you, I am not trying to act like a woman. I am talking in my natural voice. I am acting how I act. It is our culture that says that who I am is womanly, but outside of cultural norms there is nothing that says how I am is more female than male.
Posted by L0k1 on July 1, 2014 at 6:06 AM · Report this
Dan you make the #1 problem of advice columnists, you believe the LW's version and have enabled her discriminating against him by calling the queen an asshole.

Is the guy really an asshole with excessive drama and catty comments?

Or is her dislike of queens so entrenched (duh) that she perceives neutral queen-ey behavior as catty -- when in reality it's witty reparté wrapped with genuine warm queen-ey affection?

Or catty banter worthy of Ian McKellen's character in Vicious, to-die-for spot on comments that are command performance gems that could make her workday sail by?
Posted by delta35 on July 1, 2014 at 6:14 AM · Report this
Lance Thrustwell 30
I love effeminate gay guys! They have the guts to be themselves, and they put me at ease immediately. You know what creeps me out just a little bit? (but I suppose it shouldn't) - effeminate straight guys.

In theory, everyone should be free to act any way they damn well please. I know that. But still, when someone says they're straight but acts swishy... there's just always something in the back of my head, asking... what's going on? Closet case?

I've only met a few guys like this in my life, but they've always given me pause. Anyone else have this experience?
Posted by Lance Thrustwell on July 1, 2014 at 6:59 AM · Report this
I am a swishy bisexual man. I am married to a woman and we have a child, so I am frequently mistaken for straight. I am also frequently mistaken for gay.
Posted by L0k1 on July 1, 2014 at 7:02 AM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 32
@30: When I meet effeminate straight guys, who are comfortable in themselves and not projecting homophobia or misogyny, I start wondering whether it's too soon to take off my panties. 😊
Posted by Canadian Nurse on July 1, 2014 at 7:13 AM · Report this
AmyC 33
@30. YES. But in my case, my dislike of the swishy-but-straight guys I know comes from the fact that they all happen to be huge assholes for completely different reasons. So, I contemplate the terror they live in by virtue of being closeted because it gives me joy to imagine horrible people having to endure horrible things.
Posted by AmyC on July 1, 2014 at 7:25 AM · Report this
A good manager will actively try to bring out the best in her employees, not just sit back and decide who they like and don't like. This is a good time for the LW to learn skills like giving constructive and job-relevant criticism. Negative commentary is unprofessional and she can and should say so. "Effeminacy" is irrelevant. Also, there's the very useful advice of not keeping score of the annoying things a person does (unless it's also unprofessional). Makes life much happier.
Posted by Naq on July 1, 2014 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Effeminate:Feminine::Chauvinist:Masculine (i.e., an expression of the worst aspects of gender stereotypes).

I would advise this person to consider the fact that not everyone shares her aversion to queeny gays, and she might be doing her business a disservice by turning away qualified applicants.
Posted by RDM on July 1, 2014 at 7:48 AM · Report this
This was her question: HOW should she get over a gut reaction she knows is bad?

You could try the Malcom Gladwell approach. Find photos and videos of 10 queeny guys who you admire and stare at them over breakfast every day.

Let's make her a list. So who is everyone's favorite queen? I vote for the guy from Big Bang Theory (not super queeny, but major dork points).
Posted by beccoid on July 1, 2014 at 7:50 AM · Report this
I was waiting the whole post to get to answer 2. I don't give a shit if you're gay, straight, male female or what. Bitching about customers and whining about your tummy in a retail environment is not appropriate professional behavior. If you want to bitch about customers go out to happy hour with your coworkers where none of the customers will hear you. If you want to whine about your tummy ache (really? What are we, 5 years old? Grow the fuck up) call your mommy. If you've got a stomach ache bad enough to whine to your boss about go the fuck home before you spread it around.
Posted by Root on July 1, 2014 at 7:55 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 38
Sometimes people lack self-awareness. Maybe he doesn't realize he's being obnoxious. Just try a gentle nudge, like saying how you don't like catty comments. Same with stomach ache, like you have too many and that's not healthy.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on July 1, 2014 at 9:06 AM · Report this
blip 39
@23, "it can be grating to see someone who is a living representation of the stereotype we'd be very eager to eschew."

To me, this is the very definition of internalized misogyny/homophobia/racism: seeing others of your own kind as the embodiment of your culture's most negative stereotypes, and you look down upon them because you wish to distance yourself from those stereotypes. I see the behavior from gay men all the time. It's not that you hate yourself, rather you have internalized your culture's most negative beliefs about you and you project that negativity onto others.
Posted by blip on July 1, 2014 at 9:32 AM · Report this
Corylea 40
I'm a bisexual woman who adores NICE queeny guys, but bitchy hypochondriacs like the one the LW describes ... not so much.

Perhaps it would help the LW if she learned to separate the personal and the professional. You can like or dislike whoever you want when you're on your own time, but when you're at work, ONLY the work-related characteristics of the employee matter, and it doesn't actually matter if you like people or not. She needs to learn to evaluate people quite differently on the job as opposed to in her personal life, and that's not limited to queens.
Posted by Corylea on July 1, 2014 at 9:50 AM · Report this
Your advice almost went off the rails for me at "internalized misogyny", but you saved it with "queens do not equal assholes." I'm a woman and when I disapprove of bitchy behavior in other women, I don't consider it a form of misogyny but rather just a general intolerance for bad behavior.
Posted by beckysharp52 on July 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM · Report this
debug 42
Key and Peele provide an excellent lesson on separating gays from gays being assholes:…
Posted by debug on July 1, 2014 at 10:24 AM · Report this
sirkowski 43
It's ok to be prejudiced against people who are hysterical as long as it's not sexist. Like, if you hate Perez Hilton for being a drama queen, but not Britney Spears, that's wrong. Hysteria should be frowned upon for everyone.
He makes catty comments to me under his breath about customers and co-workers.
Report him to HR.
Posted by sirkowski on July 1, 2014 at 3:27 PM · Report this
Thank you, Ms Delta. The general favourite seems to be, "I never know when I'm going too far - but I'm always glad when I do."

Do you have any idea why Mr Savage hasn't given the show a mention?
Posted by vennominon on July 2, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
Gou Tongzhi 45
You know what I don't like? Republicans.
Posted by Gou Tongzhi on July 2, 2014 at 5:36 PM · Report this
sissoucat 46
@28 L0k1

In no way did I write that either the effeminate person or the pidgin-squinting person were actually intentionally making fun of the looker on. I'm talking perceptions of the looker on here. Not to say that they are justified, but to say that they do exist.

And I'm making the remark that while nobody'd say it's racist to complain over a display of what can be felt as racism-related stereotypes - some people here say it's misogynist to complain over a display of what can be felt as misogyny-related stereotypes.

Mark that it's "can be felt" - not "should be felt". I personally have no problems with queens, or feminine bis such as you ; I was drawing upon my own unease with overly mannered women, who maybe can't help it anymore than queens can ; but my first feeling upon meeting those women is that they're just pandering to our haters, thus my dislike of them.

My point in #22 is that we're getting from several posts the usual "women who don't like that something is oftentimes attributed to women : guess what, in fact they're really like society says, and they're just in the closet self-haters" argument that's used everywhere to silence women everytime they try to speak up.

I've yet to see a guy complaining about butch females, being told that in fact, his problem is that he innerly hates everything male.
Posted by sissoucat on July 4, 2014 at 6:00 AM · Report this
I'm having trouble parsing your weird backpedaling response.

I'm not saying your comment is stupid and pointless, I'm just saying that some people might find your comment to be stupid and pointless.
Posted by L0k1 on July 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM · Report this
sissoucat 48
Well, yes, both of my posts were about the effect of societal misogyny on women's reactions to (I agree with you) unjustly-called 'effem'inacy, so I can well understand why some people would find them stupid and pointless.

It's a lot easier to yell "inner misogyny !" to a queen/asshole-wary woman, than to be interested in why she, and other women, has difficulties with overfeminity/effeminacy. Understanding women does have a millenia history of 'being stupid and pointless'.

As for backpedaling, honey, I don't.
Posted by sissoucat on July 5, 2014 at 5:07 PM · Report this
You missed my point. I am saying that you should have the courage of your convictions. Either you believe what you wrote or you don't. Please don't tell me what hypothetical people might think about a subject, and then retreat back into "I don't think that, but some people might." bullshit when challenged.

Effeminacy has nothing to do with women, despite the etymology. My voice is my voice. I am a man. Our culture might say that my voice is womanly, but it is not. How I act has nothing to do with women. The only reason that effeminate men are ridiculed is because our culture say that these traits are womanly and womanly things are contemptible. Believing that womanly things are contemptible is misogyny.
Posted by L0k1 on July 6, 2014 at 9:24 AM · Report this
sissoucat 50
Okay. One last attempt. I'm showing goodwill here, I hope you will too.

I'm not retreating : I'm explaining my point, a point that you haven't comprehended yet.

But first I'll show you that I acknowledge your point, mostly thanks to your excellent explanation in post 49, and that I agree with you, that your point does explain most of the effeminacy-hating done by homophobes out there. Despite that, you'll see that I stand my ground that calling LW, a non-homophobe female, an inner misogynist, is just plain wrong.

Okay. Your point is that hating effeminacy is always misogynistic. Because you believe that the effeminacy-hater is convinced of the falseness that effeminacy is womanly, and has contempt for womanly, therefore has contempt for effeminacy.

And that's probably true of the average homophobe : very frequently, homophobes are male, and they are also misogynists. In this way, women would be natural allies of effeminate gays, because even if they do falsely believe that effeminacy is womanly, they don't despise womanly, so they don't despice effeminacy. They may feel reassured by it, even.

My point is that your reasoning for the origins of homophobic male hatred of effeminacy - the only one you most probably have to endure, and I'm sorry that you do - is not appliable to non-homophobic female wariness of excessive effeminacy.

Let me remind you that the female LW who can't with queens, is not homophobic, and we have no reason not to believe her. And please believe me that I'm not a homophobe either. Besides, I can't with effeminate women, but I'm not bothered by effeminacy in guys, and I love it in queens. Queens have a ton of personality and I love that. And their behaviour mocks the effeminate=womanly paradigm and I love that too. The only reason I had to ever dislike a gay effeminate person, was finding out it that he was a misogynist : not despising effeminate but despising womanly ; or that he was another kind of asshole.

My point is also that you (and other posters) having just an explanation for male homophobia is not enough. You should also work on an explanation for female homophobia, that can't use despising womanly = misogyny as its glue. Female homophobes do exist, and at least some of them have other motivations than misogyny.

Okay. Now to my point. My point is that non-homophobic misogyny-hating females may unwillingly react to effeminacy just like black people *naturally* react to blackface, and asian people *naturally* react to slanted eyes : they react with hating it. Of course, *culturally* non-blacks and non-asians also react to blackface and to slanted eyes with hatred, because they've learned how insulting it is to black people and to asian people, and they empathize.

Misogynists' way of mock-protraying women is with... effeminacy. You know that, right ? Mock-portrayal hurts. It leads to strong hatred of the gestures done to mock you.

The fact that effeminacy is an inaccurate mock-portrayal of women doesn't change a thing.

Slanted-eyes is an inaccurate mock-potrayal of asian eyes (because the difference in asian eyes is not them being slanted or widened as to close them, it's in the epicanthic fold covering the inner corner of the eye), but it's offensive nonetheless to Asians first, and to everybody as a result. Pretend effeminacy, as an inaccurate mock-portrayal of womanly, is offensive nonetheless to women, when done in jest by a misogynist. But it's offensive, just to women. Most men don't register what offends us : since we're not males, we're just in the background.

Telling a woman who reacts badly to effeminacy, done BY a real misogynist, as a way of mocking her, that she's herself a misogynist, it's exactly as wrong as telling an Asian reacting badly to slanted eyes, done BY a real racist, as a way of mocking her, that she's herself a racist. Okay ?

Now to my reactions to effeminacy. Show me an overly effeminate woman and my first reaction will be "sell-out, aping effeminacy will not make you more womanly, you tool !". And my second reaction will be, "let's not overreact, maybe she's truly that effeminate, it's her right, calm down ; but have you ever met a true/fake very effeminate woman who wasn't an asshole to non-effeminate women ? Nope. Stay clear."

Show me an overly effeminate man and I'll know right away whether it's a queen or a misogynist mocking me, so my first reaction will either be "yeah !" or "grrr !", but it will probably be adequate to the context, because I'm accurate at recognizing mockery.

Show me a mildly/not-at-all effeminate woman : I will have no reaction. Show me a mildly effeminate man and my reaction will be : I hope he's gay or bi or in show business or clothes, because there's not a lot of real acceptance and support for effeminate men out there outside of that. I would react along the same lines to a very 'manly' female.

But I would react to a very manly male with an "okay, probably an asshole to people like me ; watch from afar".

That is me, okay ? I'm not an "hypothetical people". I'm a not effeminate female, and believe me I have gotten lots of flack over that, from both males and females.

As for the LW's reaction : her brain seems to confound "gosh, the asshole is strong in this coworker, who happens to be a queen" with "oh, surely my feeling of assholery is inadequate here - of course people who make fun of me by exhibiting effeminacy are assholes, but queens don't do effeminacy on purpose, so this queen is not an asshole - still I can't with this queen ; gosh, I'm not a homophobe and I still can't stand this queen. What's the only difference between her and the gays I love ? Effeminacy. Can I be a non-homophobic queenophobe ? What shall I do ? Daaaan !"

Well, neither of those two examples of existing females is inner misogyny.

I hope I have convinced you.

If I haven't, next time you happen to hate on a so-called 'manly' homophobe, or on an asshole butch, bear in mind that SOME (along them, your own self) would explain your reaction away, by accusing you of inner man-hating.

See if you like it.
Posted by sissoucat on July 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM · Report this
Hello, all. I'm PWAQP, the LW of the above. I posted my letter to Dan on Monday, June 30, wondering if he would respond at all. He did in the same day! I had hoped that my letter would get answered, printed, and generate discussion. These comments are so great, so varied, so smart, and so helpful. I love all of you!

Dan's charge of internalized misogyny took me aback. But I know a defensive reaction warrants some soul-searching. I think he's on to something. We all have to find the point on the gender continuum at which we feel comfortable. I'm a big, strong gal with a deep voice. I'm very womanly and maternal, but not girly. (And yes, I recognize that every one of those adjectives is subjective and fraught with controversy.) There wasn't a point on that continuum that felt like my obvious, natural choice. Being a woman in a man's world brings its own complications to the search. In my home growing up and in the workplaces I joined, I saw the feminine devalued. I associated it with weakness and failure, and I wanted away from it. But acting masculine isn't the answer either. A woman gets a whole other ration of shit for "acting like a guy." Romantically, it turns off most of the men I like.

Socially, I felt a lot of pressure to behave in feminine ways. (See @23) My grandmother, in particular, was relentless. I rebelled. I eschewed a lot of the feminine. So it's not a huge leap to think I might not like it when I see it in others -- and especially when I see it in men. @17 totally nailed me on that one. @26, so interesting to hear it happening in the other direction too.

@14, 19, 37, 38, 43 You're right. Next time he does it, I'm going to say to him under my breath, "That kind of comment is really hard on my morale so I would appreciate it if you would keep it to yourself." I am not this person's boss, so can only share with him how his behavior affects me personally.

@29, I think it is "genuine warm queenly affection," in that the man in question seems to really like me and he is doing what he does with people he likes. He is sharing these certain sides of himself. And I do the thing that Dan often says women are socialized to do: I receive his comments with a smile so as not to make him feel uncomfortable. (So there's one feminine thing about me…) That I don't respond in kind doesn't seem to register with him. But that's a problem with picking up on social clues. A LOT of our employees have problems with picking up on social clues.

I like @36's suggestion. So where's my list, people? ;-) Does Eddie Izzard count?

Thanks to Dan and to each and every one of you for taking the time to set me on a better path.
Posted by PWAQP on July 7, 2014 at 4:29 PM · Report this

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