Teenagers. For the past 2 years they have absolutely been the bane of my existence. At 17, obviously I am a teenager, but I'd say that for the past two years I haven't been able to even remotely relate to at least 90% of my teenager peers. That is, of course, due to a variety of factors. The biggest of those factors being that I really just don't WANT to relate to them. Of course, I'd probably be a lot happier if I was like the 'normal' teenagers I'm surrounded by, having a large group of friends, watching Glee every night, gushing over how hilarious Get Him to the Greek was (which it wasn't, to me). However, I choose not to live this life. I choose to be the book reading, World of Warcraft playing, early graduating, feminist teenage freak that I am. Another factor blocking my ability to relate with my peers is the fact that I am a young feminist, and therefore view the world through a feminist lens. It's not even always that I'm a feminist, I'm just socially aware, and I think past the surface of things. Because of this, I'm kind of a party pooper. I tend to see the negative in many things my peers do, watch, listen to, support, etc. And I'm constantly told to not 'take things so seriously!'. But I figure, if I'm not going to be the one with the stick in my ass, if I'm not going to be the one to educate you about the things you don't think about (or care about), who is? I have to deal with the social effects of being this person. My 'No Homo' post is an example of this. That's something I mostly wanted to let my peers know about, because they are the ones I hear it from the most.
Today I'm writing about something that my 'No Homo' really got me thinking about. It's something that I've been observing for a verrrry long time now, but writing that piece really got my mind working on it. However, before I delve into this topic, here's a little background information:
I went to an art high school, so the dynamics of my high school experience were a little different than most peoples. Obviously, high school is high school. But still, my school was different. I graduated early, mostly out of pure frustration, and I don't blame that completely on my actual school. It was more just that a person like me and the high school environment don't get along very well. Looking at my high school, you could say that it is full of the traditional adolescent 'rejects': the theater geeks, the band geeks, the artsy kids. We're the ones that most pubescent focused media represents as outcasts, not exactly the ones running the school. So at my art high school, you could say that those dynamics were switched around. There, us 'outcasts' are given an environment where WE get to run things, regardless of the social standing our high school groups put us in. So things were different. And the topic I'm bringing up may not apply to other high schoolers, it may very well be limited to my school, or even my type of school. But this is a large phenomena that I observed at my school.
Here's what I observed: almost every single 'straight' male at my school joked about being gay. All. The. Time. I am not exaggerating. And these jokes were made with each other. And these are immature people, so things would get ridiculous. They were constantly just making jokes about being gay for each other, making references to each others penises, dry humping each other or miming anal and oral sex, just a constant barrage of this kind of behavior. And they all thought it was soo hilarious! The guys that did this the most were considered the funniest people in school, even though this was ALWAYS their shtick. Obviously, you could say that this is just teenage immaturity, undeveloped senses of humor. But the amount of this that went on makes me think that it was something else. I can't begin to express to someone who didn't go to my school how constant this was. I have broken things down into 2 possible reasons why this kind of behavior went on:
1. These people were legitimately making fun of homosexuality. They didn't respect it at all, they thought of it as merely a thing of humor, not something that really exists and should be viewed seriously and chose to put their ignorance out through 'humor'.
2. They were scared of being called gay, so they figured that if they joked about it all the time, no one would think they were.
Let's look at the first one. Ignorance is so often hid in humor. I mean, we've all heard a ton of racist/homophobic/transphobic/sexist/you name it jokes. People tell me sexist jokes all the time, in an attempt to get a rise out of me (the most popular one at the moment being the women=sandwhich maker jokes). But that's another story. Right now we're looking at homophobia hidden in humor. Here are some of our most beloved homophobes trying to be funny about their ignorance:
“Democrats will bend over, grab the ankles, and say, ‘Have your way with me’ to African-Americans and gays." — Rush Limbaugh
"So this is just the beginning, ladies and gentlemen, of this crazy gay marriage insanity -- is gonna lead to all kinds of things like this. Courts are gonna be clogged. Every nut in the world is gonna -- somebody's gonna come in and say, 'I wanna marry the goat.'" - Bill O'Reilly
"How many badges of honor do you have in your colon?" - Jeff Vandergrift
"Adam and Eve, not Adam and STEVE! Haha!" - teacher of the Confirmation class my mom tried to make me take when I was a sophomore
Okay so the last one isn't exactly beloved, but you catch the drift. These people are ignorant, they are homophobic, but they are masking this behind trying to make people laugh, as if that's better than using outright hate speech (although, to me, that seems pretty outright). This is something that is seen in so many outlets. And especially with the comments directed towards our perception of what gay sex is like, you can tell that these people don't take homosexuality seriously at all. They think it is all just a big joke. They don't respect gay people. And I think that is especially prominent with the sex thing. Anal and oral sex are perceived to be all that homosexuality is. And of course, they're humorous, not to be taken seriously, because nothing is funnier that a legitimate form of intimacy. They also ignore that anal and oral sex are DEFINITELY used by heterosexual couples as well. Also, through ignorant homophobic comedy, gay stereotypes are used. Comedy is made about what society's general perception of homosexuality is. This perception is incredibly ignorant.
Let's look at the second reason I see behind this behavior. My school is thought of throughout Las Vegas as the 'gay school'. Because what's gayer than culture? But of course, looking at things from the 'social outcast' point of view, and looking at things through high school stereotypes, it is the 'gay school'. I mean, what's the most prominent stereotype for male theater kids? Gay. And this can be applied throughout the rest of the school. Of course this is ridiculous, but that's how the school is looked at. I don't want to repeat myself because I pretty much explained all this in my 'No Homo' piece, but, to summarize, with the ridiculous standards of masculinity men are facing these days, one of the biggest fears is to be thought of as gay, because nothing shatters false masculinity quite like that. It's the Lil Wayne/No Homo paradigm! Scared of being called gay? Joke about it first, then they'll never suspect you. These boys feel like they need to over-assert their 'masculinity' in order to shed the image given to them by the school they attend. It's sad, really.
I just see so much of this shit coming from these guys, and I wonder, WHY IS BEING GAY THE FUNNIEST THING IN THE WORLD? I don't think the lives of those who identify as LGBT have qualities that are any funnier than the lives of those who identify as hetero/cissexual. But of course, I'm looking at things through my feminist lens, which makes me see past ugly stereotypes. And at the end of the day, I would rather take things too seriously than be ignorant