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You know... the only time being "mistaken for gay" would be an issue was if the person making the mistake was someone I would be interested in dating. Otherwise I don't care.

A Facebook User

People think I'm gay all the time, mainly because I care about stuff.


Greta, you rock. I've had a sense for a while now that there's something very messed up about cultural expectations for men, but unable to put my finger on exactly what. Then you go and write this. Hooray!


... why do I keep reading the comments at AlterNet? It's like watching a train wreck.

The lowlight has to be the several people claiming 'but men have to be aggressive and protective because of EVOLUTION!!!'

I had to read this bit a few times "would he work full-time and maybe even overtime to help put me through grad school?" because it seems to me that this is just another unfair expectation of men. A woman wouldn't be expected to work overtime to get her husband through grad-school.

Manuel "Moe" G.

I love this, and I love you for writing this. ;-)

It reminds me how delighted I am that I no longer am inside the USA dating scene.

I my own house, with my wife and my daughter, I can be silly and emotional and fey, even though my outward appearance suggests a lumberjack or Israeli Special Forces (or a lumberjack who ate an agent of Israeli Special Forces, because of my gut).

My whole dating life (besides with my wife, who was not born in the USA), felt like a straight-jacket, full of hating myself for being a fraud, and hating myself because I needed to be a fraud.

I cannot blame, 100%, everything on the USA dating scene and sexism -- I see my own responsibility in all this.

Even more than idiotic sexism, the benefit comes from staying away from idiots in general. Sexism or no, people with more on the ball have a greater tolerance for true expressions of personality. So I work on myself to be more attractive to people with more on the ball.


The main thing of use in the piece is that (1) you admit you don't know anything about how much sexism against men there is out there (except of course you brag that it must certainly be less than that against women), and (2) that you admit men are victims of sexism which for a feminist is a huge huge step, and (3) you were prepared to ask at least some men their opinion which again for a feminist is pretty amazing, although I wonder a little why you didn't ask some men's right's advocates about the issue of men's rights?

But you have a long way to go down the path before you can call yourself someone who believes in gender equality. Next step: ditch the offensive and sexist label "feminist" and quit pretending you know the full extent of sexism in men's lives when you don't. If you still want to play the victim game and say women are worse off, then prove it, don't assume it. To the extent you can be honest with yourself you'll find yourself surprised a great deal more.

Greta Christina
I had to read this bit a few times "would he work full-time and maybe even overtime to help put me through grad school?" because it seems to me that this is just another unfair expectation of men. A woman wouldn't be expected to work overtime to get her husband through grad-school.

First: He wasn't expected to do that. That's why we were having conversations about whether or not he would do that.

Second: In fact, the plan we were considering was that he would put me through grad school... at which point I would take over the breadwinner position, and he would be a stay- at- home dad. The whole point of this plan was that he could eventually quit working and stop being the primary income earner for the family.

And third: Wives have been putting their husbands through school for decades. There have been countless marriages where women have worked as secretaries and whatnot while their husbands went through law school, med school, etc.

Greta Christina

DavidByron: Thank you for sharing.


Greta, this article was featured on the Young Turks.


DavidByron | July 27, 2010 at 11:06 AM:

Next step: ditch the offensive and sexist label "feminist" ...

Next will you call Jews racist for using the label "Jew"?

David Harmon

Wow. You just identified at least one, maybe up to three, of the "voices in my head" that have accumulated over the years.... Thanks!


Ugh, I really hate when dudes go "You dont know what sexism did to me!" and right in the next sentence slander gender equality. But what can you do.

I apologize for the slight tangent, back to the topic now.

You know its really a thin line, I mean I "suffered" through all 5 of those social pressures, but so far ive really enjoyed my "male role", dammit, Greta you just made me feel like the stay at home moms who are really happy with their position :(

I feel like a male Sarah Palin! :(


Stupid Alternet comment thing, refuses to load, grrr! Well, screw it, I'll just comment here and ignore them!

The "mistaken for being gay" thing, especially in regard to grooming, has always been a thorn in my side. I have a weakness for guys who are a bit effeminate and well-groomed--I often said that I wouldn't have such a problem being expected to spend so much time being "beautiful" if straight men were expected to hold the same standards. This, combined with my rather masculine interests and behaviors, got me labeled as "lesbo", and I think my family may still think I'm interested in "pretty boys" because I'm trying to bury my own gayness.

I've been loving the fact that so many more men are less worried about looking good, and that it's becoming more normal.

I think part of the motivation might have been plain old laziness. See how many lazy straight men (like Parker and Stone) whine about "teh ebil metrosexuals" and how women really want a fat, slovenly, insensitive asshole for a mate--even as they themselves demand top-of-the-line second-full-time-job-being-pretty looks from all women. Seriously, being allowed to sit on your ass, eat Cheetos and play Xbox because exercise and grooming were for "fags"--while for women, not being thin, shapely, and fashionable was for "lesbians"--had to be a pretty damn sweet deal for some Twos-looking-for-a-Ten. And just look at all the "pig married to a gorgeous model" kind of sitcoms that cater to that dynamic, reinforcing that good-looking men with nice bodies are all just a bunch of fairies, and that being fat, ugly, and lazy are just indications of how totally masculine you are.

Certainly, not all straight men are such losers, but you have to admit that it was a sweet deal for the ones who were.


heh, luckily as part of the geek sub-culture, I have none of those expectations!


I've been guilty of the fear of being mistaken for being gay. I haven't had that many girlfriends, and when I was younger, I used to worry that being perceived as gay would just be another dating obstacle to overcome.

As I've gotten older, worked with gay people, and dated more women, I'm starting to realize that its a silly fear.

Clarisse Thorn

I don't mean this to come off as arrogant tooting of my own horn, but I actually wrote a post series saying very similar things about masculinity last year. Some of the threads are still active; the final post received over a thousand comments over the last eight months. I think it's been a good ongoing conversation and I welcome more perspectives:

I was a bit surprised by the surprise at the expectation of violence appearing at the top of the list. But then the extent of the violence during adolescence is concealed from women/girls. I have not had to deal with insanely vicious violent sadists since I escaped from High School although I did observe some vestiges of macho cultist behavior while in college. I realize that everyone in high school is so caught up in their own crap they can not see much of anything else happening to anyone else. Even so, I would have thought that other people would have noticed the rather systematic manner in which I and other non-sadistically-violent males were dominated, humiliated and intimidated. I recall that Dan Savage wrote in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings in response to the pundits and reporters writing about how such horrible violence took place in the one place where "children feel safe" asked incredulously "Where the hell did these people go to high school?! Who feels safe in a high school?"

To be fair to Greta Christina, in my time in HS even the most animalistic of bullies understood that females do not want to see anyone beaten. It used to bother me (not anymore) that a given feminist while decrying the evils of men would say something such as "men just don't know what it's like to fear physical attack all the time," or some such as that. A la Dan Savage I always thought to myself "were you blind in high school?!" That describes nearly every day of my live back then. But then I suppose if even the worst bully takes care not to assault his favorite victim in front of a potential sex partner then it's possible for a female to go through life without having much of an awareness of this phenomenon.

This was true 30+ years ago and evidently (and sadly) it's still true now: for males in the U.S. during ages 11-18 if you're not a sadistically violent lunatic, very popular or built like Schwarzenegger then you're a walking punching bag.

John S.

Probably not as important as the ones you mentioned, but in addition, men are supposed to be handy around the house -- able to build and/or repair anything.


I have to agree with the "Fear of Seeming Gay" posters. I ran afoul of that a long time ago, and still do, because, as my moniker implies, I indeed do grow "flowers." And the stereotype is TRUE: there is a very disproportionate fraction of male plant growers, especially of orchids, who ARE gay.

I think it works like this: some fraction of little boys are interested in natural history, particularly plants, and they maybe have a few plants in their room, or a bit of space in the garden. But that draws the accusations and suspicions of being a "Pansy-Ass Faggot." Explicit and implicit pressure results, and most boys are driven-away, EXCEPT for the ones for whom it doesn't matter (because the accusations are, in a way, true, or at least growing plants is the least of their problems attracting criticism), OR the affinity is strong enough to resist the pressure from friends, family, strangers and society. It turns-out that I am actually very very good at horticulture, through a combination of interest and ability, and I am also neither gay nor homophobic; in fact, to be homophobic would be awful considering how many of my co-hobbiests and friends are openly gay.

How many budding male botanists, horticulturalists, agriculturists and others (biologists, doctors, artists,...) are driven away from satisfying and useful interests and careers by just this one cultural bias?

I think it is also part of the "no emotions" and "ready to fight" expectations too: the fact that I'd rather walk away than risk getting my face broken by a drunken goon has netted me a good crop of "faggot" accusations! And why is it OK to tear-up when Old Yeller dies, but not when Juliet does?


Yep: the "Fixing Things" trope. I don't know anything about cars, plumbing or wiring, but I am constantly called-on to deal with them. I bought this tee-shirt:
which is appropriate for home and for work (I work as a Test Engineer: it's my job to BREAK things [but not cars, pipes or wires]).

I AM a good cook, and my GF a terrible one. I'm thinking of getting her this one:


The fixing things trope, yes...

Once I needed some stuff in the paint shop, and my male friend, D tagged along because he was bored and had nothing to do. They didn't have what I needed in the first store, so we ended up going to three different stores where they sold paint and other home-improvement stuff. In all three shops the same thing happened. The guys working in the stores all walked up to my friend and asked what he needed. I was completely ignored. He had to go "Uhh... I'm with her..." and point me out. Then they turned to me. D, didn't even know what the thing I needed was!

I told this story at a party held by my best friend, and then her sister's husband said he knew exactly how I felt. When they were to have their first kid he and his very pregnant wife went to a baby equipment store to buy some things, and he said he might as well could have been invisible, the way they ignored him.


Fight fight fight - but God forbid we fight a woman!
A man is expected to want to knock anyone's lights out. But if that one is a woman, all is suddenly very different.
No matter who attacked first, even if it was in self defence, or in defence of anyone else, or even if it was an accident - the moment he laid a finger on a woman he's a coward SoB who should be despised by everyone, and perhaps spend some time in jail.

That's hardly fair towards men.

Cliff Potts

This is independent verification of the same things which I broached in the section on Gender Dynamics is "Wealth, Women, and War." Nice to know I am not the only one who see these inconsistencies.

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