Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I'm Not Sure Whom Medved Insults More: this article: gays or "profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women." The offending passage:

The much better analogy for discomfort at gay teammates involves the widespread (and generally accepted) idea that women and men shouldn't share locker rooms. Making gay males unwelcome in the intimate circumstances of an NBA team makes just as much sense as making straight males unwelcome in the showers for a women's team at the WNBA. Most female athletes would prefer not to shower together with men not because they hate males (though some of them no doubt do), but because they hope to avoid the tension, distraction and complication that prove inevitable when issues of sexual attraction (and even arousal) intrude into the arena of competitive sports.

Tim Hardaway (and most of his former NBA teammates) wouldn't welcome openly gay players into the locker room any more than they'd welcome profoundly unattractive, morbidly obese women. I specify unattractive females because if a young lady is attractive (or, even better, downright "hot") most guys, very much including the notorious love machines of the National Basketball Association, would probably welcome her joining their showers. The ill-favored, grossly overweight female is the right counterpart to a gay male because, like the homosexual, she causes discomfort due to the fact that attraction can only operate in one direction. She might well feel drawn to the straight guys with whom she's grouped, while they feel downright repulsed at the very idea of sex with her.

Many gay activists suggest that this near-universal straight male repulsion at the idea of sex with another man is merely the product of cultural conditioning: a learned prejudice that ought to be unlearned. This represents the core message of gay pride parades and even the drive for same-sex marriage: an effort to persuade all of society that gay sex is as beautiful as straight sex, and to "cure" men of their visceral disgust at the very thought of what two (or more) male homosexuals do with one another.

I'm not going to tackle all of this, just a few points. First, I don't doubt that some significant percentage of heterosexual men, through no fault of their own, find all homosexual acts to be "icky." Though, as I will explain in more detail, to suggest that these feelings are "near-universal" in the straight male population is false. The reason why Medved seeks to overstate this innate distaste that many straight men (not straight women, who usually feel quite comfortable in gay male bars and with gay male friends) is the same reason why gays stress their innate homosexuality: "If I feel this way through no choice and no fault of my own, then acting on these feelings must be okay." Therefore, it must be okay for straight men to act homophobic. But, this simply commits the same "naturalistic fallacy" that anti-gay opponents argue the pro-gay side commits: just because you didn't choose those feelings doesn't mean acting on them is "right" or that they come from a "good place" within. Consider, most of those men would have an innate sexual arousal at the thought of two attractive women having sex with one another. Female homosexuality is every bit as homosexual as male homosexuality. That fact alone suggests no reason or rhyme for the guttural feelings that straight men may have at the thought of homosexual acts.

Second, as I noted above it is absolutely false to suggest that revulsion to all acts homosexual is near-universal for straight males. Anyone aware of cross cultural history knows this to be laughable. It is possible that a majority of males in any given population do indeed have an innate revulsion to homosexual acts. Further the thought of being the "feminine" partner in a homosexual sex act may be revolting to almost all straight men. But some huge, unknown percentage (certainly in the double digits) of self-defining, self-understanding heterosexual who are without a doubt fully attracted to the opposite sex in a way they never could be to the same sex, nonetheless have the capacity to enjoy homosexual sex acts using other males -- usually smaller, prettier, younger, and more feminine, -- as substitutes for women. If that means that these men are really "some" kind of bisexual, then a huge percentage of the self-defining heterosexual population are or have the capacity to be some kind of bisexual.

Take for instance, Tim Hardaway's basketball team. Throw them all in a prison, take the women away, and I'm estimate that 1/3 of the team would just love to shower with Leonardo DiCaprio or Matt Damon.


Tom Van Dyke said...

I think Medved's analogy per one-way attraction is valid.

You make a good point that even if taboos are instinctual, they aren't necessarily good. I do question whether male and female homosexualities are 100% equivalent, since there may be an evolutionary reason and a very real epigenetic phenomenon involved for males.

But since the notorious gay sheep incident, I don't think much honest inquiry is on the horizon.

As a casual observer, I make it that both sides of the divide are afraid things might not come out in accordance with their druthers.

Anonymous said...

The ill-favored, grossly overweight person in our culture might be the one he sees in the mirror????

Anonymous said...

Female homosexuality is every bit as homosexual as male homosexuality. That fact alone suggests no reason or rhyme for the guttural feelings that straight men may have at the thought of homosexual acts.

But (most) straight men like watching women have sex together because they're women, and straight men are attracted to women. You might as well argue that gay men should be as aroused by watching women together as by watching men together, given that both acts are equally homosexual!