Clodagh Chapman investigates the plight of the everyman.
CW: homophobia, misogyny, biphobia, sex
We live in times rife with injustice. Throughout the world, oppressed groups find themselves continually marginalised and their voices increasingly silenced. But there is one group who, above all others, suffer despicable acts of persecution. Yet their struggle goes unrecognised and even belittled by people who claim to be feminists. Truly, they are the real victims of the 21st Century. Let us take a moment to consider the plight of the straight cis man in a gay club.
In one example of such heinous acts of discrimination, some straight cis men find that they approach gay women only to have their advances dismissed. You can only imagine what a blow to their self-esteem this must be, often having never considered the prospect that the world might not revolve around their penises. Coming face-to-face with a real-life lesbian for the first time is, for many, a traumatic experience, and many men express confusion at the fact that they look remarkably like their straight counterparts. Some men report a sense of paranoia in the days following the incident, stemming from the startling realisation that women do not by default find them attractive, and that in fact any given woman – regardless of sexual orientation – may not wish to sleep with them. Understandably confused, many straight cis men ask for proof that the woman in front of them is indeed a real lesbian. Despite being wholly well-intentioned and sensitively-phrased in their interrogation of lesbians about their sexual history, the mechanics of lesbian sex, and their pornography of choice, many lesbians still label these men ‘misogynistic’ and ‘homophobic’. Words hurt.
Many find that this disorientation and distress is amplified by the existence of bisexual women. Lesbians are tragically incapable of sleeping with men and must suffer the consequences. But bisexual women offer a whole new challenge to straight cis male comprehension, posing the prospect of a woman being attracted to multiple genders, yet at times choosing to sleep with someone who is not a man. Moreover, learning that bisexual women do indeed sleep with women outside of threesomes (two women, one man, of course) often comes as a shock. This is not helped by the tendency of bisexual women to – in the absence of their own valid, standalone sexuality – rapidly oscillate between straight and gay anywhere up to 1000 times per second, rendering them invisible to the naked eye. Straight cis men report a lack of support networks in place to deal with the emotional stress that comes with the continued existence of bisexual women – with government funding often being diverted away from providing support to LGBT+ people in any capacity.
Straight cis men, as well as facing unwarranted verbal abuse from queer women, also often find on arrival that gay clubs are in fact geared around LGBT+ customers, and do not exist as a sort of live-action exhibition for straight cisgender people. Yet, at the risk of their night out with the lads being ruined, they bravely struggle through. In fact, in attempts to show their support for the LGBT+ community, straight cis men can often be heard shouting words of encouragement towards same-gender couples, regularly misreported as jeering and abuse. Likewise, ever-aware of their straight privilege and the fact that they are essentially guests in a queer space, straight cis men will typically assert that they are not gay at regular intervals throughout the night. Despite all this, they face grave violations of their human rights, sometimes even being told that they are perhaps not entirely welcome in gay clubs. Some straight cis men even hear it suggested that they instead go to one of the other many clubs in which they, unlike LGBT+ people, could have a safe night out – an absolute travesty of justice.
It is completely understandable that, in a state of confusion and upset, some straight cis men react violently. Yet they are told that this violence, particularly when it involves what could be misconstrued as physical abuse towards LGBT+ people, and more so when said physical abuse is accompanied by shouts of “fucking faggots”, constitutes a hate crime. Just another example of straight cis men being victimised by the justice system.
The needless persecution that straight cis men experience in gay clubs is immense. And, as LGBT+ people, we are all responsible for this. Why should straight cis men be deprived of the opportunity to take up queer space whilst treating LGBT+ people as a spectacle? Why should straight cis men be branded as misogynistic and homophobic, simply for being misogynistic and homophobic? It doesn’t make sense that as twenty-first century queer feminists, we let this unbridled discrimination take hold in our own community. Let us, from now on, be a voice for the straight cis man in a gay club – because his constant privileged whining just isn’t quite loud enough.
Illustration by Amy Van Zyl