Muddled messages show cultural bias against “feminine” boys

Great follow-up to my post about Dr. Phil’s muddled message in this Salon post by Sarah Hoffman (pen name): My Son, the Pink Boy.

Elsewhere on his website, Dr. Phil tells a mother concerned about her lesbian daughter, “Homosexuality is not a learned behavior. A sexual orientation is inherited. You are wired that way.” He asks, “What difference does it make if she is gay? Accept her, support her, and do not be judgmental. It is difficult enough for her to live openly and honestly in this society. Don’t put your judgment on top of that.”But definitely rain that judgment down on your 5-year-old son.

So I’m really trying to figure this out. Dr. Phil tells us that it’s OK to be gay (just like the APA), but it’s not OK for boys to play with Barbie (just like NARTH), because … well, that’s where I get stuck. Because … they might grow up to be gay? But … they won’t necessarily, he says. And around we go.

Perhaps Dr. Phil’s thought process is just terribly muddled (the more charitable explanation among those I’ve considered). A more likely explanation is that Dr. Phil really isn’t OK with homosexuality and thinks that it can be prevented in boyhood if you just chuck the Barbies and say NO. If so, he hides this message fairly well — or at least confuses his viewers with his homos-good/proto-homos-bad schtick.

Her conclusion, in part:

Anti-gay organizations are clear about why boys like Sam need to change. But Dr. Phil’s muddled message reflects a broader, mostly unspoken cultural bias in America — even among Americans who are accepting of gay people — that femmy boys are somehow nebulously bad (though no one can actually articulate why).

Sarah Hoffman makes many great points, including the fact that we seem willing to throw millions of straight men –men who may grow up to be so-called metrosexuals, or perhaps just librarians and architects rather than firefighters and football players — on the fires of childhood mocking and derision just in case their tendency to not be hyper-male enough indicates future gayness. This despite knowing that 1) some gay guys are hyper-macho football players and firefighters, 2) mocking and derision don’t make a guy stop being gay (although they might make him kill himself), and 3) many traits derided in boyhood — tenderness, sensitivity, artistic talent, performative skill — are traits we turn around and admire in grown men.

Seems pretty obvious it’s not the boys in this whole confused scenario who need fixin’.

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6 Responses to Muddled messages show cultural bias against “feminine” boys

  1. Thanks for sharing my blog post! And it’s awesome to read yours–I will post to my readers too. I’m so happy that you are writing about this stuff too–I will add your blog to my blogroll!

  2. Thanks! It is truly a comfort to feel the presence of other folks helping to push and hold open cultural space in which everyone can exist!

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Muddled messages show cultural bias against “feminine” boys | Pink Is for Boys -- Topsy.com

  4. Writing about this stuff too (friend of Sarah H’s).
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-buttenwieser/gender-roles-kids_b_820875.html
    & one my blog (a giveaway right now for Not All Princesses Dress In Pink).

  5. Pingback: Feminine messagers | Imagetree

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