Monday, March 21, 2005

Pissed, and I don't mean drunk

I just got out of my last class, "Boys in Trouble: White Masculinity in Hollywood," and I was all set to spend the next hour and a half with Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries when I realized I was going to scream out loud if I didn't write this out and get it out of my system.

I spent the last two hours of "Boys in Trouble" listening to the straight guys in the class make complete assholes of themselves, or rather demonstrate what complete assholes they really are. After watching the scene in Pulp Fiction where Ving Rhames is raped and Bruce Willis saves him, we fell into a discussion of why the roles would never be reversed and why Hollywood would never stand for Bruce Willis being raped on the big screen. Somehow, this turned into a discussion of why the idea of a man being raped is so much more traumatic than if a woman is being raped, and why being raped is the worst thing that can happen to a man. "Are you seriously telling me you'd rather be in a horrific car crash and lose both your arms, and your vision in one eye, than be raped?" To which a guy named Dave replied in the affirmative, "because it makes you a woman." He also mentioned, "I'd definitely rather be in a car crash than have a cock in my ass."

After the class took a five-minute break, Dave sat down next to a girl he had been debating with during the discussion and said nastily, totally out of the blue, "The term rape generally refers to women being raped. Don't even try to act surprised. When you hear the word rape, the first thing that pops into your head is a woman being raped, not a man. All I'm saying is, at the end of the day, I'd rather give shaft than take it." To me, that doesn't even make any damn sense. He took a discussion of male rape and made it into, "I AIN'T GAY!" How do you do that without looking like a closet case? Oh yeah, you don't.

Next, Dave had to give a presentation on Gladiator. While summarizing Russell Crowe's previous roles, he reached a film called The Sum of Us and made a face while saying Crowe played a homosexual, and offered the following synopsis of the film: "He runs around going on dates, or something, whatever gay people do." As if we're into gay voodoo or some shit like that, which he couldn't possible understand because HE AIN'T GAY.

I spent most of the class afraid to speak because if I opened my mouth I would just start shouting at him. What I did speak up and say was that straight white people tend not to realize that the world belongs to them and don't understand why some of us can't stop complaining (i.e. striving for equal rights) when the playing field is so obviously level.

The rest of the class was spent discussing how the idea of masculinity is under threat by things like feminism, the civil rights movement, gay rights, etc. The idea of masculinity is under threat because the notion of the nuclear family is crumbling, and tradition gender roles are becoming more and more useless. Women, blacks, and gays are shown in films half the time as secondary to straight white male characters, and the other half the time as villainous threats to straight white male stability. This isn't just about Gladiator, or the movies in general -- it's about living in a society that sends the unrelenting message to gays and women and ethnic minorities that they're lesser or wrong. The message comes at us from all directions and I'm sick of people who don't see anything wrong with it, or choose not to see it at all.

I don't ususally get like this. I'm not an activist, or a ranter. So it's kind of strange to me that I'm so angry right now. Everyone once in a while something like this happens, where I'm reminded that I'm different, because it's always been deeply ingrained in my mind that I'm healthy, normal, and perfectly well-adjusted and being in love with a man doesn't change any of that. (Thanks a LOT, mom and dad.) Maybe I never rant like this because 99% of the time I'm totally oblivious to the fact that something as silly as sexual preference could make a complete stranger hate me. Being gay is far from the top of the list of ways I define myself, but days like today remind me that, for the purposes of assholes like Dave, it's the only thing that defines me.

I forget about people like Dave because I try and surround myself with people who are the opposite of them, but they're still there. Daves are everywhere. Most of the time I just do my best to avoid them, but then I forget they exist again, and something like this happens and it hurts even worse.

In closing: fuck you, Dave. I'd rather be in a car crash than be in the same room with people like you one second longer than I have to.


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