As if we didn’t already guess this from the reaction to Sam Smith’s latest music video, a new study has found that both gay and straight men can be femme-phobic.
This study looked at men in higher-status job roles. It found that traditionally masculine men were judged as more suitable candidates for high-profile positions.
Surprising? Perhaps not from straight guys, but it turned out plenty of gay men felt the same.
The study was carried out by the University of Sydney. It polled 256 men, half of whom identified as gay and half as straight.
Promoting Sydney to overseas visitors
It showed participants six videotapes of candidates. Each was auditioning for a lead role in a mock Sydney tourism campaign.
They explained they wanted to cast a gay man to highlight the city’s diverse appeal.
“In the videos, the actors delivered a script related to the tourism campaign in a manner where their voice and body-language was manipulated to come across as either masculine or feminine-presenting,” says the study.
You can check out some of the tapes below. They all read the same script but presented in slightly different ways. All the actors provided two videos – one more masculine and one more feminine.
The flipside videos, where the same actors butch or camp it up, are here.
The results were clear. Both the gay and straight men indicated “a significant preference for the masculine videoclips.”
And, “in most (but not all) cases each actor’s masculine presentations received more votes compared to their feminine presentations.”
Butch boss level
The researchers say that butch and masculine characteristics bring advantages “in the pursuit of high-status opportunities.”
They note that as signs of gender nonconformity can result in discrimination or bullying when younger, many gay men go to lengths to act traditionally masculine. We often carry some element of internalized homophobia.
“Policing of masculinity among gay men is not only self-directed; there is also evidence of prejudice toward more feminine gay men from within the gay community.”
Most of us will have come across examples of this “policing”. It can include the “no femmes” requests on Grindr to sneering at super-femme or camp gay guys.
This study said such attitudes can add to the “gay glass ceiling” some in the LGBTQ+ community face in the job market. Other studies have found that many still see leadership roles as more suitable for masculine males. In other words, the more “flamboyant” one is perceived, the less competent you’re judged to be by some people.
As gay men, we should know this isn’t true. However, this study says otherwise.
“Such a connection suggests that the extent to which gay men internalize societal stigma about being gay may influence their treatment of individuals who possess stigmatized traits.”
In this case, even when participants are told a marketing campaign wants to use a gay man, they still opt for the more masculine guy.
The researchers suggest that even though diversity quotas ensure more gay men are hired by organizations, those job hires are often the ones who present in a more traditionally masculine way. That gay men themselves often perpetuate this practice is “troubling”, say the authors.
As it should be.
Would be interesting to see it broken out by age.
I think we can safely jump to broad conclusions on this one.
I’m really astounded by generalizations presented in this so-called “study”!
“They note that as signs of gender nonconformity can result in discrimination or bullying when younger, many gay men go to lengths to act traditionally masculine. We often carry some element of internalized homophobia.”
Preference is NOT THE SAME as phobia!!! Just because a person might prefer masculine traits in a partner, it doesn’t mean that that individual is “femme-phobic”! A phobia is an irrational fear, a preference is formed out of childhood experiences – the two are not synonymous with each other and shame on misguided activists for condemning the honestly held preferences of others.
While the world may be diverse, our individual preferences are NOT! Some individuals prefers partners of a darker skin color, while others prefer partners with straight hair, or partners who are tall, or short, or of a certain ethnicity, or partners of the same ethnicity, or partners with feminine behavioral traits, or partners with masculine behavioral traits – and while some of this might boil down phobia, the majority of men and women are simply trying to honestly live their lives, seeking out partners who fulfill them spiritually and sexually.
As for leadership correlating with masculinity, this is a phenomena found in ALL human cultures, not just here in the West. Every human culture on the planet selects masculine acting, non-flamboyant leaders, whether they’re male or female. Check out every single world leader or CEO – not a single one of them acts femininely or flamboyantly, regardless of their sex, regardless of their culture or nationality, from progressive Scandinavia all the way to the most obscure Amazonian tribe, they all select masculine, non-flamboyant leaders. Methinks this is a genetic preference hardwired into our human operating system, and NOT learned behavior.
Well put. I will also add that flamboyant=femme is an affront to women. Women don’t do flamboyant, gay men take the cake in that. I call it faggy, not girly or feminine, but even at that, I find some of them very attractive sexually.
It’s true, rejecting fagboyant is not a phobia, but simply personal preference. The strong grounded attractive no frills male emulates confidence, safety and clarity: very attractive traits in a turbulent world.
Some guys are really flamboyant and are really cool. Ross Matthews comes to mind.
@Diplomat: Furthermore what the authors of this study have (conveniently) left out, is that flamboyancy is perceived by most people to have its roots in personal insecurity. One shouldn’t be surprised therefore, that flamboyant individuals tend not to get selected for positions of leadership and authority.
It’s the evolutionary imperative; just as applicable today as it was a million years ago. Survival of the fittest.
This just in… news editor at Queerty discovers that homosexual men are actually sexually attracted to men, finds that inconceivable then proceeds to gay bash them for it.
There ya go Dan, fixed your lead in for this story.
The comments on this article are weird. As gay men, we are each other’s best allies, and should be supporting each other in our careers. If we allow ourselves to be divided by something as superficial as masculinity, we are no better than the homophobes who hold so many of us back.
There’s absolutely nothing superficial about masculinity, it built this fabulous western culture that allows even the most divergent of us to thrive if we so choose to.
The truth is, and its one you’ve yet to accept, you are NOT a victim and that the only thing holding you back is you.
Paris in Santiago
This is the saddest story I’ve read on this site. And some of the comments are quite disgusting. There is no gay community anymore. Just too many sick insecure men that have an issue with fem guys as leaders.
There are many successful fem guys and butch women – all you have to do is remove your head from your ass, and look around. Idiots.
Where are all these many successful effeminate leaders that you mentioned in your post? How many world leaders are effeminate, male or female? How many company CEOs? Either the entire world is inextricably femme-phobic, or effeminate individuals are perceived as insecure individuals, which prevents their selection to positions of leadership and authority. Which is the more likely scenario?
Good leaders possess self-awareness, garner credibility, focus on relationship-building, have a bias for action, exhibit humility, empower others, stay authentic, present themselves as constant and consistent, become role models and are fully present.
Effeminacy in men is more associated with a desire to be charming, witty, seductive, entertaining, fashionable, creative, imperious, glamorous, alluring and bitchy. People with such personality traits tend not to seek leadership roles in politics or corporations; it’s far more common to see feminine men in the arts.
However, success in the arts could end up positioning a feminine man in the role of CEO of his own organization, whether that be in music, entertainment, art or fashion. It would be interesting to know if someone like Sam Smith enjoys the more executive/leadership dimensions of his success – or if he delegates such responsibilities to others.
You do realize you’ve just highlighted the masculine/feminine paradigm that has existed between the sexes since the dawn of time?
In answer to your query, I would offer up someone like Jeffrey Star, who fits every aspect of the narrative you presented.
Tell it like it is, Ulf!
That men who are sexually attracted to men are aroused by masculine behaviors and physical attributes should surprise no one – just look at our porn stars.
It isn’t “internalized homophobia” that no matter how “gender non-conforming” we were as kids, we learn how to butch it up or go to a gym. It’s about getting laid.
I think the LGBTQI+ community needs to learn about and confront our own homophobia. Just because we’re gay doesn’t mean we’re automatically not homophobic. The sooner we can understand that and deal with it the sooner equality really can exist.
I think what you’re actually arguing for is equity not equality. And just so you know, every society that ever attempted such a lofty goal, turned out to be totalitarian, murderous fascist. (Stalin, Mao etc.)
I am perfectly fine with my masculinity, you’re the one that seems to have a problem with it, making it a YOU problem not a WE problem. The sooner you accept you can’t control other people and start examining why you want to in the first place, then there’s no hope of ever resolving the toxicity between the two divergent paths.
It’s sad to watch our once-proud movement for equality devolve into a reality-denying cult.
Paris in Santiago
@ Globetrotter: obviously, you can’t read, nor take instruction well.
I posted ‘take your head out of your asses and look around..’ for fem guys and butch girls in leadership roles.
Then you ask me to show you!? Hunn, If you can’t do the work – don’t bother squawking. You’re just lazy and uninspiring.
Now go have a laydown. You read ‘tired’.
Ooh looks like Paris in Santiago got all bussy hurt from Globetrotter.