A man walks into a bar.
The women all pause. Then … action! Mouths drop, knees weaken, and one smitten lady after another makes her move. Some pounce, others merely purr. It’s a scenario straight out of a heterosexual male fantasy.
What happens, though, when the admirers are men? Does it go from being a straight man’s wet dream to an emotionally distressing nightmare? Will he require therapy to recover?
Let’s change the setting to the workplace, where colleagues used to be able to greet each other with kisses on the cheek without #MeToo breathing down their necks. In Buenos Aires, where I lived for four and a half years, it was considered rude not to. Were straight guys silently suffering pecks from gay colleagues, lying awake at night trying to quell their tormented minds?
#MeToo has undoubtedly helped a lot of women by putting toxic masculinity in its place and exposing widespread harassment, abuse, and worse. Even better, it’s put men (and sometimes women) on notice that their workplace behavior is being monitored, and that it could cost them their jobs.
But it’s also blurred the line separating flattery and sexual intimidation while at the same time making workplace friendships extremely risky business. Twitter is not always the best place to adjudicate what are often complicated claims better adjudicated in the courts. After all, weren’t progressives always the ones who promoted privacy and due process?
They’re not only dangerous for straight men, who could be acting inappropriately without even realizing it. Gay men are also vulnerable to loopholes in #MeToo. As more grifters try to work a new world order that insists we must always believe the victim, the progressiveness that’s intended to protect minorities and the underprivileged now can so easily work against some of them.
Gay men are such easy marks, as social media star James Charles found out after being accused of trying to turn straight men gay (as if that’s even possible) by flattering them with too much gusto. We’re already often painted with a broad brush: “PREDATORS.” In the eyes of some, we’ll corrupt their children and possibly molest them, too. If we’re not trolling for the underage, we’re trying to convert straight men by getting them into bed.
These days, I sometimes find myself overthinking my behavior around straight men. I try not to let a look linger, lest someone accuse me of staring too long. Slow the eye-roll. That once got a former cellmate of the late XXXTentacion nearly beaten to death by the rapper.
In the current climate, a gesture of camaraderie can retroactively be categorized as a sexual impropriety — or as an attempt to manipulate another person’s sexual orientation. It recently happened to someone close to me whose friend-turned-ex-employee accused him of firing him because he was straight.
The crux of his case was a friendly kiss on the cheek in a restaurant. He won a sizable settlement, not because the tribunal believed he had suffered emotionally but because there was no way of proving he hadn’t.
Had the boss been a woman, the disgruntled former subordinate with a documented history of poor performance probably wouldn’t have had much of a case. It’s hard to imagine that a tribunal would have been any more likely to take it seriously than an attempt by a gay man to wrest a cash settlement from a female boss by characterizing her kiss on his cheek as an attempt to turn him straight and a source of mental distress.
This isn’t to deny that gay men, like straight men, can sometimes be overly aggressive with their ardor, as Charles admittedly has. Sexual orientation doesn’t predispose one to inappropriate behavior, and it doesn’t excuse one from it either.
But what happens when sexual orientation becomes the entire story, when it’s not so much about a kiss on the cheek, or a compliment, as it is about a kiss or a compliment offered by a gay man?
It’s a twist most of us didn’t see coming as laws of discrimination were created to serve the unprivileged. But here’s the next twist: If we are largely powerless against this development, we partly have ourselves to blame.
“Always believe the victim!” we shouted from the rooftops as #MeToo gained traction, ignoring the reality that people, even alleged victims, sometimes lie. It’s created an environment in which we’re terrified of challenging any accusation of sexual impropriety, lest we, in turn, be accused of deterring others from coming forward.
We’ve adjusted the demands of decorum to protect accusers, while waiving “Innocent until proven guilty,” a concept that’s meant to protect the accused. Now a homophobic straight man with dollar signs compromising his morality can use the compassion we demand for alleged victims to further an anti-gay agenda and earn a quick pay-out.
How do we fight back? Do we watch our every move around straight men, refuse to be alone with them without witnesses present, and only engage in the most clinical “bro”-friendly interactions with them? Do we retreat back into our safe spaces, where a kiss on the cheek, or a compliment, is less likely to come back to haunt us?
How do we fix a flawed system that now can be manipulated so easily by a con? The first step is to value facts over emotions. We need to stop using psychology to rationalize inconsistencies. We need to be unafraid to ask tough questions, even at the risk of deterring future victims from coming forward. We need to demand that they come forward anyway, because as with any crime, waiting a week or a month or a year or decades to do so, obstructs justice.
Legal recourse won’t always work, but swift, decisive action, is the best reaction. Calling out offensive behavior when it happens and making a record of it and reporting sexual assault as soon as physically possible helps protect accusers from charges of machination.
Yes, we live in a complicated world where trauma often precludes rational thinking, but the legal system must protect everyone, not just the traumatized. We shouldn’t hold alleged victims of sexual improprieties to a lesser burden of proof at the expense of possibly innocent defendants.
That just creates more potential victims and a broken system that serves up retribution, not truth and justice. Ultimately, those who suffer most might end up being those who are most in need of protection.
You lost me at toxic masculinity.
Man About Town
I stopped reading when I got to the words “social media star.”
@Man About Town – “social media star” is the ultimate oxymoron
Pound me too has undoubtedly become a weapon some nasty women use to be total bit*ches in the office, to gain power , and create an atmosphere of fear and suspicion!
“the progressiveness that’s intended to protect minorities and the underprivileged now can so easily work against some of them.”
We have rule of law, not “progressiveness.” And rule of law, when it is functioning correctly, protects everyone equally. It doesn’t protect only minorities and the “underprivileged” (whatever that means). The author is deeply confused about many things.
Also, if there is an actual legal case involving his friend in which a straight male employee won a substantial payout even though there was no evidence of any wrongdoing, he really ought to identify the case by name. It sounds like he made it up.
What? You don’t believe that somebody lost a court case because they couldn’t prove something didn’t happen, even though there was no proof that it did happen? Because that would totally stand up on appeal.
I’ve had female co-workers who grabbed my ass whenever walking by me. Not even a joke. I’ve also been way too drunk to make good decisions regarding who I had sex with and what we did. I’ve had blackout sex, which I only found out about at later times. Guys in gay bars have grabbed my crotch without even asking. Do I get #metoo or, since we’re both men, does it make us both victims and perpetrators? I don’t feel victimized by any of it. The days of my butt or crotch being grabbed are over, as are my drunken promiscuous days. The world didn’t end and I’m fine.
I hate to say it, but feeling uncomfortable in certain situations is a fact of life. Were you raped or otherwise assaulted? If not, then it’s time to get over yourself. Other thing is that if we’re really seeking equality then it should be okay to walk up to a guy and see if he’s interested, so long as we don’t see a wedding ring or some other indicator of him being straight. They are free to say they aren’t interested.
So when a woman makes a claim against a man, we’re wrong for not automatically believing her, but when a straight man makes a claim against a gay man, it’s homophobia? Good lord.
This is the world progressives want us to live in. But as usual, it’s really only meant to apply to straight white men. When they do these things, they’re horrible monsters. When everyone else does these things, there’s always a reason why it’s ok for them to do it, usually something about how the history of oppressed people in this country gives them a pass in 2019.
You can’t have it both ways. If you want to victimize the world, straight white men can be included in that. If you’re telling everyone how to live their lives, you better make damn sure you’re not doing it either.
I think the metoo movement lost its credibility when it was hijacked by regressive’s engaging in identity politics and hierarchical victim hood.
Appalling article. Just cancelled my Queerty account.
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