On 11-25-09 when Jennifer complained to JR Brown that the latter was stereotyping gay desires, JR responded:
"I don't follow; the stereotype that gay men like muscular men? It is a stereotype that is well-known and frequently perpetuated by gay men themselves, partially as a corrective to the idea that gay men are universally feminine and desire to be so."
So if gay men dominantly like muscular men, and all gay men are trying to find other gay men with whom to make whoopee, then shouldn't most real-life gay men be bulked-up and steroidal?
It's quite possible that they are in JR's neck of the woods. But I suspect that even if this was so it would be the exception to the rule. It's my observation that most gay men, like most straight men, are of average build. Do gays fantasize about muscular men? I imagine that they do, but if they are fantasizing, rather than of seeing in fiction a type that they regularly encounter in real life, then their fantasies can't be reasonably distinguished from the fantasies of female patrons of American romance novels. In both cases gays and straight women may desire something that is rarely obtainable in real life, but which does have the real-life effect of turning them on.
Now, the fact that I've entertained this line of reasoning does not mean that I subscribe to JR's notion that gays are dominantly attracted to hypermasculine men, any more than I buy her notion that women are dominantly attracted to "beta male" types. I believe most heterosexuals and homosexuals demonstrate a wide gamut of tastes and that those who try to typify any group are usually those ready with a dull axe to grind.
JR, of course, objects to this sort of axe-grinding when it's turned against something she likes:
'As you do not appear to be a manga reader, you will probably not relate to this, but yaoi and shoujo manga and the women who read them are routinely derided (by men) because of the two genres' emphasis on androgynous, pretty male characters, which is taken as evidence that the readers cannot handle, cannot attract, or are afraid of "real men". I cannot count the number of times I have seen someone (almost always male) claim that all yaoi fans are pre-pubertal, terminally insecure or closet lesbians because real women want real men, who are by definition manly and muscular. (Plus the whole "gay is icky, women who like it are sick" thing.)'
I do not doubt that such individuals exist or that they have expressed such negative stereotyping. But I argue again, as I did before, that saying that the majority of gays prefer a certain physical type is no less a negative stereotype, even when it is in reaction (as it appears to be with JR) against another negative stereotype (i.e., gays are all mincing sissies).
JR's justification, I presume, is that she thinks that there have been enough trustworthy studies of female and gay responses to pronounce her stereotypes to be natural "trends" rather than stereotypes. Thus she thinks her stereotypes are justified by "science." But a science that contravenes what one can see with one's own eyes is a science like that of the famous joke that ends with, "After loss of all four legs, frog goes deaf."
JR said to me on 12-2-09:
'As to your dismissal of voluntary disclosure, why would women, en masse, lie to a computer program (as used in the Pope study) about which pictures of men they found more appealing? This smacks to me of the hoary old "women don't know what they want" argument.'
Well, they might prevaricate not because they're women but because they're human and they know that the data will be read somewhere by some other human, even if it's no one they know. They might fudge their true opinions because admitting that they like hypermuscular men makes them sound shallow, while saying that they like men who are "emotionally open" makes them sound mature and together. There's a whole chapter devoted to the topic of voluntary disclosure studies in Levitt and Dubner's SUPERFREAKONOMICS, on sale wherever fine books are sold. (Damn; if I'd had an Amazon link I'd of made some cash just now.)
If JR can show me studies in which hetero women's sexual responses were accurately measured and did not show any physical excitation at the sight of muscular males, then that might be something closer to dependable physical evidence. But one would still need a LOT of these readings to prove anything-- many more than the humble number of studies that JR's cited so far on this blog.
In the story of Philoctetes, the main character's poisoned wound is healed by rust from the spear that wounded him. That's a great fictional conceit, but it doesn't work in real life. One negative stereotype does not cancel out another, and roundabout attacks on superhero comics don't make Japanese manga any better than they already were.
2 hours ago