Are gay men defined by a specific style of attire and getup? Well, there may not be any fixed set of rules to go by, but recent events dictate that femmephobia is engraved in gay culture.
What Is Femmephobia?
Femmephobia essentially refers to the dislike and hatred towards effeminate qualities and features that apply to all genders. People who are femmephobic dislike people who have feminine traits and qualities, which reflect in the way they talk, walk, interact, dress, and behave.
So you might be wondering how people in the gay community are femmephobic while they are supposed to be more tolerant towards gender expression? Turns out, being on the feminine end of the gender binary attracts severe scrutiny.
The 10 Year Challenge
The 10-year challenge was a social media fad on Facebook and Instagram in 2019 where people posted side-by-side pictures of themselves from a decade ago and now. It was originally intended to decipher how much people have changed over the decade and how far they have developed as human beings. It was especially an eye-opening challenge for gay men on Facebook as, within the past decade, people have become more open about their sexuality and gender opinions.
This challenge revealed a few shocking truths among gay males and how they are faced with body image struggles. The challenge revealed that people who participated in the gay community captioned their past images as unattractive and gross. More so, it was seen that most of these previous images that were despised had some feminine traits, which confirms that the 10-year challenge reveals femmephobia.
Is Having Feminine Qualities A Natural Phenomenon?
A homosexual person typically tends to possess feminine qualities during their adolescent years, a period often associated with liminality. Liminality is referred to as the stage of transition where people who are not gender-neutral neither belong to this group nor that group. There are several ongoing studies about being stuck in this phase, as is the case for bisexual women.
During adolescence, boys typically tend to be slender with female-like body structures in most cases. In the gay community, this sort of physique is named a "twink," which is more accurately a slang used in the gay community. Once this effeminate phase during adolescence is over, feminine gay naturally turns into masculine gay. But often, gay men are bullied and criticized within their community for the period when they possess such effeminate qualities.
Even in the gay community, people prefer masculine traits over feminine ones, while such people are shoved aside and sabotaged. It seems superficial that femmephobia should be more prevalent within the straight, heteronormative, and cisgender community. And it's a hard pill to swallow that this persists even more in the gay community, causing discrimination.
Femmephobia And Discrimination
In this era, it is easier than ever for people to come out and vocalize their gender identities and choices as various sorts of sexual behavior are more widely accepted. Countries and populations are now wholeheartedly accepting this group of people with support from legal authorities as well. So what begets this discrimination in the gay community?
Shockingly, discrimination is also etched in the deep crevasse within the gay community. You will be surprised to know those gay-specific dating apps highly and openly promote such acts of discrimination, including mobile dating. Online gender-based discrimination persists and some common dating apps reveal femmephobia in gay people.
Such online gay dating platforms are hotbeds of body image where people promote masculine images for gay people, creating a benchmark for everyone. Studies have revealed that gay masculinity is preferred over feminine gay men. Masculine guys have the normative standard of being muscular, strong, and hairy that depict femmephobic attitudes. If people are any different, they do not feel welcomed or accepted within their community.
How Toxic Is Femmephobia For The Gay Community?
With all the detailed explanations above that accentuates the negativity of femmephobia, it should come as no surprise that femmephobia is toxic for the gay community. This misogynistic attitude can prove to have fatal consequences for the gay community.
For instance, the backlash that feminine gay men receive due to having experiences of femme identity leaves them berated and weakened. Femmephobic people do not seek to understand this at all. In the gay community, being told one can "pass as straight" is a compliment. Even slogans, mottos, and marketing activities for products and services made for gay men are directed towards this direction.
A common saying in the gay community goes by "Not fats, No fems" that is vastly circulated in social media and gay-specific dating apps, which support the femme theory and femmephobia in gay communities. This accentuates the harsh image struggles and online bullying followed by self-loath and denigration. Research has shown that the aftermath of such circumstances also leaves people feeling deprived of affection and with the feeling of hanging by a thread, which often results in a spike in suicidal thoughts and actions.
Femmephobia And The Transgender Community
Although femmephobia affects the entire LGBTQ community, it seems that transgender people are faced with the brunt of this misogynistic belief. Femme identity coming is harder for the transgender community, especially transgender women. That is why the opposition towards transgender people is almost always focused on transgender women.
Most transgender people choose to dress up as women and thus, the severe backlash of femmephobia hits them directly. It is a fact that people tend to glorify and trust others more when they do not decipher that they are transgender. However, this does not mean that transgender men are safe, as they have to suffer the same plight.
As if the identity of transgender people in the community is not a big societal stigma already, femmephobia fuels it further. People should understand and illuminate that femme identities are nothing to be ashamed of within their communities.