Hypermasculinity: The Search For A ‘Real Man’
Gay men, much like straight men, seem to have a laundry list of preferences. One of the most popular preferences that seem to be a common thread throughout most of the gay lifestyle is the one for a gay man to be masculine.
The desire to have a hairy leg brush up against yours in bed or facial stubble graze your face during a lip lock should come as no surprise to men of the gay community – after all, we are men who love other men and most of the qualities associated with “manhood.” However, those physical traits can easily be found in any man within arm’s reach. While physical attraction does play a major role in the compatibility of two men, for some, so does a man’s ability to be a guy’s guy.
“Are you masc?”
If you are a member of any gay social network, this is a question you are probably all too familiar with. It’s a question with any given number of motives behind it. In certain cases, for example, a masculine inquirer may be prodding to find out how compatible you both are based on your ability to move as a unit in public and remain unidentifiable, on the surface, as a man who partakes in homosexuality. In circumstances where the public’s perception is less of a concern, the motive may be that said inquirer, being masculine himself, fully understands that his attraction to men is founded completely in their virility. On the other end of the spectrum, you have those who may be masculine or feminine, yet only prefer a man with a softer touch and ask the question in order to sift through those too “mannish” for their tastes.
While these examples scratch the surface, by no means do they even begin to eclipse the variety of combinations that exist in this community when it comes to the preference of a masculine/feminine partner. Somewhere in the middle lies a group of men, ranging from masculine to feminine or an emulsion of the two, who take it up a notch by overlooking the basic masculine standard. For these men, hypermasculinity is not only a preference but a required trait for any man to even be considered eligible for the courting process, going as far as to seek one who demands to be “the man” in the relationship and will “put them in their place” if need be. But…what place is that? And if he is “the man” in the relationship, then who are you?
This preference for the hypermasculine partner surely has its own psychological roots, as most preferences do. The reason this one is so alarming, however, is because of how eager the men who share it are to effortlessly relinquish the very essence of themselves, especially when gay men already deal with enough issues of self-identity in society. It can be perceived that in order to fulfill their erotic and/or romantic fantasies of being with a “real man,” they are willing to put their own masculinity on the back burner to accommodate the overabundance of another’s.
The bottom line is that we are all indeed men. This is a concept that still needs to be digested by some. Many gay men overlook this fact when using terms of endearment, like “bitch” and “girl,” or when making heated statements to others like, “I may be gay, but I’ll kick your ass like a man.” While it may seem like fun and games in small circles, this is what is being projected into society’s understanding of gay men as a whole during a time where understanding is crucial. If a gay man is looking to be “handled” or “dealt with” by a “real man,” what are we saying? Should we assume that he does not consider himself to be a man at all? Should society? The implications made by the urge for authority are telling enough.