Why Stephen Fry (and gay men) should speak on Women’s sexuality issues
This was originally posted on my Medical Research Diary blog in November 2010 before this site even existed. The original post & comments will remain in their original location and can be viewed here. However as all my content is now being brought together on this site, I have decided to re-post this article.
Something I promised myself I wouldn’t do when I stared this blog was use it for a soap box too often. But I’m mad as a hatter about this whole bizarre situation regarding Stephen Fry. Unless you have missed it, Stephen Fry made some comments on sexuality and said that men and women think differently about sex.
Specifically, he said men think about sex more than women. Correct. He also said that women don’t want to believe it and tend to argue that women are just like men. Also correct.
It’s also true that during moments of enlightenment and frank dinner-chatter with some members of the male species, this argument has been made to me before. Furthermore, it was put to me separately by men of both homosexual and heterosexual persuasion. They argued quite fervently all men are known to feel this way on occasion whether they are willing to admit it or not. Now I don’t know if that’s true, but wasn’t that the very point made by Stephen?
As a woman, I don’t go through times when sex simply can’t leave my mind as much as I want it too. Certainly not for days on end. I also don’t know any women who suffer such thought patterns, although I’m sure there are some out there. Generally speaking, he is right. Women don’t know what that feels like to have a penis that sometimes drives your mind to complete distraction.
I can say this quite comfortably. Just as I can say quite comfortably that men will never know what it’s like to feel crabby, teary and cramped all over during the monthly visit from Aunty.
Since the publication of his view was repeated in Attitude Magazine, his comments have been twisted into such sensationalist headlines like “Stephen Fry thinks women hate sex and gay men are promiscuous”. The rhetoric in these articles takes his comments out of context if they have not been blatantly changed altogether. You can just imagine the revolt he copped. It was then that Stephen Fry, displayed his hurt and anger before leaving Twitter saying ‘So some fucking paper misquotes a humorous interview I gave, which itself misquoted me and now I’m the Antichrist. I give up’
Gutter journalism happens far too often. It also happened with Joe Hockey last week when he submitted ideas on a complex and significant area of policy in a public forum. However you’d be hard-pressed to find the details of the policy he put up for debate in any of Australia’s main stream media. His comments on the banking sector (which received Senate support I might add) were completely drowned out thanks to the media’s preference for a firestorm and cheap tabloid fodder designed to drive traffic to their websites.
But let’s put aside the reasons why the mean-spirited shouldn’t be allowed to do journalism. This is not why I’m really angry. What I’m really angry about is this notion that some have suggested, Germaine Greer being one, that a gay man has no business speaking on women’s sexuality.
One of the fundamental principles of our western liberal democracy is equality of all people. Equality does not mean people can speak on matters only provided they meet a certain set of conditions. Freedom and free speech are in there too. So if we believe in the principle of equality this means that all men and women have the same rights to speak about issues of sexuality as anyone. To suggest that gay men can’t speak about women’s sexuality because they “haven’t been there and couldn’t know” is simply outrageous. It’s just as outrageous for someone to suggest to me that I can’t voice an opinion or thought on what it’s like to have a penis and wear a condom or what Alice Springs might be like to visit when I’ve never physically been there.
Homosexual men are generally considered ‘safe’ by women. What I mean by that, is that we know gay men don’t want to get into our pants and as a consequence of that we feel safer around them and more open and willing to engage them in honest and frank conversations about sex and sexual issues compared with heterosexual men. It also seems to me that gay men are largely more sensitive and aware of their own feelings than heterosexual men, or if that’s not the case, they are more willing to admit and discuss them. Perhaps they also feel ‘safe’ around women. This self-awareness and expressiveness about emotions and feelings aligns more generally with how women work. So it seems to me that many gay men might be put in a position where they are able to make more accurate representations on the important subjects involving women than heterosexual men can.
I don’t agree with Andrew Bolt on his opinions regarding the environment (or much else for that matter) but I respect the right he has to make that opinion and blog about it. If you don’t like it, don’t hate all over the place, use your body parts to click away, block the trolls, turn the knob (pun intended) or whatever you need to do to switch it off. This is the beauty of the online world. You see what you want to see and you can customise your experience in any way you choose. This is something you can’t do in quite the same way inside other mediums, so take advantage.
Without this right to equality and free speech along with our respect for the rights of equality, we not citizens of democracy but are put back in the world where subjugation rules and homosexual men, women, Aboriginals, Muslims and every other marginalised group is left feeling unworthy and unwanted.
I’ve heard Stephen Fry speak a lot on issues and rarely does he speak without thought or with undue consideration. Even if I believed he said these comments as they have been printed over the last 24 hours, I can never support the suggestion that homosexual males, including Stephen Fry has no right and no basis on which to make them.