They did a study on this site.

Discussion on what it means to be straight acting, whether it's good, bad or indifferent.

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They did a study on this site.

Postby Cachasa » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:12 pm

I don't think the link is going to work since it was published in an academic journal. But I'll give some other info.

It was published in:

Journal of Men's Studies, Volume 14, issue 2, 2006 pages, 191-207

Author: JAY CLARKSON
University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa

So yeah, if you guys have read what do you think?
Last edited by Cachasa on Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Cachasa » Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:37 pm

....
Cachasa
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Postby doctor dan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:34 am

yeah, it should be archived somewhere here. NB: i wonder how the university of iowa's IRB handled his request. hint: i doubt he had this project approved.

This paper analyzes discourse on Straight-Acting.com. I argue that straight-acting gay men model their version of masculinity on working-class aesthetics. Furthermore, this masculinity is dependent upon a high level of antifemininity and homophobia. The members of this community condemn any gender performances they label "in your face" gayness. While their rejection of the link between effeminacy and homosexuality has the potential to undermine dominant gender ideology, ultimately they reinscribe hegemonic masculinity through their marginalization of women and other gay men.
Keywords: gay men, gender, hegemonic masculinity, straight acting

"Straight acting" describes gay men who are more masculine than the effeminate stereotypes . . . not better, just less nelly! This site exists so that you can explore this controversial topic from all angles . . . pro and con." (StraightActing.com)

"Don't discriminate against people that express their preference" is one of the requests for understanding for the members of the StraightActing.com online community. Here, self-proclaimed "straight acting gay men"1 gather to discuss a wide variety of issues. These discussions are primarily men discussing their own straightacting performances, what they like about straight-acting men, and what constitutes straight and/or gay acting. The plea for tolerance of their straight-acting preference thinly veils a discourse that is highly homophobic and glorifies normative standards of masculinity. It is a reminder that the struggle to define gay identity often pits those who should be allies against each other in a struggle for gendered privilege.

Mark, 44, a long-time member of the Web site, summarizes the problematic nature of this community, saying:

It's never enough for some feminine men to simply insist they be respected for who they are. Uh-uh. They also have to INSIST that any guy who's into guys is secretly JUST LIKE THEM!!! (The term "straight-acting" contains the word "acting" and therefore means you're being phony.... That's an intelligent argument?) Give me a friggin' break. These are the same bozos who want us to "celebrate diversity," as long as said "diversity" doesn't include everyday Joe-types. I'm very tired of pissy, bitchy queens who insist on being the visible face of our community, (emphasis in original)

This is one, admittedly sensational, example of the discourse of the Straight Acting.com discussion area subtly named the "Butch Boards." This comment reveals a discourse rich in contradiction and condemnation, in which a group identity is constructed and normalized. In this discourse the straight-acting man becomes the "everyday-Joe type" and all others become "pissy bitchy queens." This essay explores how a straight-acting gay identity is positioned in opposition to cultural stereotypes of gay men that conflate femininity with homosexuality. These unmoderated discussions present a rare and rich opportunity for exploration of a specific group of gay men's discursive construction of their sexual and gender identities. In this pilot study21 analyze 10 different discussion topics that focus primarily on the question of bodily performance of gender and how these performances visually depict sexuality.3 Careful analysis of these texts helps reveal the ways in which gay men construct identities, their explanations and justifications for these identities, and the implication of these particular identity choices for perpetuating or challenging dominant gender ideologies.

Ultimately, I argue that many of these men confirm Ward's (2000) fears that the perpetuation of hypermasculine symbols among gay men may function to promote negative attitudes toward femininity, feminine men, and women. This study, as she argues, is the first step toward understanding the relationships of gay men to femininity by analyzing gay men's strategies for coping with homosexuality. The remainder of this essay examines the historic construction of gay masculinities, briefly discusses the concept of gender ideology, and explores the discourse of masculinity in StraightActing.com. I argue that the masculinity they construct is defined similarly to normative working-class masculinity and depends upon the subjugation of women and non-straight-acting men.

In the 1970s, despite the frequent depiction of feminine gay men in the media, gay men adopted hypermasculine gender identities relying heavily on a working class aesthetic. Levine (1998) quipped that "when the dust of gay liberation had settled, the doors to the closet were open, and out popped the clone" (p. 7). He suggested that:

The explicit conformity to specific normative codes about the enactment of masculinity-that some gay men in the major urban environments sought to resolve the crisis of identity brought about by both their similarities to heterosexual and the stigma attached to their sexual orientation. (p. 6)

Edwards (1994) argues that the clone culture of the 1970s was an attempt to "ape and mock masculinity" in response to the ways that gay men are told they are not men but are expected to behave like men. The clone culture, he argues, was the adoption of "traditional images of masculinity from cowboy to construction worker . . . in an over-the-top, overconformist form that was, on occasions, self-conscious and effectively slightly silly" (p. 49).

This gender identity dominated the urban image of gay men, which some saw as strangely rejecting an identity they had just begun to embrace:

In the past, feminization, at least to a small and symbolic degree, seemed a necessary initiation into gay life; we all thought we had to be a bit nelly (effeminate) in order to be truly gay. Today almost the opposite seems to be true. In any crowd it is the homosexual men who are wearing beards, army fatigues, checked lumberjack shirts, work boots and T-shirts and whose bodies are conspicuously built up.... So extreme is this masculinization that it has been termed "macho fascism" by its critics (White, 1994, p. 76)

In White's essay we see a gay community that responded to hegemonic representations of gayness that were both reflective and constitutive of members of the gay community. To White the masculinization of the gay community was a reaction to the long-accepted images of gay men as effeminate in which gay men "embraced the bias of the oppressor" (p. 77). The assertion that some gay men reproduce a version of masculinity that is less authentic than heteromasculinity essentializes gay men as feminine and ignores the performative nature of all masculinity. Additionally, the strategy of seeing particular gay men's gender performances as less authentic than others is a divisive tactic that serves to isolate those who do not conform.

However, homosexual men who identified as masculine have existed for as long as the term homosexual has defined them. Chauncey's (1994) discussion of the Queer/Fairy dichotomy in early 20th century New York is the consummate example. The "new masculine homosexual" is not new at all, but his visibility may be the result of the increased urbanization of gay men and the growing acceptance of homosexuality in contemporary society.

Any discussion of the construction of gay male masculinity must begin with Connell's "A Very Straight Gay" (1992). Connell's piece is one of the most influential because it was one of the first attempts to combine ethnographic research of gay men with critical masculinity studies. Connell challenged masculinity studies to explore the ways in which men shape the gender order through their social practices. Despite Connell's challenge, analysis of gay masculinities has been limited primarily to studies of depictions of gay men and lesbians in the media (see Fejes & Petrich, 1993). As recently as 1997, Eric Rofes argued "there is a dearth of research-quantitative and qualitative-on homosexual men in America" (p. 94). However, a growing body of research has emerged from gay and lesbian studies, queer theory, and masculinity studies that explores such diverse issues as gay masculinity in relationships (Fee, 2000; Mutchler, 2000), specific racial and class-based gay masculinities (Cantu, 2000, Fung, 1999; Han, 2000; Rodriguez & Oulette, 2000), and the rise and fall of gay clone culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s (Levine, 1998). The lack of analysis of gay masculinities can be read as affirmation of the perceived threat that the very existence of homosexuality poses to heterosexual masculinity. Indeed, Nardi (2000) has noted that "in the very act of engaging in sex with other men, gay men challenge dominant definitions of patriarchal masculinity" (p. 6).

Two studies that have dealt explicitly with constructions of gay masculinity in social interactions are Rofes's (1997) analysis of the middle-class eroticisation of working-class bodies and Healy's (1996) study of the construction of gay skinhead identities in Britain. Despite these efforts to uncover the ways in which specific communities negotiate conflicting notions of masculinity, the study of constructions of gay male masculinities remains "ripe for rich, ethnographic research" (Rofes, 1997, p. 94). This lack of research raises the question of what types of research best serve the gay men whose identity construction is being studied. According to Squires and Brouwer (2002), "Identity construction is not a unidirectional process, and scholarship must reflect the importance and impact of marginal groups' narratives of identity or selfhood" (p. 285). Studies of gay male identity construction also offer a unique opportunity to understand how subjects can construct identities that resist and sometimes oppose hegemonic heteronormative expectations of sexuality and gender. The attempts to reincorporate hegemonic masculinity, homophobia, and misogyny into these resistive identities reveal how dominant these concepts are in the public imaginary and suggest that even resistive subjectivities can be seduced by the lure of a higher position in the hierarchy of power.

GENDER IDEOLOGY

Gender ideology, according to Kervin (1991), consists of those "beliefs and representations generally taken as natural and self-evident in relation to masculinity and femininity" (p. 238). Gender ideology, she has argued, "involves issues of power, such as physical and economic power and the ideological power to create meanings, as in the media" (p. 240). The study of gender ideology draws from the ideological critique of cultural studies as well as the focus on gender and sexuality provided by feminist and queer theories. Gender ideological criticism can be seen as a reaction to the failure of early cultural studies theorists to focus on gender as one of the dynamics in maintaining dominant ideologies (see Walters, 1994, pp. 157-158). Similarly, queer theory can be seen as an attempt to focus critical scrutiny on the interconnected nature of sexuality and gender and to move away from the biological constraints of sex. Drawing from both of these bodies of theory and criticism provides a useful set of concepts for the study of gender ideology. The interdisciplinary, multimethodological nature of gender ideology criticism, with its incorporation of both feminist and queer theoretical perspectives and constructs, is a particularly appropriate vehicle for the exploration of the construction of gay male masculinities that this study undertakes.

According to Butler (1999), gender is "not a singular act, but a repetition and a ritual which achieves its effects through its naturalization in the context of a body, understood, in part, as a culturally sustained temporal duration" (p, xv). As she has explained, gender and sexuality are not and cannot be viewed as similar or even interdependent. Furthermore:

It is important for me to concede, however, that the performance of gender subversion can indicate nothing about sexuality or sexual practice. Gender can be rendered ambiguous without disturbing or reorienting normative sexuality at all. Sometimes gender ambiguity can operate precisely to contain or deflect non-normative sexual practices and thereby work to keep normative sexuality intact. (Butler, 1999, p. xiv)

That is, Butler's work requires that gender be viewed as the performance of masculine and/or feminine traits through constant bodily repetition. To date, however, Butler's arguments about the distinction between sexuality and gender have not achieved a high level of cultural fluency, and many people (both gay and not) still assume that homosexuality is easily discerned by the absence of heteronormative gender performance. However, Butler's theory of gender performativity (1990) drives analyses of the social construction of gender and sexuality. However, masculinity and femininity lack descriptive power, and a more rich and varied vocabulary is needed to coherently discuss the diversity and complexity of gender performances, sexualities, and sexual identities.

Butler (1993) also has suggested that the idea of homosexuality as a copy of or derivative of homosexuality should be rejected. Thus, the implicit link between a specific gender performance and straightness is inherently problematic. To Butler, without homosexuality heterosexuality would be without something to define itself against. Without the existence of homosexuality, it would be impossible to delineate what types of gender performances were considered heterosexual. Indeed, as homosexuality needs heterosexuality to define itself, it appears that straightness needs the oppositional concept of gayness to exist. Here, the very binaries that Bulter critiques are recreated. According to Butler (1993):

Gender is a kind of imitation for which there is no original; in fact, it is a kind of imitation that produces the very notion of the original as an effect and consequence of the imitation itself. In other words, the naturalistic effects of heterosexualized genders are produced through imitative strategies; what they imitate is an effect. In this sense, the "reality" of heterosexual identities is perfomatively constituted through an imitation that sets itself up as the origin and ground of all imitations. In other words, heterosexuality is always in the process of imitating and approximating its own phantasmatic idealization of itself-and failing. . . . Then to claim that gay and lesbian identities are implicated in heterosexual norms or in hegemonic culture generally is not to derive gayness from straightness. On the contrary, imitation does not copy that which is prior, but produces and inverts the very terms of priority and derivativeness. (p. 313)

Thus, it is possible that heterosexualizing (or straightening) gay male masculinities is not the act of copying but constitutes "inverted imitations, ones which invert the order of imitated and imitation. In the process of inversion they expose the fundamental dependency of 'the origin' on that which it claims to produce as its secondary effect" (Butler, 1993, pp. 313-314). Here, then, the question of whether or not gay men who identify as or fetishize straight-acting men are attempting to be heterosexual is moot, for heterosexual maleness has no claim to masculinity because it is neither origin nor copy. The real question here is what structures of power does the valorization of heteronormative masculinity privilege and/or challenge. The goal here is not to demonize those men who are or seek to be straight-acting but to interrogate what systems of power are revealed in these actions. Certainly, it is possible that these straight-acting men may simultaneously break down the same binaries that they seek to embody.

According to Messner (1997), despite their tense relation to hegemonic masculinity, homosexuals increasingly have sought to embody a "newly hegemonic hard and tough masculinity" (p. 83). In his studies of mediated sports and masculinity, Messner noted that many of the "new masculine homosexuals" have sought to reject the stigma of homosexuality by rejecting the feminine traits so often attributed to gay men. This raises the question of whether the quest for masculinity in gay men comes at the expense of the feminine and those who represent it. The masculine homosexual may oppress the feminine in ways similar to hegemonic masculinity's subordination of homosexuals and men of color (Ward, 2000). Indeed, hegemonic subordination may extend the simplistic conception of hegemony as upper class, white, heterosexual men dominating women, homosexuals, and people of color to show that levels of domination exist at every level of societal power. As Cheng (1999) has explained, "The main reason marginalized masculinities are suppressed is that they are a threat to hegemonic masculinity. Any nonconformity, particularly with regard to gender, which is supposedly natural, is a threat to hegemonic masculinity" (p. 301).

The ability to see one's sexual identity may facilitate dating, but as Edelman (1994) argues, this ability constitutes a double-edged sword. Edelman terms such labeling of "the homosexual" through visual inscription homographesis:

Homographesis would refer to the cultural mechanism[s] by which writing is brought into relation to the question of sexual difference in order to conceive the gay body as text, thereby effecting a farreaching intervention in the policial regulation of social identities. The process that constructs homosexuality as a subject of discourse, as a cultural category about which one can think or speak or write, coincides, in this logic of homographesis with the process whereby the homosexual subject is represented as being, even more than as inhabiting, a body that always demands to be read, a body on which his "sexuality" is always already inscribed. (p. 10)

Edelman (1994) argues that historically male homosexuality has been linked with effeminate behavior and that these behavioral performances have been used to define homosexuality as a fixed and limited construct that operates in opposition to heterosexuality. Like ideology, visual inscriptions of homosexuality really are not fixed and must be constantly reinstated. Following Butler, the inscription of homosexuality on the gay male body requires that gay men must repetitiously perform this hetero/homosexual behavioral difference. Thus, the performance of homosexuality has come to signify the unified homosexual identity.

The notion of homographic representation reflects several essentialist, stereotypical notions of sexuality and homosexuality. Homographesis assumes that homosexuality can be visually, behaviorally, and/or psychologically distinguished from other sexualities. That is, it assumes that homosexuality can be visibly signified by clothing, gait, posture, facial expression, hand gesture, or other kinesic symbols. Additionally, homographesis presumes an underlying gender ideology places male feminine gender performances on homosexual bodies. This would depart significantly from Butler's conceptualization of gender being constitutive of identity and return to the understanding of gender as a reflection of some innate identity. Thus, homographesis as a point of departure from heterosexual identification assumes that heterosexual men and women perform gender (femininity and masculinity) in different ways than do gay men and lesbians simply based on a prediscursive identity and denies the legitimacy of masculine heterosexual women and feminine heterosexual men.

Homographesis, then, is a useful but problematic term for analyzing the construction of gay identities. At present gender performances that Edelman has identified as homographic appear to be essentialized and conflate gender and sexuality more than they function ideologically to unify heterosexuality as a construct in clear opposition to homosexuality. However, the concept of homographesis could be used to examine whether and to what extent societal perceptions of homosexuality are reflected in and shaped by homographic conflation with male feminine gender performance and to distinguish which stereotypical markers of male homosexuality this straight-acting community is rejecting or embracing.

THE BUTCH BOARDS

StraightActing.com is a privately funded Web site featuring quizzes, personal ads, home pages, and a variety of services. The quizzes allow members to ascertain their own straight-acting level using descriptions varying from level 0, "the ultimate in straight acting," to level 10, "you're simply a woman trapped in a man's body." The questions used to determine one's straight-acting level include whether you enjoy receiving flowers, the frequency with which you use the word pee-pee to indicate urinating, clothing style, tattoos, decorating habits, music preference, sexual position, and the type of dog that you own. The nature of the questions seems to suggest that these ratings are for humorous purposes; however, the personal advertisements found elsewhere on the site are separated by level and often include statements like "Level 0 looking for level 0-3" and include comments like J.T.'s "hey, men, I'm looking for a man's man which means if you drop your purse when you open your mouth, keep browsing." These straight-acting levels are also listed on each member's posts on the discussion boards.

The Butch Boards, StraightActing.com's discussion boards, are a membersonly forum (although membership is free) for discussion about a very wide range of issues. Some topics reflect common popular interests, such as movies or television shows; others explicitly deal with the construction of straight-acting identities.

AESTHETICS OF MASCULINITY

Perhaps the most easily isolated discourse in these discussion boards is the aesthetic of straight-acting masculinity. Here masculine physicality and actions are always considered desirable, as Viper-Guy notes, "I'm attracted to masculinity period!" However, the definition of this masculinity is unclear. The construction of the ideal aesthetic of masculinity is discussed in the macho traits topic. Wycomb, a long-time member, opened this topic:

O.K. We've talked a lot about the "nelly acting" traits. Now it's time for the macho guys. What traits would you consider to be the most macho, and what kind of macho traits in a man turn you on. How about a guy with a foul mouth. Can't finish a sentence without four or five swear words. Is that a turn on? Wha [sic] about guys who walk around punching their fist into their other hand. What about guys who are always spitting. Snorting. Burping loud, fart or scratch their butt in the presence of others. Drinking beer right from the can. Crushing the can with his bare hands when finished. Taking a leak outside. Guys who don't use any deoderant [sic] after showering (whenever they do shower). Guys who never use lotion, not even on their hands (causing them to be rough and ashy). Guys with many tattoos. Guys with several (healed) cut marks on their bodies. Guys whose house or apartment is messy. Bare walls with no pictures. Beer cans all over the floor. Dirty clothes in a pile on the floor. Dirty dishes in the sink with mold. Bed is never made. What else would be considered the most machoest traits, and are they a rum on or turn off.

Here, the aesthetic of masculinity appears to be conflated with the cultural archetype of primitive, uneducated, and crude depiction of working-class man (see Married with Children, The Simpsons). This typical construction of working-class masculinity has been discussed as upholding hegemonic masculinity by Butsch (1992), who argues that the construction of working-class masculinity as "buffoon" functions to demasculinize working-class men. Thus, "de-masculinizing working-class men-applying descriptors that contradict the culturally accepted definition of masculine-not only devalues them as men but also uses gender to subordinate class status" (Butsch, 1992, p. 387).4 "Concepts of class, particularly of 'masculinity' and 'success,' are used as a gendered organizing principle" (Cheng, 1999, p. 301). Further, he has explained, "Class is a hidden injury to the male hegemonic masculinity"; thus, a lower class male is robbed of his masculinity if he is unable to adequately fill the provider role (Cheng, 1999, p. 303). However, while working-class masculinity may be a less than hegemonic masculinity, it appears that the aesthetic of the working- class man is being appropriated and fetishicized.

Schlodess makes the connection of working class and masculine aesthetic explicitly clear when he argues: "That's not a masculine Gay man. What you've just described is a straight construction worker or contractor, who's been working 60-70 hours a week for the last 2 months, and doesn't care about a f&^kin thing as he's too tired."

Physical power and a large physique are extensively discussed as requisite for a macho perception. Buckley-heath argues that "I'm not into guys who are twiggy and delicate looking-I like my guys with a bit of beef to their physique-either muscular or ... umm ... 'comfortable' (?!)." Kaniz says, "Rugged/solid build. Not super-toned, not really flabby though ... sorta like 'yeah, there's muscle there, but got a little bit of padding on top' ... body hair, stubble ... big tum-ons. Rough/big calloused hands are very nice." Finally, according to Saracen, the macho body is one that does "bodybuilding and powerlifting. Not just the pretty stuff, but brute strength."

Frontiersmanship [sic] is "symbolized by the daring, romantic frontiersman of yesteryear and of the present-day outdoorsman" (Trujillo, 1991, p. 291). Here, the conflation of symbols of class and risk-taking are especially telling. Some equate masculinity with the physique of the cowboy, "A guy who walks with a cowboy-like swagger, sort of bowlegged" (Mike Vice). Others equate masculinity with simply being outdoors, such as Schlodess, who describes his ideal masculinity as based around outdoor experiences that include "driving somewhere very remote ... to a camping/conservation area ... pitching a tent to sleep, and going crazy on hiking trails, catching critters like turtles, salamanders, snakes, bull & leopard frogs, going fishing all day long. Rather than flying to, say, Tampa, and staying at a Gay resort."

SELECTIVE HOMOPHOBIA

Familial patriarchy, the dominance of men over women, is represented through the construction of males as "'breadwinners,' 'family protectors,' and 'strong father figures'" (Trujillo, 1991, p. 291). This institutionalization of male dominance over women and children serves to make patriarchy seem natural and critical to the family unit. Barren (1980) has explained that male domination of the family has been secured through dependence on traditional bourgeoisie definitions of the nuclear family. As a result, masculinity is tied to the heteronormative family structure, which requires that men establish themselves as holders of power in their family situations to appear that they are actually men (Lehr, 1999). Here, however, with the apparent lack of female participants, the dominance of men over women is limited to constructing masculinity in opposition to femininity. Indeed, as Kimmel suggests, historically "masculinity has been defined as the flight from women and the repudiation of femininity" (1996, p. 123). Thus, Kimmell argues that "masculinity is a homosocial enactment" that must constantly be demonstrated through risk-taking activities. The "overriding emotion" of this homosocial enactment is fear of the feminine; homophobia, which Kimmel defines as the struggle to suppress desire for other men, and therefore all of a man's relationships, with men, women and children, are tainted by the fear that a man may be perceived as homosexual. This, Kimmel argues, is the "great secret of American manhood: We are afraid of other men. Homophobia is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood. Homophobia is more than the irrational fear of gay men, more than the fear that we might be perceived as gay.... Homophobia is the fear that other men will unmask us, emasculate us, reveal to us and the world that we do not measure up, that we are not real men" (p. 127).

However, the straightacting.com members, while often derisive of feminine gender performances do not position homosexuality in opposition to contemporary masculinity. Indeed, in a discussion of preferences of sexual position, Jkidd suggests that the sexual position of partners is often seen as indicating a level of masculinity or femininity and reveals the corresponding fear of some gay men of being seen as feminine.

Well, I think it has more to do with fear of being considered "the female" ... you know ... man's insecurities....

I never bottomed until last year ... and really struggled with it ... had NO problems with "fear of NOT being MANLY," but DAMN it HURT! Once it was in ... I was like "plow away"..... I really got off to it ... but DAMN, it HURT going in.

I think the whole concept of top vs. bottom is total BS. Variety is the spice of life ... try it ... you might like it. Doesn't make you "less" of a man. (emphasis in original)

Here, it appears that historical and cultural distinctions of penatrator/penatratee as masculine and feminine is being rejected.

The description of hypermasculinity in the Butch Board consists less of markers of masculinity but rather of a mixture of identifying traditionally masculine actions or physical signs and describing how one is not feminine. Thus, Padraic discusses his Butch traits as:


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Here, traditional masculinity is reified through the construction of a masculine identity that relies on physical prowess (sports, fighting, construction, military resolve), the outdoorsman mentality (fishing, off-road biking, building a fire), opposition to traditionally feminine behaviors (not clean, not willing to use dishes, not a phone-talker). Jkidd describes his masculine traits as traditionally patriarchal when he says, "I actually enjoy going to Hooters! I constantly play with my crotch. . . . I hold the door open for a lady," thus reinscribing masculinity as one that simultaneously embraces the notion of the helplessness of women, the idea that sexual objectification is acceptable, and relating his masculine identity to his own penis.

Trojan 110 describes masculinity by relating it to physical pain, noting, "A teammate of mine played an entire rugby match with a torn bicep. I knew from that point on that I couldn't complain about any of my bruises or bloody noses after seeing that!!" GregF places himself higher in the masculinity hierarchy by saying "Well, I have played rugby with four broken fingers and a dislocated jaw with three teeth kicked out. All at the same time. I have also played numerous games with damaged muscles, so a torn bicep is typical to me."

Let us return to ViperGuy, who more clearly elucidates what masculinity is by describing a former acquaintance, "This guy was masculine and everything. Was in the high school FFA and raised animals and all that stuff...was always in the livestock shows, etc. He never showed a hint of fern in him." Yet he establishes a clear disdain for the same man once a feminine performance was enacted. "... 2.5 years later this guy is the biggest queen in town. I could not believe the first time I saw him. He begin [sic] to hang around all the nelly guys and I don't know if they put a spell on him or what, but it was freaky. I stayed away from all that stuff." ViperGuy clearly constructs an acceptable type of gender performance that is acceptable and explicitly rejects a more feminine gender performance and reifies notions of masculinity as oppositional to femininity. Thus, any argument that positions all gay men as challengers of the sex/gender regime can only be correct if the very act of being homosexual is the challenge because patriarchal control/derision of femininity is sometimes embraced.

This hierarchy of gender performance creates a system in which gay men and lesbians are turned against each other in a battle for position on the hierarchy of masculinity and do so by enacting hegemonically masculine roles at the expense of the feminine in themselves and in others. These also reflect the gay rights movement's tendency to marginalize and symbolically annihilate nontraditional gender performance (Messner 1997; Nardi, 2000). The focus on hypermasculine masculinity in the gay community is painfully evident in the discourses of the Butch Board. Through the idolization of muscularity and dominance of the characters who are looking for sexual partners, these series create an "image" of the ideal sexual partner, and those who do not fit the impossible body image of the perfect man are marginalized, especially those gay men who have embraced femininity, who have rejected the quest for masculinity, or who cannot attain the masculine ideal.

Nardi (2000) has argued that this focus on hypermasculine masculinity in the gay community has resulted in a divide among gay men seeking the power and acceptance that [hegemonic] masculinity offers those who embody it: those gay men who have embraced femininity or who cannot attain the masculine ideal and those gay men who reject the quest for masculinity. According to Nardi (2000),

Even in the years after the rise of the modern gay movement the rhetoric about gender in many gay organizations and communities has often been oppositional in its tone and it questions the role of effeminate men, drag queens, and 'fairies' in the political strategies and media images. Complaints about gay men acting like women ruining the struggle for equal rights for gays are heard among many conservative gay leaders. Along with the transformation in gay masculinity from the 'failed male' or sissy, into the hypermasculine clone came a strong division between the feminized and the masculinized. (p. 5)

This division is quite clear in the discourse of the Butch Board and reflects the hierarchy of masculinity that Hanke (1992) has argued forms the basis for the system of hegemonic masculinity: where most masculine have the most power and function only in deriding the feminine. Ironically for the Butch Board members, even the most masculine gay man's homosexuality denies him the ability to truly achieve the power inherent in hegemonic masculinity, no matter how masculine the gender performance, because he will always be marginalized simply because he is not heterosexual. The masculine gay man will never occupy the same social space as the heterosexual man (Cheng, 1999).

The Butch Board presents several different examples of male masculinity being the preferred and only acceptable gender performance. Mark suggests that masculinity is the normal way that men should act, noting "my BF (boyfriend) knows that the single quickest way to get under my skin is to fly into a fern act. To each his own, but if I wanted a woman I'd go out and get me a real one." Another member, gx, elucidates a particularly contradictory view on male gender performance when he notes: "I'm attracted to the really masculine types myself. If I can tell they're gay, then they aren't my type (even a hint of femininity in a guy will turn me off). I don't mess with straight men or fantasize about them. That's a dead end road." Here, gx is both valorizing male masculinity and conflating femininity with gayness. While he argues that he is only attracted to those men he cannot tell are gay, he acknowledges that he does not fantasize about straight men, only those who are straight-acting enough to avoid being read as gay. Later, gx affirms his antifeminine and antigay perspective, noting:

All my friends are hetero's [sic]. Causes less problems that way. I've never found nelly's [sic] attractive at all though it probably wouldn't bother me to have one as a friends, just as long as he doesn't [sic] get all touchy feely and cannot act so flaming in public when we're together.

I remember going out to eat with my lover's drag queen friend. A man should not have breasts: shudder.

Not all examples of the derision of femininity are as homophobic, but femininity, even when accepted, is still to an object of derision, as this post from Toad suggests: "Hmmm, I have met a few Nellie guys. I am somewhat scared of them lol (laughing out loud) as if their aura would rub off on me lol but I still hang around a few. I know many who are comical just the way they act and carry themselves is a real hoot."

Finally, even some masculine behavior does not insulate feminine performances from derision and intolerance. Here ViperGuy describes a former schoolmate:

I went to high school with this guy. We were never really friends, but we knew each other. I NEVER suspected this guy of being gay in high school ... but then I didn't really know what "gaydar" was, and I had not even accepted myself.... I just knew of the guys who were obviously gay (which were about three guys). This guy was masculine and everything. Was in the high school FFA and raised animals and all that stuff ... was always in the livestock shows, etc. He never showed a hint of fem in him.

... 2.5 years later this guy is the biggest queen in town. I could not believe the first time I saw him. He began to hang around all the nelly guys, and I don't know if they put a spell on him or what ... but it was freaky. I stayed away from all that stuff.

Dating a guy like that ... I have never thought about it or considered, maybe one day ....

If we turn back to Mark's comments on the first page, it is clear that some Butch Board members (as well as gay activists and some critical media scholars) are calling for more "positive" portrayals of gay men and lesbians. Such demands for the "positive portrayals" represent a new and insidious type of internalized homophobia and illustrate the pervasive ideological dominance of hegemonic masculinity and heteronormativity. As Brookey's (1996) analysis has suggested, many of these "positive" portrayals of homosexuality are positive only because homosexuality has been discarded.

CONCLUSIONS

Some gay writers have argued that hypermasculinity among gay men subverts hegemonic masculinity through a form of ironic parody (Pronger, 1990) and reflects a healthy liberation for gay men (White, 1980), while others argue that adopting masculine behaviors is simply a nod to the oppressor:

The homosexuals who adopt images of masculinity, conveying their desire for power and their belief in its beauty, are in fact eroticizing the very values of straight society that have tyrannized their own lives. . . . In the past, the duplicity of closeted lives found relief in effeminate camping; now the suppression of denial of the moral issue in their choice is far more damaging. The perversity of imitating their oppressors guarantees that such blindness will work itself out as self-contempt. (Kleinberg, 1989, p. 47)

While Kleinberg's idea that straight masculinity is the original masculinity that can be imitated by gay men has been dismissed by Butler (1993), these men see their gender identities as the only normal identities for all men, gay or straight.

The members of this community use the virtual space of the Butch Boards as a substitute for the "gay scene" that they see as overly feminine. They do, however, reject the traditional link with feminine gender performance. However, their emulation of working-class masculinity fails to challenge the gender regime because, as mentioned earlier, "a critical mass or threshold of visibility" is necessary "for those who perform identities that cannot be easily captured by our current norms and language" to change dominant ways of thinking (Squires & Brouwer, 2002, p. 305). Instead of challenging existing systems of gender, they continue to model their version of masculinity on the images of the working-class man. This image may distance them from any equation with the gayness that they perceive in the larger gay community and in the changing definition of upper-class masculinity, but it relegates them to a lower tier of masculinity in the overall hierarchy.

The masculinity of StraightActing.com is, first and foremost, not feminine and not marked by gayness. Members are uncomfortable with any sort of "in your face" gayness. This gayness, however, is difficult to define and theoretically problematic.

The label of straight acting serves to remind us of assimilationist tensions in gay communities. Some radical gay activists claim the assimilationists merely are seeking to gain acceptance of homosexuals by making them seem normal, like heterosexuals, simultaneously idolizing and emulating heteronormative expectations. In doing so, they reify hegemonic masculinity. Thus, "normalization" of some homosexuals and homosexual lifestyles constitutes selective homophobia because it comes at the expense of those homosexuals who do not conform to heteronormative expectations of gender performance, to the heteronormative family structure, or to heteronormative expressions of sexuality. As a result, assimilationists attempt to promote sexual diversity at the expense of the very diversity they are trying to defend. As Hequembourg and Arditi (1999) have explained, "In the assimilationists' desires to have their otherness accepted, they are certain to become a part of the 'same'" (p. 674). According to Hequembourg and Arditi (1999), a combination of assimilationist and liberationist approaches is key to resisting and redefining the dominant ideology, and therefore straight-acting gay men represent one necessary component in deconstructing the conflation of sexuality and gender. Selective homophobia and antifeminine attitudes do not contribute to this deconstruction and merely contribute to a system in which a majority of people are constrained by the hegemonic heteronormative sex/gender regime.

[Footnote]
NOTES
1. From this point I will use straight-acting gay men without quotations in deference to the label these men have chosen for themselves.
2. This paper was the inspiration for my dissertation research.
3. Here I analyze the topics the blurry line between gay and straight, closet fems, effeminate bottoms, fem boys, gay acting, macho, straight-acting attraction, Utopia, the problem with straight, and "the line between a gay man and a straight man is blurry."
4. Class, according to Barker (2000), "is not an objective economic fact but a discursively formed collective subject position. Consequently, class consciousness is neither an inevitability nor a unified phenomenon" (p. 57).
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Postby doctor dan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:42 am

btw, this is the guy's info::

http://www.indstate.edu/communication/faculty.htm

Jay Clarkson, Ph.D.
jclarkson1@isugw.indstate.edu
Assistant Professor of Electronic Media
Ph.D. University of Iowa
Teaching and research interests: media criticism, Gender and Cultural Issues
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Postby butch » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:36 am

Innnnnntellesting....

Of course, anyone who has half a brain would not consider it a "study" of much of anything, but it's nice to be noticed... this board, as it were.

Definitely NO SCIENCE of any kind was used... no controls, no anything much of anything other than an opinion by someone who is probably nobody... but interesting.

With many, many thousands of registered members, I find it fascinating that less than 1/10th of 1per cent of registered users EVER post.


And most have little to say about themselves and seem desparate to hide behind their avatars... so

THERE IS OBVIOUSLY A LOT OF INSECURITY GOING ON HERE.

It's an interesting little niche on the web, this place is. I guess I'm like most... I abhor the fact that gay media and the press seem DESPARATE to make us all JUST LIKE THEM. Who REALLY has the problem? People seem uncomfortable with gays who don't mince, go shopping for makeup, and simply MUST be as GAY AS POSSIBLE (whatever that is) in public... a lot of drama queens looking for attention.
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Postby michaelk69 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:57 am

butch wrote:People seem uncomfortable with gays who don't mince, go shopping for makeup, and simply MUST be as GAY AS POSSIBLE (whatever that is) in public... a lot of drama queens looking for attention.


I guess it depends who you mean by "people" . .. do you mean TV writers/producers? Or advertising agencies?

Because the "people" that I socialize with would definitely feel much MORE uncomfortable if were a mincing, makeup shopping drama queen, not less!
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Postby butch » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:16 pm

Name me a single gay TV character who isn't a mincing queen?

Thats the kind of fag the people are comfortable with...

and by "people" I include gay people themselves. Young people are being trained "how to be gay".

A while back I was invited to "go for a drink" (I don't drink, but had a beer) and afterwards I was given sh*t by my friend because "I sat in the wrong place". Apparently, the seating was by who was considered the "lead queen". Needless to say, I no longer talk to him, and I don't go to gay bars at all now... ever. That particular Ahole is out of my life. Good F'ing ridance.

I was a member of the Gay Liberation Front in the 70's where I learned that the main enemy of gay people are gay people themselves. It was quite the revelation and I no longer participate in gay "movement" kinds of things. I do my fighting on my own... currently fighting XTRA WEST NEWSPAPER here in Vancouver (the local gay rag) that seems to find it perfectly acceptable to accept blood money from cigarette companies and is running full page colour ads for DuMauier cigarettes.

If I could get away with it I'd bomb their offices.
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Postby JakeMIke » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:26 pm

Actually, I couldn't care less about what people think about this site or any psuedo-intellectual study/analysis of what goes on here. Not being nasty, it's just not interesting to me to read another dissertation.
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Postby olywaguy » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:51 am

Actually, I remember this guy Clarkson.

He looked around a bit and briefly talked with some of the guys or, rather, posted a couple of threads and came to his own conclusions about things.

I can't remember what username he used, but it did cause a lot of fervent discussion here.
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Postby michaelk69 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:29 am

butch wrote:Name me a single gay TV character who isn't a mincing queen?


Bobby Cannavale playing Vince in Will & Grace?
David Fisher and Keith (the African American policeman) in Six Feet Under?
Luke and Noah on As The World Turns?
Kevin on Brothers and Sisters?
Carter on Spin City?
Andrew and his doctor boyfriend on Desperate Housewives?
Jack on Dawson's Creek (and later Pacey's policeman brother)?

C'mon, man, you are living the past! Your comments would have been true maybe 10 years ago, but so much has changed since then . . . the media's representation of gays is BY NO MEANS perfect, but it has gotten much better, don't you think?
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Postby masculinity » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:54 am

butch wrote:People seem uncomfortable with gays who don't mince, go shopping for makeup, and simply MUST be as GAY AS POSSIBLE (whatever that is) in public... a lot of drama queens looking for attention.

If I may pay your attention to the words you yourself use:

Be as Gay as possibe = Be as effeminate as possible

So, my point being:

1) You yourself do relate Gay with being effeminate.

2) So, why do you crib, when someone calls you not-man-enough or a-queen when you say you're gay! Can you see your own contradiction, you've taken on an effeminate identity and you want people to accept you as a real/ butch man? Just naming yourself as 'butch' or making a board and calling it 'butch' will not change people's perception about you. You're still basically 'gay', i.e. effeminate... that is your basic identity, your soul. You may act like a butch, but that is not who you really are... at least as long as you have a 'gay' identity.

3) Why shouldn't gays be as gay as possible? Why should they be ashamed of themselves or act or think or behave contrary to their nature? Just so that people who cannot come to terms with their gayness and want to hide it from others -- through donning 'straight' looking behaviour, like not mincing and stuff -- can feel comfortable?

Doesn't sound very reasonable to me? There has to be something utterly wrong with the entire concept of 'gay.' Either this, or you are just a pretentious gay who wants to look someone he is not.

butch wrote:Name me a single gay TV character who isn't a mincing queen?

Thats the kind of fag the people are comfortable with...


Do you know why is that? Do you think TV folks are wrong in doing that... when you, as someone who calls himself gay yourself equate 'gay' with 'effeminacy'?

Why shouldn't people portray gays as effeminate, if that is what they are? What is wrong with being effeminate, except that it is not socially acceptable?

butch wrote: I no longer talk to him, and I don't go to gay bars at all now... ever. That particular Ahole is out of my life. Good F'ing ridance.

So, you're not comfortable with 'gays', nor the gay space, nor the gay culture. You're almost as alone in the gay space/ identity as you would be if you'd pretended to be heterosexual and stayed on in the straight identity/ space. Can't you see that the gay space/ identity is not for masculine gendered males who like men? They may be included in the formal definition, but they will always have to live on the margins of gay space, as people who are 'acting against their grain', since as gays, they are supposed to have feminine souls.

Does that say something about the concept of 'gay' created by the West?

Why do you want to call yourself 'gay', if gay also means being effeminate, apart from the formal definition of "men liking men?"

What draws you to the gay identity? The formal definition? I'm sure, at this age, you'd have learned enough about the gay world to realize that the formal definition is far removed from the actual reality of gays.

Or could it be that you're attracted to effeminate males? Or are you too much into passive sex? Unless you have one or more of these three things -- (1) being effeminate, (2) liking effeminate males or (3) predominant interest in receptive/ passive sex -- there is no sound reason for calling yourself gay... and not be disillusioned with the concept of sexual orientation after spending so much years with the identity as a masculine male who likes men.

butch wrote:It was quite the revelation and I no longer participate in gay "movement" kinds of things. I do my fighting on my own.

How about fighting against the gay identity? How about rediscovering yourself as a masculine, normal man who likes men without the gay label? That is how the rest of the world does it.

You're right gays are the biggest enemy... but not of the gays... but of "man's sexual need for men." And you know why? Because, gays are not really men. They are the third gender -- a different species from 'men', although they have male bodies, being a man is also about the soul, the inner sex, the emotional/ psychological part. Gays are males from bodies, but females from soul. Their outer sex is male, their inner sex is female.

And it is only because of the fact that Gays started to define themselves as "men who like men", that the real men, the straights, had to disown their sexual need for men, because, anything that belongs to the third gender is stigmatized for 'normal' men. Earlier, almost 100% of men had sexual relations with each other, and in fact, they preferred their sexual relations with men more than those with women. Today, thanks to the gays, they are scared even to hold hands with each other. Because the society says, if you like other men, you're one of them (the third gender/ gays).

Gays are the real enemies of "man to man sexuality." They are not "men who like men." Gays are "Third gender who like men." And they are as different from "men who like men" as are "women who like men." All those 'scientific' studies that claim to have discovered the 'difference' in gays from 'normal' men (like enlarged brain), are actually differences of gender, not of sexual preferences.

The West has forgotten this difference between males -- of "men" and "third gender,"... therefore, the West foolishly tries to explain the 'different' males in terms of their sexual feelings for men, as 'homosexuality', when the actual difference is their gender, and they (the third gender) are more likely to like women.

butch wrote:If I could get away with it I'd bomb their offices.


Do that by all means :wink:. But, first get rid of the 'gay' tag.

Btw, have you tried to have a look at our site?
Gays are a different species altogether from men (and women). They're not "men who like men," they are "third gender who like men."

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Postby masculinity » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:26 am

masculinity wrote:You're almost as alone in the gay space/ identity as you would be if you'd pretended to be heterosexual and stayed on in the straight identity/ space.


In fact, I am wrong, you would have been pretty well connected in the straight space and would have had several friends, since, I'm sure, if you're straight gendered then you'd relate with the straights, even with their not always so real or exclusive heterosexuality.
Gays are a different species altogether from men (and women). They're not "men who like men," they are "third gender who like men."

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Postby masculinity » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:21 am

Good work furface.

First you tried to ignore the truth.

But when you could no longer do that, you decided to censor the truth, by denying it space.

You have proven that 'homosexuality' is just another oppressive system, like racial apartheid, communism, Islam, etc. that needs censorship of truth and suppression of freedom of speech to perpetuate its lies.

THIS NEED TO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH WOULD NOT HAVE ARISEN IF IT WASN'T MAKING AN IMPACT. THE VERY FACT THAT YOU CHOSE TO CENSOR ME SHOWS THAT WHAT I HAVE SAID IS MAKING AN IMPACT.

I don't think you can suppress truth forever. When the time comes, you will be rendered helpless with all your oppressive aparatus. 8)
Gays are a different species altogether from men (and women). They're not "men who like men," they are "third gender who like men."

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Postby masculinity » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:28 am

I mean, its is clear that gays are against "men's sexual desire for men" and bonding and intimacy between men and they only care for the 'third gender's sexual need for men'.

Otherwise, who would believe that a 'gay' site-administrator locked a thread trying to prove that "All men have a sexual need for men."

Nothing threatens the 'gay' identity than the idea that the straight males too may have sufficient sexual need for men. Because, then the 'gays' will be forced to admit that the reason for their difference is not their sexual needs, but their femininity, which they frantically try to hide under a false 'sexual' identity. Then the very definition and division that created them will be rendered invalid.

I've also noted that you are ok with someone like "Desperate" who although challenges you, but does that without an obvious moral or intellectual back up. So, you're not threatened by his, sometimes, abusive threads, since they only 'expose' him as 'wrong'. But, I was different. I stand on firm moral and intellectual ground, and inspite of your refusal to admit them, you're aware of this fact and feel extremely threatened with it.

I'll keep all this in mind, and use this as an evidence that gays are "anti-men" and anti "man's sexual need for men."

And yes, this is my VICTORY! :lol:
Gays are a different species altogether from men (and women). They're not "men who like men," they are "third gender who like men."

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Postby Cachasa » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:16 am

He sounds psychotic.

Sorry, I posted this, I should have know he would get wound up.

If someone could lock this topic before he goes on a further insane rant. It would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you.
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Postby masculinity » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:43 am

Cachasa wrote:He sounds psychotic.

Sorry, I posted this, I should have know he would get wound up.

If someone could lock this topic before he goes on a further insane rant. It would be greatly appreciated.


Thank you.


By locking the topic or shutting me out, you will not lock the truth. One day, your true identity is going to be exposed to the world.

This is your defeat and my victory. I don't belong here. I'm not one of you, I just came here to show you the mirror, and all you guys are frightened of what you see.

Your 'ranting' reminds me of a story of a meek mouse who was frightened of the mighty lion, but once the lion was 'locked' in a cage, he stood outside the cage, inciting and challenging the lion, "if you're a true lion, then come out and fight with me..." and kept hurling abuses at him. The lion just ignored him.
Gays are a different species altogether from men (and women). They're not "men who like men," they are "third gender who like men."

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Postby Schlodesss » Sun Mar 08, 2009 9:20 am

ROFL, there is a prof on that page name Paul Hightower :lol:
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Postby furface » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:21 pm

masculinity wrote:Good work furface.

Thank you, I get so little positive feedback.

First you tried to ignore the truth.

Actually, I've read each and every post, decided it did not reflect the reality of my life and experience. I've said so before and have chosen not to respond to the continuing diatribe from you.

But when you could no longer do that, you decided to censor the truth, by denying it space.

Your idea of censorship is flawed at best. None of your posts have been deleted, save those lost in a glitch a bit ago; but everyone lost posts including me.

Your user account has never been restricted or canceled. And all threads that were locked contained, in my Admin Note, a direction to your site dedicated to this concern of yours.

You have proven that 'homosexuality' is just another oppressive system, like racial apartheid, communism, Islam, etc. that needs censorship of truth and suppression of freedom of speech to perpetuate its lies.

And your rigid insistence that your view is the only 'correct' one is different how?

THIS NEED TO SUPPRESS THE TRUTH WOULD NOT HAVE ARISEN IF IT WASN'T MAKING AN IMPACT. THE VERY FACT THAT YOU CHOSE TO CENSOR ME SHOWS THAT WHAT I HAVE SAID IS MAKING AN IMPACT.

It's not necessary to shout. My eyes hear just fine.

I don't think you can suppress truth forever. When the time comes, you will be rendered helpless with all your oppressive aparatus. 8)

You are a bore and a boor. From your posting and their tone you don't seem to want discussion and debate; you want validation and conversion. You are a zealot. You are right, you have the truth, and everyone who dares to disagree is flat out wrong.

Administrator's Note:

Per the request of the originating poster, this thread is locked.

Anyone wishing to continue with this concept put forward by masculinity is to direct the browser of their choice to http://youth-masculinity.blogspot.com his dedicated site.

End Administrator's Note
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