Have a lot of work to do today, both for my job and getting ready for a week-long camping/dressing in silly clothes/poking people with swords/drinking and singing all night trip, so this will be quick, but I wanted to look at the latest threat that the queer community is making against hot, sweaty men.
In this case, it’s a response to Milwaukee Brewers pitcher (avoid the obvious joke, avoid the obvious joke) Mark Knudson who recently wrote:
[Some in the gay community claim] that there wouldn’t be any sort of physical attraction for a gay athlete toward any of his straight teammates — which would cause those very uncomfortable situations. He’s gay; he’s not dead. He can’t just flip a switch and turn off his feelings when he walks into the locker room.
Of course he’s going to have feelings of attraction toward a teammate or two. It’s human nature. These are some of the most physically fit and desirable human beings on the planet. The gay athlete isn’t going to notice that? … Attractive people know when they’re being “checked out” and it leads to those very awkward moments.
Now, I can continue being irreverent about this, but instead I would rather take some time to connect it to a few other things.
What we see in Knudson’s assertion is the continued, prevalent assumption that men are absolutely and completely incapable of controlling their own sex drive. Yes, I will grant that gay men will occasionally find their straight team mates attractive, but you know what? That doesn’t mean that they have to act on that attraction. When I go out there’s a fairly high probability I will see at least one person who I find attractive and yet do absolutely nothing about.
Where have I heard this argument before? Oh yea, here. And here. Of course here. Most recently in a case where Christianity Today asked several “experts” whether an Iowa doctor was right to fire his assistant because she was attractive and he worried he might cheat on this wife, and many responded with things like (emphasis mine):
“Owners should not have to choose between keeping their business or marriage, and laws should not make it difficult for men to remove temptations that threaten their marriage. Employees do have some discretion over whether they find themselves in this situation.”
Brad Dacus, president, Pacific Justice Institute
“We have to walk away from temptation; we just cannot court it, which would be happening if she had remained. The best thing to do would be to show compassion and help the woman find another job so she’s not hurt by the firing.”
Michael McManus, president, Marriage Savers
“The dentist made the right choice in fighting to save his marriage. But we should take this as a cautionary tale. By establishing boundaries at work early on, the situation would not have gotten as far, and that assistant would not have lost her job.”
Gary Smalley, executive director of marriage and family formation, Focus on the Family
“If someone has many risk factors, then it’s important to adjust behavior to protect the marriage relationship. But the employer would have many other options if he feels that his self-control is going to be stretched beyond his ability to stop himself.”
Jennifer Ripley, doctoral psychology program director, Regent University (Virginia)
The underlying assumption in all of the above links and in the quotes above is that men are physically unable to control themselves. When applied to women, it’s often used as an excuse on behalf of the men (e.g. “She was dressed provocatively, he couldn’t help himself!”), when applied to other men, it’s a marked character flaw that must be prevented at all costs (e.g. “He’s looking at me while I shower and might want to have sex with me! That just won’t do!”).
Either way, it presumes that the penis is basically a Loony Toons-esque dowsing rod, dragging men unwilling to the nearest object of interest with absolutely no method of stopping that nightmarish forced march.
Here’s the thing: men are generally functional human beings who can determine when and how to have sex and decide to only do so with consenting partners. They don’t have to fire their employees who showed no interest in them sexually to avoid having an affair she clearly didn’t want, and they don’t have to worry that their gay team mate is going to come on to them in the shower.
And if they do? Then you fucking deal with it like an adult, which doesn’t involve sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending gay people don’t exist so you won’t have to feel the same discomfort around men that many women feel. Or, as Noah Michelson put it:
And you have to remember that we’re already everywhere. We’re doing crunches beside you at the gym. We’re contemplating which ice cream flavor to purchase in the frozen food aisle. We’re teaching your children, unclogging your sink, praying in the pew behind you and, yes, playing on your favorite sports team. And once we’ve come out, we’re certainly not going back in so that you can feel “safer” or be spared objectification. (Having straight men experience what straight women are subjected to countless times a day wouldn’t be the worst thing, right, ladies?)
I’d like to say I’m sorry, but I really am not in the slightest that people are having to learn very quickly to accept a new world. If it’s a choice between the comfort of Mark Knudson and the lives and livelihoods of his potentially gay team mates, then lives and livelihoods win hands down. Discomfort can be gotten over, suffering a range of consequences from being fired to being set on fire is significantly more difficult to handle.