Misogyny in Queer Spaces

May 10, 2017 in inQueery

Why do we devalue femininity in the queer community?

In a space we have created for those that don’t fit, that are different, that are isolated by a centuries-old oppressive system, why is it that some of the most basic, ugly, oppressive values seep into that space?

It’s obvious to anyone that’s a part of the modern queer community that it has issues. Racism exists in our spaces, transphobia and biphobia exist in our spaces, and those problems are worthy of their own long conversations. I’ll probably write about it in my next few posts. But for now, I’m going to talk about the marginalization of all that is femme.

“I’m always quick to assume that gay people are more progressive when it comes to gender,” said Kaitlin Prest, creator of The Heart podcast. “But that’s just not true.”

First let’s talk about queer men. The Heart ran a wonderful series on femme men and non-binary people, and in “Ultraslut,” they talked about discrimination towards them.

“I find that in gay male communities it’s often that masculinity is praised while femininity remains suspect,” said Julia Serano, gender theorist and author of Whipping Girl, in the same Heart episode. “In regards to gay male personal ads, a lot of times they will outright say ‘no femmes.’”

Any quick frolic through Grindr confirms this predisposed dismissal of femmes among gay men. And frolic The Heart did. Profile after profile, the desires expressed were for men that “smell like a dude,” “rugged” men, “no fats,” “not overweight” and of course, “no femmes.” Crazy.

Among queer women, misogyny is just as present.

Rebeca Nitti, Huffington Post contributor, recently wrote about her experience at Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, a music festival for queer, women-identified folk.

“The objectification and non-consensual sexualization of my body by a handful of people in this space was unexpected, overwhelming and emotionally damaging,” Nitti wrote. “The glorification of masculinity by some transcended apparel or style, and crossed a dangerous line into an oppressive territory often occupied by men in hetero spaces. As the traditional oppressor was removed, a segment of the oppressed group took their place.”

Instead of rejecting femininity, some instead adopted masculinity fully, including the toxic, “oppressive territory” that comes with it. Yet the injustice of the situation wasn’t acknowledged– Nitti writes that “the invasion of my body was deemed acceptable, and even defended, by some around me ― as if the fact that we shared a gender made it any less heinous.”

The heinous devaluation of femininity continues into non-binary spaces as well.

“It is a well-known fact among most feminists that men and masculinity are deemed ‘natural’ and ‘neutral’ in our patriarchal society (as is whiteness and thinness is in our fatphobic, white supremicist society),” said Kris Nelson, queer and non-binary writer. “Therefore, when people begin to uncritically conceptualize androgyny, they tend to always conceptualize it as masculine.”

This focus on the masculine as the default, or as neutral, or as genderless, tends to hurt non-binary people that don’t fit into what is societally defined as androgynous: a white, thin, masculine aesthetic. As Nelson writes, “androgyny is almost always centered around trans-masculine aesthetics, which not only reinforces the idea that masculinity is somehow devoid of gender, but it also erases all the trans-feminine non-binary folks.”

For them, it can mean that they’re never gendered correctly, dead-named, and even that they can be targets of violence– especially if they were assigned male at birth.

I know I haven’t described any solutions. I know all I’ve done is list our problems. However, I think it’s important to understand that misogyny and the devaluation of femininity is this pervasive. It reaches all corners.




Amelia Henry is a Contributor at InQueery.