This column was first published in Attitude issue 277, December 2016.
Once again science has told us what we already knew: men who write “no fems” on dating apps are deemed to be brain dead. A study titled ‘Masculine Guys Online’, published in a recent edition of Computers in Humans Behavior, looked at a sample of 144 queer men. Among their results they found that men who proclaim “masc 4 masc/no fems/real men only” were seen to be significantly less intelligent, significantly less sexually confident, and significantly less dateable than their counterparts.
Well, duh. This is the least surprising experiment since the one which found that people who post inspirational memes have lower levels of intelligence (have you ever noticed how it’s never your successful or happy friends posting whimsical nonsense about how to achieve success and happiness?).
The proliferation of gay dating profiles that feature a headless torso alongside a description of “no fats, no Asians, no fems” is one the most depressing aspects of modern gay culture. For me, it’s doubly troubling – first because people are so plainly ignorant, and second because they seem comfortable advertising that ignorance so freely. As introductions go, ‘no fats, no fems, no Asians’ is about as enticing as saying ‘I collect human hair and masturbate over Peppa Pig’. Or indeed, ‘I’m a racist body-shamer battling significant internalised homophobia’.
The issue of camp-shaming is a complex one. You can’t police desire – if you could, I’d have found a way to stop myself fancying Richard Madeley. Ostensibly, a preference for straight-acting men is no different than preferring blonde hair or big, erm, hands. But something about the way that effeminate men can find themselves ostracised and disparaged indicates that the issue runs deeper than that. After all, straight men’s Tinder profiles don’t scream “I won’t shag women with blue eyes.” It’s interesting that, in my experience, the gay men who most vehemently insist that they like ‘men to be men’ are often the same ones prone to busting out a show tune after a couple of pints. It implies that when gay men react to camp – be it with glee or horror – we are reacting to something which we are either comfortable or uncomfortable with in ourselves.
It’s not all bad news. In lieu of a wider cultural shift, at least men with Masc4Masc profiles let us know straight off the bat that they probably aren’t evolved enough to deserve our time. John Waters famously said, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em”.
Perhaps if we adopted the same policy with the masc-only brigade it would encourage some much-needed introspection. At the very least it will help them achieve their aim, since surely never having sex with another man is the finale frontier in being truly “straight-acting.”