Why do so many effeminate men take on a plumage that turns off the guys they want to attract?
There’s an interesting contradiction in gay life: The culture that celebrates effeminacy in society ridicules it in the bedroom.
Exhibit A: Timothy Bergling in his book, “Sissyphobia: Gay Men and Effeminate Behavior,” did an analysis of personal ads and found 40% of all ads were masculine-themed (he looked at code words like “straight-acting only” and not-so-coded phrases like “femmes need not apply”), while only 2 percent were feminine-themed. (The rest were neither.)
Again, the score on personal ads: 40% masculine themed, 2% feminine themed, the rest uncategorized.
That masculine gay men prefer other masculine gay men as partners isn’t a shock. What is surprising is how few effeminate men wanted other effeminate men as sexual partners.
Bergling quotes a study published by the American Psychological Association showing that a substantial number of effeminate-identified men prefer masculine men as sexual partners.
Now, why do so many effeminate men prefer in their partners the very masculinity they’ve bleached out of themselves?
The obvious answer is that they’re attracted to their opposites. But that’s only a partial answer, because the opposites they prefer do not like their opposites. In other words, effeminate men may lust for masculine men but masculine men don’t lust back. Talk about painting yourself into a corner and throwing away the lube.
Effeminate men get hoisted on their own chiffon petards. The more they take on effeminate characteristics, the less able they are to attract the kind of guys they want to sleep with. This process of being (or becoming) that which drives away what you’re trying to attract is a mating absurdity. Imagine birds trying to attract mates with red and white plumage when the suitors are attracted to yellow and green.
This is an absurd cruelty that gay culture plays on itself. We encourage effeminacy with one bejeweled, manicured hand but slap it down with the callused, unjeweled other. Few of us want to have sex with guys in dresses. Especially the guys in the dresses.
Many gay men have either heard of or taken the “Straight Acting Quiz” () on StraightActing.com. The subtext of the “test” is that the higher you score, the more desirable you’ll be.
If effeminate men found other effeminate men attractive, wouldn’t there be a Nelly-acting.com? Wouldn’t there be an “Effeminacy Quiz” on which nelly guys could boast about their scores like the butch ones do on StraightActing.com
It’s a shame that even a nelly guy doesn’t equate nelliness with sexiness, because there’s something self-negating about taking on characteristics you don’t want your partners to have. There are lots of ironies in gay life, but perhaps none greater than this: Sissies are often the biggest sissyphobes of all.