October 14, 2012

Gay Peter Pan-isms: Campiness

The most popular view of gay weirdness is that it's a form of feminization (acting like sissies), but most of the evidence shows that it's actually infantilization. Females are more neotenous, though, so it's easy to confuse the two. So, we need cases that point only to one or the other cause, where females are not very childlike.

Most important is the absence of a nurturing instinct among queers, which is the defining feminine trait.

How about campy tastes and behaviors? Adolescent and adult females aren't very into camp -- they're more likely to call it childish, although they may have a few favorite guilty pleasures. And certainly the entire culture is campier now than it was even 20 years ago, but I'm talking about relative to the whole society at a given time.

Camp is really more of a juvenile male domain. There's the fascination with violating disgust taboos just to get a rise out of others, plus the caricatured understanding of how others look, think, feel, and behave. As they mature, they might still retain the desire to violate taboos to shock the squares, but it'll turn more toward symbolic disgust taboos, like pointing out that the audience's beloved Target is a Wal-Mart for liberals. And from more experience interacting with others, they'll have more nuanced views of what makes people tick.

Normal males might still have a few guilty pleasures that exploit camp -- I can still get a kick out of the Garbage Pail Kids -- but after age 10, they out-grow it as a primary source of enjoyment and entertainment.

By the way, gays' campy tendencies are the main thing that keeps them from becoming the style icons they fantasize themselves to be. It's hard for them to look like they're not in some child's "let's play dress-up" costume of a normal adult. When I watched Project Runway sometime in the mid-2000s, Tim Gunn had a stock phrase to describe these inclinations among homosexual designers, because it was so common -- "clown clothes".

So here's another case where the infantilization theory of homosexuality can account for the facts, and the feminization theory cannot.

1 comment:

  1. The expression, "Let's have fun," a common one among kids, is a staple among many grown gay men. How many straight men say that? Of course, it's true women say something similar: "Oh, that will be fun."

    The fav "holiday" of urban gay men is around the corner--Halloween.


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