Friday, March 20, 2009

Idiotic thoughts about fag hags. How much academic research – cultural, historical, psychological, sociological – has been done into the phenomenon of the fag hag: the heterosexual woman who has a close friendship with a gay man? (You could call it a hag-iography.) I found this website, but it's hardly rigorous. Angelfire… c'mon…

The term 'fag hag' comprises words that demean both women and gay men. Wikipedia tells me it originated in gay culture as a way of ridiculing women for preferring the company of gay men. Yet contemporary queer culture seems to regard the presence of these women as inevitable, although I'm not sure how much it actually celebrates them.

What do women get from these relationships? What do men get from them? All I have is the extremely anecdotal evidence of my own friendships with gay men, and those of my friends. One theory holds that the fag/hag relationship is a kind of pair-bonding that isn't based on sex; it's a secure kind of intimacy without the possibility of being 'ruined' by sexual tension.

I'm sure I've read discussions of teen idol fandom in which teenage girls use crushes on unattainable pop stars and actors as 'safe' ways to explore their sexuality, since the possibility of a 'real' relationship with their idol is remote. (I'm using scare-quotes here because these relationships feel no less real to the teen for their one-sidedness, and also because some of them become pathological or stalky, and hence are not especially safe, either.)

Here's a provocative question: are fag hags queer? I've read that the term 'queer' can also encompass non-normative sexual practices such as BDSM, asexuality and polyamory – so what about the intense yet platonic relationship between a fag and his hag… and what about the subset of fag hags who are sexually attracted to gay men?

By this I don't especially mean individuals who are attracted to one another despite their declared sexual orientations, nor the flawed yet 'commonsensical' pop-cultural idea that gay men are more attractive to straight women as a group because they're 'better groomed', 'more fun', 'more cultured' and more 'in touch with their feelings' than heterosexual men. (We could call this the Queer Eye syndrome.)

Instead I'm interested in the idea that some women get turned on by the thought of sex between men, in which these women themselves have no potential role. I have no idea how prevalent this is, but I feel it might be borne out by the fact that much (most?) slash fiction is written by women. Are these women imagining themselves as one of the men, or are they identifying with the overarching sexual scenario?

I wonder if straight men ever genuinely find lesbian sex titillating without imagining themselves in the scene somehow.

These are my idiotic thoughts.

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