Erotics & Politics: Gay Male Sexuality, Masculinity, and Feminism

By Tim Edwards | Go to book overview

Introduction

This book began life in 1987 when my main problematic concern was to explain and unpack the complex relationship of sexuality or sexual orientation to identity or gender category and, more particularly, homosexuality and masculinity. I could not and did not and cannot and do not accept that there is no connection. My concern with this connection translates itself academically into a dualistic focus of: first, gay studies, primarily gay men’s studies, which have documented the importance of sexuality; and second, feminism, or women’s studies, which have primarily documented the importance of gender. Whilst some feminists have attempted to make connections of femininity and lesbianism, many gay male academics have consciously rejected connections of masculinity and gay sexuality, with a few exceptions. In addition, men’s studies of masculinity added some insights into masculinity and male experience though frequently excluded full consideration of sexual orientation and heterosexuality as a component of masculine identity.

My concern with the same connections also had a personal translation. I was, and what is more still am, tired of witnessing some gay men’s sexism and, more significantly, feeling the full force of it in my personal life with men who seem to find it practically impossible to relate emotionally and sexually to another person at the same time or seek escape routes from emotionality in persistent promiscuity and anti-commitment attitudes or a plain lack of emotional communication and explanation. Importantly, I have also experienced powerful emotional attachments with gay men impossible to achieve with straight men and witnessed constant questioning of gender in certain areas of the gay community, particularly culturally, with exhilarating or simply amusing impact.

The point precisely is that it is indeed difficult to connect gender and sexuality and that the initial intention is also partly personal. There is, though, quite clearly a tension in maintaining or combining academic credibility with more personal or experiential expression. In addition, what this tends to show is not simply the limits of personal experience as much as the masculinism of academe and academic life.

This introduction is divided into two distinct sections or units. The

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