Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

The Negligible I

[Dick filter on]

One of the regular longtime posters to the soc.motss Usenet newsgroup has many times written that "with negligible exception" all men gay and straight are obsessed with dicks, and that the men who tell you they aren't are lying. Now, that statement is not just profoundly wrong but so multi-facetedly stupid that it's futile to respond, and any statement that ends with the insistence that the speaker is not interested in what others might have to say is not worth a direct argument, but still: There's something in (half of) its assumption that reflects what I consider to be a big cultural myth of gay men, a myth shared by gay and straight alike: That we're all about dick. All of us.

All right, by my working definition what makes us gay in the first place is what makes our dicks hard, so it's not as if dicks are irrelevant here. And yes, at the core of the definitional sexual act with all its compelling pleasures is a hard dick and the ramifications thereof. But to go from there to the idea that we're all of us concerned with our own dicks and the dicks of other men as the major focus of attention and attraction and obsession is a pretty long and precarious leap.

There's lots of gay cultural aggregates where guys do talk about dicks a lot. Classic camp talk is decidedly dick-laden. References to "packages" and "baskets" abound. I did, over the years, learn to speak that language, or at least to understand it, the same way I have learned to understand straight guys. In fact, I'm pretty good at the straight-guy empathy thing, and I have often astounded my gay friends by noting something to a straight guy about, say, the particular buxom woman who just walked by (something like, "So... sweaters..." with a raised eyebrow), leaving the straight guy smiling in embarrassment and the gay guy going, "What? Where? What are you guys talking about?" But none of this is instinctive to me.

This is partly why I didn't feel fully enmeshed in the gay community until I got involved in organizations like the lesbian and gay bands, where, in large part because of the mixed gender membership, dicktalk was not the assumption or the norm.

A byproduct of this is that I was always baffled by the astonishing amount of discussion and energy and concern lavished on the size of other men's dicks. After enough years of this I started to speak up, and note that I didn't get it, since to the best of my recollection every penis I've ever seen was the same size, pretty much. I mean, in proportion to the body as a whole an inch or even three makes no difference, and they're all basically the same configuration. (Balls, on the other hand, now balls vary tremendously in any number of factors, but they don't get quite the attention of dicks.) My theory was that many gay men are like botanists who can identify subspecies of viburnum from a great distance from the leaves alone while the rest of us are going, "hmmm...nice ornamental plant": After enough years of study, the minute differences between penises loom large.

Needless to say, I was frequently disbelieved when I spoke up. ("The men who tell you otherwise are lying.") So I actually started to pay closer attention to things like porn magazines and I've developed at least something of a sense of what these guys are talking about. Yup, some men have bigger erect penises than others. But, again, taking careful obsessive note of this is not instinctive to me and besides, who (the fuck) cares?

Yes, I know the answer to that question.

When I decided I wanted to write about this topic, I thought that I would explore the various aspects of what it's like to be a gay man who is not obsessed with dicks. That's what I advertised this filter to be for. I absolutely believe, despite ample evidence to the contrary, that I am neither alone nor "negligible" in the manifestations of my gayness. (In fact, I am not "negligible" in any way whatsoever, and neither is anybody else. For somebody to claim that other human beings are not significant or important enough to be worth considering says nothing about the other human beings and everything about the speaker.) I wanted to talk about what this means regarding porn for me, and sex itself, and all the expectations surrounding it. Writing about this helps me think it through.

I still plan to do all that, but as I started to formulate my topics here I realized that I have to begin closer to the center here, with some obvious realizations that I had not specifically confronted until I began to think about this. So that's coming up next.
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