When CollegeHumor’s “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends” came out a few weeks ago, I thought it was a fun way to draw attention to an important issue. Apparently it struck a chord, because in the weeks that have followed, the world has given us “Straight Men Respond”, followed by “Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends”, and finally “Straight Women Respond”. The videos are, for the most part, entertaining but I couldn’t help putting on my over-analysing hat and picking up on the not-so-great assumptions that were being made about each group.
1. Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends
(The original, published by CollegeHumor)
Gay men: Because the video is selling reasons for why straight women would want to marry them, it’s obviously very positive about gay men as a whole. They are hot, sensitive, cook well and are interested in the typically feminine things your girlfriend wants to do. While the video does not even come close to representing the diversity of gay male experience (including the existence of gay men who couldn’t care less about the marriage issue), the fact that it portrays usually-maligned traits (such as a fondness for Broadway or dancing) as desirable enough to threaten straight male dominance gives it a pass from me.
Straight men: In order to portray gay men as more desirable to straight women, the video pits them against their usual marriage partner – straight men. It does this by relying on a lot of negative stereotypes: that they can’t work their way around a kitchen, don’t dress well and can’t hope to understand women, so much so that a gay man will be better able to satisfy your girlfriend in the bedroom. However, as the video specifically targets straight men who are against same-sex marriage, the unfair assumptions are lessened somewhat. The implication is that only the politically backward embody the worst stereotypes of the group. Additionally, “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends” has faith that these straight men have the generally positive intention of committing to, and marrying, these women, so it’s not all bad.
Straight women: The video contains compelling reasons for straight women to leave their boyfriends and marry gay men on their own volition. Straight women are portrayed as wanting a good, equal partner who can satisfy them intellectually as well as physically, and the idea that women are “crazy” for, e.g., talking for hours about their friendship dramas is refreshingly debunked.
2. Straight Men Respond
(Published by Scotch Tape Productions)
Straight men: The straight men’s response is reliant on the concept that they don’t actually want to marry their girlfriends, and actually find them endlessly annoying, with the sole exception of their fuckable vaginas. The implication is that commitment is for chumps, and that real straight men are all “alpha males”, who can all-too-readily find someone to sex all morning, dress like J. Crew models and don’t need to cook anything but manly steak (for men!). Which definitely sums up all the straight guys I know… oh wait, no. The representation here is demeaning to all straight guys who, for a start, don’t believe their masculinity is tied to banging every woman they see, or love to treat their girlfriends as equal partners.
Gay men: Are portrayed as idiots for seeking gay marriage, AND for wanting to marry women, because all marriage is for suckers. The assumption is that gay men are not able to properly judge what is right for them, and in conjunction with their failure to adopt “masculine” traits, the implication is that gay men are inferior to straight ones. Reinforcing prejudice – not cool.
Straight women: The video also exhibits a bunch of negative stereotypical assumptions about straight women: they nag, they hate “guys being guys”, they want nothing more than to trap their boyfriends into marriage. To get away from these women is to be “free”. They are only tolerable because of their sex parts, which – known only their straight boyfriends – they actually want to use on other women. The video paints straight women as undesirable, and too stupid to even judge their own sexuality. Again, straight men are shown to be superior to a traditionally marginalised group. Dislike.
3. Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends
(Published by Sarah Rotella)
Gay women: “Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends” borrows pretty heavily from the playbook of the original, so it’s no surprise that stereotypical lesbian traits are spun here to be positive and desirable. The humour also helps to paint the speakers in a positive light – we like the people who make us laugh, and I still can’t stop laughing at ‘It is literally the biggest dick we’ve ever seen’. On the other hand, the over-generalisation it employs could be damaging to both the same-sex marriage cause and perceptions of lesbian women: I, for one, have not met any lesbian women who remotely fit the stereotypes in the clip.
Straight women: As with the “Straight Men Respond” video, negative stereotypes about straight women are used here in order to portray them as inferior (in this case, to gay women). The video assumes that all straight women want to be married, but this is a less positive characteristic given the general belief that women will often stop at nothing to force an engagement or commitment. However, given it targets the more privileged group of the two in the ‘real world’, the mocking humour used is generally perceived as more tongue-in-cheek and palatable.
Straight men: When I originally shared this on Facebook, an actual straight man commented that he would like to get to know some of those ladies better, so apparently the argument contained in the video is convincing. As with the original, the straight partner is able to choose to enter into the relationship of their own volition, and all of their interests and desires are seen as valid (and not annoying). Additionally, as they are not painted as contributing to opposition of same-sex marriage, this video arguably presents straight men in the most positive light of the four.
4. Straight Women Respond
(Publisher unknown – potentially “TheWomenOnWomen”, uploader of video)
Straight women: I didn’t actually know this video existed until today, and there seems to be a pretty good reason for that: it’s badly shot, and it’s not very ‘ha-ha’ funny. To be honest, I wasn’t sure where “straight women” could go in their own response, given they already get to marry the people they fall in love with but I was eventually pretty happy with where it landed. The “straight women” here are portrayed as being allied with the cause (a positive thing, given the subject matter) and also have agency and make their own decisions. I was disappointed to see, however, that apparently all straight women can offer in terms of desirability is performing same-sex attraction for the benefit of straight guys.
Gay men: The video portrays traditional stereotypes regarding gay men as positive. While the women in the video are rejecting the proposals of the gay men, this is done more out of love for them as friends, rather than as a response to their “feminine” traits.
Straight men: Are actually treated pretty poorly in this video. Without the caveat that the negative stereotypes are to be used only against opponents of gay marriage, well-meaning straight guys are being unfairly caricatured and mocked by women. Although they are a privileged group, in this case, it seems mean-spirited to target them, and simplistic to assume that they are solely sex-driven.
I’ll leave you with the thought that all of the videos overlook any sexuality outside of the groups of gay and straight. Where are the bi or asexual people, for example? Where are the trans-identifying people? Actually, given the outmoded “humour” “Straight Men Respond” relies on… it’s probably a good thing they were spared.
RESULT: All four of the videos rely on unfair stereotypes to prove their point, but “Straight Men Respond” is surely the worst of the lot.
Up next: Bitterness by request: The “F” word