Tuesday, January 04, 2011

In which this blog becomes entirely devoted to Dan Savage, Natalie Portman

Jane Brody vs. Dan Savage in a does it or does it not get better advice-off. Questions: Brody says, "recent research finds more similarities than differences among gay and straight adolescents." But did anyone ever doubt this? Gay adolescents are obviously more like straight adolescents than they are like, I don't know, gay adolescent penguins. Or, for that matter, gay adults. Obviously not every minute of adolescence is about a particular facet of one's identity. Obviously precalculus is a great equalizer.

And even if, as says Brody's expert of the week, "[b]ullying is less about sexuality than about gender nonconformity," bullies use the language of homophobia. Such that even if the kid getting harassed is an effeminate hetero, gender-conforming gay kids will understand that they are on some level also being targeted.

Also: how, even if we rid the world of homophobia, could youth ever be as straightforward for gays as for straights? Meaning, unless you have the good fortune to grow up on 18th Street and 8th Avenue, if you realize you're gay, what you're realizing, in part, is how unlikely it is you'll find a date anywhere near you.

3 comments:

Daniel Goldberg said...

A delicious and understated smackdown of Brody on fat over the years:

http://jhmas.oxfordjournals.org/content/63/2/139.full

I continue to be mystified why writers such as her earn any attention at all from anyone reasonably informed on whatever the subject of the writing is. It reminds me very much of George's response to his mother's question in the masturbation episode ("Why, George, why??!?!?"):

Because it's there.

Phoebe said...

PG wrote:

Brody's views on fat seem to have tracked with those of conventional wisdom; as the article itself says, "subscribing to the consensus of the scientific establishment." My dad's a cardiologist and he generally handed out that sort of one-size-fits-all "eat a lower fat diet, reduce calories and exercise more" advice to his patients, prior to the acceptance throughout the medical profession of more individualized understandings. And he's an ethnic minority himself.

With regard to the topic of the post, I think it's correct to say that bullies target nonconformity of just about any kind: sexual, racial, religious, etc. However, I think gay youth suffer the particular burden of having their nonconformity still being deemed an unacceptable one by many adults and the overall society.

That is, while bullying I got for racial and religious nonconformity was for reasons that the larger society declares to be wrongful discrimination, a kid who is not conforming to gender norms has teachers around him saying, "Why can't you just dress like the other boys?" (Even in East Texas, none of my teachers would have dared suggest that I convert to Christianity as a way to avoid bullying.) Gay youth have to deal with a lot more messages that there's something wrong with them than, say, Catholic youth in non-Catholic-majority towns. As Phoebe adverts to, gay people are the minority almost everywhere.

Phoebe said...

Daniel Goldberg,

Brody on health is another matter entirely. I agree with PG that she pretty much summarizes conventional wisdom of the moment she's writing. But, I would add, with an extra dose of smug.

PG,

"However, I think gay youth suffer the particular burden of having their nonconformity still being deemed an unacceptable one by many adults and the overall society."

Exactly. I got the sense that Brody was writing from the perspective of someone whose notions of tolerance come from those around her, who wouldn't dream of opposing gay marriage, supporting DADT, etc.