Sunday, August 26, 2012

Homophobia Against Studs Part One


In part two of this series I plan to give my own opinion on this subject. Until then you can read this LINK, which I found interesting. Here is a quote from that article I plan to rant about in part two: 

I was curious about this phenomenon because a lot of black women say that they don’t like thugs — regardless of sexual orientation — but there appears to be a large group of lesbians dressing like men and carrying themselves like thugs. 

Agreed! And I briefly hit on this "phenomenon" on this blog post.

I found the academic research article about black studs and masculinity below while browsing the internet on this subject (link). The YELLOW highlighted portions of the article are things I don't personally agree with. The ORANGE highlighted portions of the article are things I DO agree with.

Studs and Protest-Hypermasculinity: The Tomboyism within Black Lesbian Female Masculinity By Laura Lane-Steele


This article will examine Black lesbian female masculinity using the ethnographic work I conducted in the summer of 2009 in South Carolina. The entire ethnographic project looked at all Black lesbians, regardless of gender expression, but the focus of my analysis in this article is limited to just Black lesbians who identify as studs. Although there is further analysis to come, to state it simply, a stud is a Black lesbian who embodies masculinity. The majority of the women in my project identify as either studs or femmes (Black feminine lesbians). To collect the data for this project, I conducted semi-structured interviews with five studs. I also used a great deal of participant observation, spending numerous afternoons and nights hanging out with these women in casual settings. Throughout this time I got to experience many aspects of the participants’ lives that would not be apparent from the formal interviews alone. All of these women come from working or lower class backgrounds, and all of them have graduated from high school. All of the women’ names have been changed to protect anonymity.

Despite the vast amount of research done on lesbians of all races, academic literature on Black lesbian masculinity is lacking. There have been a number of studies about female masculinity (see Halberstam; Abate) but few that specifically situate female masculinity within Black communities. In this article, I will show how Black female masculinity has been influenced by historically based constructions of Black gender. More specifically, I will argue that these studs strategically construct and perform their masculinity in ways that shield them from sexism, racism, and homophobia both in and out of their Black community. By looking and acting in ways that are similar to their Black male peers who embody a certain type of masculinity, these studs can gain access to some levels of male privilege and power that, in turn, can act as useful defense mechanisms against multiple types of discrimination and oppression. Given their status as Black lesbian women, triple minorities, using their gender performance in this way can be quite beneficial.   

Before I dive into these arguments, a word needs to be said about how I used these women's speech. In order to incorporate these women's voices into this article and to stay true to the ethnographic roots of this project, I have chosen to quote directly from the interviews I conducted. I have attempted to transcribe exactly what these women said and how they said it, incorporating their use of dialect. That said, not all of these women use the same dialect. Some women use what the Center of Applied Linguistics calls African American English (AAE) and defines as “systematic language variety, with patterns of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and usage that extend far beyond slang.” Some women use Standard American English, and many women use a mix of both. I realize that the way these women speak contrasts significantly from the academic tone of this article and that this difference has the potential to create further hierarchal distance between ethnographer and subject. However, I believe that the benefits of creating a space for these women's voices to be heard in academic literature outweighs the potential risk of the use of their dialect being read as patronizing and/or othering.

This ethnographic study on Black lesbian masculinity would not be possible without the contributions of many Black feminist theorists. Patricia Hill Collins, one of the most influential scholars in the Black feminist thought, argues that Black feminism focuses on the intersectionality of identity and how it relates to oppression. Collins and other Black feminists argue that focusing on oppression only on the basis of gender (as many White second wave feminists did) leaves out issues of race, class, and sexual orientation. Audre Lorde, another prominent voice of this camp, comments on how the recognition of women's multiple identities is crucial to the feminist movement: “When I say I am a Black feminist, I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my Blackness as well as my womanness and therefore my struggles on both these fronts are inseparable” (256). Lorde, as well as other scholars including bell hooks and Angela Davis, also bring in sexual orientation into their discussions of the multiple layers of oppression and empowerment. These Black feminists argue that heterosexism, heteronormativity, and homophobia, both in and out of Black communities, intersect with race, class, and gender to create forms of oppression unique to lesbian women of color. In her article Homophobia in Black Communities, bell hooks notes that Black lesbians are often asked which identity is most important to them: if they are Black, woman, or lesbian first (67–73). She, and many other Black feminists, call for the end of this kind of divisive identity politics. Instead, she says that by “acknowledging the union between Black liberation struggle and gay liberation struggle, we strengthen our solidarity, enhance the scope and power of our allegiances, and further our resistance” (67). While the field of Black lesbian studies is in tremendous debt to these scholars, this article takes their arguments on the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexual orientation and pushes them in a different direction. Unlike Lorde, hooks, and Davis who seem to connect Black lesbian to feminist, the Black lesbian studs in this study would not necessarily identify as feminists. In fact, they often act in ways that are in direct opposition to the Black feminist agenda, reinforcing masculinity's dominance over femininity and discriminating on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. Black feminists have looked at the ways in which historical oppression has shaped Black communities’ strict attitudes toward gender and sexual orientation (see Collins; Greene; Mitchell). This article, however, will look at how historical oppression has, somewhat ironically, created similar attitudes in this stud community regarding appropriate expressions of Black masculinity and homosexuality.

These studs’ masculinities cannot be understood without first outlining the historical roots of Black masculinities in the South. Beginning with slavery and continuing through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and on into the twentieth century, continuous assaults have been made on Black masculinities. During slavery, Black men were tortured, humiliated, commodified, and persecuted. After they were “freed,” they were barred from the political and economic fields that White men dominated, stripping them of their power, agency, and status as legitimate members of society. In her book Righteous Propagation, Michele Mitchell explains how the structural violence committed against Black men effeminized them, “Not only were they [Black men] emasculated beings according to mainstream discourse, but political disfranchisement, racial violence, and proscribed economic status often prevented them from asserting public claims to manhood” (74).

These unrelenting and brutal attempts to emasculate Black men have prevented Black masculinity from attaining what Kimmel, Connell, and other gender scholars call hegemonic masculinity. According to Connell and Messerschmidt (116), even though only the most privileged of men can access hegemonic masculinity, it is normative and desired by all people who embody masculinity: “It [hegemonic masculinity] embodied the currently most honored way of being a man, it required all other men to position themselves in relation to it, and it ideologically legitimated the global subordination of women to men.” Kimmel agrees that only a small minority of the population is able to achieve this ideal masculinity and expands on Connell by defining hegemonic masculinity as “the exclusion of ‘others’—women, nonwhite men, nonnative-born men, homosexual men”—which makes every othered man “a tragic tale, a tale of striving to live up to impossible ideals of success leading to chronic terrors of emasculation, emotional emptiness, and a gendered rage that leaves a wide swath of destruction in its wake.”

Because of violence, lack of access to political and economic power, and harsh discrimination Black men have certainly been historically “othered” by hegemonic masculinity. This kind of oppression leads to the kind of outrage and fury that Kimmel describes in the above paragraph, creating protest masculinities. In contrast to hegemonic masculinity, protest masculinities form under situations of cultural, historical, and economic oppression. Connell and Messerschmidt broadly define protest masculinity as “a pattern of masculinity constructed in local working-class settings, sometimes among ethnically marginalized men, which embodies the claim to power typical of regional hegemonic masculinities in Western countries, but which lacks the economic resources and institutional authority that underpins the regional and global patterns” (848). One of these Black protest masculinities is characterized by hypermasculinity: taking certain characteristics of hegemonic masculinity (homophobia, misogyny, dominance, and the policing of gender) to more extreme levels. This protest-hypermasculinity serves as a tool to protect Black men, and the Black community that they are expected to protect, from racism, violence, and discrimination. Elijah Ward sums up the motivations and functions of hypermasculinity well: 
Expressing hypermasculinity is socially popular in many black male circles. It seizes upon opportunities for projecting male dominance, possibly functioning as a means to vent the extra frustrations that black men experience in a racist society, while also shoring up a sense of identity in an uncertain social world. Expressing hypermasculinity also serves the added purpose of precluding questioning about one's sexual orientation, through a generous and decisive clarification of any potential ambiguity about the matter. (498–499)
This historical background on the formation of Black protest masculinities is important because these studs shape their masculinity by strategically adopting parts of this hyper-protest masculinity that is embodied by many of their Black male peers. It is strategic because the aspects they do adopt function in ways that give these women privilege and power despite their subordinated position as lesbian women in a heteronormative, patriarchal culture. This idea draws on what Tony Coles termed mosaic masculinities and applies it to women. Coles’ theory is as follows: 
Mosaic masculinities refers to the process by which men negotiate masculinity, drawing on pieces or fragments of hegemonic masculinity which they have the capacity to perform and piecing them together to reformulate what masculinity means to them in order to come up with their own dominant standard of masculinity … Although men may be subordinated by hegemonic masculinity, they do not necessarily reject it all together. Instead they focus on the elements that privilege them and reject the rest. (238)
In this case these women are drawing on pieces of this protest-hypermasculinity, not hegemonic masculinity. Although these women are subordinated by hyper-protest masculinity because of their sex, they piece together their masculinity using the parts from this masculinity that will benefit them the most. Being able to assert control and authority through their masculinity serves as a defense against racism, sexism, and homophobia. This is not a deliberate picking and choosing, but rather a subconscious process. Therefore, my main argument is that these studs unconsciously yet strategically piece together their masculinity by incorporating the parts of protest-hypermasculinity that give them access to power and dominance while leaving the other parts behind.

WHAT MAKES THE STUD


Physical appearance, including clothes and hair, are crucial to these studs’ identities. They dress in ways that are comparable to their Black male peers. Baggy pants and shirts, hats, high top shoes, Timberland boots, and fairly flashy jewelry are common. Their hair is usually in braids or cut short; however, some studs have long hair and wear it in styles that are quite feminine. When I asked my participants what made them a stud, the most frequent answer had to do with clothing. For example, Jamie told me, “I just feel more comfortable in men's clothing, being more masculine, rather than being all girly girly. Wearin’ skirts and heels, etcetera” (Jamie, Personal interview, June 30, 2009). Bianca Wilson also notices this trend in her study of Black lesbians: “Black lesbian's personal narratives illustrate the ways that dress and hair styles have been important markers of Black lesbian gender roles” (299).

However, some other women in my study were broader in their definitions, linking a stud identity to non visible characteristics of gender. For example, Jasmine dresses in men's clothes but her masculine qualities stretch further than her appearance; her masculinity is also tied up in her role as the breadwinner and provider: “I prefer to work, and you have your income as supplement. That's our fun money so to speak. And, you know, I take care of household bills, things that need to be done. If you need to go to work and we only have one car, then I'm takin’ you to work” (Jasmine, Personal interview, July 17, 2009). She goes on to say, “to me, stud … is more based on your mentality than your clothes.” Therefore, it seems like physical appearance is more important for identifying someone else's Black lesbian gender, while other non-visible factors are more important for self identification.

Despite the fact that these women dress in men's clothes, adopt masculine mannerisms, and fall into many traditionally male scripts (e.g., being primary financial provider), these women do not want to be men nor did they express any transgender or transsexual desires themselves. “You're always gunna be a girl. You know what I'm sayin’. You always gunna have some feminine parts in it” (Stacy, Personal interview, June 29, 2009). Jamie reflects this sentiment when she told me: “I don't wanna be a boy, I just feel more comfortable playing the more masculine part” (Jamie, Personal interview). These studs challenge the hegemonic idea that biological maleness is necessary for masculinity (Halberstam, 2). Female masculinity, embodied by these studs, proves that biological sex is not a determinant or a requirement of gender expression.

Furthermore, although it may appear that studs have fairly rigid boundaries when it comes to how they perform their gender, things came up in the interviews that complicate this perception of strict categorization. For example, there are women in this community who are read as studs by other lesbians in the community but choose not to identify as any Black lesbian gender. Wanda falls into this category, and she explained her decision to me, “A stud is like … tryin’ to be a male. That's what I feel like. I am not a femme cuz I'm not all that feminine … I don't wear dresses and heels … I am feminine, you know, my personality and all that, once you get to know me. But you know, the way I dress, I'm real down” (Wanda, Personal interview, July 20, 2009). “Down” in this context means dressing in masculine clothes. Further complicating this appearance of strict gender norms, there are studs in this community who identify as lesbians, but have sex with men and get pregnant. These women are often called “dick dykes” by other women in this community.  (Me: BOOM!)

Judith Butler's work in gender theory is useful in this analysis of these Black studs’ gender identities. She argues that gender is performed, but this performativity is not necessarily voluntary or conscious. Instead it, “consists in a reiteration of norms which precede, constrain, and exceed the performer and in that sense cannot be taken as the fabrication of the performer's ‘will’ or ‘choice’” (24). Therefore, like all genders, these stud's genders are constructed from the norms surrounding Black masculinity within their community. They do not create their own unique genders, but instead they perform their gender by taking cues (clothes, mannerisms, style of speech, gestures, etc.) from their surroundings and embodying them. This performativity of their gender forms and informs their notions of identity.

In order to fully understand how these studs construct their own masculinities, it is important to look at how their gender functions in the context of sexual relationships. All of the studs in this study and most of the studs in this community date exclusively femmes. In fact, as I will get to later, stud–stud relationships are viewed in a very negative light. These stud–femme relationships follow many of the same scripts of normative Black heterosexual couples their age. Studs call themselves the “boy” of the relationship. They pay for dates and are expected to be dominant over and in control of their girlfriends. Many of them use extremely misogynist language, referring to their girlfriend as “my bitch” or “my ho,” and saying things like “Man, that bitch thinks I love her, but I just like to fuck her.” As I will discuss further, this kind of language is also common among the Black men in their community who embody protest-hypermasculinity.

There are ways in which these studs do not follow traditional male scripts in their sexual relationships, however. In general, during sex the femme's sexual pleasure is prioritized over the stud's. While the stud is still in control during sex, the femme's sexual needs come first. In fact, some studs do not like to be sexually stimulated at all. This does not follow the heterosexual script that places men's sexual desires ahead of their female partners, and in fact, it is exactly the opposite. While these studs’ masculinities still require dominance in the bedroom, they are expected to satisfy their partners, with their sexual desires coming second or sometimes not at all.

The ways in which the studs in this community construct their masculinity both in and outside of sexual relationships bear many resemblances with protest-hypermasculinity. Their appearance and mannerisms are similar to those of their Black male peers who embody this kind of masculinity. Their misogynist attitudes and language toward their feminine partners are also clear examples of how these women have taken fragments of protest-hypermasculinity and performed it as a part of their masculinity. Taking on these traits has clear advantages for these studs. First of all, the embodiment of this masculinity can provide these studs with access to the power and privileges come with masculinity. Being able to relate to males and being “one of the boys” enables these studs to increase their position within the social hierarchy, where men are in power. One of the studs I interviewed attests to this while comparing her experiences to that of a feminine Black man, “Like, around here, it's probably more acceptable for the female kinda doin’ the masculine thing. Than the male tryin’ to be a female … I'd say like the female tryin’ to portray a dude. Because more than likely she hangin’ around other dudes, you know what I'm sayin’” (Wanda, Personal interview). By taking on these aspects of protest-hypermasculinity embodied by their males peers, who are in a position of dominance in their community, these studs are able to gain access to a certain level of male privilege that would be unattainable by femmes and even studs who reject these features of protest-hypermasculinity. Therefore, being “one of the boys” creates pathways to power. Because these studs are women, by taking on this form of masculinity, they are able to avoid much of the misogyny directed at them by men. Furthermore, their misogyny toward femmes functions as a way for them to assert dominance over a subordinate group and fit in with their male peers who are misogynistic toward their partners as well.
 
I am not arguing that by taking on these aspects of protest-hypermasculinity these women are able to avoid all types of sexism and homophobia. Because these women do not want to be men and are not read as men, they do not have complete access to male privilege within this Black community. Even though they may be “one of the boys” at times, their masculinity is still in a subordinate position under male protest-hypermasculinity masculinity and hegemonic masculinity. Furthermore, despite the certain protections that their masculinity grants them, they are still victims of homophobia by members of the Black community and the larger culture. The majority of the women in my study reported strong negative reactions from their family and/or church when they came out as lesbians. In order to deflect some of these strong negative reactions, stud–femme relationships resemble those of their heterosexual peers in many ways. In communities where being gay still carries large amounts of disdain and stigma, being in a romantic relationship that resembles what is accepted in mainstream culture may detract from potential criticism and even violence. However, although stud–femme relationships adopt many heteronormative scripts, they are still not completely free from criticism and hypersexualization from the Black community as well as the larger Southern culture. Beginning during the slave era and continuing today, the Black female body has been hypersexualized by White men Hill Hollins). Furthermore, lesbian sex is a stereotypical male fantasy in the United States (for men of all races). Therefore, Black women in lesbian relationships are potentially subjected to racially motivated hypersexualization by White men because of their position as Black females and by all men because of the male lesbian sex fantasy.

Homophobia Toward Homomasculinity


As mentioned earlier, one of the defining characteristics of protest-hypermasculinity is homophobia. Ironically, many of the studs in this community perform this piece of this masculinity as a part of their own. It is not an internalized homophobia toward themselves, but rather homophobia toward Black gay men and stud–stud relationships, which I will call homomasculinity from this point on. In the formal interviews, Wanda conveyed the most negative feelings toward gay men: 
For a man to go and stick his thang in another man's butt, or all the butts, ugg man … ugg man, hell no dog, that shit is nasty. … For me it's the thought of two dudes, like you a dude, you a dude, I don't care how old you is you still got hands and body sweat all over each other. Like hell no how can you suck another man's dick. Uggg … hell no. In the butt though. Laura, Laura. In the butt.
Stacy has similar thoughts about gay male sexual expression: “Personally, for me, Black men, I can't stand to see the way they kiss. … It don't look right for two males, you know, with their hair cut. It don't right, you know what I'm sayin.” Wanda and Stacy's feelings toward gay men stem from their thoughts about gay male sexual behavior. It is disgust, not hatred, which is at the root of their homophobia, and her response seems deeply emotional. There does not seem to be a clearly articulated reason why these women hold such attitudes toward gay Black men.

Much of the homophobia toward gay men was revealed during informal discussions, not the formal interviews. For example, I was with a group of these Black studs when we were deciding which club to go to on a Friday night. One woman suggested a local gay bar, but the idea was shot down by the group because there were too many “punks” (a derogatory term for a feminine gay man) and “faggots” there. Despite the potential political power that comes from Black gays and lesbians sharing the same cultural space, homophobic attitudes that some of these lesbians hold are what, in part, keeps the two communities from completely unifying.

Not only do many of these studs hold negative attitudes towards gay men, they often view stud–stud sexual relationships as inappropriate, strange, or even gross. KD is one of these women and when I asked her to explain why she feels it is not okay for studs to date studs she said: 
I don't think another dominant, or stud women should date another dominant or stud woman. It just don't, ug, it just don't look right, you know. Um, but two femmes can be together. But I prefer to see femme with another dominant or stud. … Because you gotta have a balance. It's just like in a heterosexual [relationship], you got a male and a female because there is a balance as far as how you handle situations. How you handle on a financial side. On a relationship side. There's a balance. If you got two studs, you got this little equal thing … you're gunna have conflict. That's what I think. (KD, Personal interview, July 30, 2009)
Her beliefs are clearly based on a heterosexual model of romantic relationships. Two masculine women cannot be together, in her mind, because there would be confusion about who was supposed to open the door or pay for dinner. KD's quote reflects what was mentioned earlier: that many Black lesbian relationships within this community fit into a hegemonic heterosexual script, with the stud playing the male role and the femme playing the female role. In KD's opinion, a two stud relationship is similar to two men being together, and therefore the relationship would fall apart because the submissive gender role would be unfulfilled. Even though, by this line of thinking, this same problem would arise if two femmes dated each other, she condones femme–femme relationships. Because of this, clearly there is something else motivating her condemnation of stud–stud relationships besides the inability to fill heterosexual gendered roles. Jasmine reveals what this something else might be when she expressed a similar distain for stud–stud relationships: 
I'm still very against stud on stud. … It's just gay! I mean for lack of a better term. It just cancels each other out. Like you might as well be with a guy. … Like I understand it's still a girl but as far as mentalities go, I need someone who is a little more submissive than me, not someone who is goin’ to be right at me all day the same way.
While her quote reflects what KD said about having an equal amount of masculinity and femininity in a relationship, she also brings up an issue that underlies the homophobia both toward gay men and stud–stud relationships. There is something about masculine–masculine relationships, or homomasculinty, that, as Jasmine puts it, is just gay. And even though some of the women that I interviewed do not hold homophobic beliefs about stud–stud relationships themselves, they acknowledge that hostility toward them is prevalent within this Black lesbian community. There is no clear reason given by any of the women I talked to as to why femme–femme relationships are not viewed as negatively as stud–stud ones. Jamie realizes this phenomenon but cannot explain why it exists: 
Personally that thought [of two studs together] is just like, out of this world. … But it doesn't really make sense for me to feel that way because it's two women, it's two lesbians … but still many people criticize it … they think it's nasty when it really shouldn't be. It's just like a stud datin’ a femme or a femme datin’ a femme.
Why stud–stud and gay male relationships are unacceptable among the studs in this Black lesbian community seems beyond articulation. Only certain types of homosexuality seem to be free from their negative judgment: stud–femme and femme–femme lesbian relationships. These beliefs reflect those present in men who embody protest-hypermasculinity in this community. As previously mentioned, homophobia is a defining attribute of this masculinity, but these men's homophobic attitudes are focused on gay men, not lesbians. Sociologist Earl Ofari Hutchinson offers up an explanation of why Black men have double standard for men's and women's homosexuality: 
In a vain attempt to recapture their denied masculinity, many Black men mirrored America's traditional fear and hatred of homosexuality. … Many Black men who bought this malarkey did not heap the same scorn on women who were lesbians. White and Black gay women did not pose the same threat as gay men. They were women, and that meant that they were fair game to be demeaned and marginalized by many men. (3)
All women, lesbians included, are subject to domination and subordination because of their sex and because of the misogynistic, patriarchal nature of this Southern Black community. Therefore, the Black lesbian is not threatening because she is still a woman, and therefore able to be controlled and dominated. Black gay men, however, pose a threat not only to Black masculinity but to the Black race in general. The Black Nationalist movement of the 1960s 1970s promoted and further legitimized this view towards male masculinity and homosexuality (Lemelle). In a movement led by Black men searching to attain full hegemonic masculinity, there was no room in Black communities for weak, effeminate men (i.e., gay men) who could not build and maintain a new strong Black nation. This view toward Black masculinity and Black male homosexuality continues to permeate not only this Southern Black community, but also the Black stud community in this study.

These studs’ double standards for femme–femme and stud–stud relationships can also be explained by the ways in which they embody aspects of protest-hypermasculinity. Men who embody this masculinity (as well as men who embody other masculinities) view feminine lesbians as an object of sexual desire while they see gay men in quite an opposite way. Therefore, the way that this aspect of protest-hypermasculinity is played out in this Black stud community is by them condoning or even sexualizing femme–femme relationships and expressing disgust toward stud–stud relationships.

On the surface, it is quite ironic and perplexing that these studs are homophobic toward other sexual minorities within their race. However, by adopting protest-hypermasculinity's homophobia toward homomasculinty, they are, in a way, seeking to protect themselves from stigmatization and marginalization because of their own sexual orientation. Fighting large structural institutions that create and enforce heterosexism and homophobia is a daunting task, especially for such a marginalized group. Therefore, instead of unifying as a Black LGBT community and combating these forces, for some Black studs, homophobia toward homomasculinity may be a way to gain access to power, and a way for them to relate to and engage with Black men that embody protest-hypermasculinity and the Black communities that they live in and rely on for support.

Conclusions


There are elements of these studs’ masculinities that do not line up with protest-hypermasculinity. Giving birth and assuming the pleaser role in sex are two examples. In general however, these studs do formulate their masculinity by taking fragments from protest-hypermasculinity and performing them in ways that benefit them. Through their physical appearance, mannerisms, misogyny, and homophobia they are able to relate to the men who embody protest-hypermasculinity in their community. Because of the patriarchal structure of this community, and of this country in general, being one of the boys enables them to access some of the benefits of male privilege and avoid the sexism and the homophobia that they might otherwise be subjected to.

By piecing together their masculinity from elements of protest-hypermasculinity, they are also able to establish positions of dominance over other groups of people, including femmes and gay men. In the field of masculinities, these studs’ masculinity is in an extremely subordinated position because of their race, sex, and sexual orientation. Therefore, they are able to gain power by subordinating only the groups of people lower on the gender hierarchy in this community: femmes and gay men. Their negative view on stud–stud relationships can be understood as an extension of protest-hypermasculinity's view toward gay men. Not only does male homosexuality threaten this masculinity, this Southern Black community views gay men as too weak to lead and protect the community from institutionalized racism. The Black studs in this study take this attitude towards gay male relationships and extend it to stud–stud relationships.

Besides looking at how these studs are often accepted as “one of the boys” by their male peers, this study did not directly look at how the straight Black community responded to these studs’ masculinity. Often times a studs’ masculine appearance and behavior prompted questions from their family about their sexual orientation. However, I found in the larger study that studs and femmes had similar coming out narratives and that a stud lesbian gender identity did not necessarily make the coming out process any harder. In future studies on Black lesbian gender, further analysis of the straight Black community's reactions to studs’ masculinity would expand on these preliminary findings and contribute to understanding of lesbian gender within Black communities.

More research in masculinities needs to be done on lesbian women of color. Unlike men, they have to negotiate sexism, as well as racism and homophobia, when constructing and performing their gender. The field of masculinities would expand its understanding of the complexities, functions, and motivations of gender by extending research in this area.

REFERENCES


Me: I'm not sure how the author of this study came to the conclusion that black studs are accepted into the "boy's club" by black men, but I have yet to witness this lie. In fact, from what I have observed, black men are quite hostile toward black studs...but I will hit on that in part two.
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