Alex Blaze

Obama's so gay

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 17, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, Chris Matthews, feminine boys, Joe Scarborough, masculinity, Maureen Dowd, president

So I'm working on a mini-project here to track mainstream media and politicians calling Obama a faggot, directly or indirectly. This will become a dominant narrative this fall as McCain is a real manly man and Obama can't bowl over 37. We all know who the GOP and the corporate media are going to back.

I was thinking about this during Pansy-gate, that it doesn't really matter if the word pansy was meant as an anti-gay insult or an anti-weak-and-feminine insult - saying that being a pansy is bad is homophobic. Feminine, prissy, anti-gay, sissy, weak, and non-gender conforming insults all come from the same place: that there's only one way to be masculine and one has to be that type of masculine to properly lead an organization, be competent at his or her job, or be a worthy human being. That concept is inherently sexist and homophobic, no matter whether or not someone uses the word "faggot" itself.

I've just barely started going through Maureen Dowd's columns and Media Matters' backfiles, but what I have is after the jump.

What I'm looking for here are comments in the mainstream media (talk radio doesn't count) that call Obama some form of "faggot." It's a narrative that, even if Obama wins this November, still ensures that conservative politicians have an advantage and that conservative policies have a better chance at being advanced.

Masculinity in the media is defined variously in the media as follows, as I've seen it:

  1. hawkish

  2. libertarian on social spending

  3. unilateral

  4. "universal," i.e against identity politics, against recognizing that not everyone is a white, straight man and has white, straight, male experiences

  5. curt

  6. not considering valid criticism

  7. not explaining oneself or one's actions completely

  8. unintellectual

  9. wearing a flight-suit

I don't think that masculinity actually means those things, or has to mean those things, but from what I've seen about how the mainstream political punditry defines it, those are the attributes that end up on top. And none of them is particularly desirable, in my opinion.

And, of course, they're used to simultaneously construct Democratic men as faggots and faggots as bad. Personally, I'd love to have a queer in the Oval Office, but this is about deriding the personality of politicians because they don't fit the mold for heterosexual masculinity, which, besides holding back good policy, also helps relegate homosexuality, non-traditional masculinity, gender non-conformity, femininity, fabulousness, and women to second-class status.

So here's my list so far. This needs to be followed and denounced, and an LGBT political blog seems to me to be the perfect place to do it. Let me know what you think!

Maureen Dowd

5.14.2008 New York Times column

Obama is acting the diffident debutante, pretending not to care that he was given a raspberry by a state he will need in the fall.

4.23.2007 New York Times column

As the husband of Michelle, does he know better than to defy the will of a strong woman? Or is he simply scared of Hillary because she's scary?

2.24.2008 New York Times column

And when historians trace how her inevitability dissolved, they will surely note this paradox: The first serious female candidate for president was rejected by voters drawn to the more feminine management style of her male rival.

2.21.2008 New York Times column

Barack Obama has made an entrance in Hollywood unmatched since Scarlett O'Hara swept into the Twelve Oaks barbecue. Instead of the Tarleton twins, the Illinois senator is flirting with the DreamWorks trio

2.14.2007 New York Times column title

Obama, Legally Blonde?

Tucker Carlson

7.12.2007 on MSNBC's Tucker

Well, everybody knows that a book club is no place for a man. So why has Barack Obama suddenly turned into Oprah? Willie Geist rounds up the girls, brings the chardonnay, and heads to the Oprah book club -- or the Obama book club -- when we come back.

7.11.2007 on MSNBC's Tucker

I mean, when he gets up there, he says we're waging a war against cynicism. That is too abstract. It has nothing to do with the concerns of ordinary people, and it is also, frankly, kind of wimpy.

7.2.2008 on MSNBC's Tucker

He seems like kind of a wuss, though.

12.14.2006 on MSNBC's Tucker

What a sensitive little man!

Joe Scarborough

3.31.2008 on MSNBC's Morning Joe

[video clip of Obama bowling]

SCARBOROUGH: Oh, that's so dainty. Ugh.[...]

SCARBOROUGH: A very human side? A prissy side.

Chris Matthews

3.31.2008 on MSNBC's Hardball

Because it isn't the most macho form there, I must say, but who knows?

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Good start, Alex! Now, we need to use this against those who slyly (they think) imply Obama's a [less-than-ultra-masculine epithet here] and ask them why they see that in Obama -- as in, 'are you projecting your denied sexuality on him?' In other words, use their words to impugn them. Who knows, it could be a LOT of cathartic fun!

Hazumu Osaragi

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 17, 2008 9:16 PM

10. "The Gay gaze" Obama looks into a camera.

He appears to be smiling in his eyes at all times.

Ron Reagan aka "the great communicator" always looked four inches beneath the camera lens.

It is nice that Tucker Carlson has given up those prisy bowties. What is his position now that Jon Stewart got him laughed off the air?

I thought Stewart got him laughed off CNN, and then he got picked up and given a show at MSNBC. Because there aren't enough people in the US to find someone new to give a show to. It has to be the same clique over and over again.

But now he isn't on there anymore, but he's being kept around as a commentator. In other words, he's another Pat Buchanan or Ann Coulter.

Hazumu~ Cathartic fun? That's my fave kind of fun!

And a lot of them are totally making up for their own failed masculinities and sexual longings, I'm sure. But I don't know why it is that they're all given jobs on the teevee or in the paper!

Since these commentators are unable or unwilling to discuss Senator Obama's political ideas and vision for the future of the country, they resort to personal attacks. They know that they would never get away with racist comments, although some have tried, so they attack his being an intellectual and an eloquent speaker and equate those traits with somehow his being gay, still a politically correct method in some circles to denigrate someone.

I hope the American people are smart enough to see through this smokescreen and to see it for what it really is.

There was an article a few months ago in Newsweek, "The First Woman President? Obama's campaign bends gender conventions"

The author (I use that term lightly) claimed that Obama is the first serious woman candidate, Hillary Clinton was seen as more traditional male and authoritarian, and finally regarding John McCain, "Despite the gender-bending styles displayed by Obama and Clinton, McCain's manner of exercising leadership is an androgynous and rare activity."

If John McCain is androgynous, I'm renouncing my membership as an androgyne!

Absolutely, zythyra!

Clinton proposes policy solutions to every problem. She has the answers, fulfilling our expectations of an aspiring authority figure and the brightest person in the class.

She's masculine because she's smart and understands policy!

oh, and this:

While Obama has tried to combine optimism and realism, John McCain is the only candidate in the race who has consistently delivered messages that his constituents did not want to hear.

That's why he's pandered on every major issue out there.

Like I said up top, it always seems that this sort of gender analysis leads to Republicans.

Great start, Alex. I'm glad to see this is getting picked up elsewhere. Hopefully, you'll continue the series.

Dan Miller | May 18, 2008 10:00 PM

Here's another shining example of this sort of thing, from syndicated Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. The first sentence is "Well, at least they didn't kiss" (referring to the Obama/Edwards endorsement event) and goes downhill from there.

What about the one of James Carville that was reported on Huffington post and others that if Hillary gave Obama one of her "cojones" then they would each have two

I was going to mention Carville and how he insinuated that Obama is missing a testicle and Clinton has three! Sheesh. Too much of this homophobia is coming right from the Clinton campaign, like Carville, and that union guy saying that Clinton has the testicular fortitude we need (meaning that Obama doesn't), you already mentioned pansygate, and don't forget Clinton herself during bittergate, did she simply state that he made these comments at a fundraiser? No, she made damn sure people were aware that the fundraiser was in SAN FRANCISCO *blow that dog whistle*.

gaynomimous | May 19, 2008 10:32 AM

What's wrong with being gay?

everything, gaynonymous. Everything.

Henriette | May 19, 2008 8:38 PM

Of course, Camp Hillary knows that Obama CAN'T get too aggressive, or he'll be the next Willie Horton, the horrible bogey-man who might break into your house. When? 3 a.m. of course, just like in her not-too-subtle TV ad. Nice goin', Hill. That's why "hard-working white Americans who didn't complete college" love ya. (Say, wouldn't it be easier just to say "crackers?")

The notion that Hillary ever wanted to have an issues-dominated campaign is, as the old folks say, malarkey. The notion that she's a hard-working policy wonk with all this experience is, as the old folks say, bushwah. For the life of me, I don't see how she was qualified to even run for senator from New York. No, being a cuckholded wife doesn't qualify her. Not that she was ever cuckholded, mind you.

realworld | May 22, 2008 9:44 AM

Last week on McLaughlin Group Monica called him a "girlie man". This is not liberal show but really, McLaughlin should be able to find better right wing commentators than someone using these tactics.