When Men Meet is a not-very-well-typeset academic book, now rather obscure and possibly no less obscure when it came out, by Danish sociologist Henning Bech. (I believe his health is not good at present.)

The book is packed to the walls with unique insights, all written down in non-academic English. What’s even more interesting is that Bech does not even bother apologizing for locating his interests in his own history and what happens in Denmark. Only an American would think what happens in Denmark isn’t interesting, and one thing I am not is American.

“Tintin out of Snowy!”

…but later it becomes clear what exactly is implied – namely that “the Boy Scout loosened up his tight knickers a bit.” Only in this way can Tintin and his male aficionados avert the suspicion that they might, even fleetingly, be more interested in men than in women. TINTIN OUT OF SNOWY! as the graffito reads above the gay-bar john. It is rather mind-boggling to imagine there might be even the faintest shade of homosexuality in this sterile universe, but these days one can never be certain.

And it isn’t enough to act out the ritual repudiations, such as letting the aria accompanist be bossed around by the old fag hag Castafiore, and letting him swoon with the ladies, or letting the overly identical goofs Dupond and Dupont dance a pas de deux on the moon or scramble onto tables and chairs, clutching each other and screaming for help because they’ve seen a mouse. For these repudiations of a queer masculinity are perhaps expressions of a suspect interest in real men. More effective agents are needed: Women.

Here Bech is getting at one of the more novel analyses in his book – “absent homosexuality.” Not that gays are missing from a certain setting but that homosexuality blatantly is. He interprets all-male movie scenes, which now conventionally would be deemed homoerotic in post-Russo evaluations, as merely having a giant elephant not in the room, and that elephant is homosexuality, not homosexuals.

“The homosexual is forced to relate to his masculinity”

  • [I]n a different and more profound sense than other men, the homosexual is forced to relate to his masculinity. You might say that while other men are forced to decide how much of a man they intend to be, he has to decide how much of a woman he intends to be. It is possible that he finds waving his hands and flitting a shawl highly amusing, or that he will eventually relish such womanly delights; it is also possible that he will not have the faintest desire to do so; but he cannot avoid relating to it, taking a stand, making a choice. And however little or much he chooses to be masculine or feminine with the starting point and resources he happens to have (desires, fear, risks, physical wherewithal, etc.), he has the certainty of being so with distance….

    There is also another reason why the homosexual… has to come close to femininity. It is impossible for him not to enter into it to some extent, since the fictional products (film, theatre, etc.) – and reality – of the modern world primarily have women where he would like to be, i.e. in the sexual or erotic relation to a man. But he can never become one with this identification; just as his non-masculinity prevents him from merging completely with being a man, his masculinity prevents him from merging completely with being a woman.

    For the homosexual cannot – any more than other men – shirk being a man. That is his starting point and what he is always – more or less – directed towards; he too experiences the benefits of masculinity and feels the pleasures of the male body and is hit by the alluring radiance of the cultural male images.

  • Yet it is also possible to conceive of the homosexual as avant-garde by virtue not of his femininity but of his masculinity. The point of departure here is precisely that the homosexual is a man who is interested in other men and who therefore cultivates virile values. This turns into an avant-garde idea when coupled with notions that masculine traits, and relationships between men, are of importance not only to the homosexuals but are rightly, or ought to be, dominant aspects of society as a whole.

    These ideas, too, are found in different variants, which may more or less fuse in practice. The emphasis can be on the equal, the mutual, the sharing and the emotive in man-to-man relationships, seeing in them a basis for solidarity and democracy and a safeguard against materialism, competition and domination; or the aggressive and dominating aspects of masculinity can be accentuated, with their alleged importance in maintaining the existence of society outwardly and its order inwardly (Sparta – or ancient Japan – being the ideal). Moreover, the difference in age and the educational aspect of man-to-man relationships can be stressed; or the relationship between peers.

    Ideas such as these enjoyed their heyday in Germany during the early decades of the twentieth century…. The more totalitarian variants… were largely rendered impossible by their spiritual more than practical affinity with Nazism, although they may still crop up sporadically. Nor does a more democratic version seem to have been significant in recent years: the new gay movement grew up in a climate that virtually predetermined it for “feminist-socialist” avant-garde notions; and even though tendencies to emphasize male traits and values were soon to make their impact among the broad masses of homosexuals, this “masculinization” was not associated with avant-garde claims.

    Though gay men have and have had our own ways of developing relationships, we got stuck with having our lives viewed through a “feminist-socialist” lens. Few dare imagine a gay life without women at all, and you certainly can’t talk about that. You’re too busy, according to this analysis (and 40 years of gay activism), fulfilling gay men’s duty to stick up for women. Except now gays are expected to stick up for trannies, who do nothing but stick it to gay men and lesbians and, yes, women. Expecting gay men to stick up for every other disadvantaged group, with wymmynz first among equals, is another way of policing our sexuality and controlling our lives.

Ass man

Some guys are just ass men. Even future academics.

It always seemed a ridiculous notion to me that the erotic or sexual interest in men is focussed in particular on their cocks. Nevertheless, this is what many a non-homosexual scientist has maintained….

Thinking back, I wasn’t particularly interested in the other man’s cock, although I got used to appreciating it as well. One of the guys I was in love with in high school

Listen, have you ever heard anyone so matter-of-factly admit to being in love with one guy after another in high school?

I loved for his beautiful body, his red lips and blue eyes, and because he was so brilliant; the other for his critical eye and his sense of humour. When the leather angels flew by on their bikes along the country roads below, it was their wildness and vehemence and tight jeans and black leather that enraptured me; if, in my teens, I was at home alone and made myself a guy by stuffing quilts and blankets and pillows into a pair of jeans, it was the ass I took extra care in shaping to a bulge so I could rub the uneven surface of my groin against it; and at the age of 14, when I saw a guy a bit older carrying fruit crates into the house, it was his legs with hair made golden by the sun that brought me to the verge of fainting. In sum, their masculinity; that is what it’s all about.

Nobody’s attracted to “people, not bodies”

  • Shockingly, we still have to explain the following to people:

    It would in fact be strange if the sexual or erotic interest in other men didn’t have something to do with their masculinity, whatever that is and wherever it comes from.

    Remember those lesbos who would “make an exception” for Alexander Skarsgård? How many red-blooded heterosexualist males would do Idris Elba’s bidding? He’s so godlike they too would make an exception. These lesbos and heteros are not thinking about phalluses and they aren’t thinking about noncorporeal angelic personas.

  • [T]he desire for men is not directed at their general human qualities and in no way their feminine sides; it embraces them as men. It’s a lie that we in reality desire the androgynous – that is a disavowal of the qualities of lust in the homosexual imagination and experience. If his femininity is of interest it is because as a man he has the capacity to perform as a woman as well, but not because he is one. The desire is not directed at “the whole person”; it wants the total man.

    So when queers, transgenders, and LGBTs tell you they’re attracted to people, not bodies, this is yet another way they’re lying and yet another way they’re homophobic. (Because there’s an implied censure of “monosexuals.” Those more advanced creatures operate on a higher bodiless plane of existence.)

  • Masculinity comes to us covered with cultural images. They exist before the individual man appears in reality and the fantasy of him. The potentialities of his body are always shaped beforehand and entwined in the cultural masculinity. History, fiction, photography and film have established an archive whose pictures reappear and mix with the living typology…. Masculinity is hedged by matrices; the cruelty, the shows of strength, the impudent eyes, the wry smile, the tough repartee, the masculine insecurity and vulnerability and his special way of tackling it, it has all been seen before. […]

    It’s impossible to ascertain exactly where culture stops and nature begins in this masculinity, and perhaps it isn’t so interesting. The fantastic thing about it is precisely its blending of style and body, reality and unreality.

    It can be complicated enough, for example, to be in bed with a guy under these circumstances since you are also in bed with your fantasies and his, both of your stagings, besides bodies, selves, and whatever else comes with it. His body and his outfit are projection screens for fantasies; if the projection doesn’t fit the screen, irregularities and dislocations occur to which one can perhaps shut one’s eyes, otherwise they can be disturbing; if it fits perfectly, the experience becomes double-dimensional, one image on top of the other, identical without melting together – you can relish being in bed with a perfect surface.

    It is strange to touch your fantasy with your hands. It can be so intense; why not avoid being with him again, why not simply cultivate the illusion well aware it is an illusion, rather than having it spoiled by some accidental incongruency?

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2016.08.21 14:11. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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