By SIMON COPLAND
Howard Sattler’s interview with the Prime Minister last night has highlighted the role and negative impact sexist and homophobic stereotypes still play in our society today.
A lot of the reaction of the interview has been to once again point out the extreme disrespect with which our Prime Minister is treated. As Mamamia said last night “Of all the rude questions the Prime Minister has been asked, this is by far the worst.” But for me, the issue here is bigger than this. What Sattler has neatly done has shown the impact of queerphobia not only on GLBTIQ people, but on our broader community.
The whole basis of Sattler’s questioning last night was around the idea that because Mathieson is a hairdresser he must be gay. I’ve heard it plenty of times. Insinuations about his sexuality are common. Give our community a man who is a hairdresser, and is in a relationship, but isn’t married and hasn’t had kids, and he’s obviously ‘a poof’.
These sorts of stereotypes seem to be the bread and butter of queerphobia. Gay men are feminine – we have ‘girly jobs’ (i.e. hairdresser, decorator, fashion designer), we are all into fashion and design, and we are all bitchy as hell. In other words, gay men are your stereotypical ‘woman’. Lesbians, of course, suffer the opposite fate. They are butch – tom boys. The only wear comfortable shoes, play lots of sports, and are generally angry and gruff. In other words, lesbian women are your typical ‘man’.
We see this all over the place. I have experienced it myself. People find me confusing, because I am both gay and relatively ‘masculine’. I play rugby union and have an awful fashion sense (apparently). It genuinely confuses people. Look around and you will see it everywhere. The gay character on TV (who is always a man), is always camp. Women who play sport are assumed to be lesbians. And gay men are clearly into cross-dressing, whilst lesbian women can never make themselves look ‘pretty’.