Throughout the past few weeks, like many of my fellow classmates on this blog, I have been challenged by the texts in our course to step back and think about how the words of early 20th century authors in our course reverberate in my day-to-day life.
In Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, we have turned a critical eye on how male-dominant sexual frameworks oppress the freedom for female characters to fully explore their sexual desires. We see the same traits echo across sexually dominant men like Tom Buchanan, Reverend Green, and Stanley Kowalski: they are brutes, driven by power, apt to snap into violent rage, and are the alpha males of their domain. While we can sit back and critique these men for their actions, our writers do not judge them as we would like. All these men “Get the girl” by the end of their respective novels.
What does this say about conceptions of masculinity in modern Western society? I ask this on the tails of this week’s announcement via YouTube that Tom Daley, Olympic Diver for Great Britain, is in a public relationship with a male. While many news agencies around the world raced to publish articles about Daley “coming out,” a review of his video by The Guardian reveals that he never once call his action as “coming out,” uses the word “gay,” or refers to his relationship as a “gay relationship.”
The news storm reminded me of another blog post I read by a group of writers publishing on a blog called “The Good Men Project” entitled Mostly Straight, Most of the Time that explores how more men in Western societies, when given the choice, will opt to refer to themselves as “mostly straight” rather than ascribing to strict sexual labels like heterosexual, bisexual, or gay. Like we have discussed for the women in our books, there is cause to discuss the liberation of sexuality for men. These conversations are not mutually exclusive, nor do they threaten each other. We can extend the sexual continuum for men and women, allowing ourselves to be freed from past conceptions of sexual oppression.
– Cody O.