Thursday, July 1, 2010

Queerland--The Culture of Hooking Up

Hey Folks,

In my summer class we've been reading various chapters from the book Guyland, which discusses the rules, codes, and culture associated with being a man between the ages of 16 and 26 in American society. While reading this book I was constantly finding things that reflected how I felt queer culture worked. Despite all of the relatable characteristics, I would say the most profound one is by far hookup culture.
In the queer campus environment it seems that everyone is ranked on social status. You have the baby dykes and fags, the B crowd, and the studs and power dykes. I should note this is my own rigid description of queer hierarchy, and any other person experiences this hierarchy differently and therefor might add tiers, subtract tiers, or rename them entirely.

So let's start out by defining what these categories are. The lowest tier being the baby dykes and fags. These are the folks that are just coming to grips with their sexuality, embracing it, and/or walking around proudly trying to make sure everyone and their mom knows they are queer. Their enthusiasm is taken in by everyone surrounding them. To those of their same level they are looked at as people to experiment with, enjoy, and date. The people involved in the higher tiers instead look at them as fresh meat, the prey. I'll explain this further in a minute.

The B crowd contains the majority of queers. These folks are for the most part at peace with their sexuality and understand who they are. It has been my experience that these people date on occasion, hook up on occasion, but for the most part just enjoy life. They may be somewhat idolized by the baby dykes and fags, but not nearly to the extent of the highest tier.

The elite, top level of campus queerdom is to be a gay stud or power dyke. These folks are on top, shown as being the most desirable. These are the queers that sleep with a LOT of different partners. They truly embody the hookup culture that is found in the culture of straight white college men. Many people strive to make it to this tier, to show their true gayness. Since these folks are on top, whenever fresh meat (aka the baby dykes and fags) come into the picture, they tend to jump on them like a fresh kill. They take advantage of their curiosity and want to explore in order to continue to increase their social ranking.

I personally fit into the middle category. I'm long passed my coming out stage where I feel like I need to makeout with every woman that moves. I will admit, in the beginning I wanted to be the power dyke, the most desirable of the crowd, the one in charge so to speak. So initially, I hooked up, it was part of what it meant to be a queer in college.
So what happens when I'm sick of pointless, sloppy, drunk sex? I coast in the middle, B crowd. I've come to grips with this and am completely comfortable in this situation. I'd much rather date someone I'm actually interested in, rather than score (and really, it is scoring, you keep track of your partners and whomever has the most points wins status) with a woman I just think is attractive but have no clue what our brain chemistry is. This is all hunky dory until you realize the reality of the environment you're in when you live in a campus culture.

This makes dating extremely difficult. You meet someone you actually like, but before long it is expected that your relationship is based on sex. The concept of taking it slow, getting to really know a person is rapidly being erased. This perplexes me.

How much value can you really put on a relationship that is almost solely based on sex? I think the answer to that question varies from person to person, but overall I think that any value couldn't be whole based on the imbalance within the relationship. If we stop caring about the connections we are making with people, what does that say about us as humans? While sex is an extremely personal and intimate act, I think it is being robbed of some of its power in that regard. Rather than being a way to link to people together on a profound level, it's being used as a tool to further ones social status.. a tactic used since the dawn of time (Remember those Greeks and Romans that looked at sex as holding power over the recipient?).

The only difference I would say, is that in queer culture both parties generally get a rise in status, rather than only the "man" in the hookup. While I think the "top" in the situation generally gets more praise, there isn't as much of a stigma of being "bottom" and hooking up and being a slut as it would be in a heterosexual encounter.

I have no real solution to this, I just find it extremely fascinating. We're using each other in this large game of keeping score and seeing who comes out on top. Just some food for thought.

I also recognize I didn't discuss politics in terms of bisexuality. This is partly due to the general exclusion and mistrust of most bisexuals which possibly gives them their own tier in the hierarchy altogether. I also think that in terms of how in tune they are in queer culture, they can still rank in any of the three tiers, but this is solely based on the community and environment they are in.

I'd be really interested in hearing your views on the topic, as I in no way claim to be the expert.



1 comment:

  1. I would have to agree with you. I was lucky to go straight into the B crowd upon entering the queer community because the woman I was into had zero experience above holding hands with other women. I'm also lucky because I feel totally comfortable not giving in and jumping in bed to whomever I am seeing just because it's the social norm in our community.

    As far as a solution, I don't think there could be one. It is all a process - becoming comfortable with who you are. That isn't something that can be rushed.