Social Question

Val123's avatar

Why do SOME gay men way over-exaggerate what they perceive to be feminine behaviors?

Asked by Val123 (12591 points ) March 18th, 2010

Like, the limp hand thing, and major sashaying when they walk, and the over-flirting? I mean, I don’t know of any women who really act like that, so they’re not really acting like a women when they do it!

I hope I don’t get yelled at…it is a real question, and something I’ve been curious about….

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76 Answers

ucme's avatar

They probably have an overactive “gaydar”.Still not harming anyone, can be quite charismatic if not overdone.Carry on camping.

mrentropy's avatar

I can’t really answer this question; the best I can do is make a wild guess. I’m not sure it’s a matter of imitating feminine behaviors, I think it’s a matter of them doing what they want to do or being how they want to be. Although, I think there are cases when they think they’re expected to be that way.

tinyfaery's avatar

They are not emulating women they are just being who they are. Like you said, women do not display those behaviors.

Val123's avatar

@ucme I have to admit, it can be interesting to watch!

ShiningToast's avatar

Isn’t this more of a Hollywood stereotype? I suppose a few could act that way (the ones on television mostly), but most don’t.

CMaz's avatar

“Isn’t this more of a Hollywood stereotype?”
No. But I would figure 60% don’t 40% do.

Val123's avatar

@ShiningToast No no. It’s something I’ve observed myself. OK, we have a guy in town. Very strange dude, who had a sex change operation. He acts like that. Also, well, I see them on Cops!

mrentropy's avatar

@ShiningToast I’ve met a good deal who are this way. I met one guy who was so amazingly flamboyant that he met every definition of the word ‘gay’ you could think of. But he was a lot of fun and I wish it would have been possible to know him for a longer time.

DominicX's avatar

So glad you included that “some” in there. You don’t how people outright refuse to use “some” and then scream when they get called out on generalizing.

First of all, I don’t act like that unless I’m joking with girls so I don’t really know. But the problem with this is that everyone assumes that they are doing this for show. We don’t know that. Maybe this is just really how they like to be. I don’t know if it has anything to do with imitating women as much as it has to do with acting a certain way that they like.

@Val123

A guy who has a sex change operation is not the same as a gay guy…

Lothloriengaladriel's avatar

I think they’re just really fun people most of them with a lot of personality, and they know thats what people want to see, or it’s how we expect them to act, So they put on a show.

ShiningToast's avatar

@ChazMaz, @mrentropy and @Val123 Those I know who are gay don’t act that way. Just expressing my own opinion :).

Trillian's avatar

My friend Chris is as gay as they come and he acts like this too. I asked him about it, and he said he didn’t understand the question. Then he kind of laughed and told me he was comfortable acting a certain way and that it wasn’t even really a ‘persona’ anymore, he just kind of “did it”.
He also has an interesting fascination for breasts and likes to tweak mine sometimes.

Silhouette's avatar

Some people are more flamboyant than others, it’s nothing to do with their sexuality.

CMaz's avatar

@ShiningToast – Opinion noted and respected. :-)

goootli's avatar

All cultures play into stereotypes unconsciously, black suburban areas may promote gang culture, in high class societies may promote other mannerisms.

Why and how has the gay community attributed these mannerisms?
Gay men are generally more feminine due to high estrogen levels, this can effect how good you are a sport and many other aspects of masculinity. Because you’ll be alienated from these areas of life you will be draw to the more feminine areas, maybe these mannerisms are rebellions against masculinity.

P.S. I think.

Val123's avatar

@DominicX I know you don’t act like that! Don’t ask me how I know, since I’ve never met you in person, but I just know. @ShiningToast the gay guys I know personally don’t act that way either. That’s why I said, “SOME”.

I also didn’t say the guy in my town was gay, but he still copies those flamboyant, over-exaggerated behaviors that you don’t see in women.

Trillian's avatar

@Val123 Good point. A guy I was dating and I were once witness to a very flamboyant display and I said that I thought the guy was guy. My date said that he wasn’t gay, just a poser. I’ve used that word for my own purposes ever since. If I see someone with a tee shirt with a band on it, I’ll ask them“were you at the concert or are you just a poser?” ;-)

Val123's avatar

(Thank you all for answering this without yelling at me!)

Ria777's avatar

@Val123, @DominicX: A guy who has a sex change operation is not the same as a gay guy…

or the same as any guy, by definition. (unless you mean FTM’s but from context you obviously didn’t.) also, to clear up a popular misconceptions, not all transsexuals have an operation, by the way or even want them.

Lve's avatar

Me and my boyfriend were talking about this a little while ago (he lives near the Castro) We came to the conclusion that maybe the “over-the-top” behavior (as perceived by some people) of some gay men can be explained by the fact that they are finally in an non-judgmental environment where they can be who they want to be, and they want to show that to everyone around them.

goootli's avatar

@Lve
I upvoted that
Many gay men show these mannerism form an early age, some way before they know they’re gay, and most before they’re out at gay clubs, etc. Some do devolve such mannerisms after but many before.

Val123's avatar

@Ria777 I know they aren’t the same as a gay guy! I never said he was gay! @DominicX knows it too, because he made the same point that you’re making.

FutureMemory's avatar

@goootli Gay men are generally more feminine due to high estrogen levels.

Gay men have higher levels of estrogen?

goootli's avatar

@FutureMemory
No one know’s if this is 100% true but there are many studies I’ve read confirming the link. I can’t remember where I’ve read all these studies now. Just do a quick google.

liminal's avatar

@Val123 I wonder if the woman in your town isn’t really copying anything and is just being who she is? I wonder if her experience of herself is not one of flamboyant or over-exaggerated behaviors, but the experience of those watching her and forming a perception?

edit: I am assuming from the context that you mean there is a person in your town who had a sex reassignment surgery and considers themselves a woman.

Val123's avatar

She’s….weird. Period. And not because of the operation. She’s quite aggressive, much more like a man in that aspect. She still has very manly features. She’s in pretty good shape, so her arms are defined in that way that men get, fairly easily. It’s very hard not to think of her as a “him,” because…she’s so very masculinly aggressive and stuff and she still sounds like a guy. All she’s done that I can tell is let her hair grow really long and straight, and doesn’t even attempt to style it. She has bangs straight cut across her forehead. Oh, and her new name is Roxanne (I once named a male cat after her, cause that cat was so sexy and swishy, like a girl!) A couple of years ago I was talking to her, doing some billing work on her cell phone account, and I asked what she’d been up to since the last time I saw her. She said she drives a road grader for the city. She said something like, “I’‘m a bitch with powa!” or some….thing like that.
A few times I’ve seen her riding on the back of a motor cycle with some beefy, Harley looking biker dude, which I don’t get either.
Word has it that in HS he was a jock. Big into sports, had lots of girlfriends. Then got into drugs really, really heavy, and this was the result.
Honestly, I feel sorry for her. In spite of all her posturing and bravado, I sense a lonely, sad person inside, who just wants to be loved. It’s gotta be hard. Especially in a little mid-Western town like this…..

liminal's avatar

Do you consider her a friend?

Val123's avatar

@liminal No, just an acquaintance. We say “Hi” when we meet. Her cell phone account was with the company I used to work for, and I saw much more of her then.

Just_Justine's avatar

some women act butch and manly too you know.

liminal's avatar

@Val123 I wonder what your experience of her says about you and the type of person you are ? I wonder how much of it matches up to the reality of her self-perception? I ask these things rhetorically, and not accusingly, just as I would ask it of myself.

To the initial question I think like tinyfaery on this topic. It is hard for me to imagine that a gay man would say he is trying to act like a she, rather than himself.

As an aside, it is my experience that some people who are uncomfortable by what they view as effeminate behavior in a man also struggle with misogyny, even though it may not be overt. (I don’t assume that this is you, but I do assume that there are some reading this right now who are.)

Val123's avatar

@liminal I guess I kinda lost your train of thought on the first comment you made…? I didn’t imagine her saying, “I’m a bitch with powa!” which I thought was an odd comment, coming from anyone, but par for the course for her. I mean, if a guy drove a road grader and he said, “I’m a stud with powa!” I’d think it was a bit strange. She really defines herself mostly in the fact that she focuses on her being female a lot. Most of her comments revolve around it, and the fact that she refers to herself as a “bitch” in nearly every small conversation I have with her is odd. And I’m not instigating the discussions, either, because it’s really none of my business. Asking somebody what they’re doing now is not initiating a conversation regarding ther sexuality. She turns them that way.

Trillian's avatar

@Val123 Does she say stuff like this?

Val123's avatar

LOL! No! She doesn’t dress like a lady, for one. She dresses like a road grader! And she doesn’t put flowers in her hair or wear make up, either. And she doesn’t talk in a falsetto. She talks in her regular deep voice! I actually wonder if she completed the change, or if she’s taking what ever pills she’s supposed to take…..

Rarebear's avatar

I like how you highlighted the word “some”, and I agree. But I have several gay friends that you wouldn’t know they were gay unless they told you.

Val123's avatar

@Rarebear Right. I know. Yes, definitely wanted to stress the word “SOME!”
I had an elderly neighbor once, Professor and Dean of our local college. Wouldn’t have known he was gay except I knew. He was a very dignified man.

Rarebear's avatar

I have a close friend who is gay, and he has a “gaydar”. We’ll be walking on the street and he’ll mutter, “Family”. That means, “Gay.” Sometimes I’ll join in the game. He tells me that the only time that his gaydar gets screwed up is when he meets Jews (he thought I was gay when he met me).

liminal's avatar

@Val123 It isn’t clear to me why you think of her as a gay man.

Val123's avatar

@liminal What? Would you please tell me where I ever referred to him/her as gay? This is, like, the third time you’ve made this comment, and, for the third time, I didn’t refer to him/her as gay. (S)He was man who supposedly had a sex change operation (like I said, I wonder if (s)he ever finished the job) and is now a woman, who exhibits those flamboyant overly “feminine” mannerisms usually favored by transvestites and drag queens, and not by women, and that was what the question was about.

@Rarebear LOL! All Jews carry the gay virus! I know this for a fact. And that’s what screws him up!

Rarebear's avatar

@val123 Funny—he told me exactly the same thing, in the same term “gay virus”.

absalom's avatar

The main problem is that you think they’re trying to act like women in the first place.

Edit: Never mind; what @tinyfaery said.

liminal's avatar

@Val123 I am not attacking. I feel confused as to what you are saying and I am trying to understand and track is all. My first two questions are about my trying to understand what you were using as an example of your question. I sat with your responses for awhile and then I realized what my question to you really was. So I made my third statement. It went like this for me:

I heard you asking this: “Why do SOME gay men way over-exaggerate what they perceive to be feminine behaviors?”

Then I heard ShiningToast ask and say this:
“Isn’t this more of a Hollywood stereotype? I suppose a few could act that way (the ones on television mostly), but most don’t.”

Then I heard you respond with this:
”@ShiningToast No no. It’s something I’ve observed myself. OK, we have a guy in town. Very strange dude, who had a sex change operation. He acts like that. Also, well, I see them on Cops!”

Then I was confused :) Thus my statements and trying to figure out if you thought she was a gay guy.

I realized this very moment as I was going back through the questions that I missed it when you said this: “I also didn’t say the guy in my town was gay, but he still copies those flamboyant, over-exaggerated behaviors that you don’t see in women.”

Which clears things up for me regarding your example. (now I am wondering completely off topic things) Thank you for clearing things up and I hope you see I was only trying to understand and I think I might have gotten lost in semantics. I don’t automatically equate gays with transvestites and drag queens so I didn’t recognized the breadth of your question. I intended no offense.

Val123's avatar

I’m confused too, regarding Roxann’s behavior. —And you can be off topic, as I JUST hit 10K, and I don’t know how….—-

liminal's avatar

Congrats! Well earned!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I will answer your question in a little bit but first I need to address some of your words (and I know you don’t mean to be offensive but I want to show you why it comes off as so anyway)

You said “She’s….weird. Period. And not because of the operation. She’s quite aggressive, much more like a man in that aspect.” So, you are uncomfortable when women display personality traits usually allowed only for men – this is a reflection on you and not on how ‘weird’ she is.

You said “She still has very manly features. She’s in pretty good shape, so her arms are defined in that way that men get, fairly easily. It’s very hard not to think of her as a “him,” because…she’s so very masculinly aggressive and stuff and she still sounds like a guy.” Gender expression of transgender people varies just like gender expression of all other people – she doesn’t have to exhibit what you consider to me a ‘proper’ woman, she only has to exhibit what feels good to her in terms of this change or what have you. I know it’s hard to respect the identity she feels is true to herself but this is a lot less about how you feel and a lot more about being sensitive, so try that instead.

You said “All she’s done that I can tell is let her hair grow really long and straight, and doesn’t even attempt to style it. She has bangs straight cut across her forehead. Oh, and her new name is Roxanne (I once named a male cat after her, cause that cat was so sexy and swishy, like a girl!)” Again, you are placing expected gender norms on this person and making a judgment based on your own ideas about gender. Just because she went through this change doesn’t mean she has to ‘stick to the rules’ in order for you or for anyone to accept her. You should just accept her like you would anyone else. Neither Alex nor myself give two craps about what our hair looks like and I know we don’t identify as women but many friends of mine that do identify as women care about more important things than adhering to gender norms.

You said “A couple of years ago I was talking to her, doing some billing work on her cell phone account, and I asked what she’d been up to since the last time I saw her. She said she drives a road grader for the city. She said something like, “I’‘m a bitch with powa!” or some….thing like that.” So?

You said “A few times I’ve seen her riding on the back of a motor cycle with some beefy, Harley looking biker dude, which I don’t get either.” So….she’s not supposed to be with a man because….?

You said “Word has it that in HS he was a jock. Big into sports, had lots of girlfriends. Then got into drugs really, really heavy, and this was the result.” So you think saying that the only reason this ex-properly gendered man is with this transgender woman is because of heavy drug use is not condescending as hell? Riiight…

You said “Honestly, I feel sorry for her. In spite of all her posturing and bravado, I sense a lonely, sad person inside, who just wants to be loved. It’s gotta be hard. Especially in a little mid-Western town like this…..” Because of people like you.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

To answer your actual question (which I agree is a good question, because there are lots of theories and lots of misconceptions – and I find it’s all so unnecessary because why do you care but anyway..)...(and I answered this sometime in the past on Fluther and can’t remember where) some gay men act in an ‘effeminate’ manner because they see some others in the community act that way and because of the process of mimicry, they pick up (what in some cases are the only examples of how to be ‘visibly gay’) those mannerisms in order to bond with others and signal their sexuality…some men have these mannerisms since childhood but many aren’t gay…in some ways I believe (and it’s only a hypothesis) some of these gay men rebel against gender norms placed on them as men and pick up some norms allowed for women – then they exaggerate it to make it their own…I’ve heard gay men say “I do a woman better than a woman) and this relates to drag queen performance and that whole subculture…there are many various reasons, I suppose.

JeffVader's avatar

Because they’re flaming!!!!

Val123's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir You’re jumping to conclusions. I don’t say she’s weird because of her decision to have a sex change operation. That’s an assumption you’re jumping to. I say she’s weird because she is, because of the way she acts. She constantly turns the subject back to her gender. I would be considered weird if I was constantly turning the subject back to the fact that I’m a woman. Don’t you know of one single person who you might consider strange?

Also….I knew I was going to catch some flack for this question, and it’s really hypocritical. If a straight person asks a question about gay people, or mis-gendered people, it is immediately assumed by a certain kind of person that they are being judgmental or prejudiced, or whatever. The people who make those assumptions are the very ones who try to tell everyone how wrong it is to be judgmental or prejudiced! It’s hypocrisy. Period. Especially considering the fact that you have never seen me interact with Roxann, so how can you possibly assume that it’s “people like me” who make it hard for her?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeffVader And what does that word mean?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Val123 That’s not what I said – I know you qualified that you don’t think she’s weird because of the operation and I didn’t address anything having to do with that. I addressed all the other things about her that you said makes you uncomfortable (okay you didn’t say it makes you uncomfortable but that’s what one feels when they think someone is weird). Obviously, as a transwoman, her gender expression is a trigger issue and one that’s important to discuss – it’s not important for you because you are considered normal and you don’t have dissonance within yourself and you don’t mind acting like the gender you were given. And you’re not getting flack for this question whatsoever, I explained the question is a good one and I answered your original q. This all has nothing to do with hipocrisy or your sexuality or anything whatsoever but simply that you are unaware of how certain things you think and say may be hurftul. We have all been there – this is about learning more information and reconsidering your ideas and assumptions, that’s why I explained that I just wanted to point how how your words come off sounding and I made sure to tell you that I know you don’t mean to be offensive. And the reason why I said the last thing I said was because your statement about how you pity her really pissed me off, because who are you to feel sorry for her and to say why she must be a lonely soul.

JeffVader's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Ah, sorry, here in England extremely camp men used to be known as ‘flaming-queens’, which has been shortened to just describing someone as ‘flaming’. I genuinely have no idea where it came from or why.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeffVader Oh no it’s used here as well, just want to know why you use a word and not know its meaning?

JeffVader's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir What made you think I didn’t know it’s meaning? I’m intrigued.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeffVader Well for one thing you later said you didn’t know it means, :) But initially, I just figured you don’t know that it’s an insult. Or I figured you do know that it’s an insult and are an asshole. I took a risk – turns out you’re not an asshole, you just don’t know what it means. And its meaning is used to offend, to say they’re ‘too gay’ for someone’s taste like that someone’s taste is relevant whatsoever.

JeffVader's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Huh, no, it’s not an insult over here…. it’s used when being cheeky, certainly not to insult. Sadly there are a million other phrases we Brits use when insulting gay people.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeffVader Yea, that’s not specific to Britain.

JeffVader's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Phewwww, I was begining to worry that I might accidently be an international bigot!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@JeffVader lol, doesn’t sound like it

JeffVader's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Groovy… thats not the way I was brung up ;)

Val123's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir That she’s lonely is an impression I get from her when I see her and talk to her. You have never met her at all, so how can you assume I’m wrong? I’ve only seen her once with another person, and that was on the back of a Harley driven by some beefy, dirty (literally) biker dude. Other than that one time, she’s always alone. She never talks about any other people, no family, no friends, and doesn’t engage in any conversation other than than talking about herself being a bitch of one kind or another. She’s foul mouthed, rough, and the things she talks about are designed to make people uncomfortable.

Ria777's avatar

@Val123: she’s so very masculinly aggressive and stuff and she still sounds like a guy

FTM transsexuals tend to sound (to varying degrees) like natal men. MTF transsexuals, though, usually do not sound like natal women. or should I say “often”. I have ultrasensitive hearing for this kind of thing and I think that at least 95% sound like men. so, often, do I, based on how people respond to me over the phone.

I act aggressive myself. though I haven’t spent a great deal time with other transsexuals at trans gatherings, etc., what you described does not sound atypical. the only weekend trans social gathering I went to had a lot of macho behavior on the parts of trans women.

one thing, though, we tend to act pretty rough for the first year or so then tend to learn the way women tend to act.

again, though, most trans women don’t have convincing voices. or the ones who do I don’t even notice as trans myself.

actually, your description sounds like someone I don’t know but once met while visiting friends one time. I went out shopping and ran into a trans woman who sounds kind of like you described. who must have had a lot of courage living in a very small city (maybe a large town?)

Ria777's avatar

@Val123: don’t assume that you know more about her than you do. you don’t know that she doesn’t have friends. I know people with whom I have not discussed my friends. a number of trans people have had their friends or family abandon them, though that has not necessarily happened here. based on what you said, you don’t really know this person.

Val123's avatar

@Ria777 Of course I don’t. She may have tons of friends, but it doesn’t seem like it. The thing is, if I said about anyone else, if they were straight, that my impression was they seemed lonely and friendless, no one would give it a second thought. Those are my impressions, and to take offense at it just because the person is transgendered is another form of prejudiced.

Also, thanks for the details above. I guess she is “normal” in that way then. However, she’s been a female for lots of years. I first met her in ‘98, and she told me she was beginning the change-over that year. She kind of kept me updated. I guess she went to Canada for it. Don’t know why, tho.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Val123 Your impression is just that, an impression and my impression of you is just that, an impression. At the end of the day you can feel as righteous as you want and it doesn’t really matter to me whether or not she’s a transwoman but it matters to you to say that she ‘still’ goes against the grain despite ‘trying’ to transform. The burden of ‘proof’ of her womanhood is not on her.

Ria777's avatar

@Val123: based on what you had said, I did not have the impression that you’d known for twelve years. especially since you called her “him”.

I didn’t seize on what you said because I feel that I have to defend a trans person. I do believe that surface impressions (and again, I hadn’t known you knew her for that long) tell the full story.

if you’d said “lonely and friendless” then I wouldn’t have said anything because that has to do with an impression and an emotional coloring to her, whereas implying that she lacks friends and family has to do with actual biographical facts about her. have to say that I have impression that transsexuals tend to have more problems and eccentricities than usual. (I sure do.) hence the term “Fucking Neurotic Transsexual” or FNT.

by the way, where you say “change-over”, you customarily say “transition” (both a noun and verb). (I have heard quite a number of strange euphemisms and circumlocutions used because people haven’t known the term. and, no, I do not mean to attack you.)

Val123's avatar

Hm, @Simone_De_Beauvoir So if I said my impression of so and so straight person was that they were lonely, I’d be acting self righteous? You’re not helping me understand at all. But @Ria777 is. (Thanks.)

@Ria777 Because when I think of her I think “him,” because everything points to being a he with long hair. He’s about 6’4, talks in a deep voice, is in good shape and has man-muscles, and just acts far more like a man than a women. I really have to consciously work at saying “her.” (I have a question..when someone makes the transition, don’t they take estrogen or something, for the rest of their life, and doesn’t that cause breast swelling and things? Cause she’s flat as Kansas! It really makes me wonder if she completed it, or is following through. I think you’d have a better idea of that than I.)

Ria777's avatar

@Val123: (I have a question..when someone makes the transition, don’t they take estrogen or something, for the rest of their life, and doesn’t that cause breast swelling and things?

first question, I don’t know, though I really should, whether trans women stop taking estrogen once they pass the age of menopause. if someone transitions at, say 50, though, she’ll take estrogen.

second question, yes, estrogens do cause breast development, fat redistribution, etc.. if she has a flat chest I can think of two reasons. one, genetics. two, hormones have less effect if taken later in life.

Ria777's avatar

actually, though, @Val123, you can readily find the answer to these questions by Googling MTF, transsexual, FAQ.

Val123's avatar

@Ria777 Yeah…but I like conversations better!
So….looking at the original question, what are your thoughts?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Val123 Well I’m sorry you are having trouble understanding. You said you feel sorry for her despite her ‘posturing and bravado’ – this is your call about her attitude and it certainly didnt sound like you were whatsoever concerned, just spiteful. And again, it doesn’t matter that she doesn’t look like a woman to you – the point is to understand that gender identity is socialized and constructed and if she feels like a woman, that should be good enough for all of us, no? What does it matter that she’s flat chested, really? Lots of women are and not all transgender people do all the biological changes that you can think of – some only dress differently, some only do partial surgeries.

Ria777's avatar

@Val123: I already faff around too much online.

Val123's avatar

@Ria777 :) Me too. Thank goodness I FINALLY got a job!

Rarebear's avatar

@Val123 if someone asks me if I’m gay or straight, I just tell them I prefer sheep. :-)

mrentropy's avatar

I used to have an inflatable sheep. I never used it but you’d be amazed at how many people would pick it up and start… pleasuring it without realizing it.

Aster's avatar

I have often wondered about this swishy stuff myself. I have no idea Why they do it but I could Watch them for hours! Love it!

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