Gay men and girl power



The Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic book has been the news recently with the announcement that they’ll be introducing a new slayer – a male slayer. For those who never watched/read Buffy, it’s been a part of the fiction up until now that slayers are always female. (It’s a female power thing, y’see.)

The new male slayer is gay, and a lot of critics are heralding this as a good step forward for the Buffy fiction. For example, Comic Book Resources writes:

The introduction of Billy as a gay male Slayer also goes a long way towards neutralizing the strict gender roles our culture carved out and then used to trap and dehumanize those who don’t fit into them.

Personally, I’m not so sure. I worry that adding a gay male slayer to a group that’s otherwise exclusively female doesn’t really move toward undermining gender norms. Instead, it seems to reinforce the stereotype that gay men are. . .kind of like women. Which is a really problematic stereotype.

I agree that it’s great to have characters that stretch our notions of the gender binary. But why not, if that’s the aim, have a slayer character who’s trans? In a fiction where being a slayer is the embodiment of female power, it looks weird to say that gay men can be slayers too. It looks like you’re saying that gay men have some element of femaleness that straight men don’t have. But it would be great to say that trans women can be slayers.

In Grant Morrison’s comic The Invisibles, one of the main characters is a trans woman. She has powers which are, according to the fiction, uniquely had by women. That looks like a good way to challenge gender norms and the gender binary, without subtly suggesting that gay men are sort of like women.

Double Standards: Political edition

This reminds me of the attention paid to Sarah Palin’s children back in 2008.

Remember when Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan was nominated to be Mitt Romney’s running mate, and the media hounded him with questions about how he could handle campaigning and still take care of his young children? Remember when they asked him how it was he managed to spend at least an hour a day in the gym, attend to all his Congressional duties, run for the Vice Presidency and still be home for his children’s soccer games? Remember when they wouldn’t stop debating whether it was possible to raise three young children and still be in national office?

You don’t?

Don’t worry. It never happened. Not to Paul Ryan at least.

These questions, however, were posed just yesterday to another politician, someone who isn’t even yet a candidate for the office on which she was being quizzed. . .

Madigan and her husband, Pat Byrnes, have two young children, ages 7 and 4. She was asked whether she could serve as governor and still raise her kids the way she wants to.

“Wow. Does anybody ever ask that question?” she said. “I’m very lucky to have the support of my family. My husband helps take care of our kids. But, I think more people should ask that of men running for office as well.”

Read more here.