This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … your overwhelming masculinity.
I hear the word “fag” tossed around as a pejorative about 137 times per day. But never by women or secure men. It’s the macho man’s go-to word for any other man who isn’t, at that moment, ball-deep in pussy while watching NFL football while taping a UFC match while gnawing raw meat while pounding a Budweiser while wearing a NASCAR hat …you get the picture. Most men go overboard proclaiming to the world their staunch heterosexuality and attendant homophobia.
But a lot of this male posturing hides something that few men would ever admit. We love looking at other male bodies and the handsomer and more muscular the male, the more we gawk. I’m not saying we all harbor subconscious gay urges. But we do love to look at sculpted male bodies, and those men who do most of the looking are the ones who go overboard asserting their straightness.
I’m not talking about all those those clandestine cock cravers who make a living as virulently anti-gay crusaders. (See: ultra-conservative, ultra-Christian, ultra-gay bashing politicians and religious leaders who get busted pining after boys and full grown men.) I’m talking about those uber-masculine types, men who use expressions like “douche chills” when they experience a sincere, soft emotion and call other men “Gladys” at the slightest sign of doing something softer than chewing ten-penny nails. All that he-man posing and homophobia and masculinity is overrated.
Consider how much time most straight men spend watching, evaluating and cheering for other men who do not look like John Goodman. These self-described “pussy-hounds” don’t put Maria Sharapova on their screensavers or hang posters of Megan Fox in their basements. They worship pictures of Reggie Bush and Mark Sanchez.
Take the average straight male’s love of violent contact sports …
Let’s start with boxing. There’s no real reason why boxing must be done shirtless, but when that robe comes off, it’s a buff-boy bonanza. Not one Mr. Virility Personified has ever watched a boxing match and not checked out the boxers’ arms and abs, his lats and pecs, his quads and calves. Oh, stop saying you’ve never done that. Of course you have. They fight nearly naked because men love showing their perfect bodies to other admiring men. That doesn’t make you gay, but …
Do you really think the appeal of UFC and MMA is about the fighting? Next time you flip by one of these Ancient Greece-fests, I bet you won’t have the “fight” (riiight) on for more than 20 seconds before the two “combatants” (riiiight) are locked in a position that, if it weren’t for those sexy silky shorts, would result in full penetration of some bodily orifice. Uh uh uhhhh. Don’t try to argue that it’s all about real men acting out the primal urge to test one’s masculinity in one-on-one, hand to hand battle. They could do that in one hell of a lot more clothes. And tell me, Mr. Super Straight Homo Hater, if doubles of Kevin James and a pre-Price is Right Drew Carey were fighting, shirtless and shoeless, would you still watch? Of course you wouldn’t. The ratings would be lower than your UFC-loving ass feels right now as you try to reconcile your love of watching meaty man machines playing grabass in a fenced in ring with no escape. I’m not saying you’re gay, but you’re just not as straight as you think.
Let’s move on to wrestling, both real and fake. You can talk about technique and strength all you want, but no other activity between two men involves more face-pressed-firmly-to-sculpted-body-part glory than a three-round wrestling match. Of course, all that homo-erotic grasping and clutching makes wrestlers the most apt to toss around anti-gay slurs. I’ve known quite a few wrestlers, and most have flung the word “fag” around damn near as often as they rubbed one of their body parts into an opponent’s crotch in an attempt to “pin” him.
As for WWE, or whatever it’s called these days, that’s just Broadway done on a mat and with fewer clothes, and we know what kind of people likes them some Broadway plays. In both forms of entertainment, you’ve got lots of emoting, overwrought theatrics, drama to the point of the absurd, beautifully-scripted dialogue and a passionate, smitten audience. Toss in lots of muscles, oily skin, high leather boots, tight shorts, bulging crotches, lots of posing and flexing, a little crying and endless skin to skin contact and – voila! – you’re one Bernadette Peters away from a Tony nomination.
It’s not just the sports with the scantily-clad athletes that you love to ogle. Your love of football is about more than what happens with the ball and (ruggedly handsome) Brett Favre’s latest drama. Have you noticed how the football uniforms have gotten snugger and snugger through the years? The shirts are almost sleeveless, and those padless pants show every sinewy bit of delicious hamstring and quad. (See? That line didn’t even upset you at first, did it? You know what I mean. You know you like to look at the players’ physiques. It’s okay. You’re not gay, you’re just …)
As for baseball, fully-clothed bodies don’t let you off the half-a-homo hook. Remember when steroid use blew almost every major league baseball player into a junior Mr. Olympia? TV ratings and attendance skyrocketed. Men in this country sat around hiding their hard-ons for Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and their bloated biceps and luscious lats. Those well-muscled machines had men swooning … for their prodigious blasts, of course. Bloated asswipe Roger Clemens garnered way more man man-love than the greatest pitcher of the last 40 years, the slightly pudgy and bookishly bespectacled Greg Maddux. Maddux was popular and respected, but his 86 mph cut fastballs couldn’t bring in the ratings that the big bashers did with their monster homeruns clubbed with Popeye arms and chests the size of Manitoba … which you no doubt noticed every time you watched an at-bat.
Our love of the gorgeous male body goes beyond sports. Brad Pitt and George Clooney command more money per film than John Goodman or John C. Reilly, and it ain’t because only women are showing up to see every piece of crap those two stud-muffins put out. Rock groups with fat, unsightly frontmen, like Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies and Blues Traveler have shorter-lived popularity than a beautiful Jon Bon Jovi (despite the sucky music), a classically-handsome Bruce Springsteen (whose popularity blew up when he put on 25 pounds of muscle before the “Born in the U.S.A.” tour) and tiny taut-ass Mick Jagger (despite a face craggier than Lincoln’s). Fat rockers show up on “Where Are They Now?” programs. Good looking rockers can spend 30 years filling arenas with fill with sweating, fist-pumping male fans who can’t really like “Livin’ on a Prayer” that much.
So face it, Mr. He-Man. You’re probably not gay, but you do enjoy reveling in the visual splendor of a great male body, the more muscles the better. (You ever see the pathetic ratings for televised bike races and marathons, in which the participants weigh in at Auschwitzian 125’s?) So stop calling people homo and fag and whatever other gay bashing terms you use.
If what I’m saying really upsets you, I already know what your answer is. You’re probably calling me a cocksucker and telling me go fuck myself and to take my stupid opinions and shove them up my ass. And those things don’t mean you might be gay, but …
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.