Sexual revolution = sexual assault?

In 2015, I saw an article called, “I’m A Gay Man Who Loves Sex (And Here’s Why That’s Suddenly A Problem)“, by Noah Michelson. Most of the article is about defending the sexual openness and promiscuity of gay men. But I just want to talk about this one line:

Caramanno is disturbed by “the male gaze” and the way that he has been groped in gay clubs and “eyed by guys the way a hungry CrossFitter stares down a packet of bacon” (which, if you ask me, sounds pretty hot)…

Here, Michelson is criticizing another article by someone named Caramanno.  The groping that Caramanno is complaining about is unwanted groping. Not that the Michelson could be bothered to mention the unwanted part. He simply dismisses Caramanno’s complaints in one throwaway line in an otherwise trite article about the sexual revolution.

You know what, guy? I don’t give a shit about your sexual revolution, because apparently you don’t give a shit about sexual assault. You didn’t show the slightest awareness that you even knew you were talking about it. Somehow, for you, complaints about sexual assault are the same as complaints that gay men get around too much. The fact that promiscuity involves consent but sexual assault does not was somehow too subtle a point. Fuck you.

And this line?

(which, if you ask me, sounds pretty hot)

This is the same as when people defend catcalling on the grounds that they themselves would feel flattered by compliments by random guys on the street. The reasoning is that he would like the thing, therefore everyone else should like it too, consent be damned.

I also have some words for Caramanno, who also can’t seem to distinguish sexual assault and sexual promiscuity. For Caramanno, the mention of sexual assault is also a throwaway line in an otherwise trite article wringing its hands about hookups. Auggh, both defenders and critics of gay male culture are so terrible.

This makes me livid, because it’s feels representative of a larger problem. Sexual assault is ubiquitous among gay men, and no one can be bothered to address it. At most it gets a cryptic reference in hack editorials, where it’s swept away by more banal bickering about sex.

Nobody defends gay male culture by denying that these incidents happen. Instead, defenders say it’s not sexual assault because it’s normal. The argument seems to be that bad things cannot be normal in gay male culture, because that would be too horrifying. Well, maybe we should be horrified.


  1. Siobhan says

    Well, maybe we should be horrified.

    You would think so, but in my experience, so many (too many) can’t be arsed to lift a finger to do anything about it.

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