#2. Gay Stereotypes Change More Often Than a Gay Man's Clothing
If there's one thing really bad sitcom writers have taught us, it's that making gay people and straight people interact will have waaaaacky consequences! The reason for this is clearly because gay men actually have a lot in common with straight women, and gay women who aren't "lipstick lesbians" are, of course, motorcycle-riding tattooed badasses.
Women can't even hold a wrench until they've been issued their Lesbian Card.
Of course, anyone who has actually met (or is) a gay person knows that these things aren't necessarily true, but it's hard to break stereotypes that are centuries old. That's why you still hear things like "I'm not homophobic, but, you gotta admit, that gay lisp and that feminist crap is just weird, right? I don't mind if they're gay, as long as they act straight."
But at One Time ...
As this list is starting to show, "acting straight" has never been the same thing for very long ... and, surprise! It's the same for acting gay! Once again, trying to separate cultural influences from biology turns into a big mess.
Above: Traditional samurai manskirts.
For instance, despite the current stereotype that gay men are effeminate, during the Renaissance a big part of being "manly" was being bisexual. As recently as the 1930s, "manly" women (that is, women who enjoyed sports and acted like tomboys) were seen as dangerously slutty straight chicks, the kind of crazy girls who show off their tramp-stamps by dancing on tables and refusing to get along with your mom, no matter how much effort she puts into her pie.
It's like our granddaddies said: If she'll shoot hoops, she likes it in her poop shoot.
A big part of this is the relatively recent idea that "gay" is a distinct class of individual, something that didn't actually come along until the 1860s. Don't get us wrong -- homosexual sex was widely considered to be immoral before that, but back then, anyone could have been doing it. And there was no way to spot them because, well, other than their sexual habits, they were just like anyone else.
#1. A "Man's Place" and a "Woman's Place" Is Whatever Makes the Most Economic Sense
Ask most anyone and they'll tell you that while women's liberation is a good thing now, the fact of the matter is that it flies in the face of millenniums of evolution. For as long as society has existed, men have been the hunter-gatherers and women have been the domestic homemakers. There's nothing sexist about this (they'll insist) -- it's just reality. In all of history, there's been a "man's world" and a "woman's world," and never the twain shall meet.
Unless people are "twaining," if you know what we mean (we mean sex).
But at One Time ...
Despite what the Flintstones may have taught you about caveman family values, the distinction between the "man's world" and the "woman's world" is actually fairly new, and by fairly new we mean the Industrial Revolution.
Running a house is no picnic even today, but as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, it was a freaking nightmare in the 1800s. While a contemporary father knowing how to change diapers and do dishes is considered a "catch" or "progressive" (or "whipped," depending on your perspective), back then it was just ... being a dad. Making sure a baby lived long enough to help out on the farm was a super important responsibility, and instead of arguing over whose job it was, people just did it.
"OK, Billy, we're all done here. Get back to the fields."
There are many reasons that things shifted, but it basically boils down to the rise of out-of-home labor. Working in factories meant not being in the house all day, and men got most of the factory jobs because ... you know, 19th century. It was then that the "cult of true womanhood" appeared, and the idea of motherhood as a full-time profession became popular and accepted. As the industrial world became more brutal and competitive, a stronger border between the two spheres became the norm, and before you knew it, BOOM: Mad Men happened.
It happened like a boss.
The more research we do, the more it seems like the only behavior consistently considered normal is the tendency to be way too strict about what normal behavior actually is -- and then being really shitty to the people who don't conform. So next time you hear someone criticized for not being "manly" or "feminine" enough, remember that, for the most part, the only things keeping it from being 180 degrees different are the numbers on the calendar.
For more on ridiculous stereotypes, check out The 5 Most Statistically Full of Shit National Stereotypes and 6 Absurd Gender Stereotypes (That Science Says Are True).
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