Thus, the ‘modern man’ cares about his appearance (he may even engage in hair removal), but the gay man cares about his appearance too much (and will have hair removal to the degree a woman might do) (example 20). The ‘modern man’ is sophisticated, clean, caring (he has fine bed sheets, looks after his dog and makes sure it stays clean and smells nice), but the gay man is concerned too much with the details of fine living to the extreme point of having a special expensive brand perfume for his dog (examples 21 and 22).
Obviously, there may not be one single gay man who has bought a Dior perfume for his dog, but through stereotyping gay men in this (exaggerated, humorous/ironic6) way, the feminine-related ‘modern man’ practices appear more ‘normal’. The overall argument is that it is acceptable and indeed desirable to adopt elements hitherto considered feminine (narcissism, neatness, sophistication), but not to an exaggerated degree (which is associated then with gay men).
Another noteworthy characteristic of this list is that it is generally concerned with lifestyle choices (bedding, pets, eating, grooming, exercising) – desire is very marginally included (in example 23 the male model Tony Ward is paralleled to Pamela Anderson for straight men), and sexual practices not mentioned at all.
(23) ΜΟΝΤΕΡΝΟΣ: Αγαπάει τον Λασαπέλ για το πώς βλέπει την Πάμελα.
ΓΚΕΪ: Αγαπάει τον Ρίτσαρντσον για το πώς βλέπει τον καβάλο του Τόνι Ουόρντ.
MODERN: He loves LaChapelle for the way he sees Pamela [Anderson].
GAY: He loves Richardson for the way he sees Tony Ward’s crotch.
As I pointed out in the Introduction, sex, desire and sexual practices are very widely and quite explicitly depicted in pop culture (as, for example, in the Playboy text analysed in section 3.1) – but they always concern heterosexual sex. Male homosexuality is either completely taboo or surfacing in the form of insults and swearwords7 – lesbianism is even more invisible. Nitro is the only mainstream men’s magazine, to my knowledge, that actually provides some representations of male homosexuality in a more elaborate way. Although not outright insulting (which could see as somewhat more progressive ideologically8), these representations are juxtaposed not just to heterosexuality but to masculinity in general, and are limited to humour, exaggeration and ‘harmless’ lifestyle descriptions. Thus, desire and sexual practices in these cases are excluded from the representations of gay identities, being still a taboo in Greek society – their inclusion would have been considered provocative and would probably have to involve the authors’ taking a clear position either espousing or discrediting homophobia, which is carefully avoided in texts like the one analysed here (although homophobia is surfacing in less direct ways, as we saw).
In examining discourse about gender and sexuality we can see the ideological stances taken in context, which would depend on the participants’ ideologies but also the
6 Cf. Benwell (2003a: 20-21; 2004) on irony in men’s magazines.
7 (cf. Edwards, 2003: 139, Kosetzi and Polyzou, 2005)
8 Especially as homosexuality is ‘utter taboo’ in (mainstream) men’s magazines, exactly to avoid charges of homophobia (Benwell, 2003a: 18).