Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Stereotype of a “Fag Hag”


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=studying-the-elusive-fag-hag-women-2010-06-07

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=studying-the-elusive-fag-hag-women-2010-06-07

So what constitutes a “fag hag” anyways? And where does the term “fag hag” in particular come from? This article touches upon a study done to see whether or not the common stereotypes of straight women with many gay male friends are in fact correct. In order test the stereotypes, a group of straight women were asked to share how many gay male friends compared to other friends they had, their relationship history, their amount of self esteem through the “Body Esteem Scale”, and finally if they had been recently dumped or if they were the dumper. These results were all compiled in order to test the common stereotype that these women with mostly gay male friends have low self esteems and feel unattractive to straight men. If these “fag hags” did in fact meet this stereotype, then the hypothesis was that their level of self-esteem would correspond with their number of gay friends. To put it simply: the sadder the straight women’s love life, the more gay male friends. The final results? Quite the contrary. It turned out that there was absolutely no correlation between these women’s relationship statuses, their self-esteem, or the amount of times they had been broken up with by a boyfriend. Another interesting find was that the more gay friends a women had the more sexually attractive she actually found herself. The end of this study even brings up that why does this stereotype not exist in the reverse? A straight male with many lesbian friends? Thoughts?

14 comments:

  1. So interesting! One of the things that the readings from this week suggests is that Ingroup identification and loyalty has a way of enhancing lives. Could we then safely infer that Ingroup loyalty leads to higher self-esteem, as this study found? Ingroups often are stigmatized - having a negative strereotype by virtue of membership - and that is essentially what is examined here.

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  2. I agreed that this kind of negative saying toward females with gay friends seem to be because they are being considered as the in-group with gay people, who some time do receive negative comment and be considered as a negative stereotype. Is it possible that other people simply are being jealous of gay man having so many lady friends, and then they make up this myth that “lady who has many gay friends tend to be less attractive”?

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  3. I truly enjoyed this article and found the study’s extremely interesting. The article relates to this weeks reading in many ways. It explores why people stereotype women as “Fag hags” for having gay guy friends. I agree that this kind of negative stereotyping of women with gay male friends is because they are considered in the same in-group as gay man. Therefore, other groups discriminate because of their membership. Also, as Lewis states maybe man in other groups are jealous of gay man for having close relationships with women, so they discriminate to boast their own self-esteem?

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  4. I don't watch television, and I am not really outgoing and don't have many friends, so it is really hard for me to imagine what kind of women would have gay friends. But, the term I read at the begining of the article "fag hags" gave me this image of very ugly and unattractive old women which was very different from my first imagination of women with gay friends. The article shows many different expressions for that kind of women including "fairy princess" which the author who is a gay himself used to mention his female friend. I think it is the media, such as TV drama and movies, that stereotypes those women as "fag hags," and of course, as the study shows, the media is far different from the reality. "Fag hag" is really interesting character, and the media uses it for entertaining purpose giving the audiences preconception about women who have many gay friends.

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  5. I agree with Hye-Jin that the media and Hollywood tend to perpetuate this stereotype (and other) unintentionally through their attempts to entertain the masses. Shows like will and grace use characters/plots that contain stereotypes to entertain, but the indirect effect is that these stereotypes are further ingrained on the collective unconscious.

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  6. I had that same experience: my personal ideas about women with gay friends were not at all in line with the stereotype presented here (something that also happened a few times in the reading). Sometimes it can be difficult to attempt to disprove a stereotype when even the mention of that stereotype can strengthen a reader's mental picture of the party in question, no matter how false that belief is then proved to be: even a discussion of why a certain stereotype is wrong can prime the reader to being more aware of that stereotype in their daily life, which in turn can cause a self-fulfilling prophecy in members of the target group. Thus, that the women who befriend gay men have lower self-esteem over time could be due to their awareness of the "hag" stereotype. As in Chapter 3, their self-concept is influenced by their own perception of their behavior, which in this case coincides with a negative stereotype.

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  7. I question the speculation that women with gay male friends are actually physically more attractive than those with fewer gay male friends. If this is true, then there must be a reason explaining why.
    Straight women befriend gay men not only because of relief from sexual overtures (as noted in this article); Maybe she is inclined to befriend more gay men because there is no competition for attention against other women. In a group of gay men, she is the female that stands out and therefore feels attractive. There is a difference between being attractive and feeling attractive (although there is a definite correlation between the two).

    Also, I wish the author expanded on the topic of why straight men and lesbians aren't a popular pairing because that is a puzzling and intriguing question. I suppose it's because of the gender and sexual orientation hierarchy stereotypes our culture holds.

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  8. I understand how this stereotype has been created but do not agree with it. And it is proved by the result of this article that this stereotype has no legitimacy. However, I feel that attaching to a group of people, a clique of strong opinionated people or a subculture can be an attractive way to boost self esteem. I do not see how physical appearance has to do with the issue of straight women having relationships with me. I also agree with Grace'd point about the competition of other female's attention in guys. I believe people seek attention in many ways.

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  9. I feel that this article gives a strong example of stereotype and then does a great job of debunking that particular stereotype. It's always refreshing to me to see this done, as many stereotypes are old fashioned and so unfashionable.
    Also, I do believe it's safe to believe Ingroup loyalty leads to higher self-esteem, as this article and study determined. As with anything though, it's not necessarily true with every case, but after reading this, I honestly believe it to be true, mostly.

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  10. Going back to the question the article poses at the end about why there is such a discrepancy in the frequency of the opposite of the "fag hag." I am definitely, without a doubt basing my response on other stereotypes, but it seems to me that straight males are either weirded out by lesbians or attracted to them in a more crude, sexual way than the average 'fag hag' is to her gay friends. Whether this assumption is correct--I don't know. I would guess that the discrepancy is often taken further by the general level of understanding men and women have of their own sexuality. Men and women inherently view gender and sexuality differently. I'll say 'differently' and leave it at that. I've just addressed this in very broad terms to avoid being offensive in any way. I doubt that I could accurately articulate what I'm actually trying to say in so few words...

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  11. One thought I had on reading this article is maybe the women befriend gay men because they they are unable to fit in with a group of women for one reason or another? Going along with Graces idea, I agree that maybe women in the Ingroup of gay men don't have to compete for attention like they would in a group of girls, especially when interacting amongst a group of straight men and women.

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  12. "Perhaps being around gay men offers these women some relief from the constant sexual overtures of straight men." Ouch. I like to think that as a straight man I don’t subject my female friends to constant sexual overtures. Anyway, I agree that one possible reason for the high self-perceived sexuality rating could be the fact that these groups are ingroups. Putting sexual orientation aside, belonging to a supportive group where you feel like you have a defined identity and a sense of belonging definitely leads to a higher self-esteem, which I think can lead to a more attractive body image. One group that this article doesn’t acknowledge is groups of the same gender with one or two members of a different sexual orientation. I’d be interested to see if the same higher body image ratings would occur.

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  13. I am glad that the article proves the assumptions about the stereotype to be incorrect. I agree with some of the classmates thoughts such as Grace's about women wanting to be friends with the opposite sex instead of just befriending other women. However, women can befriend straight men to be in an Ingroup of male figures as well as gay men. I strongly believe straight men and women can have a healthy friendship without any sexual overtures like Matt pointed out. A "fag" is a complete stereotype in its own. A gay man is a friend, brother, coworker, or son just like a straight man would be. I feel like women befriend them for any of the reasons they befriend straight men or other women. Something about one person made the other individual want to get to know them and build a personal relationship with them. Yes maybe a good amount of women have other motives when it comes to befriending specifically gay men but i highly believe this is not so for the majority.

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  14. The stereotype that women coined "fag hags" have a lower self esteem than women who have less gay male friends, and/or maybe be in relationship with straight males seems pretty contradictory and ridiculous for all the point made above. Having had many friendships with straight and gay males myself, I can personally say that the main difference IS the lack of a possible "sexual tension" that friendships with gay males have. Besides that, they are simply friendships, not much different from the inclusive, self esteem boosting friendships that women have with other women. I think this article both relates to the ideas of stereotypes but also greatly to the idea of the self-concept, and how people identify themselves based on the groups they are part of, the friends they have and the people they associate themselves with. Women identified as "fag hags" may do so in a self stereotyping manner, or be stereotyped by others as this, because they are often times with their gay male friend. This should not necessarily reflect the relationship status of the same women with a straight male, or her level of self esteem.

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