Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Pop: Gay Kids On The Block

In the wake of Jonathan Knight becoming the new gay kid on the block, Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon wonders aloud; 'Why Girls Like Gay Heartthrobs'.
It's a typical Salon piece - advancing an argument that sounds counterintuitive in an article that's not completely convincing.
"When those first stirrings of attraction kick in, young girls are generally not going to go for a boy who looks like he really, really wants to touch them in the bathing suit area. They're going to be for the boy who is handsome, sweet and eminently safe, the one of whom she can say, as Tiffany has of Knight, We used to do facials together' (and not mean it as a dirty joke)."
This is all well-known, and hardly revelatory - see the title of Lisa Simpson's favourite magazine (above), Non-Threatening Boys, or Allison Pearson's recent book about growing up as a David Cassidy fan, I Think I Love You.
The point was argued best by Sheryl Garratt in her brilliant essay, All Of Us Love All Of You;
"Women seem far more excited by slim, unthreatening, baby-faced types who act vulnerable and who resemble them. Androgyny is what they want: men they can dress like and identify with, as well as drool over. With so few women performers to use as models, perhaps girlish boys are the next best thing...
"A touch of homosexuality seems to enhance a male star's popularity with women, in fact - especially if it is carefully denied elsewhere."

(Read All Of Us Love All Of You here. Pages 138-151)

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