The Fear of Self


Megan flags this comment and dubs it the "Worst Argument I've Ever Heard for DADT"

"It's a distraction when I'm on the battlefield and have to concentrate on the enemy 600 yards away and I'm worried about this guy whose got eyes on me," 

I don't know. I think it's the most revealing argument I've ever heard.

There's, of course, a lot of presumption there--the notion, first and foremost, that the said speaker is such a hottie that in the midst of battle his powers of attraction might overwhelm even his gay allies. 

But what really struck me is how much the implicit fear objectification. What the soldier describes--accurate or not--is familiar. Specifically, it reminds of my partner's description of walking down Lennox Ave. Here you are trying to get to work, trying to focus your mind on the task at hand, and at every block, there's some dude loudly and openly assessing your body. 

What men understand all to well is precisely how heterosexual men generally look at women. As disturbing as that reality might be, there tends to be some variation and range. The worst of that range knows how he can survey a whole swath of a gender and see nothing more than sentient, but soul-less, walking meat. A man of that particular stamp fears his own gaze. He fears that sense of being little more than a body to someone who may well be physically stronger than him, who could subjugate him, bend him, and leave him nigger of the world.

I'm not saying this is original. Surely people have connected sexism and homophobia before. But I think it helps to underline it when we see it.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More

Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.

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