Pages 5

Any discussion of the relationship between gay men and feminism must begin with the acknowledgment that both terms are contested and historically specific. The material relations of class and race as well as ideological difference complicate and fracture both categories. So, for example, both Andrea Dworkin and Gayle Rubin call themselves feminists but are in violent disagreement with each other over the imperatives that arise from that position. Dworkin has criticized gay male sadomasochism and pushed for censorship laws, while Rubin identifies herself as a member of the S/M community and has defended the right of sexual expression. Likewise, “gay man” is a malleable construct. It would stretch the term past usefulness to lump together Roy Cohn, James Baldwin, and Oscar Wilde under the same category without noting that they are as different from one another, perhaps more so, than similar. Without too much violence to the complexities of the terms under consideration or their relationship to each other, however, it can be said that both feminism and “gayness” are sites of struggle over the boundaries of gendered and sexualized identities, power, and pleasure. Both terms name communities of interest as well as political and cultural traditions and practices. While there is no necessary connection between the respective projects, there are commonalities. As such, feminism and gay men have enjoyed a conflicted but fruitful relation to each other.