Girlfriend

A certain number of gay men refer to each other as girlfriend; often as the first word of a sentence such as “Girlfriend; you will not believe what I saw last night!” Many people find it grating, some consider it misogynistic, and others just giggle.

For me, the use of the word must be judged by the circumstances and the speaker. When a woman refers to another woman as “girlfriend” it is generally recognized as a plutonic relationship- a ‘friendship’. But most often when a man refers to another man as “boyfriend” most people’s first thought is “when did they start dating?” A gay man saying “girlfriend” is clearly taken to mean ‘friend’ rather than partner. Society continues to evaluate ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ differently; deal with it.

Now, if a person uses the word to denigrate the other person, or belittle their role (“he’s the ‘girlfriend’ in their relationship“) then the term is expressing their misogyny. If I have to explain why that’s bad you are reading the wrong blog. Far too many people continue to value (and evaluate) men and women on different scales; a strong woman is a “bitch” (Tabatha Coffey says that’s a delightful acronym) while a strong man is “butch“. A feminine man is “effeminate” – another insulting, judgmental term that should die a quick death.

As a queer (“differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal“) man, I applaud anyone who refuses to blindly accept gender roles being imposed by an archaic, chauvinistic, patriarchal society. And many of my girlfriends agree; whether they be biologically male or female.

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