Actress Rose McGowan came under scrutiny Wednesday when she argued that gay men are more misogynistic than straight men. She made these comments during a conversation with author Bret Easton Ellis, who is gay, during his weekly podcast.
McGowan started out with some valid points about how women have helped gay men achieve civil rights, but she feels they haven't seen a reciprocation of support. "Women, by and large, have very much helped the gay community to get where they are today."
But, McGowan blew her chance at having a civil, productive discussion when she added an especially barbed statement. "I see now people who have basically fought for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange speedy and take molly." It's that last notion that's gotten everyone worked up.
"Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so," she added. "I have an indictment of the gay community right now. I'm actually really upset with them."
McGowan's reasons that gay men aren't supporting women enough. "You wanna talk about the fact that I have heard nobody in the gay community, no gay males, standing up for women on any level?" she asked Ellis. "What I would hope they would do is extend a hand to women," McGowan said.
McGowan quickly faced digital backlash for her comments. The Guardian called her rant "offensive and alarmist." The actress began to respond to these criticisms on Twitter. "I was pissed off when I said that, obvs a gross over generalization, for which I apologize. But my point stands," she tweeted in response to a Twitter user who accused her being spiteful. She further apologized and attempted to explain herself in an essay for the Huffington Post. While she echoes her Twitter apology about making a generalization, she does not go so far as to apologize for all her comments, stating, "for everything else I said, no. I will not."
McGowan still feels that the LGBTQ community isn't doing enough to support women. "I do expect more from a group of people that understands discrimination," she wrote. "The LGBT community absolutely needs to combat the misogyny in their midst. I've lived and breathed gay rights for as long as I can remember. I've seen so much change and now I want more. Women, myself included, have given blood, sweat, and tears to the gay rights movement. I'm asking for help in return. Casual and accepted misogyny no longer works for me and it shouldn't work for you."
The actress went on to tell a story about a recent encounter with misogyny. "I was with a gay man the other night who was talking about the sexually liberated Blanche Devereaux of the Golden Girls. He was going on about what a slut she was. I asked why he'd say that so thoughtlessly? If I'm not supposed to say (and I don't) 'that's so gay,' surely this man can start thinking about why it's acceptable to slut shame. He thanked me for opening his eyes," McGowan wrote.
This instance falls under the "gay privilege," which Rohin Guha has written about so poignantly for Jezebel. Though his discussion is thorough and worth the entire read, the gist is that gay men have an unfair relationship with women.
"It's a dirty secret of a subculture of the gay male world about women: That they're essentially unwelcome, unless they come to us as a Real Housewife, a pop diva, or an Tony award winner — or an unassuming fag hag," he wrote. "So many of us are only familiar with the idea of male privilege being the province of straight men that we discount how gay men are able to exert dominance and control over women."
McGowan closed her piece with a call to action. "For those who question my allegiance to the gay community and try to paint me as a gay hater, I have a big eye roll reserved just for you. I'm human, I mess up, but I mess up with love and good intentions. I feel like I'm in a fight with my family," she wrote. "Now, let's go do the right thing, myself included."
McGowan made a mistake when she made rude comments about speedos, floats, and molly. But, her observation about the issue of gay men's apathy and misogyny toward women is a topic worth exploring.