Alex Blaze

Dying to be straight

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 13, 2007 2:34 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: eating disorders

A new Harvard study has found that 25% of people with anorexia or bulemia and 40% of people who binge eat are male, and the numbers are increasing. The researchers indicate that stigma of being seen as feminine might be a roadblock to treatment:

Stigma, Hudson added, remains a major barrier: Many men are loath to admit having a problem that is so strongly associated with women, fearing they will seem unmanly.
Which is ironic because the purpose of getting those rock-hard abs is to appear more culturally masculine.

But the article didn't take long to make the unmanly/gay connection:

Isolation is not a new feeling. Gaebel said he was the only male eating disorder patient most of the months he was hospitalized at the University of North Carolina. The only male he met there, he said, was a very young boy struggling with his homosexuality. Gaebel said he worried that people might erroneously think he was gay, because male homosexuality is associated with the development of eating disorders. (Experts say the increased risk is not intrinsic, but stems from the emphasis on weight and appearance among gay men.)
He obviously wasn't just concerned that people would make a mistake. Throughout my life people have told me they thought I was Jewish, which is just as erroneous, because of my darker-than-white-white skin, my name, and the fact that I love Seinfeld. But I'm not starving myself to have a more gentile appearance nor would I avoid medical treatment on the off-chance that someone could confuse me for one of the Chosen People. This implies that these people think that there's something wrong with being gay, of course, and who can be surprised at that happening in this culture?

What it does show is that rigid gender binaries and heterosexual supremacy hurt straight men as well as women and queer people.

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