Gay Men and Feminism
The relationship between gay men and feminism is also complex and we address that complexity in our book. (A Womb of Her Own. www.routledge.com.) The chapter is called “We’re Not Pregnant” and is written by a courageous gay man who is also a psychoanalyst. In her opening commentary Dr. Kelly comments on the chapter in the following way:
Dr. Richard Ruth’s personal history of growing up gay and his very positive identification with the women’s movement, Feminist Liberation, was both very moving and also typical of many gay men. These men gathered courage from “Women’s Lib” to come out of the closet and to fight for equal treatment of homosexuals, another demeaned and oppressed population. Dr. Ruth’s thorough knowledge of the literature on the history of male homosexuality in the US and around the world is most impressive. With the AIDS epidemic, the gay movement turned away from politics of liberation to narrower politics of civil rights. Dr. Ruth’s 4-year treatment of two fathers and their teenage son is illustrative of the internalized homophobia of homosexual males, and the resulting misogyny as they project all that they despise in themselves onto women. Dr. Ruth cites many excellent sources in his exploration of reasons gay men lack interest in supporting women’s right to choose in the face of today’s serious threats to women’s health and reproductive rights. In the case illustration as in many male couples who pursue parenting, the disparagement of women poses a serious detriment to the psychological and emotional development of their children and in their own relationship with their children. I recall the first time I met a woman who proudly proclaimed that her daughter was conceived with the assistance of a sperm bank. She was very outspoken about her determination never to tell her daughter anything about the child’s biological father. My fantasy is that the daughter of that woman, like the son of the two fathers presented by Dr. Ruth, would bring her mother to therapy seeking help for her own academic and social adjustment. When parents disparage all members of the opposite sex, most likely they are projecting unwanted and hated aspects of themselves.
The relationships between and among the sexes is incredibly complex. Dr. Ruth’s courage in addressing the misogyny in gay men is impressive. The detailed account of his work with the gay couple sheds light on the harm that can ensue when we belittle all members of either sex. Our book is also not intended to disparage men. Rather our objective in the book is to illuminate women’s experiences which have too long been in the shadows. We endeavor to address the damage that has resulted from a patriarchal order and the resulting beliefs that men have authority over women. It is then for individual men and women to decide whether and to what extent these hierarchical beliefs have influenced their behavior and their professional and personal relationships.
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Ellen Toronto is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Spring, Texas and has been practicing since 1980. In 2017, she was elected a Fellow in Psychoanalysis by the American Psychological Association. In 2016, Dr. Toronto's practice was recognized as one of the top Ann Arbor Psychology practices. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Toronto is married to Robert Toronto, Ph.D., and together they have four sons and eleven grandchildren.