A lesson Pascoe has taught me

I know that this is a subject from over a week ago, but a personal experience came to mind that I wanted to share. Names have been changed to protect specific people.
I was at the bar with a friend a number of weeks ago when a conversation about someone we knew happened to come up. My friend and I are members of a fraternity, and conversations about other members and men that we have met over the years who were interested in the fraternity are common. This specific conversation happened to be about two gay men, one who had been a pledge and one who had been a member for a short time.
Our fraternity is very open and progressive about membership selection. We have a number of gay fraternity brothers and it makes no difference to us whether someone who rushes is gay or hetero. We value men who wish to be the best they can be, and represent our fraternity as gentlemen and motivated college students. Yet, despite our open mindset and the fact that there are gay members in our fraternity, there is still a sense that some people fit the culture and others do not.
The two gay guys at the center of our conversation had also been dating at one point. One had pledged in fall term, ‘Chris’, but had dropped out. The other, ‘Mike’, had pledged in winter term, but dropped his membership in late spring. They had not been in the fraternity at the same time.
My friend reminded me that the guy who joined second, Mike, had told us he thought that Chris was a fag. It struck us both that this was a way for Mike to make us feel more comfortable with his sexuality and throw off the negative connotations we might have associated with Chris. Pascoe’s idea that “fag discourse that highlighted the fag not as a static but rather as a fluid identity that boys constantly struggled to avoid” (page 60) was played out in this situation to make us more comfortable with Mike.
Even though I consider my fraternity an open environment where use of the word ‘fag’ is never used (totally honest) I did not realize that the use by one gay guy to describe the other had this deeper intention attached to it.
This makes me consider what people are projecting about themselves online and in video games as well. What are the hidden and unrealized connotations that are used in video games? I know that personal narratives are not supposed to supplement research as a tool for making universal conclusions, but I have to wonder if people project negative images on others that they fear, or believe, are images that others hold of themselves, even in video games. How much of the bad MMO language use could possibly stem from this type of usage?

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One Response to A lesson Pascoe has taught me

  1. cstabile says:

    Thanks for this example — I think it illustrates how pervasive the “fag discourse” that Pascoe writes about is and how deeply ingrained it can be in how men interact with each other. When I taught this essay last quarter, in my large lecture class, a student raised his hand and said that he didn’t know how to interact with his friends in ways that avoided this discourse. It was an honest and frustrated response.

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