Gay journalist: There is misogyny among gay men, hence why they call women ‘fish’

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Patrick Strudwick says parts of the gay scene can be a harbourer of misogyny.

The journalist has written a column for The Guardian’s Comment is Free on recent remarks by Rose McGowan.

The American actress last week said: “Gay men are as misogynistic as straight men, if not more so. I have an indictment of the gay community right now, I’m actually really upset with them.”

McGowan accused gay men of failing to stand up for women’s rights and suggested they were more concerned about being on drugs at Pride events.

In response, Strudwick wrote: “Rose McGowan is right that the gay rights movement has tended to ignore women. But sexism is everywhere – the bulk of the hate comes from heterosexuals.”

Strudwick criticised McGowan over the offensive nature of her comments, pointed to how the majority of misogyny, discrimination and violence against women is carried out by heterosexual men, but stressed the wider point she was making had validity.

Strudwick said many gay men were happy to use derogatory language about women, referring to a woman’s vagina as “fishy”.

“Could there be a more choking illustration of the misogyny of gay men?” the journalist and campaigner asked. “I have heard this vile denigration ever since I stepped into the gay scene in 1993 – ‘fish’, ‘tuna’, and any number of terrible words for female genitalia, often accompanied by vomiting gestures.

“So it amazes me that, bar the odd murmur that rarely reaches a roar, gay men have escaped the rightful opprobrium of women for the only real smell: the stench of sexism.”

He added: “As a movement we have ignored women, individually and structurally. Along with the many gay rights organisations headed by men over the decades (thankfully Stonewall now has a second woman in charge), there is no more poignant example of this than in the fight against HIV/AIDS, where the tender altruism of hordes of lesbian volunteers who tended to dying men in the 1980s has been forgotten.”

Stonewall said that McGowan’s comments seemed to be “based on a skewed version of reality” and “undermine the equality” that men and women – gay or straight – have fought for.

“Lesbian, gay and bisexual people have fought hard to achieve the equality we have today – often with the support of invaluable allies who aren’t gay,” James Taylor, Stonewall’s Head of Policy said. “However, many gay people still suffer abuse and bullying simply for who they are, with homophobia and biphobia still rife in many parts of society.”

McGowan later apologised for her comments about gay men fighting for the right to stand on top of a float wearing an orange speedo, whilst taking MDMA.