First we had College Humor’s “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends.” Then came the “straight men” response. Now the inevitable “Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends” has debuted. These videos profess to support marriage equality: the original gag was that, if queer men can’t marry their boyfriends, they’ll marry straight guys’ girlfriends in retaliation. However, each new YouTube sensation traffics in such tired stereotypes of gender and sexuality that I have to say to all involved with these clips: Feminists Will Probably Not Marry Any of You. We don’t even want to hang out.
Caricatures can definitely be used to skewer gendered expectations, but these videos don’t critique stereotypes through campy enactment: they reinforce them. After all, the generalizations aren’t the targets of the jokes but rather the basis on which the humor relies.
If the whole hilarious idea is that gay men would make better husbands to straight women than straight men would, faith in stereotypes like “gay men love cooking, jazzercise, and listening to their female friends’ feelings” are essential for the video to work. So too is the belief that straight guys just want to eat meat, watch the game, and avoid commitment. Lesbians, meanwhile, are basically like hetero dudes except it’s fun for bros to watch them make out with chicks—and they’re all white, pretty femme, and slim for your mainstream male pornographic pleasure.
Even if the three populations are equally generalized, these images still perpetuate beliefs that confine the millions of people the actors claim to represent. And besides, these comedians aren’t only poking fun at themselves (or who they claim to be for the films’ sake): everyone seems to hold real, non-joking disdain for straight women. The gay guys recognize how annoyingly demand they are and the straight men just can’t wait to get rid of their girlfriends, so long as they can still sleep with them. Even the queer ladies dismiss their hetero sisters as too busy “choosing between one slutty dress… and another slutty dress” to be fun, low-stress partners. Invariably whiny, superficial, and marriage-obsessed—lacking a single desirable trait other than penetrable vaginas—straight women are voiceless objects with which to barter. “Marry our girlfriends,” the straight men insist at the end of their video.
No one considers what the women might want because passive pawns (directed for political gain or your own physical pleasure) don’t have desires beyond who will take them to jazzercise. Maybe you should work on that whole sense of humor thing before you decide who gets to marry which ladies today.