Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a vegetarian, his wife, and six lesbians walk into a Hooters.
I’ve been to Hooters twice, and both times it happened to be with a group of close friends (the lesbians) and my wife, all while I was still a vegetarian. I know, I know, these jokes write themselves. It was more a geographical anomaly rather than a conscious decision. Suffice to say it was awful and uncomfortable, like a married vegetarian going to Hooters with his wife and a table full of lesbians. That should sum it up nicely, yes? If my mother and grandmothers had been there, I would have a better joke for you.
It’s not that I couldn’t have fun or relax that night—who am I kidding? I couldn’t have fun or relax. I couldn’t escape my heterocentricity. Or my vegetarianism (has the world really not figured out solid vegetarian options for every restaurant by this point?). It was just awkward. As progressive and liberal and judgement-free as we are, there are some things that just, for good reason, make you awkward.
The lesbians, they loved it. They were there for the same reason that anyone who is attracted to women in flesh-colored stockings and form-flattering t-shirts would be. My wife, on the other hand, not so much. Yes, women walk around all the time in form-fitting clothes, or, at the beach I hate so much, in essentially padded underwear. Yes, we see them. But we’re not always paying them to lean over to pour beer into frosty mugs. Sometimes we pay bartenders to do that.
No, I don’t have a Princess Leia fetish
Most movies that men and women my age grew up with (and into) featured endless heterosexual men and one token female, a courtesy not even granted now to the Minions (even the Smurfs had a Smurfette). For example, until recently we had a whole Star Wars universe of men with only a handful of females, one of whom had a Jedi for a father and brother, yet had no powers herself and ends up in a sexy slave outfit. The same went for Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and every movie that still makes adults my age set the D.V.R. Every female was either a helpless blonde to be saved or a whiny brunette to be brought along for the ride. The only media more heterocentric was the kind from each preceding generation, each featuring a slick, straight, white male saving the day.
This was the norm, as it has been from most myths, religions, and tribal tales since the first conquering village shared ale around a fire pit. And it’s just part of the dominant species’ wiring. It doesn’t mean it’s right, it just means it’s dominant. But the big, bad, dumb boys movies still do the best. Especially the ones with the cars and the exploding things.
At my core—brain, gut, chemicals—I’m not just a heterocentric lump or simply predisposed to a flurry of thoughts and characteristics found in every culture since the first men created the first club without wives. I am, and you are too, of course, so much more than the sum of our predispositions. But, if those predispositions are there, we must learn how to use them and react to them outside of a dominant historical narrative, while still maintaining that our point of view is the only one we can reason ourselves into.
And if you’re going to Hooters or the beach, I’ll sit this one out.