A Gay Dad’s Open Letter to Rose McGowan on Lessons Learned

Rose mcG

Rose McGowan’s opinions have been all over social media the past few weeks. She started in an interview with a now infamous diss that gay men are “more misogynistic than hetero men”.

She then “apologized”. In the Huffington Post, she writes, “Where does it say that because of a man’s sexual preference, I don’t get to point out character defects? When equal pay for women was voted down by every male Republican there was no LGBT outcry.”

From my perspective with grass roots advocates, I submit that if she truly believes there have not been huge outcries over women’s concerns, of which equal pay is just one, then she simply has not been listening.

She requests: “What I want is for gay rights activists to help other disenfranchised groups. These activists are experts while so many other groups flounder. It’s time to share the wealth and knowledge. “

Rather than debating her opinion based on her acquaintances with a few gay men who were apparently derogatory, I would prefer to honor her bigger request.

So here you go:

Dear Ms. McGowan,

I am sorry that you have not felt that the cry against misogyny from gay men has been strong enough. From your comments about speedos and Molly, I can only assume that your comments are in part due to seeing the “gay community” as the young, buff, young men on the party circuit. I can’t really speak for them, or their activism. Many of us are more PTA these days than paaaar-taaaay, and speedo-ing is what I do when I am late picking up my kids.

I am a gay dad raising two sons, both adopted as infants. I know thousands of gay men and there are none that I would not characterize as feminists. I am raising my sons as feminists and all the gay dads with daughters especially seem to be empowering their children thoroughly and completely. That is not the purpose of this note. It is to share the LGBT success experience with you.

The major success factor has been this: coming out. If you want to trace the single greatest secret behind LGBT traction in equal rights, it is that. The vast majority of people who have changed their minds about gay rights have done so after a person close to them comes out. They then have to juxtapose values and the real life person, and they have found their misconceptions usually fall apart.

How does this work with a group, who may be disenfranchised, but is not really a minority as are LGBT people? Women are, in fact, the majority. In the past elections, even with LGBT people in both political parties, we have been fairly uniform in our voting and advocacy — obviously there are exceptions, but they are pretty fringe. If the “Women Community” were to do that even one time, the impact would be immediate and have a historic effect never seen before in modern times. If all women voted as a block and in their own self interest, not a single Republican would be elected to office, and specific women equality standards would be enshrined in such a way that they could never be displaced.

That did not happen. Why not? The answer is pretty clear. The worst enemy, the most misogynistic, and unempowering for women can be — other women. Yes, we have some experience with internalized self-sabotage in the LGBT community as well. I can’t tell you how many articles I have read where a gay man sounds off on “the gay community.” If you read between the lines, his concept of “the community” is really the last five guys he’s dated.

For women, an example is mom blogger Tara Kennedy-Kline who recently wrote a piece called “I’m A Mother Of 2 Boys, And I Don’t (And Won’t) Support Feminism”. Where I am raising my boys to be polite and courteous to all, she is “kind of psyched to be raising my boys as gentlemen… to treat the women in their lives like princesses.” Kennedy-Kline equates a girl’s beauty with her “prettiness,” I am teaching my sons a more holistic approach to beauty within all people regardless of gender.

Kennedy-Kline implies that the wrong dress on a girl makes her “easy” and to be avoided by her sons. She also protests a culture that expects boys to act responsibly and respectfully under all circumstances. She protests the “flipping the shame of ‘sluttiness’ from the girls who expose their breasts (and bellies and butt cheeks) to the boys who look at them.”

3229414952_eae62527dd_zI can only guess that she would seek to shame you for your own choices in public attire.

She claims to want empowerment for women and gender fairness, but qualifies it by stating, “I do not believe that opposite sexes can ever be completely equal, as there are very specific limitations for each gender. I also believe that there is nothing wrong with many of the gender roles that have been honored throughout history.” Within these roles, she calls on girls to be “maternal, ladylike, demure, and feminine.”

I am not willing to have people like Kennedy-Kline determine the limitations of me, of my sons or of women in general. I am the maternal nurturer in my family. My sons are not lacking of that parental influence in their lives. They, in turn, are not being programmed to only fit into one specific gender role themselves. Likewise, I want for women to be able to choose roles from homemakers to board room members. CEOs are not demure. Maternal and feminine are not qualities listed within the job descriptions of professional game changers. People need to be able to be who they know themselves to be, not actors fulfilling certain roles others have determined for them.

Kennedy-Kline states, “There will never be a time when I will tell my boys not to treasure, protect and admire the women in their lives because ‘Women don’t need a man to feel valued.’ “ She leaves the impression that in fact, women DO need such validation to be truly valued. I do not believe that in any way, and would be loathe to teach any woman to believe that.

This therefore, is not an issue of OUTcry. There is a bigger issue, and that is an issue of IN-cry, of what is being said in our homes. In LGBT homes, our children are being raised to see people as individuals. Femininity and masculinity are embraced and celebrated but are not assumed to be owned by only one gender or the other. We are celebrating the strength in our daughters and helping them envision achievements beyond traditional roles. We are teaching our boys to respect themselves and others equally and that the rape culture is not acceptable — they own their own impulses and cannot blame some mode of dress as “asking for it”.

Misogyny and homophobia are innately united. They are manifestations of the same bias and societal disease. They kill and ruin lives. They must be removed together. If one exists, it will create the other, neither exists in a vacuum.

I have to be a feminist because I am a dad. I am responsible for two lives that I want to thrive in this society over the next few decades. I am a feminist because I want them to live in a fair and just world. I want them to nurture and be maternal if that is who they are, or be masculine and aggressive if that is their calling.

Ultimately it may not be the voices of LGBT people who stand on the frontline and win the battles for the feminist movement, it will be our children, and those raised similarly, who were instilled with equality values. Sadly, there won’t be much of a difference in the world if our children still represent a minority. The majority could still come from homes in the “Women Community” like that of Kennedy-Kline, homes where condescending oppression and subtle misogyny is mistaken for honored tradition.

How do we apply lessons from the LGBT movement to the feminist movement? Unify. Pull together your diverse population, and then come out to your allies. It is no small task but voices like Ms. Kennedy-Kline indicate that you are not there yet. The Republican wave into office in the last election says you are not there yet.

Rather than trying to find the right generalizations to use to describe gay men, you might be better served by using your considerable Charms with those closer to home — try to reach the women of the lost sisterhood.

 

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About robw77

A single gay dad who cares. His story can be read here: http://www.imagaysingleparent.com/2013/02/02/rob/ and here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/31/rob-watson-gay-family_n_4689661.html
This entry was posted in Civil Rights, Family, News, Prejudice and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to A Gay Dad’s Open Letter to Rose McGowan on Lessons Learned

  1. shatteredmindscapes says:

    Thank you for this! I, like many, was horrified at her comments, and I took them quite personally. As a young woman of 16 (now 36), I was heavily influenced as a feminist not only by women, but by many gay men. I was a street kid, and some of my closest friends were gay men. When I was raped while couch hopping, they sat with me and consoled me, and gently, kindly, sometimes quite emotionally, corrected me when I slipped into self-blame, pointing out that had I been completely naked, it still wouldn’t have been my fault for waking up to being raped. They stood literally behind me, supporting me when I confronted my rapist when he showed up at a coffee shop where many of us street kids hung out (the owners were our street parents, who took good care of us). Some of them helped saved my life, though they may not know that, when I was suicidal after the attack. How could anyone call these big brothers of mine misogynistic? Far from it. They helped me form my feminist identity, by reminding me that my uterous had, and has, nothing to do with my value as a human being. Again, thank you.

    • kindheart101 says:

      Oh my! You have me crying like a baby. I have children older than you honey, and grandchildren in their teens.

      I am going to copy your post, and give it to my grands, and every teen and young adult I know.

      Bless you Shattered. Please know, if I had one prayer today that I knew would come true…………..it would be that you feel this (((HUG))).

      And ((Hug)) and ((Hug))…………………………….

  2. Lauren says:

    Dear Mr. Watson,
    I read your letter a week ago and it invoked some pretty strong feelings within me. While I appreciate your support in women’s rights, I have to disagree with much of what you wrote. First of all, I find it interesting that you took this opportunity to aggressively bash a self-proclaimed non-feminist, who had nothing to do with the comments Rose made against the gay community, to point out how the way in which a how feminist raises his sons is far superior to that of a non-feminist. And in doing so, you have taken much of what Kline actually wrote out of context in an effort to portray a particular image of what a “non-feminist” looks like.

    You state “Where I am raising my boys to be polite and courteous to all” and to “value beauty within all people” she is raising them “to treat women like princesses”and that she “equates a girl’s beauty with her prettiness.” What Kline actually said is that she is“raising them to appreciate the beauty in a person based on what that person believes and how that person makes my boys feel, not on what that person is wearing or how much of their skin is exposed.” So in fact not equating beauty to prettiness but to how a person behaves. It actually seems like she has the same attitude that you claim to have about teaching your sons to “value everyone” where later she writes “I say, value all people and the gifts they bring. Only then will the world truly be fair and equal.” I believe Kline then illustrates what she meant in regards to treating women like princesses when she says “I want my boys to be chivalrous, to open doors and carry heavy loads, to ask a girl out on a date and pay the bill without expecting anything in return.” That simply sounds like a gentlemen to me.

    You go on to accuse Kline of calling on women to fulfill their gender roles of being“maternal, ladylike, demure, and feminine.” Once again, you have taken this out of context. What she does say is that she is raising her sons “to honor the qualities and virtues in their partner…even if those qualities include being maternal, ladylike, demure, and feminine.” She is not attacking women who don’t portray these qualities but is instead defending the women who do, which I am thankful for. I have noticed that the “modern feminists” seem to equate those characteristics with being a helpless woman in distress (but by using young girls to say it with profanity in order to “make a point.”) You respond to this by saying that “CEOs are not demure. Maternal and feminine are not qualities listed within the job descriptions of professional game changers.” I can’t even begin to express the emotions that went through me as I read that statement. By suggesting that a woman who is feminine or a mother can’t be a CEO is saying to me that a woman has to behave like a man in order to be successful!

    I am 29 years old and I am an engineer. Among all of my qualities, I would proudly add feminine and ladylike to the bunch.I am married and it is no secret that someday I want to have to children and raise a family. I work in an industry that is comprised of only 30% women. In almost four years with my company I have had two promotions, two decent raises, two bonuses for my hard work and I am looking forward to managing my own project within the next year. I am part of a group within my company that has been developing ideas and presenting solutions for some of the deficiencies within our current script for doing things. My managers value my opinions. I work hard, take on the challenges that are presented to me and portray the leadership skills necessary to manage. I believe these qualities are part of the job description of professional game changers, while also being a feminine and maternal woman. (I also make more than my husband who is also an engineer in the same field, with the same degrees, and more experience than me. But that’s a topic for another day.)

    Now, I don’t completely disagree with you on everything you wrote. I don’t agree with Kline calling girls “easy.” This is a term that is primarily used against women, but I doubt those same girls found it very “difficult” to get those guys into bed with them either. The ironic thing is that a girl being called “prude” can be just as offensive and hurtful as being labeled “easy.” Nobody knows another persons’ story or inner struggle, and everyone has one. So maybe the problem here goes deeper than a girl simply being (or dressing) promiscuous. Or maybe it doesn’t. Either way, it’s not for us to judge.

    I will also recognize that you do actually address Rose’s concerns regarding the slow progress in women’s rights as well. You explain that the LGBT community has been able to overcome as many hurdles as they have by being able to vote uniformly, and that “if the “Women Community” were to do that even one time… if all women voted as a block and in their own self-interest, not a single Republican would be elected to office” and therefore women equality would finally have its success. So, it is now not enough that women have the right to vote, but only that they vote correctly? Women, you are not individuals. You are not free thinkers. You do not know what is in your own best interest. The government does, or better yet, the Democrats do. This also suggests to me that a woman shouldn’t base her vote about anything else besides things like equal pay and pro-choice. So don’t go around forming opinions about things like health care, tax reform, the national debt, education, welfare or job creation (just to name a few). That is just not in your own self interest. You say that “People need to be able to be who they know themselves to be, not actors fulfilling certain roles others have determined for them.” But by saying that the Democratic Party is in every woman’s best interest, and that we should all vote that way, is that not defining a specific role that you are expecting me to fulfill? And by not voting that way I am instead “The worst enemy, the most misogynistic, and unempowering” thing that there can be for women? This is the message feminism is going with? If that is, then you are partially right. A woman’s worst enemy is feminism.

    When I first read this letter I was so angered that I decided I would also finally define myself as a “non-feminist.” Because I felt like I had to. With Feminism all over the media lately, and having personally experienced and been affected by many issues at the forefront of this movement, I felt like I had to pick one side or the other. You would think this would be an easy choice but in reality it was extremely difficult as I see rights and wrongs on both sides.Then this morning I came across this article titled “Is a war among women diverting attention from the war against women?” by Meghan Daum (which I encourage you to read as well), and I realized, I don’t have to define myself as either one. I am a woman. That is enough. I have beliefs that some people agree with and others don’t, just like you Mr, Watson, and Rose McGowan, and Mrs. Kennedy-Kline. But THAT is the true beauty of living in a Democracy like America. So, instead of posting my response as a “non-feminist against a feminist attacking a non-feminist” and just contributing to the cycle, I will agree with Meghan Daum on this one. Feminist or Non-Feminist, Republican or Democrat, or anywhere in between… We all support women. We have to value each other for who we are before we can expect everyone else to do the same.

    • robw77 says:

      Hi Lauren,

      Thank you for sharing your point of view. I naturally disagree with your interpretation of many things, especially the Kennedy-Kline article where you accuse me of taking things “out of context”, but that you then don’t answer. Instead you benignly accept it as the formation of “gentlemen”. You also ignore the fact that Kennedy-Kline’s full goal for a woman is her passiveness, and twist what I said to mean “a woman who is feminine or a mother can’t be a CEO” — which is not what I said, nor something I agree with.

      I am glad that you are enjoying success in your own personal career and seem to take that as indication that women have a powerful trajectory in the work place. I know many talented professional women, many of whom are compensated well. Since studies have shown that men doing equally as well are likely to get paid more, I have to believe them. I also have personally seen how many of these talented women get stalled underneath the proverbial “glass ceiling” when it comes to the top leadership of corporations. If you don’t think that is true, simple study the gender of the CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies and see how close to 50% it is. Nowhere close.

      Your defensiveness of the Republican party is telling. Certainly, anyone looking at their track record over the last few years, who has women’s equality in mind, would find their support completely non-existent. I did not ask women to vote “correctly”, just to vote a single time in their own self-interest. You chose to ignore the “single time” and morph it into a strawman argument about never being able to vote your own mind.

      From your comments ranging from “a woman’s worst enemy is feminism” (which you don’t explain — you are defensive about putting all issues before it, but not clear on how voting for women’s interests is “anti-woman”) to a claim that “we all support women” when you clearly vote against women’s equality issues, I am not really sorry this article made you angry. I hope those emotions at some point call you to self examination. Your final point, ironically, is the exact theme of what I wrote to Ms. McGowan– for women to achieve equality, they have to “value each other for who we are before we can expect everyone else to do the same.” Voting for people who are callous towards rape culture, are completely disinterested in supporting a woman’s right over her own body, and not willing to codify that she be paid what she is worth (let alone be given a career trajectory into top leadership) is far from “valuing each other.” Ms. McGowan asked how lessons learned from LGBT struggles could be used to help women– and that is the core of my answer to her. Coming out and unification are my suggestions. I hope as you dig into your personal value of women, no matter what label you place on yourself, you find a way to actively support progressive policies for women — otherwise, I would leave it to your own conscience as to whether you are the “worst enemy, the most misogynistic, and unempowering”. One thing is certain, if you are doing NOTHING to help, then your behavior is an exact mirror of whoever does meet that description.

  3. elfkat says:

    I’ve been an out lesbian since 1979 and I agree with Rose on a lot of her opinions. GRID and then AIDS raised it’s ugly head in the 80’s and my gay male friends were getting sick and dying it was the lesbians that started most of the charities and were in the front of the fight until there started to be drugs and lesbians were shoved aside but there has never been any reciprocation from gay men. There have never been large numbers of gay men raising money breast cancer of other women’s cancers. There have never been gay men objecting to rape culture unless it;s on the behalf of transgendered women and even now, there are consistant attacks on lesbians because we want to decide who we sleep with. Usually I agree with you but as a lesbian and by no means the only one that feels that way ,we are currently being steadily disenfranchised by our own community and a lot of organizations should say they speak for GBT people and leave the L off.

    • Your fantasies don’t reflect reality.

      • elfkat says:

        Seriously? You need a history lesson

        • Nope. I was there. But here’s your chance to provide 5 citations to back up each of your claims:

          1) “it was the lesbians that started most of the charities ” Post five separate links to documentation that prove that most of the HIV Charities were started by lesbians.

          2) “but there has never been any reciprocation from gay men. ” Provide 5 separate links to substantiate this claim – which will be tough because ‘never’ is all inclusive, if there is even one case of a gay men reciprocating – and I know several personally – then you are wrong.

          3) ” There have never been large numbers of gay men raising money breast cancer of other women’s cancers.” Again, five separate links to back this up. Of course, your phrase ‘large numbers’ is subject, but considering how many millions of gay men have worked to raise money for breast cancer, you’re gonna have an impossible time proving that you are not wrong.

          4) “There have never been gay men objecting to rape culture ” Again, you need 5 independent sources to confirm this. Remember, ‘never’ is extreme, if even one gay man has ever objected to rape culture outside of references to transfolk, you are wrong. I know that I have, and I know many other gay men who have, so you are simply lying.

          5) “there are consistant attacks on lesbians because we want to decide who we sleep with.” Again, back it up with 5 citations, but keep in mind, if anyone can provide comparable examples of lesbians attacking gay men because of who we sleep with, your point is meaningless.

          6) “and a lot of organizations should say they speak for GBT people and leave the L off”

          Again, you’re gonna need some hard evidence to back this up. A lot is very subjective, so I’m going to set a concrete number. Prove that 75% of GLBTQ organizations are saying to exclude lesbians.

          24 hours should be plenty of time for you to accomplish these things.

          Unless you want to just admit now that it was all fiction based on your contempt for gay men.

    • robw77 says:

      Hi elfkat,

      Thanks for your comments, and the obviously strong feelings you have behind them. Like Darr, I lived through all the time periods you make reference to, and in my experience, much of what you present as fact is not. CERTAINLY may lesbians were absolute heroes in the beginning of the AIDS crisis, as were many gay men. When the rest of the country was running and hiding from the “Ebola” of the day, these two groups stepped up and cared even when the facts of transmission were not yet known. Every organization I can think of was comprised of both, and certainly there was a lot of lesbian leadership. I personally was in Los Angeles, and worked with the new AIDS Project LA. If we go by anecdotal “evidence” , I can also tell you that I was hung up on by many lesbians who were furious that an LGBT organization was calling them at all. It was different times and there was a lot of fear. (AND I would not then generalize that “all lesbians were anti-gay men” just because I experienced several at the time who were).

      I am disturbed by the “quid pro quo” aspect of your post. Because lesbians of conscience at the time stood up and were heroic, there is an outstanding invoice out there for gay men of today? I have trouble making some gay men who are in their 30s of even relating to what the early AIDS epidemic was like… they were kids, and usually closeted, at the time. To my knowledge, there is not a specific infectious illness preying on the Lesbian community for this “pay back”, and I have seen and know of many gay men who donate money and wear pink ribbons for Breast Cancer, along with much of the straight population (who were not so available for AIDS in the 80s). This arbitrary “pay back” just does not make sense, and quite frankly, cheapens the contribution made by the courageous women of the early 80s.

      As far as the “L” being the disenfranchised part of LGBT, I have to tell you that I have talked to individuals of EACH “letter” who are convinced that they are the “odd person out” of the community. I can tell you from the writing I do, and I have covered each area, that the “L” and the “G” both have plenty of interest and support.

      As far as the rape culture– yes, there have been gay men raising a stink about it, and I am one of them — so when you say “never been gay men…”, I know you are wrong. If you want to really affect change, please be aware that generalizations will not help you.

      Homophobia and Misogyny are the issues. They are not linked to any gender or any specific group, they are like chemicals in the air. They can effect each of us to different extents and different ways. Some LGBT people can be the biggest homophobes. Some women can be the biggest misogynists. The answer is to continue to fight the ideas, concepts and effects of them. It is worthless to try to run around and pin them on specific vaguely defined groups of people and then vilify them– that is not curing the disease of hatred, it is catching it.

      • elfkat says:

        I was on call clergy for many years at the Pasadena AIDS Service Center so you know I was in the middle of it and it wasn’t fun. I know what I saw at the time. I also have a gay brother who has since passed away from brain cancer after being active in the Bear community for many years. I’m very familiar with how the two communities have treated each other over the years and the shit I took from my own community because I refused to be a separatist. I know what was happening at the time and I suggest reading Randy Shilts book for anyone who doesn’t know the history and he was quite eloquent about lesbians roles in the community. I stand by what I said.

        • robw77 says:

          I am not sure what argument you are making about “lesbians roles in the community” — no one is disputing that at all. “CERTAINLY may lesbians were absolute heroes in the beginning of the AIDS crisis, as were many gay men. When the rest of the country was running and hiding from the “Ebola” of the day, these two groups stepped up and cared even when the facts of transmission were not yet known. Every organization I can think of was comprised of both, and certainly there was a lot of lesbian leadership.” ..in case you missed it. You seem to have very specific individuals in mind who treated people certain ways — but they are not every one, and they are not everywhere. Again, we are all better served when we don’t try telling people we don’t know what they have done, or haven’t done rather than sticking to the principles at hand.

        • “I was on call clergy”

          You’ve already made a couple of claims that I personally know are false, the ‘never’ statements.

          “I know what was happening at the time ”

          Yet the claims you made in your first post are wrong. So you lied then.

          “I suggest reading Randy Shilts book ”

          His book is full of distortions and errors, as people who actually lived through and studied the period know.

          “I stand by what I said.”

          I’m waiting for you to provide the external links substantiating evidence requested, rather than take your word for it.

  4. Lila says:

    I always love to read your open letters and I agree with you when you say that “The worst enemy, the most misogynistic, and unempowering for women can be — other women.” As a woman I have always considered myself a misogynist: I could not relate to girls and women using their body to reach their goals, playing dumb or weak so that men could be prince Charming and so on. I never felt I needed help as a woman to reach my goals, I just needed to work harder. In my country (Italy) we have some rules, like “pink shares”, that force each political party to have a certain number of women in their representatives. This to ensure that some women are actually elected, since most of parties were about 99% males. Instead of helping equal rights, this has given us an odd number of “pin up” girls (and I really mean that) in ours chambers that are shaming the whole genre, if we really need to talk about women as genre, since those ladies are just chosen by the male leaders as a puppet they would control at their will. We used to have few strong women in charge and we could be proud of them, now all this “help” towards equality has caused more damages since lot of people can clearly see from those that are in our Parliament that women are politically inept. So yes, women are, in my opinion, women worst enemy towards equal rights!

  5. Reblogged this on JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
    A fantastic response to Rose McGowan’s remarks about “misogynistic” gay men…

  6. georgiakevin says:

    What an outstanding father and an incredible letter writer. More parents. more aunts, uncles, more cousins, more friends, more caring kind people need to stand up against untrue, cruel mean spirited actions and comments made by unthinking selfish cold cruel people! Thank you for sharing this post with Horti

  7. As the photo of Rose’s public attire demonstrates, she has profited materially from exploiting and perpetuating the core misogynist value that a woman is only as valuable as she is beautiful. Rose has no business accusing anyone of misogyny.

    She is engaged in the new acceptable form of homophobia – rather than bash gay men for being gay, bash them for some other trait that some of them may or may not have. She’s a homophobe and a hypocrite.

  8. kindheart101 says:

    You have brought me to tears, and I can only pray that many other people read your open letter.

    I am a Mother, and Grandmother, that has always respected equality, for every gender and race.

    It appears this was learned well, as my children are passing this down to their children.

    Please continue the fight, as I will never stop!

    Bless you………..I adore your blog, your honesty, and most of all I admire you immensely.

  9. Dr. Rex says:

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Rose McGowan …. now you have the real perspective!!

  10. Ben in Oakland says:

    ““Where does it say that because of a man’s sexual preference, I don’t get to point out character defects? When equal pay for women was voted down by every male Republican there was no LGBT outcry.”

    I don’t identify myself as a gay man on every place I comment unless it is germane. But I absolutely support women’s rights.

    One might also ask: “Where was all the outcry from heterosexual men?” “Where was all the outcry from women?”

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