„Męska przyjaźń”. Kilka uwag o kondycji męsko-męskich relacji we współczesnej kulturze Zachodu

Bartek Lis

Muzeum Współczesne, Wrocław



Homophobia poses an obstacle to close and intimate relations between men. The mythical narrative about the brotherhood of men can unfold only in the battlefield or other extreme conditions, and even then this forced material bond is targeted with homosexual allusions. The end of masculine and romantic friendship is part of the contemporary history. Michel Foucault links the end of close relations between men with the intensification of the discourse on sexuality, including the emergence of a contemporary narrative about homosexuality as a separate identity category and not only as one of many ways of realising one’s erotic desires. Two males or two females, who either have different bodily expressions or construct their desires, fantasies and their daily praxis in relation to a person of the same sex, which is not a rare thing, were targeted as an alien species. Homosexuality has become a determinant in the Western culture. It has been looked at as a determinant of a pitiful origin and the group which it describes has been considered morally flawed and also (which is important in the androcentric context of the Western culture) lacking in masculinity (when referring to gay men). Discrimination against those whose homosexuality has been proved or those who seem very likely to be homosexual (when one utilizes all the exhausted stereotypes about the effeminacy of „sodomites”) is not only about stigmatizing and punishing sexual dissidents, but also about taking any suspicions of homosexuality away from the perpetrators of discrimination. Such a cleansing technique is deemed a necessary survival tactic because of the low status homosexuality is granted in our culture. It is enacted through the construction of physical and symbolic distance between men or such a “management” of closeness which would make it obvious to the outside observer that the men are heterosexual. This determines the male-to-male non-erotic and non-sexual relations. In one of the interviews Foucault claimed that the disappearance of friendship as a social institution and the setting of homosexuality as a social/ political/ medical problem are strictly related. The emergence of new definitions and conceptions of human sexuality resulted in a gradual reconfiguration of the categories of „male, romantic friendship”, which involved greater separation between male bodies (back in times a man-to-man kiss was not considered at once a sign of sexual infatuation) and also the reframing of the foundations and conditions of „male friendship” to avoid any suspicions of homosexuality. In the article the author discusses the social frames of the contemporary discourse on male-to-male relations/ meetings in space (of different kinds – casual, everyday; colleague-to-colleague; friend-to-friend), placing an emphasis on those in which one of the subjects is a homosexual male. The author supports his conclusions and commentaries with excerpts from the interviews with gays that he conducted when he was working on his PhD thesis.