The ‘You’re Assuming Sexuality Based on Stereotypes’ Argument pt. 1
In many of the bi!Dean arguments floating around the fandom, people often use as ‘supplementary’ evidence for Dean’s queerness various moments in the text which show Dean doing or liking something that is stereotypically feminine. Many of the antis have taken this to mean we are using questionable stereotypes to interpret Dean as queer. However, often this critique is based on a misunderstanding of what the analysis/claim actually is regarding such moments.
Often these textual disclosures occur in a larger context wherein Dean has previously said he’s not into X thing (which is coded as feminine) and then later on it is revealed that he, in fact, IS into X thing, and was simply putting on a front of masculinity (what many in the queer Dean meta community have dubbed “Performing Dean”)
A non-exhaustive list of examples (GIFs not mine):
This pattern has developed into a standing aspect of Dean’s characterization. Sometimes it takes 10 seasons worth of time for Dean to admit he likes the thing. Sometimes it will happen in the space of an episode, and sometimes even within the space of a single scene. But it follows a very predictable pattern: Dean expresses distaste for the thing, and then later on he’s like, actually, I like the thing, and I was just trying to maintain the front of my own masculinity when I said I didn’t. Now, this textual pattern’s relationship to understanding Dean’s sexuality has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Dean likes ‘feminine’ things. That is not the issue at all. Him liking feminine things is not what matters here. What matters here is the initial denial.
What reads as queer about all of this is the multiple interconnected patterns it establishes:
1) Dean is a character who lies and misrepresents his true feelings about what he actually likes and does not like (one of the reasons why his ‘I don’t play for your team’ declarations don’t really hold a lot of water with us)
2) Dean is especially apt to lie about liking things that undermine his own sense of ‘proper’ masculinity (which being queer likely also would in his mind)
Our argument regarding these moments is not Dean likes chick flicks, or Taylor Swift music, or cucumber water, therefore he is queer. That simply IS NOT the argument.
The argument is, Dean repeatedly and consistently hides and denies liking things he actually does like because those things are – in HIS mind – too feminine. This pattern of behavior is explicable by interpreting Dean as queer, given that it would explain why he has so much anxiety about these other ‘threats’ to his masculinity, petty and insignificant though they may be. Him being revealed as queer would also simply fit in with that larger pattern (i.e. he denies being into dudes, because his precious masculinity is threatened by it, and then he eventually breaks down and admits, yeah I actually do like dudes, just like I actually do like silly soap operas, and chick flicks, and Taylor Swift music, and cucumber water, and, and…)
And AGAIN, we’re not making a correlative argument that if you like feminine things (as a man) you are queer, or more likely to be queer. We are arguing that a repeated investment in hiding your actual enjoyment of ‘feminine’ things, as a man, suggests you a) aren’t always honest about what you like, and b) you clearly have some masculinity issues, which could easily be explicable by being closeted. It doesn’t automatically mean that, but those two things often are correlated (having masculinity anxiety and being closeted, as man).
It’s not the liking of feminine things that suggests the queer reading. It’s the initial denial attached to liking feminine things that suggests the queer reading. And not because feminine (in men) = queer, but because anxiety about appearing feminine (in men) implies a potential closeted state (due to the false but still often operative correlation in our culture between male heterosexuality and ‘proper’ masculinity)