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Hypable

As a politically active gay man, I am extremely familiar with the concept of androgyny. Many of my friends are androgynous, gender-neutral, transgender, genderqueer, etc. Seeing a young man who has feminine features is a complete non-issue in my world, so when I saw people in the comments on websites like this making fun of a teenage boy for being somewhat androgynous, I was appalled, to say the least.

I am not a fan of Bieber’s music. Without getting into details about it, let’s just say it’s just not really my style of music. That said, I completely fail to see the reason behind attacking him because of the way he looks. I’ve seen people go as far as photoshopping him into a dress, pointing out his feminine features, and calling him “Justine.” This comes off to me as extremely negative in two distinct ways:

1) The mentality here screams, “Justin looks feminine, which means he’s a woman, which is the worst thing a man can aspire to be.”

Our society tends to portray femininity as negative when those features and behaviors are not associated with a cisgender woman. For those unaware, “cisgender” refers to a person whose body matches the gender identity that is considered appropriate for their sex by society. To be a man and feminine is almost universally considered negative, and it shows how people view women in our culture.

It’s fine for a woman to be masculine or do masculine things (i.e., lesbian porn being fetishized, or the “I’m okay with gay marriage as long as it’s between two women” mentality), but when a man or trans woman does feminine things it’s almost always met with criticism. Much of this comes down to the patriarchy of our society, and we therefore view it as okay for women to be masculine, but not the other way around. Despite years of social progress, women are still often expected to be subservient to men.

The problem here is not just that people are making fun of Bieber for his music, they’re enforcing outdated gender norms on a young man for his physical appearance, something that he’s not in control of. Our society has this social gender binary that can’t possibly pertain to everyone. If you think I’m wrong, ask yourself this simple question. Why is the concept of a feminine man funny to you? What is it about gender non-conformity that makes you uncomfortable?

Femininity is not negative. Men can be feminine, women can be masculine, and not everyone fits so easily into the gender that society sees us as. That leads me into my second point.

2.) These attacks come off as extremely transphobic.

Calling Justin “Justine” and applying a gender to him that he does not identify with trivializes the issues that transgender and gender non-conforming people face every day. The point that I’m trying to make here is that looking feminine doesn’t make one a woman, not looking feminine doesn’t make one a man, nor does behaving any way make someone anything without their consent. Gender is an identity, not a box. In all likelihood, Justin Bieber is a cisgender man who just happens to be a bit androgynous.

Some of you may say that I lack a sense of humor and that I’m just being overly sensitive, but just because people laugh at a joke doesn’t make it funny. I was constantly bullied in high school for being gay and people laughed at me, but I wouldn’t consider bullying to be a form of comedy. The people who make fun of Justin Bieber for looking feminine are the ones who make fun of trans men and women for being who they are. Just because they look “different.”

It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s ignorant.

This article was written by a Hypable user! Learn more and write your own right here.

  • Lando Pando

    Bieber is straight though, right?

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

      I believe so, but that’s not the point here. If I were to cover the homophobia aimed at him due to his perceived sexuality this would have been a MUCH longer article. In this article I am raising a point that most people are unaware of, and I think that most people are aware that Justin Bieber is misconstrued as gay because of his looks, voice, and general behavior.

      • Liderc

        People don’t have Justin because they think he’s gay(he’s dating one of the hottest girls in town), people hate him because his music is terrible and he acts like someone he’s not. 

        Btw, I don’t hate him at all, I just think his music’s crap. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

          Did you even read the article? I’m not a fan of Bieber any more than you, but when people take their dislike to bullying and petty name-calling based off of stereotypes I have a problem with it.

          • Liderc

            Yes I did, thoroughly.  I just think the people you’re pointing this towards aren’t going to hear you because they’re the minority, not the majority. 

            Most people dislike him because of his music and his attitude, like you and I, but I think you’ll find very few dislike him for the reasons you suggested in the article (him looking gay, acting gay, ect…).  That group just happens to be the more vocal group.  

          • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

            Which is what I’m pointing out. I want people to be aware of what bullying like this really boils down to.

      • Guest

        I can see where you’re coming from ‘cos, according to me, even on a normal, sober day, 90% of the internet has no decency. On various discussion forums, I’ve received abuse and rude messages myself, and people assuming that I want to argue with them even when I’ve kept my mouth shut. And you only need to be on the receiving end of such messages to know how hurtful they are. Trolls run the internet, that’s for sure. I suppose if everybody had to reveal their true identity on the internet, all the bullies would run for cover.

  • http://forgiveyourmind.tumblr.com/ Tariq

    He’s not even THAT androgynous. I’ve seen worse on store posters at the mall. But I completely agree. People who call him a girl or make woman jokes at him really irritate me with those comments. 

  • EH

    Well said. It is amazing how hate has become such a major part of society. It seems like everyone wants to complain or point out what they don’t like about someone or something, instead of focusing on the love that we should give to each other as humans. I respect that you don’t like his music, although I think he is much more talented than people give him credit for, and i’m a fan of his. It’s funny to look back at his original YouTube videos before he was famous and all of the comments are about what a cute and talented little boy he was, and now they’re filled with hate….for absolutely no reason.

  • Ida

    I know you said you’re gay and all, but marry me?

    No seriously!

    I. Love. This. Article.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

      I don’t want to alarm you, but… it will be a very uneventful honeymoon.

      • Ida

         I don’t care. As long as I get to attach your last mane to mine, it’s fine. And that’s saying a lot because I swore the only reason I’d change my name is if J.K. Rowling agreed to marry me.

        We can hang out and play x-box.:D

        • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

          I prefer Wii. Let’s play Mario Kart and (if you’re of legal drinking age) have some wicked drinks. I fancy myself a fabulous mixologist. I make one hell of a tequila sour.

          • Ida

            That is an excellent suggestion! I’ll provide the Wii and Mario Kart, you bring the booze. How come I never though of combining the two? Obviously my life has been utter misery until this revelation!

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

    To me, he just looks like a young man. By the picture above I would place him at about 13 or 14, but he’s a bit older than that (18 or 19, right?). I think the fact that he doesn’t look his age really plays into the jokes. I get why people are making fun of him, and I understand that the jokes aren’t necessarily intended to be blatantly hateful or transphobic, but ignorance of the issue is in and of itself is a distinct problem. People need to be aware of how what they say can affect people around them, especially young and impressionable teens and kids. Kids are more intelligent than people think, and they pick up on jokes and what society expects of them. Telling a young kid that being a woman is wrong can be devastating on all ends of the spectrum, whether that child is a cisgender woman, a cisgender man, a trans woman, a trans man, or anything inside or outside of the gender spectrum. If that child is a cis boy, he can grow up to a womanizer. If that child is a woman, she can grow up feeling as though she is less than a man. If that child is a trans woman she will have a much harder time coming to terms with her gender identity than if she had been raised to know that all genders are equal.

    • http://twitter.com/BrandiTiana Brandi Delhagen

      Very insightful article you have here! I commend you for taking on a topic that most teens and young adults are still ignorant of. I am gay myself and have quite a few friends that identify as being trans. I realize that the derrogatory things being said about Justin are definitely more hurtful toward the trans community and the most fitting thing you’ve said is that young kids and teens are extremely impressionable. We are unable to teach the already helpless adults who still to this day make those same comments. I applaud you for this and thanks for bringing light to the LGBTQ community here on hypable!!

  • Tomas

    I have NOTHING against gay people. I don’t hate Bieber because he’s gay! He sings and acts like a toddler, plus he’s an idiot. 

    • EH

      Sings and acts like a………toddler? Can’t say i’ve ever heard that one before. He may have gained a lot of attention, but that “idiot” has helped out tons of charities worldwide, which i’m sure is more than you can say for yourself. STOP with the hate of people you DON’T know, or DO know, famous, not-famous, classmate, family member. You don’t have a to love or be best friends with everyone, but society would be a lot better off if we learned to respect each other. And no, i’m not a crazy Belieber, I don’t think you are required to like him or his music, i’m just fed up with how awful people treat and talk about one another these days.

      • Bob

        People can stop with the hate but not their opinions. My honest opinion is that he is an idiot…. And Tomas thinks the same thing. Now does that mean we hate him? um, no. But he does act like an idiot a lot no matter how many charities he donated to. That is a simple fact. 

        • EH

          BRB giving up on society. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

      No argument here. Have you read his opinions on abortion? Yeesh.

  • rdh014

    That’s funny because all of my gay friends are the ones who call him a lesbian, etc…

    I constantly feel the need to watch my comments around them but quite frankly, they are the worst at it. 

    Beiber is a douche bag who makes crappy music for toddlers. That is why I despise him. 

    • http://twitter.com/AntaraC Antara Chowdhury

      Just because they’re gay, it doesn’t make it okay for them to say things like that.

      This article isn’t about why everyone hates him, or whether or not you like his music, it’s about the people who constantly attack Justin by using “gay” as an insult, and who say that he looks like a girl as if that’s the worst thing in the world.

      • Sarah

        Thank YOU!!!!!!

        • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

          I think he gets it, maybe.

      • rdh014

        Yeah. And I’m saying there are serious double standards out there. 

    • Sarah

      I’m very surprised at comments like yours. Honestly, his music isn’t my favorite because of my dislike towards pop music, but “despising” a kid just because he’s doing his job is extremely immature and hateful. I don’t have respect for people who hate pop culture figures for no reason. It’s silly and not thought out. I’d think twice before posting a hateful comment about someone for no reason because it honestly seems ignorant…

      • rdh014

        I can hate someone if I want to. If I were to say I “hate” Barack Obama, it would be because of the choices he has made and the way he presents himself. But in your opinion that is wrong, because he is just “doing his job”. I have no tolerance for little boys who act like all of the other a-holes out there. Period. 

        • Sarah

          Comparing Bieber to a political figure is again ridiculous. There is absolutely no comparisent. Unlike President Obama, an 18 year old pop singer has no immediate effect on your life what so ever, so… Oh and also, I’m not telling you who you can and can’t hate, I’m merely pointing out the obvious: you “hate” him because your ignorant, and until you give me a reason to think otherwise, I am not recanting that.

    • K

      The funny thing is, most of the transphobia transgender people face comes from gay people.. oh wait, that’s not funny.

  • http://twitter.com/AntaraC Antara Chowdhury

    I agree with this entire article. I’ve said all of this a million times (although perhaps not as eloquently). These are some of the comments on his new music video:
    “What a gay tard”
    “ok, but still he is a girl”
    “he is really gay”
    “fag”
    and there are tons of worse ones.
    I don’t understand why people think it’s okay to say these things.

    • http://www.facebook.com/parth.sanwal Parth Sanwal

      yay…a fellow Indian in this foreign jungle..howdy mam?

  • Anna-FilmGirl

    I loved this article so much; it was well-written, insightful, and just generally fascinating to read. I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Fair play to you. :-)

  • Rosie

    I definitely agree. I’m not the biggest fan of his music, though some of it isn’t bad; but what I really dislike about him is the way he handles his opinions. Like you said in another comment, his opinions on abortion? Just – okay, it’s totally fine to be pro-life. I see your reasoning and although I may not agree with it, but I will respect your opinion. BUT, if you then proceed to tell people who are pro-choice that they are wrong, and, in his case, to say that people who are are not “true fans” of yours if they don’t agree with your view? That’s not a good thing. Considering the number of fans he has, and how dedicated some of them are, it’s very likely that some of them will have had abortions themselves, or be in a situation where they might need one in the future, and their idol is saying THAT? No one should be made to feel bad about a reasoned choice they made.

    (On a similar note, Starkid fans might remember the same thing with Bonnie Gruesen tweeting that all people who have abortions are murderers? I have the same view on that)

    I also don’t agree with him on the view that homosexuality is a choice as a lesbian myself, but he has at least acted respectfully about that. I think he’s even contributed to the It Gets Better project? So if he can act in a mature way about one controversial view he has, why can he not do that with the others, considering he expressed them both in the same interview?

    I do have respect for him as an artist, and I’m sure he’s probably a decent person. I just think he should be able to handle his own views on sensitive topics respectfully and unoffensively.

    • http://twitter.com/AntaraC Antara Chowdhury

      I agree. He was 16 when he made those statements and he’s not exactly educated. In his mind, he thinks “My mom got pregnant when she was 16 and single, and if she had aborted me just because it was a rough situation, I wouldn’t be alive today.” So I get where he’s coming from, but I hope that as he matures and hopefully tries to understand different perspectives, that he’s more respectful about these issues.

      Btw, where did he say that people aren’t “true fans” of his if they don’t agree with his view? I’d like to read the article or watch whatever video it came from.

      • Rosie

        I’m not sure – I think he tweeted it after the initial backlash from the article; it was discussed on on episode of HYPE podcast which is where I heard of it from, so I take it someone must have witnessed this!

        • Issac

          HYPE? where???? lol it’s been about a half a year!

    • Erikd16

      Ok but either pro-choice or pro-life is wrong. They can’t both be right. Either it’s a baby or it’s not. So someone is wrong. I don’t think it’s a problem for Him to say pro-choicers are wrong. They tell pro-lifer’s that their wrong constantly.

      • Hermione Granger

        “Wrong” and “right” in this case are based on personal beliefs, which are opinions. Like with most things, these ideas differ between people depending on what they’ve been taught and who they believe. If there is an absolute wrong and right then I guarantee no human will ever know it. The only things that are absolute in this realm are laws, and if the people believe laws are unjust they advocate for change, but laws cannot be made on strictly a moral basis.

        But back to Bieber–berating people who pay a lot of money for him to be in the position that he is in based on his own opinions is not professional or mature.

        • Rosie

          Just…all of this. Laws are made and change as society does. There are elements of a huge number of ethical theories that combine to make a fair and just legal system, some of which are religious and some are not, but you don’t need a religion to be able to know intrinsically what is right or wrong, otherwise, in today’s secular societies, there would just be complete anarchy. 

          As social change happens, so laws develop to comply with that. It’s why marriage equality is now an issue as same-sex partnerships are more socially open, and that women’s rights  were also a legal issue, and we get rules about abortion and contraception and divorce and all other things from them.

      • Rosie


        Either it’s a baby or it’s not.” 
        That’s not the only consideration to make when considering abortion. Have you heard of Judith Jarvis Thompson’s violinist analogy? What it essentially says is that even if the foetus is a human, it still does not make abortion a form of murder, because no one should be forced to essentially share their body with another person for nine months unless they consent to it.

        (Sorry, I’m currently revising my AS Ethics on abortion, so I hate to sound all preachy and everything, it’s just the mindset I’m currently in!)

        Anyway, my point is not that he’s pro-life. That’s no reason to hate a person; my best friend is adamantly pro-life and I obviously don’t hate her, despite not agreeing with her. My issue with him is how he expressed his views and the fact that the way he did it was, in my opinion, disrespectful. To call people who don’t agree with you “not true fans?”, especially when, as many people above have said, many of his fanbase are extremely dedicated? Can he not consider the idea that there are almost certainly going to be people who are fans of his who have had, or will have need of, an abortion at some point in their lives? And then to go on and say that rape “happens for a reason” is just offensive. 

        Like I said, I’m sure he’s a decent person. He just needs to realise that not everyone will share his views on such sensitive issues and so he should be careful when expressing them.

  • Hehedied

    He just has a big ego, and he thinks he’s all that. And he’s been teasing his fans for like a month, for a video for “girlfriend” that video was boring and lazy. He just has a real big head, and thinks he’s the most talented boy out there. I can care less about his look. It’s his cocky attitude, I’ve seen his interviews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/iDomi Domi Ed

    I agree 100%

    I honestly haven’t seen too much hate like that outside of stupid High School boys.
    Most of his dislike came from online and they didn’t usually mention his looks but his actions and how he may come off to people.

    I suppose I should pay closer attention.
    I am not really a fan of his music ( I do like Boyfriend) and I don’t really care about him or his life but I still think it’s time to lay off the hate based on his feminine looks.

    I didn’t know people were still going on about that.

  • Biebs

    Personally I’m appalled that you chose a very unflattering picture. Justin Bieber is nothing less than the most talented masculine hunk of man I can think of. How dare you Mr. Porter 
    http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m2e0b7lcVf1rtg65wo1_500.jpg

    • Gporter8

      Thank you for missing the point.

      • Biebs

        Actually I solved the problem…he’s no longer effeminate..he now has a beard.

  • Disqus

    I hate the “Biebs” because of his ego, personality, and attitude. Not his physical attributes.

  • Gary65

    Again, my issue with Bieber is that he’s everywhere and that I can’t escape him. Nothing else.

    • sarahd15

      Agreed

    • KristenKranz

      Exactly. I don’t hate the kid. I’m not a fan of his music & his fans are quite… well, boisterous, so its hard to escape them.

  • upper_westsider

    WOW, I never heard comments like that about Bieber.   That’s probably because I don’t pay much attention to stories about him.  I’m not a fan of his music.  To tell the truth, it’s all those SCREAMING fan girls who really annoy me! 

    I don’t get people who make comments like that.  I agree – “It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s ignorant”.  I would also add “it’s pathetic”.

  • Erikd16

    I only disliked him until all of these articles about why I’m a horrible person if I don’t like him came out. Now I’m really in danger of hating him

    • katie

      Suggestion: Read the article, not just the title. Not even the article writer likes his music.

  • katie

    YES. Dear GPorter, I love you so much.
    Bieber’s music is not my cup of tea by ANY means, but it always grinds my gears to hear these attacks. Just recently, a “friend” used “gay” to insult Justin Bieber…How the hell do people STILL think it’s okay to use “gay” as an insult?
    Also, my heart started beating super fast during your whole #1 point, because it is nearly word-for-word what I rant to my shower curtain every week.

  • FlamingC

    Ya he sings like crap, yet he dates hot girls, has a hair-tearing fanbase, and has loads of cash. He’s the last person I’d be worried about being bullied or even being made fun of. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.allen.porter Greg Porter

      You’re missing the point. I understand that he’s in the public eye and is bound to be made fun of, but the kinds of attacks that I see on him have nothing to do with his personality or his musical ability, they make fun of him for looking sort of feminine. I would explain to you why I take issue with that, but I already have in the article above. Read the article again and maybe you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

    • K

      You’re missing the point. It’s not that it’s bullying him, it’s that they’re saying things that generate a harmful mindset to men (transgender men in particular). Just the other day I saw tons of comments on a video of him throwing up saying “Oh, she must be pregnant” or, “Haha her water broke”. As if pregnancy is a female-only thing or it’s funny to say someone is female despite their obvious gender identity. It’s also genderism for using female as an insult.

  • http://twitter.com/NatashaPeartree Natasha Pereira

    cant say im a belieber but i do love this article!

  • Elizabeth

    Justin Bieber has people every where to pick him back up so noithing you people say can bring him down!

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