A Version of “Fag Hag” in the Philippines?

There have been a number of stereotypes in modern media and popular culture that characterize women who associate regularly with gay men. Although past literature has suggested that women who hang out with gay men are perceived as unattractive and craving male attention, many other media sources depict these women as being gregarious, attractive, and liberal-minded. While women who frequently associate with gay men are often seen in American culture, similar groups of women are being noticed in the Philippines. In America, people term these women as “fag hags” and “fruit flies”, however in the Philippines, these women are referred to as “Babaeng Bakla”.

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A recent study conducted in the Philippines explored the unique traits that set apart “Babaeng Bakla” women from other Filipino women1. Psychologists in the Philippines recruited thirty-nine self-identified “babaeng bakla” straight women and had them answer a number of personality measures. The results revealed that “babaeng bakla” women scored differently on these measures compared to other Filipino women: “Babaeng bakla” women scored higher on personality traits related to “Openness” and facets related to “Extraversion”. Specifically, “babaeng bakla” women had higher scores on measures of (1) assertiveness and (2) excitement-seeking. The authors of the study suggest that women who associate with gay men in the Philippines may be more likely to be open to diverse ideas, seek out stimulating situations, and be more socially dominant (i.e., enjoy leadership roles).

In the second part of their study, the psychologists recruited 35 more “babaeng bakla” women and 57 non-“babaeng bakla” women, and these two groups of women were compared based on indigenous traits relevant to Filipino culture. Again, “babaeng bakla” women exhibited different personality traits compared to non-“babaeng bakla” women. Particularly, women who were considered “babaeng bakla” tended to be more outgoing, gregarious, cheerful and humor-oriented, and vocal and talkative.

Together, this research suggests that women who associate with gay men in Filipino culture (i.e., Babaeng Bakla, or the Filipino version of a “fruit fly”) share a particular set of personality traits that set them apart from non-“babaeng bakla” women. Moreover, this study provides evidence that the unique bond that straight women share with gay men exists across cultures.

References:

1. Torre, B. A., & Manalastas, E. J. (2013). Babaeng bakla: Friendships between women and gay men in Philippines. Philippine Journal of Psychology, 46(2), 149-163.

 

Confessions of a “Fag Hag”

By: Ashley Hart

Personally, the term “fag hag” is something I will identify with only with friends. It has become an inside joke; immediately forgiven and accepted as fact. Outside of that relationship, it makes me feel like a creepy old witch who collects gay men like mail-order Precious Moments figurines. I didn’t hunt down gay men with Liza Minnelli tickets in hopes they would be my friends. Obvious gay man stereotype aside, it wasn’t a conscious decision to be a “fag hag.” I happen to come from a family where the LGTBQ community was accepted and during my undergraduate years my best friends happened to be gay. As a “fag hag” (please someone come up with a better term), I was subjected to stereotypes. Surely, I must have dated him before he came out a) as his cover or b) because I had no idea he was gay. Also, since I am a “fag hag” I am automatically a loud, broad-like character who struts around in extravagant clothes and is perpetually single.

fag hag buttonDear people of the world, do you like being put in a box because of a label? Me either.

There is a level of comfort that can be provided by gay men. Men and women think differently. Our approaches to various situations differ. By having a gay friend, I am able to discuss potential partners freely without having to worry whether or not there is sexual tension between him and myself. I have straight male friends and anytime I mention someone I’m interested in I am usually met with the responses “Why are you asking me?” and “I don’t know.” Meanwhile I talk to my gay friend and he will be bluntly honest, which is all I really need in the moment. Alternatively, we can be each other’s wing-people. There is no competition between us and there is no underlying reasons to purposely hinder our advances. It is not about gay and straight: it is about being genuine with another person.

The LGTBQ community has taken ownership over the word “Queer,” a word formerly used as a social slur. Overtime it has been embraced and has become a term that swiftly identifies one as a member of the LGTBQ community without need of further definition (or a break-down of an every-growing acronym). Meanwhile, the term “fag” is still looked down upon and considered derogatory. By forcing it into a cute rhyme scheme with the word “hag” (cue the Witch’s theme from The Wizard of Oz) you are forgiven the offense. It doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t even make sense. Two negatives may make a positive in math, but in a social setting, it just makes things awkward. It is like being outed as a gay man groupie, which you’re not. Meanwhile, straight men who are good friends with gay men are deemed “fag stags.” Why are they this majestic creature in the woods, and why are women becoming the fairy tale character who eats children?

So for your personal entertainment here is a list of other colloquialisms that seem to embrace a smattering of potentially offensive terms:

salkdfjlkStraight Man-Gay Man: “Fag Stag”

Straight Woman-Gay Man: “Fag Hag,” “Queen Bee,” “Homo Honey,” “Fruit Loop,” “Goldilocks,” “Flame Dame,” “Fairy Princess,” “Gabe,” “Cherry Fairy,” “Queer Dear,” “Gayboy Bunny” (this one is for the more attractive “fag hags” that are in stable relationships)

Lesbian Woman-Straight Man: “Dutch Boy”, “Lesbro”, “Dyke Tyke,” “Dikey Likey” (UK)

All Of The Above-Gay Men: “Fruit Flies”

A good rule of thumb is to use these terms with caution. Words have significant power and you do not want to abuse it. As a straight woman, I have a right to determine which title I identify with, just as much as other members of the LGTBQ community. For all intents and purposes, I am an Ally. I have to know you better before I tell you the intricacies of my private life.

 

Ashley Hart is a current graduate student at Florida State University. She is pursuing her master’s degree in literature and cultural studies.