• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8
  9. 9
    9

Homophobia: a Definition

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Homophobia: a Definition Even well-educated people seem not to know what the word "homophobia" actually means outside the political arena where the word is said to be nothing but an empty political charge. I'm sure that the charge of homophobia is sometimes made purely as a political tactic. But that fact should not make us blind to the other fact--that real homophobia also exists, and sometimes the use of the word is denotatively correct. However, recognizing that the word is sometimes validly used in a technically accurate way requires that the hearer know the technical meaning of the word. So here's my attempt to explain the technical meaning of the word. The word "homophobia" was coined by a New York psychotherapist, George Weinberg, in 1972, based on his observation of a pattern of irrational behavior in patients he worked with. He noted in these patients a pattern of irrational fear, revulsion and distrust of homosexuals that was sometimes translated into hostility and even rage towards them. These feelings were irrational in the sense that they were not grounded in reality and were very resistant to change based on factual information that contradicted the false beliefs with which they justified their feelings. Irrationality Like phobias, these feelings are obsessive and irrational--that is, they are feelings that (1) are not based on real-world experiences or actual dangerousness of that which is feared or hated, (2) are resistant to change when the "reasons" for the feelings are demonstrated to be false, and (3) may involve an intensity of feelings that are disproportionate to any perceived problem about homosexuality. For instance, despite their strong feelings, homophobes did not develop their phobia from bad experiences they had with actual homosexuals. In fact, most homophobes report that they don't know any homosexuals. Their prejudices are, in other words, not based on real-world experience. That's one part of the irrationality of homophobia. ...read more.

Middle

This term is later merged with words like "queer", "fairy", and "fag", in similar anxiety-laden situations as a masculine "out-group" identifier. Notice, that I am saying that the real referent of homophobia is not homosexuals, but fear of not being accepted as a normal member of one's gender category by one's peers. This is why people who have never knowingly met a homosexual can be homophobic--an important part of the "irrationality" of homophobia. The source of the feelings is not, in fact, real-world characteristics of homosexuals, but personal anxiety about not being a "real boy", not being "masculine", not being a "real man" in the eyes of one's peers. When the earlier words such as "sissy" are later equated with "fags", "queers", or the like, children transform their understanding of those feelings of personal inadequacy into feelings of disgust for "homosexuals". This is easy enough to do--even easier if one doesn't have any homosexual friends, since dislike for (supposedly) evil Others is psychologically more tolerable than feeling personally inadequate--especially when the potential inadequacy strikes as close to the root of personal identity as does "unmanliness". Homophobia develops when "(Everybody thinks) I'm a sissy" is sublimated into "We hate sissies/homosexuals". In homophobic thinking, one affirms one's own masculinity. This is why false stereotypes about the "effeminacy" of homosexual males is such a pervasive an element of homophobic thinking. And this is why the false stereotypes about homosexuals are so resistant to change--because they permit the believer in those stereotypes to feel better about themselves as men and members of their heterosexual reference group. Homophobic language not only also links the term "homosexual" (and all of its pejorative equivalents) with a variety of ideas that communicate nonmasculinity (e.g., "Homosexuals tend to prefer feminine occupations such as hairdresser, florist, and interior decorator."), but it also links the concept of "homosexual" with all those childhood feelings and anxieties that express our worries about not being "masculine" enough to be accepted by our male peer group. ...read more.

Conclusion

to cramp their creativeness (e.g., witch persecutions, campaigns against midwives and female healers, definition of male pursuits as more valuable, the restriction of female fulfillment to marriage ad motherhood, sexual exploitation of women in pornography, erasure of female tradition), and (8) to withhold from women large areas of the society's knowledge and cultural attainments (e.g., noneducation of females--60% of the worlds illiterates are women, gender-role stereotyping that deflects women from science, technology, and other "masculine" pursuits, male-bonding in social and professional settings--so-called men's clubs that exclude women from upward social mobility, and discrimination against women in the professions). These and other social mechanisms limit women's roles to heterosexual bonding with men as the only acceptable means for personal fulfillment. The stigma of homosexuality is a part of heterosexism and it pervades all mainstream institutions. For instance, homophobia is taken for granted in government, the military, religion, and academe. CASE IN POINT: Homosexuals are discharged from the U.S. military for merely declaring their sexual orientation even if they have not been charged for homosexual behavior. In contrast, heterosexual behavior is tolerated and braggadocio about heterosexual exploits while on weekend leave is standard fare in barracks culture with no repercussions. In fact the inclusion of heterosexual conquest as part of the symbolism of true warriorhood is part of the informal socialization of men into their military roles and accepted as "morale building." An excellent illustration of this heterosexism are the traditional "Molly calls" that drill sergeants had their men sing to maintain the cadence of the march. Molly calls were replete with lewd lyrics about heterosexual sexual conquest. Similarly, the towns nearest military bases have long been hotbeds of heterosexual prostitution, and in foreign settings at war time it has been common for military policy to actually facilitate access with prostitutes, sometimes even routinely allowing them to come onto base to fraternize with the warriors. It is therefore unsurprising to know that the Pentagon regards the very presence of (even chaste) homosexuals as a threat to "unit cohesion" and military morale. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays

  1. Gender is determined by society, forming a self-concept whether we are male or female ...

    Bem found from her normative data, that although social attraction correlated with masculinity and femininity, it did not correlate with androgyny. Bem built into her scale a check to see whether it is likely the subject is simply trying to give a complimentary conception of them.

  2. Over the years there have been many theories of why rape occurs. Although rape ...

    Cowling M 2002, rape and sexual assault notes, theories of rape; 4) Check this. Dworkin (1974) argued that 'Looking for a man not caught up in male power was like looking for a needle in a haystack (Cowling M: 5, rape and d sexual assault notes).

  1. Examine the contradictions in the ideologies and experiences of motherhood.

    Some state that the reason teenagers become mothers are so they could obtain a good house from the authorities although this claim lacks much evidence. Here it could be seen that young mothers are a devalued group: "young women are in a devalued group of mother" (Phoenix 1991:100)

  2. Sociology: Arranged Marriage Coursework

    environment, it is likely that the child wouldn't disappoint their parents by going against their wishes. Those kids who are brought up in a more relaxed environment are likely to speak as freely since their parents probably expect them to.

  1. Max Weber: Basic Terms (The Fundamental Concepts of Sociology)

    complete absence of appropriate of position by incumbent 7) acts, rules and decisions are formulated and recorded in writing BUREAUCRACY, almost the same... 1) office holders personally free and subject to authority only within the scope of their impersonal official obligations 2)

  2. This paper will analyse the personal advertisements placed by heterosexual men and women and ...

    Different Genders and Sexual Identities. Gender and sexuality provide two of the most basic narratives through which identities are forged (Woodward, 1997, p. 184). Identity is first of all a gendered category with its characteristics thought to derive from fundamental differences in male and female sexuality (Woodward, 1997, p. 185).

  1. Crime - 'The media portrays ethnic minorities in negative ways', Discuss.

    I decided to ask this question because I wanted to know how the media portrays certain characters through the media i.e. positive and negative characters. I asked this question to see if I was correct about what I thought and through my findings I was correct because ethnic minorities aren't

  2. Construction of Childhood

    and young people are given the opportunity to be safe, thrive and have an equal existence in life. The various acts over the years on Child Protection raises the issue that children should be protected from any form of abuse, physically or mentally, given them the chance to meet their own individual needs.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work