Jun 2, 2013

THE PERILOUS WORLD WHERE BOYS BECOME MEN: "Homophobia and sexism go hand-in-hand."

Maya Dusenbery at The Atlantic points out what a lot of us who are gay have always known, the intimate connection between homophobia and misogyny.  Homophobia always played a central role in enforcing gender norms and heteronormative conformity.

¨There's no doubt those are stereotypes that need unpacking. Sociologists have long noted that homophobia is a fundamental ingredient of masculinity in modern American culture. In his seminal 1994 article "Masculinity as Homophobia," sociologist Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, argued that "homophobia is a central organizing principle of our cultural definition of manhood." Since homosexuality is associated with femininity, feminizing and anti-gay comments are the primary mechanism for enforcing the boundaries of masculinity. If a guy steps ever so slightly outside of gender norms, his peers will bring him back into line by calling his heterosexuality into question (which implicitly challenges his gender). The pressure to prove and re-prove hetereosexuality is part of what it means to "be a man"—and it pushes men to embrace both homophobia and hypermasculinity. "Homophobia, the fear of being perceived as gay, as not a real man, keeps men exaggerating all the traditional rules of masculinity, including sexual predation with women," Kimmel wrote. "Homophobia and sexism go hand-in-hand." 

Homophobia, then, is not simply social disapproval and discrimination against gay people, but an entire cultural structure that disqualifying all but the "most virulent repudiators of femininity" from "real manhood"—in the process upholding gender inequality and maintaining a hierarchy of men based on sexuality, race, class, ability, and so on.¨

My only argument with this is that I don't think the connection between homophobia and misogyny is all that particularly American.  I look at anti-gay violence in Eastern Europe and the very large role that both misogyny and homophobia play in religious fundamentalist movements of all faiths around the world, and how these attitudes play a central role in anti-imperial resentments in Africa and the Middle East, and I conclude that this unholy alliance between fag-baiting and chick hating is universally male.  "Being a Man" around the world depends on how far a man can distance himself from women and from all things identified as feminine.  And what better way to distance himself than by despising those things extravagantly and hating them violently?...¨ please read it all, Thanks to Doug at Counterlight's Peculiars: 

No comments: