"Homophobia" construct?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by 73BARMYPgsp, May 13, 2008.

  1. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Another post on here got me wondering if the construct of "homophobia" has been clearly identified and validated? I know there a lot of people who like to throw the term around in order to end the debate when they encounter someone who they disagree with (ie- You are a "racist/homophobe/bigot/sexist/anti-woman..." then the discussion is over). But what does it actually mean?
     
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  3. SeaSquirt

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    The word "phobia" refers to an intense fear of something. Arachnophobia is severe fears of spiders - someone with that phobia would experience physical reactions to seeing a spider (labored breathing, breaking out in sweats, trembling, increased BP - sympathetic NS kicking in).

    Homophobia, therefore, would be an intense fear of gay people. This is an incorrect term, since what people mean to convey is an animosity or intolerance towards gay people.
     
  4. JockNerd

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    It's usually used as a blanket term to describe negative affect toward lgb persons, usually measured with the Attitudes toward Gays and Lesbians scale (or Attitudes Regarding Bisexuals Scale). The leading researcher on the topic would be Greg Herek, http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/bio.html, though others have done work in the area too.

    Homophobia is more a popculture-y term now, and more recent research usually replaces it with the construct of heterosexism, which includes things like heterosexual assumptions that aren't captured by homophobia but are often more useful than negative affect toward lgb persons. The ATGL and ARBS mentioned above are still very often used and have been validated in dozens of samples (see Herek's page; you can find the measures online for free to look at item content).
     
  5. Thrak

    Thrak RU experienced?

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    I think "homophobia" became the choice term because it's harder to counterpunch. Anti-homosexual could be countered by "well, of course I'm anti-homosexual, they're immoral and against nature and against God's will and..." yadda yadda yadda. So someone who's proudly anti-homosexual will still win points with those that believe the way he/she does, and gives them an opening to defend their beliefs. Think anti-abortion or anti-war.

    "Homophobic" uses "phobia," a medical/psychological term for a type of disorder. As in, if you have that phobia, there's something not normal about you, something wrong. As in, "you're homophobic, you're the one with the problem." It subtly makes the suggestion that if you're not ok with homosexuals, you have a mental defect.

    I think it's definitely an incorrect term. If you throw a homophobe into the middle of Stonewall during happy hour, I don't think you'll get the same reaction as if you dragged an agoraphobic person onto a city sidewalk during rush hour. "Fear" is not the same as "hate" or "disgust".

    At the same time, I do find the revulsion that homophobes seem to feel against homosexuals to be as irrational as a fear of a number. Maybe there is a kind of mental defect attached to it.
     
  6. MaddieMay

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    Yeah, there's the whole "fear is the root of anger/disgust" concept.
     
  7. cmuhooligan

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    Although I think the term homophobia is used too often and incorrectly, I do believe there is a small subsection of individuals who literally do display a phobic reaction to gays and lesbians, and thus "homophobic" could be an apropos label for them.
     
  8. psychanon

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    A little etymology lesson: Although the suffix "-phobic" often means "fear of," it can also mean "lack of affinity for" or "hatred of." For example, hydrophobic molecules repel water (as opposed to hydrophilic molecules, which literally means water-loving), but most likely aren't actually afraid of water. In the case of homophobia, the term is meant to imply that the person dislikes/ hates gay people, and not necessarily that they're afraid of them, although we could certainly argue about the origin of hatred being fear. So it is linguistically accurate to say someone who hates gays as being homophobic, even if they're not afraid of gays per se.

    To return to the original question: I think that the problem with using the term homophobia in psychological research is that it is a value-laden, socially-constructed term, similar to racism. Although I (and most people here, I'm guessing) think that homophobia is a despicable attitude, when conducting research we should really use more value-neutral terms. In addition, as the OP points out, there is no universal definition of homophobia, and there's a risk of the construct drifting to encompass both violent bigotry and unintentional heterocentrism, which are really separate concepts.
     
  9. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Very interesting points of discussion all. So my follow up question would be this-

    If a person who holds no negative affect towards LGBTQ *BUT* is not sure or is on the fence about something like same sex marriage (not sure what I think about it) is it just automatically assumed that the person is anti-homosexual? In other words, I believe there are reasons to not be sure if changing the 6,000 year old definition of marriage is self-evidently a good thing because we in the early 21st century have decided it to be so. To be clear--I want all humans, regardless of sexual orientation to be treated with respect, not harmed, not ostracized, allowed to live a full and happy life without fear of being persecuted for being whatever they want to be. If my son says "that's gay" I give him a pretty hard time about it, for example.
     
  10. JockNerd

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    No, attitudes toward civil rights are typically assessed separately. I don't know if there's a dedicated scale but one subscale of Worthington's LGB-KASH scale taps this, I think.

    Oh, and you mean the 6000-year old definition of marriage that makes women objects to be traded for horses and cows? Or maybe the binding "till death do us part" one that it's totally reasonable to enforce.

    And I can certainly see how that's not ostracizing, disrespectful, or harmful, since separate is obviously equal.

    :rolleyes:

    I'm amazed that what's so obvious to me isn't obvious to others, sometimes....
     
  11. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    And this is why I don't usually get into these discussion with 99% of my collegues. It is not possible to have them without the attacks. I'm out smart ***.
     
  12. Thrak

    Thrak RU experienced?

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    It's not really a 6,000 year old definition of marriage though. The idea that marriage is supposed to be a monogamous institution between one man and one woman isn't even practiced by everyone across the world today. And the idea that people marry out of love is far from universal.

    Marriage is two things, at least in the United States. A civil matter, and potentially a religious one. The religious responsibilities incumbent upon a married couple differ between religions. The civil rights and responsibilities differ a bit depending on the state you're in, but when broken down, marriage in the eyes of the State is an omnibus contract. From my perspective (and that of more and more people I meet), is that since it's a civil matter, the State shouldn't care what the genders are of the two people entering into the contract any more than it cares about them in any other contract. Marriage has been divorced (no pun intended) from the "traditional" purposes of property consolidation and procreation. If this wasn't the case, I wouldn't have been legally allowed to get married (I've been sterilized), nor would infertile people, or women past menopause.

    I feel we *are* actually in a much different place in society than we have been even 100 years ago, at least in the West. Our ability to control our fertility (without generally reverting to infanticide) is at a much stronger place than in the past. Our family sizes are shrinking, we're living longer, and frequently further away from extended family members. We're on a different playing field, but our overall thinking hasn't caught up to it yet. The rulebook doesn't necessarily apply anymore, but it takes time to change the rules. We're collectively always playing catch-up.

    Case in point, the gay rights movement has progressed really, really rapidly over the past 40 years. Hell, just look at television. The "shocking" lesbian kiss on Ellen happened in 1997. It took six year to go from that to "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Society, especially the more conservative parts of it, don't adjust that quickly. If 30 years ago, someone told us that gays would be legally allowed to get married in some states, we would have asked them for a hit off their bong. We're not even much further removed from classifying homosexuality as a mental disorder!

    As a straight guy, I don't have standing to answer your question about whether not being sure if gay marriage should be allowed is anti-homosexual. I can pretty safely say that if you believe there should be a Constitutional amendment preventing gays from getting married, then you're anti-homosexual.
     
  13. JockNerd

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    I'm not clear on how pointing on an inconsistency is a personal attack, while someone saying that I don't deserve civil rights afforded to everyone else isn't.

    ANYWAY...
     
  14. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Really? You must have never heard the word "imply" then. It is just as amazing to me the hubris that is involved with being in graduate school. I do not walk in lock step with every paradigm of the "in crowd" at school, (because I am a dreaded conservative) therefore I must keep it to myself. And these are the people who are supposed to be so "tolerant." Tolerance only extends to diversity of race/gender/culture/SES, but not of thought. The burden of explaining why we should just up and change this crucial piece of what it means to be married is on those who want to change it. Too bad, since I am on the fence as stated before, someone might have actually swayed me in one direction or another.
     
  15. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    This is kind of where I am leaning (and have been for a long time). In my heart of hearts, I am have strong libertarian leanings. That part of me says that marriage should be conisdered strictly a religious institution, and in that case, churches can call whomever they want "married." However, if 2 people (or 3 people and a cell phone) want to enter into a contract wherein the other person is designated as being allowed to visit in the hopsital, receive health care beneifts, etc then go for it. Call it civil union or whatever. That way you avoid the possibility of more conservative religious institutions who wish to disallow other, non-tradition forms of marriage being sued for entry into their organization.
     
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  17. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    I am also a conservative of sorts, but not in the right wing religious way, more in the founding fathers libertarian kind of perspective.

    I think that marriage should probably be looked at as a religious construct. The government's role, in my opinion, is that of binding a contract. I think all "marriages" should be considered civil unions in the eyes of the government. That is the viewpoint most consistent with freedom and small government in my eyes. In other words, I see that as the true conservative viewpoint.
     
  18. JockNerd

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    So, I'm supposed to be tolerant of... intolerance?

    I think we're not playing on the same field. I'm not saying "you shouldn't be able to say such things," I'm saying "your idea is wrong," and I said why. This conceptualization of marriage doesn't have much of a basis in human history beyond the fact that it's men marrying women (though usually not just one of the latter). And anyway, saying "it's always been done this way" isn't much of a point.

    This is different from "tolerance of thought," because it's not just thought; marriage laws (and adoption laws and whatever else) have direct impacts on people's lives. I tolerate opinions that diverge from my own; I don't tolerate the civil rights and freedoms of a group being abused. So, I'm all for gay marriage as well as the right of religious groups to say "we don't do that," and individual religious leaders to refuse to conduct the marriage ceremonies.
     
  19. JockNerd

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    Oh, I totally agree; I've been saying this for years. Government should mandate civil unions for everyone, same or other-sex, and religions can do whatever they want with marriages.
     
  20. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    But it is not "gay marriage." It is important to make the distinction between that and "same sex" marriage. Gays can marry-the opposite sex. I cannot marry my dog, nor can I marry 5 people, no matter how much we all love each other. And since "2 people who love each other" is the only criterion given in order to make the case, than I should be able to marry whomever (or however may) people I love and who love me back. Right now, the restriction is one man/one woman. But I defer to my earlier point about the government getting out of the marriage buisiness anyway, because I really don't care what it is called. However, I do realize that the majority of Americans are uncomfortable with it, and that does matter to me.

    But I said before, and reiterate, I cannot have this position around the vast majority of my colleagues without being called intolerant. You don't have to be "tolerant of intolerance," but maybe listen to the point of view of the other. I said nothing in anger or hostility until you made fun of me with the horses and cows remarks. The "gosh why doesn't everyone else see it like me" stuff implying that I am stupid is called narcissism and really helps me see it your way.
     
  21. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    it wasn't that long ago that marriage was in fact a union of two people -- that most marriages were in fact what we now call common law -- two people deciding to be married, referring to themselves a such, etc. only in the past few hundred years has marriage become dominated soley by religion.

    i'm a lapsed jew and my fiancee is a lapsed catholic. i wish we could have a civil union instead of a "marriage". certainly no rabbi or priest will be involved.
     
  22. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Well, this has been fun. However, I have three back to back patients to see right now, and one of them is **gasp** gay. I can't believe my school lets me do therapy. I will try my best to keep my virtiolic, stupid, intolerant views to myself. Wish me luck.
     
  23. JockNerd

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    Comments like these are far beyond insulting. My love for my partner is like a person's love for his dog?

    I don't really follow this, except for the last sentence, and majority opinions on things like this don't really matter to me; people around the world are in favor of harming and oppressing others; it's not a rational reason.

    I wasn't making fun, I was pointing out an inconsistency. I might have done it more tactfully but I doubt that would have changed the reaction. I've listened to the other point of view, that's why I think it's incorrect. I think that perhaps you don't perceive that to a gay man, saying that we shouldn't have the same rights as others or that our love is equivalent to bestiality or simple affection (whatever that above comment was alluding to) is indeed hostile.

    I am probably pretty narcissistic. Oh, well.
     
  24. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    i'm sorry, this kind of attitude reads as a total cop-out.

    sure, maybe people that disagree with you are just narrow minded liberals who see all non-liberals as pat roberts clones. some do, many do (i work with a lot of those, and it is boring and annoying). but it's also possible to have no maliace or prejudice per se against someone, and yet for all intents and purposes be homophobic (or racist or whatever). if your political beliefs, in action, compromise someones elses civil rights (thier percieved civil rights, if that works for you), they are gonna see you as homophobic.

    are you, really? that thing this is prejudice, that is homophobia, do ALL people who think that gays should not have the same opportunities as non gays have prejudice inside them? i think it's just semantics. people have all sorts of different reasons for thier beliefs, some driven out of fear and some philosophically or faith-based, but for a gay couple that can't get married or civil unionized or whatever, who believe, as i do, that they are people and that thier families are real families, do you think it matters what thoughts motivate how you vote, or how much you like your gay freinds or colleauges or clients?
     
  25. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    It is only related to beastiality if you think marriage is about sex. And nowadays, marriage has become entirely about self-fulfillment and has nothing to do with family, commitment, transmitting values to the next generation, etc. So in that sense, I guess you are right.

    And why no response to the bigamy question? Those are all people, and they love each other. Soon after same sex marriages become the norm (and they will) there will be a lawsuit from 4 people who want to get married. And their argument will be "we are people, and we love each other. Why are we being discriminated against?" And the answer will be "because everyone knows marriage is for ONLY 2 people, and it has always been that way."
     
  26. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    This is what I am talking about. Why do you include "who believe as I do that they are people and that are families are real familes" unless it is to imply that I don't think this. It is a backhanded way of accusing me of thinking that they are not people, and that their families are not real. You are loving, tolerant, and I am not. It is so BLACK AND WHITE which is what people like myself constantly are accused of. Why can't I think that they are all the same things you do, and have ambivolence about same sex marriage? It's called having a sophisticated range of emotions and thoughts. I can actually SEE your (and JockNerd's) point of view and is compelling and thought provoking. It raises so may questions about laws, discrimination, etc and gives me plenty to think about. Being able to see things from the other persons perspective without judging their motives starts to develop at around 3-4. You'll get there.
     
  27. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    but you can't see my point of view. you aren't. actually, from one of your earlier posts, it seems that we have a similar view in that marriage and civil union may best be seen as seperate instutitions. what i'm talking about is how someone who is tolerant and open can be racist or homophobic or sexist.

    i'm not saying that you aren't a loving tolerant person. i'm saying it doesn't matter to some at the other end of it. it doesn't. you are the one seeing things in black and white, and who persits in thinking that everyone else is denying YOUR basic humanity. to someone who wants to to be able to have a legal family structure, through marriage or civil union or whtever, it doesn't really matter if votes that deny this are cast by a sweet, charming, and generous person. this goes back to the initial discussion -- how do we define a homophobic or racist or sexist or whatever act? do the people who feel that they were discriminated against define it? does the actor have any say in how her/his actions are defined?

    you can think and feel and express whatever you want, but don't be a baby (well, maybe a 3-4 year old) when people actually care passionately about something you have opinions on. you get to get your feelings hurt about being seen as intolerant, so they get to react too, and let you know about it. life is messy and people don't always like everything you say and think (but that doesn't mean that they hate you either, we're all complex, just like you). deal.
     
  28. JockNerd

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    I think you're aware of my opinion. I don't think you see my point of view.

    Oy vey... concise replies to everything else...
    I wasn't sure if you were refering to bestiality or just affection, which is why I wrote "bestiality or affection." I'm not insulted by being compared to a bigamist, so I didn't mention it. Slippery slope arguments aren't rational in and of themselves; that someone might try to marry a chair later doesn't have any relation to same-sex marriages now.
     
  29. Ollie123

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    This is a problem with really any major political issue, you see the same thing across a variety of topics. Anti-abortion means you hate women, anti-Iraq-war means you hate our soldiers and love terrorists, anti-Bush means you hate America, etc.

    I'm a political weirdo in that I'm neither democrat nor republican but have very strong feelings that lead me in either direction at times. For example, I'm about as pro-gay-rights as one can be (democrat), but I also think we are WAY too soft on crime in many ways (republican). Before someone comments on this, those are two entirely separate thoughts and I don't associate gays and crime in any way;) Think most folks here know me better than that, but figured I'd be pre-emptive about it anyways.

    The reality with politics is that no matter the issue, it is a very personal issue for SOMEONE out there. So regardless of what stance you take, someone feels they, or their rights, are being violated. Whether they are justified in feeling that way is really a separate issue. I think that's actually the interesting and important part, but unfortunately politics is all about who can yell the loudest, and logic doesn't really factor into things to the degree it should.

    Anyways, that was mostly off-topic. I think homophobia does get tossed around alot without any strong justification, but I also think a disturbing large segment of the population actually CAN justifiably be called homophobic. I don't know if we yet have a formal working definition within psychology. I don't think the prototypical "homophobe" would present with the same symptoms as any other specific phobia, so I'm not sure it should have a place in the DSM - or if it does, we should probably come up with a new word for it rather than use one that already has an established social/political definition.

    Edit: As an aside, I actually don't care if the government wants to make it so you can marry 5, 10, or 20 people at the same time. Provided its done fairly and isn't only "1 man can marry many women, but 1 woman can't marry many men" or something like that. There would obviously be alot of crap to work out with regards to taxes, shared property, etc. but I don't care. I also agree that the government just needs to recognize everything the same, and let the churches do their own thing, however they want to work that out. Call it a civil union and let the churches have marriage, call it marriage and make the church invent some kind of "holy marriage", whatever. Separation of church and state. A concept that all too often gets ignored in this country.
     
  30. sparkleflower

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    This fascinates me. How, exactly, does someone else marrying a same sex partner (or partners) affect your life in any way? Why does this matter to you? If you don't want to marry a guy, don't. If you don't want to marry more than one person, don't. I honestly don't see how it could be any simpler.
     
  31. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    The dog, like a child (the other common comparison I hear in this argument) is not capable of consent. In my opinion, the consenting adults part of the argument is the critical piece. I also don't consider this to be a democrat position and the opposite to be a republican position. For one thing, I can't consider any position I take to be a democratic party position :) I can't stand the liberal left; I know, intolerant, but they bug the **** out of me. In my opinion, the republican party has been hijacked by the religious right. I think the religious right is very similar to the PC police on the left. Both want to control thought and both are irrational. But, I don't really want to get into how religion is an irrational decision in this argument.

    I think the gay marriage issue is a freedom issue. And, I would like to see it get passed as I want our society to be as free as it can be. Religion is never a good source for freedom and the anti-gay marriage debate is rooted in the religious members of our society.
     
  32. Thrak

    Thrak RU experienced?

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    Which, in and of itself, is incorrect. Plenty of bible stories about men with many wives.

    (and before I go further, developments in California)

    The problem with bigamy is the problem with our current legal marriage situation. When people get married, they are entitled to many rights and responsibilities. They also don't get a list of what those rights and responsibilities are. There was a court case at some point in the past (I can find out from my wife what it was) in which a husband got sick/injured, and hired a health aide to take care of him while she worked. In whichever state this was, part of the duties of a spouse was to care for the other in the case of illness/injury. There was no provision for delegating that care to someone else. In some states, there is no allowance for extramarital sex, even if both parties are aware and consent to it. People in open marriages are screwed (pun intended).

    Adding more people to the contract will get messy. If the rights and responsibilities are not delineated, how can people delegate primary and secondary rights to each spouse? Who wins on a tie? If you marry two people, and those two people marry each other, can you divorce one? How will citizenship work if you're married to a foreign national who wants to become a citizen? Can you marry a hundred people for this purpose? The laws will have to catch up, and it takes a long time for that to happen (I'd argue that sometimes they never catch up in some cases.)

    Gay marriage is easy. For the most part, it keeps marriage the same, it just opens it up to more of the population. It's akin to when miscengenation laws were taken off the books.

    The purpose of marriage is in flux right now, and I think it has less to do with our values changing, and more to do with people being honest about what marriage pretended to mean vs what it actually meant. There have always been marriages in which the couple didn't want to have children. There have always been marriages in which at least one of the two people was homosexual or bisexual. There have always been marriages in which a third "close friend" lived either with the couple or nearby. There have always been open marriages, sexless marriages, and "political" marriages where the union was more about keeping up appearances than sharing a life together. The only difference is now people are more open about these facts, and society as a whole is having trouble adjusting to the bright light that's been cast upon it.

    I just don't see how allowing homosexuals to marry would negatively affect things for society, and by no means can I see how any negative effects could outweigh the injury created by denying them the same rights as heterosexuals.
     
  33. Cosmo75

    Cosmo75 Post-Doctoral Fellow

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    Agree with this here 100% (as a recovered Catholic)

    Also agree with the everyone gets a civil union opinions floated around on this thread.

    I know this has been asked during these debates in the past. But, if the bible is our basis in the U.S. for the so-often thrown around "definition" of marriage, then why are so many other scriptures that were once considered law now viewed as outdated, or even backward, by today's social standards? Nobody seems to ever be able to answer that question without some sort of circular reasoning.

    To the original question...I often hear people say "I'm not homophobic but....as long as they don't do it in front of me I'm ok with it." Or follow it up with some sort of crude joke with some uncomfortable chuckles. I'm floored that they think this type of discussion is OK. All forms of discrimination are on a continuum and are not dichotomous. So, at what point on the continuum does behavior meet the definition of "homophobia"? I'd say those who run around making statements like the one I just mentioned do, even though they don't consider themselves as being so. I liken it to a Caucasian saying "I'm not racist but...as long as those Mexicans don't speak Spanish in front of me I'm ok with them."

    My $.02
     
  34. 73BARMYPgsp

    73BARMYPgsp Post Doc

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    Well, although it is sad, I sort of confirmed something. There are certain paradigms that you must pay homage to in academia, or you basically do not fit in. If one goes back and looks at the gist of this entire thread, (even from those who are in support of a more libertarian approach) is:

    If you have any reservations about gay marriage=you are "anti gay," or in some other way unenlightened. (Go back and check. Many derogatory things were either implied or I was outright called out and labelled or my arguments were considered so rediculuous so as to not merit an actual response, but sarcasm)

    Even the freedom lovers on this site absoultely MUST place the caveat of "well of course, I don't feel this way" in front of every non-mainstream position they take.

    It is a very insulated world and is not conducive to actual growth when 99.9% of the people you interact with basically agree with you on everything.

    Thanks for all the input however.
     
  35. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    it's a tough question (for me, anyway) -- who gets to define what is a homophobic act (or racist or sexist or whatever)?

    is "i'm not sexist" I'm not racist" "I'm not homophobic" enough? does the speaker or actor get to define the meaning their words (or actions) on the listener, regardless of how the listener perceives things or is impacted socially, emotionally, and politically? or should the listener or receiver of the act have their experience define what is happening. when two (or more) people involved in an interaction disagree as to it's meaning, who gets last say in defining it? i mean, it seems weird for a straight person to tell a gay one what is and what is not homophobic. but then again, sometimes people are overly sensititized to insult, and how can someone else say what or who i am, when no one knows my own heart and mind, better than me? and does the motivation behind the act matter in how it is defined? gah, makes my head spin (i need to get my morning coffee)!

    at my bar, i have often had guys making gross crude comments to me, or nasty jokes about women or gays, and when i say something like "hey that was really sexist, that thing you said about my boobs", they totally dismiss me, like i as a woman (and the owner of the boobs) have no authority in deciding if they, so far always men, are being sexist. who gets to decide something is oppressive or prejudiced? i understand that these guys don't want to be called sexist, because it is a negative term in a lot of circles, but then do men get a say over women as to what is sexist? there's accuracy and fairness for you. but then again, when are people on the receiving end of these "ist" transactions, when are they "wrong" and when are they "right"? this can be complicated by how so often we conflate the act with a person, as though these acts are clear cut and that they have absolute meaning and define the person, which of course terns the mere mention of racism or homophobia or what have you into an attack as opposed to a conversation. as though a person can only be racist or not racist, homophobic or not homophobic, as opposed to being on a continuum. and that where you're at changes depending on the angle you're looking at

    homophobia does seem to be a much tricker term to define. the prior discussion shows how homosexuality itself can be tough just to define in a meaningful way, and then how homosexuality may not be visible, individuals may not be out and it just seems so tough to measure.

    i guess ultimately theres defining homophobia (or prejudice) in a broad sense (which i think we've been trying to do), which is very very tough if not impossible, and then defining it in a study. in studies, you'll have multiple definitions, based on what you're looking at. if you're looking at how the experience of homophobia influences academic success, than you want perceived homophobia, but prevalence of homophobia is another story. in that way it's like social support. do we look at the number of people providing it, supportive acts, what types of support, perception of support, or a combination of factors which can leave us with a jumble of awkward data? it's such a complex construct, comprised of real acts but also meaningful perceptions as to motivations.
     
  36. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow Senior Member

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    Few people I've encountered in academia agree with my political views (e.g., flat tax, privatize social security, put a crimp in the government handout hose to individuals and businesses, shrink government, further deregulate healthcare. . . get rid of HMOs, curb illegal immigration, etc. . .).

    I do not see my stance on homosexuality as a product of academia, but more a product of my views of religion (rather negative) and my notion of freedom. The most frequent defense of banning gay marriage I hear boils down to God said so. I find that argument intellectually insulting.
     
  37. GiantSteps

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    Unless I over looked a post about this, I did not see someone mention the psychological view (perhaps most rooted in psychanalytic theory but certainly still used - I think) that if one expresses "homophobic"/ anti-homosexual views that that person may very well have the opposite feelings (classical reaction formation). Since the person can not deal with those taboo/ generally non-accepted feelings, the true feelings manifest themselves in the opposite way. Hence, someone who actually may have homsexual desires may behave or display vehemence against it. Does anyone know when this theory was first applied to someone being anti-homosexual? Also, does anyone know if many homosexuals actually start out adamantly rejecting the life style before they embrace it.
     
  38. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty
    Faculty Moderator Emeritus

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    Wow...I never thought I'd find someone in academia/the field who matched my political views. :laugh: There may not be a third.
     
  39. JockNerd

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    So everyone who disagrees with you is an academic zombie, and only you are a freethinker? Now calling me narcissistic seems to be the pot and kettle. That position doesn't acknowledge that, while I do think aspects of multiculturalism are often overapplied or applied blindly, I also think that the posters on the board generated reasons and logic behind their positions.

    I think this is a very good point. I don't care if someone opposes gay marriage because they believe the Bible or because aliens from Neptune told them to; the end result on my freedom is the same.

    As for the equating being against gay marriage with being anti-homosexual.... yes, I do equate them. In exactly the same way I would think it's totally illegitimate for someone to have said "I'm not racist, but I don't think it's right for black folks to vote," or "I'm not sexist, but women shouldn't be able to own property because that's just not how things have been done for thousands of years." (Obviously not to equate anti-gay sentiments with racism and sexism, which I think are both far more severe and widespread). Because the opinion expresses more than dislike; it expresses a desire to have the other group be less free or to be restricted.

    Yeah, there's stuff on penile responsiveness to different types of porn and measures of anti-gay feelings, but nothing I've read has been done very cleanly. Seems like there might be something there though.

    Rooted in problems of self-identification and obtaining good lgb samples, I'd say this would be a hard question to ask and I'd take a hard look at any study that attempts to.
     
  40. KillerDiller

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    Sorry that this is off topic from the OP's discussion points, but I just wanted to say that this sort of thing also happens to me all the time, more often on internet message boards than in person, but the latter is not uncommon. Usually, when I do call people on having made a sexist comment I get one of two responses. The first is "I'm not really sexist, I was just joking. You women need to learn how to take a joke." Well, I'm extremely skeptical, of course, that this humor doesn't hide actual hostility, but it's like people think this position exempts them from saying all kinds of horrible things. It's infuriating and I haven't quite figured out how to combat it other than with more snarky humor that doesn't really advance the discussion. The second response I get (more often from in-person interactions) is "well, I wasn't talking about you, you don't behave like that." So I'm an exception from my own sex, huh? That seems like a very logical way of viewing the world "All people of this particular demographic behave this way...except for about half the ones I actually know personally."

    Ok, that was very much off topic, but I find it an interesting psychological phenomenon nonetheless.
     
  41. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    those are EXACTLY the answers i get all the time when i call folks on it!

    i've also gotten that with jewish issues. in nyc, the orthodox are very visible (due to clothing and hair styles) and i've had customers coming in making all these awful comments, all these generalizations, and even just making things up about how "wierd" the orthodox are, and they know i'm jewish, and are totally shocked when i make exception to thier comments. i'm secular, so i'm one of the okay, aka "normal" ones.

    off topic, true, but does boggle the mind.
     
  42. psybee

    psybee Psychology Grad Student!

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    i happen to agree with you on this point. i'm getting engaged and i just don't see a logical reason why i get this but my friends and neighbors don't.

    going back to defining a homophobic act, maybe the power differential and the outcomes play a role in defining it? i mean, lots of us make assumptions about people based on looks. but is there a difference maybe in having a narrow, stereotypical idea of what a gay person is (femme guy, butch lady), and denying a job or housing to them because you don't want someone who is "gay" in your environment?

    the former seems benign compared to the latter, but at the same time, stereotypes feed into other behaviors. i don't know. i think this is a really interesting discussion, and i'm still developing my thoughts on a lot of it.

    as a straight person, my views, especially when expressed though voting, have a much more powerful impact on gay people than they do to me. whether i am for or against gay marriage or civil union, it frankly doesn't affect me. i get to marry my sweetie no matter what. this makes homophobia, on my end, hard to see since it won't really effect me. same thing with racism and sexism. in certain situations there is an enormous power differential and it's an error of the person on the power end to think that things are equal, because ultimately they are not.
     
  43. Thrak

    Thrak RU experienced?

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    Sexuality is a very strange thing. I can't decide how much of our dis/comfort level with certain things is hard-wired in us as individuals, and how much is society/culture/religion.

    I'm fascinated by the idea of the reciprocal of things like Exodus International. They claim they can make gay people straight. Well, if that's the case, can we make straight people gay?

    Or is that the root of a lot of homophobia? The idea that if people (men especially) are exposed to homosexuals, they eventually won't be able to resist, and become gay themselves? Or, probably more accurately, they're afraid they're already gay, and are fighting to stay "straight"?

    Man, do I have some great ideas for research projects that would never in a million years get IRB approval...
     

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