1 Lesson 16: Homophobia and Heterosexism Social Problems Robert Wonser Erotic Relations are Historical Relations Sexuality has changed and evolved historically that it, is not universal and fixed This removes bodies from the biological realm and places them firmly in the social realm. 2 Did you know? Heterosexual and homosexual were invented in the late nineteenth century by doctors and scientists who created the science of sexology. Before that time people engaged in homosexual and heterosexual acts but their acts did not adhere to them as identities. Initially heterosexuals were defined as people only interested in sex for pleasure. Term was used to distinguish them from the time’s‘normals’ who only engaged in sex for procreation. The socioeconomic organization of society—not 3 genes, not brains—created the conditions for living heterosexual and gay or lesbian lives. Gendered sexualities Like gender, sexualities are also expected to be “opposite”, and gendered: Compulsory heterosexuality – the dominance of heterosexual values, and the fact that both hetero- and nonheterosexuality are shaped by dominant social scripts Dichotomy between heterosexuality and homosexuality only began in 19th century When is there an exception to this? 4 Lesbian or Bisexual Chic Illustrates a mismatch between sexual behavior and sexual identity Paula Rust defines this phenomenon as “same-sex behavior engaged in by essentially heterosexual individuals under certain extenuating circumstances, in keeping with the cultural belief that there are only two true forms of sexuality” Behavior is most likely found “in a cultural milieu favoring sexual experimentation.” 5 Lesbian or Bisexual Chic Is this cultural acceptance of“girl-on-girl” progressive? Or are the images marketed for heterosexual male audiences and focused on using women to pleasure men (Luscombe 2004)? Does this perpetuate the myth that bisexuality is simply a phase and not a valid sexual identity? On the other hand, is it subversive in that it challenges compulsory heterosexuality? 6 Problem with term “Homophobia” Problem with the term homophobia because it literally means“fear of homosexuals” – hatred, anger, and aggression are stronger components than fear. Not just a mislabel but helps excuse hostile behavior as the (understandable) result of inescapable fear (Logan 1996). 7 Heterosexism Homophobia refers to individual beliefs and behaviors, not institutionalized discrimination. Heterosexism is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It can include the presumption that other people are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior. 8 9 Similar to“white privilege”; we’re not taught to see how racism puts some in a position of privilege but rather view it as something that puts racial ethnic minorities at a disadvantage. Examples of Heterosexual Privilege You can go wherever you want and know that you will not be harassed, beaten, or killed because of your sexuality You do not have to worry about being mistreated by the police or victimized by the criminal justice system because of your sexuality You can express affection (kissing, 10 hugging, and holding hands) in most social situations and not expect hostile or violent reactions from others Heterosexual Privilege You are more likely to see sexually- explicit images of people of your sexuality without these images provoking public consternation or censorship You can discuss your relationships and publicly acknowledge your partner (such as by having a picture of your lover on your desk) without fearing that people will automatically disapprove or think that you are being“blatant” 11 12 You can legally marry the person whom you love You can receive tax breaks, health insurance coverage, and spousal legal rights through being in a long-term relationship You can express yourself sexually without the fear of being prosecuted for breaking the law Heteronormativity Heteronormativity is the belief that people fall into distinct and complementary genders (man and woman) with natural roles in life. It asserts that heterosexuality is 13 the only sexual orientation or only norm, and states that sexual and marital relations are most (or only) fitting between people of opposite sexes. 14 Heteronormativity Consequently, a "heteronormative" view is one that involves alignment of biological sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender roles. Heteronormativity is often linked to heterosexism and homophobia.