Comments: Homophobia

I sometimes think that this xenophobic reaction is "lizard brain" thinking, an ancient survival reaction to change in the environment.

While it may have been quite effective thousands of years ago, it doesn't really belong a modern society.

Of course as a military "brat" who changed schools often and was used to the role of new kid, my view is skewed.

Posted by Bryan at March 9, 2004 07:29 PM

I'm not sure a "lizard brain" reaction accounts for all of this reaction. You have to be taught what "other" is; either explicitly told or absorbed from the environment. Then, perhaps, fear of other can kick in.

In the case of homosexuals I believe it is a mixture of learned behavior and the "ick factor" that so many heteros cannot overcome.

But that's just me...

Posted by Charles2 at March 10, 2004 01:22 PM

Well, as I understand it, you don't actually have to be taught what "other" is.

Animals in the wild have a variety of mechanisms for defining "us versus them" even inside their own species.

We have the ability to overcome that kind of primitive tribal reaction but some of us are either still too primitive (cheap shot) to use it or just don't see why we can't do things the way we did when we lived in the trees (cheap shot).

Seriously. Maybe some people's brains (or a combination of nature plus nurture) just don't allow them to make that kind of adjustment.

Posted by Anne at March 10, 2004 02:56 PM


Did your research unearth any discussion of the gender differentials in homophobia? Clearly there is some, numerically.

Posted by Jonathan Dresner at March 10, 2004 08:14 PM

While I don't really do any formal research regarding my visits to the men's room, I've not seen a general culture of fear there when I've answered the call of nature. There are some guys who tend to ignore others while they're in there, while others are more open and willing to talk. I've never seen anything that would suggest, to me, that the other guys were all terrified that someone else was going to sneak a peek or cop a feel, but perhaps that's just my own impression.

Posted by Andrew at March 11, 2004 02:53 PM

Jonathan - my research was cursory at best and didn't discuss gender differences. In my (admittedly extremely fast) scan through the 'top' resources I found, I did notice a bias toward discussing male homosexuality, and ignoring female homosexuality.

To tell you the truth, I'm knee-deep in that "Lost Cause" research that Cliopatria inspired me to start a couple of weeks ago and didn't give this research the attention I probably should have. I may come back to this topic later, though.

Andrew - Well, none of the guys I've ever known have ever mentioned it, but when I thought about it, I realized there was no particular reason why they would.

It's always possible that that particular author was projecting his own fear and assuming everyone else felt the way he did.

To be honest, I'm happy to hear he's wrong. I was feeling seriously sorry for men.

Posted by Anne at March 11, 2004 04:33 PM

During an Alternative Spring Break trip to Appalachia, there were men's and women's gyrmnasium showers (spigots on the wall, no seperators between spigots). The men all showered at the same time. The women insisted on showering singly because they did not want to see each other naked. I'm not sure if that's the same or different then men being on edge using the urinals. As a male, the only tenseness is this weird Subway Syndrome code where you are supposed to pretend no one else is there. I never chalked it up to homophobia. We're supposed to be embarrassed by all our bodily functions (it is considered rude to blow your nose in a restaurant at the table). I had to have people get offended by my actions to learn the Code of Behavior, but then I'm not homophobic nor embarrassed by bodily functions.

Posted by EdgeWise at March 14, 2004 08:23 AM

Well, I guess it's all a matter of what group you're with, then. I've never run into that problem of women demanding solitary showers myself.

My last 20 years' experience is mostly in health clubs where the women, although far from perfect-bodied, were casual about shower rooms.

(But it's unappetizing, and unsanitary, to blow your nose at a table in a restaurant. Also, small, enclosed spaces like elevators are also taboo for such things.

And I wish everyone would learn to cover their mouths and noses when they cough. I'm tired of getting sprayed with people's bodily fluids and coming down sick.)

Posted by Anne at March 15, 2004 11:44 AM