Saturday, December 5, 2009

Open Forum: Sexualism Versus Homophobia

In recent years there has been a linguistic movement by some academics against using the term homophobia and replacing it with terms like sexualism or sexual prejudice which are considered broader and more appropriate with the growing list of sexual and gender self identifications.

For one the definition of homophobia is a fear of homosexuals or homosexual orientation, which is not true of all anti-gay people. The common line from so called "homophobes" is that "they have no issue with homosexuals, and even have homosexual friends" when defending their dislike or opposition to queer rights. The other dilemma is that many people associate homophobia as being exclusive to the discussion of gay and lesbian orientation, while leaving out bisexuals and transgender minorities.

Sexualism or sexual prejudice is the predisposition to thinking heterosexuality is the only norm, it is the concept of consciously embracing heteronormativity although is not synonymous with the term.

What do you make of the whole idea of bedding the term homophobia for something more inclusive such as sexualism or sexual prejudice? Does this term unfairly exclude transgender people whose discrimination against them is on the basis of gender or should gender issues have a separate word like transphobia or transsexual prejudice?


Ethan leSabre said...

The problem is that homophobia is only now starting to be recognised in the 'real' world. Changing it will cause confusion and it will make the LGBTQ community schism again. In fact the very initials that I've just used are a perfect example. Is it GLB, LGB, GLBT, LGBT? Should we add the Q, should we not? There's no consensus - even between the groups. I know that's because we're a disparate and motley group of people with completely different ethoses, needs and desires but do we really need to show that even more?

Anonymous said...

Instead of adding Q why not replace LGBTQ by Q ?

Queer = non-straight

ACH said...

I'm generally not a fan of the term "homophobia." I think it is unnecessarily divisive and polarizing. My own impression is that there are a lot of people who genuinely aren't "homophobic" but do have beliefs that impact LGBT people in very negative ways. By lumping all sorts of opposition together into one category that etymologically means (and is sometimes defined as) "fear of homosexuality," it tends to alienate people in the middle who are most likely to be persuadeable to become allies. And it helps enable them to justify to themselves that their beliefs aren't "homophobic."

Queers United said...

Anon there are people who say straight people can be queer if they are allies, into BDSM, or just non-heteronormative.

Pretzel how do you feel it makes them less likely to be allies? If they don't want to be labeled as homophobes wouldn't they be more likely to be allies to prove otherwise? Maybe I didn't get your point.

Anonymous said...

I think throwing around terms like "homophobia" do us an injustice when attempting to characterize opponents on issues like marriage equality. There are many who believe in equal rights for gay people, but just don't want the term marriage to apply to them. In cases these like, I believe the term "heterosexist" - the valuing of heterosexual couplings more than homosexual ones - is a more accurate description of who we're dealing with.

There are times and places that are more appropriate for each word. If we become more precise in our language, then we can become more precise in our arguments. However, it can become unwieldy, as in the LGBTQIIAA etc. acronym, however, that is not to say that we should not use it or it is not appropriate in certain contexts. We just need to be more aware of our audience and our targets.

Firebolt said...

I prefer the term 'Queerphobia' over 'Homophobia' as Queer encompasses all non-binary gender and non-heteronormative / non-traditional sexual behaviour. Considering that BDSM heterosexuals are just as likely to be oppressed and discriminated against it seems a good idea to include them under this umbrella term.

Although, it would be better if we could replace the suffix '-phobia' with something else because not all anti-queer folks are "afraid" of queers. They have some inherent prejudice or personal conviction that propels them to act against anything that is pro-queer.

Sexualism seems like an improvement at first thought but it really isn't that better because it leaves out gender and trans discrimination.

Todd said...

Actually, there is already a much better word than homophobia to describe someone who hates gay people. It is a word which has a long, evil history.

However, the evil history of this word not only includes gay hatred, it also includes misogyny, racism, and intolerance toward anyone who is different.

What is this word with such a history of evil?


Look at the evil anti-gay bill in Uganda right now. I defy anyone to tell me that the cause of the insanity there is anything but religion.

Religion is the enemy. Whenever someone calls for the death or punishment of gay people, it is a near certainty that the word religious can be applied to them.

The word religious should be thought of as synonymous with gay hate, misogyny, bigotry, intolerance, end evil.

People should be ashamed of it.

Anonymous said...

To me, the term "sexualism" is confusing because it could be construed to mean discriminating against someone based on any sexual trait that person has, and have nothing to do with being queer, transexual, or non-heterosexual at all.

However, as a bisexual, I would love to see some term for anti-queer bias, prejudice and hatred that includes all of us, because it certainly affects all of us, not just gay people. I just don't think "sexualism" is that term.

Anonymous said...

Sexualism or sexual prejudice is the predisposition to thinking heterosexuality is the only norm, it is the concept of consciously embracing heteronormativity although is not synonymous with the term.

Sexual prejudice is sexual prejudice, whether it's straight against gay, gay against bi, or vanilla against kinky.

Heteronormative prejudice is called heterosexism. It's even in dictionaries.

Why would it have to be conscious? Racism is called racism even when it's unconscious.

Jim Costich said...

Sexualism as a term is vague. Homophobia is self explanitory. It is also accurate. The fear of homosexuality is at the bottom of all anti-GLBT hate and bias including anti-trans and anti-intersex bias. As an intersexed man I can attest to this. Example: I've argued that I should be allowed to marry anyone because I can have heterosexual sex with everyone. Homophobes instantly take the bait and contradict me by arguing that I should be allowed to marry no one because I can't avoid having homosexual sex with everyone.

We don't need to train the world to a new term, and certainly not to a watered down one like "Sexualism". Homophobia works just fine.

Dean Van de Motter said...

"Heterosexism" is, for me, a much more accurate term.

Connor said...


Anonymous said...

We already have a word for the predisposition to thinking heterosexuality is the only norm: heterosexism. And it sounds ugly when it rolls off the tongue. As it should.


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