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‘Homophobia’ is a Flawed Term

It seems to me that increasingly ‘homophobia’ is being recognised as a flawed term.

The first shift I noticed was when this tweet (not actually from Morgan Freeman) on it went viral in mid 2012:

And more recently, apparently even the massive news organisation, the Associated Press, have written into policy that the term should be avoided in their news reports and others have objected to this.

And of course, the tweet is right about fear not being a primary factor. Fear is often involved, with people perceiving homosexuals like they perceive spiders, ie a bit “icky”. But there are others people who know homosexuals and may have homosexual relatives or friends, but who still dont approve of all things homosexual even though they may be tolerant of it. In such cases, fear is not a dominant factor.

In fact fear is rarely the dominant factor. Are those who vote Democrat, Republican-phobic? Are those who vote Republican, Democrat-phobic? Are those who are on diets, sugar-phobic? Are those who oppose whaling, extinction-phobic? Fear and opposition are not the same things, and ‘homophobia’ is an abuse of the suffix.

ComicThe term is apparently most commonly attributed to clinical psychologist George Weinberg, who described it (Weinberg, 1972) as an irrational fear or “dread of being in close quarters with homosexuals”. It has been said that “Weinberg’s concept aimed to shift attention away from the question of homosexuals’ mental (ill)health towards questioning the mental health of homophobes” (Journal of Homosexuality, Vol. 52, 2006). In other words it was a politically motivated term, intended to portray any discomfort about homosexuality as being a problem on the part of those uncomfortable with it, rather than portraying homosexuality itself being the problem. Various sociologists and others have expressed dissatisfaction with the term throughout it’s existence.

What is surprising, is how the wider public adopted the language of the activists, including even academics who are supposed to use measured thinking. Conservatives who adopted the term, tended to do so by regarding it as referring to others who are less affirming of homosexuality than themselves. EG they may believe it refers to those who support the death penalty for gays, or those who are nasty about it rather than simply not approving. Gay activists on the other hand, have often chosen to regard the term to mean any disapproval of homosexuality at all, arguably taking it to extremes. The effect of these differing definitions is that some conservatives who want to be considered balanced, will express that they disapprove of ‘homophobia’ and then liberals accuse them of hypocrisy, because according to the liberal definition of the term, those same conservatives are homophobic.

I predict that the term will increasingly been seen for what it is – inaccurate, and will decrease in popularity more and more. There are many other words that can be used, which allow greater nuance and clearer communication; ie ‘tolerance’/’intolerance’, ‘acceptance’/’rejection’, ‘affirmation’/’disapproval’, ‘heterosexist’ etc etc.

Others have said that the term “marriage equality” is likewise a flawed term. But that’s kinda obvious.

6 Comments on “‘Homophobia’ is a Flawed Term”

  1. askthebigot says:

    I. Love. Your. Blog. I forwarded your most recent post to my favorite Facebook page: Keep up the objectivity. It’s so refreshing and needed!

  2. ooh says:

    Does that mean the term “xenophobia” shouldn’t be used either?

    • stasisonline says:

      Good point! They are both similar constructions huh. And interestingly, dictionaries tend to define ‘xenophobia’ as being either a fear or a hatred. But again fear and hatred are not the same thing. So yes having thought about it, perhaps we shouldnt use the term ‘xenophobia’ to refer to hatred, but only to irrational fear. I think this affirms that ‘homophobia’ can be a sensible term when likewise used to refer to irrational fear. And the point made by “Morgon Freeman” still stands; that not all opposition to homosexuality is based in fear/hatred, and so not all opposition to homosexuality is ‘homophobic’.

  3. Mike Pemberton says:

    Fear doesn’t always mean icky spider or horror movie, it can be you are afraid of the perceived wickedness that gays are said to have. You may have heard we are EVIL and the rise in numbers of people accepting them, contrary to what the Bible says, may make some afraid the Bible could be wrong about other things. So fear does come into play.

    Hate is often brought on because of being afraid of something different. Hate is a more powerful emotion to deal with and if you get rid of the thing you are bothered by you aren’t afraid of them. Why do you hate gay people?

    I agree that there should be a word like Racist or Ageist. Since it would be a word to describe the people that post your hate speech, maybe you should come up with it. What would you like me to call you. Maybe you aren’t afraid of the gays. Your still an intolerant bigot that seems to be bothered with other people’s sex practices.

    We are not going away no matter how many attempts legally are made to try. I think you should find another couple of your disapproving of the gay lifestyle friends and you should go to a gay bar and have some drinks with us. Talk to us and find, we’re not so different than you. We may like some different things, but we also like some of the same. We also may not agree with every way you live your life, but we’re not trying to get a constitutional amendment to stop you. I mean, unless you are afraid.

    • stasisonline says:

      I like you Mike. We havent interacted much, but still I feel like we have evolved together a little in these feedback discussions. I like how you encourage reconcilliation and cooperation. Yes, there should be a word like racist or agist. Maybe we can settle for ‘anti-gay’?

      Im not expecting same-sex attracted people to go away. I think the Bible teaches us that sins and temptations in all their varieties are a natural inclination, and will be with humankind until the end of the age.

      Hopefully now that you have read much of my blog, you will have seen that legal things are not my focus. Im not after a consitutional ammendment. My priority is really just to point out to the world that the Bible says what it says. That is that the Bible says that gay sex is sin, and it also says that Christians should love everybody including gays. Yes, lets all be nice to each other and be happy 🙂

  4. sailordale says:

    I agree with you! I am Not afraid of homosexuals, nor do I think they are contagious! Their “gayness” won’t rub off on anyone.
    I also disagree with the homosexual hijacking / misuse of the word Tolerance or intolerant.
    The homosexual community has put a different meaning on the word “tolerance” The correct meaning is simply to put up with.-“the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with”
    Now, they want you to completely accept their perversions as normal,or else you are an “intolerant bigot” like Mike Pemberton from above called you! Truth is, it seems that people like Mike are the Intolerant ones! I know that homosexuality will never be normal or equal with regular hetrosexuality, but I don’t condemn them for their CHOICE to be homosexual!!!
    I will say that it is not an easy choice, and it is a choice, nevertheless! There are no quick fixes, and one does not choose to be homosexual overnight, and it can’t be cured overnight either. There are no easy answers to the issue, but Dr. Jesus is the best cure available! One may never get over their “same sex attraction” or perversion, but it can be suppressed, just like an alcoholic must suppress their urge to drink alcohol. Anyway, I agree with you, and I like your blog! Keep on posting and I will read it when I can………
    Read mine at…………… Thanks.

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