heterosexism vs homophobia/ anti-homosexuality

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Wed Feb 10 12:46:29 PST 1999

>>> "Frances Bolton" <fbolton at chuma.cas.usf.edu> 02/10 2:33 PM >>>

<As far as my politics of sexual orientation, I think "homophobia" is a politically correct <conception or critique. _______

Frances: You frequently say this Charles, that something is or is not "politically correct." I find it a troubling rhetorical strategy, as it immediately shuts off any discussion of the issue at hand. And, when we're talking about something like heterosexism vs. homphobia, an issue that is far from decided, I find it particularly troubling. ________

Charles: I do this on purpose because I hate the custom that came about in the monopoly media a while ago of always mockingly referring to something as "politically correct", as if nothing is politically correct. I hate it because it seems a conscious effort by the Reaganite counter revolution against a form of speech on the Left which was to say something was "correct" rather than "right". The sarcastic use of p.c. today is almost always a sneaky way of being against some progressive position , but clothing it in phony "freedom" of thought rhetoric.

I don't think it means no one can disagree with what I say. Of course, when they do they are saying they are politically correct (though they don't use those words, that's what it boils down to). In general, I also use the term because I think, more than many, that there are more definite answers to many questions. This also relates to another question of the necessity of certainty to underpin effective action. I also believe in trial and error. So, experience can change a definitely held position. We shouldn't fear being certain, because we might be wrong. This is an abbrieviated mention of the last two points.

I don't think being definite or certain on some issues makes one definite on all issues.

Let me say another point. I think it's more honest to let people know what I am more definite or certain about and what less. I think a lot of people who aschew certainty of statement form are quite definite, but don't say so (I am not talking about you). _________


<I say "heterosexism" is a very poor choice of words. In other words, I reject the political <stigmatization of heterosexuality that "heterosexism" connotes.

Frances: A week or so ago, there was an interesting discussion here of "homophobia." Someone (Yoshie? Angela? definitely one of the grrls) pointed out that the problem with homophobia is that it pathologizes anti-g/l bigotry. Calling it a phobia makes it sound like its abnormal, a pathology, when, in fact, it is extremely widespread and common. Put another way, homphobic people get to use the twinkie defense** and they don't have to examine how anti g/l bigotry is built into the structure of the US. "Homophobia" makes it an aberration, like "arachnophobia" or "claustrophobia." And, if the problem is an irrational, uncontrollable fear, obviously one cannot expect it to change. I don't buy that. the problem is heterosexism, a deep, structural problem that rewards heterosexual couples and punishes same sex couples, and others who are not involved in legally recognized hetersexual relationships.

Charles: Yes, I read that earlier critique/analysis of "homophobia" you mentioned. I think there is validity in that critique, although in my experience, there is an element of irrational fear.

I also agree that there is promotion of heterosexuality, to the extent that sex is promoted at all. I think overall, though, all sex is considered bad, dirty, soiled, fearful , not promoted by "the system". Freud had a kernel of truth. Sexual represssion period is the main phenomenon that I see. Most "public" heterosex is male supremacist, which is sexually repressive too. Exactly, "legally recognized". Heterosexual adultery has been a crime at least since the Ten Commandments. It is still on the books as a felony in Michigan, though not enforced. In other words, most of the legally or morally punished relationships are hetero.

In other words, there are a lot of contradictory things going on, but that can't be resolved by just throwing out heterosexual liberation. Do you remember the Free Love movement of the 60's ? It absolutely amazes me that the Left has just got amnesia about it.

If you want a word , how about "anti-homosexuality" instead of "homophobia" or "heterosexism" ? _________

Charles <Heterosexual liberation is an important political movement, equal with the homosexual <liberation movement. Use of the term "heterosexism" as a negative political label seems to <be unaware or ignore or disagree with that.

Frances: Uh, where is this important heterosexual liberation movement? I've never heard of such a thing.

Charles: Gee, that's a provocative question. Remember how McCarthy found a commie under every bed. If he had just looked on top of the beds, he would have found another radical movement going on. Shall I quote Engels on the free love movement among the ancient Christians ? I mentioned the Free Love movement of the 1960's. Or should I point to the 800 million plus cases of adultery in the world each year ? The reason they don't enforce the adultery statutes is that they wouldn't have enough jail space. In fact, the Free Love movment is probably the most rank and file controlled and successful movement of the 20th Century. Maybe the other movements could learn a thing or two from it.

>The "Free love" movement of the 60's continues. No one enthusiastic about
the Free Love >movement would pick the word "heterosexism". As far as I am concerned, opposition to >heterosexual liberation is a reactionary position.
Frances: Well there are quite a lot of people who question the value of the "Free Love' movement. They suggest that it was a cynical ploy on the part of 60s activist men to take away women's last reason to say no to sex. To quote Dana Densmore, radical feminist and one of my most important teachers, "Sex is everywhere. It's forced down our throats. It's the great sop that keeps us in our place. The big lift that makes our dreary lives interesting." Mary Daly, with whom I have deep disagreements, points out that the primary result of the "sexual revolution" was to leave women without the freedom to refuse to be defined by sex. Maybe there were people who really did see the free love movement as liberatory, and I believe that you did/do. I am *not* accusing you of cynically using it to get booty. That said, the emphasis on women's sexuality was commodified and became an emphasis on women's attractiveness and now we have all these 11 year old girls who are on diets,curling their eyelashes, and worried about being attractive to little prepubescent boys. Those girls should be out playing softball, riding bicycles, and giving their barbie dolls bad haircuts. _______

Charles: I say the main barrier to sexual liberation is male supremacy. Adultery arises as a crime with the advent of patriarchy and monogamy , which, after Engels, was the world historic defeat of the female gender. So, I don't disagree with these feminist critiques of the Free Love movement. It's mainly on men to give up male supremacy, if we are to have sexual liberation. I don't blame women for refusing to have sex with men until they give up male supremacy.

>Does that answer your question ?

Frances: Raises more questions than it answers.

Charles: So, do you have questions for my answers.


**twinkie defense--for those of you not in the US--in the 1970s in San Francisco, a gay city official, Harvey Milk, and the mayor, George Moscone, were killed by another city official, Dan White, who was known to hate Milk because he was gay. At the trial, his lawyer said he suffered from a psychotic epidode brought on by eating too many sugary cakes (the twinkies, for those of you lucky enough to have not experienced them) and that made him do it. He got a very short prison term and killed himslef soon after bein released. _______ Charles: Trouble with that example is that guy does sound like he was crazy, but not from twinkies. Killing gay people is not the normal way anti-homosexuality is expressed.

Charles Brown

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