Monday, July 9, 2012

Homophobia and Heterophobia

Homophobia is a psychiatric defense that has taken on political significance. Phobias are cathected fears of objects, fears that might well have a 'neutral' response were it not usually from some early trauma.
Homophobia is extremely common in those who were sexually abused as children by the same sex.  This is a product of trauma.  Just as I have a patient who was bit by a dog when she was in a refugee camp today she is afraid of my dog who has to his chagrin been called a 'purse dog' by those who don't know he rides a Harley.  As a small child a big mangy wild dog attacked her. Her fear of that dog generalized to fear of all dogs even little wee dogs.  A person who  I treat was in a plane crash and had a phobia about flying in planes until with standard psychiatric treatment she was restored to being able to fly in planes. Phobias are quite common.
Given the extent of sexual abuse in our society, expecially same sex sexual abuse, it's not surprising that Homophobia exists.  There are of course other psychiatric mechanisms for homophobia but this is the most common in my clinical experience and probably most 'natural'.
In addition, political 'homophobia' is a different matter.
Personally,  if I,  as a hetero sexual.  am standing with two men looking at three women and the two men beside me become enamoured with each other I will celebrate their behaviour as it serves me specifically in that it leaves three women for me.  Personally, as a heterosexual, I might well object to lesbianism but not homosexuality.  If I ignore the women and focus my attention on the homosexual men I may well be showing to those in the know that really I'm more interested in homosexuality.  "The lady protesteth too much" in this regard.  Such 'homophobia' is quite 'unnatural'. Equally as a homosexual if I am "heterophobic" I might well be the one who 'protesteth too much".
Historically all manner of sexuality was tolerated in society in general. Homosexuality was main stream in many communities.  It's also developmentally normal with a developmental stage where children prefer the company of their same sex before adventuring across the great chasm of dangerous opposite sex behaviour. Given the importance of children and their importance in hunter gatherer, agricultural and war economies bisexuality was more commonly tolerated than homosexuality.  Indeed in early Irish society homosexuality was enshrined in the warriors  on the war path but frowned on in the communities at peace. Often as in jails and distant mining communities and ranches and pirate ships it was considered acceptable to use men as a 'default' but to 'prefer' men over women when women were available was 'deviant'.  We are only now getting a handle on the commonality of lesbianism given it's toleraance so long as women had children.
One Mexican "machismo" police chief I met insisted he was hypersexual and had sex with men and women because he was so "manly'.Pink Swatika by Scott Lively was a fascinating book discussing homosexuality in the Nazi movement which pointed to similiar hyersexuality views in the SS.  A colleague talked of being enamoured with a homosexual pedophile who he served with in the British army. In war times there has been much tolerance of deviant behaviour which in peace time is given a second look.
The "8 is too late" , Man Boy Love society used to march in the Vancouver Gay Parade proudly carrying their banner . They were 'tolerated' as late as the 80's because there was then a sense of 'war' between homosexuals and heterosexuals as evidenced in 'queer' politics of the communist Radical Fairy, Harry Hay. With community tolerance in general there has been less tolerance in specific.
Pedophiles who were once as illegal as homosexuals, are now no longer accepted in the 'gay community' as a whole. Similarly suffragette women were once not accepted in 'polite society' and men who didn't 'follow sports' weren't accepted in some private clubs.
Recently, religious homo phobia in general has been tied to the importance of the 'family' and 'family' especially where the number of children is equated with the greater success of the family.  With the education of women however, children have become less the old age pension of the woman. Education of women is equated with fewer chldren.  The upper classes once great producers of children now tend to fewer children indeed.
Further with industrialization and decline in labour intensive work,  there is a natural decline in the need for more children so the central taboo against homosexuality, that is it's potential to decrease children, is lost.
Parents wanting grand children have naturally been homophobic regarding their children especially coming out of the agricultural Darwinian era where 'survival of the fittest' causes me a 'survivor' to want to pass on my 'survivalist' genes to my children as I would want to breed a good race horse.
Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism especially equated homosexuality with the lustful and deceitful marginal and often illegal communities which tolerated homosexuality. Hence the naturalness of "homosexuality" among the 'pirates' and acceptance of homosexuality in some early artist communes.  Promiscuity was discouraged in the heterosexual community because of it's damage to the community. Homosexuality was associated with more promiscuity though not necessarily among older lesbians.  Catholocism even celebrated the sexually abstinent until the recent seminal teaching of Pope John Paul.  Many religions especially nihilistic religions of the east and west reject the 'sensual' world in favour of the interior world experienced not by sense but by intuition.
The infamous homosexual spy Guy Burgess was associated with his sexuality whereas the  homosexual Allan Turing whose mathematics and cryptoanalysis essentially saved the English in WWII as much as the Battle of Britain is neatly overlooked in regards to his sexuality.
The tendency for 'cherry picking' in these matters is best discussed in the classic treatise Why Can't I Own a Canadian?
Homophobia probably as a term should be limitted to clinical situations.  Politically I may well be against vegetarians who are as all know them a sneaky and suspicious group of folks as bad as the bike riders of Vancouver who are destroying the inner city with their evil and blasphemous bike lanes.  Clearly I could call these groups 'carniphobes'  , "luddites' and "enginephobes"   But name calling is evidence of a 'weak argument' as the fallacies teach 'ad hominem' (against the man) is such.
Jesus specifically did not speak about homosexuality and I personally have found that while he spoke a great deal about a lot of matters his emphasis on sexuality was less than modest.  That the church today is caught up in the debate about sex has cynically been said by some as an attempt for just those churches losing membership  to attract people to them through tried and true sexy marketting approaches.  The Catholics have used gambling with their bingo halls as a means of maintaining membership. Some evangelical Christians have used their crusade for 'missionary' position sex in pyjamas as their justification for 'bearing false witness' and not honoring their parents or 'loving their neighbour as themselves". Homophobia in this regard is as 'sexy' as homosexuality used to be.
Homosexual long term monogamous relationships are perhaps sadly as 'unsexy' as heterosexual long term monogamous relationships.  There really isn't much 'homophobia' about them in society and even growing up I noticed a serious tolerance for such couples in my community at a time when it was ostensibly 'illegal'.
I do find it sad though that today there is a growing 'heterophobia'. So commonly where there is 'revolution' it just means that an out group becomes an in group and does to the outsiders just what they objected being done to them.  Rather than 'progress' ,there's just  tribal feuds and war  based on 'revenge' rather than the advances made with love..

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