11 October 2009

Homophobia and Masculinity

Homophobia will not lie down and die anytime soon.

What is homophobia? Is it truly a fear of gays?

In some ways it is. The masculine gender (associated with the male sex) is truly a vulnerable gender unlike the feminine. Masculinity stands to lose its powerful role if found that it is created. The female sex is not weaker than the male sex, but cultural it is. The female body and male body—if treated equally—will become comparably equal.

Homophobia truly does hide the true feelings of most men. In one study (which I cannot find at the present), groups of men are selected. Each man takes a pre-screening test to determine their level of homophobia. Then they are split into two groups: homophobic, and not homophobic. Each group watched gay porn at a point in the study with a device attached to their penis to detect any arousal. In the group with the homophobic men, they were aroused, and the non-homophobic group were not. The most interesting part of the study is that when asked, those that were homophobic answered that they were not aroused in the least bit.

But what causes homophobia?

Simply the fear of being not masculine, of being perceived as feminine. The worst thing a man can be called is a woman. Violation of masculinity and its power is the root of homophobia. Gay men violate the masculine gender when engaging in gay sex—in treating a man as a woman. It is about power relationships. Straight men have power over women and it is this power that is created and that must be maintained. Gay sex is much more equal that straight sex. Men are equals in Western society. Women are inferior, and therefore straight sex is about the inequality in relationships

These ideas and cultural genders are slowly giving away to equality, but it will take a long time for everyone to be truly equal. The patriarchy that stands to lose power after thousands of years will not go down easily. Both men and women support it. Gay men even support it because it creates the object of their desire: masculine men. But patriarchy will fall eventually, because the seed of destruction is sowed into its own values—that masculinity is powerful and cannot fall, and it can be seen that it can fall.

This is my poor attempt at putting several ideas together. Most of the ideas about gender I’ve read in "The Arena of Masculinity: Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex" by Brian Pronger. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, he makes very interesting points into the worlds of athletics and masculinity, and the homoerotic natures of these worlds. The other idea is of homophobia masking signs of interests in the homoerotic desire of men for men.