Homophobia and Misogyny: An Essay
Lately, I have found myself thinking about the issue of gay marriage and anti-homosexual ideals in our country. I find this issue to be one of the most baffling ones of our time, which is probably what has made me dwell on it so long. I have thought in length about the Biblical angle, of people claiming they're against homosexuality because the Bible says its wrong. Although it's tempting to cite other Biblical viewpoints that are conveniently ignored as an argument against this stance, I've decided to dig deeper than that. Why do people choose to latch on to this particular Biblical belief and ignore others? If it is an act of convenience, what makes this convenience so much more desirable than that of the other ideals? More specifically, why is there so much hate towards homosexuals?
I don't think there's a single answer to this. If you could open up the brain of a homophobe and pull out the answers, they would vary from person to person. However, if you could dig deeper, into their other thoughts and opinions, a more fluent, connected answer may appear. I didn't come upon this theory lightly. I've chatted with people on both sides of the spectrum rather thoroughly. And even though they range in age, occupation, sex, race, and other factors, there seems to be one common thread among all of them, and it's not Christianity. No, it's misogyny.
I feel like most misogynists have absolutely no idea they are this way and would be reflective, if not offended, if called out on their stance. Society has created this image of the Abusive Man, the domineering, jeering, unrelenting annilator of anything soft and perceived as weak, namely the closest woman within their grasp. Unfortunately these men do exist, and even more unfortunately, get away with their brutal antics on a daily basis as the rest of us ignorantly move on. But they are just the tip of the iceberg of misogyny. They are, in a way, the "face" of it, the model in other words. So all a person has to do is compare themselves to this model, realize they have nothing in common, and sigh a big sigh of relief knowing they are not misogynists. Basically, a person can say "oh, I don't brutally beat women into a bloody pulp, so therefor, I love them!" and this the fallacy in which I have delved into.
You don't have to be an angry, spiteful, abusive person to be a misogynist. To me, anyone who has misogynistic tendencies is anyone who simply thinks women are inferior... not necessarily as "second-class citizens" per se, but just not capable of the same judgement-making level as men. I know a misogynist firsthand who has no problems at all with women striking out and making their lives their own in the world. He encourages them to do so, if anything. But he's still a misogynist in the way he speaks to and about women. He's not degrading them into objects, he just views them as "not up to par". He'll make comments such as "Well, you know, she's a woman" or "I know this woman, pretty smart". The second comment is very interesting because it implies that the listener would not automatically think of the subject as smart unless he expressly said she was. Think of the sentence without the comment. "I know this woman". Sounds quite a lot different, doesn't it? Hard to say which one sounds worse. What he should be saying is "I know someone" and then continue with his statement. "I know someone" is drastically different than "I know this woman, pretty smart".
What kinds of people do I find making these comments the most? If you suggested the homophobic ones, you'd be correct. You don't need a Stanford study to know there's a correlation between misogyny and homophobia. Ignorance causes misconceptions which causes distrust which causes fear which causes hate which causes violence. Almost any violent act can be retraced this way, whether it's against a woman or against a homosexual or any subject. But I believe there's more than just a correlation between misogyny and homophobia. I am beginning to believe misogyny is the actual cause of homophobia. Not the Bible, not revoltion at anal sex, not a lack of fashion sense. But misogyny, pure and simple.
Why do I believe this? Well, let's break down why misogyny exists in the first place. Most misogynists would probably "turn back time" and bring back the yesteryears of gender division. Women in the kitchen, men in the workplace. Women with fewer rights (for their own protection, of course) and men with all the decisions on their shoulders. Women with the babies, men with the money, and so on and so forth. These ideals of yesteryear were created to control women, as any educated person knows. Some men of ancient history were ignorant of a woman's true powers in comparison with that of a man's. They saw their mothers as having this huge gift, rearing the young and thus directly influencing the survival of the species, and they realized there wasn't anything they could do about it. Instead of thinking, "oh wait, they can't have these babies without us, and we should work together to create and raise them" they thought "oh crap, if they realize they have all this power, we will be their slaves". So they started to surpress them. They made women believe their only purpose was to be a vessel to infants. They had no rights, no say so, hardly anything at all to call their own. Through history different cultures molded and adapted this basic traditional way of thinking, but for the most part, it wasn't until recent history that it changed in any significant way. The misogynists of today have changed as well, like I said. A lot of them have no problem with the changes themselves, but they still need to "put women in their place" in any way they can, whether they realize it or not.
How did women's rights really come to be? Well most of the work was done by brave women. But men helped too. Just because a lot of men were misogynists doesn't mean all of them were. Today, many more men join the group of anti-misogyny. But if you really view straight men, really listen to how they speak of women, you'll still find traces of anti-female vernacular and opinion. Even some of the sweetest, most lovable men I know make me cringe with their off-handed comments about women that they simply don't see as offensive. These are men that love and cherish me, and want nothing but the best for me, and would never dream of taking my rights away from me, but yet... they still can't completely relinquish control of my life to me, even if all they can do is make a simple comment.
However, this is not true about the gays.
The gays love women. Why? Why do gay men not say things like "I know a woman, pretty smart"? Or "Well, she's a woman" and really actually mean something by it? They don't say these things because they feel no threat from a woman. Women are not vessels to perpetuate the species to them. It's not that gay men are not interested in the survival of the species (despite what Bible Thumpers may think), it's just they fundamentally realize that women will continue to have babies perfectly fine without them having to interfere and control it. In other words, they trust women. They trust them with the future of the species without a second thought, and then they go on with their lives. This drives misogynists crazy.
Then there are the lesbians.
These are women living without much influence, if any at all, of men. Misogynists cannot wrap their minds around this. How can women possibly live good, wholesome lives without the guidance of a man? How do they not crave the assertive, firm, overbearing presence of a male in their lives? Don't they want to be mothers, and therefor need a father to create their dream scenario? Discovering a lesbian couple with a baby is like poison to a misogynist. Here is a family without men. Survival of the species, without men. Again, they forget that it did take part of a man once upon a time to create that child and that they should not feel threatened. They only see what's right in front of them and that is the destruction of all they have worked for for thousands of years in one fell swoop.
But can they say this? When they go about their homophobic ways, can they say "oh we're doing this because we hate women"? No, stones thrown abound. In our society it is still acceptable to be homophobic, but if you actually admit you want women back in the kitchen, your voice will quickly be silenced. They have to find another route, and because so many of them happen to be Christian, they use that. When it doubt, throw the Bible around and quote Jesus. Who can argue with Jesus anyway? Even those of us not scared of the sky bully will often refrain from arguing with a Christian. It's not out of fear, it's out of sanity. Arguing about religion is like arguing whether or not Goldilocks really did break and enter into the Three Bear's House, or if their door being open assuaged her of any guilt. It doesn't actually have any merit because it's complete fiction.
And so they continue on, because there's no real debate. They're just blowing smoke. Those of us with half a brain know eventually gay rights will go the way of civil rights which went the way of women's rights and so forth. In the not-to-distant future, homosexuals will be allowed full marriage rights, and one day homophobics will be forced into the corner where the only stone they can throw is, "I know this homo, he's pretty smart."