Pharr–Homophobia as Weapon of Sexism

The author utilizes homophobia, heterosexism, and sexism, as variables in this article with the purpose of exploring their interconnection and relationship with one another. She does this by breaking them down into seven specific sub-topics: Homosexuality and the Bible, Homophobia and Heterosexism, Lesbians and Gay Men: A Threat to the Heart of Sexism, Lesbians and Heterosexual Women: A Measure of Social Control, Sexual Identity, The Cost of Homophobia, and The Elimination of Homophobia. Before she begins she defines homophobia for the readers and describes briefly how it has been viewed in the past as well as her own experiences with homophobia.

She begins with the topic of Homosexuality and the bible or what she refers to as “the bible theory.” She points out that the bible is frequently used as a reference point and as validation for the persecution of Gays and Lesbians. She specifically identifies several passages that have been used to justify homophobia. In response to those arguments, she provides current counter-arguments in an effort to make the reader aware there are current scholarly debates on the issue of these citations and condemnations of homosexuality found in original biblical texts. The author then addresses the issue of the link between Homophobia and Heterosexism.

She indicates that “Homophobia is an effective weapon of sexism because it is joined with heterosexism” (3). She states that it assists in creating the belief that, “the world is and must be Heterosexual and its display of power and privilege” (3). It is in this section the author touches on the issue of socialization of Heterosexism as children through adulthood, which establishes and builds the link between sexism and homophobia.

In the next section the author uses the example of Lesbians to illustrate the response of the patriarchal system (see end note #1). Lesbians step out of the traditional role established for wimmin and resist the “sexual and economic dependence upon men.” She goes on to illustrate that homosexuals are perceived as a threat to the established essence of society specifically, family, male dominance and control, and “the very heart of sexism.”

The examination of the premise that homophobia is used to “wield the power over women.” The author suggests this is commonly done through “lesbian baiting.” The author asserts that women may be controlled through their fear of being labeled as a lesbian. This labeling occurs because individuals exhibit behavior outside traditional gender roles. She purports women who believe in and work for women’s rights avoid labeling themselves as feminists for this very reason.

Sexual identity is discussed and the author asserts that the interest in identifying the cause of the development of sexual identity is, “to discover how lesbian and gay identity develops so they will know how to eliminate it” (4). The author states that homophobic people make statements such as “it’s a choice, etc.” She responds by asking that heterosexuals not to talk about their ” sexual identity, including not to act out their sexual activity, but heterosexual social interconnections and heterosexual privilege.

Finally the author examines two interrelated issues: the costs of homophobia and the elimination of homophobia. She breaks the costs down into employment, family, children, the lack of Heterosexual privilege and protection, Safety, Mental Health, Community, and Credibility. The author indicates that homophobia will not be eliminated just through “tolerance, compassion, understanding, acceptance, or benevolence. She states, “these are favors granted to the less fortunate” (4). She states, “the elimination of homophobia requires that homosexual identity be viewed as viable and legitimate and as normal as heterosexual identity. . .It does not require tolerance; it requires an equal footing.” (4)

By: Okey J. Napier