a biological cause of homophobia...

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    May 07, 2008 4:32 PM GMT
    that's it - i'm done. i'm sick of it. i can't stand the stupidity of it anymore: WHO CARES WHY SOMEONE IS OR IS NOT GAY??? it's becoming more and more obvious that sexuality is an inherent trait that is not under our control. if it were, people would never choose to be treated the way they are for being lgbt individuals.

    i have a better question: WHY ARE PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD PREJUDICED AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE, GAY MEN IN PARTICULAR?

    i have started an essay exploring this that goes beyond religious and cultural explanations. those fall short of a true cause of homophobia. i think there is a physical/biological source of homophobia that has gotten intellectually transformed into a religious source of homophobia. only by way of "logic" could something as ridiculous as fear of sex become a cultural epidemic.

    so, (people claim that) god says not to be gay? okay. why?
    because gay sex is sinful? okay. why?
    because gay men are filthy? okay. why?
    because of anal sex? ok. why?
    because of feces? ok. why?

    i suggest that there is a biological cause for homophobia, and i think it's this:

    the same chemical that makes feces stink (a group of molecules called the mercaptans) is the exact same chemical released by the micro-organisms that cause biological material to rot after death. in other words, my thesis is this:

    homophobia developed as people conflated a connection between the physical experiences of squalor, illness, and death and the spiritual concepts of taint, sin, and damnation.

    okay, let's analyze this hypothesis. if you agree or disagree, why? please keep in mind that my thesis focuses on connections between mercaptans and ideologies, not on the social ramifications of those connections.

    notes:
    homosexuality didn't exist as a concept/identity until the 19th century, therefore homophobia, as such, didn't exist until then either. what is a better way to describe the nearly pan-cultural phenomenon that makes man-to-man sexual contact taboo in the centuries leading up to the emergence of homosexuality?

    also, same sex relations have been common, even encouraged, in different times and places. this is well known and documented. it is also shown that many cultures did not become homophobic until they were colonized by christian europeans. why were monotheists so successful at inculcating homophobia into conquered peoples?

    also, homophobia as we know it today is a phenomenon mostly associated with patriarchal cultures (a notable exception: the greeks. other conditional exceptions: rome, dynastic china, shogun japan, various peoples of the americas). the argument has been that gay men are weak, or that gay sex weakens them, yet many of the most militant patriarchal cultures in history have encouraged same-sex devotion amongst soldiers. what is the disconnect here between one group of patriarchies despising same-sex relationships amongst MEN and others offering conditional acceptance? women are treated as property in many of these instances, so their sexuality wasn't as "important," but still, why has girl-on-girl action become hot while boy-on-boy action is still taboo? menstrual blood was just as toxic and vile in cultures who despise women, so why are vaginas not as horrible as assholes?
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    May 07, 2008 6:27 PM GMT
    Wow, you brought up a lot of good observations there, jack. Your biological hypothesis sounds valid enough to me, with one problem: it brings homophobia down to a matter of instinct. In a society where homophobic tendencies vary greatly from individual to individual, the conclusion of your argument would be that some people are less prone to 'follow their instincts' and harbor homophobic tendencies than others.

    I have another hypothesis. Please keep in mind I'm not a scientist at all, and my grasp of the social sciences is at the armchair level only. We don't have any gay women here to back me up or tell me I'm full of it here, so this is purely my own observations, but it seems to me you hit it with your last points: in a good many societies, masculinity is a prized commodity.

    Consider: gay men are stereotypically viewed as being compromised in masculinity. In societies where the gay man are generalized as effete, there is often a further distinction between those who give and those who receive: i.e., those who take it up the ass are less masculine than those who simply stick their pee-pees in other men. To wit: some men who would never consider sticking it in another guy are turned on by the idea of sticking it up a girl's bum. On the flip side of the equation, gay women are stereotyped as more masculine, and a society that prizes masculinity isn't as likely to castigate them as it is gay men. There's also a nasty percentage of gay women who are raped by men; this is the ultimate misogynistic act and a means of 'putting them (the gay masculine-acting woman) in their place' i.e., putting them in a traditional female gender role.

    That homophobia is most prevalent in patriarchal societies would corroborate this hypothesis, I think. As for the Greeks...in classical Greece, homosexuality as we know it was not condoned. Rather, it was very specific social contexts in which male-to-male sexual relations were desired. In my understanding, the adult-youth/mentor-mentee relationship was accepted and readily practiced; adult-adult love affairs were not. Additionally, Sparta, the classical Greek state most widely known for its condoning of homosexual relationships, was a military society. Following the uprisings of a servant class (I'm dim on the exact name of the revolt at the moment), Sparta was terrified of losing its sovereignty ever again...and thus the heavy emphasis on military might. Homosexual bonding was encouraged among troops because it was believed that a soldier was likely to fight harder for the life of his lover than for his mere fellow soldier.

    I'm not saying I'm right here, or that dancerjack is wrong...we can even both be right. It certainly is food for thought, though. And now zdrew is out of big words and thoughts for the day. Ooh, look - a butterfly!
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    May 07, 2008 6:36 PM GMT
    I think our language can confirm that a fear of death through uncleanliness is linked to homophobia. Sex is 'filthy'. Homosexuals are 'stained with sin'. The first gay ghettos in America were in New York. It was built around tenements where men offered their sexual services and gender-bending cabarets. Tours would go there where the respectable middle class could tour these places and giggle at the novelty. In those early days of a collective identity, homosexuality was conflated with prostitution and squalor. We entered the American lexicon on the heels of Jacob Riis and Upton Sinclair.

    Interesting hypothesis Jack.
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    May 07, 2008 6:50 PM GMT
    Homosexual behavior has been noted through out history from essentially the dawn of man.

    I dont think there is a biological cause but more of a psychologically reasoning behind it. There are case studies that show most of the time its brought on due to insecurity with in themselves. Often times the biggest homophobes are actually gay can just cant except that fact and turns into an assertive form of self loathing.

    Also for you to understand the various cultures beyond the reasoning to hate homosexuality you have to delve deep into their history.

    Even today in some instances of gay relationships its not seen as man and man but referred to as top and bottom in which the bottom in many ways is consider the female counterpart of the relation and the top is the male.

    Until humans are able to see everyone equally as humans not male or female or breaking them down in race, color, creed or sexuality there will always be some from of discrimination or hatred.

    We cant even wash all our cloths together, often we have to separate colors from whites and even further divide the colors to get the best results when washing.
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    May 07, 2008 6:55 PM GMT
    Very interesting stuff. Feeding off your question...WHY ARE PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE WORLD PREJUDICED AGAINST LGBT PEOPLE, GAY MEN IN PARTICULAR? I'll throw out my two cents on this and say that I have always thought that homophobia was a natural evolution of desired status.

    Man is by nature competitive. He needs to be seen at the top and favored. This would include highly favored by God. If you can convince others that they are less than you in the eyes of God you have achieved superior status. The whole concept of equal really doesn't work for many. It would be too boring and way too structured. There is no limit to status. A bigger house, a better automobile, a larger financial gain, a bigger dick etc... It's a constant childish game. So why not have a status on sexuality? Someones got to be at the ultimate bottom ( so to speak ) Ultimately we are blamed for the entire moral fiber of the world falling apart. We are the easiest targets to create the diversion. For example: If it's not some fag in washington letting things go to hell in a hand basket by suggesting it's time to put an end to suppression based on sexuality ( how dare they ) then it's some freak fag that is allegedly molesting all the children. Pay no attention to the studies that have shown it's usually a heterosexual fucked up male that is more inclined to rape our children.

    The best victim of that game is the one you can get away with calling the most perverted. It's an easy game. It's as simple as a desperate mob mentality looking for the smallest group to isolate. In this game you have the backing of God almighty cause ya know God thinks we are nasty too and it says so. He calls us sodomites but ironically not all of us are into sodomy and even more ironic is the superior heterosexual homophobe who likes it up the shitter as well. Pay no attention to stuff like that. The straight mans God also finds women inferior as well but not as inferior as homos so it's all good. We remain at the bottom where we should be... ahem! There's that status thing again.

    So, "for me" the whole game with homophobia is about status. If sexuality couldn't be used as a form of status who knows what the game would be? Brown eye'd people are more intelligent than blue eye'd people? And the game plays on. Although, I do thank the idiots who have adopted the whole homophobia game. It allows me to play the status game as well. I can say with clear examples that a true homophobic is right down there at the bottom of the idiot chain of status.
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    May 07, 2008 7:39 PM GMT
    I think homophobia today has less to do with how unhygienic anal sex is perceived. It’s sort of evolved as its come more into the main stream. Anal sex after all is just as common in heterosexual relationships these days.

    I think homophobic individuals are repulsed because when they see for example two guys being affectionate they automatically have a mental image of them selves in the same situation and it brings out feelings of wanting to reject that thought maybe by acting out in violence or anything to further disassociate them selves with homosexuality.

    I personally think most homophobia in the western world is based on fear of god.
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    May 07, 2008 8:26 PM GMT
    thanks all for your initial responses. i am familiar with all the historical and social references mentioned thus far, and they obviously have to be taken into consideration; however, let me throw another piece of "evidence" out in an attempt to bring us away from the social and towards the scientific:

    mercaptans, the stinky stuff i mentioned earlier, are a branch of molecules that trigger nociceptors in the nasal cavities of humans.

    nociceptors are nerve endings that are sensitive to PAIN.

    it is thus an evolutionary trait we have developed that the smell of death is painful to us: you don't eat rotten meat? why? because it smells terrible! why do we perceive that rotten smell as something bad? because it HURTS. why would it be good for the smell of death on a piece of meat to hurt us? because if we eat it we will get sick. avoiding rotten food keeps us safe.

    so, bringing the "science" back to the psychological/social/religious:

    i think, zdrew, that we DID evolve to fear the stench of death. in that way a connection around the world between death, feces (which is also full of mercaptans) and sex gives rise to the impression that men who have sex with men are dirty (like pigs, who wallow in their own waste when they're kept in sties), subhuman (like dogs, who eat and roll around in shit, seeming to be completely fascinated with each other's asses) monsters (vultures, wild dogs, large cats, snakes, etc. are frightful animals who eat dead carcasses). all those animals in parentheses have been used to describe gay men in various ways.

    because of a fear of death (both as an evolutionary survival trait and as an intellectual question mark), materials that stink are "evil." in medieval europe, for example, it was believed that smelling fresh flowers and herbs would protect a person from the plague.

    shit stinks. it's evil. it comes out of your ass. your ass/body is evil too. gay men have anal sex. gay men therefore enjoy evil and death. gay men therefore are evil themselves. gay men are therefore the enemy of a creative god who gives life and balance/structure (male/female dichotomy + marriage) to the world.

    yes, no, maybe so???????
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    May 07, 2008 8:35 PM GMT
    Homophobia (irrational fear of homosexuals) I believe is taught just like racism is taught. I don't believe there is a strong biological basis for it. Other species that exhibit same-sex attractions I don't think have to put up with the same BS we do. Blame it on our cerebral cortex which allows us to think in the abstract!

    In societies where gays are becoming more accepted, the incidence of homophobia is decreasing, just not as fast as we would like.
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    May 07, 2008 8:38 PM GMT
    true, but you're answering from the perspective of a modern person who knows about a cerebral cortex and i'm asking about the perspective of people who knew only what they could see around them.

    1) animals don't have religion (that we know of)
    2) animals don't necessarily smell death and experience pain. some smell it and think YUMMY! (scavengers of all kinds)
    3) animals avoid death, and probably even fear it, but we don't know that they intellectualize what happens once they're dead or where the universe came from

    your statement is correct, of course, but where did the tradition of hatred come from? (you know, that tradition you mentioned indirectly that isn't being dismantled quickly enough)
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    May 07, 2008 8:42 PM GMT

    I definitely believe there's gotta be some credit to your theory, Jack.

    As long as we're looking at pre-cerebral instinctual reasons for homophobia, not the societal impulses they trigger, I think we need to consider fear of the Other. It's a base instinct endemic to people, animals, across societies, etc., and is only overcome through conditioning and intellectual impulse, and is, in and of itself, evolutionary.
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    May 07, 2008 8:46 PM GMT
    dancerjack saidtrue, but you're answering from the perspective of a modern person who knows about a cerebral cortex and i'm asking about the perspective of people who knew only what they could see around them.

    your statement is correct, of course, but where did the tradition of hatred come from? (you know, that tradition you mentioned indirectly that isn't being dismantled quickly enough)


    I am guessing when we developed social structures like the family and tribe which required people to conform and reproduce in order to keep the tribe going. Thousands of years ago when the average life expectancy was 30 something, same-sex relationships would have been seen as going against the tribe, and would have also been viewed as potentially dangerous for survival.

    Of course when these taboos are introduced into verbal and or text traditions (e.g. the Bible) that say "thou shalt not" then it is really hard to turn the ship around!

    Finally there is the argument from people that homosexuality is "unnatural" due to some of the sexual practices. That has hindered its' acceptance over the millenia (after all it is hard to argue that the rectum was "designed" for intercourse, we use it for intercourse with some help from lube).

    Of course homophobes do not think about all the other things that human beings do that are "unnatural". Natural is a word that really should be used sparingly when it comes to describing human behaviour (almost as bad as normal).
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    May 07, 2008 9:04 PM GMT
    wys,

    i agree with you, but i'm trying to go back BEFORE the "thou shalt nots..."

    i want to understand why the "thou shalt nots" happened in the first place. it isn't logical to say people suddenly dreamed up a god who would put sexual laws into place.

    the body had to first become a site of spiritual sin. this, in my train of thought, happened when a separation was made between the pure spiritual world and the filthy physical world. by saying this world and everything in it (including the physical body of human beings - we die physical deaths and rot, therefore there is evil in us) is not of the pure, unchaging, eternal spiritual world and is thus part of the evil, crumbling, rotting stuff of the physical world, they could then make the leap that the body and all its functions and secretions are dirty (re: evil). they had a perceived need for those taboos, regardless (i propose) of the survival of the tribe or the wish of the gods. why?

    (oh, and women need lube too - not only for the back, but for the front too sometimes)
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    May 07, 2008 9:13 PM GMT
    dancerjack saidwys,

    i agree with you, but i'm trying to go back BEFORE the "thou shalt nots..."

    i want to understand why the "thou shalt nots" happened in the first place. it isn't logical to say people suddenly dreamed up a god who would put sexual laws into place.

    the body had to first become a site of spiritual sin. this, in my train of thought, happened when a separation was made between the pure spiritual world and the filthy physical world. by saying this world and everything in it (including the physical body of human beings) is not of the pure spiritual world and is thus part of the evil stuff of the physical world, they could then make the leap that the body and all its functions and secretions are dirty (re: evil). they had a perceived need for those taboos, regardless (i propose) of the survival of the tribe or the wish of the gods. why?


    I think you are asking a question that is not answerable to be honest. One can speculate for hours of course on the why, but it is not something that can ever be proven or even supported by evidence.

    If I remember correctly not all cultures are equally homophobic. For example, some Native American tribes were more tolerant of males that were not attracted to women.
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    May 07, 2008 9:22 PM GMT
    it's completely answerable, wys.

    my theory about why people are homophobic is way more logical than the reason homophobes give for not liking gay people:

    and verily, god, the everlasting and everloving deity deserving of all praise and fear for his infininte wisdom and forgiveness, said, "thou shalt hate fags"

    vs

    wow, man. that dead cat stinks. shit stinks too. you stick your dick where shit comes out? ew! then i bet you'd fuck that dead cat over there too! dude, you're gross!




    i already noted in the original post that various cultures were accepting to various degrees.

    yes, nnj, i've seen some of that literature - it's fascinating, and i think i've recapped it fairly accurately for my purposes here. do you have some specific titles in mind?? i'd like to know more
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    May 07, 2008 11:45 PM GMT
    You have provided a possible answer, but I doubt if you can ever move it past the hypothesis stage though!
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    May 08, 2008 12:29 AM GMT
    It's a good read. Maybe the one flaw in your hypothesis is the suggestion that all things related to anal ( feces, dirty, nasty) would be exclusive to a gay man? There are heterosexual men and surprisingly heterosexual women who crave, enjoy, and engage in this act. That knowledge begins to create a wedge in the hypothesis but what you've said is interesting.
  • roadbikeRob

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    May 08, 2008 12:30 AM GMT
    As far as I am concerned, homophobia is a form of ignorance and hatred just like racism, ethnic hatred, or anti semetism (hatred of Jews).
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    May 08, 2008 12:37 AM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidAs far as I am concerned, homophobia is a form of ignorance and hatred just like racism, ethnic hatred, or anti semetism (hatred of Jews).


    Thats pretty much where I'm at as well. And once you clearly see it as ignorance then there is never going to be a logical reason behind it.
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    May 08, 2008 12:58 AM GMT
    i didn't say it was logical - that's the whole point.

    where's the logic in trying to prove people are gay or not because of their genes? whether it's nature or nurture it still implies it's your parents' "fault."

    either they gave you the genes or they did something in their raising methods to make you gay. why not simply accept that sexuality is what it is? do people try to validate being of a particular race because its natural? what about gender? technically speaking, y chromosomes are mutated x chromosomes, which essentially means that males of any species are simply mutated females.

    if people want to study the cause of homosexuality i think there should be just as much attention on the cause of homophobia.
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    May 08, 2008 1:06 AM GMT
    jsttennis77 saidIt's a good read. Maybe the one flaw in your hypothesis is the suggestion that all things related to anal ( feces, dirty, nasty) would be exclusive to a gay man? There are heterosexual men and surprisingly heterosexual women who crave, enjoy, and engage in this act. That knowledge begins to create a wedge in the hypothesis but what you've said is interesting.


    Since we are talking about the origins of homophobia we would have to look at anal sex in a historical context. Today there is a butt sex fetish, but in 19th century America and Europe the same cant be said. If anyone knows of a resource on sexual practices in the 19th century I will love you long time.
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    May 08, 2008 1:13 AM GMT
    actually, i think eve sedgewick has one for 19th century england, but i purged so much of my library that it looks like i no longer have a copy of it... dammit!
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    May 08, 2008 1:17 AM GMT
    MunchingZombie said[quote][cite]jsttennis77 said[/cite]It's a good read. Maybe the one flaw in your hypothesis is the suggestion that all things related to anal ( feces, dirty, nasty) would be exclusive to a gay man? There are heterosexual men and surprisingly heterosexual women who crave, enjoy, and engage in this act. That knowledge begins to create a wedge in the hypothesis but what you've said is interesting.


    Since we are talking about the origins of homophobia we would have to look at anal sex in a historical context. Today there is a butt sex fetish, but in 19th century America and Europe the same cant be said. If anyone knows of a resource on sexual practices in the 19th century I will love you long time.[/quote]

    would someone consider it an act so taboo that they wouldn't claim it's existence within the "straight" world back in the 19th century? It's hard to know for sure. Common knowledge tells us that the more taboo something is the more likely someone is engaging in it but not saying a word. For example: We know drugs are bad. We know they can destroy a person. Yet, drugs are rampant everywhere. It's not like you are going to sit at the dinner table and 3 of ten people are going to casually say... "Last night I was so wired on crystal if you stuck my finger in a light socket I could have lit up the entire city. Pass the yams please" :-)
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    May 08, 2008 1:28 AM GMT
    jsttennis77 said[quote]would someone consider it an act so taboo that they wouldn't claim it's existence within the "straight" world back in the 19th century? It's hard to know for sure. Common knowledge tells us that the more taboo something is the more likely someone is engaging in it but not saying a word. For example: We know drugs are bad. We know they can destroy a person. Yet, drugs are rampant everywhere. It's not like you are going to sit at the dinner table and 3 of ten people are going to casually say... "Last night I was so wired on crystal if you stuck my finger in a light socket I could have lit up the entire city. Pass the yams please" :-)


    I think some acts just don't occur to people. The 19th century anglo world was such that sex itself was taboo, let alone exciting excursions into the butt. Ten years ago I don't think many people would have considered furries weird because furries hadn't entered into the lexicon. Why, even my spellcheck doesn't think furries exist. I have to add it to the dictionary before my computer can think that two guys dressed as pandas is odd.

    And thanks for directing me Jack. I was really hoping to get through the rest of my life without reading Sedgewick again
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    May 08, 2008 1:39 AM GMT
    definitely NO biological cause...maybe a psychobiological or psychosociobiological (LOL) cause!!!

    People fear what they do not understand and often fear manifests itself (especially among men in patriachial cultures) as a hostile response to the whatever stimulus.

    You can think of homophobia as a sociologically determined conditioned response!!!

    Also, are you guys familiar with Psychosomatic disorders? Well, in terms of homophobia...if you have been socialized to react negatively to a stimulus, you eventually undergo a psychological alteration, which may in turn lead to a biological response...which in dancer's case may lead to a heightened aversion to homosexuality.

    So those are diff explanations but I definitely DO NOT think homophobia is biologically based
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    May 08, 2008 1:45 AM GMT
    MunchingZombie said[quote][cite]jsttennis77 said[/cite][quote]would someone consider it an act so taboo that they wouldn't claim it's existence within the "straight" world back in the 19th century? It's hard to know for sure. Common knowledge tells us that the more taboo something is the more likely someone is engaging in it but not saying a word. For example: We know drugs are bad. We know they can destroy a person. Yet, drugs are rampant everywhere. It's not like you are going to sit at the dinner table and 3 of ten people are going to casually say... "Last night I was so wired on crystal if you stuck my finger in a light socket I could have lit up the entire city. Pass the yams please" :-)


    I think some acts just don't occur to people. The 19th century anglo world was such that sex itself was taboo, let alone exciting excursions into the butt. Ten years ago I don't think many people would have considered furries weird because furries hadn't entered into the lexicon. Why, even my spellcheck doesn't think furries exist. I have to add it to the dictionary before my computer can think that two guys dressed as pandas is odd.

    And thanks for directing me Jack. I was really hoping to get through the rest of my life without reading Sedgewick again[/quote]


    The idea that sex in general back then was taboo is more than likely the reason there would be little to no account of anal sex within the straight community during that time. We'd have to use common sense though and leave that door open a bit and realize just because it isn't mentioned or documented from that time doesn't mean it wasn't going on. Look at sodom and gomorrah. There was some freaky shit goin on in that town well before the 19th century. Besides the mention of Sodomy I think they were getting their freak on with animals as well. Was that shit exclusive to that town during that time period? highly unlikely. Did those acts die when the town was destroyed? Even more highly unlikely. If anything those that did it knew it was best to keep it on the down low or chance getting killed.