Guest Post: Homophobia and Closets 1/2

Today’s post was written by Dirty Nerdy and reprinted with permission. You can like their Facebook page. 

CN: mention of self harm, suicide, queerphobia/homophobia/cissexism/ableism

So you’re a straight ally to queer people and you find out a terrible bigot said terrible things about teh gayz and you rush in to defend queer people with some variation of “I bet they’re closeted and hate themselves!”.

Usually, I would simply respond by saying that expressed or overt homophobia is not a reliable indicator of whether or not a person is a closeted queer. Today, though, I’m going to expand this and explain why this is a harmful idea and how it upholds structural oppression of queer people and places the burden of queerphobia/homophobia on the marginalized while allowing the privileged to disregard their own contributions to queer oppression.

So where did this idea come from?  As far as I can tell, this argument seems to be based on one study done in 1996 in which 64 straight men were gathered and separated into “homophobic” and “non-homophobic” groups. (Just to be clear: I’m reasonably certain the idea itself is older than this one study, but I focus on it here because it is the one study brought forth as evidence.)

Already, I have a problem with this research. You cannot simply group straight people into “homophobic” and “non-homophobic”. Straight people are born and raised in a culture steeped in homophobia and heteronormativity. The best they could do is split the groups into “overt homophobic” and “not as obviously homophobic.”

*sigh* Moving on.

Then they showed the men a series of porn videos (straight, lesbian, and gay male) and measured their penile responses.

Can we play “Spot the Ableism” here? I know plenty of disabled people who do not/can not use their genitals as their primary sexual organs. Reducing sexuality to one measure of physical response is ableist and incredibly narrow. I understand that scientific studies have to be narrow at times, but so far I’m not impressed. I’d like to see research that reflects the diversity and full experiences of queer people. I acknowledge the fact that this study has been taken and misused by people who like to think homophobia is caused by secrety gays, but it would be nice for there to be more research to point to that describes and measures queer sexual responses using more than just a penis.

We could also play a game of “Spot the Misogyny” here. As far as I know there has not been a similar study done to test women for latent homosexuality in relation to homophobia. I’m thinking this is due to sexist and cissexist notions of how “difficult” it would be to test women’s sexual responses, therefore women are ignored altogether in this research (even though it is just as difficult to test men’s sexual responses because erection does not equal DTF!!).

This study also only used men with penises and ignored the possibility that any of the people in the group might possibly be trans. Who’s to say none of those men were trans women still in the closet? So, “Spot the Cissexism” is also relevant.

Next, the research is muddied by the question of separating out sexual responses from disgust responses (which can have similar physical signs). In 2006 a study was published which indicates that rather than homophobic men experiencing sexual attraction, they are actually experiencing an aversion or disgust response (akin to other phobias) to gay porn which was mistakenly attributed to sexual attraction. It appears that a single physical response to gay porn does not a gay make.

Given the small sample size of both studies and the many problems I mentioned above, I think it’s safe to say that this research is far from definitive.

Monday Movie Review: Seeking a Friend 

Seeking a Friend For the End of the World is one of those movies that sticks with you. This indie movie by Lorene Scafaria defies categorization as it blends romantic comedy with apocalypse. The lead character is Dodge, played with surprising tenderness by Steve Carell, a quiet insurance salesman whose wife just left him, and the time is one month before an asteroid is expected to make impact. 

I’ve watched a fair number of apocalyptic movies, most often where the disaster is averted by the heroic actions of a few VIPs. This is not one of them. Seeking tries to answer the question, what if humanity couldn’t stop the big one? What if the heroic actions failed and doom was coming anyway.

The takeaway seems to be that humans would respond variously. Riots and looting, infidelity and a loss of social mores, and increased casual drug use are shown, but also some who doggedly live as if it’s any other day – a cop still writing tickets, an elderly couple hosting a yard sale. Survivalists stockpiling arms and food are introduced. Everyone scrambles for someone to hold onto. 

Dodge’s flighty neighbor Penny, played by indie goddess Keira Knightly, gives him a letter from his high school sweetheart that was misdelivered to her, months ago. Fleeing the violence of the city, the two head out on a road trip to find Dodge’s first love, and to find Penny some way back home to England to be with her family when the time comes.  

I watched this weeks ago and can’t get it out of my head.  It’s not an easy or light hearted movie, although there are genuine laughs on the way. Suicide is explored twice in the movie, with mixed results. There is also love and beauty, and a scene where dozens of people wed on a beach. It shows humanity in crisis, which is when we are our worst and our best. 

This movie is probably not appropriate for children or younger teens, with strong language, gun violence, sexual situations and drug use, plus the nightmare fuel of a concept: unavoidable meteor. For adults I’d caution against watching it while depressed. But for adults not going through a depressive episode, it’s a pretty amazing picture. It’s been a month and I can’t stop recalling lines, scenes, and moments. It’s exceptional writing and Carell and Knightly are absolutely up to the task. 

Men and Dogs 2/2

​I wish I could say the average man was as well behaved as the average dog, but that would be a lie.

When a dog proves itself unsafe by attacking a child or adult, there are serious consequences up to euthanasia. When men are convicted of sexual assault, judges make sure the consequences will be too minor to have any impact.
I believe the ratio of good:bad dogs is a lot higher than the ratio of good:bad men.
Consider how much this culture loves dogs. Now understand that’s miniscule when compared to this culture’s love of men, defense of men, excuse making for men. Understand that when I sought healing from male inflicted wounds, my fear was treated as a personal problem rather than a reasoned response to an unsafe gender.
A lesbian child sex abuse survivor was pressured into nearly twenty years of dating men. Who I was already afraid of, but had been scolded and chastised into “giving a chance” (and another and another and another). If anything, I feel like I came out as gay as an act of self defense. And it worked. My therapist stopped telling me to trust men, and I stopped seeing her.
My fear of men is precious to me. I now recognize it for what it is: well deserved and hard earned. It’s also the only thing that has ever kept me even marginally safe. All those years I was giving men chances, they used those opportunities to hurt me. To assault me. To degrade me.
I’ve spent the last year and a half in a man-free bubble, and it’s amazing. Did you know you can go a whole year without being abused? I didn’t.
I keep men and dogs outside my home. I’ll smile and say hi to the dogs I see, and avoid making eye contact with the men. It’s worked better than any other strategy I’ve tried, and way way better than trusting men instead of myself.

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Men and Dogs 1/2

My grandmother and cult leader raised me to hate men and dogs, as she did. It was easy enough to discount dogs, but I objected to the way she took out her hatred of men on my boy cousin and brother, both children. I resolved not to be like her. 

At eight I began a support group for girls 7-9 who’d been sexually abused by teen boys and grown men. I still thought they were the bad apples , the rare exceptions.
At 14 I met my first friend who’d been seriously attacked by a dog. I knew her well after, when she was still getting plastic surgery to hide the scars on her face. By that point I knew dozens with scars from sexual assault.
I dated and dated and dated boys, even as the offender list stacked up. I’d go to therapy for domestic violence only to have my therapists consistently put “trusting men again” as a goal.
The last five men I dated abused me, including the father of my child who I’d married. But my therapists wanted me to trust men anyway, and considered doing so a sign of healing.
For all that this culture loves dogs, no one pathologized me for not wanting to welcome one into my life and take on all the expenses and responsibilities involved. You know. The way everybody did if I tried to take so much as a breather between abusive men.
I came to appreciate dogs in my own time. First online pictures, where a dog’s bad behavior couldn’t hurt me. Then in person. My son wants to greet every dog, so I’ve taught him the safety rules: how to ask permission, how to approach the dog, and what the dog’s body language communicates. 

There are no rules that work so consistently to keep girls and women safe from men.

After a few years of greeting every dog we see, I’ve learned that the ratio of good, friendly, safe dogs is much higher than I’d assumed. Now I love dogs, though I still don’t want to share my home with one or be tasked with cleaning up after one.
If I see a doggy while I’m out and about, I will say hi and smile to the dog before acknowledging their human. I feel like I can probably trust dogs and most of my interactions with them are positive.
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Idiocracy: Eugenics Propaganda

Growing up in my grandmother’s cult we had the most amazing video library,filling floor to ceiling bookcases. Giggy had tasked herself with stockpiling entertainment for the inevitable apocalypse and collapse of broadcast television. Most of my best childhood memories are of watching movies: comedies, SciFi, musicals, murder mysteries black and white classics. I loved them all. As anyone tracking my reviews can tell, I like more movies than not. So when I say I hate Idiocracy, understand that hatred was earned. 

Idiocracy argues people with low IQ scores having children will lead to dystopia

If you’ve never heard of it, count yourself lucky, close this tab, and enjoy the Internet’s bounty of adorable animal videos. If however you’re familiar with this drivel, you probably know that it’s about an average Joe who’s cryofrozen and wakes in a dystopian future. Capitalism has run amok with product branding everywhere. Sex work is abundant and legal. Everything is automated and the populace is numbed by high calorie snacks and low quality television. 

The cause of this dystopia? “Stupid”(poor) people having too many babies while “smart”(upper middle class) people had too few. This is straight up eugenics, no exaggeration on my part required. The notion that we can and should control the evolution of humanity by selective breeding is eugenics. That’s where it comes from and where it always leads back to. 

In order to find this movie “prophetic” as many want to, one must first accept its many premises on intellect. Namely, that intelligence is a single, concrete attribute, which is accurately captured by IQ scores, heritable,  has been declining in the US populace, and is associated with “traditional” sexual morality.(US average IQ scores have steadily risen over the past fifty years but who needs facts when there’s bigotry to be done?) You have to believe “smart” people never enjoy “dumb” TV. Which is an inherent problem with this hypocritical movie. 

Because of course, all this was dreamed up by a man who imagines he is one of the “smart” ones.  Every dick joke, every product placement, every sexual remark about the scant two women characters, was made by the “smart” creator for the “smart” audience, or rather the audience that wants to laugh at dick jokes while pretending they’re too high brow to laugh at dick jokes. 

That’s the whole odious appeal of the movie. It’s an opportunity to push the sense you ought to watch less Cake Wars and read more Dostoevsky onto a scapegoat: those with less money and lower IQ scores than yourself. Your refusal to engage in politics between presidential elections or even vote in midterms isn’t the issue: it’s all those “stupid” Republican voters in trailer parks wearing “wife beater” undershirts. 

This movie isn’t prophetic. It’s not insightful. It’s not deep.  It’s dick jokes and sexism, ableism and racism, with a wink-wink nudge-nudge to the audience that of course they’re not the dumb ones laughing at juvenile humor: they’re the smart people laughing at the dumb ones for being so easily amused.  If you think this movie is a product of intellectual, thoughtful consideration your thinking is incredibly shallow. And I still think family planning should be your human right. 

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Pledging Allegiance 2/2

​Those are the words Orange County, Florida school district members want to force students to say, unless their parents sign a permission slip allowing them to protest. These are high school students, some of which may be legal adults already, capable of participating in elections yet simultaneously told they are too young to engage in political acts. 

This isn’t one nation under God. That’s why I refused to recite the pledge as a devout child. I knew enough about persecuted Christians in China to greatly value the first amendment freedoms of religion and protest, and always saw them as related. This isn’t a country with liberty and justice for all. Millions of non violent offenders sit in jails (no liberty) while rapists, even the scant minority who are convicted, roam free (no justice). Forcing students tyo recite these words is immoral,  and illegal. 

The 1943 Supreme Court case West Virginia State Board of Education v . Barnette settled this question more than seventy years agho. The Court ruled that students could not be compelled to recite the pledge. Writing for the majority, Justice Robert Jackson asserted, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.”A Florida 1942 state law requiring students to stand asnd recite the pledge was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court in that state in 2006, resulting in a school district having to pay $32,500 to a student who’d been ridiculed and labeled unpatriotic by their teacher for not reciting the pledge. 

This protest is about the worlds separating this spoken ideal from the lived reality of millions of black Americans. From police harassment to stop and frisk, from no knock raids to cops gunning down a mother and her children over traffic tickets, America is a dangerous and brutal place for black people. An average of one unarmed black man per day is killed by US police forces, while most armed white criminals are taken to jail alive. 

If this protest offends you but these killings don’t, I’m going to have to argue your “patriotism” is simply racism. Why would you want insincere pledges? What good comes of having people who don’t mean it rattle off a memorized sentence that doesn’t reflect truth? The only thing I see you can get from this is fealty – not devotion, but obedience. And that comes from the long, ugly, unforgivable history of race based slavery. Who cares if the black people are safe? Not white America. We just want quiet obedience. 

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Pledging Allegiance 1/2

Colin Kaepernick started a protest movement. The — football plplayer, rather than stand for the pledge as expected, sat and later kneeled as a silent protest against racist police brutality. US women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe joined the protest, and mentioned that as a lesbian she’s also felt a disconnect pledging her allegiance to a country that has long hated her. Other pro athletes began kneeling too.

Now high school athletes are joining as well. A Texas fifth grader kneeled while her class recited the pledge. A California high schooler had her grades lowered in retaliation for not standing for the pledge. An entire Seattle high school football team, including vpoaches, kneeled together during the pledge. 

Many Americans have expressed their displeasure with the protest, with some burning Kaepernick jersey and others calling him racial slurs. Several others have supported the protest, and sales of Kaepernick jerseys to supporters have skyrocketed him to the best selling member of his team. 

Now some schools want to force students to say the pledge, and not to engage in their constitutional right to peaceful protest. Before we get into the legality of this desire, let’s take a moment to examine the pledge and what it says. We learn to recite this as very young children and we’re all taught roughly the same cadernce. 

I pledge allegiance/ to the flag/ of the United States of America/ and to the republic/ for which it stands/ one nation/ under God/ indivisible/ with liberty and justice for all. 


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