Phobia != Bigotry

You may have noticed that my posts of late do not use the terms homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, etc. anymore*.  Basically, I was informed that terms using the -phobia suffix, despite being in wide popular use, conflate mental illness with bigotry and violence, give inappropriate credibility to the "gay panic" or "trans panic" defenses when straight/cis people commit violence against queer/trans people, and, much like calling Glenn Beck or Michele Bachmann "crazy", smear people with actual phobias by appropriating their disability to describe despicable attitudes and people.

Terms like heterosexism (replacing homophobia), cissexism (replacing transphobia), monosexism (replacing biphobia), and Islamobigotry/anti-Islam bigotry (replacing Islamophobia), aren't all that hard to introduce to one's lexicon and convert to general use.  Certainly no harder than learning not to use "lame", or "crazy", or other ableist slurs.  I like them additionally because they put the focus back on the dominant/oppressive side of the dichotomy by clearly noting who the problem is right there in the word.

But even if all the other reasons were wrong**, it would still be better to change from -phobia language, because it makes it a lot harder for asshats to pull shit like this.
For many people “homophobia” is actually about “having a fear of being accused of being bigoted, prejudiced or discriminating against homosexual people”. This fear, which is increasingly common, causes people to take a defensive posture in order to avoid attracting disapproval or adverse publicity. ... For people who don’t hate, dislike or fear gay people, but simply believe that sex between people who are not married (including all sex between those of the same sex) is morally wrong, we need a new term. I’d like to propose the term “homoskeptic” - a term that is not yet in common use and hence arguably open to (re)definition.
Using -phobia language leaves a nice little loophole for the bigots to exploit.  They can say "I don't fear gay people!" and thus deflect critique off into speculation of their *real* feelings about teh gayz, diverting attention from the oppression and bigotry they're perpetuating. It allows this jackass to turn the fear-connotation of using -phobia around and twist it into the Good Christian's fear of The Gay Mafia and their notorious jackbooted enforcers.  It lets him pose bigots as the victim and their ideology as reasonable, not a phobia, but simply skepticism, which is a healthy quality, right?

But the last lol came from a comment to the post on NOM's blog, by commenter Anonygrl:

I would like to suggest that people who don't hate or fear African Americans but simply think that they are morally inferior should be called afroskeptics. And people who don't hate or fear women but think that they just shouldn't get paid the same as men or have control of their own bodies should be gynoskeptics.
No matter what you call yourselves, if you are doing so to justify denying rights to another group (and that is what you are doing with homosexuals) then the correct term you should be using is bigot.

*If you have seen me slip up in this, please do let me know, either in comments or via email, and I will change it.
**However, they are not wrong, and this will not be up for debate here.  Additional commentary on the harms of -phobia language may be found here and here if you want or need further reading on the subject.


CaitieCat said...

An excellent post, and one to think about, thank you.  I hadn't thought of this particular nuance. 

Sonneillon said...

Your informant isn't wrong.  A thought-provoking reminder of ableism, I'll work on switching my language.

Jadelyn said...

It's a change that's mostly taking root in the social justice community on tumblr, from what I've seen; I hadn't heard about it either, until I got involved over there.  But I'd love to see it make the jump into common parlance on the bigger SJ blogs and wider community, too. 

Alan Mark said...

i'm curious about why homosexual marriage ever got mixed up with "rights" discussions.

a "license" is waivered permission to do something which is otherwise illegal.

i know the historical reason for the birth of "marriage licenses" less than a thousand years ago - the British Royal Court was looking for a method of definign Catholic children as "bastards" so that they couldn't inherit their parents' property, which thus would devolve to the throne.

Why would any progressive person want to receive a marriage license?

Jadelyn said...

I'm curious why you're trolling my blog on a post that's only vaguely related to same-gender marriage.

Your attempt to police people's desire to wed is noted, and unwelcome.  If you have legit criticisms of the institution of marriage to make, feel free to make them *on the appropriate post*.  But obliquely invalidating people's desires to marry based on the historical origins of the marriage license is ridiculous, and I will not have it here.  Marriage is many things to many people, and we are not obligated to explain it to you. 

Now kindly piss off.


Related Posts with Thumbnails