Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Background Radiation

An interesting article at (of all places) The Economist (via) about a website that tracks homophobic language on Twitter.  The numbers have to be considered against the absolute numbers of traffic on Twitter, but they're still disturbing.
I followed the website for a day recently. "Faggot" had been written nearly 30,000 times on Twitter by the time I sat down for dinner. From July 5th to yesterday, the word had been written 3.4m times. In isolation, one instance of "faggot" might simply offend. In aggregate, the numbers are dizzying.
Homo Superior's reaction is significant, I think: "You know what, fuck you 'casual homophobes.'  Fuck you and your kids.  Especially your stupid kids."  That's "casual homophobia" in action right there -- the assumption that fucking someone is an act of aggression that abases and debases and pollutes the fuckee, establishing the fucker's masculine domination over them.  True, the assumption also applies to women, but that shows the connection between sexism and homophobia: when a male is fucked by another male, he's being used "as a woman" or as another man's "bitch."  Women are very much aware of the tension between fucking as "making love" and fucking, the way a woman can go from Madonna to Whore in the blink of an eye.

There's a lot of homophobia among gay men, which isn't surprising: it's embedded in the weave of our society, and of every society I know about.  It's also not an excuse, though it should temper the vehemence of our response to homophobia in straight men. 

In any case, it's not enough to say that you support gay marriage and gays in the military and that Homophobia Sucks!   Not if you're also trying to rehabilitate "faggot," as numerous progressive straight men have been trying to do.  Or if you still treat penetration as an act of hatred and debasement.  I know, those attitudes are deeply entrenched in the minds of many of us; maybe most of us.  But if we expect others to root them out, we must do it too.