Saturday, 7 July 2012

Thanatophobia - Homophobia - Racism


This part is a bit medically but please read it anyway.

"A phobia (from the Greek: φόβος, Phóbos, meaning "fear" or "morbid fear") is, when used in the context of clinical psychology, a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities."

I have something called thanatophobia.

Thanatos = Death
Phobia = Fear

Death Fear! Yes, I am terrified beyond all comprehension of dying. I have panic attacks, I take anti-anxiety medication and I have seen a psychologist and a psychiatrist in an attempt to control my phobia. You keeping up with me so far? 

Now, there are people in the world who have something called homophobia.

Homo = Same
Phobia = Fear

Same Fear! This is the fear of homosexuals (LGBTs) - people who are sexually attracted to people of the same sex. These homophobes have panic attacks, take anti-anxety medication and see psychologists and psychiatrists in an attempt to control their phobia.

Oh, wait. No they don't. Because homophobia has never been listed as part of a clinical taxonomy of phobias. Homophobia has never been listed in any Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). Why not? It's not because it's a medical oversight. It's because homophobes don't have a legitimate fear.

Homophobes have a hatred of LGBTs. They harbour contempt for LGBTs. They are prejudiced towards LGBTs. They avoid LGBTs. But it is not a phobia. It's an -ism.

An -ism indicates a belief or principle. You know, like racism.

Racists follow practices that discriminate against members of particular racial groups, for example by perpetuating unequal access to resources between groups.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like the way 'homophobes' treat members of the LGBT community?

Homphobes believe that LGBTs are lesser people, broken people, evil people - whatever it is they have decided about every LGBT on the planet - but they do not fear them. Not like I fear death. One is an anxiety-based phobia. One is a prejudiced opinion.

Now please be aware this idea was not borne as a reaction from someone who has a legitimate clinical phobia and is trying to 'claim' the word phobia. I use my fear merely as a personal base comparison point. No, this idea comes from the opinion that the word phobia negates some of the responsibility for homophobic attitudes and beliefs.

I don't want to be thanatophobic anymore. I'm trying really hard to not be. Nobody who has a phobia wants to be so irrationally afraid of their particular trigger. But people who are 'homophobic' do have a choice. They can stop discriminating against people who are different in one minor way. They can realise that the minor way in which they do differ from the LGBT community is insignificant. It doesn't matter to them or their life if there is a man somewhere who is perfectly happy being in love with another man.

And if these people refuse to change their bigoted ways, than we should call them what they are. 

Homoist.
And I have freckles so STFU!
Miss SAMawdsley xx

Questions:
  • Do you believe 'homophobia' is an outdated word?
  • Do you think changing the word would make any difference?

8 comments:

  1. Awesome blog post, strong writing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. another stellar blog Sassy! Lovin ya work ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. By a Linguistic point of view you are right.
    The joke says: "I'm not homophobic. I'm not scared of homosexual... but disgusted!" (with variations here and there).

    A lot of people are gay in a different way. If you ask me I can tell you that I've no respect for those that dress up like clowns during those "Gay Pride" parades, that because of them should be named "Gay Shame". Being gay is not about being promiscuous, showing your ass off or all the idiotic thing they done in such parades. No wonder a lot of so called "homophobic" don't give a damn about lesbians, who are notoriously less showy.

    So how in the world a "Homophobic" could be a huge fan of Freddie Mercury, Stephen Fry or Ian McKellen? Well because "homophobia" as they paint it does not exist.

    There is ignorance, intolerance and a lot of stereotypes which people dressed like drunken clowns at "Gay Pride" keep spreading.


    To make a long story short, yes I do agree: Homoist fits better :^)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I was gay, I would be embarrassed out of my mind by gay pride parades. The visible message there really conflicts with the attempt to present homosexuality as a simple incident of biology like hair colour or handedness that has no effect on the rest of a person...

      Delete
  4. I'm slowly getting over my fear of talking to people who I think are great. It's a slow struggle, cause every day it seems to be reset back to the square one.
    I'm of the opinion that by the 22nd century we won't even need terms like 'homophobia' and 'homoism'. Attitudes towards people who are attracted to the same sex, or even feel that they were born into the wrong gender, have improved greatly over the years. Just my opinion, hope you are doing well, great job!
    Now, just have to hit publish...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Brilliant blog Miss! Really well argued.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't think it's an outdated word. I think it's an incorrect and deliberately obfuscating word coined by people who apparently don't understand language.
    I've always hated the terrible use of 'homophobe' to represent people who are various things, but never afraid of gays. "I'm not afraid of gays" always seemed the logical response.
    I think hatred isn't quite as clean-cut though. Some people do hate gay people. Some find homosexuality distasteful. Others find it morally wrong, yet might still like the person they believe to be 'sinning'. But it is generally classifiable under 'believing gays to be a different due solely to their sexual orientation', which is equivalent to classifying people due to gender or skin colour or other sources of -isms.

    So I'm on board with you about the need for a term change, if solely for the integrity of the language. but I'm going to take it a little nit-pickier...

    When a person judges others by their race, we don't call them 'blackist'. When a person discriminates against women, the nomenclature comes from the class (sex) and not the specific group (women) which gives us 'sexism'.
    So for consistency, 'homoist' does not work. Rather, we are looking for something that conveys 'sexual orientation -ist'. Do we have a simpler term for 'sexual orientation'?

    ReplyDelete
  7. One could argue that some people (a select few) have a legitimate fear of homosexuals. These are the people who have been brought up in a society/sect of society where they are taught day in and day out that homosexuals are pedophiles and rapists because they are suppressing their needs/desires, the people who believe that homosexuals prey on young children and try to 'convert' others into their 'way' of living. I would wager that these people have a legitimate (in their mind) of homosexuality.

    However the majority of the homophobic population do in fact have an 'ism' and not a 'phobia'. Because these people are educated to a degree where they know these points are not true yet they still hate, belittle, taunt and hurt homosexuals.

    So I don't think it's an outdated word, just too widely and inappropriately used.

    ReplyDelete