Homophobia and Demonstration of the Queer Theory: Analytical Essay Assessment Answer
It is often heard that our differences make us special and unique; they make us stand apart from the rest of the crowd, regardless, what if the cause of distinction and diversity raises the issue of fear and insecurity within the rest of the society (Warhol & Lanser, 2015). There have been discussions regarding the aspects of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation which creates diversity in the society and may also be responsible for social unrest among others who are unaware of the evolving concepts (Moore, 2017). This paper focuses on my previously discussed experiences regarding homophobia and a demonstration of the Queer Theory in understanding the concepts, as it emphasises on understanding women’s and queer studies. However, this study also includes a brief account of my personal actions and initial considerations against homophobia and eventually coming to terms with the differences among the individuals and relevant stereotyping. Additionally, it is to be taken into account that the studies involved in this paper may aid in the development if further research on the subject of homosexuality and the prevalence of homophobia. Furthermore, it may be stated that the gender identity and gender expression have been considered to be a major domain in the subject of homosexuality, which is to be taken into further consideration for diverse sexual behaviour and related psychological implications for the same (Mikdashi & Puar, 2016).
Extension of theoretical literature on Queer Theory
According to Monaghan (2015), a part of the critical theory came to be introduced as the Queer Theory based on feminist studies as a part of lesbian/ gay studies. As per work of literature, it has been evident that while the studies on gay and lesbian activities primarily comprise the common and uncommon behaviour in terms of homosexuality, while the Queer Theory provides an in-depth insight into the categorisation of the sexual behaviour into deviant and normative classification. There are a number of literary works published exhibiting the varied opinions regarding diverse sexual-orientation and the LGBTQ aspects within the society. As per the studies, it can be seen that the rise in the conceptualisation of the theories has become prominent as a result of hate crimes, the intolerance and the fear instilled in people due to the difference in gender identity within the society.
According to Warhol and Lanser (2015), the Queer theory establishes a combination of literary works by Laurent Berlant, Judith Butler, Leo Bersani, Lee Edelman and more. According to Fineman (2016), it is to be noted that the prime content of the theory is fundamentally focused on the concepts related to the mismatches between the gender, desire and sex. In addition to that the identification and study of the mismatch in the prevalent forms of gender, sex and desire, it is to be noted that the Queer Theory is vastly extended to cover key aspects of an analytical framework to study personality and behavioural traits of these diverse individuals (Knopp 2017). As per the paper by Mikdashi and Puar (2016), the intersex bodies, cross-dressing and gender-confirmation surgery are major subjects of the analytical framework identified in terms of the Queer Theory. Taking my former experiences of facing homosexuality, the Queer theory may be considered valid in not only understanding the differences and diversity prevalent among the LGBTQ sect of the society, while at the same time, coming to terms with my behaviour and perspective of the same.
Figure 1: Sexual violence or hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity
(Source: World Health Organization 2017)
According to the reports in World Health Organization (2017), there have been a number of reported incidents reporting sexual violence which are rudimentarily based on gender identity or expression as well as the sexual orientation of the individual. It has been evident that approximately 15% reported cases of sexual violence can be attributed to sexual and gender minorities (World Health Organization 2017). On the contrary, about 12% of the attacks are targeted at homosexual individuals. Therefore, it may be emphasised that the conditions and perception of sexual orientation and gender identity causes a major disruption within the society, causing a ruckus as well as a social disintegration (Colebrook 2016). According to Rees-Roberts (2019), the Queer Theory has been extensively developed from the existing literature on the post-structuralist theory, which strongly emphasises on the existence of a prominent ‘third order’, which dissociates from the formerly ascertained concepts of structuralism or an understanding of the human culture.
Figure 2: Pillars of Heteronormativity in Queer Theory
(Source: Ethz 2019)
As per Thomas (2016), a series of studies on the context of sexual identity have been emphasised on the concept of heteronormativity, mentioning a gender default approach to explaining the theories. As illustrated in Figure 2, the major concepts driving the subject of heteronormativity are, namely, gender expression, sexuality, gender identity, relationships, and sex assignment. Furthermore, an emphasis on patriarchal dominance becomes an evidence in the case of homosexual behaviour as it diminishes the strength of women. Despite the patriarchal dominance negates the feminism theory, it may be linked to homosexuality as well through the extensive compulsion of behavioural norms and activities, thereby not providing a child with freedom, with thought or speech. It may be stated in this context that gender generalisation occurs primarily at the birth of a child (Moore, 2017). Hence, issues related to stereotyping arise. For instance, Colebrook (2016) states that colour has been chiefly associated with the designation of gender. Pink has been predominantly associated with the feminine gender, while blue denotes the masculine gender. However, in recent time, there have been major generalisations of the concepts of gender identity and stereotyping. Men have been flamboyantly sporting clothing of pink colour, while women have long adorned other masculine colours. Furthermore, Figure 3 provides an insight into the classification of gender and gender identities and preferences. According to Murray (2014), ambiphilic, gynephilic or androphilic are terms which are associated with individuals, the gender of who are not identified or specified. Similarly, Murray (2014) states that there are terms which may further be classified to identify bisexuality or homosexuality as well.
Figure 3: Determination of sexual orientation
(Source: Murray 2014)
Issues, debates and complexities associated with homophobia
Some of the ongoing debates about homophobia revolve around the fact that whether marriage should be limited to heterosexual couples or not. These types of debates are a social justice issue for social workers as the right to marry a same-sex partner should be a basic human right and applicable to all human beings (McCormack 2013). This is especially true for countries like the US where a large portion of the society is still in denial that equality in marriage choice is a basic human right and people are still struggling to wrap the idea around their head. However, this is not only an issue in the US, and other countries also have similar issues related to homophobia. Even developing and underdeveloped nations, without any proper access to the television or the
internet are aware of same-sex marriage in the US and European nations and do not approve it as a rightful marriage choice (Meyer 2015).
Apart from this, there are other issues and complexities regarding homophobia in modern society. Stories of teens are still quite prevalent who commit suicide due to bullying, and they feel alienated in a society that is not willing to accept them as a part of their own just because of their sexual preferences and orientation. Even in the earlier days, homophobia had serious complexities, and homosexual people were forced into marriage with heterosexual people to maintain a socially acceptable façade. Although, it is true that some form of advances has been made with regards to LGBT people, most people still afraid to admit their sexual identity and stance due to the fear of shame and backlash they would get from the society (Plummer 2016, p. 14). There was a time when homosexuality was considered as a mental illness and rejected for being unnatural, sinful and against traditional values. These have certainly decreased to a great extent due to activist work done by the LGBT community but were unable to get rid of homophobia completely. For this reason, the adopting of children by same-sex couples is still a complicated issue and fighting for equal rights is going to be long and difficult. Apart from this, there is also a fallacy to the marriage equality, which is why many gay couples are also against the normalization of gay marriage. If one exception is made for same-sex marriages, in other cultures it might lead to multiple marriages, and the age of consent will be lowered for another group of minorities (Baker 2013). This makes homophobia still rampant in most developed nations and seen as a social stigma is most developing and underdeveloped countries. Unless people are open-minded about the idea of sexual preferences and human free will, homophobia is still going to be around for a while, and the gay couples, especially teens would keep on suffering from the social rejection which might lead to depression and anxiety. It is tough for most people to live in such stressful conditions, and this would make equal rights for same-sex marriage even more difficult.
A personal view, reflection and analysis of demonstrated homophobia and alignment with the theory
As mentioned in the former reflections that the incident encountered, is now perceived as an embarrassing incident surrounding J. J had been one of the closest friends in high school. It has been evident from the studies by Few‐Demo, Humble, Curran and Lloyd (2016) that the preadolescent and adolescent period is one of the most crucial periods in the lives of individuals, as it develops a sense of understanding oneself. The experience had initially mentioned being quite appreciative of J’s work, especially as J was considered to be a close friend. However, the receiver was filled with fear, most likely the initial depiction of homophobia. Over time, it had become evident that J must have been confused when she had stumbled upon the realisation herself. However, despite being friends, J unintentionally was pushed far way and was discouraged to maintaining communications.
It is to be mentioned that similar incidents had happened in the past involving people of the opposite gender, where the incidents had disregarded such incidents considering them to be ‘normal’, due to the little knowledge regarding what was normal. Upon studying the Queer Theory as well as all other works associated with it, which had led to its development, an understanding of the concepts and situations over time (Mikdashi, & Puar, 2016). Looking back, it is unclear why and how the people’s relationship had developed the feelings of fear, hatred and disgust toward the homosexual people. Back in high school, people are likely to be more influenced by the culture and society around us. The knowledge of the vast world outside is limited. As previously mentioned, it was difficult to comprehend, evaluate and come to terms with the difference that J and her friend had shared. The community from which the friend belonged, did not preach homosexuality, the household must have always frowned upon such activities. Therefore, it may be emphasised in this context that the basis for homophobia partially arises from the upbringing, household and the communities that one is brought up into (Monaghan, 2015).
Figure 4: Homophobic experiences in a sporting environment comparison by country
(Source: Huffingtonpost 2019)
Figure 4 depicts the experiences of people in a sporting environment in several countries. According to the HuffingtonPost (2019), it has been evident that globally there has been an occurrence of 80% positive homophobic response in a sporting environment, which is almost consistent with the average similar percentages found in most major countries. It may be stated that the incident with J, the words of Rumens (2016) is reflected, which states the social reflection is responsible for the fragmentation and defensiveness exhibited by homophobic individuals. This attitude eventually leads to despair and perpetually at a disadvantage (Rumens, 2016). This is similar to my personal account with J. Though it is evident that coming to terms with the concepts, issues, and challenges, opinions regarding homophobia upon studying the subject. It was a normal reaction on the individual’s part.
It may be stated that the justification of the friend’s actions pertaining to the societal forces acting upon the development of the mindsets of young people. However, where fear arises is unknown. According to Marinucci (2016, p. 16), fear is developed when one cannot fully or completely understand a situation or find it ‘normal’, as per the personally determined standards. Further studies have developed into feminism theory as there has been a greater link identified to it. It may be stated in this respect that is stereotyping is also identified in the studies related to Queer theory, as it demonstrates a difference in the conventional forms of dressing and behaviour commonly prevalent among the sexes (Graham 2016, p. 16). For instance, women with short hair are often regarded to be lesbians, who create an environment of derogation and fear surrounding them. Furthermore, women depicting tomboyish behaviour or attitude are also considered to be lesbian as per their sexual preference, without further insight into the matter. It may be stated that the gender stereotyping often leads to baseless development of homophobia, as per the Queer Theory (Moore, 2017). Hence, clear alignment of both the Queer theory as well as the Feminism theory becomes evident through the aforementioned statements, as I have mentioned formerly.
According to Elliot (2016, p. 15), it is to be noted that despite the major affiliations and recognition of homosexuality, there are major discriminations against individuals classified under the category of LGBTIQ. Figure 5 demonstrates the countries where homosexual activities are punishable as well as the recent changes made in certain countries with respect to certain occurrences. For instance, it is evident that in countries like the USA, and other European countries, homosexual activities are legal. However, several countries in Africa and Asia face punishment, even capital punishment considering the homosexual nature of the activities undertaken by the individuals (World Economic Forum 2018).
Figure 5: Offensive nature of homosexuality around the world
(Source: World Economic Forum 2018)
It may further be aligned with the behaviour of the students in high school with respect to J, to the Queer theory to establish that the societal norms and conventional upbringing had led to the incident. The incident had initially been embarrassing for J, but the friend had not considered that for once, thinking that the traditional upbringing had been correct. Regardless, it has been identified that broadening the scope of study and understanding the behaviour and personality of individuals, may aid in the development of significantly broader thinking (Rees-Roberts, 2019). Thinking back on the reaction back in high school must embarrass and make the friend feel guilty for the behaviour since she did not have the means to comprehend what was right and what was wrong. The definitions of right and wrong are chiefly governed by the perspectives which are developed by others (Thomas, 2016).
This paper critically examines the former perspectives (story) regarding homophobia, while aligning it with the established principles of the Queer theory. The major examples and statistics related to homophobia and relevant activities have been highlighted in this regard as well. In addition to that, this study develops an insight into the conventional behaviour of stereotyping, fear and hatred commonly exhibited by people who are ‘straight’. Societal factors such as religion, community and upbringing have been found to be the key aspects for the determination of the behaviour of individuals of people who do not conform to the definition of ‘normal’ and are often viewed as ‘queer’.