December 18, 2013

Homophobia Test

This is a test of the homophobia detection system, designed particularly for the people who say that they are not homophobic, just firmly convinced on rational grounds of the wrongness of same-sex relationships.

The test requires some honesty, but it also reveals honesty when it happens. It is quite simple, and consists of a single stimulus and response. Here goes:

Stimulus: You see two men kissing passionately.
Response: If you feel any negative emotion ranging from discomfort to disgust, you are homophobic. If you calmly and unemotionally reflect, "This is contrary to Scripture," you are homophobic, because, of course, it isn't contrary to Scripture. If you sense any arousal, you are probably gay, but may also be homophobic (this is an ambiguous test result; no test is perfect!).

We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast. A blessed remainder of Advent, and a reminder that the judge is waiting at the door.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Although I intended this post somewhat -- and only somewhat -- in jest, it is interesting nonetheless to think about the issue. What is particularly fascinating are the number of comments at the Facebook link where it is clear that many appear to think this refers to a PDA -- Public Display of Affection, not Personal Digital Assistant (for those who remember them... the digital assistants, that is... we were all 15 once, I take it).

However, the test stimulus doesn't actually say this is a public display, nor was that in my mind when I posed it. I was thinking it could be a photograph, an image that appears on your computer as an unintentional result of a google, a scene in a film, or a couple stumbled upon in a quite private setting, such as might happen through opening a door before knocking.

It is the reaction that is telling -- and I distinguish disapproval at PDAs from homophobia.

The test is inspired by the experience I had seeing Interview With A Vampire years back; and in the scene where the two hottie (I mean like Totes McGotes hotterific) vampires kiss, there were audible squeals of discomfort/outrage in the house -- admittedly mostly from teeneyboppers, but then, most teenyboppers are well imbued with the homophobia of our culture.

In a related incident, even further back, I recall that at the end of Four Weddings and a Funeral, as one of the closing photos depicted a same-sex couple, an older middle-aged man seated behind me muttered, "That's scary."

That's homophobia.

JCF said...

Hmmm: I think mere "discomfort" may overstate things. I confess that when I see two men kissing, I, lesbian, experience a certain level of visceral "Who'd want to kiss a man?" bafflement (whereas w/ a straight couple, I'm focused on the woman, and a likely "Dammit!" reaction)

...but that's visceral/gut/gonadal reaction, and it's emphemeral. My larger heart-level "Aw!" <3<3<3 response quickly overwhelms it (and that doesn't even get to my "With Liberty & Justice for All" intellectual consideration!)

I think we all have gut-level reactions (I know that *some* gay men have an "Ew, fish!" reaction to women: don't understand it, but accept it), and it's fine to own them (inc the ones that happen for many men in their sphincters ;-X).

*IF* you let your gut rule your politics, THAT'S homophobia!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

JCF, I think it is worth paying very close attention to those passing, visceral emotional responses, even if they are quickly suppressed. What I'm getting at is the psychological, irrational level. It is possible to suppress or manage such feelings, just as an alcoholic can -- one day at a time -- manage not tto drink, while still being an alcoholic.

I would say that a gay man who has a reaction such as you describe is a misogynist; and if he really feels that way probably a bit of an internalized homophobe. That doesn't mean his feelings have to be acted on, but the way to work through those feelings is to acknowledge and name them.

It's the same with racism or any of the other "isms" that come from deep within the human psyche based on fears, social conditioning, or whatever source. A civilized person can learn not to allow those feelings to take the form of ideas, resisting any urge to act upon them, and consciously compensating for them, rather than, as you say, allowing your gut to rule your politics. But I think these things start in the gut, and need to be owned as such.

CS Lewis once spoke about moral behavior by observing that the true depth of one's morality is revealed when one is under pressure. He used the analogy: if you want to know if you have rats in the basement, you don't make a racket opening the door and stamping down the stairs. You enter quielty and turn on the lights.

Racism and homophobia have their origins deep in the human basements and cellars. Turning on the lights suddenly will reveal their presence. Then one can use all the power of the will -- and the gospel, if that is available, and if not some other sense of human compassion -- to combat those inclinations.

Unknown said...

There's a wonderful scene in an episode of Torchwood where Captain Jack Harkness kisses the man whose name he stole. Beautiful, passionate, loving kiss. I watch that scene over and over. I'm not sure I would describe my emotion as "arousal," but I do love it, find it touching and beautiful.
I'm a mostly heterosexual female. What does this say about me?
Can women not be homophobic?
Is it not possible for a person to be personally repulsed by any PDA?
I think the question should not be "what is your emotional reaction to this stimulus," but rather, "how does your visceral reaction to this stimulus differ from your visceral reaction to the sight of a man and a woman kissing passionately."
If it's different, then you're homophobic. If it's the same, you're good to go.
Same as two women kissing. If this "turns you on" more than the sight of a man kissing a woman, Houston, we have a problem.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Rachel, I think that's more or less what I was getting at. The homophobia issue arises when the feelings are negative; if neutral or positive there is no issue of heterosexism. I think the way you pose the question is a good way to put what I was attempting to describe.

JDW said...
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Marshall Scott said...
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Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you Marshall, that's it precisely. On the question of slavery, which you raise as an example, Lev 25:46 sums it up rather well, though modern translations make it sound optional, using "may" or "can" where the Hebrew means simply "will" or "shall" (and as the KJV more honestly translates.) Non-Israelites are to be held as chattel slaves for life, and are not to be liberated but to be passed along as an inheritance as property. Israelite "slaves" are really more like indentured servants, and only serve for a limited time. The point being that an Israelite cannot "own" another Israelite because they all "belong" to God who redeemed them from Egypt.

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