My Hypothesis

by Kelly Clark

I have already shared with you my motivation for starting this blog. This week I share with you my hypothesis – the basic starting point of my exploration of homophobia and misogyny. I am open to the possibility that my reading, observations, writing and discussion with you may reinforce this hypothesis or lead me to completely trash it. Most important to me however, is the journey that I hope we can go on together.

My hypothesis is that as overt negative treatment of women and girls has become politically incorrect gay men and effeminate boys have become a more socially acceptable target of male misogyny.

Please don’t misunderstand me. My hypothesis is in no way meant to imply that we have seen an end to overt misogynist behavior. The fact that 90% of sexual assault victims are women, the vast majority of whom have been victimized by men, is more than proof of that. (The fact that women can and do rape and sexually assault other women is a whole other conversation about female misogyny that we will leave for another time.)

While I would not argue that American women have social power equal to that of American men, we have come a long way.  Thirty years of affirmative action in the workplace has seen women benefit more than any other protected class. In 2009, women made up 46.7% of the labor force and 51.4% of managerial, professional and related positions. Standards of behavior for the co-ed workplace have evolved during this time leading Fortune 500 companies to create zero tolerance policies for sexual harassment.

Decades of domestic violence activism, education and prevention programs have resulted in the criminalization of behaviors that for centuries men assumed they had the right to use against women. Now, some forty years after the first feminist cries about domestic violence, men’s voices have joined the chorus. The male movement to end violence against women includes organizations like Men Stopping Violence and the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, just two of dozens of national and campus based groups that focus men on male aggression toward women.

I would argue that simultaneously, LGBT visibility has increased perhaps to an all time high. Celebrities like Rosie O’Donnell, Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, Neil Patrick Harris and Cynthia Nixon are famously out of the closet. Television shows Will and Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have given way to entire cable networks like Logo TV. The LGBT civil rights struggle seems to be nearing a peak with demands for marriage equality, the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” hate crime legislation, increased student safety, non-discrimination in employment and housing, and transgender inclusion. People are coming out and declaring their sexual orientation at increasingly younger ages, a phenomenon that we are seeing as young as middle school. Parents of gender variant children are seeking support for children as young as 5 or 6 years old. While LGBT people have always held esteemed positions in society, some openly but most while also being closeted, today we are perhaps now more than ever openly declaring our sexuality and gender identity from where ever we find ourselves – state capitals, hospital operating rooms, elementary school classrooms and even church pulpits.

This increased visibility and new social acceptance on the part of some, has come with a cost. The winter edition of The Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), asserts that hate crimes have and continue to be perpetrated against the LGBT community at rates as much as twice that of any racial minority. Could it be that men who would never engage in such extreme and violent behavior against a woman find it rather easy to be openly homophobic or even hostile and violent toward gay men? Might such men hide behind social and religious acceptance of overt homophobia to unknowingly and some even knowingly act out misogynist socialization?

These and other questions will be my focus on this blog. I invite you to follow me and join in the conversation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: