Kimmel’s Homophobia

March 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I found this essay interesting, because it changed my views on what exactly homophobia is.  Previously I thought it was only a fear directed at homosexual persons.  In feminist theory, scholars talk about the male gaze on women, and how that causes women to present themselves in certain ways.  They do this because they are aware that everywhere they go they may be looked upon by men.  I did not think about this applying to other men much until I read this essay.  It seems to me that men are also subject to male gaze, but often for different reasons than women.  Men perform their masculine characteristics for other men so that they are not perceived as feminine men or gay men.  The male gaze involves a power component as well.  Men feel compelled to perform masculinities in the presence of other men who may be perceived as more powerful or masculine than themselves.

One of the most striking things I read in this essay was Kimmel’s remarks about men’s and women’s fears.  He writes, “In one survey, women and men were asked what they were most afraid of.  Women responded that they were most afraid of being raped and murdered.  Men responded that they were most afraid of being laughed at.”  This seems ironic to me, because men are more likely to be victims and perpetrators of violence.  Therefore it would make sense that men should be more afraid of being victims of violence.  I found it shocking that a man is more afraid of being humiliated than he is of being physically violated.  This fear of humiliation can be dangerous to men’s health especially.  As I mentioned in another post, men are more likely to be involved in violence and suicide, and their life expectancy is shorter than women’s.  This shows the detrimental effects of homophobia for men.

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