Men: More Homophobic Than Women?

There is plenty of bad news on the gay/lesbian front. Suicides, gay-bashing. Just a few months ago a gubernatorial candidate maintained that “homosexuality is not an equally valid option” but felt women having sex with horses was hot. Historically, men have been more homophobic than women. But why?

It’s common to think of gay men as woman-like. Some act feminine, feminine stereotypes abound, and gay men do often perform sexually like women.

The very idea that men might be like, or act like, women is pretty threatening to manly men. But even more so when manhood feels insecure.

Men acting anywhere in the realm of womanhood collapses the great divide between male and female. Seeming more the same, male dominance and status are at risk.

Further, if gays and lesbians couple together no one can be the male head of home. Another blockage to male dominance.

But in the last four years the level of homophobia among men has dropped drastically, according to a Gallup poll taken a few months ago. Today men are no more homophobic than women. What happened?

Importantly, women’s status has risen. If women and men are equal, then men acting like women isn’t the big threat it had once been.

But women and men haven’t achieved full equality yet. So what else is going on?

New York Times columnist, Charles Blow called a couple of experts to get insight into the change in men’s attitudes. He talked with sociologist, Michael Kimmel, who studies men, and Ritch Savin-Williams, Cornell’s Chair of Human Development and an expert on same-sex attraction.

Dr. Kimmel notes that, “Men have gotten increasingly comfortable with the relative equality of ‘the other.’ The dire predictions for diversity have not only not come true, they’ve been proved to be other way.”

Additionally, as gays and lesbians come out of the closet people come to see that they are like the rest of us: our fathers and mothers, our sisters and brothers, our friends and coworkers. Who knew they were real people?

Most interestingly, “virulent homophobes are increasingly being exposed for engaging in homosexuality,” as Blow put it. Evangelical Ted Haggard and George Rekers of the Family Research Council have both been outed. Not long ago, anti-gay megachurch pastor Eddie Long was accused of coercing young men into sex. Some are starting to see that spouting homophobia can be a front for the gay man inside. (Is homophobia acting to decrease claims of homophobia?)

Despite continued gay bashing, things are looking up.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Homophobes Aroused by Gay Porn
Higher Suicide Rates in Conservative “Values Voters” States
Gay Marriage Helps Families

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on February 16, 2011, in feminism, gender, LGBTQ, men, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Brittany Bianchi

    Ok wow. I was going to comment on this article for one reason and now after reading all these posts I have other things to say.

    How can you have any proof at all that these men who killed or beat up a gay men actually got “abused” or touched by the victim? Why wouldn’t they just lie to save face? I really tried hard not to get upset while I read your points of view (Snow is fun) you are obviously well read and have done ample research and I am just a young college student but… I just don’t agree with anything you say at all.

    If someone wants to change there body so that they can feel comfortable being who they are why is that wrong? Because it goes against the biology of the person? People cut and dye their hair, wear makeup, get tattoos, have plastic surgery to enhance everything you can think of on their bodies. Yes, some of these are minor changes but it still changes what we look like on the outside to help us feel better on who we are on the inside.

    “Hopefully this is something new & after you read, please share your thoughts. If homosexuals & lesbians live their own lives but not tell others want to think when it comes to homosexuality, then I wouldn’t care so much. The problem here is that alot of them tell others what to think.”

    If they didn’t stand up for who they are and what they believe in they CAN’T live their lives. Thankfully they have spoke out and it is far more accepted now, than it was 20 years ago. We would have never got to this place without being informed and as the article says people realize that it’s there sisters and brothers and mothers and daughters who are gay. Making things REAL making gay and lesbian people have faces that you recognize and love, making them just PEOPLE not categorized by their sexuality. How would we have gotten here without people speaking out and saying it’s ok? This goes for anything we have had to struggle with in history Womens rights, racism, slavery, etc. They all should have been silent and lived their lives regardless of what other people were doing and saying to them? Gay and lesbian’s are fighting for equal rights. This is history in the making and how can they sit idle by when they have so much to fight for? I am glad they can go out and speak at schools maybe they can help young gay and lesbian students to realize everything is ok, and inform other students what they are fighting for. I don’t think it’s TELLING them how to feel or act but it’s informing them that they are real people and they deserve respect and equality.

  2. Kristina Mardinian

    Homophobia has always been a controversial idea in our society today, they are seen by many people as different which results on them being treated differently. When I read this article on men being more homophobic than women I agreed without a thought and now am beginning to think about it. And for me it does have to do with the fact that men are macho and look down on people who fail to fit that stereotype. They cannot stand the idea that other men prefer to act more feminine and resemble women, to others its considered an insult. “The very idea that men might be like, or act like, women is pretty threatening to manly men”. As years pass, our culture is slowly changing and I think people from the newer generation are becoming a little more open to the idea of homosexuality. So in the long run men as well as women will begin to feel more comfortable in letting go of the stereotypical image of the perfect man and woman.

  3. Yes, right wing have bias. I don’t always agree with right wing groups such as topics like abortion (pro-choice as you know but could change law temporarily only if population becomes too low but otherwise do not believe in making abortion a crime per se). But homosexuality is a topic where I do agree with right wing groups to a large extent (used to be neutral on homosexuality) because homosexual activities IMO is not harmless.

    But since bias is discussed, mainstream medicine & psychology esp. since the 1990s is biased in favor of homosexuality. Mainstream psychology is biased as discussed earlier on the politics of ‘homophobic’ violence. A final note on that is that if a man says that he beat up or killed a homosexual after he says the homosexual harassed or abused him, unless contrary proof arises, I’ll believe the man’s story as to why he did it & it’s my belief that most fit that situation. Mainstream psychologists have called this ‘gay panic’ (perhaps you’ve heard this) but it should be called gay abuse.

    There has also been bias with regard to are kids raised by homosexual parents more likely to engage in homo&lesbian activities in adulthood? In the past we’ve heard mainstream psychologists say no but this has never sounded credible. With any behavior, if you witness something when you’re a kid, you’re more likely to copy what you see vs. if you didn’t see this. If a kid is raised in a neighborhood where muggings are a commonplace, the likelihood is greater that the kid will become a mugger when he is an adult by learning what he sees. This is also true with sexual behavior-straight sexual behavior can also be learned. BE Goldberg in 2006 gave a study which found that kids raised in homosexual homes were somewhat more likely to engage in homo&lesbian activities vs. kids who were raised in straight homes, so yes, sexual behavior can be learned.

    Homosexual groups with their ally the American Medical Association (AMA) deny that if a boy is homosexually abused in his youth that he’ll engage in homosexual activities in adulthood. What the AMA says is rubbish & can’t be taken seriously. Quite a few people engage in homosexual activities in adulthood in reaction to homosexual abuse that they suffered in youth. The homosexual abuse messed up their minds & would they have engaged in homosexual activities in adulthood had they not been homosexually abused in youth? It’s hard to know.

    The bias on homosexuality is the politics of mainstream psychologists to condemn repair therapy to treat homosexuality & GID which was discussed earlier. Anyhow, as to neutrality, mainstream psychologists & sociologists since the 1990s are pro-homosexual & for a long time, it has been hard to get neutral views on this. There isn’t much more which can be said, but information given by the American Medical Association (AMA) on homosexuality also is biased & not to be trusted.

  4. In the past I have seen and heard gay men referred to as “girly” and “fairy” all names of or relating to women. This is a two-fold problem: First, calling someone a female like it’s a bad thing promotes the idea that it’s bad to be a woman. I can see why a “manly man” wouldn’t necessarily like it; at the core of it no one wants to be called something they’re not. But in using a term that it makes being a woman bad thing. Telling someone they throw a ball or run like a girl goes along the same lines. Secondly, when gay men are referred to as something outside the “man kingdom”, such as girly or fairy, it pushes them outside a piece of their identity: being a man. Much like a woman within the “sisterhood” of women, men have a brotherhood too. We always hear about “bros sticking together” but why are guy men casted out and not welcome in this brotherhood? I think women are more welcoming to homosexual men because throughout history women have been made to feel like second class citizens much like homosexuals. Sadly, the kinship between gay men and women is a result of being out casted in a patriarchal society.

  5. A double-whammy. What a great tool for insecure men who want to raise themselves up.

  6. Women can be homophobic, more so towards lesbians. But i think the reasons for it are different. There less bothered about been hit on by one, its more that women hate each other so much the thought of a lesbian both surprises and angers them. They also still see you as another rival woman, and depending on what you look like may even go as far as not believing your gay. Straight women really are a pain in the rear, im glad im not a man.

  7. I am homophobic and misogynistic and see nothing wrong with it, it is the way I have always been and is just the way I feel.

    • My morality is based on whether harm occurs. Homophobia and misogyny harm others, Therefore they’re wrong.

      I’m not interested in posting comments that are intended to harm, so I edited almost everything out. See my comment policy.

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