Are Men More Homophobic Than Women?

There is plenty of bad news on the gay/lesbian front. Suicides, gay-bashing. At one point 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 more recent Gallup poll. 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 explains 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. A while back, 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 November 23, 2012, in feminism, LGBTQ, men, psychology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Cool post! As one of your ‘related posts’ points out, Homophobes tend to be turned on by Homosexual activity. Which leads one to suspect that Homophobia is perhaps, at least in part, the result of a closeted Homosexual who is scared of this aspect of him/herself as a result of having been brought up in an environment hostile to Homosexuals. They repress their natural sexuality and turn against it in themselves and others.

    A lot of gay bashing occurs after what at first appeared to be consensual gay sex. The Homophobe engages in Homosexual sex and then afterwards, ‘disgusted’ by what they’ve done, becomes violent. I’d say the internet has been a great influence in changing attitudes to Homosexuality. Those gays who might have, in the past, grown up repressing their natural preferences and turned toward Homophobia, may have been able to use the vastness of the internet to find people like themselves and become more accepting of themselves and their sexuality.

    Well whatever the reason, if Homophobia is on the decline that’s a good thing :)

    Thanks for sharing!

    Rohan.

  2. I think men can be more homophobic then women since men are taught to be manly from such a young age. Being called girly or feminine is not what most men want to hear. Sadly, my own brother is a huge homophobic and won’t even get a massage from a man since he thinks it’s “too gay”. I don’t think my brother is gay but I think he is not secure enough with his own masculinity that doing things that are considered feminine scare him. On the other hand, my dad is completely secure with his masculinity and is proud to tell anyone he get’s his nails done weekly and is extremely sensitive. I think my dad accepts his feminine side because it has been surrounded by women for quite some time. Even our animals have been all females. It is very interesting to live with such polar opposite men.

  3. Alexander Ghanma

    This was an amazing post! I 100% believe men are more homophobic than women. Gay men are more exposed and are almost always portrayed as promiscuous and trying to convert straight men to gay men. Lesbians are as objectified in the media. Most of the time they are actually embraced! Women who ask masculine are labeled tom boys but it doesn’t come with a negative connotation. However, if a man acts feminine, it is considered extremely bad and shameful. I think this is one of the handful of things that women have over men when it comes to being bashful and resorting to name-calling.

  4. Hi,

    Very interesting and true article, I feel. As a gay feminine acting man, I have experienced things mentioned in this article at work. A couple of years ago I had a male boss over us in our sales and marketing team. It was a large team consisting of 70% men and 30% women. I was the only openly gay man in the team. The women in my team and myself noticed that we weren’t having our input on work related topics and feed backs listened to and considered in the same way as our male colleagues when being addressed in our meetings. Also, I felt that more then half of the men became uncomfortable when I spoke on things. Thankfully, one of my male colleagues who didn’t behave like the others enlightened me one day, as he could see that this was getting to me.
    He said that they were uncomfortable because I was a man who was womanish in expression.

    For the last year now, we have had a female boss who replaced our previous male boss. Things have really changed at our meetings now. There is equal share of input and the women and myself feel that we are having more of a voice. Conversely, those same men who were adverse
    to me when I spoke up are now showing “no signs of being awkward and are even openly supportive of my suggestions.” So, yes I think it is due to having female leadership that has fostered this positive change in men’ attitude towards gay men whether directly or indirectly. It is moving away from “male dominance” towards appreciating good leadership in either a woman or a man. Femininity, whether expressed in a woman or a man should not be a threat to a man who is secure in his expression of manliness. Femininity and masculinity should be appreciated in it’s expression regardless of gender as we are all a combination of both and some more towards the one or the other. Great article! I hope this makes for a constructed comment towards the topic.

    Kind regards,

    Jay :)

  5. While the examples of outwardly-heterosexual people who use hateful, destructive rhetoric to cover up their own sexual insecurities are outrageous in their hypocrisy, I think it’s important to remember that outing a person’s sexual identity in response to hateful speech or actions can be just as destructive and hypocritical. Outing is a non-consensual act and is often used as a tactic to discredit a person or strip a them of their power.This is problematic and reflects the outing of the quietly closeted. So while I do see the irony in the exposures of public figures like Ted Haggard and George Rekers, I maintain that it’s important to examine where at least some of the motivation to out a person comes from. Do we celebrate their exposures with appreciation for sheer karmic-justice, or are we engaging in a power-play and debasing their characters because they are non-heterosexual? It just seems divisive and prejudicial to me. This is compounded in smaller-scale interactions where an individual like a friend or family member may spit his or her vitriol in an attempt to cope with the confusion, anger, and self-doubt that often accompany internal questions of sexual identity. After all, isn’t it the individual’s decision to to come out? This requires an extraordinary amount of patience, I know, but I think it’s important to operate from a place of empathy.

  6. Interesting article, I had no idea that this was the case because from my personal experience it seems like women are way more accepting towards homosexuals than men. I actually had a gay childhood friend who came out a couple years ago and a lesbian who came out more recently. The man nearly lost all his male friends but the lesbian didn’t really loose any friends. I just assumed that it was because men are more homophobic but after reading this post I realize that it could be a culture thing. The gay man was from Chile and mainly has Hispanic and Arabic friends, whereas the lesbian have mostly Swedish friends and Swedish people are known to be very accepting towards the gay community. No matter what the case may be, It absolutely makes no sense to distance yourself from people due to there sexual preference.

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