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The problem with the redefinition of homophobia

Posted by Exit Sign Fuses , Sep 22 2012 · 2,412 views

This was originally an entry I wanted to make about a week ago, but considering how heated things were around my entry about my bisexuality and my struggles with it I decided not to. Hopefully with tempers tempered (ha ha ha I made a funny), this won't result in the negative kneejerk reaction that led to the trouble of the last entry. At least that's what I'm hoping.

In light of a recent blog post I believe this needs to be seen again for those who possibly missed it.

Now then! This is actually something I have some authority to talk about. In about four months from now I'm going to graduate from school with my minor being the attic Greek language. The two words that we get from homophobia, homos and phobos, are attic Greek in orgin! Thus you can know that I didn't just read wikipedia and copy and pasted some words and called it a day. I'm pretty much a certified expert on this subject.

Now then onto the main subject of this entry and that is my issue with how people have been trying to redefine homophobia. They root of their argument takes place in the definition of phobia part of homophobia. They say that phobia comes from the greek word of phobos, which literally means fear. They claim that they're not afraid of homosexuality, and therefore they are not homophobic. I would certainly hope that they're not afraid of homosexuals. We're not some sort of rabid people with no control over their id. We don't riot in the streets or attack people or commit crimes. For the most part we're just ordinary people like the majority of the population. We have jobs. We pay taxes. We love our significant others.

I'd lack to unpack the word phobos a bit more just a bit more if only for completionists sake. The word phobos just doesn't refer to a sort of rational fear. phobos refers to such an overpowering fear that it completely dominates everything else. It's the kind of fear that causes flight. A more apt translation would be terror or panic. Phobos is a fear so overpowering that there is no other room for any emotion.

The more you know.

Now then so far so good. People say they aren't homophobic because they don't fear homosexuals. However if there is one thing that I cannot stand it is a sort of dastardly ragamuffin trained in the most basics of logical thought and proceed to pilfer and wriggle certain parts of arguments until they can get things to mean what they want. In the context of this post, I'm referring to people who are accused of being homophobic but then say that they're not because they're not afraid of homosexuals. To put the exchange in a more stock form, we could say the following.

"I accuse you of being X. You respond by saying that you're not X because of Y."

This is of course simple logic. Point and counter point. However the responders argument only stands if Y is true and is sufficient to counter the claim of being X. Getting back to the argument at hand, the responder is only not homophobic if homophobia refers to the fear of homosexuals and they do not fear homosexuals. Simple enough, right?

Not quite. The problem comes down to a difference of definitions. The accused response holds an interesting implication in that they are claiming my definition of homophobia is wrong. It is obviously intended in my statement that I don't mean homophobia to mean a hatred of homosexuals. They counter that homophobia doesn't mean a hatred but rather a fear of homosexuals. They back up this claim by refering to the roots of homophobia. phobos means fear. Therefore homophobia refers to a fear rather than a hatred. Alas! Alas! I am vanquished. Woe is me.

But I am not quite finished yet. I take offense to their redefinition of homophobia. I say that they are not allowed to pick and choose which words to translate literraly, especially within the context of the same word! I say that if they must translate homos literally to back up their counter, I will force them to translate homos literally as well. Homos means same. It's where we get words like homogenous. Thus then they must literally be saying that they are not afraid of things that are similar. Fair enough. I will conceed that they are not afraid of things that are similar. My original point of them spouting homophobic rhetoric still stands.

I am now realizing how long this blog entry is, but I have not yet begun to fight!

On a less technical level, the meaning of words often change. Language is a fluid, trecherous animal that if you do not watch your words you might be saying the complete opposite of what you say. Thus I might contend that at one point if homophobia literally refered to the fear of homosexuals, which I might add that at one point it did not, it doesn't mean that now. When I use the word homophobia and you hear it in public discourse, it is in reference to the hate of homosexuals. When I call someone homophobic I am saying that on some level at least they have a dislike of homosexuals. This dislike or hate is incredibly dangerous and leads to damaging things being said that stay with people for as long as they live. Even something as simple as calling a situation or event 'gay' has start to grow wearisome to me. The equivocation with something I am in a negative manner is rather mean spirited at best and potentially deadly at worst.

But I digress. The discussion on the damaging aspects of homophobia can be covered at another time.

Returning once again to the argument at hand, it's worth noting that the actions of the accused are rather illogical. I claim that they are homophobic (i.e. that they hate homosexuals), but they counter that my definition of homophobia is wrong and therefore they are not homophobic. They seek to attack the technical aspect of my argument. They seek to prove me wrong by assaulting the very definitions that they use. If they are not homophobic by definition, then they have won. They are right. I am wrong.

Take a second and ask yourself this question. If they are right, what has essentially changed?

The correct answer is nothing. Absolutely nothing has changed at all. Let us assume I cede the point. I admit defeat. Homophobia does mean the fear of homosexuals. My use of the term was wrong, and I do apologize for the misnomer. Yet at no point has my underlying point been addressed. I have accused them of a hatred of homosexuals, and my point essentially still stands. They have not attempted to counter it and it is still valid as it has not even withstood a semblance of assualt. I conceed that homophobia means fear of homosexuals, but I still stand by my claim that the person is acting in a way that betrays their hatred of homosexuality.

It begins to dawn on you that everything you have read has proved to be a colossal waste of time.

Any logical objections to my logic are more than welcome to take place in the comments. Irrational homophobia is not welcome and will be reported.

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an actual real life horse
Sep 22 2012 01:17 PM

But Deevee is wrong there. He says there's no respectful way to say it, and there is.

You can disagree with what they do, and not treat them any differently.

It's not a matter of doing, it's a matter of being. You can change what you do but not who you are.
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Indeed. There are scientific studies that support this. Disagreeing with the copious amounts of studies done on this....is just stubborn.
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3) Dye X turns people blue when they drink it
I hate it when people turn blue for no reason
Therefore, I hate it when people drink Dye X.


Uhm... Okay. Now that I've waded through that confusing arguement, I must state that this is a rather flawed arguement. You state that position 3 is the closest to what you hold.

Problems with comparing this position to homosexuality:
1. Nothing 'turns' people homosexual like your dye turns people blue. People are born homosexual. Science has indicated this quite thoroughly.
2. You hate people 'being blue for no reason'? What if their reason is that they were born blue?
3. You hate it when people 'drink dye X'? What if they were born naturally producing this 'dye X' substance? Can you still argue that it's their fault that they're exposed to this 'dye'? Can you still fault them for their blueness if it is something that is naturally a part of them?

The point of this is:

There really is no arguement to be had here, science indicates that this is not a choice, but your behaviour is. I urge you to choose wisely and I am not responsible for the bad decisions of others and the consequences they incur.
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Exit Sign Fuses
Sep 22 2012 02:14 PM

You... you snipped my words in your post. -sniff- What did it ever do to you?! D=

On a serious note, I actually disagree with that statement. I believe co-existence is entirely possible...

-snip-

I snip merely because my posts are long enough as is. :P

And I don't think that co existence is possible. I shouldn't be expected to coexist with someone who thinks that part of my existence is wrong and not valid. I should not be expected to subsist in an environment of hate. I will challenge it at ever given opportunity until it is gone.

Would this be logical? If a person is homophobic, then they would have an overwhelming terror of it; thus, they would instinctively, like animals trapped one might say, strike out in fear and anger, against people who support homosexuality, and people who have that orientation. Would this be in accord with your idea of the connection between terror and hatred?

At any rate, I'm glad to see that neither myself nor friends of mine who hold the same position that I do, are homophobic according to your standards. :)

I never quite said that there was a connection between terror and hatred, but it works well enough I suppose. I don't take issue with it. I would note that homophobia is predominantly hate rather than terror though. Instances of terror exist (i.e. "Save our children from the homosexuals!"), but I primarily see homophobia as an agent of hate.

But Deevee is wrong there. He says there's no respectful way to say it, and there is.

You can disagree with what they do, and not treat them any differently.

Honestly if you can tell me to my face that you disagree with a fundamental aspect of my being, that I am lesser person for it, my existence is flawed, there is something wrong with me, and I should be ashamed of something I have no control over in a respectful manner than please do so.

Note: You might not say that's what you're saying, but it's what your words are implying. That is your statement when you unpack it and examine it carefully.

Double note: Please don't actually try to say it in a respectful manner. It would still be breaking the rules and you'd most likely get a proto drop for it.
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Why should someone try to co-exist with someone who thinks they should deny who they are and would see that pass into law if they had the power to do so?

If the Lions are hunting down every Hyena on the Savannah, the Lions aren't in much of a position to complain when the Hyenas start to attack them on sight.
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I AM MELON LORD!
Sep 22 2012 02:33 PM
NO! You snipped the best part that time! D= -sob- WHY IS FATE SO CRUEL?!

Anyway, that's perfectly fine to think like that. ^^ I just don't believe in that philosophy, though I only hold myself to it (because I'm weird) After all, it's like the old quote goes; "May those who accept their fate be granted happiness. To those who defy their fate; glory." I just value happiness over glory I guess.

... Friends? (Though, on second thought, being enemies could be fun... We could call each other silly names and fire nerf guns whenever we see each other! 8D).
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Tekulo: Toa of the Breeze, on , said:

You... you snipped my words in your post. -sniff- What did it ever do to you?! D=

On a serious note, I actually disagree with that statement. I believe co-existence is entirely possible...

-snip-
I snip merely because my posts are long enough as is. :P

And I don't think that co existence is possible. I shouldn't be expected to coexist with someone who thinks that part of my existence is wrong and not valid. I should not be expected to subsist in an environment of hate. I will challenge it at ever given opportunity until it is gone.


Zarayna, on , said:

Would this be logical? If a person is homophobic, then they would have an overwhelming terror of it; thus, they would instinctively, like animals trapped one might say, strike out in fear and anger, against people who support homosexuality, and people who have that orientation. Would this be in accord with your idea of the connection between terror and hatred?

At any rate, I'm glad to see that neither myself nor friends of mine who hold the same position that I do, are homophobic according to your standards. :)
I never quite said that there was a connection between terror and hatred, but it works well enough I suppose. I don't take issue with it. I would note that homophobia is predominantly hate rather than terror though. Instances of terror exist (i.e. "Save our children from the homosexuals!"), but I primarily see homophobia as an agent of hate.

Rarity, on , said:

But Deevee is wrong there. He says there's no respectful way to say it, and there is.

You can disagree with what they do, and not treat them any differently.
Honestly if you can tell me to my face that you disagree with a fundamental aspect of my being, that I am lesser person for it, my existence is flawed, there is something wrong with me, and I should be ashamed of something I have no control over in a respectful manner than please do so.

Note: You might not say that's what you're saying, but it's what your words are implying. That is your statement when you unpack it and examine it carefully.

Double note: Please don't actually try to say it in a respectful manner. It would still be breaking the rules and you'd most likely get a proto drop for it.

When did I ever say you should be ashamed of yourself?

And, I'd probably still get a proto drop if I breathed the wrong way. =P
Jokes, of course...
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Denouncing an aspect of someone that they can't control is naturally going to have the result of creating a sense of shame. If you can't see that, you lack either:
1) the empathy necessary to broach a topic like this respectfully, or
2) the willingness/ability to look into and understand the connotations of what you're saying--like Gato said, "it's what your words are implying."
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But why should they care what someone else thinks about their sexuality?
If they don't think it's right, but don't treat them any differently, or in any negative way, what is the problem?
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So, basically, they should just ignore it, right?

Yeah, that's a good idea, until that "someone else" refuses to give gay people basic human rights (e.g., marriage). And anyway, not caring has never worked. If I say totally hurtful things about you, you're going to care. It's called having an emotional response, and it can't be controlled. Have you ever been berated for, I don't know, your weight, your height, a bad decision, or anything else? I am willing to bet that you felt bad about that. You can't control it.

Now, as for your other point:

If you do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING while harboring these views, then no one will ever need to know. It's true: no one will care. If you are TOTALLY SILENT in EVERY CASE in which the topic of homosexuality comes up, there is no problem. But it doesn't take much to make a problem. Just by saying, "I think homosexuality is wrong," you have ALREADY treated them differently. You've singled them out, and you've insulted an aspect of their identities.
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Or at other times, people don't say that, but are constantly accused of saying that. I notice that as well. ;)
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If someone's going to get super offended at someone not agreeing with one part of their life, while not being rude to them(no, saying "I don't agree with that", isn't being rude), then the person who is being offended probably has emotional issues.

Either way, I think I'm done with this topic. At the end of the day, I'm still going to have my views(Not really giving a bother), and everyone else will have their views.
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All this, very thoughtful and well-spoken mind you, talk about how hating "ze gays" is wrong and yet nothing about how it's rather silly.
It's not just like hating people for being blond, it's hating how two people choose to love each other consentually; it's like hating people for giving eachother ice cream every day. Even if you think ice cream is a sinful treat that tempts people into fatness, these are still just two people making eachother's life a little more enjoyable, it certainly doesn't affect you, and if they eat ice cream responsibly like most would (perhaps they take a nice stroll to get their ice cream) they aren't even harming themselves, much less anyone else.
In fact, it's like hating two people for giving eachother ice cream instead of french fries every day; french fries can also be bad for you if you're not responsible with them, but if you are they make life more enjoyable and getting to share them with a person you care for even more so.
The point is: eat junk food responsibly and don't be hatin'.
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an actual real life horse
Sep 22 2012 03:48 PM

If someone's going to get super offended at someone not agreeing with one part of their life, while not being rude to them(no, saying "I don't agree with that", isn't being rude), then the person who is being offended probably has emotional issues.


Yes, it is rude. Yes, it is offensive.
One can't just go ahead and say that they disagree with a part of someone's identity. What you mean to say is that you don't accept this part of their identity, and when you don't accept someone because of a part of their identity that is immutable, it's nothing short of a massive kick in the teeth. It's virtually no different than not accepting somebody because they have different color skin, they're of a different gender, or have a disability.

If you can't see how this is rude and offensive then I don't know what to say other than I hope that someday you'll be able to recognize how hurtful your views are and that you'll be willing to change for the better.
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Rarity, on , said:

If someone's going to get super offended at someone not agreeing with one part of their life, while not being rude to them(no, saying "I don't agree with that", isn't being rude), then the person who is being offended probably has emotional issues.

Yes, it is rude. Yes, it is offensive.
One can't just go ahead and say that they disagree with a part of someone's identity. What you mean to say is that you don't accept this part of their identity, and when you don't accept someone because of a part of their identity that is immutable, it's nothing short of a massive kick in the teeth. It's virtually no different than not accepting somebody because they have different color skin, they're of a different gender, or have a disability.

If you can't see how this is rude and offensive then I don't know what to say other than I hope that someday you'll be able to recognize how hurtful your views are and that you'll be willing to change for the better.

Just because I don't agree, doesn't mean I don't accept.
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an actual real life horse
Sep 22 2012 03:56 PM

Emkay, on , said:


Rarity, on , said:

If someone's going to get super offended at someone not agreeing with one part of their life, while not being rude to them(no, saying "I don't agree with that", isn't being rude), then the person who is being offended probably has emotional issues.

Yes, it is rude. Yes, it is offensive.
One can't just go ahead and say that they disagree with a part of someone's identity. What you mean to say is that you don't accept this part of their identity, and when you don't accept someone because of a part of their identity that is immutable, it's nothing short of a massive kick in the teeth. It's virtually no different than not accepting somebody because they have different color skin, they're of a different gender, or have a disability.

If you can't see how this is rude and offensive then I don't know what to say other than I hope that someday you'll be able to recognize how hurtful your views are and that you'll be willing to change for the better.
Just because I don't agree, doesn't mean I don't accept.


Yes, it does.
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Rarity, on , said:

Emkay, on , said:


Rarity, on , said:

If someone's going to get super offended at someone not agreeing with one part of their life, while not being rude to them(no, saying "I don't agree with that", isn't being rude), then the person who is being offended probably has emotional issues.

Yes, it is rude. Yes, it is offensive.
One can't just go ahead and say that they disagree with a part of someone's identity. What you mean to say is that you don't accept this part of their identity, and when you don't accept someone because of a part of their identity that is immutable, it's nothing short of a massive kick in the teeth. It's virtually no different than not accepting somebody because they have different color skin, they're of a different gender, or have a disability.

If you can't see how this is rude and offensive then I don't know what to say other than I hope that someday you'll be able to recognize how hurtful your views are and that you'll be willing to change for the better.
Just because I don't agree, doesn't mean I don't accept.

Yes, it does.

No, it doesn't.
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Again. Irony. A fan of a show that is based on tolerance and acceptance on this side of the homosexuality debate....

Incidentally, if you don't "agree" with a thing that's a part of a person's entire being, that preclude accepting them. It's kinda common sense.
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I'm sorry to interrupt what has become a real gem of rhetorical discourse, but if you don't have anything constructive to say, please refrain from saying it.
Thank you and have a pleasant day. :D
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Again. Irony. A fan of a show that is based on tolerance and acceptance on this side of the homosexuality debate....

Incidentally, if you don't "agree" with a thing that's a part of a person's entire being, that preclude accepting them. It's kinda common sense.

No actually. I may not agree with something about somebody, but it doesn't mean I don't accept them.

I'm sorry to interrupt what has become a real gem of rhetorical discourse, but if you don't have anything constructive to say, please refrain from saying it.
Thank you and have a pleasant day. :biggrin:

:( But I never have anything constructive to say.
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About Me

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