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How much of homophobia is just generic macho stupidity?

21 November 2013

3:51 PM

21 November 2013

3:51 PM

I fear that Stonewall are turning into those old colonels who used to write to the Telegraph complaining that the word ‘gay’ had been taken up by homosexualists. Viz had a letter to that effect a few years back lamenting that the kids have taken a perfectly good word, ‘gay’ as in homosexual, and now use it to mean ‘rubbish’.

Stonewall have a point, of course; however much people might argue that gay in its tertiary sense is entirely separate from its secondary meaning, it’s still clearly going to be hurtful when kids use it as an insult. You can make all the semantic arguments in the world about how words evolve, but even as they do they still carry a legacy. It would be as if ‘Ed West’ came to mean ‘utterly sh** in every way’, and people using it said ‘oh, it has nothing to do with you, Ed, we’re meaning it in an entirely differently way, language changes etc’. Cheers.

And any school that follows the group’s advice is bound to become just a tiny bit more pleasant. One of the positive effects of gay liberation is that it works against male idiocy, creating a gentler environment for less macho and aggressive men generally who find machismo tedious or threatening. It’s a good rule that any business or workplace that is friendly to gay people is going to be a nicer place generally, which is one of the reasons firms are quite keen to be seen as pro-gay (on top of political pressure and political fashion), and why I think discrimination laws are largely unnecessary.

It’s all part of the domestication of men, whereby over the centuries we’ve been getting gentler, less violent and more considerate; I blame capitalism, which makes such behaviour rewarding with the opposite sex, especially now that women are financially empowered (and certainly one of the reasons homophobia has gone out of fashion is because it’s very unattractive to women). It’s not all good news; the lower end of society has bucked this trend, because, due to a combination of low wages and welfare, men can no longer be providers and so gentle, considerate chaps have no advantage over aggressive deadbeats.

In undomesticated or lawless environments more aggressive men bully less masculine ones, often with insults about their perceived masculinity; since gay men are on average less macho and aggressive than heterosexuals, ‘gay’ is often used as synonymous with feminine and weak; I don’t think that if Ronnie Kray were at school today he would suffer that much in the way of homophobic bullying, but he did tend to shoot people who called him names.

So much of what is called homophobia isn’t really about the issue of sexual attraction (and therefore politics) but generic machismo stupidity as displayed by men with low IQ and high testosterone, whom society and the law have not sufficiently domesticated or cowed. They’re a problem for everyone, in other words, and I imagine that in most schools the level of anti-gay bullying probably correlates quite strongly with general disorder and violence.

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