Issues on Women and Homophobia
Published 18 Jan 2017
1. What issues involving straight women have been resolved since the 1920`s in the United States, and which have not? What do you see happening in the future, when and why?
The battle for female suffrage culminated on August 18, 1920, when Tennessee became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote. Following approval of the Nineteenth Amendment, women made substantial inroads in political and economic life. Dr. Riesman in his study of the basic changes taking place in the American characters during the twentieth century (that is, from inner-directed to outer-directed) found that the growing pre-occupation with acts of consumption reflects the change.
The women then were confronted with a host of new, varied and difficult problems of adjustment within a brief period of time. Women were lured to experiment and to try something new and not get stuck with the traditional ways of thinking and doing things. Back then in the 60s, the clothes that the “old school” hip hop artists donned were expressions of inpiduality but they even carried a purpose which was a functional one. Women spoke of a willingness to create a difference of their own despite several constraints.
When one thinks of the identity crisis that plagues people, one is able to discern the connection between this genre and its lure on women then. Conformity comes in many forms and affects many aspects of people’s lives. People, having identified with many models, have incorporated many different characteristics. Now they must integrate, synthesize, and reorganize these, dropping some characteristics and strengthening others. A new, unique and coherent identity emerges, one in which, “the whole has a different quality than the sum of its parts” (Buszek, 1998).
For women at that time, the circumstances all conspired for this art to flourish. Even if women were expected to maintain an unrealistic level of decorum, still, the women at that time were beginning to accept their own sexuality. They began to allow themselves sexual pleasures. This problem is compounded by old feelings that sex is immoral and dirty. (Such feelings are still very much with us even in these days of sexual revolution.) If a women, even unwillingly, still thinks of sex as bad, then it is sometimes easier to engage in it (to even enjoy it) is she can maintain the concept that it is the man’s doing. She is just complying and “it’s really for him” This attitude is part of the history of what women were supposed to do and feel. But it does not match what she wants and achieves in other areas.
There is an additional dimension to the sexuality seen in this, and in the philosophy behind the success of the women then. To be herself, expressing her sexuality, is the final confirmation of her “new self” which really exists. It will “prove,” as it were, that she really can be the person she is glimpsing now. It will allow her to tap all of her suppressed energies and direct them toward her goals. It will be, in a sense, “dependency’s end,” and she is not quite ready to face it. It seems frightening but it is also “too good to be true.” It also means she is still asking a man to prove that her new self exists—to give it his stamp of validation via the final test, his demonstration of interest (Buszek, 1998).
For generations, women had been subjected to men. In the early 19th century, married women could not enter into contracts without their husband’s consent. Women lost all title to property or future earnings upon marriage while their children were legally controlled by the father. Even women were often without recourse against kidnapping or imprisonment by husbands and other male relatives (McElroy, 1991). Women had no voice in what was going on around them, to what they wanted their lives to be, or even when it concerned their bodies. In the 19th century, the industrial revolution created a new middle class with wealth from land, trading, and factories. The middle class women took up Marie Gouze’s ideals.
This sparked the feminist movement. These women were educated, and it was obvious to them that there were rights they were missing. They saw how the men of their class had acquired these rights with the new found wealth. The goals of the Women’s Movement in the 19th century were to get the right to vote, to achieve equality in property rights, access to education, access to jobs and fair pay, porce, and children’s custody (Manzano, 1999).
In the future, I think that for women to act and react out of their own being is to fly in the face of their appointed definition and their prescribed way of living. To move toward authenticity, then, also involves creation, in an immediate and pressing personal way. The whole fabric of one’s life begins to change and one sees it in a new light. As one woman puts it, “I keep seeing everything with a different meaning now. Most days I feel as if I’m adlibbing my way through. I don’t follow the script I used to know.” For this new and much more intense personal creating, there are no certain guideposts. For some women, there may be anguish and anxiety, but there are also clear satisfactions and joys along the way, even before there is anything like a sense of completion.
2. What do you think are the main sources of homophobia in American culture? What is the situation today in America? regarding homophobia and what do you predict for the future, when and why?
In today’s society, many people suffer from homophobia due to lack of understanding of homosexuality. Throughout history people have constantly adopted discriminatory attitudes towards others who happen to be different from them. This is similar to the discrimination accorded to other cultures, races and members of lower social classes. The struggle of homosexuals to receive equal treatment is expected to go on, although support from liberals, the scientific and psychological segments of society greatly helps.
Contrary to the conservative perspective that homosexuality is a choice, scientists contend that homosexual orientation results from biological, psychological and social factors, and is not a conscious choice that can be voluntarily changed (APA). In fact, many homosexuals, at the time they are beginning to discover their different sexual orientation, fight within themselves and try to change that sexual orientation without success. Indeed, homophobia is based on the prejudice towards those who are different. One of the sources is also the Judaeo-Christian religious tradition that opposes it. From its roots in religion, homophobia has been made into a decree as a law in many states and countries. (Kelly2005).
Slowly but surely, gay people are recognizing their different roles in society, not based on their sexual orientation, but based on their inpiduality. In Vivienne Cass’ model of homosexual identity formation, the final step is “identity synthesis,” where the inpidual recognizes the support of heterosexuals and does not make sexual identity as the primary factor in relationships with others (Kort, Joe). As homosexuals progress through the coming out process, they realize the significance of their being, and not being fixated on the issue of sexual orientation.
In the future, I think that it is true enough that homosexuals continue to face difficulties in gaining acceptance and equal rights as the next straight person, but members of the gay community are succeeding in developing a healthy identity despite all the discrimination surrounding them. There will be a lot of progress to uplift the status of homosexuals and to slowly foster equality, in so far as national legislation and general public perspective are concerned. However, the greater part of the work towards equality lies in homosexuals themselves. It is through their endeavor to be strong role models and be valuable assets to their communities that the stigma coupled with their existence is to be lifted.
Major steps and changes would still be necessary before homosexuals are truly accepted into society. Education and information based on scientific and psychological research are key factors for heterosexuals to understand the realities and truth about homosexual orientation. This is seen to most likely lessen the prejudice against homosexuals. While a world without prejudices is still but a vision, homosexuals would do better by confronting the issues within themselves and not focus on what other people think. This would help them be better inpiduals worthy of acceptance in any society.
- Buszek, Maria Elena. “War Goddess The Varga Girls, WWII and Feminism” Issue No.6 1998. Retrieved July 15, 2007
- Kelly, Ryan. The Root of Homophobia. 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2007
- Kort, Joe. “Cass Model of Gay & Lesbian Identity Formation.” Retrieved July 15, 2007 at: http://www.joekort.com/PDF/cassmodelofidentityformation2.pdf
- “Homophobia.” Retrieved July 15, 2007 at: http://www.theocracywatch.org/homophob.htm
- Manzano, Y. “Feminism before the 20th Century”. From cwluherstory.com website. 1999. Retrieved July 15, 2007 at:
- Martignette, Charles and Louis K. Meisel, The Great American Pin-Up, (Spain: Taschen, 1996),16.