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Chapter 17

SOCIOL 3U03 Chapter Notes - Chapter 17: Heterosexuality, Hypermasculinity

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Tina Fetner

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Chapter 17: “Guys are just homophobic” Rethinking adolescent homophobia and
It is believed that men/boys that do not conform to normative understanding of
masculinity and sexuality should be mocked, humiliated and possibly feared
Conversations/observation with many young/teenage boys indicate that
homophobic taunts, jokes, teasing and harassment are central to the ways
American boys come to think of themselves as men
Nationally, 93% of youth hear homophobic comments at least occasionally, 51%
hear them daily
Many youth that are targeted with anti-gay harassment identify as heterosexual
This is concerning, since 90% of school shootings have involved straight-
identified males who have been humiliated with homophobic remarks
Others have committed suicide to escape such humiliation
Practices that reflect basic homophobia are also about policing gendered identities
and practices
Through practicing homophobia these boys are attempting to assure themselves
and others of their masculinity
For contemporary American boys, the definition of masculinity entails displaying
power, competence, a lack of emotions, heterosexuality and dominance
This signalling appears in two ways, through practices of repudiation and
Repudiator practices take the form of a ‘fag discourse’ consisting of homophobic
jokes, taunts and imitations to signal their rejection of what appears unmasculine
Boys confirm masculinity through public acts of ‘getting girls’
For many boys, masculinity must be repeatedly proven as one’s identity as
masculine is never full secured
“Fag” is the ultimate insult for any boy (this is considered the worst thing they
could be called)
Boys must frequently engage in homophobic activities towards someone else, to
deflect it away from themselves
Some chalk it up to ‘guys just being homophobic’
However, engagement in fag discourse does not reflect just a fear of same-sex
desire, but a fear of MALE same-sex desire
Homophobic insults applied primarily to boys, not girls
Their support of lesbians is more about heterosexual desire than a progressive
Being called gay has little to do with sexual desire/practice, has to do with their
acting out gendered expectations
If you act manly and are gay, there is no issue
Idea that being gay reflects a lack of manliness
Exhibiting stupidity, femininity, incompetence, emotionality, or same-sex
physicality are viewed as non-masculine practices
Can be called a ‘fag’ for literally anything, multiple times a day
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