Despite the relative youth of this blog, it is probably already clear that I am extremely interested in feminist issues. Feminism is clearly an important topic, but there’s another reason why I devote more time to reading and writing about it than I do to other important topics.
Here’s the thing: I believe that misogyny lays the ground for a lot of other evils, especially homophobia and transphobia.
In this excellent post on Autostraddle, Gabrielle discusses the kerfuffle surrounding Chick-Fil-A’s recent announcement that they are “guilty as charged” when it comes to their homophobic positions. Gabrielle points out that Chick-Fil-A is not a one-issue offender: the company also has a history of blatant discrimination against women.
Here’s what happened: on June 27, 2011, in Duluth, Georgia, Chick-fil-A General Manager Brenda Honeycutt was fired despite performance evaluations of satisfactory to above satisfactory. She was told by her supervisor, Jeff Howard, that she was being terminated so that she could be a “stay at home mother.” Honeycutt was excluded from the management meetings held to make this decision, and to make matters worse, she was replaced with a male employee.
Now, this probably comes as zero surprise to anyone. Gabrielle explains why this isn’t as shocking as it should be:
The root of homophobia, in many cases, stems from a fear of disrupting foundational gender roles. The idea that men should go to work while women stay home and cook/clean/raise the babies is turned upside-down and inside-out by queerness. If you want your women strictly feminine and your men strictly masculine, and you want your feminine women to depend entirely on your masculine men, there isn’t room for relationships other than straight ones.
There are doubtlessly a number of factors which influence homophobic attitudes, but I think the disruption of traditional gender roles is probably the most pervasive. Gay men are routinely called “sissies” and “bitches”–implying that they are grossly perverting masculine ideals. Gay women are subject to horrors like corrective rape, which is supposed to show them how to be real women (THINK ABOUT THE LOGIC HERE–being raped by a man is supposed to make them attracted to men!).
In my own (gay) relationship, I have been asked more than a few times–and not always as a joke–which of us is “the woman”. I wearily point out that the point of a gay male relationship is that there isn’t a woman, which usually earns me a laugh and a “no, seriously”. Even in a gay relationship, there’s an expectation that one person will fill a “female” role and the other will be the “male”. A friend of mine, who identifies as a butch dyke, has told me about the ostracism she’s faced from other lesbians simply because she prefers to date similarly masculine women.
I believe that making substantial advancements in LGBT rights requires eliminating the idea that traditional gender roles are a necessary bedrock of society. This is why I care about feminism (other than the obvious reasons, of course!), and why you should too.