But the quote I reblogged this morning, the one that 33,000 other people apparently found totally awesome, is pretty disturbing. For reference:
“We were discussing homosexuality because of an allusion to it in the book we were reading, and several boys made comments such as, “That’s disgusting.” We got into the debate and eventually a boy admitted that he was terrified/disgusted when he was once sharing a taxi and the other male passenger made a pass at him.The lightbulb went off. “Oh,” I said. “I get it. See, you are afraid, because for the first time in your life you have found yourself a victim of unwanted sexual advances by someone who has the physical ability to use force against you.” The boy nodded and shuddered visibly.“But,” I continued. “As a woman, you learn to live with that from the time you are fourteen, and it never stops. We live with that fear every day of our lives. Every man walking through the parking garage the same time you are is either just a harmless stranger or a potential rapist. Every time.”The girls in the room nodded, agreeing. The boys seemed genuinely shocked. “So think about that the next time you hit on a girl. Maybe, like you in the taxi, she doesn’t actually want you to.”—
Now, I’m not here to debate whether or not every woman should go out of the house in fear that all men are potential rapists, or that it’s simply luck of the draw that you manage to return home without getting sexually assaulted. I don’t think that way, I don’t imagine men think that way about getting physically assaulted by strangers (despite being at a much higher risk for physical violence, especially from strangers). If a woman wants to live her life feeling such a way, that is her choice. I’m not here to tell her she’s not allowed to feel that way.
But the idea that such fear would be used to justify a young man’s homophobia is nothing short of disgusting. The idea that gay men can’t control themselves and would be liable to jump all over any man — gay or straight — in a two-mile radius is a disgusting, bigoted one that has led to a lot of the institutionalized homophobia we’re just now dismantling. The idea that gay men shouldn’t serve in the military, be around young children, be involved with all-male activities, or be in prolonged, close proximity to other men, all stems from this faulty, insulting premise.
The idea that all gay men should be treated as potential predators is something that we are working actively to fight against, because its hateful and unrealistic foundations are the very essence of their treatment as dangerous and unfit for normal male socialization. The mere suggestion that a man flirting with another man in a taxi cab is somehow akin to dangerous, predatory, or even unlawful activity is incredibly offensive. If we lived in a world where to show even a trace of sexual or romantic interest in another person was somehow a reproachable or even criminal act, could you imagine the consequences? How could we fall in love, marry, reproduce? How would we break the barrier with someone we are interested in? We all start off as strangers, and to make someone’s innocent flirtation or starting of a conversation into a justification for homophobia is absolutely repugnant.
A man — gay or straight — respectfully hitting on another person is not a cause for bigotry, it’s not a cause to treat all men as potential predators, and it’s not a cause to reinforce hatred. This quote has successfully justified a young man in his homophobia, reinforced the idea that all men should be treated as potential predators until proven otherwise, and demonized the act of flirting with another person as something that should be feared and, ultimately, reviled.
This is one of the more offensive things I’ve seen crop up on my dash of late, and the fact that it is done under the name of any kind of “justice” — social or otherwise — is nothing short of repugnant. This is what homophobia looks like, and this is the kind of thinking that keeps it alive.