sexual_dimorphismI spent the day thinking about homophobia and sexual dimorphism in human beings. What is sexual dimorphism? Apologies for the somewhat lengthy background, but here goes.

Sexual dimorphism means difference between the sexes in size, ornamentation, and behaviour. The closest living relatives of human beings have a fair bit of difference in all three of those things. In human beings the differences are not that visible, except when it comes to size. A human male tends to be slightly heavier and larger than a human female.

Our closest relative, the Chimpanzee is like us, and have a slight to moderate dimorphism limited to size. Male chimpanzees are in general slightly larger than the females. On the other hand, the dimorphism among Orangutans is significant. Not only is the male Orangutan much larger, but the appearance is very different from the females. Gorillas fall between the Orangutans and the Chimpanzees in that the male is significantly larger than the female, but there is not a marked difference in appearance.

So, there is a sexual dimorphism in humans, and that also exist in our closest living relatives among the other hominids. But does that mean that there are behavioural and mental differences as well?

If the great apes are our statistical control group, then we’d have to say that sexual dimorphism exist in human behaviour as well. But, since we have the brains and the capacity to rationalise things, even if those things are wrong, we get into trouble because we start to attach value to the aspects of dimorphism. Male is valued more than female.

If we remove technology, human beings are remarkably like Chimpanzees in behaviour. Our brains and our technology does moderate the extremes, but humans and chimpanzees are fairly similar in temperament and social order. But the capacity to rationalise ensures that a discussion about sexual behavioural dimorphism easily becomes misogyny or misandry because acculturation makes us value the male more than the female.

If you discuss sexual dimorphism among humans, you start to get into placing value on one gender or the other. Female, or male, behaviour is placed on an appropriate-inappropriate scale. The most blatant example of this can be found among the homophobes, and among gay men.

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homophobia1Homophobia is generally an example of misogyny, in my opinion. Homophobes generally think that gay or bi men are more like women, and since being a woman is worse than being a man they don’t like gay or bi men.

But what about gay or bi women? I think that gay and bi women generally get the short end of the stick. They’re disliked by rote; first because they’re trying to become something outside of their role – a man – and second they’re made invisible by the LGBTs themselves.

Nearly all homophobia is about men having sex with men. I’m trying to think of a case where public figures have complained about lesbian sex. I can’t think of any. In the religious context it is all about men, as the quote from the Bible’s Leviticus shows:

– “Man shall not lie with man, as man lies with women”, the line says. It is in itself a misogynist statement where there is a negative valuation of women.

What the homophobes are complaining about then is that some men “pretend to be women”, and since women are worse than men, then it must be corrected by speech or action. That is homophobia.

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misogyniA sub-current of homophobia as misogyny is the anti-effeminate views of gay men. It too is an example of valuating women as less than men.

You will sometimes hear gay men that are livid about effeminate gay men. It is stated as “I’m gay because I like men! They should be more like men!” Effeminacy reduces the manliness in the eyes of others, and it becomes a threat to the manliness of butch gay men. If butch gay men are unmanly, then the butch men are worse off.

If effeminate men become the norm for gay men, then people will hate all gay men more. The notion is in itself misogynist. That sort of internalised homophobia is misogyny too. It affirms that there is something less worthy about women.

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