Re: Homophobia-- human universal?

sgf (
16 Aug 1996 04:18:05 GMT

In article <4uqms4$>, Bryant <> wrote:
>A recent study at U. Georgia showed that violently "homophobic" (a tad of
>a misnomer which means 'hates homosexuals') men are sexually aroused by
>homosexual pornography to a significantly greater degree than guys who
>are not particularly 'homophobic.'
>Is there ethnographic data on homophobia in other cultures? I did a
>spot-check on HRAF (Human Resource Area Files) and didn't find anything.

Timothy Taylor _The Prehistory of Sex: Four Million Years of Human
Sexual Culture_, p.165 speculates on the rise of homophobia:

" Longhouse society [in Anatolia and Europe] might even have been
polygynous. The evidence for violent death among men may indicate that
there was a skewed female-to-male ratio among the living, allowing
wealthy stockbreeders to behave like their own stud animals.

" Speculating further, conditions for homosexual liaisons were
probably still more abject, while the lives of intersex individuals may
have been brief. I beleive that the Neolithic period saw the true birth
of homophobia; the Old Testament, which is in part the manifesto of a
rural farming society, is stiff with it. Domestic animals display
homosexual behavior relatively often, but it is not "functional" in the
eyes of the stockman; if the whole herd did it, the system would
collapse. Therefore, as eagerly as the fertilizing activities of the
stud bull are encouraged, alternative, "dysfunctional" behavior is not.
There is evidence that the birthrate of intersex [i.e., hermaphrodites
and other gender/sex-related conditions] animals goes up under
domestication; such animals wre probably not allowed to live long and may
have been taboo as food, due to worries about contagion. Human children
born with similar ambiguities might well have been treated the same way.

" The new permanence of houses and villages heralded the establishment
of a number of binary oppositions, between wild and domestic, inside and
outside, male and female, that took meaning from each other. These
binaries were conceived of as necessary opposites ... The definition of
the sexes and sexual activity was no exception to this pattern..."

Basically, Taylor argues that as humans settled down in early
agricultural and herding groups, they became concerned with fertility as
the main (often only) goal of sex, and therefore sexual activity that did
not lead directly to conception was seen as somehow wrong, and was
strongly discouraged.

Personally, I don't know. Sounds intriguing, but I don't know enough
about sexual behavior cross-culturally to be able to say one way or the


-- <*>
"Assiduous and frequent questioning is indeed the first key to wisdom ...for
by doubting we come to inquiry; through inquiring we perceive the truth..."
--Peter Abelard (..........I claim this .sig for Queen Elizabeth)