The Ebb and Flow of Homophobia: a Gender Taboo Theory
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A key challenge for gender theory and practice is to explain the circumstances in which homophobia either intensifies or declines. In addition to the important theoretical implications of such an explanation, being able to clearly delineate the mechanisms that drive the ebb and flow of homophobia raises the prospect that one day it might be possible to eradicate this important antisocial problem. But understanding the underlying drivers entails the development of a satisfactory body of theory to explain the existence of homophobia-a body of theory that may well be called on to explain different homophobias in different cultural settings that span the gender spectrum. As discussed, various proposals have been made for alternative terminologies and associated candidate theories that are intended to explain homophobia better. However, none seems to have articulated a sufficiently compelling case to be considered definitive, while others simply fail to accord with everyday homophobic experiences. The purpose of this paper is threefold. First, to propose a set of criteria that need to be satisfied if a theory is going to provide a robust explanation for the ebb and flow of homophobia(s). Second, to explore whether gender taboos offer a coherent theoretical basis for explaining the existence of, and the power behind homophobia. Finally, the analysis looks to shifting gender relations as a possible explanation for the ebb and flow of homophobia.
© 2014 Springer Netherlands. This is an electronic version of an article published in Sex Roles, August 2014, Volume 71, Issue 3, pp 126–136. Sex Roles is available online at: http://link.springer.com/ with the open URL of your article.
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