Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Why are men afraid of astrology?" and "Why are some people afraid of Flarf?" are two paraphrased examples from real life of people asking why someone is afraid of something. But why does not liking something or being against something mean you're afraid of it? I'm not a fan of seafood, but that doesn't mean I'm afraid of it. (I mean, I am afraid of most things that live under the sea, but once they're on land and dead I'm no longer afraid.) Another thing is homophobia. This isn't a real "phobia", is it? I mean, I'm pretty sure a homophobe's main emotion is hate, not fear. (Actually, I think "homophobia" really means something more like, for example, a straight guy uncomfortable around other straight guys, such as in a locker room situation, say. The "homo" in "homophobe" isn't "homosexual", it's "same", fear of the same sex, regardless of sexual orientation. But that's another issue. By the way, if anyone thinks this is some kind of defense of homophobes, uh, no. All I'm saying is that their main motivation is hate rather than fear. Which is actually worse.) But anyway, people are always saying things like this, "Why are you afraid, why do you feel threatened", when quite often the dislike is not about fear at all. The dislike might be due to irrational hate and stupidity (in the case of homophobia), or, in the case of astrology, to an opinion, based on a rational, non-fantasy based view of reality, that astrology is just plain baloney.

6 comments:

  1. I think the "phobia" translates to a kind of anxiety, though there is sometimes an actual professed fear and disgust that a gay person will sexually attack you or something. Once you get into full-on hate crimes, the word "homophobia" doesn't seem strong enough. You can sort of see the cross-over though, like being afraid of, as well as disgusted by, and also hateful toward, I don't know, bugs?

    With some of the other things you mention, I can certainly imagine that there is anxiety around what's new, different, unexplained. Be it flarf or soft-shell crab. But I can't imagine anyone being afraid of astrology.

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  2. yeah, i don't know what the line is between "fear" and "irritation that leads to anxiety"... there's also irritation that leads to self-righteous indignation. sarah palin strutting around completely confident and self-assured about her dislikes (her nonsense).

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  3. Two cents from an observer: It sounds wrong but there's a lot to it -- both anxiety at difference and anxiety at recognizing one's least-favorite traits in others can lead to aggressive behavior (hate).

    Another good one for prompting aggression: feelings of shame or guilt.

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  4. that makes sense regarding homophobia.

    i sort of muddled this post about astrology by mixing in other topics, i realize.

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  5. Scott Fujita, NFL athlete, has said that what we call homophobia is really "heterophobia"--fear of difference.

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