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Heterosexist Language

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by

Sheldon Ang

on 2 April 2013

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Transcript of Heterosexist Language

Finally Think before you speak
What one says can be taken as offensive
Treat everyone equal, parallel the LGTBQ people Problems in language Heterosexist Bias On LGBTQ Terminology unclear/associated with negative stereotypes
Language is too vague/poorly defined
Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concerns (GLGC) has considered issues of heterosexual bias in language since founded in 1980 Proper Terms 'Lesbian' & 'gay male' preferred over 'homosexual,' used as a noun
'Homosexual' is associated with negative stereotypes (criminal behaviour, ambiguous in reference exclusively for men)
'Same-gender sexual behaviour' for people who engage in activities regardless of orientation
'Bisexual' usually omitted in discussion of orientation, giving the idea that all people are exclusive to one gender (invisibility of bisexual)
'Heterosexual' is acceptance for people with opposite sexual relationships who do not engage in sexual activity with people of the same gender Heterosexist Behaviour Heterosexist Language - mechanism which sexual orientation microaggressions are perpetuated (everyday derogatory slights directed toward marginalized population)
Microaggression - everyday verbal/nonverbal/environmental insults to communicate negative messages to target a person based upon marginalized group membership
language is a powerful tool that can harm, belittle, marginalize others; powerful when not intentionally used in such ways
Anti-gay language communicates hostility toward LGB people, contributes to unwelcoming and unsafe environment for them (Burn, 2000) Problematic Terms Queer
common usage applies to men
older speakers find it irredeemable while younger prefer it to gay (generational clash)
'sexual minorities' transgender, transexual, tranvestites

Gay
Adjective/Noun, some differentiate both terms (behaviour vs. identity)
Many are comfortable with the former, but not the latter

Lesbian/Dyke
Neutral vs. degree of 'butchness'
'Dyke' considered an expression of pride That's So Gay The term “that’s so gay” contributes to hostile environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual students
Positive association with peers, negative with LGB acquaintances
“That’s so gay” can affect well-being of LGB students, feeling left out on campus, frequency of headaches, stomach problems (Woodford et al., 2012)
The use of "gay" criticizes characteristics related to gay & lesbian
homophobic jokes and slurs frequently used between heterosexual males to regulate masculinity and reinforce traditional gender norms (Burn, 2000) Research: conducted in a Midwestern Public Research University, programs that included sexual orientation diversity
Data collected using anonymous online survey, inquiring aspects of campus climate, experiencing and witnessing heterosexist harassment and other forms of interpersonal mistreatment on campus, and social attitudes
Asked 8,000 students partake in the study
Questions varied from how often one heard the phrase, how often they used the phrase, agree/disagree to have same-sex couples, if feminine men made them feel uncomfortable, the use of LGBT people in for-credit courses The Experiment The Results 2,568 students (graduate, undergraduate) completed the survey
average age 19.43 years
three-quarters of participants were white
65% of respondents said the phrase at least once on campus in the past 12 months
90% of respondents reported hearing the phrase once on campus, 63% more than 10
participants who reported lower levels of comfort around a feminine man said the phrase more frequently
with small effect size, negative association found for having LGB acquaintances; those with more acquaintances said the phrase less
those who heard the phrase more often reported saying it more often What Does It Mean undergraduate male students sometimes define masculinity in what they have been conditioned to believe men are not to be; anti-gay behaviour serves as ‘primary means to enforce rigid and limited gender norms for men’
boys appear to be sensitive to social and cultural messages related to gender-normative male behaviour and receive harsher reactions from other boys and girls for demonstrating gender atypical behaviour than girls (Swearer, Turner, Givens, Pollack, 2008)
saying the phrase may be understood as contemporary tactic of male gender policing
some students say the phrase to follow the dominant language norms or are unconsciously replicating other’s behaviours Solutions To Reducing The Bias use examples of LGBTQ referring to activities (athletic ability) that are erroneously associated only with heterosexual people by many readers
refer LGBTQ in situations other than sexual relationships (connected to sexual activity)
refer to sexual and intimate emotional partners with both male & female terms
gender norm-focused violence intervention program for college male students helped participants reject stereotypical conceptions about masculinity (Hong, 2000)
many universities anti-discrimination statements include sexual orientation and gender expression and identity UBC Bias-Free Language Do not assume heterosexual orientation; use examples of same-sex couples in writings and situations other than relationships
Use non-gendered words ('partner' instead of 'boyfriend')
Use the term "sexual orientation" instead of "sexual preference"
Be specific in language, carefully using explicit words
Use current, appropriate terms
Clinical terms: homosexual, transvestite, hermaphrodite have gone out of favour
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