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Lesbophobia (sometimes lesbiphobia) comprises various forms of negativity towards lesbians as individuals, as couples, or as a social group. Based on the categories of sex, sexual orientation, lesbian identity, and gender expression, this negativity encompasses prejudice, discrimination, and abuse, in addition to attitudes and feelings ranging from disdain to hostility. As such, lesbophobia is sexism against women that intersects with homophobia and vice versa.
While some people use only the more general term homophobia to describe this sort of prejudice or behavior, others believe that the terms homosexual and homophobia do not adequately reflect the specific concerns of lesbians, because they experience the double discrimination of both homophobia and sexism. Similarly, bisexual women may prefer to use the term biphobia to refer to prejudice or abuse that they encounter which is based on their bisexual identity or behaviour, and people who identify as transgender often prefer to use the word transphobia.
The idea that lesbians are dangerous—while heterosexual interactions are natural, normal, and spontaneous—is a common example of beliefs which are lesbophobic. Like homophobia, this belief is classed as heteronormative, as it assumes that heterosexuality is dominant, presumed, and normal, and that other sexual or relationship arrangements are abnormal and unnatural. A stereotype that has been identified as lesbophobic is that female athletes are always or predominantly lesbians. Lesbians encounter lesbophobic attitudes not only in straight men and women, but from gay men, as well as bisexual people. Lesbophobia in gay men is regarded as manifest in the perceived subordination of lesbian issues in the campaign for gay rights.
Lesbophobia is sometimes demonstrated through crimes of violence, including corrective rape and even murder. In South Africa, Sizakele Sigasa (a lesbian activist living in Soweto) and her partner Salome Masooa were raped, tortured, and murdered in July 2007 in an attack that South African lesbian-gay rights organizations, including the umbrella-group Joint Working Group, said were driven by lesbophobia. Two other rape/murders of lesbians occurred in South Africa earlier in summer 2007: Simangele Nhlapo, member of an HIV-positive support group, was raped and murdered in June, along with her two-year-old daughter; and Madoe Mafubedu, aged 16, was raped and stabbed to death.
In 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana, aged 19, was killed for being openly lesbian by 4 men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha, who stabbed and stoned her to death. Banyana Banyana soccer player Eudy Simelane and LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza were raped and murdered in the Gauteng township of KwaThema. Zanele Muholi, community relations director of a lesbian rights group, reports having recorded 50 rape cases over the past decade involving black lesbians in townships, stating: "The problem is largely that of patriarchy. The men who perpetrate such crimes see rape as curative and as an attempt to show women their place in society."
Erotic plasticity and sexual fluidity
Many lesbians have expressed the view that there has been an emergence of a new kind of prejudice against lesbians that is distinct from the traditional form. They feel that the use of the notion of innate sexual orientation as an argument for homosexual rights, especially in the form that claim that people on average become more accepting towards homosexuality if they think it is biological, is demonizing the notion that the individual is to be respected in his or her choices regardless of origin by falsely lumping the latter notion with homophobia. They also feel that this denigration of the concept of respect for individual choice, an artificial societal polarization that fixates homosexual rights to the concept of innateness, is leaving lesbian rights more vulnerable to being attacked by the argument that women are more erotically plastic or sexually fluid than men. Because of this argument, some lesbians report that gay men and sexologists who state that they are aligned with gay rights are demeaning lesbians because the argument is akin to stating that women do not have the same right to their sexual orientation as men because of female erotic plasticity.
Some propose that information about the problems with statistics as evidence for correlations between attitudes, such as people being socially excluded from groups with a view on one matter for a different opinion on an unrelated view and being forced into other groups or forced to lie about their attitudes, making unrelated opinions falsely appear to be linked, and argue that it may help rehabilitate the notion of respect for individual choice. Others argue that since sexual orientation change efforts aimed at women often include rape, they are worse than those aimed at men. Others suggest that the notion of female erotic plasticity is wishful thinking on the part of men who want to have sex with lesbians, and should be criticized for not being objective.
- Compulsory heterosexuality
- History of lesbianism
- Lesbianism in erotica
- Societal attitudes toward homosexuality
- Violence against LGBT people
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