Two bright figures surround by darkness
j. bilhan © 2020
The Hetero Sexual Violence Machine
December 24, 2021
A proposition that Heterosexual identity is a myth, and partly culpable for sexual violence

In all our disputes about sexuality, we humans have, as a whole, built and maintained a vicious civilization. It seems that daily, headlines broadcast about mass shootings, or rape and harassment, or another female being mutilated by her enraged spouse. Out of curiosity, I began to wonder whether homophobia was related to femicide in any possible way. That question then evolved into wondering about the source of repression or the role of the aggressive masculine within the heterosexual majority.

Although violence may not be traceable to one source, the "damage caused by the heterosexual myth" [1] is impossible to ignore. Never have I heard nor seen a total refute of heterosexual identity as an argument against sexual violence, but allow me to wager my bet. Based on observations made by myself and other more qualified individuals, it seems that the heterosexual myth conjures repression in the young leading to aggression and, eventually, violence. The victims of that violence are typically the "other"—In this case, homo and femme peoples.

For the purpose of this essay, let me define a few terms. Firstly, homosexuality will be loosely defined as a man not behaving within a heterosexual identity. Primarily, I use Homo in reference to men who have sex with men and Queer in reference to overall LGBT umbrella (this term has gained wide popularity with my generation—an act of re-contextualizing oppressive language—but there are many older LGBT people who still find the term offensive). Queer may also encapsulate femme-identifying people and therefore the term femme considers both cis and trans women. I should also mention that this essay focuses on physical, not verbal, violence caused by men. I do not necessarily take into account female perpetrated violence in either form.

Throughout culture, the term "sodomy" seemingly became synonymous with homosexual behavior [2]. Historically, the church has proliferated ideas equating the existence of homosexuals with that of danger. The caution of sodomy resulted in irrational fears and cultural phobias against homosexual and queer people. The militant phobias would be the natural response of fearful people who sought to protect their families and themselves from the ​scary​ homosexuals.

["Pole to pole, or hole to hole, but not pole to hole" is a redneck saying I picked up in Texas. Deployed when guys must reluctantly share a bed for the night, it is notably latent with the stigma that homosexuals will spontaneously penetrate other men without consent].

As a result, heterosexuality slowly established itself as the norm, and those who feared their homo-erotica repressed it and hid in the closet. That is, they shunned such behavior and trained themselves to be strictly heterosexual. The people who lived with repressed homosexuality joined with those who upheld the phobia creating a palpable force of hate for the homosexual within society. Such ideology is directly rooted in ancient Abrahamic religions—Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam.

One stark example of this, and one which writer Maria Ochoa describes as an "early example of the production of masculine governmentality," was early Spanish conquistador Vasco Núñez de Balboa's murder of dozens of indigenous Americans he accused of having conducted anal sex and cross-dressing [3]. This was, as we can imagine, a common theme of the religious missions of ideological conversion from the middle ages onward. On the whole, the Abrahamic religions of today continue to be violently dismissive of homo and queer sexuality although individual factions are becoming increasingly more open-minded.

An illustration by Theodore de Bry depicting the dogs of Vasco Nunez de Balboa attacking Indigenous people of early America
Theodore de Bry (1475-1571) [Source]

This may not surprise readers, except for some religious folks, but the gay-straight argument is sorely outdated. We may better understand ourselves as ambisexual beings. Human sexuality does not exist as a homo-hetero binary but as an ambiguous spectrum. Author James Neill explores this topic extensively in his book "The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Society". While the first portion of his book reveals that ambisexuality is common throughout the natural world, the later chapters detail the erosion of societal views towards same-sex relationships during the middle ages as religions spread their sex-fearing influence and anti-sodomite beliefs.

It remains unclear as to exactly how religious groups first came to associate the term sodomy with homosexuality. Between the 6th and 12th centuries, European zealots seemingly took to writing religious laws as a hobby, resulting in a slew of doctrines called penitentials [p. 328-331]. In those doctrines, the writers list and describe their concepts of sexually inappropriate behavior in great detail. In one example, Benedict Levita wrote the False Capitularies during 800 AD, where he labels homosexuality as a threat and references Sodom and Gomorrah [p. 327].

Still, an explicit link as to why the city of Sodom became synonymous with a criminalized view of anal sex and homoeroticism is not understood [p.100-102]. The irony is that in a psychotic mission of holiness and sexual cleansing, the zealots who wrote these doctrines failed to achieve anything remotely divine. The dogmatic chastity perpetuated by the church has merely resulted in violent forms of repression—catholic clergy exploiting children as one bleak example.

One idea is that the church was never about holiness and always about profiteering; that the problem with homosexuals is that they don't procreate therefore generate new givers of tithes and offerings for the congregation. That idea is possible [p. 427] and another issue worth discussing in its own right.

In returning to one of the points in the first paragraph, it's clear that aggressive masculine behavior in society is linked to youth socialization. Peggy Orenstein's article "The Miseducation of the American Boy" paints a picture of the nuanced ecosystem in which boys in particular are given too few examples of admirable behavior. She writes, "I learned from talking with boys themselves, the culture of adolescence, which fuses hyperrationality with domination, sexual conquest, and a glorification of male violence, fills the void." A lack of emotionality and homophobic beliefs also fill the void.

Neill details a study in the introduction of his book, where researcher Henry Adams learned that levels of a man's homophobia may correlate with his latent and repressed homosexual desires [p. 7]. It seems to me that when a man needs to uphold his illusion of heterosexual masculinity he must separate himself from any femme ideas—avoid being a "pussy," "fag," or "gay"—believing traits associated with femininity to be a weakness.

Because of this, the homosexual—the sodomite, the penetrated male [a female sex position within this logic]—becomes the antithesis of masculinity. The femme becomes an otherness, existing as something who should serve, depend on, and procreate with the brutish masculine male. So, the strong feminine who refuses to be a man's object also becomes an enemy [5]. For this reason, to revisit Orstiens words, parents are "afraid to raise outspoken daughters, girls who [stand] up for themselves" [4].

The hetero myth sets impossible characterizations on gender causing the people caught in its indoctrination to detest their nature; homo and femme people pay the price of this fallacy. This false belief permeates most societies on earth today and is passed through generations from what our youth observe and replicate [4, p. 430-432]. Of course, it would be foolish of me to generalize all of humanity by this formula. It's not that simple to trace sexual violence to one source. Yet, this argument may provide some semblance for understanding how our modern civilization arrived at this position, and where our mainstream views of sexuality are rooted.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, stay-at-home orders instituted by governments spell torture for people who live with abusive and violent partners. Since the beginning of March 2020, some cities in the United States have seen spikes in domestic violence calls from victims; there have also been increases in domestic murder [6].

In Israel, the official rhetoric is one of moral righteousness amid the general Middle Eastern intolerance of homo or queer sexuality. But much like the reports of increased domestic violence in the United States, reports of domestic violence against women and LGBT people rose by 36 and 27 percent between 2019 and 2020 [7] [Ironically, in light of its government's crimes against Palestinians, Israel has gone so far as to establish a Tolerance Square in Tel Aviv to promote its LGBT tolerance narrative].

This trope "is a familiar experience nearly everywhere in the world, from rural American towns to conservative Israeli cities and illegal settlements in the West Bank. Palestine is no exception." [8]

In the same global region, the United Arab Emirates presents its own distinct flavor or anti-homo display—not ignoring the overarching violence by men who see abuse of their wives as an acceptable means of handling domestic disputes [9, p13]. As recent as 2019, those "proven gay" were beheaded publicly [10].

Tragic, then, is it in speaking with my queer friend in Riyad who tells me that "Saudi is the gayest country on the planet," but that everyone is in the closet. She notes that conditions are improving for queer people but that at work she must "wear a straight mask" and that at home she can finally be her "gay self."

For those who do not live this experience [who present heterosexual identities], you must understand that no one explicitly instructed queer people to conceal our true selves, or live a double life. It is something that the queer person must learn to survive in society today: who we are constantly jeopardizes our life. Blend in or face the consequences of liberation.

"Dale & Mr. X" j. bilhan, 2020

In all of these questions, I then wondered if civil rights movements had any influence on violence. Referencing some data, I found a notable concurrence. Spikes in violence move accordingly with same-sex civil rights legislation in both Mexico and the United States.

Data from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics show that homicide reports increased from the 1960s through the 1980s [11], seemingly parallel to the decades of sexual and civil rights movements and the gradual acceptance and legalization of homosexuality in the United States. The majority of the offenders in these trends are young men with other young men as the victims three times more so than females.

In 2017, at the mention of homosexual marriage legalization from president Pena Nieto, reports of violence against homo and femme people spiked in Mexico City [12]. This is merely a brief observation. For anyone to claim confidently that proposing LGBT legislation begets violent attacks from sexually repressed people would require much further analysis.

While violence in the United States has declined since the late 1980s, homophobia has not been eradicated. This is true in most of the world. It seems homophobia has morphed in two ways: outside of the family, most people approach the queer person with a polite aversion. Within the family, the phobia presents itself as physical violence or as a bitter tolerance.

Even with the few examples presented here, It's clear to me that violence is a direct result of repression, either sexual or emotional, primarily within men. It seems that the results of repressed queer erotics also directly influences violence against women or femme-identifying people. If we wish to eradicate sexual violence, our species must amend one of its possible sources—heterosexual identity.

This stupid assumption—that we are heterosexual until proven otherwise—may be responsible for many violent stigmas. Natural history has shown that, indeed, we are ambisexual. The prudishness of Abrahamic religions potentially causes and continues to exacerbate issues regarding sex. We must confront this matter globally and balm the human psyche. This is and has been the crux of civil rights movements throughout the last century.

It's remarkable to me that our species must argue with each other about our inherent right to exist, to be safe, to be loved, and to be respected. We are, together, actively participating in a regurgitative global machine of pure violent insanity. Unless that is, we are candidly speaking out against it.

This essay is part of my project Variable Embrace.

Notes:

[1] James Neill, 2011, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies.

[2] Richard Weinmeyer, 2014, The Decriminalization of Sodomy in the United States.

[3] Marcia Ochoa, 2016, Los Huecos Negros: Cannibalism, Sodomy and the Failure of Modernity in Tierra Firme.

[4] Peggy Orenstein, 2019. T​he Miseducation of the American Boy​.

[5] Suzanne Pharr, 1990, The Connection Between Homophobia and Violence Against Women.

[6] Casey Tolan, 2020. Some cities see jumps in domestic violence during the pandemic.

[7] Benjamin Gantz, 2020. The Aguda-Israel’s LGBT Task Force’s report finds a 36% increase in violence against the LGBTQ community. Blue and White Party Chair Benny Gantz: Homophobia and hatred start in the government.

[8] Dorgham Abusalim, 2018. The Real Oppressors of Gaza's Gay Community: Hamas or Israel?

[9] United Nations, 2009. Promotion And Protection Of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social And Cultural Rights, Including The Right To Development.

[10] Daniel Villarreal, 2019. Saudi Arabia beheaded 5 men ‘proven’ to be gay under torture.

[11] James Alan Fox, Marianne W. Zawitz. Homicide trends in the United States

[12] Agence France-Press in Firstpost, 2017. Homophobia up in Mexico after gay marriage push by president Enrique Pena Nieto: NGO

The Hetero Sexual Violence Machine
December 24, 2021