Policing Masculinity through Homophobia

Guest post by CYH volunteer Pat


This clip discusses pop culture definitions of the derogatory phrase “no homo.” The epithet “no homo” allows men to act in potentially “feminine” ways towards one another, while simultaneously rejecting that their actions have any homosexual connotations. Thus, “no homo” operates as a way for heterosexual men to compliment and bond with each other, without ever leaving the realm of heterosexual subjectivity / respectability. The issue that arises from using the term “no homo” is the negative connotations that become tied to homosexuality. This clip is a great segue into broader discussions about the role that homophobia plays in defining the boundaries of heterosexual masculinity. C.J. Pascoe’s (2007) acclaimed book, “Dude you’re a Fag” explores the way that the archetype of heterosexual masculinity comes into being through labeling and repudiating the “fag” identity. To label someone a fag is to assert one’s masculinity by denying it to others. The male subject comes to know himself through the disavowal of “the other” and the interactional performance of accepted masculine prowess.

Fag discourse serves as an agent of discipline to expose the failure of an individual to meet masculine standards of competence, strength and heterosexual agency. The fag is positioned outside of masculinity, but actually serves to constitute the boundaries of masculinity (Pascoe, 2007). Although many people use these terms out of context, not intending their words to be associated with homosexuality, the implications are real and assert homosexuality as negative, abnormal and to be rejected. How do people use the terms “gay” and/or “fag” out of context? Why is it that women do not have to assert “no lesbo” when in a potentially intimate situation with another woman? How does “no homo” function to structure and/or regulate interactions between men? How is masculinity asserted or denied through homophobic discourse? What role do these epithets play in subject formation? How do slurs like “fag” and “no homo” operate in our society to reassert the status quo?

To learn more about the virality of homophobia online check out the website NoHomophobes.com. This website quantifies the frequency that homophobic language is used on twitter from real-time tweets. These statistics suggest that we still need to actively speak out against the use of homophobic language in online as well as offline spaces.