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Lesbophobia (sometimes Lesbiphobia) comprises various forms of negativity toward lesbian women as individuals, as a couple or as a social group. Based on the categories of sex or biological gender, 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. Cynthia Petersen, a professor of law at University of Ottawa, has defined lesbophobia as also including "the fear that women have of loving other women, as well as the fear that men (including gay men) have of women not loving them."[1]

Related terminology

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. In particular, some lesbians argue that they experience the double discrimination of both classic homophobia and sexism.[2] 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, as people who identify as transgender often prefer to use the word transphobia.[citation needed]

Extent of lesbophobia

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.[3] A stereotype that has been identified as lesbophobic is that female athletes are always or predominantly lesbians.[4][5] Lesbians encounter lesbophobic attitudes not only in straight men and women, but from gay men as well.[6] Lesbophobia in gay men is regarded as manifest in the perceived subordination of lesbian issues in the campaign for gay rights.[7]

Lesbophobic violence

Lesbophobia is sometimes demonstrated through crimes of violence, including 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, as well as her two-year-old daughter were raped and murdered in June; and Madoe Mafubedu, aged 16, was raped and stabbed to death. In 2006, Zoliswa Nkonyana, aged 19, was killed for being openly lesbian by about 20 young men in the Cape Town township of Khayelitsha, who clubbed and kicked her to death. 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."[8][9]

See also


  1. Petersen, Cynthia. (1994) "Living Dangerously: Speaking Lesbian, Teaching Law." Canadian Journal of Women & the Law 7(2).
  2. What is "Lesbophobia"?. ILGA (2006-12-18). Retrieved on 2007-08-07.
  3. Jillian Todd Weiss, "The Gender Caste System - Identity, Privacy, and Heteronormativity" 10 Law & Sexuality 123 (Tulane Law School, 2001)
  4. Peper, Karen, "Female athlete=Lesbian: a complex myth constructed from gender role expectations and lesbiphobia", Queer words, queer images: communications and the construction of homosexuality, pages 193-208 (New York University Press, 1994)
  5. Darcy Plymire and Pamela Forman, "Breaking the Silence: Lesbian Fans, the Internet, and the Sexual Politics of Women's Sport", International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, pages 1566-1768 (Springer Netherlands, April 2000)
  6. Megan Radclyffe, Lesbophobia!: Gay Men and Misogyny (Continuum, October 2005)
  7. Kristen Raizada, "An Interview with the Guerrilla Girls, Dyke Action Machine (DAM!), and the Toxic Titties", NWSA Journal, pages 39-58 (Volume 19, Number 1, Spring 2007)
  8. Bridgland, Fred. (2007-07-14). "Lesbian couple killed in execution-style murder: Hate crimes increase despite equal rights law." Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland). Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
  9. Cogswell, Kelly Jean. (2007-07-26). "Cut It Off — And Stop AIDS." Gay City News. Retrieved on 2007-08-11.
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