The Heart of Discrimination
Self Fulfilling Prophecy – A prediction wherein, by direct or indirect means, comes to fruition.
Now one might ask, why is this even relevant to such a vibrant and colourful discussion of thought? Personally I wanted to take a brief look at the use of stereotypes and their impact upon society [rather anti-discrimination essay, I know]. However I simply could not discuss the progression of stereotype throughout history without giving weight to the notion of a self fulfilling prophecy. More on this later.
To begin, I will state, these over generalisations of the individual to exist for a reason. That’s correct, either by chance, or development, behaviour patterns of certain individuals are particularly predictable. I will use one exemplar groups [one with my most understanding of] within this discussion. The homosexual, male community, a group that is strikingly diverse, with vibrant and introverted characters existing within, a true amalgamation of humanity.
The male homosexual population, having been labelled with femininity, slanderous and salacious behaviour and indeed overly sensitive and emotional qualities means that these rather precise descriptions cannot have risen from the air. This is where the idea of a prophecy fits into the argument. Honestly, what is the value of a stereotype if it holds no truth?
Cast ones mind back into human history, during the ancient periods of human existence, such sexual behaviour was deemed the norm, and perhaps even superior to heterosexual relations. Evident within ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, anywhere sex was practiced… sounds like an advertisement doesn’t it? Anyway, this is where the often misquoted, “Not in the way of the ancient Greeks,” phrase was developed. But with the rise of Christianity and Islam so to came the downfall or perhaps closeting of homosexuality – In particular male homosexuality. This is interesting to note, as lesbianism was not even considered to be practiced, thus the lack of legal systems regulating such an act. This is also evident today, as the classification of female-female sex if often blurred and is subjective to the parties involved. With the closeting of the gays, and through the discriminatory stance the Church held for practically everything except middle-upper class predominately white males so too came the shame often associated with what is now a widely accepted [yet still unfortunately, controversial] lifestyle. Therefore the unearthing of homosexuality is a fairly modern [1850 – Present] phenomenon.
This period of history is also synonymous with the study of the mind, psychology and numerous attempts to understand the psyche of the individual. With the delightful inclusion of Freud into the mix, and his somewhat fanatical focus on the sexuality and gender roles of humanity means for a volatile environment for the formation of beliefs. Discrimination as a generation detriment is such a powerful tool to ensure that hate remains embedded within an individual, for almost any notion or reasoning.
When Western society was formulating its beliefs regarding homosexuality, one also must keep in mind the influence that the gross amount of religious conservatism had upon the populace, be they religious or not. Additionally the simple dream to find a wife then create a family also has an impact on the development of this stereotype. With the social climate in such a fashion, gays could have chosen a more suited time to unearth their true self, in fact it is commendable that anything did occur during this time, due to the ultra conservative nature of the time. But the culmination of sexuality and gender focus, in addition to the previous 1600 years or so, of discrimination through the church means not only for a totally biased formation of opinion but a totally belligerent and ignorant view. Perhaps the notion of same-sex relationships was totally and utterly incomprehensible, meaning that it needed to be categorised into heterosexual terms, with one partner becoming the feminine and one, masculine. This notion is still evident today, as I find numerous members of the homosexual community catering to an outdated belief, that is a punch in the face for true equality. The feminine partners, ironically and usually being the louder, more provocative of the two perhaps meant for the creation of such a stereotype.
Interesting side note, the etymological meaning of the word faggot [Recognised 1914, American and English Dictionary], is not due to the burning of some homosexuals during the days of Westernised capital punishment, rather it is taken from a previous contemptuous and particularly insulting word for woman, thus another subconscious element of the feminine nature of homosexual men.
Whatever the reason for its creation, it has eventually progressed and flourished within society today, which in turn has created a few issues as a generational and societal prophecy. It is a sad fact of reality that a mere expectation may indeed result in confirmation of a preconceived idea. But this is what is occurring, numerous, especially younger homosexual males are finding a basic element of human experience [acceptance] through catering to these stereotypes. The prophecy that gay men are nothing more than a bunch of over emotional, peroxide blonde, feminine, queens is coming to fruition for the mere fact that this idea exists. Personally I am saddened by the rather real impact I see it has upon society, as I too have at times become victim to this prophecy. Yet that is not who we are. It is not our true character, and if ‘coming out,’ only provides us another manner through which we must dress, act, speak and associate, then is there really any point in revealing anything at all?
I suppose this argument is rather circular, it is like asking, what came first, the chicken or then egg? But the question we must really ask ourselves and each other – How much do we actually pander to the stereotypes and expectations placed upon our character?