Anti-Gay And Color-Aroused Crimes Demand Sophisticated Analyses
Most understandings of anti-gay and color aroused crimes
are too superficial to be useful.
One of the reasons that it is extremely difficult to make progress against antagonisms against others based on the others' group membership (i.e. gay, Black), is that those who most want to end these antagonisms oversimply the problem. Like a measuring tape broken down only into yards, an understanding of anti-group antagonisms that is oversimplified is unuseful and may, in many cases, lead to "solutions" that do more harm than good.
An example of the complexity of homophobia comes from a relatively new study that confirms something many of us already know. A study of heterosexual men by psychologists found that men who most hate or fear homosexuals, as measured by standardized and objective physiological measures (e.g. penile engorgement), showed the men who were the most sexually aroused when viewing films of two men having sex. were also the men with the most anti-gay sentiments.
Men in both groups were aroused by about the same degree by the video depicting heterosexual sexual behavior and by the video showing two women engaged in sexual behavior. The only significant difference in degree of arousal between the two groups occurred when they viewed the video depicting male homosexual sex: "The homophobic men showed a significant increase in penile circumference to the male homosexual video, but the control [non-homophobic] men did not."
Broken down further, the measurements showed that while 66% of the non-homophobic group showed no significant tumescence while watching the male homosexual video, only 20% of the homophobic men showed little or no evidence of arousal. Similarly, while 24% of the non-homophobic men showed definite tumescence while watching the homosexual video, 54% of the homophobic men did.
When asked to give their own subjective assessment of the degree to which they were aroused by watching each of the three videos, men in both groups gave answers that tracked fairly closely with the results of the objective physiological measurement, with one exception: the homophobic men significantly underestimated their degree of arousal by the male homosexual video.
How can studies such as this one help us to decrease societal homophobia and color-aroused antagonism? We have to recognize, for example that anti-gay "hate crimes" are often really crimes of homosexual attraction that the perpetrator may only feel comfortable acting out through crimes that seem, superficially, to be evidence of " hate". Males who target gays for teasing, bullying, ridicule and physical attacks may need help dealing with homosexual arousal that they are unable to accept in themselves.
Perhaps rather than hate crimes laws, we need laws against crimes of violence and discrimination based on homosexual arousal, whether the arousal result in hate, fear, attraction, envy, jealousy or other emotions. Hate is only one of many emotions that may drive people to commit crimes against people associated with the victim's group membership.
For example, when men in a car see gays walking hand in hand in the street, and then the men in the car get out of the cars to beat the gays unconscious, the perpetrators are aroused by perceiving gayness and gay love in and between others. How and why they are aroused is something for psychiatrists, prosecutors and triers of fact to understand and decide.
Subconsciously, many crimes that target openly gay couples may be crimes of envy rather than hate. By focusing exclusively on evidence of "hate", we may preclude prosecutions in cases aroused by the perception of gayness, gay interaction and gay love based on envy and cognitive dissonance and identity crises between who the agressors believe they are and should be, on the one hand, and their own actual physiological responses and subconscious emotional responses, on the other hand. They may momentarily "resolve" these conflicts by acting out in rage and anger, and may even be temporarily reassured about their own sexuality by their aggressive response to their own arousal.
Certainly all of society would learn more by prosecutions based on a more sophisticated understanding of the motive(s) than we learn from prosecutions exclusively of "hate."
Meanwhile, the fear of being revealed as someone with homoerotic feelings might deter many attacks on gays, simply because the attackers don't want to be suspected or discovered to be experiencing homoeroticism. "If I attack these gay men, people will suspect me of also being gay." Counter to the arguments of many gay advocates, a more subtle understanding, more subtle legislationa against and prosecution of these crimes might lead to more convinctions and more deterence.
Likewise, the assumption that crimes by whites against Blacks, and Blacks against whites, must be based on "hate" to be color-aroused is a destructively narrow perspective. Many whites behave aggressively toward Blacks not at all or exclusively out of "hate", but also out of fear of the competition that Blacks represent; fear of liking or loving Blacks and being rejected by other whites for doing so; attraction to Black men or women in a society that does not accept such attraction and relationships. "How Does Extreme Color Arousal Relate to Criminal Offenses," AMJCA, October 26, 2007.
A Black woman wrote to American Journal of Color Arousal and said that she has physically confronted white-woman-and Black-male couples in bars not because she hates white women but because she is envious of their relationships with Black men and jealously desires the attention of Black men. (See: "Black Woman Struggles with Color-Aroused Emotion, Ideation and Behavior, with a Bi-Chromatic Couple Cue.")
This Black woman reported that she feels diminished when Black men choose to pair off with white women, and she wonders, 'What's wrong with me that Black men don't want me?' In fact, this Black woman's confrontations with Black/white couples are motivated as much by anger at Black men as by envy of white women.
Most observers would say that this is not a hate crime, because the woman is not motivated by hate; she's motivated by envy, low self-esteem, jealousy, and a desire to regain her self-worth. And so although a Black woman confronting a Black man would be presumed to "obviously not be a hate crime", nonetheless, the crime is aroused by the color of the aggressor, and the color of the Black man in combination with the color of the white woman.
Many readers may say, 'Oh, this is so terribly complicated that it makes my head hurt.' While that would be an understandable reaction, emotions such as envy, jealousy, self-hate, low self-esteem, and anger are subjects properly taken up by psychiatrists, whose training should help them to identify, understand and treat people who experience these emotions so strongly that they commit criminal behavior based on the ideation and emotion they experience. Certainly, insisting that all crimes that are color-aroused are aroused by "hatred" is so simplistic an understanding that it obscures far more than it reveals, and discourages prosecution of criminal behaviors that occur when the agressor is aroused by color and then finds herself dealing with other overwhelming feeling states, like envy, jealousy, fear, and low self-esteem.
If this all seems terribly complicated, that's because it IS terribly complicated. It is no more simple to understand color-aroused criminal behavior and homoerotically aroused criminal behavior than it is to understand pedophilia, anorexia, arachniphobia, and fear of heights. What all of these mental disorders have in common is that they are proprer subjects for psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, while some are also proper targets of law enforcement.
The more we insist on simplistic understandings that any layman jurist and judge can grasp without expert witnsesses, the longer we will find that progress in fighting gay bashing and color aroused crimes is beyond are reach. The sooner we accept how complex the ideation, emotion and behavior is that results in identity arousal crimes, the sooner we will achieve greater success in diminishing the prevalence of these crimes.
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Columbia, South Carolina, United States