💢

Been disappointed to see more joining onto the “-phobia” bandwagon with (spreading?) use of “aphobia” and “acephobia,” trading on an equivalency between a phobia and an evil ideology.  Really not keen on that.  Instead of saying “aphobic” or “acephobic,” it’s easy enough to just say anti-ace.

If you need a noun, there are lots of nouns that can be applicable.  Anti-ace prejudice, anti-ace bigotry, anti-ace harassment, anti-ace vilification, anti-ace abuse, anti-ace violence.

For hetero-focused things, you can specify anti-ace heteronormativity.

There’s also compulsory sexuality and sex-normativity as decent terms.

And I’m not sure why “acemisogyny” isn’t already a thing.

Lots of options!  Lots of ways to get at the idea of ace-targeting wrongness and harm without resorting to “-phobia.”  I know it’s just to follow an established pattern — and my beef is with the entire pattern, too, but I’m just addressing one of the groups I’m part of here.

Can we please agree to put this one on the shelf?

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36 responses to “💢

  • Siggy

    I don’t really understand or agree with the deprecation of -phobia.

    • Coyote

      My default association with it is as a specific medical term for a type of mental disorder. Ignoring that, it still means fear, which isn’t accurate either.

      That doesn’t mean that everybody else is gonna see it the same way, but that doesn’t make the issue go away for me, either.

      • Siggy

        But everyone seems to see through the homophobia/fear association. Rather than producing genuine misunderstandings, it just produces complaints.

        • Coyote

          What do you mean “see through”?

          • Siggy

            I meant that rather than producing genuine misunderstandings, it just produces complaints?

            I would be more concerned if a lot of people said, “This used to confuse me. Now that I realize I was confused, I advocate less confusing words.” Rather, people say, “this is confusing different ideas” but if that’s the case, can you point to examples of people being confused?

          • Coyote

            Not really saying or interested in saying that people get confused as a result.

            When my coworker told me “That woman is very sick” about my intrusive landlord, I knew exactly what she meant, no confusion there, but I still objected to her using the word sick like that.

          • Siggy

            So rather than saying people are confusing different concepts, you are saying they are associating different concepts. Yes, that is different. But I still want to see examples of it.

          • Coyote

            Examples of… what other things phobia can mean? …Okay now I’m actually confused.

          • Siggy

            You need an example of someone who actually comes up with harmful & wrong ideas because of the homophobia/phobia association.

          • Coyote

            Okay, we’re still not on the same page then, because I’m not in the “this is bad because it will lead to something bad” camp.

          • Siggy

            Well I certainly offer a counter-argument to the argument you have not presented.

          • Coyote

            True! I think I did say it in the post though. I think the useage itself, using phobia to mean a nonphobia ideological thing, is itself a wrong and harmful idea for combining health talk and morality talk. I didn’t really go into why I think that here because I’ve already written on it, I guess.

          • Siggy

            *cannot offer

          • Siggy

            I don’t actually remember your argument against -phobia terms, possibly because I disagreed with it at the time

            Lots of people make arguments against the term “homophobia”, often with dubious motivation and reasoning. I have no particular attachment to “aphobia”, but I am unsympathetic to moves to deprecate it.

          • Siggy

            I think using “crazy” to mean “wrong” can be criticized on consequentialist grounds, whereas using “homophobia” cannot. So in 2014, I would have agreed with your post, moved on, and never have thought to extend the point to “homophobia”.

            Hey, remember how much we like analogies? Here’s one. I think of “homophobia” is analogous to “audiophile” or other -phile words. Despite sharing a root with paraphilias, the association isn’t very strong and it is basically a non-issue.

          • Coyote

            I… ‘m kinda creeped out by that kind of use of -phile too. Although I think it’s worth noting, “philia” wasn’t always used to mean sexual interest, and that’s kind of imprinted in my brain too. But I’m getting sidetracked.

            So I guess we differ in our impressions of how strong an association “-phobia” ideological suffixing has with “-phobia” pathological suffixing? Dunno how to sort that one out.

          • Siggy

            The way to sort it out is with evidence of people actually associating the two concepts. Which is what I had proposed in the first place.

          • Coyote

            Well, there’s one in the comments now.

        • LH-Moth

          I’m not entirely sure I have anything useful to add to this discussion, or even whether it would be appropriate to jump in. But I just have to ask about “evidence of people actually associating the two concepts”. I keep stumbling over it. What is this asking for? Over the years, I’ve found multiple ways to express problems with “-phobia” language. The way it plays into the moral narrative associated with anxiety disorders, or the way it linguistically frames discussions, or the problems of using medical terminology, etc. But these are probably the same sort of arguments other people are making. So what sort of evidence is needed here? What does “associating” mean in this context?

          • Siggy

            “Association” was Coyote’s word, ask them to explain that. In fact, ask them for an example, which is what I was asking for.

            The evidence I had imagined was a link to a think-piece where the author says something to the effect of “The small-minded fear what they cannot understand. So do homophobes.” I think you could do this easily. Seriously, maybe I should concede this point already.

            In practice, I feel like the people who are most strongly pushing the homophobia/phobia association are conservatives, as a way of arguing that they are not homophobic, and that the very concept of homophobia is absurd. The political context must be appreciated, and I won’t accept a post that says “-phobia” words are bad, and which fails to elaborate or come up with a single example.

          • Coyote

            Wait, really? I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah, I really don’t want to be grouped in with those types… though I think that tends to go hand in hand with “and it’s not actually a problem” or “it’s not actually bad.”

            Anyway, besides… this, some lazy googling suggests that George Weinberg supposedly coined “homophobia” — and he’s quoted here as saying, “Homophobia is just that: a phobia.”

            For something more recent I found this informal essay talking about homophobia as based in “irrational fear.”

          • Siggy

            lol, maybe I should have pointed to conservatives from the outset. See for instance Conservapedia’s article on homophobia (will not link).

            Google suggests that the fear/homophobia association is stronger than I would have thought, even among lgbt-positive people. All things considered, LMGTFY might have been an adequate rebuttal to my original argument.

  • Vesper

    curious what you mean when you say that you see more people jumping onto the bandwagon in using aphobia and acephobia. as far as i can tell, usage of these terms doesn’t seem any more prevalent than it has been…

    • Coyote

      lol well, I guess I don’t really have the data to assess an increase or not. Just seems like I’ve been seeing it more is all. Could be I’ve just been paying more attention to people who were already using it.

  • LH-Moth

    I just wanted to say thank so much for this! Your blog was the first place I ever saw someone else objecting to the usage of “phobia” in relation to discrimination and harassment. (Sorry I haven’t commented before; I really have appreciated it every time I see it.)

    As someone with a specific phobia, seeing the way words like “homophobia”, “biphobia”, “aphobia”, etc, are used is usually upsetting for me. While I’ve learned to grit my teeth and push past it, I’m still not thrilled with seeing violence and discrimination tied to a mental disorder. Not to mention how it dilutes the meaning of this word. It’s such a struggle to get people to understand what living with a phobia is like. They’re always so quick to find reasons to dismiss it. (“Oh, you’re making jokes about it? It can’t be as serious as you say it is, then! It’s not like anyone ever uses humour as a coping mechanism!” Gah! Sorry. Getting sidetracked…)

    Again, thank you for calling attention to this. And thank you offering alternatives! I do tend to say “anti-ace” a lot. (Strangely, I somehow latched onto the phrase “anti-ace sentiments”.) I think it’s actually easier to say that “aphobia”, but that’s probably just me, tripping over words…

  • Klaaraa

    okay I think one of the reasons aphobia gets used in anti-ace-inclusion-dicourse, is that some of the People on the bad side of said discourse are very focused on the concept of homophobia and how nothing that isn’t homophobia can ever really be opression, and many of them really don’t want to hear that there is more to heterosexism/heteronormativity than anti-homosexual bigotry.

  • Klaaraa

    I would also like to Point out that some People (NOT including me) seem to find it useful to group the experiences and oppression of aces, aros, aroaces, and people with grey-area attraction Patterns into one word, aspec, and its derivative, aphobia, which is even shorter than anything. That makes it easy to slide into Areas where over-generalization makes very little sense, which in turn makes any Point easy to attack/hard to defend.

  • Sangam

    Anti-ace prejudice and all the related suggestions offered are inherently exclusive to aro people; aphobia is inclusive of all aspec folx. I understand where you are coming from in theory but I respectfully disagree with the resistance to language drift; language inherently changes and people adjust as language IS used, not as it once WAS used. “Homophobia/biphoba/transphobia” etc have long been established for what they are; not disorders or pathologies but popular usage terms to describe just what aphobia is being used for in the community: patterns of distrimination and prejudice and harassment and hate/violence.

    Contextually speaking in common parlance it is often a simple matter to clarify/contextualize when you are meaning it in a fear or disorder sense. We’re not going to root out the use of homo/bi/trans/etc phobias from common parlance, and attempting to curtail people’s use of aphobia from this well-established pattern of common usage just seems like one more attempt to gatekeep what parts of the community aspec people can and can’t access. Given how much vitriol we already face when trying to access the simple and common language of the community, attempting to dictate one more very common language pattern feels both nonproductive and also highly uncomfortable to me.

    • Coyote

      “Anti-ace prejudice and all the related suggestions offered are inherently exclusive to aro people”

      Assuming you mean “of” and not “to,” that’s a feature, not a bug.

      “have long been established for what they are; not disorders or pathologies but popular usage terms to describe just what aphobia is being used for ”

      The “but people do it a lot” thing doesn’t dissuade me from thinking a thing is wrong, in general.

      “just seems like one more attempt to gatekeep what parts of the community aspec people can and can’t access.”

      What community? The ace community? I’m just talking to aces as an ace here. That doesn’t make any sense.

      • Sangam

        “Anti-ace prejudice and all the related suggestions offered are inherently exclusive to aro people”
        Assuming you mean “of” and not “to,” that’s a feature, not a bug.

        … if you mean to say that you are specifically seeking terminology that does not included aro people in it, then I certainly don’t want any part of it. “Aphobia” covers harassment and prejudice and violence etc that targets any aspec folk; all your proposed terms only covered things that target asexual folk specifically and would not apply to any violence/discrimination/etc against aro folk. If that was intentional on your part and you consider that a feature I am double opposed to changing language that already serves quite well.

        • Coyote

          “… if you mean to say that you are specifically seeking terminology that does not included aro people in it, then I certainly don’t want any part of it.”

          I mean…? If you mean to say that the prejudices against the asexual umbrella and the aromantic umbrella are identical and interchangeable and should be folded into one word instead of acknowledged as separable processes, then I want no part of that talk either. There are different terms (already in use, even) for anti-aro stuff.

          • Sangam

            No, I do not think the prejudics are identical and interchangeable, and I never said that I did. I do think that there is a value in inclusive language, especially in communities that are so greatly marginalized and fractionalized already. There is also value in HAVING language that is specific with which to talk about the specific harms that we come to — but there ARE many places that we overlap (the ways both aces & aros are treated as though we are lacking some essential core part of humanity lead to a lot of similar prejudices and harassments) and I believe there is a very real benefit to having some solidarity in our language, too.

            I never argued for doing away with the terms you proposed entirely — I simply don’t think they are sufficient to act as a REPLACEMENT for what “aphobia” already covers, which is the subject of this discussion.

            But if moving aro people out of the terminology in the first place was part of your intention in discontinuing the use of “aphobia” then I think we are certainly never going to agree. I will stick to “aphobia”, and stick to defending its use emphatically when these conversations come up.

          • Coyote

            hm. I can see value in that, I guess. I wouldn’t want to have /just/ combo terms, and I don’t think sharing words is the same thing as “solidarity,” but having both is good.

            On a related note, today I saw nullantagonism proposed.

  • On “A-” Homogenization | The Ace Theist

    […] while back, when I criticized the terms acephobia/arophobia/aphobia for the phobia suffix, I got a comment disagreeing with my replacement suggestions on the basis […]

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