Soweto Pride 2012 participants remember lesbians raped and murdered in 2007.

Lesbophobia comprises various forms of prejudice and negativity towards lesbians as individuals, as couples, as a social group, or lesbianism in general. Based on the categories of sex, sexual orientation, identity, and gender expression, this negativity encompasses prejudice, discrimination, hatred, and abuse; with attitudes and feelings ranging from disdain to hostility. Lesbophobia is misogyny that intersects with homophobia, and vice versa. It is analogous to gayphobia.


The first usage of the term lesbophobia listed in the Oxford English Dictionary is in The Erotic Life of the American Wife (1972), a book by Harper's Bazaar editor Natalie Gittelson.[1][2] 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, because they experience the double discrimination of both homophobia and sexism.[3][4]


See also: LGBT stereotypes § Lesbians

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.[5] A stereotype that has been identified as lesbophobic is that female athletes are always or predominantly lesbians.[6][7] Lesbians encounter lesbophobic attitudes not only in straight men and women, but from gay men, as well as bisexual people.[8] Lesbophobia in gay men is regarded as manifest in the perceived subordination of lesbian issues in the campaign for gay rights.[9]

Lesbians have been stereotyped in often contradictory ways. Kim Emery, in discussing lesbians in the United States during the late-19th century, says:

It is a truism […] that lesbian existence is inflected and afflicted by apparently incompatible social stereotypes. Lesbians are assumed to be both men in women's bodies and women marked as masculine by physical anomaly. Lesbians are accused of hating men and of wanting to be men, of being both sexually predatory and essentially asexual [sic], of committing unspeakable sexual acts and of lacking the endowments necessary to perform any [sexual acts].[10]

Anti-lesbian violence

Lesbophobia is sometimes demonstrated through crimes of violence, including corrective rape and even murder. In the late 2000s, several rape/murders of lesbians occurred in South Africa.[11][12] The victims included Sizakele Sigasa (a lesbian activist living in Soweto) and her partner Salome Masooa, who were raped, tortured, and murdered in an attack that South African lesbian-gay rights organizations, including the umbrella-group Joint Working Group, said were driven by lesbophobia.[13][14] In the Gauteng township of KwaThema, soccer player Eudy Simelane was gang-raped, beaten and stabbed to death, and LGBT activist Noxolo Nogwaza was raped and stoned before being stabbed to death.[15][16]

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."[14][17][18]

In its 2019 annual report, SOS Homophobie found that anti-lesbian violence increased 42 percent in France in 2018, with 365 attacks reported.[19][20][21]

Erotic plasticity and lesbianism

Some argue that efforts aimed at females to change their sexual orientation often include rape, and are worse than those aimed at males. Others suggest that the notion of female erotic plasticity is wishful thinking on the part of men who want to have sex with lesbians, and should be criticized for not being objective;[22][better source needed][23] while some hypothesize that lesbian relationships exist because of male sexual desires,[24] and that females are more sexually fluid.[25]

See also


  1. ^ "lesbophobia". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  2. ^ Ogden, Annegret S. (1986). The Great American Housewife: From Helpmate to Wage Earner, 1776-1986. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-313-24752-8.
  3. ^ "What is "Lesbophobia"?". ILGA. 18 December 2006. Archived from the original on 20 February 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2007.
  4. ^ Czyzselska, Jane (9 July 2013). "Lesbophobia is homophobia with a side-order of sexism". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  5. ^ Jillian Todd Weiss, "The Gender Caste System – Identity, Privacy, and Heteronormativity" Archived 13 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine 10 Law & Sexuality 123 (Tulane Law School, 2001)
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Megan Radclyffe, Lesbophobia!: Gay Men and Misogyny (Continuum, October 2005)
  9. ^ Raizada, Kristen (2007). "An Interview with the Guerrilla Girls, Dyke Action Machine (DAM!), and the Toxic Titties". NWSA Journal. 19 (1): 39–58. ISSN 1040-0656. JSTOR 4317230.
  10. ^ Emery, Kim (1994). "Steers, Queers, and Manifest Destiny: Representing the Lesbian Subject in Turn-of-the-Century Texas". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 5 (1): 26–57. ISSN 1043-4070.
  11. ^ "Lesbian killers in South Africa get 18-year jail terms". BBC News. 1 February 2012. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  12. ^ Pithouse, Richard (29 March 2011). "Only Protected on Paper". The South African Civil Society Information Service. Archived from the original on 18 December 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  13. ^ Ndaba, Baldwin (13 July 2007). "'Hate crime' against lesbians slated". IOL News. Archived from the original on 29 March 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  14. ^ a b Bridgland, Fred (14 July 2007). "Lesbian couple killed in execution-style murder: Hate crimes increase despite equal rights law". Sunday Herald. Archived from the original on 17 July 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  15. ^ Kelly, Annie. "Raped and killed for being a lesbian: South Africa ignores 'corrective' attacks". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 21 June 2014. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  16. ^ "South Africa killing of lesbian Nogwaza 'a hate crime'". BBC News. 3 May 2011. Archived from the original on 28 January 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  17. ^ Cogswell, Kelly Jean (26 July 2007). "Cut It Off – And Stop AIDS". Gay City News. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007.
  18. ^ "S. Africa gangs using rape to 'cure' lesbians". MSN. 13 March 2009. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009.
  19. ^ "Rapport sur l'homophobie 2019 : 2018, une année noire pour les personnes LGBT" [Report on Homophobia 2019: 2018, a dark year for LGBT people]. SOS Homophobie (in French). 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  20. ^ "Insultes, coups de poing, interdiction d'entrer : des lesbiennes racontent les agressions qu'elles ont subies" [Insults, punches, prohibition to enter: lesbians tell the assaults they have suffered]. France Inter (in French). 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  21. ^ Wilkins, Anna (13 August 2019). "Anti-Lesbian Hate Crimes Are On The Rise". Gentside. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  22. ^ Clarke, Victoria; Peel, Elizabeth (2007). Out in Psychology: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer Perspectives (1st ed.). Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0470012871.
  23. ^ Radclyffe, Megan (1995). Lesbophobia: Gay Men and Misogyny. Cassell. ISBN 978-0304333264. OCLC 231667896.
  24. ^ Apostolou, Menelaos; Shialos, Marios; Khalil, Michalis; Paschali, Vana (2017). "The evolution of female same-sex attraction: The male choice hypothesis". Personality and Individual Differences. 116: 372–378. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2017.05.020. ISSN 0191-8869.
  25. ^ Baumeister, Roy F. (2000). "Gender Differences in Erotic Plasticity: The Female Sex Drive as Socially Flexible and Responsive". Psychological Bulletin. 126 (3): 347–374. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.126.3.347. ISSN 0033-2909. LCCN 05019164.

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