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Monday, April 12, 2010

The ’Ick’ Factor: How gay sex plays in the equality debate

Dr. Martha Nussbaum is a professor of law and philosophy at the prestigious University of Chicago’s law school. She has termed aversion to man-on-man anal sex "the Ick Factor." I found Joseph Erbentraut's article very true and quite thought provoking. Check out an excerpt below:

EDGE's Joseph Erbentraut reports:

According to Nussbaum’s theory, those opposed to same-sex marriage, for example, maintain their beliefs largely due to an underlying, subconscious feeling of disgust at the thought of what defines "gay" as, well, gay - as well as lesbian as lesbian: What is done in the bedroom.

Socially conservative, anti-gay political leaders capitalize on these feelings, transforming them, often, into victories in the voting booth. In many cases, they’ve been successful, providing ammo to activists who feel the attacks beg confrontation.

Dr. Nussbaum first arrived at her theory, further outlined in her recent book, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law, through the work of philosophers William Miller and Paul Rozin. As Miller argues in the introduction to his seminal work, The Anatomy of Disgust, "Disgust and contempt play crucial political roles in creating and maintaining social hierarchy."

Nussbaum took that theory a step further and applied it, in the wake of Proposition 8, to the LGBT community. She then drew parallels to her theory’s application in other political movements. "I think [disgust] plays a part in lots of arguments against same-sex marriage," Nussbaum told EDGE, "those that use the idea that straight marriage will be ’defiled’ or ’tainted’ by the approval of gay marriage."

Disgust, she adds, has never been a non-issue: "All societies known to us have subordinated some group or groups of people by ascribing disgusting properties to them. This is a key feature of misogyny, of anti-Semitism, of historical Indian caste prejudice, of American racism and so forth." READ MORE

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