Femmephobia: The Role of Anti-Femininity and Gender Policing in LGBTQ+ People’s Experiences of Discrimination
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Since the 1970s social science researchers have documented the cultural devaluation of femininity and its impact on experiences of discrimination among sexual and gender minorities. Yet, despite the continued and accumulating evidence demonstrating the role of anti-femininity (or femmephobia) in these experiences, little research has specifically examined femininity as an intersecting component of discrimination. Using in-depth interviews with sexual and gender minorities (N = 38), the current study explores the intersecting role of femmephobia in experiences of discrimination. Under the global theme of “femininity as target,” 5 key subthemes were identified: femininity and passing, regulating sexualities, masculine right of access, biological determinism, and the feminine joke. Participants illuminated femmephobia as a regulatory power within LGBTQ+ communities and society at large, as well as how femininity itself operates as a target in their experiences of gender policing and discrimination. By turning attention toward femininity, the current paper provides a clearer understanding of what may possibly lay at the heart of many social issues surrounding discrimination and violence. These findings have implications for the study of social inequalities, as well as strategies for remedying the pervasive devaluation of femininity.
KeywordsFemmephobia Critical femininities Femininity Prejudice Discrimination and oppression Gender policing Femme theory Pariah femininities Gender hegemony Hegemonic femininity Emphasized femininity Femme Intersectionality
The first author was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Award as well as by The Soroptimist Foundation of Canada.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Research Involving Human Participants and Informed Consent
The current study was conducted in compliance with ethical standards for research involving human participants and informed consent was obtained from each participant. The Queen’s University General Research Ethics Board approved all procedures and materials for the study.
Conflict of Interest
There are no potential conflicts of interest to be addressed.
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