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Abstract

In this essay, I draw upon my pro-feminist background to describe the formulation of the concept of homohysteria and explain its heuristic utility in conceptualizing historical shifts in heterosexual men's gendered regimes. I suggest that in times of high homohysteria, heterosexual men are compelled to align their identities and behaviors with orthodox (hypermasculine) notions of men's masculinity. This is in order to avoid homosexualization. Conversely, heterosexual men retain considerably more gendered freedom in times of low or no homohysteria. I describe this as a cultural process related to homophobia and define the term homohysteria as men's fear of being homosexualized, through association with feminized behavior. I suggest that there are three elements necessary in its production: (1) mass awareness that homosexuality exists as a static sexual orientation, (2) a cultural Zeitgeist of disapproval of homosexuality, and (3) the conflation of femininity with homosexuality. I then show how, through identity politics, homohysteria can eventually give way to less homosexually panicked masculinities, something I describe as inclusive masculinities.

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