Lesbian phobia, coined by Dr. Lauren Costine, is a relatively new idea and not commonly used. However, it could not be more relevant to our society; simply acknowledging homophobia does not encompass everything that lesbians have to deal with, both externally and internally.
Referring to society as homophobic implies that there is a fear or hatred of LGBT individuals or those who are same-sex oriented. However, it does not recognize the struggle that is faced by lesbians since, as women, they have to deal with more deeply rooted issues that have been prevalent in society for a long time. These issues stem from misogyny. We live in a largely misogynistic society that demonstrates its patriarchy by sending messages and implications that women are not as strong, smart, or capable as men. As a result, nearly all women grow up internalizing the message that they are not as valued and lauded by society as males are.
On top of growing up in a patriarchal culture, women who are same-sex oriented also live and evolve in a homophobic society. So, because lesbians are women, misogyny and homophobia work in conjunction to form what is called a double oppression, making an already tough world even tougher for lesbians.
Whether or not a woman knows that she is a lesbian, the negative and oppressive messages that society sends women get internalized. However, even when a lesbian comes out and is very prideful about it, these internalized messages are still things that they have to deal with. These are messages that tell women they are not good enough, or do not matter; they devalue what women have to say, telling them that when they defend themselves, they’re somehow “too much” to handle. They tell women that when they get angry, they are being “irrational” and unnecessarily unkind.
The most important thing for women to do in a society like this is to deal with internalized messages directly and realize that it is misogyny and homophobia they’re dealing with. By acknowledging this and dealing with it directly, lesbian women can gain a sense of internal liberation.
To understand more about lesbian phobia and learn how to deal with other issues in therapeutic and curative ways, be sure to keep up with Dr. Costine’s websites and videos.