Guinness: Gay Rights Hurts Women

Christian writer Os Guinness did an interview with David Brody of the 700 Club and made the truly idiotic claim that there is a tradeoff between gay rights and women’s rights because “many of the cultures where you have a high view of homosexuality have a very low view of women.”

His example is ancient Sparta, which he claims was “strong on homosexuals but it was very bad on women.” Seriously? Virtually every society of the time was very bad on women, including the stridently anti-gay culture that wrote the Bible, which treats both gay people and women with outright barbarism. Indeed, I would argue that the two are closely linked. One of the primary components of homophobia is misogyny. This is why we constantly hear the criticism that gay men “act like women” — because acting like a woman is viewed as a very bad thing.


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  • What about lesbians? Is increasing gay rights good or bad for them?

  • Francisco Bacopa

    Interesting he used Sparta as an example. Women had more autonomy there than in most other Greek cultures.

  • It was always my understanding that Sparta was fairly “progressive” (as far as by ancient Greek standards) when it came to (Albeit only CITIZEN) women. I remember reading they were able to own land as well as vote. It doesn’t make his argument any less ridiculous, but I think it speaks to him simply pulling a society’s name from memory to make his case rather than actually researching it.

  • mithandir

    Obviously those countries where women are even now not allowed to drive or dress as they please are beacons of tolerance towards homosexuality ….

  • carlie

    It’s pretty sad that I saw the title and thought “No! But I love Guinness! I don’t want to have to stop drinking Guinness!” and then got really happy when I saw it was just some Christian dude.

  • matty1

    I’m not even sure it is necessarily true that ancient Greek cultures were tolerant of homosexuality as we understand it. I don’t have a copy to hand but as I recall Love, Sex and Tragedy argues that same sex relationships were kept in narrow ritualised bounds. They had to be between a teenager and an older man, they could only last till the ‘boy’ reached the age of full citizenship, there were various rules on how they could interact. Interestingly it argues that men who sought more permanent same sex relationships and/or preferred older men were looked down on as perverted and effeminate, the same prejudices targeted at gay man today.

  • @5 carlie: My thought process exactly. 😀

  • smhll

    The ability of the human mind to invent and twist some really foolish claims amazes me!

  • keithb

    Dear Os:

    Correlation does not imply causation. Even if every culture was as you described, does not mean that ours has to be that way!

  • dingojack

    As far as I (dimly) recall Lacedaemon women (to give them proper name) OWNED the land, men were mere ‘cannon fodder’. These women were also prized for their strength, athleticism and beauty*, and were sometimes used as wet nurses for Athenian families (wild Alcibiades, it is said, had a Lacedaemon wet nurse).



    * and their dancing – hence ‘rump jumps’ mentioned by Aristophanes?

  • Yeah, gays have the most freedom and the bestest treatment in Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and FLDS compounds in the US. Case closed, amirite?

  • unemployedphilosopher

    @dingojack: Let’s not forget the passage in Plato’s Symposium where Alcibiades gets all angsty about Socrates not putting out. It’s a bit telling, I think, that Diotima gives the final definition of “love”.

    (Still, I like Phaedrus better.)

  • dingojack

    So – to summarise, Old Os knows bugger-all about:

    a) Archean culture of the Peloponnese (the Lacedaemonian specifically)

    b) current culture and history of the world (especially the bits that are misogynist/homophobic hell-holes*)

    c) everything else

    Have I missed anything?



    * yes, Vladimir I am looking at you

    PS: I found Phaedrus hard going to be honest (then again I was ill at the time, perhaps it’s time for a re-read).

  • shockwaver

    Even if he was correct about that correlation (he isn’t), why do people who are looking to defend their bigotry have to go back 2000-3000 years to find the examples they are looking for?

  • @ Christopher Russel

    … but I think it speaks to him simply pulling a society’s name from memory to make his case rather than actually researching it.

    That is research for fundies. Well, they do open the Bible once in a while to cherry pick some quote or another. I would modify your statement, though, about the source of this “research.” It isn’t memory that this comes from but some other orifice.

  • dugglebogey

    Um…women can be homosexuals too.

    And he’s obviously confused. What hurts women is Christianity.

  • Abby Normal

    While Guinness reasoning is badly flawed, there are indeed some cultures that have exalted homosexuality and misogyny. The most prevalent examples I can think of come from New Guinea and other Indonesian islands, where there was/is a common belief that semen contains the life force of humanity. The Etoro people, for example, believed that for a boy to mature into a man he must ingest the semen of the elders daily. Women were seen as parasites out to steal the vital essence of men. Woe unto the woman who failed to become pregnant after intercourse. Another tribe in the region, whose name escapes me at the moment, even outlawed heterosexual activity, except within the confines of special semiannual festivals. The punishments for breaking the law were Old Testament like in their brutality and severity.

    However, contrary to Guinness’ assertion, this only shows that people are capable of creating a wide variety of stable cultures. I could just as easily point to irrational religious belief, namely that semen is the vessel of the soul, as the source of misogamy in those cultures. But of course Guinness isn’t really looking for a causal link. He’s just trying to throw any shit he can come up with against the wall and hoping some of it sticks.

  • Synfandel

    He has a point. Look at Saudi Arabia. They execute gay men, but they’re all about women’s rights. It’s even possible women might be allowed drive cars soon.

  • You see? Rights come from a limited pool. When one groups gets some, another group must lose them. That’s how it works.

    You can see an example happening right now:

    The Militant Homosexuals get the “right” to so-called “marry”, and suddenly the government (normally “laser-focused” on jobs) is concentrating a disproportionate amount of time and energy policing and restricting women and their ladyparts.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  • eric

    Bigots gotta hate. He’s a bully and he’s basically admitting that, as a bully, taking away one target will simply cause him to find another.What he’s doing here is a veiled threat/projection, not historical analysis. “Nice gay right law you got there. Be a shame if me and all my religiously bigoted friends have to go back to beating our wives to feel good about ourselves.”

  • Abby Normal

    My kingdom for an edit button. The first sentence @17 should have specified male homosexuality. In the second paragraph I was talking about misogyny not misogamy.

  • unemployedphilosopher


    Phaedrus is one of my favorite dialogues. The money line for me is, (poorly) translated as: “If we could perceive wisdom as we perceive beauty, it would arouse in us a terrible love”. It comes, if I recall correctly, just before the bit about the chariot with three horses. That part is pretty awful.