15 Dec 2018

Moral panic, homophobia and fake news

America's “culture war” is apparently being closely followed by right-leaning media outlets in several Balkan countries, who replicate the US-style bashing of LGBT+ people.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Moral panic, homophobia and fake news - NewsMavens
Newstand, PixaBay


A story which originated from a prominent US-based right-wing conspiracy theorist quickly gained new life in the Balkans. The articles, published in several sources (Poskok (BiH), Croative, Max portal (Croatia), Nacionalist (Serbia), etc.) cited a letter by Paul Craig Roberts, a regular guest on Alex Jones’ “Info wars”.

In August 2018, Roberts published the claim that the term “vagina” is being replaced with “front hole” on his personal website. The “letter” is titled Western Civilization Is Now A Caricature of Absurdity and contains literary gems such as this one:

If you have concluded that a small handful of crazed morons control the words we are permitted to use, you are correct. The LGBT (Lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender) community has decided that the word “vagina” is not gender-inclusive. The new unbiased designation of vagina is “front hole.””

His fans from the Balkans stayed true to his message, using headlines such as these:

"A handful of crazy idiots, or…? 'Vagina' is not a politically correct term -- The correct one is 'gender neutral front hole'

New madness of the LGBT liberals: 'Vagina' is not a politically correct term – The correct one is 'gender neutral front hole'."


In his post, Roberts was talking about this:

“The health website Healthline, together with the National Institutes of Health, Human Rights Campaign, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth journal, and Fenway Health in collaboration with Harvard Medical School, the National LGBT Health Education Center, and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers have joined in the use of 'front hole' as an unbiased, inclusive, and contemporary term.'”

However, the inclusion of the term “front hole” was neither an act of censorship against the term “vagina”, nor an attempt to ban its use (it’s unclear how that would even work). When the story gained traction, it was addressed by fact checking site “Snopes”, which published “Healthline’s” own rebuttal of the fake “controversy”. As they explained, this term was added to an LGBT safe sex guide, to reflect the terms which transgender people use for their genitals:

“In short, this 'controversy' stemmed from a single health information provider’s decision to use term the 'front hole” in addition to -- not in place of -- the word 'vagina' in a safe sex guide created for the LGBTQIA community”, Snopes writes in their debunking article.


This attempt to stir moral panic with a claim that the LGBT movement is trying to “annihilate femininity” by banishing the word “vagina” and replacing it with “front hole” is both a piece of fake news, manipulation of facts and an example of intersectional discrimination.


Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

The information and views set out on this website are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.

NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
Is something happening in your country that Newsmavens should cover?
Zuzanna Ziomecka
Zuzanna Ziomecka EDITOR IN CHIEF
Lea Berriault-Jauvin
Lea Berriault Managing Editor
Jessica Sirotin
Jessica Sirotin EDITOR
Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko EDITOR
Gazeta Wyborcza, Agora SA Czerska 8/10 00-732, Warsaw Poland
The e-mail addresses provided above are not intended for recruitment purposes. Messages concerning recruitment will be deleted immediately. Your personal data provided as part of your correspondence with Zuzanna,Lea, Jessica and Ada will be processed for the purpose of resolving the issue you contacted us about. The data provided in your email is controlled by Agora S.A. with its registered office in Warsaw Czerska 8/10 Street (00-732). You can find more information about the processing and protection of your personal data at https://newsmavens.com/transparency-policy