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Professor Martha Nussbaum is rejecting claims from former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who says a term he used to describe negative thoughts and feelings toward gay people was first heard from her.
Huckabee was reported as using the term "ick factor" to describe the reaction that people have when thinking about two people of the same sex in a relationship in a piece for the The New Yorker. After gay rights leaders demanded an apology, Huckabee released a statement clarifying his quote. He said that the phrase was an "established notion" from LGBT people and not "an indication of personal aversion, but rather a reference to an established phrase used mostly from same-sex marriage advocates and militants -- not one I created." He also cited University of Chicago Law School professor Martha Nussbaum as having often making references to the "ick factor" in her professional writings about gay rights.
However, Nussbaum told Politico on Friday that Huckabee is wrong again, and has demanded an apology. She said she has never used the phrase in any of her three books.
"I use the term 'projective disgust' to characterize the disgust that many people feel when they imagine gay sex acts," she wrote. "What does that term mean, and to whom does it apply? The view I develop, on the basis of recent psychological research, is that projective disgust has its origin in a discomfort with one's own body and its messier animal aspects, including sexuality, and that, in a defense mechanism, disgust is then projected outward onto vulnerable groups who are characterized as hyperphysical and hypersexual. In this way, the uncomfortable people displace their discomfort onto others, who are then targeted for various forms of social discrimination."
She added, "Mr. Huckabee has gotten bad information about my work and has completely turned its meaning upside down, imputing to me a position (that gays and lesbians are disgusting) that I criticize as childish and morally deficient."