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Chapter 4

SOC102 Questioning Sociology Chapter 4

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Lorne Tepperman

Questioning Sociology Chapter 4 – Why be queer? Introduction - Queerness cannot so easily be assigned as a trait of ‘other’ people and that looking at the world through a queer optic tells us a lot about how the world is organized and affects everyone - Queerness is inescapable (e.g., it inhabits alpha males as much as it does lesbians) - Why be queer? o A defence of a larger world of choice o An aspiration to find a way to what feels right in relating to other people o A discovery of innovative ways to connect erotically and emotionally o A story of resisting, denying, and externalizing (e.g., allowing, embracing) things queer Minoritizing, universalizing - LGBT people have come to be identified as people similar to Italian Canadians or African Canadians o LGBT people have an identity marked out from the rest, a geography with neighbourhoods and venues of their own, cultural artifacts like festivals and magazines, and a history o LGBT identities have been forged over centuries of change - Queer theory  there is a divide – on one side heterosexuals, on the other lesbians and gays o How did it get that way?  Shift from agrarian production to wage labour in Western capitalist societies  Reorganized traditional kin relationships  Diminished parental supervision of their children’s choices in partners  Concentrated large numbers of people in urban environments  Created the conditions for greater faith in romance as a determinant of partner selection  Enhanced the ability to create households on one’s own volition  Provided greater possibilities for meeting new people in expanding cities  Grounded in opportunities  Overt persecution by Judeo-Christian authorities against sodomy  Pressed those with people of their own sex into a camp of the sexually ‘other’  Invented, then sharpened, a boundary that reinforces the ‘otherness’ - Homosexual people are not a distinct minority o Historical and anthropological record shows that the foregoing brief history of the West was not inevitable but just one of several possibilities  Anthropological record reveals that at least some indigenous societies on every continent include socially valued relationships with a homosexual aspect, typically defined by life stage, gender, status, and/or kinship  Homosexual relations are part of a larger pattern o Men and women take up some of the social roles and symbols typical of the other gender and enter into marital relations with other people who have conventional gender attributes  Documented in the Americas and Polynesia  Berdache (e.g., two spirit, or transgendered form)  gender fluidity, gender mixing, or gender migration appears to be possible for some men and few women o Men who marry women also take a romantic and nurturant role with younger, subordinate males (e.g., hierarchical, military, age-graded, and mentor/acolyte relationships)  Documented in ancient Greece, medieval Japan, pre-colonial Africa, and Melanesia o Homosexual relationships along the same kinship lines as heterosexuality  Members of a particular clan are considered appropriate marital partners, and both males and females of the appropriate clan are considered attractive and acceptable partners (e.g., one’s mother’s brother is considered both an appropriate marital partner for girls and an appropriate mentor for boys)  Documented in Australian and Melanesian cultures  In societies where the bride price is the prerequisite to attracting a wife, women with wealth can avail themselves to acquire wives and men can provide a corresponding gift to the families of youths whom they take into apprenticeship  Documented in Australia, Africa, and Amazonia o These major patterns point to the fact that  No unitary idea of homosexuality in different societies  No single role or attitude toward same-sex sexuality  No predominant conception of social approval or disapproval  Historical research shows that same-sex eroticism and affection tend to coalesce around four major themes in Western society (e.g., effeminacy, pederasty or active sodomy, friendship or male love, passivity or inversion)  MARTHA VICINUS  identifies the social scripts of the passing woman, the mannish woman, the libertine, and the romantic friend as sites in which female bonding is most often found o Sex between men or between women is a practice or a trait that gained visibility as part of these social forms o Political and philosophical traditions of the West are rooted in a society deeply affirmative of homosexual relations of the mentor/acolyte model  Most heroes of ancient Greek mythology had male lovers  Harmodias and Aristogeiton  attributed to democracy; slew the tyrant Hyppias in 514 BCE  Socrates  love of youths leads to the love of beauty and thus to the love of wisdom  Yet, modern Western tradition has suppressed, denied, and appropriated homoerotic heritage, consigning it to sin, sickness, or crime  Shaping and consolidation of Christian doctrines into orthodox canon law + propagation and enforcement of views by the Roman Catholic church = replaced heroic friendships valued by the ancients (e.g., sodomite) - Concept of sodomite cannot simply be equated with modern ideas of the homosexual o Sodomy (ecclesiastical law)  a vague, comprehensive category of sexual practices that lack pro-natalist objectives  Non-reproductive heterosexual acts  Bestiality  Homosexual practices o Consolidation of church power through the first millennium of the Christian era included the gradual eradication of indigenouthEuropeth forms of sexual friendship o In the 15 and 16 centuries, sodomy became a charge pursued by the Inquisition  Varying degrees of rigour in different countries  Campaign to suppress Jew, witches, and other forms of religious non-comformity o In the 16 to 20 century, Christian orthodoxies imposed by military conquest on indigenous populations of the Americas, Africa, and Asia  Extinguished local forms of same-sex bonding as part of larger campaigns of cultural colonialism  Forced local forms of same-sex bonding underground o Conceptualization of homosexuality as a sinful, non-reproductive sexual act became widely established as governments and empires acted in concert with established churches to enforce cultural and juridical dominion over much of tth worlths population in the Christian realm o In the 18 to 20 century, nation states emerged from empires and organized their criminal codes out of the legacy of the canon law, depending on social ingredients that went into state formation and relationship to church control  Rise of nation states in a Eurocentric, Christian, modern world system  Modern conception of homosexuality emerged as a sexual act attributed to a class of people subject to social
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