Friday, May 20, 2005
Homophobia used to be a good idea
I wrote the following in the comments to this post at Alas, a Blog:
This is a good post, but there is a word I was surprised not to find in it - rape.
I did an independent study in law school on this subject, writing what amounted to a master's thesis. I was specifically looking for the origins of legal repression of homosexuality. It turns out there was very little repression of lesbianism prior to the 20th century, and all of the repression of male homosexuality had to do with sodomy. At one point in my research, I read Dowrkin's Intercourse and got the epiphany. My understanding of Intercourse was that Dworkin thought that sex was natually rape, but more importantly, that this was not radical, but the TRADITIONAL view of sex. Consider the famous statement of the California state Senator to the feminists lobbying to criminalize marital rape: "But if you can't rape your wife, who can you rape?" Was this traditionalist's view of sex any different from the view conservatives "smear" Dworkin for having?
Foucault's History of Sex Part I revealed that while male homosexuality was common in the Greco-Roman culture, it always involved a man of superior status "using" a young man of inferior status, and writers of the time considered this a big problem for someone who would eventually be a citizen to be used this way for sex. The Greco-Roman view of sex was also very violent, with rape being Zues's favorite hobby.
Essentially, the development of homophobia in the West was a cultural advancement: Its purpose was to protect men from rape.
Feminism is therefore a necessary precusor to gay rights. We have to accept that no one deserves to be raped before there is no longer a cultural need for homophobia. Otherwise, we risk going back to the Greco-Roman view of sex, which was worse than what the American tradtionalists are defending.