Fwd: more astou nding acronyms

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 19 16:45:54 UTC 2005

>In a message dated 12/16/05 4:56:02 PM, wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM writes:
>>  The use of feminine names as well as ( IIRC ) a precious speaking style
>>  among homosexual men in London was already commented upon in the 18th C. I
>>  foolishly neglected to note the reference, but perhaps I can find it again.
>>    Wouldn't it refute the academic theory that homosexuality, as a cultural
>>  construct, didn't develop until the late 19th C. ?
>>    JL
>The fop is of course well established as early as Restoration comedy (and
>Chaucer seems to scorn effeminate men in his poetry). The fops,
>however, seemed
>to prefer sex with women rather than men, and there is a good deal of
>controversy about just what the sexual preferences were of Chaucer's
>effeminate guys,
>since they were clerics and supposedly cellibate.
>I don't know the 18th century literature on men who called others by women's
>names and spoke effeminately, but I wonder if it is not sort of begging the
>question to characterize them as "homosexual" rather than "effeminate" men?
>As I understand it, the argument that JL mentions here is one that holds
>that, before the late 19th century, the idea that the "homosexual"
>was a distinct
>and discrete KIND of human being was not a part of the taxonomy of human
>sexuality. Roughly speaking, everybody was considered to be,
>potentially, bisexual
>(and, for that matter, capable of entertaining thoughts of sex with animals),
>but the greatest percentage of people viewed their own distaste for same-sex
>and cross-species sex as in accord with natural law and a sign of their own
>moral superiority. Those who actually had sexual relations that violated the
>heterosexual same-species norm were thought to be morally depraved, not
>differently oriented. Such moral "depravity" could happen to anyone,
>not just those who
>were effeminate. And effeminacy was not a sign of a strong desire for same-sex
>intercourse (nor was waddling and speaking with a quacking voice a sign of a
>strong desire for sex with a duck).

Besides Ron's observations, there's the issue of whether pigeonholing
individuals according to the sex of the partners they considered
desirable or acceptable was really a valid scheme of classification
for the pre-"homosexual" era; instead, if you were a male who
confined your activities to those of a penetrator rather than a
penetratee, your tastes were normal, regardless of whether you sought
your targets among females, males, or presumably pigeonholes.  And if
you were a female and were interested in same-sex relations, big deal.



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