Queers, Foucault, truth, justice and the law: guest post by Lorenzo

By skepticlawyer

[Introduction by SL: Lorenzo is a blogger I admire; he writes quite a bit on Queer history, and also very wisely and thoughtfully on the ‘method’ of history and scholarship. His home blog is here. Now, I’m just a humble linguist and lawyer, but I’ve long suspected that a lot of historians have been led up the garden path by various forms of what people in both Law and Classics over here call ‘Francophonie’. I first spotted it reading classics in my misspent youth: ‘tribas’ meant ‘lesbian’, not ‘woman who wanted to be top’. As archaeologists have extensively documented, heterosexual Romans weren’t into missionary. By showing how bad history has become in one confined area (sexuality), Lorenzo shows that it may be possible to get people to think critically about history more generally. Enjoy].

Michel Foucault, archetypal postwar French thinker—one of the gang of four that Stephen Hicks dissects in his excellent Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (which I review here)—was notorious for his social constructionist analysis of history and for his avid embrace of a homoerotic hedonism, extending to BDSM (bondage-dominance sado-masochism). That embrace of homoerotic hedonism led to his death from AIDS: one of the early, prominent fatalities from the “gay plague”.

There is a certain irony, therefore, in one of the most trenchant criticisms of Foucault’s social constructionism being mounted by a historian of homosexuality. Rictor Norton’s The Myth of the Modern Homosexual: Queer History and the Search for Cultural Unity (which I review here) is a direct assault on Foucault’s intellectual legacy.

Queer realism
Rictor Norton’s intellectual assault is quite upfront—Part One of the book is entitled Social Constructionism and Other Myths—and is set out in the first Chapter The Search for Cultural Unity. He identifies a range of social constructionist (or cultural constructivist) thinkers (p.6), gives a brief outline of their (highly political) position before moving on to some great quotes from historian Arthur Marwick, public intellectual Camille Paglia and constructionism-influenced David F. Greenberg. Marwick attacks Foucault’s bad history, Paglia (with her usual rhetorical verve) the lack of intellectual quality of what constructionists produce but there is vast amusement to be had in Greenberg’s quoted comment that:

Foucault, who held a chair in the history of ideas, assumed too readily that intellectuals are the sole repository of conceptual invention and simply imposed a new hegemonic discourse on passive recipients (p.10).

Take that, you oppressive imposer of hegemonic discourse!

Norton’s own position is set out with admirable clarity:

My aim in the present book will be to examine the nature of queer history, with a focus upon historiographical issues that have not been adequately addressed by historians in the 1980s and 1990s, who have largely failed to recognise the difference between attitudes towards homosexuals and the experience of queers, and who have built up theories that have no empirical foundations in history. The myth that the homosexual was born circa 1869 is easily demolished, but beyond that I will aim to show that the social constructionist emperor has no clothes. I will argue that a typology of queer personalities and relationships and the characteristic features of a queer culture arise from a core of queer desire and are not wholly configured by the regulation of that desire. Queer history properly considered is the attempt to recover the authentic voice of queer experience rather than simply to document suppression or oppression (p.11)

In other words, evidence matters: evidence of what people did, thought, felt. And such evidence and experience has power in its own right, and is not merely framed, determined or dominated by the language and conceptual apparatus that is used to describe or express it (and do so well, less well or badly).

Norton explicitly sites himself within the essentialist camp. My reading in the natural law origins of the Christian anathematising of same-sex activity has led me to be leary of essentialism. But the natural law essentialism that underpins such anathematisation is a normative essentialism, a division of the universe (including humans) into the “proper” and “improper” forms of things. Once you have “improper” versions of the human, then the path to the exterminationist option opens wide, for clearly “improper” forms of things should not exist. Just such extermination was, under Philo of Alexandria’s marriage of natural law thinking with scriptural revelation, what God was about in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Which creates the notion of God-the-Virtuous-Exterminator of the different, of the morally quarantined (given most folk are not much interested in having sex with members of their own sex), avidly taken up by patristic Christianity (notably in The Golden Legend, as in its description of the Nativity). So the pink triangles of the death camps provide exactly the same lesson as the yellow stars of the death camps. Indeed, I would argue, the identification of “sodomites” as a morally quarantined group fit for extermination leads directly to the murderous anathematisation of Jews: it was not a case of first they came for the Jews, but that first they came for the “sodomites”.

What Norton is arguing for is not a normative but a descriptive essentialism. Of taking the people seriously as not being mere integers in some controlling discourse. As Norton writes:

… it is tragic that homosexuals have been subsumed totally under the idea of the homosexual. The result is little better than intellectual ethnic cleansing. In the social constructionist view, knowledge is constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed through ideological discourse. In my essentialist view, knowledge is discovered, repressed, suppressed and recovered through history and experience (Pp11-12).

His position is that homosexuals are born, not made: that there is a underlying consistency of desire however variable its expression. Out of this consistency, queers construct, again and again, queer cultures whose common features are identifiable across time and space (p.12).

The notion that public and scholarly discourse captures, let alone moulds, all of social reality is something Norton treats with the contempt it deserves:

There are also many cases in which the authorities, those who supposedly define and create the homosexual construct, began an investigation which suddenly revealed to their astonishment a large underworld, which becomes so threatening that it put a halt to the enquiry (p.25)

As Norton notes, a perennial for queer fok is having desires they cannot name: leading to experiences of dawning recognition of “hey, that’s me”.

Norton has fun using the citations used by scholars who, to their credit, do go to the sources, to contradict their constructionist conclusions. So David Halperin’s claim the classical civilisations categorised only sex acts, not orientation, is contradicted by a wide variety of quotes talking of sexual direction or preferences Halperin himself cites. That different terms with different ideological underpinnings can, nevertheless, refer to the same phenomena seems to confuse Halperin. To the extent that Norton wonders:

Has Halperin never read any tabloid newspapers? They contain as much ‘ideology’ and ‘discourse’ as Freud or Foucault.

But the discounting of popular language and experience is pervasive in social constructionism.

Norton keeps coming back to the evidence:

The records of the Inquisition in Spain, Portugal and Brazil; the police archives of early eighteenth-century Paris; the records of the Officers of the Night of sixteenth-century Venice – all clearly document a preponderance of bachelor men who prefer their own sex (p.37).

The same records also document long-term couples. All part of a long history: pace Foucault:

The truth is that a homosexual category existed many centuries before the nineteenth century (p.38).

Including homosexual characters in fiction.

The triumph of theory over fact is pervasive:

One cannot help but feel that Foucault has wilfully suppressed the fact that since the 1730s the most common French term for homosexual has been pederast rather than sodomite, a clear indication that it was recognised as a secular cultural identity rather than biblical sinful behaviour (Rey, 1985) (p.38)

Norton is attempting to reclaim for queer folk the history that has been denied to them:

Assertions that the modern homosexual and modern gay subcultures are significantly different from the past are based primarily on ignorance of that past (p.61).

It is bad enough that anti-gay activists and commentators treat homosexuals having social spaces as some dire modern corruption, it is pathetic that allegedly “progressive” academics play into the same game.

As Norton points out, the social constructionist viewpoint is not only parochial in its obsession of with public/intellectual discourse, it is often highly parochial in its treating of modern Western—or even specifically American—experience as if it some revealing benchmark (Pp61-62). But if you do not base analysis of careful examination of evidence and taking the breadth of human experience and aspirations seriously, where else are you going to end up but glib assumptions arising from the experience of the theorist, even if cast in allegedly ideologically sophisticated terms?

The reality of how people are and acted keeps contradicting the grander claims of social constructionism. Against Foucault’s notion that doctors imposed a medicalised category of homosexuality, Norton notes doctors’ regular astonishment about how “inverts” would refuse their “help” (p.63). Homosexuals already existed:

… the genuine social construct is paramedical homophobia (p.63).

Social constructionism can be useful in talking about public language: it is in the analysis of origins of identity for which it is, in Norton’s words, “woefully inadequate”.

But even in dealing with official language social constructionism is often inadequate. Far from trying to draw public boundaries, officials were often concerned to keep things quiet. Sodomy was the crimen nefandum or peccatum mutum, the “silent sin”, with trials and executions often being secret affairs (unlike with other crimes) and solitary confinement being regularly used. One Jan Jansz, convicted of sodomy in 1741 at the age of 17, spent the remainder of his life—57 years—in solitary confinement (Pp 63-64). Foucault’s theory, far from being liberating, gives the oppressors all the power and denies the victims their own identity:

What Foucault regards as the formation of non-procreative sexualities was in reality the warping of pre-existing identities: natural born queers were turned into perverts (p.64).

Recognising oneself
Norton is particularly scathing about the mystification of 1869, the date that the term ‘homosexual’ was coined. (Also the year John Stuart Mill published The Subjection of Women, a striking historical conjunction.) People could read Walt Whitman and recognize their common sensibility—a recurring epiphanic moment for gay men for decades—regardless of whether they were familiar with the new term ‘homosexual’ or not (Pp71-2).

Works such as Whitman’s poetry, or Edward Carpenter’s The Intermediate Sex, could have an impact precisely because they articulated identities, sensibilities, yearnings that already existed. The identity brought forth and responded to the words, it was not created by them. Just as medical folk were responding to pre-existing identities, and trying to make sense of them in terms of their theories and presumptions. The regulation of homosexuality was not an area where doctors had much role (p.77). Hardly surprising, since such legal regulation was overwhelmingly driven by religious notions.

Law as such
On the matter of regulation, Norton is also nicely scornful about arguments that, since laws regulated acts, this meant that there was no social concept of same-sex orientation. Laws regulate acts, that is what they do. The notion that legal definitions are exactly equivalent of social definitions is one of Foucault’s perennial mistakes (p.136). Literature is far more revealing of social definitions, as one would expect:

Virtually all ancient and medieval satires were invariably aimed at sodomites and catamites as persons rather than sodomy and anal intercourse per se p.136.

Laws and legal definitions are particularly unrevealing if there are no actual prosecutions or trials, for trials are where law meets social reality. There is a mass of material on such laws from early medieval Europe: but they do not reveal homosexual subcultures (or not) because there were so few trials (p.137). Norton notes that prosecutions under anti-sodomy laws were extremely erratic and have been generally driven by particular moral crusaders—the brute reality being that such acts threaten no one and imperil nothing in the functioning of society, so can go on happening unless someone decides, and has the levers to, to crusade on the matter.

There is a great deal to philosopher Richard Mohr’s comment that:

… sodomy laws are the chief systematic way that society as a whole tells gays they are scum.

Norton’s last word on Foucault sums up the fundamental inanity of his social constructionist theories quite nicely:

It is odd that in the history of the love that dared not speak its name the authorities did not try to achieve social control by the widespread public naming of these crimes, which is what social constructionists propose that they ought to have done. On the contrary they endeavoured to suppress all knowledge of such people and such acts, whether from the fear they would have the power to encourage similar behaviour or because they were felt to be too scandalous and shameful to be made public. This is a basic contradiction in Foucault’s naming theory. The very high level of censorship applied to this field of study is sufficient indication that homosexual experience was not allowed to become part of the discourse. But to rest content with deconstructing the discourse, by revealing that it is wildly skewed and wacky , without endeavouring to recover what has been suppressed, is to conspire with the censors (p.178).

This suppression of evidence is not, however, a counsel of historiographical despair:

… for we often have abundant evidence of suppression which in itself is sufficient confirmation of the likelihood of queer interpretation (p.179).

Hence the importance of attending to subtext. But what is subtext but meanings beyond the text? Meanings that point to realities the text is precisely not treating literally, so is not defining. Only by having a sense of realities and possibilities beyond the text can sub-text even exist: yet another manifestation of how reality trumps text, and escapes being being—let alone moulded—by it.

The claims of queer folk, like marginalized groups everywhere, are claims of truth against the stories others tell, against official suppression. As Norman Geras so powerfully puts it:

If there is no truth, there is no injustice. Stated less simplistically, if truth is wholly relativized or internalized to particular discourses or language games or social practices, there is no injustice. The victims and protesters of any putative injustice are deprived of their last and often best weapon, that of telling what really happened. They can only tell their story, which is something else. Morally and politically, therefore, anything goes.

Such morally powerful truth must include truth about themselves: about who they are and what they feel.

Much of the discounting of claims on behalf of the same-sex attracted comes from a denial of their existence: either at all (that no one is “really” homosexual) or that they are, at most, a tiny minority.

Mr Justice Powell, the swing vote in the Bowers v. Hardwick decision that upheld sodomy laws, claimed that he had never met a homosexual. This despite one of his law clerks at the time being gay: indeed Mr Justice Powell had a history of employing—apparently unwittingly—gay law clerks. His (gay) law clerk at the time of Bowers v. Hardwick decision apparently suffered some personal anguish about not having revealed his sexuality to his boss. Mr Justice Powell, in retirement, stated that his decision in Bowers v. Hardwick was one he had come to regret.

The US Supreme Court later overturned Bowers v. Hardwick in Lawrence v. Texas. One enterprising friend of liberty has even argued that the decision has quite subversive implications because it is founded on liberty, making the very sensible point that:

The more specifically you define the liberty at issue, however, the more difficult a burden this is to meet — and the more easily the rights claim can be ridiculed. “Liberty” is obviously deeply rooted in our history and traditions. A right to use contraceptives is not. Nor is almost any particular exercise of liberty, especially if it was a practice unknown at the Founding. Whenever a particular liberty is specified, therefore, it is always subject to the easy rejoinder: “Just where in the Constitution does it say that?” even though the Ninth Amendment specifies that “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” … Liberty is — and has always been — the properly defined exercise of freedom that does not violate the rights of others. Your right to liberty is not violated by restrictions on your freedom to rape and murder, because you have no such right in the first place.

But that protecting freedom of action has wide implications is hardly a new point. Consider the speech of Pausanias in Plato’s Symposium:

In Ionia and other places, and generally in countries which are subject to the barbarians, the custom is held to be dishonourable; lovers of youths share the evil repute in which philosophy and gymnastics are held because they are inimical to tyranny; for the interests of rulers require that their subjects should be poor in spirit and that there should be no strong bond of friendship or society among them, which love, above all other motives, is likely to inspire, as our Athenian tyrants-learned by experience; for the love of Aristogeiton and the constancy of Harmodius had strength which undid their power.

It is the converse of the notion that denying the freedom of one group threatens the freedom of others. It is a matter of historical record that Christian thinkers such as St John Chrysostom accepting Philo of Alexandria’s notion of God-the-virtuous-exterminator of the morally quarantined (even to the extent of adapting Philo’s metaphors) had grim implications for Philo’s own people: St John Chrysostom being a notorious preacher against the Jews and Judaizing tendencies. Once the notion of “treason against God” and degradation of the morally quarantined had been accepted, it was just a case of “fill in the blank”. Christianity may have had its founding principles as:

Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

but once one group had been defined out of the category of (moral) neighbour, so could another. And were. Alexandria became a city where Christian thugs led by the local bishop murdered Jews, pagans and, famously, the philosopher Hypatia. That the natural law interpretation of the only permissible sexual activity being procreative acts is known as the “Alexandrian interpretation”, due to St Clement of Alexandria developing the (homicidally intolerant) ideas of Philo of Alexandria, has many levels of irony to it.

Social conservatives are often highly scornful of judicial action in favour of the rights of the same-sex attracted. But if judges come to decide that presumptions of heterosexuality are no longer a tenable legal understanding of what it is to be human, clearly that will change interpretation of law: constitutional or otherwise. If our concept of “the human” changes, then the law changes.

Queers as human too
So much of history of dealing (or not) with human sexual diversity is about defending a certain concept of the human. Having sex with members of your own sex was regarded as a betrayal of human nature: in particular, a betrayal of masculinity. Two men having sex were regarded as committing a form of treason against the purposes of God, as Creator of nature.

Since it was held to be a betrayal of the nature of things—the nature of sex, the nature of the human—it was so outside the realm of the acceptable that even access to discourse was denied, sodomites being struck dumb before the Throne of God. Even talking about the sin was held to be dubious. Some penitentials would be deliberately obscure on the details of the sin. It was often held to be important not to translate descriptive passages into the vernacular, a view one can still see on some websites.

This was a sexual manifestation of a wider pattern: if something or someone was outside the realm of the properly human, who knows what strange powers/fascination they may have? The problem of “I have no positive framework I am comfortable with in which to think about these things” is still a major barrier to achieving either legal equality or full social acceptance.

Hence, the Vatican describing the same-sex attracted as as being “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and thus “objectively disordered” so as to ensure their aspirations are discounted. Given the natural law thinking underlying much Catholic moral thought, this is not a difficult move, as the notion of proper nature also implies improper nature. As a relatively small, historically easily isolated, minority, the same-sex attracted are a very useful target group to preach against, thereby selling effortless virtue to the large majority who are not same-sex attracted. So many clerics—in their role as “gatekeepers of righteousness”—do just that. An easy option for the hucksters of faith.

So there is something to social constructionism in the sense of accepted concepts matter: particularly notions of the “proper” form of the human. Norton is perfectly comfortable with deconstructing discourses of “compulsory heterosexuality”, for example (p.7). Yet that is very different from claiming that accepted concepts “go all the way down”: that human reality is plastic to accepted prevailing discourse. (Accepted by whom? Prevailing where? Moulding social reality and personal identity by what mechanisms?)

As Norton documents, claims about the defining power of words, of language do not sit with how things are. The diversity, indeed the contingency, of allegedly defining conceptions sits rather poorly with the much greater persistence of phenomena. Hence, the reality of the deliberate suppression of homosexuals and homosexual experience goes utterly against Foucault’s notion of creating a concept of homosexuality by naming it (p.178).

As Norman Geras points out more generally, and Norton documents in the specific case of homosexuals, the claims of the marginalised to justice are claims about truth, about reality, about how things are. Foucault’s games with words are profoundly empty: empty both of connection to how things are and empty of any genuine moral power. People, and people’s experiences, are not defined by the words used about them, they are merely expressed (or not) by such. Academics may find the empty self-importance of social constructionist theory attractive, but it should not be mistaken for anything that is worthwhile: either in moral or in scholarly terms.

19 Comments

  1. Posted November 29, 2009 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    “I think there would a tonne of data/sources for a thesis/book on comparing the tolerated/loved Spinster Aunt/Bachelor Uncle and their “friend” versus the pathologised, incarcerated, and/or murdered “queer” in Australia.”

    At one stage during the 70s/early 80s something like 20% of all murders in NSW were anti-gay hate crimes.

  2. Jayjee
    Posted November 30, 2009 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    mel

    I have come across older guys on blogs who have talked about their youthful queer-bashing exercises with much remorse and regret. It still chilled me, even from the safety of an internet connection.

  3. Posted November 30, 2009 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Ah yes, the gay panic ‘defence’. Whattacrockashit.

  4. Posted December 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    JJ
    There is a useful discussion of Jewish attitudes to lesbianism from the classical period onwards here. Including reference to the Sifra criticising pagans for permitting same-sex marriage.

  5. jc
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    I have come across older guys on blogs who have talked about their youthful queer-bashing exercises with much remorse and regret. It still chilled me, even from the safety of an internet connection.

    Not to mention getting fired for being a queer only as far back as the late 80s.

    A dear friend of mine – an American – we later found out was fired from an American bank when they found out he was gay. He was later transferred to HK by the firm I worked for as that other bank “informed” on him.

    He suicided in HK.

    He was one of the most capable credit analysts the bank had ever hired.

    I still feel pangs of sorrow for him and learnt a good lesson about the injustice of the mob.

  6. Jayjee
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Often the “homosexual panic” defence is actually morning-after regret. 😉

  7. John
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    wonder how much truth there is to the proposition that queer-bashers often have unresolved “issues” themselves (men hating gay men because they have gay feelings themselves and can’t stand it).

    I don’t regard the issue as settled, and I think findings like the below are too often used to interpret any dislike of homosexuals as being indicative of latent homosexuality, but there does appear to be something of interest occurring there.

    Modern imaging studies also show differential activation of the brain during sexual arousal, if it were found that the homphobic group demonstrated similiar activation patterns to homosexuals, that would be very interesting … .

    CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that different neural circuits are active during sexual arousal in homosexual and heterosexual men and may contribute to a better understanding of the neural basis of male sexual orientation.

    PMID: 18768725 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the Index of Homophobia (W. W. Hudson & W. A. Ricketts, 1980). The men were exposed to sexually explicit erotic stimuli consisting of heterosexual, male homosexual, and lesbian videotapes, and changes in penile circumference were monitored. They also completed an Aggression Questionnaire (A. H. Buss & M. Perry, 1992). Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

    PMID: 8772014 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

    This study examined the relationship between homophobia (defined as self-reported negative affect, avoidance, and aggression toward homosexuals) and homosexual aggression. Self-identified heterosexual college men were assigned to homophobic (n = 26) and nonhomophobic (n = 26) groups on the basis of their scores on the Homophobia Scale (HS; L. W. Wright, H. E. Adams, & J. A. Bernat, 1999). Physical aggression was examined by having participants administer shocks to a fictitious opponent during a competitive reaction time (RT) task under the impression that the study was examining the relationship between sexually explicit material and RT. Participants were exposed to a male homosexual erotic videotape, their affective reactions were assessed, and they then competed in the RT task against either a heterosexual or a homosexual opponent. The homophobic group reported significantly more negative affect, anxiety, and anger-hostility after watching the homosexual erotic videotape than did the nonhomophobic group. Additionally, the homophobic group was significantly more aggressive toward the homosexual opponent, but the groups did not differ in aggression toward the heterosexual opponent.

    PMID: 11261393 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

  8. Posted December 8, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    John, that is fascinating, and while not causative… is, perhaps, unsurprising.

  9. jc
    Posted December 8, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    John:

    This study has to be a parody, no? It sounds awfully like a Sokal hoax.

    I’m not trying to sound snarky by the way.

    Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli.

    There wasn’t a good looking nurse carefully measuring circumferences? It sounds like a bad plot for a porno movie. LOl

  10. Jayjee
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Having studied a bit of neuroscience and physiology, and having conducted even more “field” research myself, I long ago concluded that “scientists” never get anywhere near understanding these issues. The above is another example. There is more wisdom in a line I remember from an old gay porno flick. It was about a couple of American “redneck” types driving around the south picking up “queers”. Not to bash them, but to fuck them. At the end of one scene, the picked up queer says to the two “straight” rednecks. “Huh, you call us queer, you’re no different”. The redneck responded, “sure we are; we do this because we’re horny, you do it because you’re a sick queer”.

    Make of that wisdom against the “peer-reviewed” scientists what you will.

  11. John
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Jayjee,

    The reason I qualified my statements are:

    The studies I saw did not exclude possible other causes. For example, homophobes may generally be more easily sexually aroused. Are there any studies indicating that homophobes become open homosexuals to a greater extent than controls? The differential CNS activation in homosexuals also points to a potential problem.

    If the first eg is positive, good, if the second is positive, good, if the third is positive, good. Then the argument can move forward. Unfortunately people see studies like this and immediately conclude: you don’t like homosexuals eh … . I don’t know about women but most hetero men find the idea of homosexual sex repugnant so it is not surprising that people, extrapolating from the above studies, go on to assert that a great many are latent homosexuals.

    If only human behavior were that simple!

  12. John
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Oh and I forgot, would be great to see studies on the hypothalamic nucleir INAH3(not sure if is 3, might be 2). There are differences there and in general there are a number of surprising differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. For example, homosexual men display verbal iq that is higher than in controls and accords generally with female verbal iq.

  13. Jayjee
    Posted December 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the Liddle Homophobia Test. Take it. It’s very short.

    My result?

    i18 – Your score rates you as “high-grade non-homophobic.”

    Given some of the queens I know, I think Mr. Liddle’s quiz overstates my case! 🙂

    http://genderandhealth.ca/en/modules/sexandsexuality/gss-homophobia-01.jsp?r=

  14. Posted December 12, 2009 at 5:35 am | Permalink

    JJ
    Strangely enough, I got the same score 🙂

  15. Posted December 12, 2009 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    John
    As I understand it, there are various studies which indicate homosexuals to be cognitively cross-matched. That is, gay women tend to have various cognitive traits more characteristic of men and gay men tend to have various cognitive traits more characteristic of women. On reflection, not such a surprising result.

  16. John
    Posted December 12, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Lorenzo,

    Yes, my impression is the same as yours. Strange mixture, fascinating and directly implies sex hormones influences on cerebral maturation. Makes me wonder if it provides a clue as to the creative potential seen in some homosexuals, both artistically and intellectually. I became interested in this a long time when I noted that Newton(probably gay), Wittgenstein(god yes), Turing(yes), Keynes(gay-bi), were ground breakers in their fields. Not to mention in the arts … . Interesting.

  17. Posted December 13, 2009 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    The queer folk are disproportionately intellectually creative/artistic is a long-time cross-cultural observation. It occurs in Amerindian cultures, for example (see book reviews here and here). Bruce Bawer expresses it vividly:

    Western civilization, far from being threatened by homosexuality, is to a staggeringly disproportionate degree the creation of gay men and women.
    “Do you want to protect your children from gay influence?” I imagine [Allan Bloom] writing. “Very well. Destroy the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, silence Messiah and Swan Lake, and burn Moby Dick and The Portrait of a Lady. Gay culture is all around you — and it belongs to everybody.”

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