Gay Love in History, Take 3

So I guess this post is going to be (a bit) controversial…

Without further ado, I present the modern concept of sexual abnormality. Modern civilization generally prevents ‘men’ from having any qualities in common with ‘women’ and this is the nucleus around which sexual perversion is organised. This monitoring of personalities begins in childhood in which girls are given toys and dolls to ‘prepare’ them for their future role of motherhood while boys are given games such as toy soldiers that involve critical planning and foresight for example.

Boys are monitored more closely than girls for the development of ‘appropriate’ personalities and interests, being called a ‘sissy’ has a negative value and is laced with contempt and derision. The term ‘sissy’ has feminine connotations and boys who get labelled with this term exhibit traits which boys have been taught to despise in men as they are ‘unnatural’ due to their supposedly innate femininity. These boys are thus threatened by the existence of ‘feminine’ boys and become insecure and try to prove their masculinity in the often cruel treatment of the boys who have been labelled ‘sissy’.

Today there is an underlying fear of homosexuality and what constitutes ‘normal’ sexual behaviour has been narrowly and rigidly defined.

Homosexuality questions the divisions between men and women that are believed to be ‘natural’ and furthermore also suggests a relationship that runs counter to male supremacy and the family. What society detests in homosexuality is precisely that a man offers himself to others as a passive object of desire.

In the past, men were not afraid to play a feminine role. This can still be seen today in some African cultures that still hold on to their roots in which men wear make-up and beautify themselves. Indeed, men were societally allowed to play a ‘feminine’ role in the past although these societies were very patriarchal. Patriarchy did not stop men from claiming personality aspects that are today ascribed to the feminine. (Apparently part of the reason there are strict gender divisions today has its roots in capitalism though I skipped that class so I cannot go deeper into it.)

The attitude in which beautiful men who are fond of make-up, jewelry and clothes are considered effeminate and/or shown hostility is specific to modern civilization…it did not exist before. (Can someone say social construction?!) The transformation of the world we live in into a modern one also involved the transformation of beauty into a specifically feminine attribute. (So… capitalism may add a different perspective to this.) Furthermore, in the past, one was while today one has. Therefore in the past a king was divine, handsome, beautifully dressed, materially rich because of who he was. Today, a rich man has a beautiful woman by his side. The nobles in days gone had to be more beautiful that the commoners because of who they were while the bourgeois of today have beautiful woman (even though they are ugly) because of what they have. Obviously the nobles were rich however, they were rich because they were nobles and were not nobles because they were rich. Birth played a role in these things.

In today’s society, you can only be one or the other, feminine or masculine. In other words, there seems to be a distaste for an androgenic role (as can be seen in the recent case of Caster Semenya). It has been suggested (Watanabe and Iwata) that restriction of the androgen role causes an envy of women to be developed in the male unconscious, which in him consolidates the taboo on the expressions of bisexuality. A restriction on men’s androgyny further results in a restriction of bisexuality and this is seen as a limitation on masculinity itself.

Thanks to Mellowyel for her lovely email (this girl always makes me think!) which led me thinking about the religious perspective which is based on the fact that gay sex does not produce offspring. I wanted to steer clear of the modern, Abrahamic, Western religion in these posts and instead focus on traditional, ancient, forgotten religions as my focus was historical. After reading more, I personally think the bringing in of children into this matter is a very modern phenomenon.

Now going into biology, the idea that ‘the natural type of [human] brain is female’ came up in my readings. Perhaps someone who has studied biology will be able to comment more on this, the operation of the androgen hormone during the 6th week after conception that enables the development of the male brain. I have been told that babies do not have a sex while in the womb though then I argued that the default (not only for a foetus) is assumed to be male (go and draw a stick figure without ribbons and ask people if it is male or female). I never even thought about the sex thing till I realised that they probably cannot differentiate the sex because the androgen hormone has not kicked into action yet.

It was also suggested that men may be psychologically affected due to the difficulty in the development of the foetus with the XY chromosomes into a normal boy. According to them, man is an altered state of woman and thus has the tendency to remain a woman as can be seen in the high number of male-to-female transsexuals as opposed to the female-to-male transsexuals. Man is more androgynous that woman and this may explain why transvestism and institutionalisation were often accorded only to men historically.

Now I am smart but not entirely, what I got from this was that foetuses are by default female. Then the Y chromosome sets to work after a while and then the foetus becomes male.

A man has to become a man due to society, in today’s world boys and girls are ‘socialised’ into contrasting personalities and roles. Gender divisions today are based on the biological and psychological differences thought to determine masculine and feminine personality. The naturally psychologic sex is undifferentiated at birth and the individual becomes psychologically differentiated as masculine or feminine in the course of growing up thanks to society.

Many of the stereotyped feminine characteristics are linked with the caring role of motherhood. This attempt to neatly section the masculine and feminine becomes a process in which concepts of ‘normal’ behaviour are contained in nice labelled boxes and feminine becomes the opposite of masculine.

So women are supposedly gentle, demure, sensitive, submissive, non-competitive, sweet-natured and dependent. Men on the other hand are supposed to be psychically strong, aggressive, assertive and to take the initiative, competitive. Women occupy the role of ‘being’ while men occupy that of ‘doing’.

I find this so interesting and I will have to go deeper into the socialization of girls and boys but that will be another post.

There, I have laid out everything I have read and promised to reproduce in a post. One may agree or disagree but I think looking at history does raise a lot of questions on what is today thought of as normal and natural. I mean if it is natural then it should always remain the same shouldn’t it? I do know there are people who will dismiss the pederastic traditions and the rites of passage as the ‘waywardness of the ancient people’ or their ‘deviance’. I find that to be very very condescending. Anyway I have my own beliefs on sexuality and it is simply that sexuality is not so easily defined, you know one’s either gay or straight or bisexual. From now on I reject all those terms…at least for my own self. I also reject this stupid accepted socially constructed notion of what is feminine and masculine if anyone tells me ‘this guy is acting like a girl’ they are going to get a long talk from me.

Learn history! Read more about gay love in history; Take 1, Take 1.5, Take 2 and omake (Japanese for bonus/extra)

Books I read
Sharpe Sue (1976), ‘Just Like a Girl’: How Girls Learn to be Women, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England.
Tsuneo Watanabe & Jun’ichi Iwata (1989), The Love of the Samurai: A Thousand Years of Japanese Homosexuality, GMP Publishers Ltd., London.
Cartledge Paul (2003), The Spartans: The World of The Warrior Heroes of Ancient Greece, The Overlook Press, United States of America.


  1. lol @ getting a long talk from you. This post was really well written. I guess I have nothing to say really because I think gay people are normal. I just wanted to compliment you on a really well written piece, I enjoyed it.

  2. Jc, thank you!! i'm totally glad you enjoyed it! i kind of thought no one was reading these posts lol.

  3. The brilliance of your mind shines through in this and I like the research that backs it up.Not much to add really, I agree on most of the points. Nowadays most people disagree with homosexuality on religious grounds since most of the social constraints at least in the west have been kicked off their stands.

  4. I envy ANYONE of ANY GENDER that can pull of androgyny. I think it's amazingly beautiful. I really like this series! I can't wait for the socialization of gender posts! πŸ™‚

  5. wow, Myne thank you! i'm a total nerd i love research even when i'm not paid to do it ^_^ i totally forgot to add that the culture of acceptability is slowly making a comeback! have you heard of 'bromance'?Alice, the socialisation of gender may take a long time in coming though i believe i have some journal articles on that somewhere but they are probably in Nigeria.

  6. great! i really liked this series. as for the biology thing – i have taken a class on reproductive biology, and I can confirm your guess that foetuses are female by default. genes on the Y chromosome are what make foetuses male.i have a question about one of the things you said, though: "A man has to become a man due to society, in today's world boys and girls are 'socialised' into contrasting personalities and roles. Gender divisions today are based on the biological and psychological differences thought to determine masculine and feminine personality. The naturally psychologic sex is undifferentiated at birth and the individual becomes psychologically differentiated as masculine or feminine in the course of growing up thanks to society."do you mean here that society implants gender identity, and that it's not somehow innately known? because i would definitely disagree. there have been studies showing that men with genetic diseases that prevent their genitalia from developing properly and are raised as females, somehow innately know that they are male. so when they find out they're just men without penises, they're not that surprised. i think it would be a stretch to say that ALL of a person's gender identity is a product of their environment. i have yet to read anything conclusive about how the sex chromosomes affect brain development, but i would probably argue that there is some developmental difference between males and females apart from the sex organs. once i have time, i will find some good studies and let you know what they say πŸ™‚

  7. Mellowyel thanks for adding to this conversation! I do believe that men are different from women generally (like biologically i mean) speaking however I do not believe that men and women are direct opposites of themselves if you get what I mean. What I reject is the assumed weakness of woman due to the fact that she can give birth and the supposed innate agressiveness of men. Some things are just not as natural as they are made out to be that's all I am saying. And make sure you send me those articles if you find them!!!!

  8. mellowyel, I have thought long and hard about this and I have reached the conclusion that my sex organs do not affect my personality. I'll have to elaborate and will send you an email later today ^_^

  9. I'm surprised you didn't mention this but a lot of cultures seem to be ok with lesbianism but not gay men. Dahomey allowed two women (or more) to get married but strongly condemned male homosexuality, esspecially outside of adolescence. In Europe now it's completely socially acceptable to see women hugging, kissing, holding hands, but the same behaviour in men raises eyebrows.My first theories were all related to Europe and Greek/Roman attitudes through the ages, plus the First World War making sights like women dancing together common, but the……way of thinking is more wide-spread than that. Any ideas?

    1. i wonder how that skipped my mind. you’re right some cultures that chose to ignore lesbianism were not ok with gay men. i believe the reason some cultures were ok with lesbianism as opposed to homosexuality in men was probably due to the fact that it was viewed as harmless due to the fact that women were viewed as inferior anyway…don’t know if that makes any sense.

      i’m not too sure of the details, i remember reading a book (i believe the book may have been ‘Just like a Girl’ by Sue Sharpe) that addressed this particular issue arguing that when two gay men are seen together it is viewed as more of a threat to patriarchy and out-dated ideas on gender.

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