John Mage on sodomy

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Mon Dec 4 01:29:00 MST 2000

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

> >The distinction between sodomy and homosexuality is often
> >difficult for many to grasp but essential to understand; for >without
> >grasping this distinction, you end up naturalizing & >eternalizing
> >heterosexuality, anachronistically projecting it backward >onto
> >pre-industrial periods.

Actually, anti-sodomy laws&practices existed in pre-industrial periods, and that
they too targeted homosexuals; gay&lesbian love, etc.. These laws are not
_necessarily_ a _product_ of capitalist modernity. They existed long before
capitalism. That the social function of gay oppression changed under modern
capitalism is not irrelevant to the issue that Christianity heavily intolerated
homosexuality (despite the _variations_ in Christianity in terms of the
treatment of sexuality). In my view, we should still be able to account how
sexuality was practiced and treated under Christianity where the _political
economy_ of society was organized on the basis of Church's control of land. For
example, non procreative sexual act among monks had a simple social function;
that of the protection of  the church's property. I am sure this social function
paradoxically allowed the formation of homosexual identity among monks too, at
least among some of them. Evidently, monks were not the modern gays marching on
the streets for gay liberation. They resisted differently. But to suggest that
there was no homosexual identity before the modern period and that the
oppression of gays were simply functional to the development of capitalism is
indeed to imply that homosexuality had to be wiped out and heterosexuality had
to win. This is the closet anti-gay  view I get out of John Mage's book,
frankly. In that respect, I agree with Lou's  post.

In my view, rather than saying that capitalism/ rise of territorial state
_created_ homosexuality (or heterosexuality) as well as the oppressions based
upon them, we should be able to see how social structures under different
historical circumstances allowed and/or restricted the possibility of
unconventional sexual identities&pratices. But explaining the origins of
homosexual identity in capitalist modernity _only_ freezes the history of
homosexuality, leaving the pre-capitalist period unexplained; ie., the growth of
the family unit (from primitive group marriage to monogomy)& forms of state&
forms of property relations&forms of exploitation, including religion, etc..

> >The modernity of heterosexuality as a
> >compulsive institution is much easier to see when you look >at Japan
> >which has never had any anti-sodomy statutes but became >homophobic &
> >heterosexiat with capitalist modernization.

Well, a society can still be homophobic/heterosexist without necessarily having
anti-sodomy statutes. I am sure Japan was quite heterosexist before the modern
period *too*. What evidence are you suggesting that it was not?  To my
knowledge, Japan is a gender segregated society with heavy patriarchal norms and
regulations that still continue today in *changing* forms, despite capitalist
modernization. I suspect what Japan has today is  *capitalist patriarchy*, not
the dissolution of patriarchy. As patriarchy takes a capitalist form, the
heterosexual _basis_ of patriarchy goes with it.  To what extend, for example,
does heterosexism exist in Japan (since you are making a distinction between
_patriarchy_ and _heterosexism_)? Are heterosexual practices outside marriage
allowed for women, let alone homosexuality? For instance, is fucking a man
OK/easy thing for Japanese women ? Are women still expected to be virgins before
marriage?  I am just wondering about the extend of heterosexual liberation in
Japan and its relation to homosexuality.



Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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