Forwarded from Anthony (reply to Yoshie on homosexuality)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Dec 4 06:54:33 MST 2000

On the issue of STD's and the repression of sexuality Yoshie replied to a
note I wrote,

"To make STDs responsible for "sexual repression," prohibition of same-sex
eroticism & activities, etc. is to spin a tall tale..."

Spinning a tall means telling a lie, or inventing a story out of thin air.

A strong statement in reply to my well-founded speculation.

A very strong statement considering that Yoshie continued,

"I suppose STDs of one kind or another existed in all human societies
throughout recorded history, and until recently, there was no effective
cure or way of managing STDs medically. "

A very good point Yoshie, one with which I agree.

Could you elaborate on how which STDs were present in the ancient
Mediterranean world, and how society dealt with them?

I think that unless you can do so, my point is one worthy at least of

Instead, Yoshie dismisses it in her next two sentences,

" Nonetheless, human societies have exhibited a great deal of variations in
attitudes toward sex. Therefore, it is not a viable explanation to say that
"sexual repression," including prohibition of same-sex eroticism &
activities, arose in response to STDs."

It is certainly true that "human societies have "exhibited a great deal of
variations in attitudes towards sex."

Some of that variation in very recent history has been in response to
STD's. I lived in San Francisco, California during the "sexual revolution"
and its aftermath which included an epidemic of STDs - not simply the AIDs
epidemic, but a herpes epidemic, a syphillus epidemic, a gonhorrea epidemic

The gay community in San Francisco fought a fierce internal struggle over
whether or not to close the bathhouses - because they were centers of
unsafe sex.

Sexual morality in the city changed drastically, although we did not return
to the dark days before the hippies, a lot of people adopted celibacy, and
a lot of others became monogamous.

A lot of people changed their personal sexual code of behavior after
burying several lovers, and lots of friends.

Some of them are clear about why- survival. Others have all kinds of
psychological justifications for their changed behavior.

Still others have religious explanations.

Sad to say the numbers of survivors of those epidemics who joined or
rejoined churches is high. In fact both the Catholic church and the major
evangelical protestant churches have special programs to recruit among
victims of AIDs and other STDs.

In other words Yoshie, my speculation is very viable, and your dismissal is
counter factual, antihistorical and very hard to understand.



Reply to Yoshie, Part 2

In her dismissal of the possibility that social response to STDs might have
contributed to the repression of sexuality in ancient society, Yoshie also

"Also, "sexual repression" is a vague term. Exactly whose sexuality is
repressed? What kind of sexuality is repressed? How?"

I recommend you read the "Confessions of Saint Augustine" who was trying to
repress his own sexuality and having a hard time of it. In those
confessions he relates not only his failures, but his prescription and
proscriptions for what he thought should become Christian sexual morality.

In brief his opinion was that sex should be only between a married couple
(female and male), only for reproductive purposes not for pleasure, and
only in the missionary position.

In other words he was in favor of repressing everyone's sexuality.

His thoughts are interesting since they became official Catholic doctrine
for about 17 centuries.

I think the "what kind" and the "who" in your question above is farily well
answered by my parapphrase of the Saint. For more detail, please read him
and those who have been explaining him in the Vatican and elsewhere.

As for the "how" of the repression of sexuality by the Catholic Church,
that's a very big subject - but the confession booth is a good place to
start if you want to know "how".

[Of course the success of sexual repression has varied over time, and of
course there has been conflict within the Cathlic church and its
descendants over the degree sexuality should be repressed - the D'Medicis
thought that doctrine was for others to practice, others think doctrine
should be changed, etc. But the point is - Catholic doctrine became the
repression of all sexuality, except for sex acts aimed at pregnancy. Period.]



Reply to Yoshie part 3

In Yoshie's dismissal of SDTs as a possible reason for the onset of sexual
repression in ancient society, she also made the following remarks.

"For instance, while the Victorian period is often mistakenly thought of as
the age of sexual repression, Victorian men did not have their sexuality
repressed at all. Sexual commerce was thriving, & the double standard
protected middle-class men while penalizing middle-class women. The
working-class had a sexual ethic & standard different from the middle
class, whose "reformers" tried very hard to make the working class conform
to the middle-class ethic & standard.

I think that there is nothing mistaken in the idea that the Victorian
period was an age of sexual repression, including the sexuality of men.

The fact that prostitution was common proves the point. Nice girls didn't
fuck. So nice boys (who had enough money in their pockets - please don't
ignore the class issues) paid prostitutes.

If you think sex in a brothel is the same as sex with someone you care
about, I suggest putting the theory into practice a few times.

The fact is, prostitution does not flourish unless sexuality between
consenting adults is repressed.

Yoshie goes on to say,

"To neglect to ask class & gender questions in relation to sex & sexuality
is to forget Engels's lesson."

Please Yoshie, which class and gender issues do you want me to teach you
about? Ancient Rome, Feudal France, Renaissance Italy, the United States in
the year 2,000?

I just wrote a little note. I am working on the encyclopedia which I will
email you as soon as it is done.

Believe it or not, class and gender do not need to be mentioned in every
other sentence to make a thought valid, scientific, and Marxist.

Give me a break.


Louis Proyect
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