Were there heterosexuals in feudal Europe? (was Were therelesbians or gay men in feudal Europe?)

Charles Brown CharlesB at SPAMCNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Mon Dec 4 15:15:18 MST 2000

>>> plf13 at it.canterbury.ac.nz 12/04/00 04:11PM >>>
What Yoshie and I are emphasising is the *historical (or historically
specific) character* of these kinds of categories.  This recognition is
quite wide these days in the literature, and the authors Yoshie mentioned
are well worth following up for poeple interested in seeing where the
historiography and sociological analyses have reached - much of this
material is a long way ahead of the still primitive grapplings of many
Marxists on the subject.  Which pretty much reflects the fact that a lot of
the preoccupations of Marxists are irrelevant to the rest of society and
that non-Marxist writers have often assimilated aspects of Marx's
methodology - or, more likely, come to aspects of the same methodology
independently - better than whole schools of official Marxists.


CB: Agree with your recommendation to be historically specific. So, I am trying to
develop a chart of the historical specifics which correspond to sexual practices in
slave society, feudalism and capitalism.

In general, I must say that I think there may be a need to discard the category same
sex sex, and discuss the history of male-male sex and the history of female-female sex
separately. From the discussion so far, it does not seem that they are the same thing
in terms of a historical materialist approach. Also, given the long history of male
supremacy, it seems very unlikely that they were the same.

A well established datum of the history of Greek slave mode society is that some
Greeks practiced male- young male sex, in public celebration, not suppressed secrecy.
It was a public virtue,with the top classes of society, as I understand it.  So, there
would be a need to explain it as the opposite of an opppressed activity. More like
modern day golf.  I am not clear on whether this practice went beyond the ruling
class. Also, I do not understand this to have a corresponding institution among women.
At any rate , I would guess that ancient Greek lesbianism was not the same thing, from
a social-historical standpoint as the institution made famous by Plato and Socrates.

Similarly with other periods.

I also have a hypothesis that the association of gay sexuality with a liberation and
the working classes is something of a new phenomenon since Oscar Wilde and Harry Hay,
for every time I learn more about the history of male-male sex, I find more evidence
that it was not oppressed but practiced by ruling class members such as philosophers,
kings, sultans, feudal priests, in British high bourgeois schools. I don't hear a lot
of data on working classes in these periods. Not that they didn't practice it, but the
practice of it was not in seeming conflict with the interests of the various ruling
classes down through the modes of production. If sodomy was not illegal until the end
of feudalism, that implies it was not oppressed in feudalism.

We hear much less about lesbian history. Likely some witches were punished for

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