John Mage on sodomy

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Mon Dec 4 15:52:51 MST 2000

Yoshie wrote:

> >For the sake of convenience, I refer to the Meiji Restoration >as the
> >beginning of capitalist modernity in Japan.  Pre-capitalist >Japan
> >before the Meiji Restoration was _patriarchal without being
> >homophobic and heterosexist_.  I've already recommended >to Lou & the
> >list _Nanshoku Okagami [The Great Mirror of Male Love]_ >(1687) by
> >Ihara Saikaku (1642-1693), so you may see for yourself the
> >celebration of male-male love (mainly though not >exclusively love of
> >older men for younger men & vice versa) & absence of >homophobia &
> >heterosexism in pre-capitalist Japan.  Read the book, and >tell us
> >what you think of it.


If homosexuality or any type of sexual _identity_ did not exist in pre-capitalist
times, according to your claim,  than what is the use of calling homosexual
activity in pre-capitalist Japan *gay love*? Why to bother to use the concept at

Frankly, I don't have time to read the books. You should be able to summarize them
in brief. I am not convinced  that *male-male love* was *tolarated* in pre-modern
Japan. There is *no doubt* that gay love was *practiced*. We are *not* disputing
over this fact. What we are disputing over is whether homosexuality and gay
oppression predate capitalism or whether *some form* of homophobia existed in
pre-capitalist Japan. I am not totally convinced by your hypothesis that Japan was
a gay friendly society in pre-capitalist times. Do you have any documents at hand
showing how pre-capitalist Japanese political authorities defined/or treated

> >_Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past_, >eds.
> >Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. >(NY:
> >Meridian, 1989) should also help you to historicize >"homosexuality" &
> >"heterosexuality."  The first three essays included here -- >John
> >Boswell's "Revolutions, Universals, and Sexual Categories," >David M.
> >Halperin's "Sex Before Sexuality: Pederasty, Politics, and >Power in
> >Classical Athens," & Robert Padgug, "Sexual Matters: >Rethinking
> Sexuality in History"

Are they offering a Marxist analysis of sexuality? I highly doubt so.

> >After you finish reading the above two, I'll give you more
> >recommendations, if you are interested in the subject of
> >pre-capitalist Japanese attitudes to same-sex eroticism & >activities.

Well,  you should be able to summarize these books.

> >According to Clellan S. Ford & Frank A. Beach's _Patterns of >Sexual
> >Behavior_ (1951), roughly two-thirds of the societies for >which
> >evidence existed had no prohibition of same-sex eroticism >& sexual
> >activities.

Makes no sense. Any evidence? document? records? social data? as to how there was
no *prohibition* of same sex eroticism in pre-capitalist societies.

> >To realize that the idea of "sexual identity" -- as well as
> >categories we use to understand them such as >"homosexual,"
> >"bisexual," & "heterosexual" -- is a modern invention born >of
> >urbanized industrial capitalism is not at all to subscribe to a
> >closet anti-gay view.

> > _There was no "heterosexual" identity before
> >capitalist modernity either_.  In fact, the work of >historicizing
> >sexuality has been pioneered by mainly gay scholars such as >Michel
> >Foucault, Jeffrey Weeks, John D'Emilio, Jonathan Ned Katz, >etc.

How reliable is Michel Foucault when it comes to debating Marxist analysis of
sexuality? He is a famous red baiter of Marxism backing up post-modernists like
Judith Butler. Lou was absolutely correct in his critique of such dogmatic readers
of Marx who claim Marxism _cannot_ account for gender/sexual oppression.  Guess
they have not bothered to read Engels. Frankly, I am astonished to see how you
accept such people uncritically.

> >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.
> >Empirical studies of sexism & heterosexism in Japan, sexual
> >liberation in Japan, women's movements in Japan, etc. >cannot be
> >summarized in this short post.


It seems to me that Japan is a heterosexist society still under the influence of
*old fashioned patriarchal* norms and traditions--sexual loyalty to men; importance
of extended family;respect for hierarchy, praise of women's traditional practices
such as virginity, pregnancy,  marriage etc..; That is how Japan has become another
capitalist power; reproducing and maintaining what it has. Last week, Lou's post
about Meiji restoration was very interesting in terms of showing how Meiji
modernizers built capitalism upon feudal relations in the country side, and hence
making use of pre-capitalist social formations in the development of capitalism.
This must have something to do with the evolution of sexuality and gender relations
in Japan.


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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