Monday, August 04, 2008

Taboo against homosexuality

Given the special status of rape in our criminal code, I wonder if at some point way back when the taboo against homosexuality emerged as a social mechanism to deter men from raping other men. If a man raped another man it would not be considered an act of dominance, but rather of femininity/weakness, e ipso branding the criminal a "homosexual" (or any one of a slew of pejoratives). Then, at least, half the society would be protected against the crime.

Since we often look for clear demarcations for our ethical codes, in a culture with rigid gender identities it would be easy to say that sex with a man is categorically different than sex with a woman and thus always taboo.


Anonymous said...

The Rovea has not always been viewed as effeminate. I recall reading about FDR's anti-homosexual sting when he was assistant secretary of the navy. It was apparently relatively easy to recruit men to entrap homosexuals so long as they were able to play the dominant role. There was a whole to do in the end and the Navy came off very badly. Nevertheless, it is interesting that FDR and others felt it legitimate to ask apparent heterosexuals to sodomize other men.


Zev said...

That's amazing. Thanks for the history.

miriam said...

who says that rape's "special status" is older than taboos against homosexuality?

Zev said...

It's a good question. I think there are two possible avenues for inquiry: What constitutes "taboo against homosexuality" or has there been a reordering of the taboo following the "special status"? One might argue, for instance, that there is a prohibition in the Bible against homosexual acts, but there does not really exist a class of person called "gay." Alternatively, as rape has gained special status (women in many cultures fear rape apart from any old type of assault) the taboo on homosexuality may have morphed.

Anonymous said...

while i'm not sure what you mean by "special status" i am pretty sure that it's fairly recent. until, say, a few hundred years ago, rape was basically a property crime, and was framed in terms of decidedly gendered consequences - becoming unmarriagable, for example. rape law as you know it was constructed in the 70s or so. (cf: marital rape exemption.)

So, upshot: I think your theory, while clever in that chakirah sort of way, is quite anachronistic.

That is all

-vacationing miriam spends too much time on blogs