Monday, September 20, 2010

The Distribution of Gender over Sexuality? Or Vis-a-versa?

Reading an article for my Human Sexuality in Cross Cultures class on the transformation of homosexuality, I couldn't help but laugh.  Not at homosexuality or those who subscribe to the delineation.  It was the faction of "homosexuality" that had me shaking my head.  I find it mildly comical that as our Western society developed intellectually, the more distinguishing categories and sub-categories were established to allow the general populace to gain an understanding of the world as we found it to be.  Now, present-day academia has us reforming our views to dissipate these dogmatic categorical connections. 

We (we subjugated, and, I'll say it, slightly futile Gender Studies scholars) are shown cultures and tribes living today who practice gender and sexual roles that would astonish the Westerner, while simultaneously debasing our theories that we have adopted as laws of nature through its very existence.  If adult males in Sambia say that inseminating male youths to make them more "masculine," who are we to say that the majority of their tribes' men are acting "homosexual" or "effeminate"?  Our own guidelines are as banal and deeply rooted as theirs are. We have thousands of years of Christian-based secularism; they have an even greater number of years of ancestors' stories of what magic is to be practiced when.  Who's wrong? Who's right?

The fact that both groups can exist at once is proof that neither is more correct in their beliefs.  But now we have all these jumbled categories and sub-categories, divisions such as "passive homosexuality" and "hyper-masculinity."  This is the vocabulary with which we have limited ourselves.  So as our current Western gender/sexuality scholars progress, what will their aim be? Towards formulating a deeper division, or towards uncharted territory? I'm desperately holding out for the latter.

Further reading: Ritualized Homosexuality in Sambia Culture