Thursday, August 15, 2013

the politics of language part one

Today I'm getting back to A Queer History of the United States. The last section of chapter five is called  The Politics of Language. I'm going to split it up into three parts, so here is part one.
    The anarchist and the social purist were the two opposite ends of the spectrum and they both had clear political agendas. However, the new science of sexology had a lot to say about Homosexuality, too. The difference was that it used more neutral language than the anarchist and social purist. Sexology said that Homosexuals had the mentality of the opposite sex but the wrong body. They called it an ''inversion'' or ''third sex.'' This inversion did not only include same-sex desire but also the mannerisms and appearance of the opposite sex. It contributed heavily to the stereotypes of the effeminate male and butch Lesbian Because Gays and Lesbians who did not fit these stereotypes passed as straight. Sexology's ''inversion'' theory was the basic social understanding of Gays and Lesbians for the first half of the 20th century. This idea did not help women who wanted to enter the professions or suffragettes who wanted to vote, either. They were seen as ''mannish'' because of they're non-traditional goals and because this inversion was seen as an illness or disease.
    The early sexologist also distributed Homosexual ''narratives'' much like the pre-civil war slave narratives. In then, Gays and Lesbians simply told of they're same-sex desires openly and honestly. I suspect that most used pseudonyms. I don't know if they distributed then publicly or only amongst colleagues, but these narratives did give Gays and Lesbians a concrete social identity.

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