- Paperback: 645 pages
- Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (August 15, 1990)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226306283
- ISBN-13: 978-0226306285
- Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.6 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,460,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Construction of Homosexuality
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From Library Journal
This sociological history seeks to understand societal response to homosexuality. Part 1 is a primarily anthropological exploration of homosexuality from earliest history through feudalism; part 2 recounts the construction of a modern conception of homosexuality, including its emergence as an identifiable subculture, its medicalization, and the rise of the gay liberation movement. Some scholars may question Greenberg's emphasis on economic structures and class status, but this heavily researched work should be a vital building block in the growing field of gay studies. A final chapter details the problems of sociological research in this area. Index not seen. James E. Cook, Dayton & Montgomery Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Equally informative--but in a sad way--was the fact that the copy I bought, a former library book, had a few malicious epithets written on random pages. Tragically telling about the state of things in modern America (or at least in the town where that library was located) if someone thought it was acceptable to write such nasty things in a library book. (Thankfully, it was written in pencil, so I was able to erase the worst of it. There were also places where someone had underlined passages to highlight the opposite meaning of the sentence, and a few of those were unfortunately in pen.) Hopefully, other copies didn't suffer from such ill will. (And the seller did point out that there were markings in the book. I just wanted to mention it because it shows how far society has yet to progress.)
The second half uses these observations to argue that homosexuality, as a whole, is a sociological concept with biological aspects, similar to arguments made about race.
This book is pretty old, and more scholarly than political, so the tone may take getting used to. But it's worth it.
He notes, "None of the early legal codes of Mesopotamia---the Laws of Urukagina (2375 B.C.), the Laws of Ur-Nammu (2100 B.C.), the Laws of Eshnunna (1750 B.C.), and the Laws of Hammurabi (1726 B.C.) prohibits homosexual acts. The only possible reference to homosexuality is a provision in the Hammurabi Code concerning sons adopted by palace eunuchs, and it is not certain that all of the latter engaged in homosexuality." (Pg. 124) Later, he adds, "With only a few exceptions, male homosexuality was not stigmatized or repressed so long as it conformed to norms regarding gender and the relative ages and statuses of the partners. In many of the early civilizations based on agriculture, male homosexual relations were invested with sacramental significance." (Pg. 182)
He asserts that "[The apostle] Paul's comments on heterosexual relations do not suggest that he would have found homosexuality acceptable under any circumstances. He advocated celibacy on the grounds that someone who is married is more concerned with pleasing his spouse than with pleasing God---an inappropriate priority when the end of the world is at hand. A same-sex spouse would presumably pose the same problem. To prevent fornication, marriage was permitted to those who could not remain chaste. Sexuality was not something Paul valued for itself, or for the contribution it could make to an interpersonal relationship. He saw sex as lust, therefore as something that was best suppressed or... permitted only in the most restricted outlet." (Pg. 216-217)
He observes that "In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association seemingly rejected this view of homosexuality [as psychopathology] by removing it from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders, an official listing of mental illnesses. But the step was taken under pressure from gay-liberation activists and did not stimulate a rethinking of the theory of sexual preferences. In fact, most psychiatrists disagreed with the removal; just under 70 percent of the 2,500 psychiatrists who responded to a survey conducted by the journal Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality opposed it." (Pg. 429-430)
This book will be of interest to persons wanting psychological and sociological analyses of homosexuality.