Thursday, May 12, 2016

Homosexuality Denigrates Women

One of the most remarkable aspects of contemporary societies' acceptance of homosexuality is the lack of outcry from and on behalf of women. I say "outcry" because there is certainly much quiet crying by women over this issue, as heard in the frequent lament from single women that so many single men are gay. But the major reason for anyone concerned with women's equality to be concerned with homosexuality is the direct correlation between the prevalence of male homosexuality and the relegation of women to a low social role. The improvement of the condition of women has only occurred in Western civilization, the civilization least tolerant of homosexuality.

In societies where men sought out men for love and sex, women were relegated to society's periphery. Thus, for example, ancient Greece, which elevated homosexuality to an ideal, was characterized by "a misogynistic attitude," in Norman Sussman's words. Homosexuality in ancient Greece, he writes, "was closely linked to an idealized concept of the man as the focus of intellectual and physical activities...The woman was seen as serving but two roles. As a wife, she ran the home. As a courtesan, she satisfied male sexual desires." Classicist Eva Keuls describes Athens at its height of philosophical and artistic greatness as "a society dominated by men who sequester their wives and daughters, denigrate the female role in reproduction, erect monuments to the male genitalia, have sex with the sons of their peers…"

In medieval France, when men stressed male-male love, it "implied a corresponding lack of interest in women. In the Song of Roland, a French mini-epic given its final form in the late eleventh or twelfth century, women appear only as shadowy marginal figures: "The deepest signs of affection in the poem, as well as in similar ones appear in the love of man for man..." The women of Arab society, wherein male homosexuality has been widespread, remain in a notably low state in the modern world. This may be a coincidence, but common sense suggests a linkage. So, too, in traditional Chinese culture, the low state of women has been linked to widespread homosexuality. As a French physician reported from China in the nineteenth century, "Chinese women were such docile, homebound dullards that the men, like those of ancient Greece, sought courtesans and boys.”

While traditional Judaism is not as egalitarian as many late twentieth century Jews would like, it was Judaism — very much through its insistence on marriage and family and its rejection of infidelity and homosexuality — that initiated the process of elevating the status of women. While other cultures were writing homoerotic poetry, the Jews wrote the Song of Songs, one of the most beautiful poems depicting male-female sensual love ever written




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