Non-western concepts of male sexuality vary considerably from modern Western concepts of sexual and gender identity. Recent scholarship has questioned the applicability of Western concepts of sexual orientation and identity in non-western cultures. West here refers to modern industrialized countries of European origin. The concepts of sexual orientation and identities were not present even in pre-modern European societies.
Limits of the concept of sexual orientation within the Western world[edit | edit source]
The universal validity of modern Western concepts of sexual orientation has been questioned by scholars such as philosopher Michel Foucault.
Social constructionists point to the discrepancy between categories of sexual orientation and the sexual practices, and claim that sexual identities are socially constructed, While the essentialists claim that sexual identities basically reflect natural sexual desire, which are fixed and unchangeable for individuals (and not fluid) and which can be neatly divided into 'heterosexual', 'homosexual' and 'bisexual' categories. Social constructionists assert, rather, that these identities are culturally specific and historically contingent. Social constructivist David Greenberg, for instance, argues that the concept of homosexuality did not exist prior to modernity. Reiterating the argument of 20th-century French philosopher Michel Foucault, Greenberg argues that "the production and dissemination of a medical discourse in the recent past ... gave birth not just to the concept of a homosexual person, but also to homosexuals themselves, and at the same time, to their antitwins, heterosexual persons."
This debate apart, even after several decades of the introduction of the concept of sexual orientation in the West, a significant number of men who acknowledge their sexual desire for men in the West, do not identify with the "gay" or "homosexual" identity. The Western society, which is built upon the Essentialist point of view, fails to explain why some men who experience same-sex attractions do not adopt a lesbian, gay, or bisexual identity.
It is primarily due to the concept of "sexual orientation" in westernised spaces, which isolates male-to-male sexual behaviour in the third sex 'gay' ghetto, that the majority of men, who earlier widely indulged in same-sex behaviours, now distance themselves from it, leading to extreme isolation of men who do accept their sexual need for other men.
Neither the social constructionists nor the essentialists take into account the hidden factor of genderTemplate:Or which is inherently tied with the concept of sexual orientation (While the 'homosexual' identity is built upon the earlier third sex identities and is closely associated with femininity in males, the 'heterosexual' identity is closely associated with 'masculinity' or 'manhood' and is built upon the earlier mainstream men's spaces). Gender is the main point where the western concepts differ from those prevailing in the non-west, and as can be seen from the references, have a striking similarity with the concept of male sexuality that existed during the pre-modern West.
Main points of difference between Western and non-Western societies[edit | edit source]
The differences in the non-western world about the treatment of sexuality between men can be summed up as follows:Template:Syn
- Strong men's spaces: As evidenced from published references from different parts of the traditional (i.e. non-westernised) non-western world (e.g. India, certain Muslim countries, and Indonesia), the society is often divided into men's and women's spaces. The men's spaces are very strong in the sense that it guards against the process of heterosexualisation, which seeks to isolate and remove male-male sexuality from these spaces into a separate ghetto, and provides men a lot of relief from pressures of social manhood — like exaggerating one's sexual need for women, and suppressing one's sexual need for men. Its strength can also be seen by the fact that these spaces resist the imposition of the western concept of 'homosexuality'. Men's spaces refer to spaces which are exclusively for men, and where women are either not allowed or their entry is highly restricted. These spaces are extremely important for men and their manhood and very congenial to bonds between men, including sexual bonds. These sexual bonds are very open if the formal society is accepting, otherwise hidden to various degrees, depending upon how hostile the formal society is.
- Men's sexual need for men considered universal: As evidenced by published references from Afghanistan (Kandahaar), India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, etc. man's sexual need for other men is considered to be a "universal" male phenomenon, and "not supposed to be limited to a sexual minority" or to a special 'class' or 'category' of males and is not considered "alternative" sexuality. A man displaying sexual interest in another man, by itself is not considered either 'different' or 'feminine' or 'alternative'. This belief may be openly asserted in the society (as in Kandahaar) or maybe limited to the privacy of men's spaces, within which men acknowledge it openly, whereas denying the existence of such a need in formal and mixed gender spaces (e.g. in India).
- Prevalence of a Third gender: In cultures across the non-West, including South Asia, South-East Asia, Arab, Native America, and Polynesia, more than one gender is acknowledged, and usually there are three sexes or genders of humans beings. Apart from man and woman, there is also a third gender which is considered to be both male and female at the same time (or in some societies neither male nor female; neutral). It includes feminine gendered males, who are considered to have male outer sex but female gender. While there is no division on the basis of the Western pattern of "sexual orientation", there is a strong division of the male population between masculine gendered males and feminine gendered males. While the former is referred to as "men", the feminine gendered males are known as the third sex, along with the hermaphrodite, irrespective of sexual orientation. The third-sex is considered a separate gender category, and its members are not considered either men or women but a neutral or intermediate gender. Thus, a man having sex with men is not the same as a third gender male having sex with men.
- Westernized populations in India may follow both western as well as traditional concepts of sexuality.
References[edit | edit source]
- Re-Orienting Desire: The Gay International and the Arab World, Review of Joseph Massad’s book: Desiring Arabs from the site: http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1679743
- Homosexual behaviour without homosexual identity: The case of Chinese men having sex with men (MSM); Winkelmann C.; Int Conf AIDS. 2004 Jul 11-16; 15: abstract no. WePeD6407; http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/MeetingAbstracts/102284322.html
- The Dictionary of Anthropology; By Thomas Barfield; Published 1997, Blackwell Publishing; Ethnology
- Struggles for sexual, gender liberation rooted in national liberation movements, Lavender & red, part 113, By Leslie Feinberg,World.org.
- Greenberg, David. The Construction of Homosexuality. Chicago, Illinois:University of Chicago Press, 486-487. ISBN 0-226-30628-3.
- Sexual Identity Development and Synthesis among LGB-Identified and LGB Dis-Identified Persons.; Journal article by Mark A. Yarhouse, Erica S.N. Tan, Lisa M. Pawlowski; Journal of Psychology and Theology, Vol. 33, 2005 http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=H9hL2Qb2lV2kQnpGtXTrZzXGkMPhJ0TVXRzfT8hSw316CbPsWW8S!-1788132937?docId=5009356549
- Review of Book "Sex and the Gender Revolution, Volume One: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London, by Randolph Trumbach chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998. (xiv), 509 pp.; Reviewer: Lesley A. Hall of Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London. http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/trumbach.htm
- The Changing social construction of western male homosexuality: Association with worsening youth suicide problems: chapter: Male homosexuality: from commonality to rarity; By Pierre J. Tremblay & Richard Ramsay Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. http://youth-suicide.com/gay-bisexual/construction/3-gay-youth-suicide-homosexuality-rare.htm
- The Changing social construction of western male homosexuality: Association with worsening youth suicide problems: chapter: Male homosexuality: from commonality to rarity
- Review of Book "Sex and the Gender Revolution, Volume One: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London, by Randolph Trumbach, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1998. (xiv), 509 pp.; Reviewer: Lesley A. Hall of Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London. http://homepages.primex.co.uk/~lesleyah/trumbach.htm
- Mollies Arrested in London: Gayhistory.com http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/factfiles/ff1726.htm
- Negotiating Gender: Calalai' in Bugis Society: Sharyn Graham; also, Bissu are gender transcendent, pre-Islamic priests. See Leonard Andaya, 'The Bissu: Study of a Third Gender in Indonesia', in Other Pasts: Women, Gender, and History in Early Modern Southeast Asia, ed. Barbara Andaya, Hawai'i: Hawai'i University Press, 2000:27-46.
- Worlds of Gender: the Archaeology of Women's lives around the globe by Sarah Milledge Nelson, published by Altamira press 2007
- Tim Reid (2002-01-22). Kandahar Men Return to Original Love: Teenage Boys. Fox News. Retrieved on 2008-04-20.
- Brian James Baer (April 2007). Closely watched Pashtuns-a critique of western journalists' reporting bias about "Gay Kandahar". Pukaar, the journal of Naz Foundation International. Retrieved on 2008-04-20.
- Peter A. Jackson (April 1996). Non-normative Sex/Gender Categories in the Theravada Buddhist Scriptures. Australian Humanities review. Retrieved on 2008-04-20.
- Kathoey: The term kathoey or katoey (Thai: กะเทย, IPA: [kaʔtʰɤːj]) generally refers to a male-to-female transgender person or an effeminate gay male in Thailand.
- It's what you do: most of the men who have sex with men in the South probably don't identify themselves as `gay' or `bisexual'; Internationalist, Oct, 2000 by Jeremy Seabrook
- Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan; by Mark McLelland; Murdoch University 
- Struggles for sexual, gender liberation rooted in national liberation movements, Lavender & red, part 113, By Leslie Feinberg, 
[edit | edit source]
- Queer by Choice book list
- Fight for Heterosexualisation of separate men's and women's spaces on Israeli Busses
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