26 Mar 2007

Thoughts on sexuality and history

Hide the children. As I promised you in my blog "Nostratic-L yahoogroups update", outraged by the bigoted attitudes of a yahoogroups moderator, Andy Howey, and some members like Patrick C. Ryan, I think it's constructive to tackle the complex world of sexuality maturely, covering the broad range of opinions which continue to exist today and which have existed throughout time. Allowing our own ethnocentric feelings of moral supremacy will forever prevent us from understanding our past, our present and even our future.

On Nostratic-L, Patrick's paranoia towards the light-hearted term "sweetie" as a kind of accusation of homosexuality (see here) and Andy's subtle use of quotation marks around the pronouns "he" to refer to me (see here) are subtle examples of continued bigotry in the modern day. They demonstrate unscientific, fear-driven myths seen countless times elsewhere that a) to be a gay male or to be associated with one is a sign of moral deficiency, and b) that gay males aren't male enough to be referred to as he without quotation marks. Considering the available information on sites like the American Psychological Association, it's hard to believe that these online individuals masquerading as history buffs are not purposely being ignorant in order to unload their baggage of self-hatred on random scapegoats whether it be groups united by sexuality, by gender, by culture, by religion, by skin colour, etc.

It's interesting also that Patrick Ryan and Andy Howey should both reside in the United States, a country that frequently airs homophobic propoganda as we would expect in other countries intolerant towards homosexuality such as Iraq, Algeria and Mozambique (see Debra Rosenberg/Karen Breslau, Newsweek: Culture Wars Winning the 'Values' Vote, Online: Feb 05 2006[1]; CNN: GOP Renews Fight Against Gay Marriage). In that country, gay marriages are recognized in some states while others maintain laws against sodomy that were written a century ago. (This in itself teaches us that no culture, ancient or modern, is entirely monolithic in views and attitudes about anything, by the way.) I live in quite a different country just next door, Canada, where gay marriage is now legally recognized throughout all of its provinces and territories. Similar positive attitudes now prevail in modern countries around the world like Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, to list only a few. As we can see then, Patrick and Andy's unscientific attitudes towards sexuality probably in part were shaped by their own cultural biases of what they learned to be "right" and "wrong" from their parents and their parents before them. However with just the above facts about laws around the world, these morals are not universal and it's naive to impose them on other cultures, whether they be prehistorical, historical or modern. They certainly have no business being in an educated debate as a low-handed way to personally attack other members of a forum.

There are many quick examples of how moral supremacy can cause the destruction of historical artifacts and infect our knowledge of history. Consider for example the many books that Mayans had produced recording their advanced knowledge of the sciences, completely destroyed by Spanish catholic priests who deemed them demonic according to their own narrow religious views. Only a few books now remain such as the Dresden Codex. In Victorian times, many Egyptian statues of a phallic nature, devoted to the god Min, were purposely maimed to agree better with the sensibilities of that era rather than being properly studied in order to truthfully comprehend the past. Ignorance is a destructive imp and allowing it to fester leads to chaos.

Many people when they study ancient cultures think that they can hide themselves away from the uneasy topic of sexuality and yet still gain deep insight into these cultures, but they are deluding themselves. Inevitably one will accidentally trip over cultural curiosities such as this sexually overt image displayed on a classical Greek amphora or a carefully carved facade of an ancient temple in India and then what does one do? Hide in a bomb shelter? Is the end really nigh, or has history just blown your mind wide open and showed you how small your own culture really is in the grand scheme of time?

And this is just scratching the surface of this topic...

[1] Originally published online by MNSBC at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6401635/site/newsweek/, the article is now curiously absent and unretrievable from their site. Thankfully it has been archived by others however.


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