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10.5.03

(more Blogger issues. grr. This is again additional commentary on the link in the previous post.)

There are two spinoff directions that I can go with this. First, it emphasizes that when we talk about gender roles, we're not talking about a single male role and a single female role. Each gender has a (limited) plurality of possible roles to fill. Some of these -- like the independent and objective Descartes-like "man of reason" that feminists have written much about, or the woman as bearer of culture and civilizer of society -- are deemed desirable, while others -- like the rapacious man or the excessively emotional woman -- provide categories into which we can fit "deviants" (and on which deviants will draw in constructing their own identities).

The second ties in to some speculation I've done about homophobia. In reading commentary about the Rick Santorum flap, I noticed that many supporters of Santorum tended to assume that homosexuality means male homosexuality (even the famous passage in Leviticus talks only of men lying together, though St. Paul does later condemn both male and female homosexuality). The stereotype of the sex-crazed man, and its corrollary the uninterested-in-sex woman, may incline holders of traditional gender attitudes to discount lesbianism as both a reality and a problem. If sex is something predominantly sought by men, the concept of a lesbian is more difficult to make sense of. But it's also not a threat. The concept of the traditional family is to temper a man's sex drive with a woman's frigidity. This means that a relationship between two men lacks this element of balance -- it's two wild male sex drives. The implicit association in much of this commentary between homosexuality and promiscuity may be related. The archetype of the heterosexual relationship is the monogamous marriage, whose idealized regulation of sex is opposed to the uncontrollability -- and hence promiscuity -- of relationships with too much man and not enough woman. It's this imbalance and uncontrollability that makes homosexuality dangerous to the social order.

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