The invention of heterosexuality

So much yes to this article. The author is a superb writer, making post-structuralism understandable to nonphilosophers.

I wrote my senior thesis for my BA on same-sex sexuality in the 14th century. No kidding…I found lots of info because before sexual identity was invented, people were simply doing acts with each other that were sometimes socially acceptable and sometimes not, but in neither case did those acts have to do with identity, nor were they judged on that accord. “Sexuality” had not been invented yet. 

You can imagine the arguments I fielded from the conservative history majors — all self-identified heterosexual white men — who refused to consider history or culture as constructive of anything. I’m sure they’re all now teaching Latin at private schools and wondering what’s gone wrong with the world since 312 AD.

Why judge what is natural and ethical to a human being by his or her animal nature? Many of the things human beings value, such as medicine and art, are egregiously unnatural. At the same time, humans detest many things that actually are eminently natural, like disease and death. If we consider some naturally occurring phenomena ethical and others unethical, that means our minds (the things looking) are determining what to make of nature (the things being looked at). Nature doesn’t exist somewhere “out there,” independently of us – we’re always already interpreting it from the inside.

(BBC)

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