The first cross-cultural studies Essay



The re-definition of the word homosexualism as a societal concept instead than pathology by societal constructionists such as John D’Emilio and Michel Foucault has allowed for its debut into the sphere of anthropology ( Norton 2002 ) . The first cross-cultural surveies conducted on homosexualism by anthropologists that started in the seventiess were chiefly concerned with how homosexualism differs across infinite and clip. Findingss have shown that there are no cosmopolitan forms of human sexual behaviour but multiple 1s. So when 1 refers to homosexuality one has to take into consideration the being of different homosexualisms, each holding a certain set of significances attached to it. “ Although biological and psychological factors help explicate fluctuations of sexual behaviour between persons within a given society, intercultural fluctuations in forms of human sexual behaviour are chiefly related to societal and cultural differences happening between societies around the universe ” ( Carrier 1980:100 ) . In some societies, prosecuting in same sex dealingss is institutionalized, masculinizing or a rite of transition to maturity. In other societies, such as Arab societies, homosexualism is considered a ‘taboo ‘ .

“ Homosexuality is a topic that Arabs, even progressive Arabians are by and large loath to discourse. If mentioned at all, it ‘s treated as a topic for ribald laughter or ( more frequently ) as a foul, unnatural, abhorrent, un-Islamic, Western perversion ” ( Whitaker 2006:9 ) . The uninterrupted silence environing homosexualism finds its roots in the scarceness of scholarly stuff and research on same sex dealingss in the Middle East. The lone beginnings available that are accessible to the populace are spiritual books and psychiatric theories on homosexualism ‘s causes and remedies that confirm preexistent stereotypes and the perceptual experience that homophiles are evildoers and/or mentally sick.

The reserve on the portion of Arab sociologists to compose about gender in general and homosexualism in specific is chiefly related, I believe, to both personal and political factors. On the personal degree, research workers are normally subjected to the moral codifications of their civilization either by following them and, consciously or subconsciously, working on conserving them or by merely staying to the command of these codifications in order to avoid any clang with the defenders of ethical motives in the academic domain. On the political degree, the Egyptian authorities imposes censorship on the publication of research ‘s findings, with the stated intent of continuing public order and morality. A jurisprudence sing societal research that was formulated after the 1952 revolution requires research workers to obtain permission from the Center for Mobilization and Statistics ( CAPMAS ) before set abouting any research. Without any uncertainty, these limitations on the research subject, fieldwork, informations aggregation and questionnaires by the Egyptian authorities along with the fright of a societal recoil have had an impact on the sociologists ‘ inability to undertake such a controversial subject as homosexualism.

In contrast, Western research workers seem immune to these sorts of challenges that their Arab opposite numbers face but interestingly, that has non ever been the instance. In fact, homophiles have long been referred to as perverse and pervert in Western history, particularly anterior to the 19th century. Merely in the 1950s and 1960s had release motions succeeded in taking homosexualism to get down to get a more positive intension. Homosexuals were no longer defined as unnatural individuals but instead as individuals holding a different sexual orientation or penchant than the bulk. Along with this new significance attributed to the word homosexualism and societal credence of the pattern, there started to be a more frequent usage of gay-happy, unworried, instead than homosexual to mention to people prosecuting in same sex dealingss. Bing homosexual besides means holding a separate individuality, behaviour and life style than the bulk of people in society.

In Egypt, as in many other Arab states, there has ne’er been a positive label or name to depict work forces or adult females prosecuting in same sex dealingss till the beginning of the twenty-first century. That century witnessed the sudden rapid development of a comparatively outstanding Arab subculture of male homosexualism expressed in the blogosphere and the humanistic disciplines scene which led to the outgrowth and appropriation of the western word “ homosexual ” by many Arab homosexual work forces whereas, Arab female homosexualism remained a societal mystery that still lacks a voice and a clear image. No admiration, since in a male dominated society where work forces have ever flaunted their sexual activity as a mark of their virility and laterality, female gender is still to a great extent guarded by the establishments of celibacy and tabu.

The comparative prominence of the Arab homosexuals and the dual marginalisation of Arab tribades might hold influenced my witting determination to except female homosexualism from my research non merely due the trouble of informations aggregation but besides as a consequence of my personal realisation of the dangers that Arab male homophiles are confronting presents. Furthermore, it is strongly believed that the life of a male homophile in this portion of the universe is in changeless serious menace compared to his female opposite number. This claim is backed by the fact that work forces have ever dominated the outer populace sphere and adult females were confined to the interior private domain for centuries. Female homosexualism has been ever hidden, normally been ignored and to a lesser grade was tolerated when compared to heterosexual pre-marital personal businesss.

It is in this context that the designation as homosexual by Egyptian work forces prosecuting in same sex dealingss and their increased visibleness in the populace domain has worked against them and resulted in a series of apprehensions. The recent governmental aggressions have broaden the spectrum of the issue from a affair of sexual freedom and tolerance to a affair of basic human rights related to illegal captivity, aggressive anguish and unconstitutional prosecutions. The crackdowns on homophiles non merely in Egypt but besides in other Arab states, in which sexual diverseness is non considered as an option, have triggered the attending of many international organisations supporting human rights and homosexual rights.

Joseph Massad ( 2007 ) finds the beginning of such visibleness outside of the part: “ With the rise of the adult females ‘s motion and the discourse of sexual release across Western states in the late sixtiess and particularly in the 1970s, the attending of many Westerners came to bearon the sexual inquiry as such, and non merely in the West but besides and progressively outside it ” ( 160 ) . Founded in 1978, the International Lesbian and Gay Association ( ILGA ) , along with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission ( IGLHRC ) and a sum of 117 other organisations supporting Health and Human Rights from 41 different states, have all failed in their effort to normalise and legalise homosexual rights in the Middle East. Homosexuals populating in this portion of the universe are still subjected to torments, imprisonment and decease punishments.

No jurisprudence forbids same sex dealingss in Egypt. Nevertheless, 100s of homophiles have spent yearss, months and even old ages in gaol. Debauchery and harlotry Torahs are being used by the Egyptian legislative system to penalize male homophiles which is a misdemeanor of the human rights ‘ jurisprudence that gives the freedom of pick of one ‘s sexual orientation. Explanations for the aggressive run launched by the authorities against homophiles vary harmonizing to whether they are presented by national or international media. The Egyptian media claim that the crackdown on male homophiles is necessary in order to continue cultural genuineness and public morality. In contrast, international media blame the autocratic government, Islamists and the socio-economic jobs confronting the state as factors explicating these repressions. However, it is of import to foreground that the deliberate moving ridges of aggression against homophiles occurred during periods of political agitation to deflect the multitudes or to delight, recruit and polarise the conservative bulk in order to follow an approaching governmental docket.

In an effort to understand the current discourse on homosexualism in Egypt, this thesis explores the procedure of classification of sexual behaviour in Western and Arab societies. I argue that, during the last century, while in the West the classification of homosexualism has been a topic of gradual displacement from criminalisation to eventual legalisation, the Arab societies have witnessed a counter procedure in which homosexualism, that was one twenty-four hours fluid [ nevertheless ne’er lawfully tolerated ] is no longer accepted and progressively criminalized by the province ‘s public morality narrative and punitory actions. Such criminalisation has had a distinct consequence on persons who claim to be gay in Egypt. Harmonizing to both, the literature reappraisal and my fieldwork, I demonstrate that the classification of sexual behaviour that has occurred in the West did non happen in Arab societies. This explains why Egyptian homophiles have been unable to construct seeable communities and individualities based on their sexual orientation. They have non been portion of a political battle like their Western opposite numbers ; nevertheless, they have begun to place themselves as “ homosexual ” .

My statement is that the development and care of “ homosexual ” individuality by male homophiles in Egypt is due to multiple factors among which the most of import are: 1 ) the non being of a positive societal definition of homosexualism and therefore the absence of a homosexual function theoretical account that homophiles in Egypt can mention to, 2 ) the impact of globalization-internet, 3 ) the interaction of Egyptian homosexuals with other work forces placing as “ homosexual ” , 4 ) and eventually, both, the political and societal repressions male homophiles in Egypt are subjected to.

Research aims

One aim in this research is to interrupt the tabu of academic treatment environing the words “ homosexualism ” and “ homosexuality ” and all of the cultural and spiritual limitations imposed on them in Egypt. In making so, it is necessary to understand the histories of homosexualities-Western and In-between Eastern. Merely after taking history of these different histories can we understand why homophiles are still repressed in the Middle East today. My purpose is to travel beyond the typical spiritual and psychological points of position on homosexualism, and alternatively turn to this swept-under-the-carpet subject from the positions of political sociology and anthropology.

My 2nd aim in set abouting this research on male homosexualism in Egypt is to show that repression can sometimes assist concept, instead than extinguish cheery individuality formation. The more inhibitory the province ‘s political, societal and cultural establishments will be, the more homophiles in Egypt will develop, follow and keep cheery individualities as the lone option and option provided to work forces prosecuting in same sex dealingss populating in this portion of the universe. As a consequence, I demonstrate how repression has created a alone type of homosexual individuality with its ain set of features and significances that are unlike those of ‘western homosexuals ‘ .

My last nonsubjective is to convey the voices of homophiles in Egypt through messages they are directing to the consecutive universe and other homosexuals. Where duologue is the best signifier of communicating for understanding the “ other ” , whether spiritual, tribal and sexual minorities, it is of the extreme importance to listen to and to react to the messages of homophiles in Egypt. Through such duologue, it is hoped, that a expression for tolerance will get down to develop in Egypt that will open the doors for farther research on homosexualism.

This research attempts to reply the undermentioned set of inquiries:

  1. What have been the pre-requisites of cheery release motions in the West? What are the factors that have prevented Egyptian homophiles who identify themselves as “ homosexuals ” from deriving their right of being publically and visibly present in society like their Western opposite numbers?
  2. How and why have Egyptian homophiles developed a “ homosexual ” individuality within the inhibitory environment of Egypt? How is this cheery individuality acquired, expressed, disseminated and reproduced? Do homophiles in Egypt want to “ come out ” or would they instead stay “ in the cupboard ” ? How do they comprehend themselves, other Egyptian homophiles and the heterosexual universe around them?

Theoretical Model

The theoretical model chosen for this survey is chiefly based on societal constructionism, and in peculiar to Foucault ‘s “ inhibitory hypothesis ” . Historically, assorted influential doctrines, faiths and societies were threatened, intimidated or disgusted by the organic structure. From Plato and the ancient Greeks to Buddha, from the early Jews and the morning of monotheism to the formation of the Christian churches and from the early tribal forfeits to the announcement of Islamic jurisprudence, there has ever been a cosmopolitan belief that “ the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak ” and a changeless impulse for religious transcendental philosophy. With the domination of monotheistic faiths, nominally Christianity and Islam, with their broad geographical imperiums, assortments and grades of suppressions have been dictated on the corporate head perceptual experience of the organic structure and its gender. Control of the flesh was conducted by the assorted establishments of the household, category, faith and province through the rigorous web of norms, traditions and Torahs. Sex was regulated with assorted mechanisms related to the tenet that regulations every part.

In Catholic Europe both silence and repression have been imposed on sex as it was considered ‘dirty ‘ , ‘shameful ‘ and ‘sinful ‘ . As the tradition of confession was inscribed in the Latin Christianity with Saint Augustine, gender had to be confessed to sermonizers in the seventeenth century and subsequently on to psychoanalysts in the twentieth century. These confessions have helped in making a discourse on gender. Alternatively of doing some “ aberrant ” sexual orientations such as homosexualism to disappear, such discourses have farther encouraged the acknowledgment of the homosexual as a personage with specific features. It is repression that has led to the creative activity of sexual individualities and other types of genders in modern times.

State control of the human organic structure & A ; classification of sexual behaviour

In Discipline and Punish, Foucault ‘s chief statement is that the industrial revolution and the development of industrial capitalist economy in 19th century Europe required the province to happen new schemes to derive more control over the organic structures of persons to form and modulate the work force. The support of province power was done through societal establishments. These establishments ‘ chief aim was to order a certain codification of behavior and norms and to do persons internalise this codification. To guarantee that people follow the norms, respect the Torahs therefore maintain a disciplinary society, a ageless system of surveillance was installed in each and every establishment.

Foucault argues that the creative activity of the prison resulted in a more humanist manner to penalize persons. In fact, less hurting inflicted on the organic structure and more on the psyche of the captive helped in the formation of the docile organic structure. The nineteenth century Markss the societal development of the panopticon, an look of province power over the organic structure of the captive that was apparent in legion societal establishments:

It serves to reform captives but besides to handle patients, to teach school kids, to restrict the insane, to oversee workers, to set mendicants and loafers to work. It is a type of location of organic structures in infinite, of distribution of persons in relation to one another, of hierarchal organisation, of temperament of centres and channels of power, of definition of the instruments and manners of intercession of power, which can be implemented in infirmaries, workshops, schools, prison. Whenever one is covering with a multiplicity of persons on whom a undertaking or a peculiar signifier of behaviour must be imposed the panopticon may be used. ( Foucault 1995:205 ) .

The panopticon operated non merely in public sphere but besides in the private lives of the citizens. In fact, in order to pull off populations and guarantee their productiveness and societal stableness, Western authoritiess began to command and modulate gender. The new emerging province modern systems implied a new perceptual experience of the person, the ego and the organic structure which was every bit related to the constructed image of the ideal citizen in the emerging new both nation/state people and productiveness had to be defined and categorized. The ordinance of sex was done through the classification of people ‘s sexual behaviour. “ Homosexuality appeared as one of the signifiers of gender when it was transposed from the pattern of buggery onto a sort of interior hermaphroditism, a hermaphroditism of the psyche. The sodomist had been a impermanent aberrance: The homophile was now a species ” ( Foucault 1995: 43 ) . Homosexual intercourse has ever existed and had ever been practiced. When authoritiess decided to categorise gender, nevertheless, such activity came to bespeak a “ sort ” of human: “ the sodomist ” .

The medicalization of the peculiar and greater governmental invasion into the private lives of the citizens were an nonsubjective world in 19th century Europe. Laws on buggery were formulated by spiritual and judicial establishments ; other wickednesss were debauchery, ( adulterous dealingss ) and criminal conversation ; colza, religious or animal incest, but besides buggery and the common caress. As to the tribunals, they would reprobate homosexualism, every bit good as unfaithfulness, matrimony without parental consent or bestiality.

“ Up to the terminal of the 18 century, three major explicit codes – apart from the customary regularities and restraints of sentiment – governed sexual patterns: canonical jurisprudence, the Christian idyll and civil jurisprudence. They determined each in its ain manner, the division between the licit and the illicit ” ( Foucault 1995:37 ) . During the nineteenth century, matrimony and ordinance of sex between hubbies and married womans was encouraged and reinforced by the province. Heterosexuality became the norm, and any other sexual orientation was condemned by the jurisprudence.

Homosexuality as a societal stigma

Minority groups that did non conform to 19th century norms were stigmatized. These groups were socially selected and constructed and were linked to stereotyped beliefs. Among these minority groups were male and female homophiles. In this visible radiation, the male homophile was labeled as effeminate. Harmonizing to Goffman ( 1963 ) , aberrance from societal norms leads to the development of negative features applicable to certain people at a certain clip and infinite. He defines stigma as an “ property that is profoundly discrediting and that reduces the carrier from a whole and usual individual to a tainted, discounted one ” ( 3 ) . The societal stigma attached to the word homosexualism is different than racial or physical stigma as being homosexual is less seeable and can hence be hidden by the individual discriminated against in society.

Puting people into distinguishable classs like heterosexual and homosexual creates differences and excludes the individual who is labeled by the non-normative class. This classification has led to the separation of “ them ” from “ us ” and the creative activity of the construct of the “ other ” that is different. Harmonizing to Bruce Link ( 2001 ) , “ Peopleare stigmatized when the fact that they are labeled, set apart, and linked to unwanted features leads them to see position loss and favoritism ” ( 371 ) .

Social stigma, civil society, societal motion and corporate individuality

Stigma besides depends on power and power differences that exist between the stigmatiser and the stigmatized: “ Stigma is wholly dependent on societal, economic and political power-it takes power to stigmatise ” ( Link 2001:363 ) . From the 19th century onward, a displacement of power toward the person was incited with the birth of the civil society. Erik Nielson traced the construct of the civil society back to Aristotle but it was the eighteenth century professional clubs and associations created by the merchandiser category and the heated arguments conducted in Cafes, bars and cabarets in the thick of feudal system and weak monarchism that have genuinely paved the manner for a state-civil society dichotomy which was crowned with the formation of the parliament as a political go-between between the province and the society. Hegel, Marx and Engels, who focused on market economic system, agreed that the civil society is a signifier of freedom that allows the person to go a public individual and defined civil society as being “ The intermediate kingdom between the household and the province ” . Gramsci has broadened the definition to integrate broad political relations and added the cultural, political and ideological arguments as issues of concern. Subsequently on, most bookmans concluded that the civil society is made of nongovernmental, on net income organisations seeking societal, economic and political displacements to back up a peculiar docket either by disputing or replacing the power of the province in a democratic model.

Harmonizing to Gramsci societal and political transmutation can come about merely if people fight for their rights in civil society and transmit their will for alteration to the province. However, democracy is non an establishment of flawlessness and province failure in supplying equality, justness and autonomy frequently needs an organized mobilisation of the multitudes in the signifier of a societal motion that voices non merely the demand of the person but the disenfranchise of the collective. Confused with public violences, societal motions have been misperceived by bookmans for decennaries as a misfunctioning group of persons who lack reason and cause malfunction.

It was merely in the 1970 ‘s that many of these bookmans were accepting this societal public-service corporation and taking portion in this public mobilisation. Social motion was defined as a “ A witting, corporate organized effort to convey approximately or defy big scale alteration in the societal order by non-institutionalized agencies ; Unconventional groups that have changing grades of formal organisation and that effort to bring forth or forestall extremist or progressive type of alteration ; A collectivity moving with some continuity to advance or defy a alteration in the society in which it is portion ” .To guarantee that, the formation of societal motions to extinguish certain imposts and attitudes must be directed towards a alteration in the Torahs. “ Every citizen with a sense of human self-respect, Gramsci writes, is cognizant of the right to protect at all costs freedom to populate, to take his ain manner of life, to choose the activities he wants to prosecute, and that he had the right to forbid funny foreigners from jabing their olfactory organs into his private life ” ( Buttigieg 1995:9 ) .

Social motions are made possible merely on the footing of the sharing of one corporate individuality. “ This individuality requires a perceptual experience of rank in a delimited group, consciousness about that group ‘s political orientations, and direct resistance to a dominant order ” ( Howard 2000:384 ) . This corporate individuality permits a better credence of oneself as different from the bulk. Howard highlights the function of Epstein in pulling attending to individuality, reasoning that Epstein:

equates his theoretical account of homosexual and sapphic individuality with an cultural individuality, both combine affectional ties to a group with the chase of sociopolitical ends ; both groups direct activity toward the terrain of the province ; both are progressive, with a end of progressing the group place ; missing structural power, both groups imperativeness demands by appealing to and pull stringsing hegemonic political orientations ; and both groups tend toward a local character organized around a specific infinite or community. ( Howard 2000:365 ) .

Gay individuality formation and societal definition

In his theory of cheery individuality formation, Weinberg stresses on the importance of the societal definition attributed to homosexualism or same sex relation in a certain society and at a certain clip:

Social definitions and significances are cardinal to the full procedure of individuality formation. The presence or absence of definitions of homosexualism, the nature of these definitions, and the regulations that the person has learned for using these definitions to himself and others determined how he perceived his feelings, his behaviour, his relationships with other people and himself. ( Weinberg 1983:2 ) .

The building of these definitions of homosexualism forces the homosexual to do a nexus between his sexual behavior/ activity/doing and his designation as “ being homosexual ” . The dyslogistic definition of homosexualism provided by the hegemonic “ consecutive universe ” has an impact on self credence as homosexual. As a effect, homophiles normally seek to hold a more positive definition, rating and credence of their sexual penchant by the societal fold and interaction with other homosexuals:

In dissonance-reduction, one rejects some definitions as un-applicable to oneself and cultivates and applies other definitions to oneself… this procedure sometimes involves happening other mention groups whose definitions are consistent with one ‘s sexual behaviour without the negative rating of “ homosexual ” , or whose definitions of “ homosexual ” ( or “ cheery ” ) make this behaviour an acceptable or good thing… the re-evaluation of oneself as homosexuals frequently consequences from societal contact with other homophiles who help to specify the significance of one ‘s feelings and behaviour in a positive appraising manner. ( Weinberg 1983:301 ) .

Gay individuality formation theoretical account

Homosexual individuality acquisition is a gradual procedure that normally starts in adolescence. Public self labeling as homosexual is non a demand to gay individuality formation, since many homosexuals can travel through all of the different phases without stating anyone. “ Peoples actively develop, maintain and reject all kinds of individualities for themselves ; how they think about themselves may hold small or nil to make with the ways in which others perceive them and react to them ” ( Weinberg 1983: 301-303 ) . There are different theoretical accounts of homosexual individuality formation that have been proposed by psychologists and anthropologists get downing from the 1970s. The lone common point between all of these theoretical accounts is that the appropriation of a homosexual individuality is in reaction to the societal stigma attached to the word homosexualism.

The most of import theories on homosexual individuality formation are those that have been formulated by Cass, Coleman, Troiden and Lipkin. These phase theories range from three-stage theoretical accounts up to six phases, but all grade alterations. In one illustration developed by Vivian Cass, these alterations begin with credence of a label and terminal with incorporation into some sort of community:

Progress through the phases is characterized by, foremost, increasing credence of the label homosexual as descriptive of ego ; secondly, development of a positive attitude towards this ego individuality ; thirdly, a turning desire to unwrap the being of this individuality to both homophiles and non homophiles ; and fourthly, progressively more individualized and frequent contacts with homophiles… The procedure involved in the acquisition of a homosexual individuality is one of individuality alteration in which a antecedently held image of sexual orientation is replaced with a homosexual image. The former image is normally a heterosexual 1. ( Cass 1984: 144-146 ) .

However, Cass ‘s theoretical account of homosexual individuality formation is non a fixed theoretical account applicable to all of the work forces prosecuting is same sex dealingss and claiming to be “ Gay ” . This theoretical account is non valid to everyone everyplace but instead a comparative procedure that differs from one civilization to another and from an person to another. Some people remain in one phase and do n’t travel beyond it and some others go through all of the phases mentioned above bit by bit.


This chapter has identified ways in which repression in history has stigmatized and discriminated against people harmonizing to their gender and their relationship with their ain organic structure and how these steps have worked in favour of the formation of an individuality particularly with the rise of the civil society and how this individuality were subsequently channeled into non-governmental organisations and popular motions. The undermentioned chapter focuses on the two different waies histories of homosexualisms in the West and the Arab World have taken. More exactly, I focus on the ways in which both societal and political factors have played a function on whether legalising [ as in the instance of Western states ] or criminalizing homosexualism [ as in Arab states ] .