Studies of Homosexuality Volume 10 Introduction

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[03/09/92] [vol. 10: Government, Politics, and Prisons]



In the long history of Western civilization, its governments have repeatedly succumbed to the temptation to regulate the most intimate details of human life. Sexuality, especially same sex behavior, has been a recurrent though not universal preoccupation of governments from the most ancient times to the present.

Until the twentieth century, scholarly reflection on government emphasized abstract theorizing on the purpose, character, and organization of the body politic or state; empirical analyses such as that of Machiavelli were the exception. In more recent decades, grand normative theory has, however, largely yielded to scrutiny of the political process; this task in turn required a redefinition of the subject of inquiry so as to include public actors who influence political behavior, including interest groups. Addressing the functioning of these "pressure groups," the discipline overlaps with sociology. When academic inquiry organized as "political science" focused on the mechanics of state power, the question of purpose languished in scholarly backwaters, tainted by association with ideology and lack of scientific methodology. Neglected in political science departments, the question of the proper scope of state power has engaged the passionate concern of activists in the gay, lesbian, and bisexual movement. In this volume, functional analyses join normative essays in spotlighting the relationship between government and homosexuality.

Some aspects of that relationship, such as law, police activity, social work, governmental medicine, and its historical development, figure in other volumes of this series, to which the reader is referred.

Government sponsored Pederasty

It is a truism that much of Western history has seen government in the role of antagonist to homosexual activity and those practicing it. Surprisingly, however, the history begins with government on the other side, promoting pederasty in ancient Crete from about 650 B.C. (in the belief of later Greeks in order to curb overpopulation and institutionalize the training of soldiers). The rulers of Sparta imported this system after 615 and incorporated it in the constitution of their state. At 12 the Spartan boy became the erotic companion of a 22 year old male, who trained him for the next eight years, until he was ready for full time military duty. Two years later he got his own boy. At 30 he married, and then would leave the all male barracks. A similar system existed for females, relatively privileged in Sparta compared to other Greek states.

Spartan pederasty was so successful that Solon introduced it to Athens as part of his new constitution in 594 93 B.C. The Athenians, however, focused more on intellect and character than on military training of the boys. Athens prohibited prostituting male citizens, though clients could purchase the services of non citizen males. After Sparta had conquered Athens, it remained for Thebes to overthrow Spartan rule (371 B.C.) by forming its "Sacred Band," a military unit of 300 pairs of lovers. The Macedonians wiped out the Sacred Band to the last man and youth in 338, thus ending the prominence, though not the role, of pederasty in Greek government.

While most Greek thinkers united in praising the institution of pederasty, Plato in his old age turned against it and denounced it in the Laws, but his call for its suppression found no response until the Christians emerged triumphant in the fourth century of our era.

Various forms of homosexuality, chiefly pederastic, flourished at the courts of ancient China, but the practice played no role in the structure of the state. In Japan the ruling samurai class honored pederastic (and later ephebophilic) traditions consistently, and the Ashikaga shoguns in particular brought homosexuality to great prominence at the court, but the tradition did not enjoy government sponsor¬ship. Many of the rulers of India engaged in homosexual behavior, but with little effect on government policy. One exception was Tipu Sultan's reported policy of rape of English prisoners in the course of his wars against Britain. Likewise various Islamic potentates engaged in pederasty, but without a formal government role other than in the acquisition of boys for the court by the army and tax collectors.

In the late Roman republic, passive homosexuality became a political issue as Cicero defamed Mark Antony with accusations of having assumed that role. The sexual system in Rome reflected the political one, in that the adult Roman citizen could easily take the penetrative role—¬likened to Rome's conquests—but not the passive (subjugated) one, reserved for non citizens, boys, and slaves under the law. As often as not, the Roman emperors of the first two centuries flaunted their homosexual amours, but they refrained from enshrining their tastes as government policy.

Homophobic Government and Enlightenment Reformers

The adoption of Christianity as the state religion in the Roman Empire resulted in the decree of capital punishment for sodomy, derived from Jewish law, in 342, inaugurating a long tradition of governmental hostility in Christian Europe and its colonial offshoots. The Jewish legal prohibition seems to stem from Persian antecedents based on Zoroastrian religion. After the fall of the Empire in the West, the criminal prohibitions passed for the most part out of the realm of secular government and into the religious sphere, culminating in the Inquisition, though the victims of the Inquisitors were formally turned over to the secular authorities just before burning.

In the later Middle Ages, European secular governments undertook to control homosexuality, following the lead of the Italian city states beginning with Bologna in 1265. Campaigns against sodomites blighted various Italian centers, with vice squads active in Venice, Florence, and other municipalities. France and Norway also assumed secular jurisdiction in the thirteenth century. The Holy Roman Empire (despite its name a secular organization) adopted criminal legislation specifying capital punishment in 1532; Henry VIII imposed the death penalty for sodomy in England a year later. The English political theorist Thomas Hobbes defended this legislation as necessary to promote population growth.

Despite the general prohibition of sodomy, a number of European monarchs had reputations for homosexuality and the maintenance of court favorites or "minions," among them Edward II and James I of England and Henri III and Louis XIII of France. Often their political opponents wielded homophobia as a tool with which to attack them. Other monarchs, such as Frederick the Great of Prussia, William III of Holland and England, and Juan II of Castille, avoided such general clique formation notwithstanding their homosexual inclinations or liaisons with a single favored lover.

Criticism of the sodomy laws based on general principles of the legitimate purposes of government dates to Cesare Beccaria, who in 1764 published his influential treatise Dei delitti e delle pene (On Punishments and Crimes). Voltaire endorsed Beccaria's work, and this line of thought bore fruit in 1791 when the revolutionary French Assembly omitted sodomy from the list of sexual offenses; this exclusion was affirmed in the Code Napoleon of 1810, becoming normative for much of Europe and Latin America.

In England Jeremy Bentham (1748 1832), creator of utilitarian political theory, wrote over 600 pages arguing against the sodomy law on various grounds, but none of these texts appeared in his lifetime, and most of them remain unpublished.

The establishment of modern military forces, with their strict organization and discipline, collided with homosexual behavior when governments viewed illegal sodomy as subversive in the ranks. During the Napoleonic wars, as Arthur N. Gilbert has shown, the British government conducted savage reprisals against "buggery" in the Navy, well established as it may have been as a naval tradition (according to Winston Churchill). United States forces ignored homosexual¬ behavior until a widespread naval investigation (first targeted at sexually passive sailors only and then widened to include civilians) arose at the Newport, Rhode Island, base shortly after the end of World War I. The ensuing scandal led to a condemnation of the witchhunt by the Senate Naval Affairs Committee, after which the issue died. Backed by repressive psychiatric theories, American official action against gay and lesbian service personnel developed again in the last years of World War II, as profiled in studies by Alan Bérubé. Although homosexuality has ceased to be a military issue in most countries of the industrialized world, including Canada, American armed forces continue to attempt to exclude anyone involved in homosexual conduct or tendencies from their ranks.


Another area in which government has long impacted on sexuality has been censorship, which Henry VIII introduced in England in 1538. French censorship ended with the Revolution, but Comstockery remained vigilant in England and the United States into the twentieth century. In Britain the government censored not only print but also theatrical presentations. A court declared the London periodical Gay News obscene for blasphemy (the House of Lords concurring) after publishing a poem by James Kirkup in 1976. Parliament's adoption of Clause 28 of the Local Government Act of 1988 banned British local councils from funding anything which "promotes" homosexuality.

In the nineteenth century the United States banned the importation of "obscene" works and prohibited homosexual materials from the mails (the Supreme Court overturned the latter ban in 1954), but censorship of domestic publishers faded after William Burroughs' Naked Lunch won a lengthy court battle, enabling Grove Press to publish the novel in 1964. Yet legal efforts to suppress what conservative officials considered homosexual pornography increased during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Local governments closed many gay porno theaters, allegedly in the interest of AIDS prevention.

In 1989 Senator Jesse Helms (Republican of North Carolina) mounted a campaign against sexuality in the arts in connection with the homoerotic photographs of the late Robert Mapplethorpe. In 1990 Dennis Barrie, director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinatti, Ohio, was slapped with an indictment but then won an acquittal by jury trial of obscenity for displaying the Mapplethorpe exhibition. Despite this victory the National Endowment in the Arts came under repeated fire for sponsoring materials deemed prohomosexual and blasphemous.

Canada continues to censor the importation of homosexual publications, and the distinguished Toronto gay monthly The Body Politic had to endure several prosecutions in the 1980s which finally put it out of business. Censorship was general in the Communist world and persists in many Latin American, African, Asian, and Muslim countries today.

Rise and Fall of the First Homosexual Movement

The end of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of an organized attempt to influence German state policy on homosexuality, to wit, the repeal of Paragraph 175 of the Imperial penal code, which criminalized male homosexuality only. Founded by Magnus Hirschfeld in 1897, the Berlin Scientific Humanitarian Commit¬tee heralded the entry of homosexuals as a group into the political process, with far reach¬ing if not immediately apparent or even desired consequences. The Committee's first act was to draft a petition to the German legislature, obtaining some 6,000 names for it from among the intellectual elite. A Dutch branch appeared in 1911 after passage of a law raising the age of consent for homosexual acts only. In Germany a rival group, the German Friendship Association, emerged in 1920, but renounced politics in 1923, turning to social activities and publishing. The Committee remained an elitist organization and never tried to build a mass base. Its strategy of attacking the criminal law through the depiction of homosexuality as a medical matter was not only a dismal failure, but gave rise to far-reaching negative consequences, especially in the United States. The movement publicized the concept of the exclusive homosexual as a distinctive type of person, and Kurt Hiller in 1921 introduced the notion of homosexuals as a minority group. Despite book length studies by John Lauritsen and David Thorstad, and by James Steakley, today's activists have largely ignored the precedent of the German movement, possibly because of its ghastly denouement.

The rise to power of the Nazis doomed the German movement: Hirschfeld presciently departed in 1929; the Committee disbanded under pressure in 1933, when the Nazis publicly burned its library and files. A year later the homosexuality of stormtroop leader Ernst Röhm was used against him in a political struggle within the Nazi party, ending in his execution and that of other homosexuals in the leadership of the paramilitary SA organization. This event turned out to be a mere prelude to the worst persecution of homosexuality known to history. The historian must question the extent to which the conceptual innovations of the German movement helped pave the way for this holocaust. In 1935 the Nazis strengthened Paragraph 175, though continuing to ignore lesbianism, then began rounding up not only genuine male homosexuals but also occasional political enemies under its terms; eventually even the Chief of Staff of the armed forces, General von Fritsch, became a victim in a move to break the resistance of the Junkers in the Army. Convictions rose to nearly 9000 in 1937.

Arrestees for homosexuality went to concentration camps where they had to wear a pink triangle rather than the black of other criminal convicts; the severity of the conditions under which they were held ensured that few survived. Executions began under the euthanasia program as early as 1933. While the army resisted the arrest policy, it commonly sent homosexual soldiers to the Eastern Front to die in combat. German allies such as Vichy France, Mussolini¬'s Italy, and Horthy's Hungary also undertook persecutions of homosexuals, though without formally criminalizing homosexual acts (except for persons under 21 in France). The total number of deaths resulting from the Nazi persecution of homosexuals is disputed, estimates ranging from five thousand to one million.

In the Soviet Union, the revolutionary Bolshevik regime legalized homosexuality as part of a general abrogation of tsarist laws, but following the Nazi example, Stalin recriminalized male homosexuality in 1934, and this law remained in effect even after the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Thugs attacked the fledgling Soviet gay and lesbian movement which formed, with considerable help from western Europe, in the wake of Gorbachev's perestroika.

Communist homophobia drew little notice in the United States. In 1950 Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy unleashed a campaign against homosexuals on the grounds that they were Cold War security risks, then persuaded the Senate to mount an investigation into the employment of homosexuals in government. The political repercussions of this campaign lasted long after McCarthy himself met censure by the Senate in 1954.

The Second Homosexual Movement

After liberation from the Nazis, the Netherlands became the first country to revive a politically oriented homosexual movement at the end of 1946. In the United States, the continuous history of the movement begins with Henry (Harry) Hay's founding of the clandestine Mattachine Society in Los Angeles at the end of 1950. A lesbian movement appeared with inception of the Daughters of Bilitis in San Francisco in 1955.

In England law reform came to the fore with the publication of a report favoring decriminalization from a parliamentary committee headed by Sir John Wolfenden in 1957. This committee arose at the urging of the Church of England and a number of prominent intellectuals. Lobbyists for repeal formed The Homosexual Law Reform Society, but Parliament did not act until 1967.

Law reform in the United States began with a model penal code drafted by the American Bar Association in 1961; the state of Illinois adopted it that very year. Eventually, through a combination of court action and legislative repeal, half of the American states decriminalized by the end of the 1980s, though the Supreme Court's Hardwick decision upholding the constitutionality of the Georgia sodomy law—for homosexuals only—was a major setback.

The Mattachine Society of Washington focused on the federal government throughout the 1960s, addressing such issues as federal employment, security clearances, and military service. Taking their cue from the black civil rights movement, "homophile" groups, rapidly growing but then still without a mass base, staged demonstrations starting in 1965. Finding that the classification of homosexuality as a mental illness blocked their way, the movement confronted the psychiatric establishment, winning a struggle within the American Psychiatric Association in 1973. Major efforts went into breaking the taboo against discussion of homosexuality in the mass media and forming coalitions with liberal religious groups and civil liberties lobbies. A national publication, a gay church, and a gay student movement helped to build a more effective political effort by the late 1960s.

In June 1965, the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the Bruce Scott case, reversed Scott's disqualification for federal employment; this set the stage for the Civil Service Commission's acceptance of homosexuals in the 1970s. Congress quietly eliminated one of the last McCarthy era legacies, the barrier to immigration of homosexuals, in 1990, though restrictions on HIV-positive foreigners remain at issue.

The last of the questions involving the federal government left over from the sixties is that of the U.S. military's bar to homosexuals. Some progress has been made in that homosexual discharges are no longer of a less than ¬honorable character, but the basic policy of refusing anyone with homosexual experience or inclinations has withstood all challenges. Federal criminal law and military law also continue to prohibit sodomy; federal gay civil rights bills have yet to reach the hearing stage in committee, though two openly gay congressmen from Massachusetts survived sexual scandals in the late 1980s with their seats and most of their influence intact, whereas previous members of Congress had been forced out of office upon exposure as homosexual.

On a local scale, homophile organizations and public spirited lawyers often challenged, with general success, such repressive police practices as raids on gay bars and entrapment of homosexuals.

Coordination of lobbying efforts benefited from 1966 on from a continent wide umbrella organization embracing nearly all the gay and lesbian groups, the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO), but in 1970 NACHO fell victim to internal struggles; no comparable organization has since arisen to unite the steadily diversifying movement.

In June of 1969 the growing radicalism of the times, fueled by opposition to the Vietnam war and the militancy of the black and women's movements, found its catalyst in the Stonewall riots in New York City. Tens of thousands of homosexual men and women, inspired by news coverage of Stonewall, joined and formed politically active gay organizations, trans¬forming the movement from an elite lobby to a mass movement.

Gay Liberation

Ideologically, the homosexual movement of the early 1970s reflected the inspiration of leftist radicalism, but before long diversity became apparent, and as more and more sectors of the gay community found voice in various organizations, a wide political spectrum became evident. A mass wave of "coming out" provided the new groups with a steady influx of willing workers, and politicians began to notice the growth of a significant "gay vote." National marches on Washington in 1979 and 1987 attracted tens of thousands of demonstrators, and politicians and commentators alike began to think of the homosexuals as an interest group or even an ethnic minority playing the political game like any other.

There was resistance, of course, mainly from fundamentalist Protestants and from the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and the struggle for gay civil rights laws (banning discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations) had its ups and downs through¬out the decade, mostly played out at the local level, frequently with public referenda. Cities saw rights ordinances adopted, repealed, and readopted. Often a local gay rights law had to coexist with an unreformed state sodomy law, so that a homosexual could go to prison for his actions but his employer could not fire him for them. Wisconsin adopted a statewide gay rights law in 1981; Massachusetts followed in 1990; Connecticutt, Hawaii, and New Jersey joined their ranks the following year.

Gay men and lesbians became visible actors in party politics in the United States, forcing battles over gay rights planks in the platforms of the Democratic Party. Openly gay and lesbian legislators became effective spokespeople for gay interests in the political process. Occasionally in the big cities a sizable gay voting block was effective, but at other times, notably in presidential elections, the divisions among gay and lesbian voters were more obvious.

From the United States this wave of mass activism spread rapidly abroad. The Canadian movement, which dates from 1964, achieved decriminalization in 1969, and three provinces (Quebec, Ontario, and the Yukon) adopted gay rights laws. In Latin America, where the tradition of the Code Napoleon held sway, providing no criminal law against which reformers could mobilize, and where Mediterranean concepts of homosexuality served to hinder the emergence of a sense of gay community, progress was slower. In Europe, however, the new style movement took off. West Germany repealed Article 175 in 1969. The International Gay [later Lesbian and Gay] Association appeared in 1978 as a coalition of independent groups and sponsored a series of annual conferences. The ILGA's base remained in Europe, but it made a sustained effort to reach out to the Third World and held its 1991 conference in Acapulco, Mexico. France, Norway, New Zealand, and even Israel adopted national gay rights laws, but Britain moved backward with Clause 28. First Denmark and then Sweden legalized same-sex marriage or its equivalent.

In the 1980s this trend, which increasingly turned government back into an ally of at least the politically mobilized segment of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual population, in the 1980s ran into the growing AIDS epidemic, diverting attention from criminal and rights laws to medical concerns. This shift also had the effect of making the gay movement more like conventional political interest groups, in that its primary focus became the allocation of national resources, where it competed with other groups with varying degrees of success. Towards the end of the decade, however, the pressure of ever increasing fatalities fostered the emergence of new activist and even radical (in tactics if not ideology) groups such as ACT UP, signaling a growing militancy in the movement at large.

Major political struggles have taken place over issues of government sponsored AIDS education, which has often seemed to have an unstated agenda of discouraging all homosexual activity rather than focusing on high risk behavior. Large scale closings of gay bath houses and cinemas by local governments, under the guise of AIDS prevention measures, encountered little or no protest from gay leaders.

A new political issue emerging at the end of the 1980s was the demand for familial rights, ranging from quasimarital status for "domestic partners" to parental rights.

A discusson of the movement would not be complete without mention of the bisexual movement, which originated on the two American coasts about 1971, influenced by the sexual freedom trend as well as by gay liberation, and quickly grew, riding a "bisexual chic" wave which crested in 1974 and then receded. Leaders of the "bisexual liberation" movement emphasized their dissatisfaction with dualistic concepts of sexual orientation and identity and their sense that bisexuals were victimized by discrimination from homosexuals as well as heterosexuals. Some spokespeople openly stated their feeling that bisexuality was superior to either form of "exclusivism." But these claims were rarely acknowledged. Skeptical of the concept of bisexuality, many homosexual leaders refused to accord legitimacy to this new element. The bisexual liberation movement virtually expired around the turn of the decade for a number of reasons, among them a new "biphobia" associated with the AIDS epidemic.

By the mid-1980s, however, a second-wave bisexual movement was springing up, fueled largely by women dissatisfied with the extremes of lesbian separatism. This new movement has continued to burgeon, accompanied by an upwelling of books and periodicals and a growth of the practice of including the term "bisexual" along with "lesbian and gay" in the names of groups, and by 1991 had formed not only a national organization, Bi-Net USA, but also held an international bisexual conference in Amsterdam. The precise relationship of the bisexual movement organizations to the gay and lesbian movements remains a matter of considerable debate.

The academic side of the gay and lesbian movement began in 1966 with the founding of the founding of the Student Homophile League at Columbia University. The student movement quickly spread to become a dense national network. In 1973 faculty and graduate students began to organize the Gay Academic Union in New York in order to promote gay studies across disciplines and to fight discrimination within academia. After several years of success, GAU faltered, leaving the field to a host of caucuses within the traditional academic disciplines. In 1987 scholars met at Yale for the first of a series of annual conferences; the 1991 event, held at Rutgers University, drew 1500 to 2000 attendees and authorized the foundation of a pan-disciplinary Society for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Studies.

A general tendency towards the proliferation of diverse organizational expressions of subgroups within the movement gained strength in the 1980s, giving birth to groups representing African Americans, Asian and Pacific Americans, American Indians, Hispanic Americans, and other ethnic identities.

Research Questions

For the political scientist, much research into the political behavior of gays and lesbians—whether as voters or as lobbyists—remains to be done. Political science theory must address the delicate question of the relationship between the organized movement (with its emphasis on exclusive, self-identified, and subculture-participant homosexuals and lesbians) on the one hand, and the homosexually-involved general populace (for many if not most of whom same-sex eroticism is a part-time or occasional interest rather than a full-time defining identity) on the other. For the near future, it appears that gay political action will continue to follow the example of the traditional ethnic or national minority—the benefits of gay rights laws accruing only to those willing to accept the specified categories of sexual orientation, for example—but history suggests that this model may fade with time and greater integration in the wake of wider acceptance. Whether common interests in fighting discrimination or obtaining social benefits will continue to counteract the centrifugal pull of the various other political ties overlapping the "gay community" (class, ethnic background, gender, ideology, etc.) also remains to be seen. As the notion that the "natural home" of gay people lies on the radical left declines, the import of major political philosophies—liberal¬ism, libertarianism, conservatism, anarchism, and socialism—needs to be studied in depth.

Prisons, Jails, and Reformatories

Prisons, jails, and reformatories are government sponsored sex segregated total institutions which confine people by order of a court. With a very few exceptions, sexual acts in such facilities necessarily involve members of the same sex. The number of males in particular who reside in these environments is staggering—well over a million in the United States alone—so that one may consider this walled-off but constantly intermingling archipelago far and away the largest "gay ghetto."

When one considers the aftermath of concentration in such places on the millions more who have lived in them but are then released to their communities, the significance of the patterns learned in them for the entire society looms large. Yet because the vast majority of prisoners function heterosexually outside confinement, these patterns differ markedly from those of the androphile model which characterizes the modern industrial world gay subculture. Instead, these institutions offer the best known and most concentrated example of situational homosexuality, mixed with strong elements of other non-androphilic models. They shed considerable light on the full range and potential for homosexual behavior by heterosexuals, hosting as they do social worlds in which not only sexual acts but also long term sexual/emotional pair bonding take place between people of the same sex, both of whom consider themselves and are considered by their peers to be heterosexual. These acts and couple relationships are not only common but receive support and validation from the prisoners' subculture, in sharp contrast with the attitudes of the general society.

Jailhouse sexual mores also interest the scholar in that they represent the survival in the Western industrialized world of non androphilic concept¬ions of homosexuality. Some of these patterns were thought to have vanished with the buffalo herds of the Great Plains, but in fact they remain strongly rooted among the lower socio economic classes which provide the bulk of prisoners, though producing few academics.

As yet, very little quality research on sexuality in confinement has appeared. Most of what has surfaced in scholarly format over the years has consisted of attempts to address the self defined "problem" of homosexuality on the part of penologists who have generally reflected the values and assumptions of their employers. The administrators of these systems usually seek to obscure such behavior, nearly universally prohibiting it and insisting in public that its incidence is minimal, as they believe its presence reflects poorly on the management of the incarceration systems.

The researcher seeking to fathom the world of the prisoner faces numerous obstacles: he often appears to prisoners to be associated with the administration and hence is distrusted; he must try to obtain reliable data on behavior which violates the disciplinary codes and which tends to be secretive and shielded from the prying eyes of outsiders; he must work with a concept and terminology of homosexuality which is quite different from the one to which he has usually been accustomed. The sociologist Wayne Wooden found a way around these obstacles by collaborating with a prisoner, Jay Parker; their 1982 book Men Behind Bars continues to dominate the literature as the only major systematic survey of the entire sexual structure of a prison. Alan J. Davis' classic 1968 study of the Philadelphia jail system, included herein, remains the most thorough statistical study of local jails, though unfortunately limited to the topic of rape. Davis had the considerable investigative resources of the district attorney's office at his disposal. Other works tend to be anecdotal or based on very limited data (though Donald Tucker's "participant observer" approach, reprinted here from Anthony Scacco's Male Rape anthology, yields considerable theoretical insight), and one cannot yet point to either a developed body of empirical research or a commanding theoretical approach to sexuality in confinement.

In addition a great deal of variation occurs from one type of institution to another, with the most salient differences from all accounts being between those confining men (about 94 percent of the American total) and those incarcerating women (though the latter have inspired numerous studies, such as those by Rose Giallambardo and by Ward and Kassebaum herein). The security level of the prison (which roughly correlates with the length of sentences being served there, the experience level and the violent potential of the prisoners) is a major factor, with both consentual and forced sexuality rising with the level; big city institutions differ from small rural facilities, and jails ("temporary" detention centers for those awaiting trial or sentencing or serving short sentences) in general show some differences from prisons, which hold convicted felons. Institutions for juveniles have not to date experienced a systematic survey, but by all accounts they are not only the most sexually active confinement facilities, but are also schools in which the sexual mores of the prisoner are commonly learned.

For students of general sexuality and homosexuality in particular, the very high incidence rates of same sex behavior on the part of prisoners whose unconfined patterns are generally heterosexual pose major theoretical challenges, but these have gone largely unexamined. It seems clear that in the absence of the opposite sex and in the presence of a subcultural tradition which at least tolerates if not validates such behavior (the homophobic tradition of the larger society notwithstanding), a great majority of young males is not only capable of sexual arousal to the point of orgasm while in the penetrating role with another male, but will go to considerable lengths to realize this capability in action. Does this mean that most or all males are partially homosexual or bisexual and that this element in their sexuality awaits only the lifting of social oppression and sufficient sexual deprivation for its expression? Similar questions arise in connection with woman prisoners.

Or does this capacity for arousal perhaps point to flaws in the prevalent conception of homosexuality? The typical male prisoner, like most males in Mediterranean influenced or Asian cultures, insists that the "active," penetrating, controlling role is not homosexual, only "masculine," and that whatever classification some scholar may attach to the act, his psychological reality remains a heterosexual one. He regards the passive, submissive partner as a quasi female, not as another man (even the heterosexual forced into this role is universally thought to have "lost his manhood"), and sees him as the only member of the pair doing anything "abnormal." Pursuing this thought leads one to broader considerations regarding the accuracy or utility of applying androphilia derived conceptual and theoretical schemes to the domains of other models of homosexuality, such as the gender differentiated one which seems most influential here, though mixed with strong elements of the age differentiated and Roman type dominance enforcement models. Because such situational homosexuality has little to do with "gay and lesbian identity" and the politics associated with it, it has commanded little theoretical attention from academics involved in gay studies, but examination of this phenomenon may shed considerable light on general issues of sexual orientation. Other neglected issues are the role of dominance and submission in such behavior on the part of heterosexuals; the relationship between power, aggression, and eros; the influence of jailhouse mores on the sexual practices of the wider culture; the role of confinement sexuality in perpetuating rape (of both sexes) and other acts of violence after release; the stark differences between women's and men's prison cultures; the insufficiency of masturbation as a sexual outlet; the transfer of conceptual structures from one setting to another; the function of rape in these settings as a social ritual or rite de passage; and the historical phenomenon represented by the survival of earlier patterns of homosexual¬ity in contemporary society. Clearly much work remains to be done in this area.


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