Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gayrabia   posted by Razib @ 4/07/2007 10:54:00 AM

The Atlantic has a story in the May issue on homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Like many things in the Arab world there is the de jure and de facto. Since this is only available in full in print I'll have to wait to read the whole thing, but I wonder how much they emphasize the difference between facultative homosexuality and obligate homosexuality? After all, many men in prison have sex with other men, but they aren't homosexual by choice, they are sexual with a strong preference for females and so they select the most feminine males and turn them into "bitches" to generate an illusion. For non-upper class young males (those with money can travel abroad) it seems that Saudi Arabia might exhibit some of the characteristics of a prison, and so sexual urges are "released" upon other males (or, unfortunately the domestic help). I also wonder as to the role of single-sex socialization in priming these tendencies. I am often struck by the fact that in societies where males generally form close friendships only with other males there is quite a bit more physical and emotional affection between the same gender than is acceptable (and not deemed "gay") in the United States, where sexes socialize freely and straight males are generally averse to non-violent physical contact with each other. In fact, it seems to me that when sex relations in the United States were more distinct insofar as the genders inhabited disjoint social domains there was less fear of being perceived as homosexual if you were physically close with another man. One can find analogs of this situation in single-sex education as well. In any case, my only point is that articles like this might be a bit less shocking if Americans weren't such a peculiar bunch, and the patently homophobic citizens of 1900 might be able to intuitively understand the social dynamics here more than moderns.

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