Nationalism and Sexuality


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Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe

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Nationalism and Sexuality

  1. 1. Nationalism andSexualityMiddle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe Class presentation, Anthropology and the Erotic Other, October 16, 2012 , CEU Delivered by Shushan Harutyunyan
  2. 2. Gorge L. Mosse (1918- 1999) German-born American cultural historian. The author of over 25 books, on topics as diverse as constitutional history, Protestant theology, and the history of masculinity, he is best known for his studies of Nazism. At the University of Wisconsin, George Mosse was a charismatic and inspiring teacher. Mosses popularity was not only due to the fact that he laced his critical skepticism with humor, irony and empathy; he also applied his historical knowledge to contemporary issues, attempting to be fair to opposing views while remaining true to his own principles. / from Wikipedia The George L. Mosse Program in History at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, with photos, audio recordings of lectures, and other resources - The George L. Mosse Program in History at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem Website of the "Mosse Lectures" series at the Humboldt University of Berlin (in German) http://www.mosse-
  3. 3. Nationalism and Sexuality: Respectability and Abnormal Sexuality in Modern Europe May (1985) “Mosse strives to show how concepts of sexuality haunted bourgeois society and nationalism, to be acknowledged yet curbed, deflected from the physical onto an ideal stereotype of male and female beauty”. In the review of the book in
  4. 4. Nationalism andRespectability Nationalism - a term indicating “decent and correct” manners and morals as well as proper attitude toward sexuality. Respectabilities - the manners, morals, and sexual attitudes to “maintain” the status and self- respect against both the lower classes and aristocracy in bourgeois society. The caricature by The Kathmandu Post
  5. 5. A little more leniency to lechery would do no harm… Reinterpretation of religious concepts: (from indecent posture and gestures to unnecessary laughter and more…) Germany, 1820 “Bowdlerizing” literature: Shakespeares Hamlet’s question to Ophelia “Lady, shall I lie in your lap?” was substituted to lying down at Ophelias feet”. England,1818 “Decoding” art: for the nakedness of Greek sculpture might undermine respectability. (There is no connection between perfect beauty and the desire to Hamlet and Ophelia. perform sexual act with such beauty. There Lithographic print by were homosexuals, but their sexuality Edward H. Bell, 1879. Public domain. quite well known at the time, was ignored
  6. 6. Actors in “healing” the society Education: J.F. Bertrand’s museum in Paris in 1775. Graphically documented what was to become a general prejudice (masturbators, like those infected with venereal disease, were pale, hollow-eyed, weak body and spirit. Most of the figures were portrayed as near death, exhausted by masturbation, one young masturbator was shown to have lost his penis) Doctors: The appearance of and character of each individual was classified as normal or abnormal: nervousness was supposedly induced by the practice of vice, while virility and manly bearing were signs of virtue. The society itself: Family becomes one of the policemen of sexuality. Family gives support from below to that respectability which nation attempted to enforce from above.
  7. 7. The new ideals and concepts “Nationalism helped to control sexuality, providing means through which changing sexual attitudes could be absorbed and tamed into respectability. It assumed sexual dimension of its own, coming to advocate a stereotype of supposedly “passionless” beauty for both men and women”. Nationalism reinforced control by redirecting men’s passions to a higher purpose and by projecting a stereotype of human beauty which supposedly transcended sensuousness. The masturbation was considered an anti-social act. The masturbator practices a lonely vice, he loves no one and is dead to the all call of family, nation, and humanity. The love of secrecy and the practice of vice not only made men and women outsiders in respectable society but was a danger to the security of the state. ( by the end of 18th centaury), p 10-11
  8. 8. Manliness and Homosexuality During the wars of the French Revolution, citizen armies replaced professionals, as in England and Germany many middle-class volunteers rushed to the colors, inspired by the love of their nation and desire to prove their manhood. “I return from a bloody quarrel fought out among men” – Ernst Moritz Arndt, 1813 returning from the Battle of Leipzig (the prophet of German nationalism)
  9. 9. The ideal of manliness in the self - image of the bourgeoisie Manliness symbolized the nation’s spiritual and material virility. It called for strength of body and mind, but not brute force – the individual’s energies had to be kept under control. The female symbols were sedate rather than dynamic. The image of woman in iconography was frequently fashioned after traditional portrayals of Virgin Mary. However… Women were becoming increasingly like men and men like women; sexual differentiation had to be maintained if culture was to flourish. (Albert Moll, physician) Masculine - feminine dualism is in jeopardy (Havelock Ellis, sexologist)
  10. 10. Homosexuality is condemned as an act committed againstthe divine order, therefore against nature. Such acts led to divine retribution, not only rebellions and revolutions, but also natural catastrophes. Karl Briullov – Last Day of Pompey (1830-33)
  11. 11. Reconsideration ofhomosexuality The doctors who did the most to stimulate awareness of homosexuality replaced the ministers of religion as the guardians of normatively. Darwinist ideas amplified the nationalist animus against the abnormal to have a healthy national organism free of hereditary disease and moral weakness. But now sexual morality becomes private concern as long as it did not interfere with the rights of others. So-called abnormality is no longer confined to individual sexual acts, but is part of his/her psychological makeup, looks and bodily structure. Now homosexuals are to be accepted as legitimate members of society, although “others” continued to exemplify human degeneration. Homosexuality – intellectual excellence and highly developed spiritual faculties.
  12. 12. Nationalism; to transcend theborder between masculine and feminine
  13. 13. Thank you!
  14. 14. Questions  How Max Nordau’s statement that “the legitimacy of all desires must be judged by the standards of society” finds its modern installation in modern world now? How much benefits patriotism can bring in monetary values when it “confronts” the sexual freedoms in the modern world? What changes in tactics have taken place in comparison to 1800s? What do you think, how much sexual freedom the society needs still to be controllable under nationalism values?