Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Non-Western Concepts of Male Sexuality

Found this interesting post over at Sexuality, Gender, and the Body, a blog I hadn't seen before but am enjoying. The author is using the blog to explore various concepts of sexuality, and defines himself as pansexual, a term I hadn't seen before, but quite like.

This recent post looks at non-Western concepts of male sexuality, an interesting topic for exploration in terms of how one wants to define masculinity.

When looking at articles online, I usually stumble across Wikipedia. This article caught my eye because living in what is considered the “West” (whatever that means), I am not subject to many other expressions of masculinities, other than the many subcultures that produce American masculinities across many types of sexualities, races, cultures, etc. There are many expressions of masculinity within the United States, though none can compare to other countries.

When I visited India, I saw something that astounded me and I begun to question, but then realized was nothing out of the ordinary. I saw men holding hands. I remember saying “how cute!” and I wanted to take a picture so I could show people I knew at home how “open” Indian people were. The thing is, men holding hands in India is nothing about openness (or maybe it is), but is normal. If two men in the United States were holding hands, their sexuality would be questioned unless it was a father and a son, an elderly person with a helper, etc. It intrigued me and when ever I saw men holding hands in India, I would smile. When in India, I wished I could bring it back to all of the men I knew, tell them immediately to become more comfortable with touching each other, then maybe America wouldn’t be such a prude, but you can’t change that so easily. Men holding hands in India isn’t just simply about being comfortable touching each other, but has a lot to do with culture, possibly tradition, and social phenomena that has been conditioned into people’s heads for decades. This is why I am interested in this article. I hope you are just as intrigued as I am.

What is a Non-Western Concept of Male Sexuality?

Non-westernized concepts of male sexuality may vary considerably from concepts of sexual orientation prevalent in Western culture[1][2] Recent scholarship has questioned the applicability of Western concepts of sexual orientation and identity in non-Western cultures.[3][4]

The Western concept of sexual orientation is relatively recent in origin, coming into being during the last 150 years. In Western (and perhaps other westernized) cultures, a male who experiences sexual attraction to other men may classified as bisexual or homosexual. (The use of such categories places him into the same classification as same-sex attracted men who cross-dress and engage flamboyantly in purportedly effeminate behavior.) In a number of other cultures, a male is defined by his (putatively internal) gender; in such a culture, a masculine gendered male might simply be labeled a man, and males putatively gendered as feminine (tranvestites of any sexual preference, flamboyantly effeminate homosexual males, and transsexuals) would be classified as members of what is sometimes called the third sex.”
Go read the rest of this post.

It's easy to forget that masculinity as defined in the West (specifically in America) is one possibility, and maybe not among the best definitions.

In regards to the blog quoted above, I find it interesting that it tends to be those who are marginalized who do the most exploration of what it means to be a part of the cultural standard. Some of the best material I have seen on masculinity comes from the non-straight community.


SG said...

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Masculine male bonds said...

Pansexual is just another sexual identity.

Why do you need a sexual identity at all...

Why not just be a 'man', since you're masculine gendered.

And feminine gendered males can be 'queer' or 'third gender', irrespective of who or what they like sexually.

That's the way it has always been, even in the West in the past.