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What issues have historians raised in researching the construction of one of the following cultural identities: class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or nation?

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Introduction

What issues have historians raised in researching the construction of one of the following cultural identities: class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or nation? Cultural identity is a fundamental aspect of the society we live in; one must carry an identity of oneself in one form or another. It can be argued that there is no one real identity; historians have raised many issues in researching the construction of cultural identities, sexuality being one of them. It was not until the 1980's that the term homosexual first began to be used in English; none of it ancestors now survive in common speech, such as 'bugger', 'ingle' or 'sodomite.' Such words survive, if at all, in legal forms or classical and theological contexts. For a century, research on the history of homosexuality has been restrained by governments and academics. For example, in Berlin, German homosexual intellectuals founded the Institute for Sex Research in 1919, only to see its research collection destroyed in 1933 in the first major book-burning organised by the Nazis. Some professional historians have been reluctant to take on the subject; this may have been due to the fear of the possible consequences for their careers. Many scholars still regard the history of homosexuality a marginal field, if not an embarrassing or distasteful subject of study. ...read more.

Middle

However, according to social psychology this development is historically conditioned where social influences channel the sexual possibilities that exist in a child. Thus, it can be said that the notions of childhood, the role of parents and social upbringing have reflective effects in the construction of individual heterosexuals, homosexuals or other sexual categorisations. Mary McIntosh suggested that: 'a homosexual subculture, which is the correlative of the development of a specialised role, provides both access to the socially outlawed need (sex) and contains the deviant.' (1) This emphasises that homosexuality in terms of social categorisation, gives rise to complex cultural and sub-cultural forms which consist of assorted sexual identities such as class and gender; thus it is important that all these identities are understood in their specificities. Homosexuals are emotionally damaged, much of it is due to social forms and pressures; hence the problems and stigma attached to homosexuality. There are Christian taboos against homosexuality, where it is regarded as a 'sin against nature.' Sir William Blackstone felt that the very mention was 'a disgrace to human nature.' The churches disagree among themselves about the morality of homosexual conduct and the possible salvation of homosexuals themselves. Hence, in every society there are likely to be deviants from the norm of deviance, such as "mannish" women who wish to take the femme's role in bed, or men who enjoy sex with boys. ...read more.

Conclusion

(3) Spinsterhood was now capable of being a form of resistance for women because social and economic changes had made it more likely that women could survive without marriage. Additionally, sexologists were constructing the idea of the female invert as part of the categorisation of homosexuality that took place in the late nineteenth century. The work of sexologists has generally been viewed as being positive in forming a basis for the construction and identity in gay men. In turn, women's potential for loving one another, with passion and physical contact was damaged by the stigmatising of lesbian sex. By the 1930s, feminists who criticised male sexual behaviour were classified as "dangerous celibates, ignorant of science." Spinsters were commonly under attack and women were propagandised into choosing one of two categories: 'the wife who was really enthusiastic about sexual intercourse; or the lesbian who was sexually active in the form of butch/femme role-playing.' (4) Both models constructed woman's identity around an ideal of eroticised masculine dominance and feminine subordination. Personal sexual behaviour is never simply a private matter, but is always shaped by and shapes the wider social and political milieu. The role of homosexual communities in shaping urban culture and social geography needs to be recognised. In turn, the interactions between such communities and other ethnic occupational groups should also be encountered. ...read more.

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