Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘psychoanalysis’

“Listen for a moment to me! Consider what you are. Consider what we are. Consider what a man is before you marvel at his ineptitudes of will. Face the accepted facts. Here is a creature not ten thousand generations from the ape, his ancestor. Not ten thousand. And that ape again, not a score of thousands from the monkey, his forebear. A man’s body, his bodily powers, are just the body and powers of an ape, a little improved, a little adapted to novel needs. That brings me to my point. CAN HIS MIND AND WILL BE ANYTHING BETTER? For a few generations, a few hundreds at most, knowledge and wide thought have flared out on the darknesses of life…. But the substance of man is ape still. He may carry a light in his brain, but his instincts move in the darkness. Out of that darkness he draws his motives.”

“Or fails to draw them,” said Sir Richmond.

“Or fails…. And that is where these new methods of treatment come in. We explore that failure. Together. What the psychoanalyst does-and I will confess that I owe much to the psychoanalyst—what he does is to direct thwarted, disappointed and perplexed people to the realities of their own nature. Which they have been accustomed to ignore and forget. They come to us with high ambitions or lovely illusions about themselves, torn, shredded, spoilt. They are morally denuded. Dreams they hate pursue them; abhorrent desires draw them; they are the prey of irresistible yet uncongenial impulses; they succumb to black despairs. The first thing we ask them is this: ‘What else could you expect?’”

“What else could I expect?” Sir Richmond repeated, looking down on him. “H’m!”

“The wonder is not that you are sluggish, reluctantly unselfish, inattentive, spasmodic. The wonder is that you are ever anything else…. Do you realize that a few million generations ago, everything that stirs in us, everything that exalts human life, self-devotions, heroisms, the utmost triumphs of art, the love—for love it is—that makes you and me care indeed for the fate and welfare of all this round world, was latent in the body of some little lurking beast that crawled and hid among the branches of vanished and forgotten Mesozoic trees? A petty egg-laying, bristle-covered beast it was, with no more of the rudiments of a soul than bare hunger, weak lust and fear…. People always seem to regard that as a curious fact of no practical importance. It isn’t: it’s a vital fact of the utmost practical importance. That is what you are made of. Why should you expect—because a war and a revolution have shocked you—that you should suddenly be able to reach up and touch the sky?”

“H’m!” said Sir Richmond. “Have I been touching the sky!”

“You are trying to play the part of an honest rich man.”

“I don’t care to see the whole system go smash.”

“Exactly,” said the doctor, before he could prevent himself.

“But is it any good to tell a man that the job he is attempting is above him—that he is just a hairy reptile twice removed—and all that sort of thing?”

“Well, it saves him from hoping too much and being too greatly disappointed. It recalls him to the proportions of the job. He gets something done by not attempting everything. … And it clears him up. We get him to look into himself, to see directly and in measurable terms what it is that puts him wrong and holds him back. He’s no longer vaguely incapacitated. He knows.”

“That’s diagnosis. That’s not treatment.”

“Treatment by diagnosis. To analyze a mental knot is to untie it.”

“You propose that I shall spend my time, until the Commission meets, in thinking about myself. I wanted to forget myself.”

“Like a man who tries to forget that his petrol is running short and a cylinder missing fire…. No. Come back to the question of what you are,” said the doctor. “A creature of the darkness with new lights. Lit and half-blinded by science and the possibilities of controlling the world that it opens out. In that light your will is all for service; you care more for mankind than for yourself. You begin to understand something of the self beyond your self. But it is a partial and a shaded light as yet; a little area about you it makes clear, the rest is still the old darkness—of millions of intense and narrow animal generations…. You are like someone who awakens out of an immemorial sleep to find himself in a vast chamber, in a great and ancient house, a great and ancient house high amidst frozen and lifeless mountains—in a sunless universe. You are not alone in it. You are not lord of all you survey. Your leadership is disputed. The darkness even of the room you are in is full of ancient and discarded but quite unsubjugated powers and purposes…. They thrust ambiguous limbs and claws suddenly out of the darkness into the light of your attention. They snatch things out of your hand, they trip your feet and jog your elbow. They crowd and cluster behind you. Wherever your shadow falls, they creep right up to you, creep upon you and struggle to take possession of you. The souls of apes, monkeys, reptiles and creeping things haunt the passages and attics and cellars of this living house in which your consciousness has awakened….””

– H. G. Wells, The Secret Places of the Heart. The Macmillan Company, 1922. 1.4. 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

“Distinguishing what was intended to
facilitate psychotherapy from the aversion and behaviour modification therapies
may appear to some to be a hair-splitting exercise, but if we are to begin to
understand how a popular grassroots movement that favoured humane and
compassionate alternatives to imprisonment for sex offenders led to what
appears to be cruel and unusual experiments, then it is critical that we
understand the nature of and the intention behind various treatment practices.
For example, historians of the medicalization of homosexuality often begin with
the assumption that treating homosexuality is repressive and sexually
conservative. Indeed, traditional accounts of this period generally maintain
that liberal experts like biologist and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey and
psychologist Evelyn Hooker stood apart from their colleagues by openly
challenging the prevailing system of sexual morality, particularly with respect
to the treatment of homosexuality.

But the story turns out to be
rather more complicated. Many forensic sexologists became ‘sexual liberals,’
and espoused modern, progressive views. Kinsey had an enormous impact on many
forensic sexologists who eventually developed a hybrid approach to treating
sexual deviation that combined his theories of human sexual behaviour with
Freudian concepts. Alongside their American colleagues, staff at the Forensic
Clinic came to view homosexuals as victims of public opinion and prejudice. As
in California, where some forensic sexologists allied themselves with the
emerging homophile movement and openly spoke out against the social and legal
persecution of homosexuals, Canada’s first known gay rights group regarded the
clinical staff as allies, not enemies. Working at the intersection between
medicine and the law, a significant number of forensic sexologists agreed that
only behaviours causing harm should be criminalized. Acts that merely offended
the moral sensibilities of the public, they believed, should not be subject to
legal – or for that matter medical – regulation. The law should be concerned
with protecting citizens from danger, and medicine with healing them from
illness. Morality had no place in either realm.

The flip side of sexology’s
progressive liberalism and permissive stance toward human sexual behaviour is
significantly less appealing. Sexual assault against young girls, which is what
fuelled the drive for sexual psychopath laws and treatment programs in the
first place, was under-theorized and minimized throughout this period. Indeed,
experts believed that many young female victims of sexual assault were not
damaged physically, emotionally, or psychologically and they continued to
locate pathology in the victim’s family. Morever, the Forensic Clinic’s studies
drew on both Freud and Kinsey to give scientific legitimacy to the popular view
that young girls who were assaulted were willing participants. If we were to
limit our examination to the treatment of homosexuality, the history of the
clinic might offer us the comfort of knowing there were more sexual liberals
than were once thought. But the purpose of history is never to make us
comfortable. Instead, my goal is to deepen our understanding of the foundation
upon which forensic sexology is built. Homosexuality was an important area of
public concern and a target for medical treatment, but it was only a part of
the whole. The larger social concern was sexual danger, and we cannot afford to
ignore ides about pedophiles, exhibitionists, or victims of sexual assault.

The idea that sterilization could
eliminate crime and immorality in future generations was a product of eugenics,
a purportedly scientific theory that linked human behaviour to biological
heredity. Positive eugenics encouraged procreation among the white middle and
upper classes. Negative eugenics discouraged reproduction among those deemed to
have week or immoral constitutions. In Canada, support for sterilization was
high among the educated middle classes, particularly as a means to control sex
perversion. Though Canadian experts knew it did not eliminate or even reduce
the male sex drive, they believed that by eliminating the ability to reproduce,
they could eradicate immoral defectives for future generations.

Initially, reports of sex crimes
against children after the Second World War led to a revival of support for
compulsory sterilization. For example, an Ontario farmer wrote to the minister
of the Department of Reform, Major John Foote, to explain how ‘any stock
breeder’ knows a castrated animal can be ‘turned loose among any female without
the slightest danger of trouble’ and ‘those who attack children or make brutal
attacks on women sexually should get the knife.’ Foote agreed that in some
cases it seemed that castration was the only possible solution. But, he added
regretfully, ‘it looks as though there will be a tremendous lot of opposition
to amending the Criminal Code to make this possible.’

He was right. During the late 1940s
and through the 1950s, hundreds of citizens demanded that sex criminals be
castrated, but by that time most Canadian doctors abjured eugenic
sterilization. Historians have attributed the postwar renunciation of eugenics
as a theory, and of certain invasive medical procedures as a practice, to the
horrible revelations of Nazi medical experiments. While gruesome testimony at
the Nuremberg trials doubtless had an impact, Canadian doctors rejected
castration and sterilization based on local datat that showed castration had
not reduced immorality or the number of sex crimes committed. Furthermore, some
medical experts believed castration could actually aggravate a disturbed sex
deviant. Thus, the search for new treatment methods was underway.

In the 1950s, a number of North
American, European, and Scandanavian doctors experimented with hormone
(estrogen) injections, electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), castration, and
lobotomy (also known as leucotomy) for treating sexual deviation. A thorough examination
of psychiatric hospital records in Canada has yet to be undertaken, but in
Ontario at least, psychopaths, homosexuals, and other sex deviants were
formally excluded from the eligible pool of candidates for leucotomy. Virtually
all psychiatrists and medical doctors who testified before the Royal Commission
on the Criminal Law Relating to Criminal Sexual Psychopaths rejected lobotomy,
and only one spoke in favour of U.S. experiments with chemical castration. Not
one would advocate the surgical castration used at Denmark’s controversial
Herstedvester Prison, where the director of psychiatry firmly believed in its
effectiveness as a tool to help sex offenders overcome or gain control of their
‘impulses.’ According to the commissioner’s final report, psychiatrists from
one end of the country to the other generally felt that the whole concept of
castration violated Canadian views of civil rights.

Psychotherapy was by far the
fastest growing approach to treating deviancy. More than a repudiation of
eugenics, it reflected a fundamental shift in thinking about the aetiology of
human behaviour. What was once thought to be caused by heredity and biology was
now seen as the consequence of social and environmental processes. After the
war, most North American psychiatrists argued that every person was born with
the potential to be social or antisocial, normal or psychopathic. As
California’s leading forensic sexologist Karl Bowman bluntly put it all men
have the capacity to become ‘sadistic sex killer[s] or …emotionally mature,
respected citizen[s].’ Life experience alone determined what one became.

The combined popularity of Freudian
psychoanalysis, particularly among psychiatrists, and the child development
theories of G. Stanley Hall and George Stevenson, especially among
psychologist, meant that most postwar experts focused exclusively on early
childhood experiences to explain sexual deviancy. Mental health experts
believed that helping patients resolve the hidden traumatic experiences at the
root of their behaviour could eliminate sexual deviancy and would thus
eliminate the sex crimes deviants commit. In other words, psychiatrists would
fix what parents had broken.”

– Elise Chenier, Strangers in our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario. Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. pp. 120-123.

Read Full Post »

“Psychiatrists repeatedly
challenged the idea that homosexual men were dangerous, and argued that, like
exhibitionism and ‘Peeping Tomism,’ homosexuality harmed only the men that
engaged in it. Quebec psychiatrist Bruno Cormier and his colleague Justin Ciale
argued ‘though they may create annoyance and conflicts for the offenders and
the milieu in which they commit their offences, they present more often than
otherwise no really great danger. Such offences are not to be considered
similar to offences that involve bodily harm such as sadistic acts.’ Dr.
MacLeod concurred: ‘They are offensive to the public or repulsive in their
behaviour but they are not necessarily dangerous.’ Some social service
agencies, such as the British Columbia John Howard Society, argued
homosexuality ‘and other socially distasteful, rather than socially dangerous,
conduct’ should be dealt with more leniently.

While psychiatrists agreed that
public sex was a problem, some used the hearings to denounce the heavy-handed
tactics that local police forces used against urban homosexuals. During a
private session with the commission, respected Quebec criminologist Revered
Noel Mailloux reported that homosexuals are ‘very often…despised and treated
with contempt, and often the way the police talk to them it is just as if they
were the very dust of humanity, and it is an extremely poor way to handle such
cases. I have seen worse than that, and this I would like to leave off the
record, if you please.’ The chief psychiatrist for the Department of Reform
Institutions in Ontario, Frank H. Van Nostrand, was asked his opinion of
Montreal’s 1954 ‘aggressive police campaign’ to clean up the mountain and other
prime cruising and social meeting spots. Though not generally sympathetic to
homosexuals, van Nostrand insisted that ‘they were not violent people,’ and
that ‘after their haunts were found out,’ they simply ‘moved off to some other
place.’ He dismissed police tactics as accomplishing little more than ‘a
certain tidying up.’ In fact, mass arrests of homosexuals were denounced by
even the most hard-nosed proponents of old-fashioned methods of punishing
criminals, who were less concerned about the human rights and dignity of the
men targeted by the police than the unnecessary strain such actions placed on
medical, psychiatric, psychological, and social work professionals who were
expected to provide assessment and treatment services. Psychiatric facilities
were becoming a dumping ground for those caught ip in police sweeps in the
United States as well.  In 1952 Dr. E.
Kelleher, the director of the Chicago Psychiatric Institute, complained that the
police, acting under pressure from the media and various public organizations,
conducted a campaign to clean up North Clark Street. On one particular night,
forty-two suspected homosexuals were dropped on his institute’s doorstep,
overloading the staff with work that they were neither interested in nor had
the proper resources to cope with.

Virtually every mental health
expert agreed that sex between adult men did not cause harm, but the experts
also maintained that it was a sickness requiring treatment. Even Dr. D. Ewen
Cameron, Canada’s greatest champion of America’s best known opponent of the
criminalization of homosexuality, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, favoured medical
intervention. Borrowing a page from Kinsey’s 1948 tome, Cameron testified that
33 per cent of men engage in at least one homosexual act in their lifetime, yet
only 7 per cent become exclusively homosexual. ‘It is unfair to send a man off
to prison for what might be a one-time act,’ he argued, and as for the others,
why send them to prison when there is no treatment or help available? ‘Humanity
has many unhappy occurrences on its records, but certainly incarceration of the
homosexual man in a prison with no contacts save other men, where he is
given no treatment to rectify his condition
and where he is kept, not until
a predetermined priod of time has elapsed, certainly ranks high among those
things in which we can take little pride. For Cameron, the real offence was
that homosexuals were being thrown in jail but were not being offered any treatment
to cure their disorder.

The experts remained adamant that
sexual deviation was a medical, not a criminal, problem, but they were also
forced to admit that it was a disease without a cure, yet. By the 1950s, the
few who already had treatment programs running were cynical as to whether they
could bring about a heterosexual orientation in homosexual men. But while only
the most sanguine held out any hope for a cure, more and more experts were
turning to behaviour therapies to teach homosexuals to conduct their lives in
socially appropriate ways. During the commissioners’ research visit to New
Jersey’s Menlo Park Clinic, where sexual psychopaths were sent for assessment
and treatment, Director Ralph Brancal explained ‘we do not attempt to
change…the deep-seated homosexualist…all we are interested in the lifelong
homosexual is that he is able to contain himself and sublimate his own sexual
activities and channels so that it does not make him publicly offensive.’
Vancouver’s Dr. Alcorn echoed this view, describing homosexuality not as a
disease but a ‘defect of taste. One could perhaps not speak of curing them any
more than one could speak of curing a person who liked Bach or Stravinsky.’
Alcorn’s method of treating homosexuality, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and
‘occasionally playing with children’ consisted of teaching their practitioners
how to ‘live with their peculiar tastes, to teach them the dangers that they
may encounter in allowing tensions to develop, to avoid those tensions which
arise, and which create the setting in which most of these offences occur.’ If
mental health experts could not teach some way to be normal, then they
hoped they could teach him to at least act normal.

Private sex was one thing, but
public behaviour remained cause for concern. Cruising in parks, making out in
the bushes, congregating in clubs, and having sex in public washrooms had long
been considered inappropriate behaviour for any person, male or female, but in
the 1950s, the gay male cruising practices took on new meaning. Given the
social, economic, and familial consequences of being discovered in homosexual
‘haunts,’ homosexual men’s repeated visits to such places appeared compulsive,
irrational, and consequently provided a direct link to the criminal psychopath model.
Viewed through the lens of the postwar middle-class heterosexual family, men
(and exhibitionists) who had sex in public places appeared both out of control
and dangerous. Canadian psychiatrists agreed that in such instances
homosexuality constituted a social nuisance, and sex between men should
continue to be subject to criminal, as well as medical, regulation.

Some witnesses defended male
homosexuals on the grounds that many made important contributions to Western
civilization. Even Minister of Justice Stuart S. Garson, responding to the
rising level of hysteria surrounding the commission of sex crimes, took up this
angle during a House of Commons debate. ‘The picture is not all bad,’ he
reassured his fellow Mps. ‘If one goes back through the history of music and
literature and the arts, one will find that some of the greatest masterpieces
in these fields have been achieved by sex deviates to whom we are in fact
greatly indebted for what they have created and handed down to their fellow
man.’ But during the commission hearings, Toronto Police Chief Constable John
Chisolm dismissed such characterizations outright, calling this line of
reasoning ‘a dangerous trend and an insult to the intelligence of the masses.’
A Saskatchewan member of the Canadian Mental Health Association similarly
described homosexuals’ ‘tendency to acquaint their behaviour with the
achievement of high intellectual and cultural achievements’ as a means to
seduce ‘susceptible and impressionable persons.’ Attempts to normalize homosexuality
by associating its practitioners with the middle and cultured classes failed
dismally, demonstrating that to be middle class in the 1950s did not just mean
having a car, a house, and a good-paying corporate job. It also meant being
married with children, signalling not only material success but also healthy
and positive sexual and social adjustment. Oral and anal sex in marriage might
be ‘normal,’ but similar sexual acts between two men were certainly not. Though
the science of sex paid a good deal of attention to parsing individual acts
from ambiguous concepts of immorality, the issue was never just what kind of
sex, but with whom.

One lone witness objected to the
pathologization of homosexuality, Axel Otto Olsen appeared before the
commission as a private citizen without connection to any group or profession.
Unprotected by the armour of science, and vulnerable to pubic scrutiny, Olsen
requested and received a private hearing, though his comments were transcribed
into the official record. He argued that sexual relations between men over the
age of sixteen should be of no concern to the state. Perhaps Olsen was
encouraged by similar arguments then being made in Britain, where the
government-appointed Committee on Homosexuality and Prostitution proved amenable
to recommending the removal of sexual activity between men from the purview of
the criminal law. However, while the English committee drew on the testimony of
a number of homosexual men to challenge some of the myths and misconceptions
about male homosexual behaviour, there was no effort on the part of the
commission in Canada to seek out the views of homosexual men. This is partly
because of the different directives the two commissions were given. However, it
is also because the Canadian commissioners were not convinced that male
homosexuality did not constitute a menace to society.

If the commission were to support a
law that distinguished between harm-causing behaviours and those that were
merely morally distasteful, witnesses who supported the continued
criminalization of homosexuality would have to persuade the commission that
homosexuality was indeed harmful. This goal was achieved by linking
homosexuality with pedophilia. Men who congregated in parks, restaurants, and
theatres at night posed little threat to children, but the Toronto police chief
suggested otherwise. ‘Homosexuality is a constant problem for the Police in
large centres,’ he argued at the Toronto hearings, ‘and if the Police adopt a
laissez-faire attitude toward such individuals, city parks, intended for the
relaxation of women and children and youth recreation purposes, will become
rendezvous for homosexuals.’ Concern over the way public park space was being
used extends almost back to when they were first created. Completed in 1877,
Mont Royal Park was the subject of very similiar complaints not twenty years
after it opened. Then, the local bourgeoisie complained that the park was
overrun with prostitutes, vagabonds, flaneurs, and unmarried couples. Parks
were intended to serve as an antidote to the pollution created by industrial
factories, the germ and disease-ridden urban slums, and the immorality spawned
by commercial leisure activities. Grand landscapes like Montreal’s Mont Royal,
Toronto’s High Park, and Vancouver’s Stanley Park were meant to promote
individual well-being by combining healthful and leisure pursuits. Poverty,
filth, and sex had no place in city parks.

Struggles over park usage were
microcosmic versions of wider contests between defenders of middle-class familial
morality and those whose lives challenged conventional social mores. How
after-dark ‘cruising’ interfered with the daytime use of Mont Royal was never
explicitly stated, but Queen’s Counsel J. Fournier defended the Montreal police
drive to ‘clean up’ the mountain on the grounds that ten years earlier a boy
was murdered there. What Fournier implied, Police Chief Chisholm made explicit.
From Chisholm’s vantage point, Toronto parks were in danger of becoming
recruiting grounds for homosexuals. We might expect nothing less than a
law-and-order response from a chief of police, but Reverend Noel Mailloux,
Quebec’s leading proponent of positive penology, also argued that homosexuals
were dangerous because ‘they constantly recruit new members…younger boys, usually
around eighteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen to twenty.’ Sexual cruising among
men in Canada’s urban green spaces posed threat to their daytime users, but the
symbolic value of parks as places of bucolic relaxation for Canadian families
tightened the link between male cruising and the perceived danger to families
of pedophilia.”

 – Elise Chenier, Strangers in our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario. Toronto. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. pp. 92-96.

Photo is: Parc La Fontaine, 1947. 

Les archives du journal La Presse.   

Read Full Post »

“Most Canadian mental health
professionals recognized the culturally and historically variable nature of
perceptions around normative sexual practices. Sometimes this led to some
rather extraordinary claims: social worker John Arnott argued against including
incest under the sexual psychopath laws because, he explained, in societies
such as the Inca it was a revered practice. More typically, however, medical
doctors explained that the range of ‘sexual expression’ was wider than was once
believed, and doctors were redrawing the lines around what constituted
acceptable behaviour. Dr. D. Ewen Cameron, for example, described how, when he
first began to practice psychiatry in the mid-1920s, it was not uncommon to
treat anxious patients of both sexes who were concerned about masturbation. Up
until at least the First World War experts warned that ‘the solitary vice’ led
to infertility, blindness, and insanity. However, Cameron told the commission,
‘now that we know masturbation is a practically universal phenomenon…there
are very few people I ever see who are concerned about it all.’ Psychiatrists
had also ‘discovered’ that married couples had a much longer and more varied
sex life than was previously assumed. Not only were married Canadians
continuing to enjoy sex well beyond their reproductive years, but they were
also engaging in oral and anal sex without showing any evidence of physical,
mental, or moral damage to either partner. ‘It may be repugnant to a widely
held view of decorum and aesthetics,’ Cameron argued, ‘but [it] is certainly
not a matter of pathology.’ He felt confident that it was only a matter of time
before other forms of sexual activity enjoyed the same level of acceptance.

While few had as much experience treating sex problems as Cameron, almost all
psychiatrists agreed that sex crimes were committed by people from ‘all walks
of life.’ This was a significant departure from earlier beliefs, which located
sexual immorality in poor and immigrant neighbourhoods. Cameron’s testimony
reflected the wholesale abandonment of eugenic and other biological theories
that attributed criminal and pathological behaviour to inferior races and
classes. Residue of older ideas concerning class degeneracy left its mark on
the hearings: Dr. R. R. Maclean of Saskatchewan told the commission that incest
was most often the result of ‘special home circumstances and conditions, namely
crowding in the home and poor morals.’ But Maclean was the exception. No matter
when or where they trained and began practising their profession, most mental
health experts in the 1950s dismissed poverty as a cause of sexual deviancy or
crime, and paid virtually no attention to those other early-twentieth-century
sources of immorality – racial inferiority and immigration.

However, while social and economic
class were no longer seen as determinants of the aetiology of sex deviation,
class was widely used to legitimize certain sexual practices. Psychiatrists
emphasized that people were having sex in ways never imagined (or at least not
openly discussed), and, more important, that the upper and middle classes were
also participating in ‘abnormal’ sexual practices. For example, Vancouver
psychiatrist Dr. Douglas Earl Alcorn explained to the commissioners that ‘the
practice of whipping is by no means limited…to people we think of as inferior
or deteriorated. Some of these people are extremely brilliant and are actually
outstanding people in the community.’ Through a patient he learned of a club of
sadists, some of whose members he was able to read up on in Who’s Who – ‘people
qualified for that on the basis of their public service.’ Clearly, the Kinsey
study and similar research endeavours were casting new light on old questions
about the boundaries of normal human sexuality. This was indeed one of the
great ironies of the 1950s: the effort to provide definitions of what
constituted normal behaviour faciliated public and professional dialogues that
recognized, validated, and to a large extent normalized sex beyond a
reproductive function. By recognizing (hetero)sexual pleasure, a wider range of
activities was legimitized.

Another activity popular among men ‘from all walks of life’ was same-sex sex.
Homosexuality emerged as a central point of reference throughout the
commission’s hearings, especially when it sat in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver,
Canada’s three largest urban centres. Indeed, despite the fact that the
public’s attention was squarely focussed on sexual assaults against female
children, homosexuality was the single most discussed criminal act…[despite]
buggery and gross indecency, the two criminal charges for sexual acts between
men, were initially excluded from section 661 of the Criminal Code, and were
added only in 1953.”

–  Elise Chenier. Strangers in our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008. pp. 88-89.

Read Full Post »