[DEBATE] : Clash of Sexual Civilizations
critical.montages at gmail.com
Tue Sep 25 13:34:02 BST 2007
Clash of Sexual Civilizations
Questioned about the state of homosexuals in the Islamic Republic of
Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University: "In Iran, we
don't have homosexuals, like in your country. We don't have that in
our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know
who's told you that we have it" ("President Ahmadinejad Delivers
Remarks at Columbia University," CQ Transcripts Wire, 24 September
2007). The audience, shocked, responded with boos and laughter.
Now, that's a clash of sexual civilizations! In America, at least the
liberal part of America represented by its great universities like
Columbia, it is a norm that people define themselves by the gender of
their sexual partners -- homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual -- and
that self definition, sexual identity, is a very important part of
themselves. In Iran, too, some people, especially younger urbanites,
have adopted the aforementioned sexual categories whose origins Michel
Foucault traces back to nineteenth-century bourgeois culture of the
West.1 But a majority of Iranians, apparently including their
President, have not adopted the idea of sexual orientations, nor have
much of the rest of the Third World.
Western liberals and leftists know what to think of the North-South
economic gap, but they have yet to figure out a way to sensibly handle
this North-South sexual gap.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1 See, especially, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (New
York: Vintage, 1990 [originally published in France in 1976 and
translated into English in 1977]). Other useful works on the origins
and development of modern discourse of sexuality include John
D'Emilio, "Capitalism and Gay Identity," Powers of Desire: The
Politics of Sexuality, eds. Ann Snitow, et al. (New York: Monthly
Review Press, 1983), pp. 100-113; and Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention
of Heterosexuality, (New York: Dutton, 1995).
More information about the Debate-list