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The Construction of Homosexuality

The book The Construction of Homosexuality by D. F. Greenberg was first published in 1988 by the University of Chicago. The paperback edition appeared in 1990. The book has 645 pages and was published at University Of Chicago Press. The book opens with acknowledgments. Also, the author uses footnotes to help readers fund necessary parenthetical information and a detailed index part. Also, in the epilogue Greenberg expresses his personal opinion about the human sexuality and homosexuality. David F. Greenberg is author of several books on human biology and sexuality. The book consists of n introductory part, two main parts “Before homosexuality” and “the Construction of modern homosexuality, Epilogue, references and index.

The main part of the book addresses the problems, issues, controversies and debates related to homosexuality and myths about homosexuality. The author states that defining homosexuality adequately is a difficult task. What is certain is that an isolated sexual act with a member of the same sex does not necessarily mean either or both of the participants are homosexuals. Many men and women have at some time had sexually exciting physical contact with members of their own sex, sometimes to the point of orgasm. The goals of the author is to persuade readers that homosexuality is natural for men and women, and the main problem of this sexual behavior is out perception and rejection of it. The author states that individuals are not considered true homosexuals by the psychiatrists and psychologists who have looked into the condition. For many years, real homosexuality, which means that the individual regularly chooses a member of the same sex as a sexual partner, as a lover , has been explained in numerous ways. It has been called learned-behavior, a personality disorder, a sexual deviation, a mental imbalance, a hormone-deficiency disease, and a moral weakness of an individual.

The author persuades readers that the traditional view among psychiatrists that homosexuality is an emotional illness — a view still held by many despite the psychiatric association’s stand, is coupled with the belief that its only effective treatment is psychotherapy. A “cure,” then, would mean that the homosexual is converted to heterosexual behavior — with a preference for members of the opposite sex. Equally misleading was the idea that homosexuality is merely an aspect of normal development, a transient stage of adolescence. His definition of a homosexual was that of a person who consistently and from inner necessity engages in homosexual acts. Not everyone agrees with the idea that an overprotective mother and an unaffectionate father are the reasons why some individuals become homosexual.

I suppose that the author achieves his goals and creates vivid and detailed account of homosexuality. Using illustrative materials and facts, the author shows that after examining each group’s family relationships and sexual development, the researchers concluded that it was difficult to find any conspicuous factors that would set the female homosexuals apart from the nonhomosexuals. The researchers tested the women further in an effort to determine their emotional reactions to the concepts of mother, father, man, woman, friend and lover. The author claims that researchers found no clear-cut evidence of any differences between the experimental groups. In challenging the old cliché about homosexual men and domineering mothers, the above-mentioned Evans study suggested an alternative hypothesis. Perhaps the man who becomes a homosexual is born with a genetic, biological or biochemical difference from other men. Evans speculated that perhaps certain environmental factors also are necessary in addition to a biological predisposition but, in his opinion, the particular experiences necessary for the development of homosexuality have not been verified. Regardless of the lack of concrete evidence and the differences of opinion over cause, psychiatrists try to deal with the homosexuals who seek their help. The methods used — and these may include drug treatment, psychoanalysis, group therapy, behavior modification, even brain surgery, have as their goal a complete return to sexual drives that are considered normal by society.

The conclusion of the work is valid and the author does not miss any point. In discussing treatment, psychiatrists sometimes emphasize the need to guide very young children onto a normal sexual path, reasoning that the earlier symptoms are recognized, the better the hope for lasting change. Often, this approach means that parents must not interfere unduly with a child’s interest in and activities with the opposite sex, and that they should try to reinforce masculine traits in their young sons, and feminine ones in their young daughters. This does not mean that girls should be encouraged to be secretaries and teachers, and boys groomed for positions as doctors or lawyers or mechanics. For instance, in Epilogue Greenberg states: “it becomes clear that sexual practices and the ways they are socially organized vary greatly from one society to another. Homosexuality is not a conceptual category anywhere” (Greenberg 484). Despite the fact that many psychiatrists feel that reverting to heterosexuality is the only logical step for homosexuals, many homosexuals simply do not wish to change. They resent any suggestion that they are “sick.” Their preference, they believe, is as acceptable a form of behavior as heterosexuality. They have asked that the courts and the community recognize this. Still, Greenberg persuades readers that homosexuality should be accept as natural phenomenon and approved by social moralists.

I like this book very much and would recommend it to every one interested in human sexuality. This book helps people to understand that homosexuality is natural for every society and is found in every historical epoch. Homosexuality, whether it is seen as a medical disorder or a way of life, remains an emotion-filled issue. Many people still have difficulty discussing the subject and, when they do, it is usually in outrage. Think of the times you yourself have referred to certain people — boys who avoid physical fights or who play with girls, girls who climb telephone poles and compete with boys. The law, in fact, is quite hard on homosexuals. For instance, in chapter 10, Greenberg illustrates that in a majority of the states sodomy (sexual intercourse between males) is illegal and may be punished by heavy prison sentences. In chapter 11, Greenberg vividly portrays that reinforcing appropriate sexual traits is important for healthy, normal emotional growth. Much of the ill feeling aimed at homosexuals is grounded in myths and misconceptions, in strong definitions of “normal” and “abnormal,” and in a morality that stretches back to the days when humans first began keeping records. People are as different in their attitudes toward sex as any group of heterosexuals are. Some are promiscuous, and the rate of venereal disease among homosexuals who have numerous sex partners is high.

The book shows that people cannot ignore the fact that most homosexuals want just what most of us want: warm relationships, someone special who cares, an opportunity to live and work as they choose, understanding. It is good for us to remember that while we might argue that homosexuality is wrong, or not for us, our criticism ought to focus on the condition, not on condemning the person who is caught up in it.. It is important to understand that homosexuals do not fit one stereotype, one mold, and that they do not all become homosexuals for the same reasons. In the end, you must ask whether homosexuals are injuring you by their actions, whether they are violating your civil rights, whether they are lurking behind every bush and in every public washroom, ready to leap at you and lead you into a life of sexual immorality.