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MEDIEVAL, thanks for the lesson. Slog would be a better place with more of this kind of thing.
Well, sure, if religious conformity is enforced at the stake, faith is unlikely to be a marker of social identity since there was little public heterogeneity. But if you did deviate from orthodoxy, it sure as hell marked you socially. And while the priesthood has always found ways to express itself sexually, it doesn't mean that medieval societies didn't take "deviant" sexual behavior very seriously. Just taking pre-reformation England for example, there were a lot of men who lost their balls for stepping out of line. "Mutilation" was all too common a punishment for sexual as well as other kinds of misbehavior.
The main point is that the movement of the masses away from organized religion has made those religions far more intolerant and rigid. If everyone wears hats, it's not so important what kind of hat you're wearing. But once people start taking off their hats, the hat-wearers become more stringent on what kind of hats will be worn. As you say, this is all part of identity, rooted in the human social need to belong and be a part of a greater whole.
Or maybe he go clubbing instead.
Yeah, well, going clubbing might be why he's not here surfing the Slog.
kudos Dan...for letting it stand all on its own ;)
Thought all those guys went outta fashion. Like Freud.
I mean , Dan even cracks jokes about Freud.
While I am, like @36, @30 & @22, a modernist (oh noes! Gertrude Himmelfarb!) Foucault's critique (and the LW's inclusion here) of the centrality of (sexual) identities is entirely appropriate - and George Orwell would most certainly agree.
Check out the Lateran IV Cannons (1213) and Jack Cade's Rebellion (1450-something) as bookends against that assertion. Much of the high Middle Ages *was* about what was and what was not 'deviant,' but to the OP's point it was centralization and the growth of the modern state (see Strayer, JR) that turned regional idiosyncrasies and local permissiveness into heresy and treason.
But look at where the US came from. We talk about religious freedom, but often the freedoms the first Americans desired involved more stringent religious identities, not less. So our society developed a strong religious identity from the start, even though we did not share a religion. What many of us had in common was the fact that religion was important to us.
Of course, we have no medieval society to look back on, because the US did not exist then, and the societies from which it formed were varied. Was medieval Roman society the same sexually as rural English society? One thing were pretty sure about is that they all were violently opposed to same-sex relationships.
I'm an early modernist and I am trying to figure out who wrote it. If my guess is correct it was a woman who is, as you can tell, a great scholar and person.
Many (though certainly not all) Medievalists would counter that the beginnings of colonial America were the trailing ends of the Medieval, and of feudalism specifically; that our society is a religious What If? to Britain's secularism. The Medieval (though they didn't think of themselves as Medieval) certainly wasn't as far from them in time or culture as we might think. The founding of Jamestown (1607) is closer to the deaths of Martin Luther (1546) and Henry VIII (1547) than we are (2015) to the end of WWII (1945), and only an election cycle farther away from the end of the Hundred Years' War (1453) than we are to the American Civil War (1865).
As much as we might like to think that we're a melting pot of people and culture, our institutions are incredibly English. Try comparing our courts or our schools or taxes or legislatures with those on the European continent, let alone those beyond it.
@48 "Was medieval Roman society the same sexually as rural English society? One thing were pretty sure about is that they all were violently opposed to same-sex relationships."
I believe this is part of the point the OP is trying to make -- that the common perception of what is and what is not 'Medieval' or what is 'true' about the Medieval is actually more from the 17th - 18th century, the Victorians specifically, than from the 900s - 1400s.
Sexuality simply wasn't a significant part of individual identity in the Middle Ages, insomuch as individuals had identity beyond their familial or social associations. Religious Freedom wasn't even a thought really until Luther and Henry VIII (and/or Elizabeth I) and wasn't a Thing until the Enlightenment of the 1650s.
In sum, opposition to sexual expression wasn't nearly as vitriolic or 'violent' has we might think, and what care there was was mostly focused by the Church on the clergy, and not too much farther.
Also, as a quibble, there is no "Medieval Roman" culture if you mean the Roman Republic; axiomatically the "Middle Age" that is the Medieval is between the fall of Rome and the Italian Renaissance, during which time the people in the area did little more than get conquered and invent art and finance. Similarly "English" identity is a Victorian construct, or at least from the 17th century when Nationalism became a Thing.
It's great, cause Foucault, as I skimmed round the sides, always felt interesting to me. The half finished, Mamoth biography of him, shows my affection.
My boyfriend in the early 70s, was so so in love with him. Wanted to move to Paris to study with him.
Still. Just another viewpoint.
Oh. And a male one.
Lot more unhooked then in those times to be sure. But still the same impulses.
I wasn't really sure what this LWs point was/ is.
Whatever one wants to call these barbaric patriarchal cultures, that are flourishing in the Middle East; doesn't really matter. They are just scary.
Early theologians like Augustine taught that sex was inherently sinful, even sex for procreation would get you time in purgatory. This why the church had no marriage sacrament - marriage was seen as tainted by its association with sex. Its also the reason why priests were supposed to be celibate.
The fact that a powerful bishop ran a brothel simply shows the hypocrisy this created - I'm sure you could find plenty of Victorian clergy men visiting brothels and child brothels in Victorian London. But you would not say the Victorians were sexually liberal in their theology!
The BBC have a documentary about this very subject:
@57 - you are batting at ideas like a kitten with a yarn ball. If you really think you're on to something, slow down, gather your thoughts, do a little research, and get back to us. Hurry though - these comment threads don't last long!