The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, August 14
August 14th, 2013
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Allentown, PA; Brooklyn (Bedford Stuyvesant), NY; Columbia, MO; Kelowna, BC; Madison, WI; Montréal, QC; New York, NY (Black Pride); Ottawa, ON; Prague, Czech Republic; Reno, NV; San Jose, CA; Sligo, Ireland; Taos, NM.
AIDS Walk This Weekend: Reno, NV.
Other Events This Weekend: Ascension Beach Party, Fire Island, NY; Dunas Festival, Gran Canaria, Spain; Tropical Heat, Key West, FL; London to Paris Cycle for Terrence Higgins Trust, London/Paris; Schwules Straßenfest, Munich, Germany; Camp Camp, Portland ME; Provincetown Carnival, Provincetown, MA; Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Vancouver, BC.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
60 YEARS AGO: “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female” Published: 1953. The first half of what is collectively and colloquially known as “The Kinsey Report” appeared in 1948 with the publication of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (see Jan 5). That volume revealed that the human male in America was having a hell of a lot of sex: pre-marital sex, extra-marital sex, self sex, oral sex, masochistic sex, sadistic sex, and gay sex. The book was controversial, but somewhat less so than you might imagine. After all, boys will be boys, even in 1948, and sexual experiences were more or less seen as coming with the territory. Sure, there were criticisms: it wasn’t statistically rigorous, the sample wasn’t representative, he relied to much from questionnaires distributed among prison populations. And while the “how many” and “how often” is what was talked about most, the fact that there was any kind of data on a common activity which everybody did but nobody talked about, helps to explain the first volume’s reception among the general public. Now, all of the sudden everyone was talking about it — as science, not smutt, which made all the difference in the world.
The reception for the second volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953 was very different. Kinsey anticipated some of its criticisms based on methodological complaints about the first volume. He purged the inmate and other atypical populations, and he listened more carefully to what statisticians were telling him. But he couldn’t correct all of his shortcomings. Clyde Klucknohn, a Harvard University anthropology professor, in a book review for The New York Times, said the book was “a brilliant and arguable contribution for which we are all in their debt,” but it was nevertheless “not a definitive treatise.” “The honest title would have been: ‘Some Aspects of Sexual Behavior in American Females (Primarily Educated, Protestant, Regionally Localized, Adolescent through Middle-Aged).'”
But other criticisms of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female went way beyond the statistical, largely because this time, we’re not talking about boys just being boys, but the fairer sex. Discovering that more than 90% of women had indulged in sexual petting, 66% dreamed about sex, 62% masturbated, about half gave blow jobs, half had had premarital sex, a quarter had cheated on their husbands, and a sixth had had sex with another woman at least once in their lives (also: “Homosexual contacts are highly effective in bringing the female to orgasm.”)– all of that was seen as an attack on the sanctity of the American Mom and her apple pie, and Kinsey was branded an enemy of religious propriety and American values. Rep. B. Carroll Reece (R-TN) chaired a House committee to investigate alleged ties between Kinsey and the Communist Party. The Rockefeller Foundation, which had provided funding for Kinsey’s studies, cut him off. Kinsey spent the next two years trying to find another benefactor to fund his studies, and the stress took its toll. He died in 1956 at 62 following years of declining health. The fallout from the two volumes would have a chilling effect on large scale statistical studies of human sexuality for the next 40 years. When AIDS appeared on the landscape in 1981, the Kinsey reports, flawed as they were, were still the only significant source of information on human sexual behavior on which to base a response.
But the reception of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female wasn’t universally negative. A few found the volume’s titillation entertaining, and it certainly cut a wide swath through popular culture. But most importantly, many women found comfort in discovering that they weren’t sexual freaks, that many other women enjoyed sex in all of its various forms as much as they did. The book finally drove home the fact that women were sexual beings. And both volumes, together, provided ammunition for the reform of the nation’s antiquated morality laws criminalizing adultry, homosexuality, and a number of other sexual activities between consenting adults, often even consenting married adults. And despite their many methodological shortcomings, the Kinsey reports revealed an entire field of study that was ripe for exploration. Pioneers often get things wrong; Columbus died believing he found a western route to the East Indies. But pioneers do one thing very well: they point the way for other explorers to carry on the work of discovery.
Nineteen Arrested in Miami Bar Raids: 1954. Miami’s anti-gay hysteria showed no signs of letting up (see Aug 3, Aug 11, Aug 12). It was only the day before (see Aug 13) when Florida’s governor threatened to replace Dade County sheriff Thomas J. Kelly for allegedly permitting “wide open” gambling in the county and for ”failing to prevent the concentration of sex perverts in the county which had become emphasized recently.” It’s unknown what actions Sheriff Kelly took to curb gambling, but it only took him a day to put together a raid on several of the city’s suspected gay bars. Nineteen were arrested, and a photo of one of the drag queens (sans wig) was splashed onto the front page of The Miami News:
Raiders Seize 19 in Pervert Roundup.
Nineteen suspected perverts were arrested early today in Miami and Miami Beach by raiding deputy sheriffs. The men were booked on vagrancy charges and held for a venereal disease check. One suspect was released in custody of his attorney. Deputies did not name the suspects.
Sheriff Thomas J. Kelly said his deputies had been watching bars where perverts had been seen and had made floor plans of each place to be visited.
Deputy Gerald Butler said Dr. M.J. Takos, Dade County Venereal Disease Control director, checked each person brought in by deputies. Dr. Takos decided which men were to be held.
Places on the list included the Good Hotel, Stockade Bar, Echo Club, El Morocco Bar, Sambo Bar, Circus Bar, Charles Hotel Bar, DeMarco Bar, Alibi Bar, Shanticleer Bar, Leon and Eddies, the Little Club, and Singapore Lounge, Butler reported.
Deputies taking part in the raids included Earl Venno, Bill McCrory, Bob Thomas, Paul Huizenga, Dick Shelton, Al Hickland, Frank Cilencion, and Joe Gorman.
Butler said the deputies were warned against “unnecessary rough stuff.”
Sheriff Kelly said “we don’t want perverts to set up housekeeping in this county. We want them to know that they’re not welcome.”
Kelly said he had been told by the health unit that five cases of primary syphilis have been reported in male homosexuals this months and the figure was considered “alarming.”
Los Angeles Passes AIDS Non-Discrimination Ordinance: 1985. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance protecting people with AIDS from discrimination in employment, housing and health care, making L.A. the first major city in the U.S. to pass such a measure. Before the vote, Councilman Joel Wachs, who introduced the measure, told the council, “We have an opportunity to set an example for the whole nation, to protect those people who suffer from AIDS against insidious discrimination.”
Wachs said that discrimination was a pressing problem. “There are a large number to cases of discrimination out there, where people are being fired, evicted and can’t get into an apartment because they have AIDS,” he said. Wachs also noted that half of the people with AIDS who file complaints die before their complaints are investigated. The city council opted for civil penalties instead of criminal penalties because civil proceedings are much faster. The ordinance provided for compensation for actual damages, costs, and attorney fees, and also provided for punitive damages. Councilman Ernani Barnardi hoped that the ordinance would have the effect of educating the public and calming the hysteria.
Wachs served on L.A.’s city council from 1971 to 2001. He came out in 1999 as he was preparing a 2001 run for the Mayor’s office.
Richard von Krafft-Ebing: 1840. The Austro-German psychiatrist’s principal work, Psychopathia Sexualis was more than just the Kinsey Report of 1886; it single-handedly established sexology as a serious field of study. The last edition, his twelfth, included 238 case histories of human sexual behavior, and popularized such terms as sadism, masochosm, fetishism, and the newly-coined word, homosexuality (see May 6). It was written specifically for psychiatrists, physicians, and judges in a dense academic style in order to discourage its purchase by lay readers. The most sorded parts, he wrote in Latin to further discurage casual reading.
A native of Baden, Germany, Krafft-Ebing studied medicine and psychiatry at the University of Heidelberg. He taught at the Univiersities of Strasbourg, and then at Graz, where he also served as superintendent of the Feldhof mental asylum. When he arrived at the asylum, he found that it was operated more as a dungeon than a treatment facility, and he fought for its reform, a fight which was ultimately unsuccesful. But it led him to publish the Text-Book of Insanity in 1879n to promote therapy rather than imprisonment for the mentally ill.
In Krafft-Ebing’s study of insanity, he often encountered sexual practices which were routinely characterized as causes of insanity or dismissed as vile criminal practices, but which were otherwise little studied. This deficiency in the scientific literature led to what would turn out to be his life’s work. Psychopathia Sexualis catalogued a wide range of sexual practices, from masturbation, impotence, fetishisms, necrophilia, lust-murder — you name it. The practices were carefully categorized as paradoxia (sexual desire at the wrong time of life), hyperaesthesia (excessive sexual desire), anaesthesia (absence of sexual desire) and, the largest, paraesthesia (which he called the perversion of the sexual instinct).
Krafft-Ebing’s notable achievement with Psychopathia Sexualis is that it allowed psychiatry to claim authority over sexual knowledge, where previously it was seen as a religious or criminal problem. Before Psychopathia Sexualis, sexual behavior which was not directed toward procreation — especually promiscuity and masturbation — was believed to be the cause of insaniy. Psychopathia Sexualis flipped that understanding around, and argued that “deviant” sexual behaviors were the result of a more fundamental mental disorder. For homosexuals in particular, he concluded that gay people were suffering from a kind of a biologically-based anomoly, one which occurred sometime during gestation, which resulted in a “sexual inversion” of the brain.
Despite Krafft-Ebing’s efforts at objectivity, he was never able to escape the nineteenth-century assumptions which regarded recreational sex as a perversion of the sex drive. But in his later years, Krafft-Ebing’s opinions became more lenient toward gay people. He was among the first to sign Magnus Hireschfield’s petition for the repeal of Germany’s Paragraph 175, which criminalized sexual behavior between men. In his last article on homosexuality, published in Hirschfeld’s <em[Yearbook for Intermediate Sexual Types], Krafft-Ebing described his earlier views of homosexuality as pathological as being one-sided, and advocated instead that gay people should be treated with sympathy and compassion. However condescending that viewpoint was, it was also, at least, an improvement. But in the end Krafft-Ebing’s work had the practical effect of extending Victorian morality for most of the next century by merely replacing religious moralism with a scientific gloss. It would take nearly nine decades after Psychopathia Sexualis’s apperance before the American Psychiartric Association would finally cut through that gloss once and for all.
The 1894 English translation of Psychopathia Sexualis, which is credited with introducing the word “homosexuality” into the English language, is available for free at Google Books here.
Sibilla Alleramo: 1876. Reared outside of Milan where her father managed a glass factory, young Rina Faccio was unable to continue her education beyond the elementary level. At fifteen, she began seeing a man ten years her senior, who raped her at her father’s factory. Rina didn’t tell her parents what happened, and instead wound up marrying him. A year and a half later, she had a son, and eight years later she left her husband and moved to Rome. Her new lover, the journalist Giovanni Cena, convinced her to turn her story into a ficitonalized memoir, Una Donna (A Woman), which she published in 1906 under the pen name of Sibilla Aleramo.
Alleramo became active in politics and the arts, which is how she came to meet the Italiam feminist Lina Poletti at the First National Congress of Women in Rome. The two women entered what is described as a volatile relationship, even as Alleramo remained with Cena. In her letters to Poletti, she wrote that she didn’t feel at all guilty about being in love with both of them at the same time; Poletti answered that the dual relationsips threatened Alleramo’s samity. Alleramo’s relationship with Poletti ended after a year. Alleramo went on to become one of Italy’s leading feminists, and Una Donna is now considered an Italian classic as the first outspokenly feminist Italian novel. She remained active in feminist politics until her death in 1960.
Horst B. Horst: 1906. The German-American fashion photographer was born Horst Paul Albert Bohrmann in Weißenfels-an-der-Saale, Germany. He studied at Hamburg’s Kunstgewerbeschule before going to Paris to study under Le Corbusier. That’s where he met Vogue photographer Baron George Hoyningen-Huene and became his photographic assistant and lover. In 1931, Horst began working with Vogue directly, and in 1932 he had his first exhibition in Paris. It was a sensational success, and in the next two years he would photograph Bette Davis, Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward, Cole Porter, Daisy Fellows, and a whole passel of European royalty and near-royalty.
In 1937, Horst made a move to New York, where he met Coco Chanel. He would photograph her fashions for the next three decades. The following year, he met the British diplomat Valentine Lawford, and they would build a life together as a couple until Lawford’s death in 1991. Horst also adopted a son.
Horst’s 1939 photo of the exceptionally controversial Mainbocher Corset is perhaps his most famous photo. The Corset itself created a furor in pre-war Paris, where it marked an abrupt break from the past due to its radical silhouette and its reintroduction of an article of clothing that is more associated with the Victorian era. Horts’s photo of the Corset however was anything but Victorian.
In 1941, Horst applied for U.S. citizenship, and in 1943 he joined the U.S. Army as a photographer, three months before he took the oath of citizenship when he officially became Horst P. Horst, partly, it is said, because his surname sounded too much like top Nazi official Martin Bormann’s. After the war, Horst’s photos illustrated international high society for Vogue. Subjects included every First Lady beginning with Bess Truman, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Oscar de la Renta, Andy Warhol, Yves Saint Laurent, Doris Duke, Cy Twombly, and just about every European royalty still in existence. Madonna’s 1990 music video for her song “Vogue” recreated many of Horst’s photos, including the Mainbocher Corset, much to the displeasure of Horst who was displeased that she didn’t seek permission to use his photos nor acknowledge his work. His last photograph for British Vogue was in 1991 with Princess Michael of Kent. He died in 1999 at the age of 93.
Mark Pocan: 1964. Pocan became active in local politics in Madison soon after graduating and opening his own print shop, when he was gay-bashed by two men with baseball bats as he was leaving a gay bar. He worked in the local LGBT community before winning a seat on Dane County’s Board of Supervisors frin 1991 to 1996. In 1998, he succeeded Tammy Baldwin when she gave up her seat in the Wisconsin State Assemby to run for U.S. House of Representatives. In 2013, Pocan against succeeded Baldwin when she vacated her seat in the House of Representatives and was sworn in as Senator. As a result, Pocan made history by becoming the first openly gay representative to take over a House seat from another openly gay representative. This also made Wisconsin the first state to send openly gay representatives to both Houses of Congress. In 2006, Pocan married his partner in Toronto, even thuogh their marraige is not recognized in Wisconsin.
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