Homosexuality and Male Dominance
In the last chapter I argued that self-identified homosexuals differed from heterosexuals more in their attitudes toward their fathers than toward their mothers. If one interprets the Oedipus complex as the point at which the child first recognizes male dominance, then it would be possible to interpret homosexuality as a response that is related to male dominance. Sometimes this response may have misogynist outcomes but, following Freud's logic, it is also possible to associate it with resistance to male dominance. This association is especially true for lesbians, who are often quite conscious of their opposition to male dominance, but possibly also with regard to gay males.
Irving Bieber has an analysis concerning male homosexuality that is offensive and heterosexist on the face of it but that nevertheless fits with an interpretation of Freud as accurately describing unconscious psychic development in a male-dominant society. According to Bieber, all males would be heterosexual (presumably because of their first love for the mother) if they were not blocked from it. Male homosexuals, says Bieber, have rejected heterosexuality out of fear not of women but of men. Bieber's basic idea is that homosexuals unconsciously fear that they will be in some way punished for heterosexuality by aggressive males who are women's keepers. A boy might be blocked from heterosexuality then if this unconscious fear of dominant males who "own" women is not mitigated.
This idea can also be found in some of Freud's observations. Freud describes male twins who were both apparently heterosexual until one twin "retired" in his brothers favor and gave up women as sexual partners. He did not like the idea of trespassing on his brother's territory. Freud also discusses treating a young male artist who found himself fleeing from both women and work simultaneously. Freud says, "The analysis which was able to bring
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him back to both, showed that the fear of the father was the most powerful psychic motive for both the disturbances, which were really renunciations. In his imagination all women belonged to the father, and he sought refuge in men out of submission, so as to 'retire from' the conflict in favor of the father" (italics added). Certainly this reaction is understandable and could be interpreted as a protest, whether conscious or not, against male dominance seen ultimately as men's control over female sexuality. The choice then of males as sexual partners is simply what one must do if one is to have a sexual outlet at all, and other homosexual males seem safer than females, all of whom are seen as being owned by males.
Homosexuality in males could also be interpreted as seeking the loving protecting father one felt one never had. Bieber argues that gay males do like and love women, noting that they often choose female analysts, which suggests underlying heterosexuality, and that they genuinely grieve at the death of their mother but react in ways suggesting underlying hostility at the death of their father. Bieber's analysis implies that if heterosexuality continues to be considered a desirable societal goal, then it can most readily be fostered in males not by males who embody the system of male dominance but by males who are warmly supportive of their sons and who have a minimum of unconscious hostility toward them and who thus mitigate the image of the powerful, threatening, women-possessing male.
The idea that it is men not women who are feared can be interpreted as blaming the system of male dominance in heterosexual relationships itself (not mothers or even fathers) for creating the homosexual protest. This protest against male dominance does not mean that gay males' own fathers were necessarily themselves unusually dominant. Although some male homosexuals had fathers who were violent and terrifying, many others perceived their fathers to be weak, disinterested in them, and vaguely hostile. In the first case the father directly represents theatening males to the boy; in the second instance, the father is no support to the boy in dealing with the threatening aspects of the male peer group.
I don't know if I necessarily believe any of this but it was an interesting read all the same.