Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sexuality in Fifth-Century Athens

Sexuality in Fifth-Century Athens. This article takes a look at the sexual practices of the ancient Greeks by comparing it to sexual norms in 19th Century Ireland. This article was written by Brian Arkins.

From the site:

There is now a very considerable body of evidence to suggest that human sexual behaviour is, to a great extent, socially constructed. That is to say that the way women and men conduct their sexual lives is determined to a marked degree by what a particular society finds acceptable. Before we come to Athens in the fifth century BC, it is instructive to consider the case of Ireland in the 19th and 20th centuries.

From 1820 on sexual behaviour in Ireland was constructed out of the economics of the small farm [2] and had little to do with the doctrines of Roman Catholicism, and still less to do with those of Jesus Christ. This highly puritanical organisation of sexuality obtained, without interruption, until 1960 and caused a great deal of suffering to many women and men. The Roman Catholic Church has never seen fit to acknowledge publicly the grave scandal which its enthusiastic endorsement of this wretched puritanism constituted.

All revolutions are betrayed, but some are betrayed more spectacularly than others. After 1922 Ireland was controlled by the emerging Catholic bourgeoisie, whose aim was independence itself rather than social reform and the provision of an adequate standard of living for the people. This bourgeoisie clearly subscribed to De Valera's dictum that 'Labour must wait'; used independence to further their own interests; and inevitably imposed their value system on the new State. As Kavanagh said, 'The Revolution created a new rich class at the expense of the general population'.[3]

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