In Coming out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present, Jeffrey Weeks tackles the objective of providing an overarching view of the tribulations suffered and victories achieved by homosexual men and women in Britain during the last century…
A closer examination, however, of how specific social events influenced homosexual identity would have greatly aided in creating an understanding of the relationship and origins homosexual identity has in British society. Thus, Weeks emphasizes the structural existence of homosexuality, while failing to consider the forces that might have established this structure.
"We tend to think now that the word 'homosexual' has an unvarying meaning, beyond time and history." Weeks writes. "In fact it is itself a product of history, a cultural artifact designed to express a particular concept." (3) Often who we define as a homosexual runs no further than the sexual acts in which a person engages. The basis of this definition, however, fails to consider what type of person is or is not a homosexual.
Weeks suggests that the reasons for crafting this shallow connotation towards homosexuality appears to have been to provide a standard on which to label permissible and impressible behavior and also to limit the number of those who are viewed as untraditional.
In addition to carefully describing the differences between historical and social aspects of homosexuality, Weeks makes sure to describe the differences in treatment towards various types of "homosexuals." Weeks pays particular consideration towards Lesbians, who Weeks describes as "invisible women" (80) and who debatably may have suffered even more hardships than homosexual men. Like most gender studies, Weeks also tackles the objective of showing that although the idea of "homosexuality" is a product of specific circumstances, homosexuality is wide ranging and alludes any historical or cultural constructs. After the introductory section of this book, these two objectives are placed in the background as tools for understanding the history of homosexuality in Britain.
As Weeks linearly traces the development of homosexual struggles in England, he crafts the notion that the acceptance of homosexuality in England is growing significantly. Thus, homosexuality appears to be escaping the negative conceptions with which it has previously been associated. Weeks primarily bases his argument that the acceptance of homosexuality in England is growing by citing the increasing number of gay rights supporters. After levels of prejudice against homosexual rose to peak levels after World War II, radical movements in the 1970's by the Gay Liberation Front resulted in stagger numbers of supporters and gay badge wearers. Furthermore, Weeks makes a slight mention that homosexuality was once even more confined than is has been over the course of the previous centuries. Although homosexuality was prevalent, occurring in "knightly orders," "medieval scandals," and certain "monarch courts" (35), it was always confined. In Weeks's portrait of the widening acceptance of homosexuality throughout the previous century, he fails to create an in-depth portrait of how England's various cultural and economic transitions helped to impact perspectives of homosexuality.
The book is not without its failures. I ...
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He is well known worldwide for his work, and he also presently is the Executive Dean of Arts and Human Sciences at London South Bank University, and he has filled this position since August 1, 2003. Weeks has had an incredible significance in regards to many different issues, and particularly so in regards to his approach and his contribution to theory building.
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