Diablog: Sedgwick

In this essay, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick discusses psychoanalysis and psychiatry, specifically revisionist psychoanalysis as it was functioning in 1989 when the essay was first written. The author does this by examining the work of two authors that published books right around that time period, Richard C. Friedman and Richard Green. Throughout the essay Sedgwick critiques several passages from each book examining closely the popular theories surrounding the cause and "cure" of homosexuality specifically among boys.
One interesting belief among revisionist analysts is the idea that there are good gays; these are the men that present as masculine, do not belong to any gay organizations, and do not frequent gay bars. Then there are the other gays. According to Friedman, "the healthy homosexual is one that is (a) already grown up and (b) acts masculine."
It seems that there is one group of individuals that were a bit of an enigma to revisionist psychoanalysis. "Extremely and chronically effeminate boys", this however, was easily remedied with the DSM III that was published in 1980. In this issue of the DSM homosexuality had been removed as a mental disorder but a new disorder had been added, "Gender identity disorder in childhood." The criteria needed to be labeled with this disorder was much different for girls than boys. For a girl to get this label she actually had to be anatomically male. For boys on the other hand, they needed only to express themselves as feminine or express that they felt it would be better to not have a penis. There are so many problems with these diagnostic criteria that I honestly don't even know where to begin. Most importantly, I think, is the idea that gender and gender expression are either fully masculine or fully feminine, that there can be no overlap. The underlying idea of developing gender identity disorder of childhood involves the failure to develop a core gender identity, "one's basal sense of being male or female."
According to revisionist analysts the main reason effeminate boys end up gay is because they are never validated as masculine by other men. In addition, the mothers of these boys can offer no help in the validation process. "Any involvement by a woman is overinvolvement, and any protectiveness is overprotectiveness." It is however, the responsibility of the parents or caretakers of these male children get a "properly male core gender identity in place." If this occurs then there will be more of a chance for the boys to grow into healthy adult heterosexuals.
I think it is important to reiterate the fact that this was first published in 1989 and that many of the ideas about sexuality have changed. I do not however they have changed drastically enough. This line of thinking presented by Friedman and Green is so oppressive and stigmatizing. There is so much left to discuss on the topic but I want to stop here and get the thoughts from my group up to this point.

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