Despite that we often think of sex and sexuality as going hand in hand in today’s society, if we look back in history we see a major distinction in many cultures. It is obvious that there has always been sex, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to write this paper, but sexuality is another matter. I interpret sexuality to be a distinct preference for some sexual act with a certain partner(s) the individual desires to engage in these acts with. In some places and periods of history this distinction was a component of a sexual behavior, others not so much, and sometimes it’s unclear. Take for example the arguments made in David Halperin’s “Sex before Sexuality” and John Boswell’s “Revolutions, Universals, and Sexual Categories” regarding the sexually nature of pederasty.
In this relationship between a man and a boy, sexual favors were granted by the boy in exchange for mentorship by the man. What Boswell and Halperin dispute is whether or not this is a case of homosexuality. My view of the matter aligns closer to that of Halperin; that this act is homosexual out of context, but the culture it as in and the purpose it serves is not, and therefore its not homosexuality. It was a rite of passage that everyone was expected to go through, whether they liked it or not. Just like people my age are expected to move out and lead a productive life; some people welcome the freedom, and others want to live in their parent’s basement for the rest of their lives.
When I think of sex in general, I usually attach a few concepts to it: love, lust, and power. Love speaks for itself, if you’re in a caring relationship you’ll want to create a stronger bond by getting it on and maybe eventually procreating. Lust can com...
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In response to this Halperin claims that if you look deeper into the text, you’ll find that Boswell’s interpretation doesn’t quite fit. Boswell composes a binary system from this myth: hetero and homo; when according to Halperin there are actually three sexual categories that people could have been separated into. This weakens Boswell’s claim that as a whole society has always divided up into hetero and homosexuals. The major force of Halperin’s counterargument comes from the interpretation that, “despite the differences in our personal preferences or tastes, we are not individuated at the level of out sexual being” (Halperin, 44). He reaches this conclusion based on the fact that in the myth, everyone is trying to regain a sense of wholeness by means of a sexual partner. Some people’s preferences may differ from others, but the end goal is the same.
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