Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

In short, homosexuality is present as a component in the personality of everyone. The practical problem is how this component is to be handled. The father identifier is a man who attempts to deny this homosexual component: he forces it down into the unconscious, where it festers. Because he denies this aspect of his personality, homosexuality alway seems to him a serious temptation. He suspects the presence of homosexuality in others because he is aware of it in himself. He cannot allow himself any expression, however pure, of love for a member of the same sex, for fear that, once admitted, it might get out of control, in just the same way that the puritan feels that a single drink is liable to lead to dipsomania. For just the same reason, he regards close masculine friendships as unhealthy because he feels there is a constant danger of their becoming tinged with overt homosexuality. But since people always work unconsciously to create situations in which they can indulge their unconscious desires, the father identifier is generally to be found in schools, barracks, prisons and other places where, owing to the absence of women, the temptation to express a homosexual love is strong.

So far, the evidence seems to support these conclusions, far fetched as they may seem to anyone who comes across this line of reasoning-familiar enough in psychoanalysis-for the first time. We have noted how the penitential books devoted quite disproportionate amount of their space to the subject of homosexuality: the penalties for incest were severe, but the space devoted was much less. We also noted that priests, being deprived of normal outlets for their sexual impulses, we sometimes driven back on homosexuality.

A further consequence of this conflict seems to be a tendency to exaggerate the difference between the sexes, whereas in matrist periods, the difference seems to be minimized: this appears most clearly in clothing, the use of cosmetics, and such matters. In patrist periods, men dress in a style quite different from that adopted by women; while in matrist periods it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. It is as if the patrist was so determined not to be taken for a woman that he exaggerates all his masculine attributes and minimizes all his feminine ones. Furthermore, he forces his womenfolk into an exaggerated femininity, magnifying their relative weakness into complete helplessness their emotionality into hysteria and their sensitivity into a delicacy which must be protected from all contact with the world. We can see this contrast at work in the Middle Ages, but it emerges still more clearly in the Victorian era. It was, for instance, John Hunter, the surgeon, a man of great good sense, who nevertheless said that insanity was so horrible that not only should all lunatics be shut up where they could not be seen, but that “the sex”-meaning, of course, women, for to whom else was sexuality to be attributed? – the sex should be kept from all knowledge of its existence. (118)

To sum up, then, we may expect to find as limiting cases two distinct alternative systems of attitudes, the main features of which can be expressed in tabular form as follows:

Rule Patrist Matrist
1 Restrictive attitude to sex Permissive attitude to sex
2 Limitation of freedom for women Freedom for women
3 Women seen as inferior, sinful Women accorded high status
4 Chastity more valued than welfare Welfare more valued than chastity.
5 Politically authoritarian Politically Democratic
6 Conservative: against innovation Progressive: revolutionary
7 Distrust of research, enquiry No distrust of research
8 Inhibition, fear of spontaneity Spontaneity: exhibition
9 Deep fear of homosexuality Deep fear of incest
10 Sex differences maximised(dress) Sex differences minimised
11 Asceticism, fear of pleasure Hedonism, pleasure welcomed
12 Father-religion Mother religion

To these twelve points, others of a more derivative character could be added, such as a tendency for patrists to favour plain and sombre clothing, and for matrists to prefer rich, colourful and extravagant clothes, but these explain themselves.