Monday, January 30, 2017

Complex history of the Word Sodomite

This is my third post specifically on the Sin of Sodom being Inhospitality (Or Trumpism as I now like to call it).

What prompted this post was an interaction I had on IMDB.  SO this is mainly my archiving those sources here.
Many cognates in other languages, such as French sodomie (verb sodomiser), Spanish sodomía (verb sodomizar), and Portuguese sodomia (verb sodomizar), are used exclusively for penetrative anal sex, at least since the early nineteenth century. In those languages, the term is also often current vernacular (not just legal, unlike in other cultures) and a formal way of referring to any practice of anal penetration; the word sex is commonly associated with consent and pleasure with regard to all involved parties and often avoids directly mentioning two common aspects of social taboo—human sexuality and the anus—without a shunning or archaic connotation to its use.

In modern German, the word Sodomie has no connotation of anal or oral sex and specifically refers to bestiality.[11] The same goes for the Polish sodomia. The Norwegian word sodomi carries both senses. In Danish, sodomi is rendered as "unnatural carnal knowledge with someone of the same sex or (now) with animals".[12]
Roman Catholic scholar, Mark Jordan in his book The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (1997) shows that the term “sodomy” originated in the eleventh century as a new classification of certain ‘clerical sins’. While early church fathers such as St. Ambrose and Origen clearly associate sodomy with inhospitality, by the time of St. Augustine, cultural associations around the word, communicated through secular poetry and legend shifted both its denotative and connotative meanings.
 “ ‘Sodomy’ as defined by religion and law included a range of condemned practices, ‘a way to encompass a multiple of sins with a minimum of signs’ as one critic has cleverly expressed it.” (Phillips and Reay. Sex Before Sexuality A Premodern History, p. 61)

Despite the term’s enduring flexibility, from the twelfth century sodomy was increasingly associated with sex acts between men. (Phillips and Reay. Sex Before Sexuality A Premodern History, p. 62)


In the older sense, sodomy surpassed all other crimes; in its sinfulness it also included all of them: from blasphemy, sedition, and witchcraft, to the demonic. It was, as many extracts declare, the crime without a name; language was incapable of sufficiently expressing the horror of it. The category was a repository for many items, yet in the eighteenth century a highly specific portrait of an individual, and of a group, was increasingly displacing an undiscriminating, demonic generalization.(McCormick editor, Secret Sexualities A Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century Writing, p. 118)


Sodomy surpassed all other crimes. In its sinfulness it also included all of them, blasphemy, sedition, witchcraft, the demonic: it is yet without a Name: What shall it then be called? There are not Words in our Language to expressive enough of the Horror of it. The foregoing suggests, however, a degree of insecurity about the range of the activity, and what it ought to be called. It was terrible in its sublimity, but unnamed in its sublimation. What was changing was that a specific kind of portrait of an individual was taking over from a theological category of generalized evil. (McCormick, editor Sexual Outcasts 1750-1850 Volume II Sodomy, p. 5)


“Clearly when we come across a writer using the words ‘sodomy’ or ‘buggery’ in relation to homosexuality we do the words less than justice if we simply disregard their other meanings. The one word was used because the one concept was intended, and this was a broader concept than simply homosexuality. The notion underlying these passages was not homosexuality but a more general notion: debauchery; and debauchery was a temptation to which all, in principle at least were subject.” (Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, p. 16


“On the one hand, historians confirmed sodomy’s capaciousness: it means masturbation, several of forms of same-sex sexual behavior, bestiality, non-procreative sex (oral or anal most commonly) between a and a woman, or any form of sex in which conception was impossible.” (Crawford, The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance, p. 4)


“Initially, sodomy was a theological construct, serving only intermittently to refer to a clear variety of sexual activity or to bring into focus the behaviour of a particular kind of person.” (Mills, “Male-Male Love and Sex in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500”, p. 14 in A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages editor Matt Cook)


“In the early modern phase (here roughly before 1688), the term sodomy covered any activity that challenged the ‘Nature’ of the church-state authority. The logic of sodomy’s deviation from the feudal order was precise but the category covered a wide range of transgressive acts: witchcraft, usury, political dissent, nonconformity, any kind of nonreproductive, non-matrimonial sexuality, and exogamous social relations, for example with Jews or Muslims (Bredbeck, pp. 2-23). By the late eighteen –century, ‘sodomy’, more or less, narrowed to mean a male-male erotics typified by anal penetration (buggery).” (Shapiro, “Of Mollies: Class and same-Sex Sexualities in the Eighteen Century”, p. 159 in In a Queer Place Sexuality and Belonging in British and European Contexts, editors Kate Chedgzoy, Emma Francis, and Murray Pratt.)
So I hope this information is helpful to many.

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