Masculinity, Law, and the Family

By Richard Collier | Go to book overview

Chapter 3

Law, sex and masculinity

INTRODUCTION

Many years, it seems, must pass before the general public and its lawgivers will base their actions on the fact that men are animals and that sexual misdemeanours may be caused by the excessive production of a hormone or by a deficient education…. We do not apply our biological knowledge to the treatment of nymphomania in girls, nor to the homosexual or homicidal tendencies which sometimes occur in men. In this field of humanism we have advanced only a very small way from the time when a woman with a beard…was regarded and treated as a witch; or a patient with a disease of the brain was put in chains and punished.

(Burrows 1949:169, quoted in Bartholomew 1960:83)

These comments on ‘the fact that men are animals’ conclude Bartholomew’s (1960) discussion of Hermaphrodites and the Law. The problem with law and lawyers, he has argued, is the failure of each to ‘take some account of the facts known to every medical student’ (Bartholomew 1960:112). Yet ascertaining just what these biological ‘facts’ are has proved far from clear with regard to homosexuality and transsexualism. I shall argue in this chapter that the interrelation between legal and medical discourses, and the positivist claims of each to scientific status in establishing these facts in the first place, has proved to be an important moment in the construction of a naturalist heterosexual masculinity in law. This chapter is concerned with transsexualism and homosexuality because each involves sexualities which deviate from the dominant paradigm of the feminine and the masculine.

The facts about heterosexuality have been taken for granted; heterosexuality itself has been largely untheorised. In Chapters 4,

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Masculinity, Law, and the Family
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface and Acknowledgements ix
  • Chapter 1 - Introduction 1
  • Chapter 2 - Theorising Masculinity and the Family 47
  • Chapter 3 - Law, Sex and Masculinity 87
  • Chapter 4 - ‘love Without Fear’ 138
  • Chapter 5 - The ‘good Father’ in Law 175
  • Chapter 6 - ‘family Men’ and ‘dangerous’ Masculinities 215
  • Chapter 7 - Changing Masculinities, Changing Law 252
  • Notes 278
  • Bibliography 286
  • Index 325
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