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Mott, G. (1998). Taking it Out on Women: Love!Valour!Compassion! and In the Company of Men. Psychoanal. Rev., 85(5):793-797.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Review, 85(5):793-797

Film Notes

Taking it Out on Women: Love!Valour!Compassion! and In the Company of Men

George Mott

The conviction of being different permeates gay experience. In the not very distant past, society made this conviction coincide with outlaw status, and until fairly recently science, through its mouthpiece the medical community, labeled homosexuality a disease. Being gay was different. Nowadays being gay can be both easier and more complex. The question of the origins of the object choice that is defining for a homosexual can seem like the province of speculations in the science pages of the popular media or of pop-intellectual musings like those of Camille Paglia. The various psychoanalytic disciplines tend to equivocate. Out-and-out homophobes such as Charles Socarides are accommodated without much protest. While certain clinical perspectives perceive a gay man as being no different from any other man when it comes to treatment, the orthodox idea that a homosexual, being a pervert, is resistant to a psychoanalysis, has not been entirely abandoned. Perhaps the issue is generational, with older analysts tending to pathologize homosexuality while younger ones accept changed cultural attitudes in lieu of deeper theoretical clarification.

One thing is certain: as gay men and lesbians have become more and more acceptable in both society and science, their representation has moved from the perimeter to practically the center of the entertainment industry. “The love that dared not speak its name” has become the object of close scrutiny and occasionally even envy on the part of contemporary society. Yet these theatrical and cinematic depictions of gay men so seldom ring true. It is as if it were still necessary to inscribe homosexuals in a “secret society,” perhaps to safeguard popular beliefs about the transgressive nature of gay sexual pleasure, so that the “public” image does not always conform to the “private” one.

The gradual disappearance of negative homosexual stereotypes leaves traditional binary thinking on sexual orientation high and dry; confusion about the nature of sexuality is more evident than ever.

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