The Changing Meanings of Sexual Justice: Gender, Sexuality and Homosexual Emancipation in Europe.

Hirschfeld-LecturesGerman Federal Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld’s 4. Hirschfeld-Lecture will be held by Jeffrey Weeks (London South Bank University) on 30 November 2013 as part of the first Hirschfeld-Convention in Berlin. This lecture examines the shift in the arguments for sexual justice, from an emphasis on science in Hirschfeld’s time to a stress on values and human rights today.

Venue: dbb-Forum (Friedrichstraße 169, 10117 Berlin)

 

Summary

Magnus Hirschfeld saw science as the golden road to sexual justice, and this emphasis was immensely influential on the first generation of sexologists and sex reformers. In the post-war world the emphasis on science continued as  a powerful thread through the work of the new generation of sex researchers such as Kinsey, and can still be seen in attempts to prove the existence of a gay brain or the gay gene in arguments for homosexual rights.  From the 1970s, however, with the rise of the new radical sexual movements, and other forms of sexual agency, a new politics of sexuality questioned the hegemony of science, and challenged the naturalism and essentialisms of existing concepts of  gender, sexuality, and homosexuality. A more historical and sociological approach led to a stronger stress on the meanings of sexual justice, and increasingly a discourse of human sexual rights became the vehicle for campaigns for sexual reform in Europe. This can be seen today in campaigns for homosexual rights, including same sex marriage. This is a major change in the politics of sexual justice, and signals a growing awareness of the importance of human agency in shaping the ways we live gender and sexuality.

 

Author

Jeffrey Weeks is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at London South Bank University (LSBU).  He is the author of  over twenty books, and more than 100 articles and papers, chiefly on the history and social organisation of sexuality, family and intimate life. His books include Coming Out  (1977), Sexuality and its Discontents (1985), Against Nature (1991), Invented Moralities (1995), Making Sexual History (2000),  Same Sex Intimacies (with Brian Heaphy and Catherine Donovan, 2001), The World We Have  Won: The Remaking of Erotic and Intimate Life (2007), Sexuality, 3rd edition (2009) and The Languages of Sexuality (2011). A new, fuly revised edition of Sex, Politics and Society (originally published in 1981) was published in 2012. He was the recipient of the American Sociological Association’s  Simon and Gagnon Award in 2010 for outstanding contributions to the study of sexuality.

 

A German translation of this lecture will be released in December 2013 by Wallstein Verlag (ISBN: 978-3-8353-1324-8).

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