Fear Into Falsehood

04-197208XX 09Sex and Dehumanization, by David Holbrook. (Pitman, £2)

During the last few years. David Holbrook — poet, educationalist and now Writer-in-Residence at Darlington Hall College of Art – has signed innumerable letters and articles in the popular press, all highly critical of aspects of our culture today, aspects that may be bundled up under the heading of “permissive tendencies”. His name is, in fact, automatically associated with those of Lord Longford and Mary Whitehouse. And though undeniably thoughtful and intelligent, he does share with all the critics of the permissive society a faculty for making blanket generalisations, for overestimating a situation and for exaggerating a fear into a falsehood.

Few people, I feel, would contest David Holbrook’s basic thesis in this book. That there is an increasing divorce between sex and love and that in our society, advertising, pornography and entertainment often place undue emphasis on people as sex objects, especially women.

However, the method he uses to explore this not particularly original thought, and the conclusions he draws over 212 pages are highly debatable. Most important is method.

Expressed simply, what Holbrook has done is amass on one side evidence of what he calls dehumanized sexuality, and on the other side support for his own views. His targets are sexologists such as Masters and Johnson, writers such as Alex Comfort and Wayland Young, events like “Oh! Calcutta!” (which drives him into some kind of frenzy every time he thinks about it) and publications such as Man and Woman (A weekly magazine which builds up into an encyclopaedia of sexual knowledge), and sex technique manuals.

Evidence for the prosecution, as it were, is drawn almost entirely from the writings of a small body of psychoanalysts from what is known as the ‘object-relations’ school. Of course this imposes very rigid limits on his thesis. It would not matter particularly if Holbrook has made it absolutely clear that this was one particular view. But over and over again he asserts that the insights of his team of pet psychoanalysts are, in fact, something amounting to eternal truths.

Let us see how this works. Suddenly we come to a chapter, inserted for no good reason as far as I can see, and called with an arrogance only matched by its inaccuracy: “The truth about Perversion”. Sorry, but we have to pause a minute here to find out what he means by ‘perversion’. This is not easy. According to the glossary, the definition he prefers is that of Rycroft: “Any form of adult sexual behaviour in which heterosexual intercourse is not the preferred goal”.

Perversion should then, include such activities as masturbation, exhibitionism, homosexuality, bestiality and so on. However, his chapter which is going to tell us the truth about perversion seems to refer entirely to homosexuality and in particular to female homosexuality.

He begins by attacking two articles on lesbians one by Victoria Brittain in The Times and one by Virginia Ironside in 19. His complaint about the latter, among other things is that the writer “did not consult any independent authority on psychosexual disorders. She merely consults lesbians (his italics, p. 97).

Holbrook then turns (presumably for independent evidence) to a group of papers by Masud Khan who is the Editor of the International Psychoanalytical Library. Khan is a highly respected, and to those who know and work with him. a truly charismatic figure. And his work is, naturally, highly valued in his field. However, the special study of perversion (ie. homosexuality) he has made is the result of “twenty years experience of a dozen pervert patients”. This I would have thought amounted to, in the wider context, an extremely limited and definitely biased view of the homosexual. To justify his use of Khan’s material as a statement of general truth, Holbrook writes: “… this conclusion was reached from what perverts in analysis told the therapist, it is their truth, not one imposed upon them”, (p. 99).

Setting aside the extremely debatable idea that a patient in analysis is quite free of imposed views, Holbrook is saying in effect that what a well-adjusted lesbian tells a writer is inadmissable, yet what an unhappy individual tells his psychologist (after twenty years of analysis?) is on the other hand true and acceptable, not just for that person but for all other gay people.

(And a passing note that on page 9S, Holbrook refers to an organisation for lesbians called Kensic. This could be attributed to a proof-reader’s oversight, yet Kenric is similarly misspelled in the index. Indicative that in the most literal way Holbrook doesn’t know what he’s takling about and, moreover, has done none of that essential independent research himself).

This method, and the unconscious attitudes it reveals, pervade the entire book. At times a touch of egregious colouring inhabits his prose as when he refers to “naked couples (having) sexual intercourse publicly on rafts in the swimming pools” (p. 21). Would it have been better for them to be clothed? or naked but not having sex? or not on a raft? or on the sea and not a pool? And when he remarks on “some photographs of a nude dancer, complete with pubic hair and all” (p. 27). Better if she was depilated? or not dancing? and what on earth is “and all”?

The book is extremely difficult to read because Holbrook uses so many quotations from his psychoanalytical reading. It is as if he lacks all courage to state his own views boldly without dragging in such support. A dependency problem, maybe?

All this said. I would advise everyone to try and read this book. For two main reasons. First a great deal of what he says should be said. Holbrook is concerned about dehumanisation by separation of sex from love. One of the points of gay movements, in my understanding. is to try to bridge this gap in the homosexual world. Homosexuals, above all, have been still are – victims of this, revealed in the often expressed view that homosexuality is just a sexual thing (ie. a genital activity) and does not involve the whole person. Gay movements prove this wrong.

The second reason for reading Sex A Dehumanization would be as an exercise for the individual to articulate his thoughts on the subject of sex. It is absolutely no good tossing this book aside with little cries of “rubbish!” just because Holbrook is offensive. He projects a forceful argument forcefully. It needs to be answered forcefully – and thoughtfully.

‘Since Time Immemorial’

04-197208XX 09The Other Love, by H. Montgomery Hyde.
An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. First Published 1970 — Republished in Mayflower Paperback 1972. Price 75p.

When talking about the trials of Oscar Wilde at the time, many people said how fortunate the country was to have been purged of the horrible corruption that had been going on for so long. What they failed to realise was that it had been going on since time immemorial and that it was universal and not a product of the country or the time. Many people still think that trial to have been a product of Victorian prejudice and hypocrisy and people talking about it today often say that it would never happen again. It can. It does and Harford Montgomery Hyde in his splendid book on the subject of Homosexuality tells how and why.

With such a difficult subject to approach without prejudice, it is refreshing to find a writer who simply presents us with the facts and leaves us to draw our own conclusions. On the other hand it is perfectly obvious that he has a.very strong bias towards a more tolerant society, who do not prejudice people because of their sexual inclinations. The history of Homosexuality is dealt with in detail and is mainly recorded in the trials that have punctuated our history- It rarely concerns women as they seldom seem to fall foul of the laws dealing with anal penetration or sexual acts with animals – these acts covered by the blanket legal term of buggery. These trials are set out in the sections dealing with the historical survey, but are of more interest to the historian. The more relevant parts are those describing the ‘contemporary scene.’

Mr. Montgomery Hyde relates in a matter-of-fact way, defines his terms and clears misconceptions. There he covers all ground, from the idea that this century has seen a massive increase in homosexual activity, to its ‘treatment’ as a curable disease, and the ‘homosexual professions.’

“Another widely held but erroneous belief that homosexuality is peculiar to members of particular professions and trades such as actors, boxers, interior decorators, sailors waiters. Turkish bath attendants and musicians …..”

The law and its contemporary attitude is portrayed as being particularly hypocritical – the punishment by prison for any ‘sexual offence’ is ludicrous. Montgomery Hyde shows that, far from acting as a deterrent, it actually encourages homosexual behaviour, many judges being oblivious to the fact. The first-hand reports in the opening and latter chapters give a great insight into the law’s two-faced attitude, with their wholly believable details about ‘bent’ coppers and prison ‘screws’. One of the most amusing incidents on this topic tells of the ‘Hammersmith’ queen, who, robbed by a guardsman of her fur coat, flew out in a rage and found a policeman, who quickly recovered the conspicuous garment and went to bed with the grateful owner himself.’ On discrimination, the author says that the social structure pressurises the single man into thinking in terms of marriage.

“A batchelor is liable to be regarded as eccentric and unstable, or even unfit for posts of responsibility.”

But as Montgomery Hyde says later;

“Of course, there are bachelors of unblemished character in public life, such as Edward Heath, the British Conservative Party leader, and J. Edgar Hoover, the late Director of the U S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, but they are the exception and certainly in Heath’s case the lack of a wife has been in some ways a handicap.”

This book is informative, readable and a must for anyone who is gay and has bewildered parents who want to know more. The first and last chapters arc strongly recommendeded. This survey covers all aspects of homosexuality from legal reform, drag queens and small Ads. in International Times to continental social clubs, which have made some headway in social enlightenment.

A book as good as this will help dispel a great deal of fear and prejudice and will help towards greater tolerance and understanding making. I hope, for a happier society.

BIOGRAPH REVIEW

04-197208XX 09Hello all, it’s your Julian again. A rather cross Julian this issue I’m afraid. Now I know not all of you are interested in my reviews from the heart, but you don’t have to be nasty about them. If you knew the effort involved, and the expense. I know the Biograph isn’t the most expensive of cinemas, but with the amount of visits I pay it, the money soon mounts up. Not that it’s just a question of money, it really is hard work spending so many hours in that cinema. Which brings me back to why I’m a little peeved.

On Sunday 13 August the celebrated transvestite Tony Curtis performs in the explicitly titled Not With My Wife You Don’t. Wouldn’t want to dear, would you? Support is First to Fight with all-American boy Dean Jagger (no relations to the Queen of the pop world) in featured positions throughout the film.

Alan ‘Swoon’ Bates and the grand-daddy of the theatre Lawrence Olivier are the stars of Three Sisters on Monday 14 August I haven’t seen this before, and at the time of writing I can’t quite see why so many men are in a film with such a title. Maybe they are doing impersonations. Lex Barker is startling, to those who like that sort of thing, in the programme’s second feature, Wild Kurdistan, an epic from the East.

Hulk John Wayne and Forrest Tucker (star of many a memorable second feature horror movie) appear together in Chisum on Thursday 17 August. This is a notable failure, with everyone just trying to prove how butch they are. and we all know pear old John Wayne’s acting capabilities aren’t that good. What they are showing as support feature seems as if it will be much better, it’s another of those lovely motorcycle films by the sound of it. The film in question is Dirty Angels with Lino Capolicchio in a starring role.

The biggest treat of all in the next fortnight at the Bio is showing on Sunday 20 August. Liz Taylor and Richard Burton play happy families in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Even if you have seen this before I recommend you to see it again. Those of you with acid tongues can certainly pick up a few tips from Miss Taylor’s performance in this epic of domestic bliss.

Also showing is Seven Golden Men. That really sounds a goody, and it has also missed my attention in the past, even though it sounds just the type of film that I would like.

Monday 21 August has womaniser of note, Rod Taylor, gallantly supported by Carol White, together in The Man Who Had Power Over Women. It’s not just women that Mr. Taylor has power over, to judge audiences’ reactions at the Bio in the past. Ann-Margaret, the lady who tried to show Elvis Presley a thing or two till she realised that he wasn’t interested, is featured female lead in the second half of the programme, The Tiger and The Pussycat. She is ably supported by Vittoria Gassman from Battersea.

Future attractions include When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth and Rod Taylor in Hotel. What a super name he has, so straight to the point. And if one believes the rumours……

As you all know, a new paper just as this can do with all the mentions in the rest of the press that it it can get So when I heard that OZ had given us a little write up I was pleased to say the least. In fact I was going round to see their staff to give them all a big kiss of gratitude. But once I had read their piece I changed my mind. They certainly would get more than a kiss now. I believe a gentleman named Felix the Dennis was responsible for the piece they printed, and although he was full of praise for the rest of the newspaper, he had a little go at yours truly. Was I mad! Let me tell you Felix, my tongue is usually everywhere else except in my cheeks, and I don’t quite see how a useful guide to entertainment smacks of sad old magazines and coy innuendos. I just describe what I see and say what I think. I know I’m not (quite) another Alexander Walker but I try me best. If Julian manages to miss something because of his Biograph indulgences, well all I can say is that even I (after years of practice mind you) am not as perfect as I might like to be But I mustn’t go on about my grumbles. See you in the Bio Felix.

Hasn’t it been hot lately? Really not the sort of weather for the cinema some may say. Generally though one finds cinemas somewhat cooler than outside, unfortunately not at the Biograph. The temperature in that establishment always seems to be on the up.

Minor point. Dear Bio management, it’s nice to know that you care about your clientele. But is it really necessary to pop round so often with your little cans of air-freshener. Such an unsuitable fragrance too, better kept for the convenience I would have thought. It’s nice to know that you worry about us, but do please try aiming the cans in the air and not at the height our heads are at. Ruins ones ice or lolly.

August has some interesting films showing at the Bio. To start with on Thursday 10 August Brother John, with Sidney Poitier is on the screen, with Brotherhood of Satan as support. The latter stars L.W. Jones and Strother Martin in the leading roles. This black magic saga scared me half to death the first time I saw it.

For The Biograph programme see Classifieds Page 11.

Littlehampton Urban District Council

04-197208XX 09Dear Mr. Redman,

I have received your letter of the 27th. June last, enclosing the publication you mention, and note your request that a free subscription of the same be sent to the Library for inclusion on the public reading table.

The Committee are, however, of opinion that it would not be suitable and therefore prefer not to accept your offer.

Yours sincerely,

Clerk of the Council


This letter is the reply from the Littlehampton Council with reference to having Gay News at the local library.

This decision was reached by the Library Sub-Committee of the Foreshore and Recreational Committee.

The committee members who gave this decision were: Councillors Mr J. A. Collis, (Con), Mr L. Hutchings, (Con), and Mr R.A. Tilbury, (Lab).

I am now in the process of submiting a request to the County Library Committee at Chichester. Will keep you informed.

A further request has also gone to the same Committee at Arundel. Sussex. (Home of the Earl Marshal of England. Duke of Norfolk!)

DANGER! POLICE AT WORK

04-197208XX 09DANGER — please beware of the cottage at Marylebone Station, there is a minimum of four arrests a day there at present.

The cottages on Shepherds Bush Green are being watched and often raided by the police. A Gay News reader, on his way home from work at night, sees the police lying in wait quite frequently.

Be careful at the cottage on Charing Cross Station, another reader has pointed out to us that either BR police or the Met. police are busy there at the moment.

Please don’t forget that we have warned you that the cottages in Battersea Park are under continual surveillance this Summer.

Also remember our warning about the cottage at Baker Street Underground Station. Police and Transport Police have their eyes on what goes on there. And you may be in for a beating if caught or suspected by those gentlemen in blue!

All the above information has been supplied by Gay News readers who have witnessed something unpleasant at the mentioned cottages.