Friday, May 9, 2014

Idle Thoughts -- Manly Men Can't Be Gay

8). Discuss Roy's visit to the doctor in Act 1 Scene 9. Your response should address the manner in which Roy uses language.

The doctor knows what's happening. This patient has AIDS and he's attempting to explain the diagnosis and prognosis. Cohen refuses to listen. Although he  knows that he has had sex with men, he insists on denying it.  It is important to him that he can convince the doctor that he is not a homosexual.

Part of this is because of social pressures. Remember, homosexuals were almost universally condemned at this time. Even many homosexuals hated themselves.  However, there's another reason for this. Cohen is an important part of the conservative movement in America. The conservative movement abhors homosexuals, and while they deny that they are bigots, their actions demonstrate that they are.

All of Cohen's political power, including his ability to resist the charges being brought against him, are based on the support of conservatives. If he is revealed as a homosexual, he will have no political support whatsoever.

Even more important than those two issues is Cohen's feeling of his own power. He can't be homosexual because homosexuals are weak. He's not a weakling. He is strong. Therefore he is not a homosexual.

Can't resist a side note here. The Romans had no word for homosexuality. They was just sex. Sex between a man and a man, sex between a man and a woman, whatever. It was all just sex.  What mattered to them was that a Roman man never took the subordinate position. In other words, if he was having sex with a woman,  he had better be on top of her. If he was having sex with a man, he had better be using his penis to penetrate the other man. Anything else was unmanly.

In a completely contradictory conclusion, after roaring at his doctor about the impossibility of his having aids, Cohen is willing to accept the treatment for AIDS, AZT, a new experimental drug, even though that drug would not be effective against the liver cancer he claims is his problem.

Perhaps it's because he's a lawyer and a politician, or perhaps it is just because he's a very corrupt person, but all that matters to Cohen is the correct label. He finally acknowledges he has had sex with men, but only when forced to make the admission.  And even then he denies he's a homosexual, because homosexuals are weak.  

To Cohen, words and labels are much more important than mere reality. This attitude is reflected by the Republican Party today in many of its pronouncements and political actions.

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