There is no denying the fact that indeed, we live in a man’s world (we always have been); be it the heterosexual or homosexual, the world indeed belongs to the male species. Sigmund Freud, the much celebrated psychoanalyst conveniently neglected lesbianism and gave more emphasis on male homosexuality. This is proof enough that there is inequality of gender even among homosexuals. Hence, sexuality has nothing to do with inequality. It is gender that divides and discriminates.
The terms gender and sexuality have had distinct conceptual and lexical histories in psychoanalytic theory and in the culture and society at large. While Freud argued that ‘sexuality’ is a complex developmental process, which possibly evolves through the individual’s external environment, he also seemed to have strongly focused only on ‘heterosexuality’ as the soul end goal of ‘sexual development’. This clearly discriminates the homosexuals for they cannot attain the end goal of sexual development. In other words, it’s as easy as saying that homosexuals cannot attain orgasm; for how on earth will one experience orgasm unless her/his sexuality is fully developed? Because Freudian theory also says that desire is seen as having the ultimate objective of penis-vagina relationship, which is nothing but heterosexuality. Lesbian and gay relations, by implication, fall short of this objective. The fact of the matter is, sexuality is not natural, but rather, is discursively constructed while gender on the other hand, is natural. In any case both gender and sexuality are normal. Many often perceive sexuality with negative connotations for the word is mentioned only when one needs to provide a hint at homosexuality or probably talk about it.
It is almost silly to term society as patriarchal but it truly is, and the male gender rules it so much so that it is easier to be gay than to be lesbian. The Hours – a phenomenal movie released a little more than a decade ago (2002) juxtaposes this beautifully. When feminism meets queer theory, no introductions or explanations seem necessary. Indeed, both feminism and queer theory are not only connected by commonalities but also by affiliations. The Hours is a perfect example for this.
The movie is rather serious and doesn’t connect in a neat way, which most Hollywood mainstream movies do. Nevertheless, it portrays the main characters that illuminate mysteries of the main themes of the movie: sex, duty and love. The Hours beautifully brings together three women who live in three different time periods who share one thing in common: depression, despondency and despair overwhelm them, and they are connected by the book – Mrs. Dallaway, which Virginia Woolf (played by Nicole Kidman) writes in the movie and is read by both Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) sometime in the 1950s and by Clarissa Vaughn (played by Meryl Streep) in 2002. Interestingly, all the three protagonists are bisexuals; Virginia Woolf and Laura Brown harbor the secret lesbian feelings while Clarissa Vaughn is seen living with a lesbian partner and also nurses a male friend, Richard Brown (a bisexual man grappling with the final stages of AIDS played by Ed Harris).
Coming out of the closet is surely a herculean task, if not impossible (implies to many homosexuals), but repressing one’s own true sexuality and living with a pseudo identity certainly is more than depressing. Virginia Woolf is constantly intimidated by the servants. Perhaps they suspect that she is a bisexual and this is not considered normal (at least not during the Victorian Age). The real Virginia Woolf, the writer lived during this era and wrote the famous book, Mrs. Dallaway whom Clarissa Vaughn is lovingly called by her ex-boyfriend, Richard Brown. Nicole Kidman’s role Virginia Woolf is the depiction of the original writer who suffered from Bipolar Disorder, a repressive lesbian and bisexual. She committed suicide by drowning herself into a river. The same thing happens in the movie as well for Virginia cannot bear the depression she goes through as a result of repressing her true sexuality.
Laura Brown too faces the similar problem. She contemplates suicide but gives up and decides to live life by her own choice. She leaves her son and husband and aborts the child she is carrying and runs away to Canada and works there as a librarian, living life in her own terms with her true sexuality. Her propensity towards lesbianism manifests when her female friend pays her a visit. She kisses her friend in front of her young son who is too young to be scandalized by his mother’s act. The same son grows up to be Richard Brown who commits suicide by jumping from his apartment window as he cannot take it further with his illness and feels that he is troubling his good friend, Clarissa Vaughn by depending too much on her for his survival.
The movie portrays that a bisexual woman or a lesbian cannot lead a normal life or can freely express their feelings and sexuality. Therefore, Virginia Woolf commits suicide, and Laura Brown runs away leaving her family. A woman needs to give up everything including her life for her, to live freely with her true sexuality whereas a man doesn’t need to go through all this.
On the contrary, Clarissa Vaughn lives with her lesbian partner and both of them also raise her young daughter. She leads a carefree life and exercises her rights of being a woman, of being a lesbian and also of being a bisexual. She doesn’t repress her sexual tendencies, which oscillate from being a straight woman to a lesbian. The reason she is given this freedom in the movie is perhaps because of the time she lives in. She is a modern woman of the 21st century.
Although gender roles and sexuality differ from culture to culture, men always have it easier than women in many matters than not. Gay men don’t repress it as much as gay women do. This is true in most cultures.