Tragedy and Containment

Jonathan Dollimore

in Sexual Dissidence

Published in print August 1991 | ISBN: 9780198112259
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670732 | DOI:
Tragedy and Containment

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Magnus Hirschfeld was one of those in the late 19th and early 20th centuries conducting a ‘scientific’ study of homosexuality, and arguing against its association with evil. Sigmund Freud moved in a different direction to Hirschfeld, emphasising not so much the homosexual as different from, but rather as similar to, the heterosexual. This produced the terrible irony, and a supreme instance of the recasting of victim as aggressor: when homosexuals were being murdered by the fascists, it could be said: ‘eradicate the homosexual and fascism will disappear’. No less important than the containment which involves the demonising of minority groups, and the turning of progress into reaction, is the containment which destroys difference through a coerced conformity masquerading as voluntary submission.

Keywords: Magnus Hirschfeld; homosexuality; evil; Sigmund Freud; fascism; containment; conformity; voluntary submission

Chapter.  3672 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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