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Den korrekta avvikelsen: vetenskapsanvändning, normalitetssträvan och exkluderande praktiker hos RFSL, 1950-1970
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The Correct Deviation: The Use of Science, the Striving for Normality and Excluding Practices of RFSL, 1950-1970

The thesis focuses on the organisation today known as the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) and its activities from the founding year 1950 to around 1970. RFSL was the first Swedish organisation that worked for non-heterosexual persons. The aim was to achieve what was called sexual equality, by which was understood that a person should be able to live without social obstacles in accordance with his or her sexual orientation. It should be noted that even though RFSL was a member organisation, it was never member orientated, and the political ambition was considered more important than the everyday problems of the members. Anyway, sexual equality included both juridical and a social aspects. In its analysis RFSL defined the main problem as intolerance due to lack of knowledge and concluded thereby that the solution lay in enlightenment; the spread of scientific and objective information about both homosexuals and the nature of homosexuality. As the thesis shows, RFSL’s method and activities can be characterised as a strategy of assimilation, which was manifested in two ways. First, RFSL argued that the represented group did not deviate too much from the norms of society, i.e. in a way that would be regarded as unacceptable. Consequently certain forms of deviations were excluded. For instance, RFSL tried to distance itself from sadism, masochism and transvestism but also from pornography and prostitution. The ideal homosexual was well-behaved and conformed in every way to the norms of society, not least gender norms. But there was a discrepancy between what was publicly shown and what was internally tolerated and accepted. Hence it appears plausible to interpret RFSL as pragmatically oriented and acting in accordance with tactical deliberations and not always from real beliefs. Second, RFSL argued, often with references to different scientific sources, that there was no essential difference between hetero- and homosexuality. Instead all people were regarded as positioned on a scale, with sexual orientation being a matter of degree rather than essence. This recognition also holds a critique of the notion that a two-sex model has replaced an earlier one-sex model. Instead the thesis argues for a continuity of some underlying figures of thoughts. These are not only present in the expressions of RFSL but also in the early 20th century scientific discourse and in the sources to which RFSL referred. Besides RFSL’s view on the nature of homosexuality and the normative and excluding practices, the thesis also places the organisation in an international context. Around 1950 the first political gay right organisations took shape not only in Sweden but also in other countries. As a member of the International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE), RFSL had an active international exchange with organisations from Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and also from US. In its publication RFSL also reported news from abroad that where considered relevant to the members.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Förlaget Holzweg , 2007. , 352 p.
Keyword [en]
sexology, psychoanalysis, gender, sexual norms, minorities, representationalism, Swedish Federation for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Rights, homosexuality, sexual deviations, heteronormativity
Keyword [sv]
RFSL, homosexualitet, sexuella normer, sexuella avvikelser, minoriteter, heteronormativitet, psykoanalys, sexualitet, genus, representationalism, sexologi, historia, idéhistoria, sexualitetshistoria
National Category
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1124ISBN: 978-91-976832-0-3OAI: diva2:140273
Public defence
2007-06-01, S213, Samhällsvetarhuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:15
Available from: 2007-05-09 Created: 2007-05-09Bibliographically approved

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