The query for ‘lesbianism’ resulted in 100 hits, showing several relevant collocates. Lesbianism is described in three ways: as sexual deviancy connected with immoral and illegal behaviour, as a public nuisance and possible danger, and as being connected with the occult.

Most of these associations come from one particular case: a rich married couple, Herbert and Roxanne Pulitzer, received public attention during their divorce trial. In the newspapers, we see that Roxanne is being accused of a string of deeds, ‘lesbianism’ being one of them:

  • The divorce trial of millionaire couple Herbert and Roxanne Pulitzer continues today in Florida’s Palm Beach County Circuit Court where testimony is scheduled to resume on the charges of drug abuse, lesbianism, incest and group sex.[1]
  • In a trial that included charges of adultery, lesbianism, incest and drug abuse, Mrs. Pulitzer had sought custody of the children and a share of a fortune that she estimated at $25 million.[2]
  • It’s been more than a year since the sensational divorce trial of Roxanne and Joseph Pulitzer with all the allegations of adultery, cocaine use, lesbianism, incest and occult rituals.[3]
  • Judge Harper’s ruling came after an 18-day trial in which there had been testimony about cocaine abuse, extra-marital affairs, incest, lesbianism and late-night seances.[4]

Furthermore, we see ‘lesbianism’ as being constructed as something that should be invisible and private, and is viewed as dangerous when made public. See these examples:

  • Two years later, Doe and his second wife filed in Virginia for adoption, charging Jane Doe’s lesbianism had rendered her unfit to continue as Jack’s legal mother. The couple’s lawyer argued that the mother had flaunted her lesbianism by holding a “marriage ceremony” with her live-in lover and by openly expressing affection for the lover in front of the boy.[5]
  • A part-time instructor at California State University at Long Beach, suspended for promoting lesbianism in a women’s studies class, will be allowed to return in a new assignment.[6]
  • Questioned about the withholding by Attorney General Edwin Meese of a $625,000 grant to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which has been criticized by conservatives for promoting lesbianism and for being anti-Reagan, Maureen Reagan said, “That’s just patently absurd.”[7]

The data on the use of the word ‘lesbians’ is mostly inconclusive. Analysing both collocates and n-grams, I found that only the word-clusters ‘lesbian relationship’, ‘lesbian and gay’ or ‘gay and lesbian’, could be said to be of significance. The ‘lesbian relationship’ cluster can be mostly explained by a ‘scandal’: in 1981, a high number of newspaper articles were concerned with a female, professional golfer who had had a lesbian relationship with her former secretary.[8] Furthermore, ‘lesbian(s)’ co-occurs with terminology such as ‘feminism’ or ‘feminist(s)’. The data on these co-occurrences is also not very conclusive, although there might be a trend towards equating being a lesbian and being feminist or at least hinting at a connection of these two concepts that is more than mere correlation:

  • Today she [Adrienne Rich] speaks as a radical lesbian feminist about “the complex spectrum of issues surrounding women’s claim to bodily — and hence spiritual — integrity: sexual harassament on the job; women-beating; rape; genital mutilation; pornography; psychosurgery; the use of dangerous and/or pacifying drugs on women; equal pay for equal work; the rights of lesbian mothers; the erasure of women in the history of the species . . .”[9]
  • Into this maelstrom of politics, religion and history [the 1979 Iranian Revolution] marched Kate Millett, self-proclaimed international feminist, revolutionary, lesbian, pacifist and claustrophobe, “on a mission to and for my sisters in Iran.”[10]
  • She [“Ferron”] is a self-described feminist/lesbian artist, and like all artists who define themselves in terms of movements, she is more concerned with message than with auteurist conceits or self-promotion.[11]
  • A honcho in the Free Congress Foundation, an alleged think tank in Washington, complained to Meese that the coalition was “pro-lesbian, hard-core feminists.” Twenty-four members of Congress then signed a letter written by Mark Siljander (RMich.) that embellished the profile a bit. The NCADV [National Coalition Against Domestic Violence] people were now a “pro-lesbian, pro-abortion, anti-Reagan, radical feminist group.”[12]

It has to be noted that there is no discussion of the implications, meanings, scope or connotation of the word ‘lesbian’, pointing towards a clear-cut idea of ‘lesbian’ within the discourse community. Obviously, a lesbian is a woman who has a romantic and/ or sexual relationship with another woman. This term can be used as self-description or describing others, and exists in a field of tension between being used as a positive or negative marking of women.

As for the clusters of ‘gay and lesbian’ or ‘lesbian and gay’, in most instances we see these phrases in the context of group, club or institution names. Of 71 concordance hits for ‘lesbian and gay’, we have a very high number of hits where this phrase is part of the (official) name of a group, institution or event.

lesbian and gay kwic 1

lesbian and gay kwic 2

lesbian and gay kwic 3

lesbian and gay kwic 4

The hits 3, 5, 7 and 8, 11 to 29, 31, 36, 38 to 47, 51, 54, 56 to 60, 62 and 63, 65 to 67 and 71 all use ‘lesbian and gay’ as part of a group. For the 134 hits for ‘gay and lesbian’, we have a similar situation:

gay and lesbian kwic 1

gay and lesbian kwic 2

gay and lesbian kwic 3

gay and lesbian kwic 4

gay and lesbian kwic 5

gay and lesbian kwic 6

gay and lesbian kwic 7

As can be seen from these two KWIC views, there appeared to be a trend to form lobby, focus or support groups by and for homosexual people during the early HIV/ AIDS crisis.

[1] Zaharoudis, Stephanie, and Ann L. Trebbe. Washington Post 4 Oct. 1982: Style/Personalities/C2. Print.

[2] New York Times 2 Jan. 1983: 4/9. Print.

[3] Conconi, Chuck. Washington Post 15 Mar. 1984: Style/Personalities/D3. Print.

[4] “Pulitzer Heir Wins Custody of 2 Sons.” New York Times 29 Dec. 1982: A/9. Print.

[5] Frankel, Glenn. Washington Post 5 Dec. 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[6] “California Teacher Suspended Over Sex Charge is Reinstated.” New York Times 22 Aug. 1982: 1/1/27. Print.

[7] Washington Post 10 July 1985. Print.

[8] See, amongst many others, Lindsey, Robert. “Bille Jean King is Sued for Assets over Alleged Lesbian Relationship.” New York Times 30 Apr. 1981: A/18. Print; “Mrs. King Says She Had Lesbian Affair.” New York Times 2 May 1981: 1/9. Print; and Admur, Neil. “Homosexuality Sets of Tremors.” New York Times 12 May 1981: B/11. Print.

[9] Kernan, Michael. “Rhythm and Rage.” Washington Post 8 Apr. 1981: Stlye/B3. Print.

[10] May, Clifford D. “Nonfiction in Brief.” New York Times 16 May 1982: 7/14. Print.

[11] Zeldman, Jeff. “Ferron.” Washington Post 12 Apr. 1984: Style/Performing Arts/E 13. Print.

[12] Goodman, Ellen. “Battering the Truth.” Washington Post 13 July 1985: 1/Op-Ed/A19. Print.

Sodomy, Sodomists, and Sodomizing (pt. 3)

Moving on from 1981 to 1982 while looking at ‘sodomy’, interesting changes within the data can be observed. While in 1981, there were 150 hits for the AntConc query ‘sodomy/sodomies’, in 1982, there are 62. After the 1981 reform failure in Washington D.C., the instances where ‘sodomy’ was used as meaning ‘anal (consensual) intercourse’ almost disappear but for these two examples:

  • Under the Robb proposal, people convicted of consentual sodomy would be classified as violent offenders while some types of burglary would be considered nonviolent.[1]
  • Even liberals were disturbed, noting that the Virginia Code classifies unlikely crimes, such as consentual sodomy, as “violent” offenses.[2]

Most other significant collocates reinforce the notion that sodomy means violent and/ or immoral sexual behaviour which is often not specified and, in a majority of cases, linked to other criminal behaviour.

Collocate Frequency LL rank by LL
forcible 4 14.00 2nd
kidnaping [sic] 2 12.00 4th
burglary 5 11.89 5th
robbery 11 11.76 6th
oral 3 11.73 7th
assault 10 11.23 11th
rape 16 11.22 12th


It seems that other topics have [verdrängt] ‘sodomy’ from the newspapers. There are a number of possible domestic and foreign political issues that were probably deemed more important and given vastly more space in the news discourse, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, the Reagonomics Economic Crisis, the Falkland War, the death of USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev, or the debate between proponents and opponents of nuclear disarmament.

In the 1983 data, there is one example that shows the legal definition of ‘sodomy’ for New York:

  • Although the Onofre decision is technically not before the Supreme Court, both sides in this case, N.Y. v. Uplinger (No. 82-1724), told the Justices it would be pointless to consider the loitering issue without deciding whether there is a constitutional right to engage in consensual sodomy, defined in the New York law as oral or anal sex between unmarried people.[3]

Despite that, the 1983 data on ‘sodomy’ again shows a diffuse use of the word. Again, we see examples that point to ‘sodomy’ meaning a range of unspecified illegal sexual behaviour which are often linked with violence. Some relevant collocates for this meaning of ‘sodomy’ are:

Collocate Frequency LL rank by LL
copulation 2 12.72 2nd
unlawful 3 12.13 4th
counts 17 11.87 7th
rape 31 11.74 8th
sexual 8 7.34 53rd


There are, however, some interesting case which again show the diffuse diversity of possible meanings of ‘sodomy’. One of these is ‘commit’.

  • Warren was convicted after a four-week trial in 1973 on charges of armed kidnaping, rape, armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and assault with intent to commit sodomy in a series of incidents in which women who had been waiting at bus stops or trying to hail a cab said they were lured into a green Chevrolet Vega and raped.[4]
  • A 38-year-old former Metro transit police detective was sentenced to three years’ probation yesterday for committing sodomy and taking indecent liberties with a 15-year-old Prince William County youth. [5]

In these examples, it is clear that ‘to commit’ is used in an active sense, denoting the acting party as performing, in these cases, crimes. However, in these examples, ‘to commit’ is used to describe the action of the victim.

  • Police and school system security officials said the employe [sic] was raped, beaten and forced to commit oral sodomy inside the boys’ locker room after classes had ended for the day.[6]
  • According to assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Rankin, the first rape occurred May 15 after Powell assaulted a woman in an alley at gunpoint and forced her to commit oral sodomy.[7]

Instead of using constructions such as ‘forced to oral sodomy’, the actions the victim was forced to do are denoted by the same word often associated with the perpetrator, namely ‘commit’.

In some instances, the meaning of ‘sodomy’ may also be ‘consensual anal intercourse’, including but not limited to homosexuals:

  • The loitering law was a companion to a New York law prohibiting the act of sodomy itself between consenting adults.[8]
  • They say they plan to work for the repeal of laws prohibiting sodomy and forbidding the sale of alcohol to homosexuals.[9]

In one case, however, consensual homosexual behaviour is described in a very negative way by associating this behaviour with ‘aggravated’:

  • “This was one of the most aggravated cases of consentual sodomy I’ve seen,” [Military Judge Capt.] Freed said.[10]

In this case of Comdr. Gerald Michael Vanderwier, a Navy officer who apparently had homosexual intercourse with a fellow Navy serviceman, ‘sodomy’ meaning consensual homosexual relations, is not only listed with a plethora of other illegal behaviours, but also the deed itself is depicted as highly deplorable. In some instances, the ‘sodomy’ is being supplemented by the military-legal term ‘fraternization with an enlisted man’:

  • Vanderwier, who was relieved as skipper of the USS Edward McDonnell in June, is charged with sodomy and conduct unbecoming an officer, specifically, fraternization with an enlisted man. [11]
  • Gerald M. Vanderwier, 42, who was relieved of command of the fast frigate McDonnell, faces charges of sodomy, fraternization with an enlisted man and conduct unbecoming an officer.[12]

In another case concerning a member of the military being charged with ‘sodomy’, these findings are replicated:

  • [2nd Joann] Newak had been found guilty by an Air Force judge of marijuana, sodomy, amphetamine and conduct-unbecoming-an-officer charges.[13]

This example adds another layer of complexity to the spectrum of meanings associated with ‘sodomy’, as it apparently can also mean (consensual) lesbian sexual relations.

The 1984 data again shows an emphasis on ‘sodomy’ being part of lists of immoral or illegal sexual, mostly violent, behaviour. Relevant collocates are:

Collocate Frequency LL rank by LL
druggings 2 13.91 1st
unlawful 2 12.91 2nd
aggravated 3 12.69 4th
copulation 2 12.59 5th
fondling 2 12.10 8th
abduction 10 12.10 9th
indecent 3 12.04 10th
rape 51 11.72 11th


An exceptional instance of one of these words being used in connection with actual homosexuality can be found here:

  • Arlington police have arrested 13 men on charges including sodomy, indecent exposure and assault and battery in a crackdown on homosexual activity in two Arlington parks prompted by complaints from residents and park users.[14]

Contrary to this, see these other uses of ‘indecent’:

  • One of the most serious incidents at the hospital involved medical orderly Richard L. Bouchard, 29, who was convicted April 7 in a general court-martial of three counts of sodomy, three counts of indecent assault and four counts of making false statements after he sexually assaulted a blind female patient in January.[15]
  • The indictment, handed down by a D.C. Superior Court grand jury, charges Barber with kidnaping, rape, carnal knowledge, sodomy and taking indecent liberties with a minor child.[16]

However, in legal contexts, ‘sodomy’ keeps on being used in situations where it means ‘consenting anal intercourse’, regardless of whether it is performed by hetero- or homosexual persons:

  • Sex between unmarried couples and some specific acts, such as sodomy between married couples, are illegal in Virginia.[17]
  • In an appellate ruling upholding Virginia’s prohibition of sodomy between consenting adults (later reinforced by the Supreme Court), Judge Bryan quoted from the Bible in his written opinion and drew a sharp dissent from another member of the panel, U.S. District Judge Robert Merhige of Richmond.[18]


Obviously, the meaning of ‘sodomy’ in legal contexts depends on the state’s definition of ‘sodomy’. The Virginian definition obviously differs from the New-Yorkian definition, probably aggravating the diffuseness of the term.

The 1985 data on ‘sodomy’ shows a similar picture, with some interesting deviations. Many strong collocates are, again, [Platzhalter] for deviant or illegal sexual behaviour associated with other crimes of sexual nature:

Collocate Frequency LL rank by LL
molestations 2 13.39 1st
abduction 11 13.04 3rd
forcible 5 12.90 4th
bribery 4 12.22 5th
lewd 2 11.80 8th
kidnapping 6 11.73 10th
rape 31 11.07 20th
assault 12 10.37 30th


The term ‘copulation’ also co-occurs with ‘sodomy’ as well, but shows two different meanings in two different context. The first 2 examples show the word being used in the collocation ‘forcible oral copulation’, undoubtedly taken from a police report.

  • Besides 14 counts of murder and five of attempted murder, the prosecutors filed 19 counts of burglary, six of robbery, seven of rape, five of forcible oral copulation, seven of sodomy, three of committing lewd acts on children and two of kidnapping.[19]
  • Besides 14 murder and five attempted murder counts, prosecutors filed 19 counts of burglary, six of robbery, seven of rape, five of forcible oral copulation, seven of sodomy, three of committing lewd acts on children and two of kidnaping.[20]

The 3rd example for this case show the collocation ‘unnatural carnal copulation’ as a synonym for ‘sodomy’ as meaning ‘consensual homosexual (anal) intercourse’.

  • A couple days later, he says, an official from the Naval Investigative Service came by to tell him he would be charged with homosexuality, which is grounds for discharge from the military, and with sodomy, or “unnatural carnal copulation,” which in the military is a criminal offense that can be punished by a dishonorable discharge, loss of all benefits and jail.[21]

For ‘consensual’, the data is also inconclusive for this year:

  • “Consensual sodomy statutes are the keystone of the oppression of gay people,” Mr. Stoddard [of the New York Civil Liberties Union] said.[22]
  • Judge Arnold Kassabian bound over Buss for trial on two counts of indecent liberties and two counts of consensual sodomy with a minor, according to Buss’ lawyer, Peter Greenspun.[23]

It is clear that for the last example, the headline and the text body are contradictory: while the headline declares a case of sexual abuse of a child, the text talks about consensual (anal?) intercourse with a minor. So, again, the term ‘sodomy’ is used in wildly differing meanings.

[1] Bohlen, Celestine, and Patricia E. Bauer. Washington Post 20 Feb. 1982: Metro/B1. Print.

[2] Bohlen, Celestine. Washington Post 25 Feb. 1982. Print.

[3] “Justices to Rule on Transit Wages and Hours.” New York Times 4 Oct. 1983: A/24. Print.

[4] Bruske, Ed. “Vega Suspect Changes Story at Trial.” Washington Post 5 Mar. 1983: Metro/B2. Print.

[5] “Ex-Detective Gets Probation.” Washington Post 13 Dec. 1983: Metro/Around the Region/C3. Print.

[6] White, Ronald D. “Rape of Employe [sic] Angers Terrell School in NW.” Washington Post 3 Nov. 1983: Metro/C7. Print.

[7] Bruske, Ed. Washington Post 9 Dec. 1983: Metro/B5. Print.

[8] “Justices to Rule on Transit Wages and Hours.” New York Times 4 Oct. 1983: A/24. Print.

[9] Washington Post 24 Jan. 1983. Print.

[10] Washington Post 2 Dec. 1983. Print.

[11] Bohlen, Celestine. “Court-Martial of Navy Ship Captain Recommended.” Washington Post 27 Aug. 1983: 1/A15. Print.

[12] “Navy Slates Court-Martial.” Washington Post 29 Oct. 1983: Metro/Around the Region/B3. Print.

[13] McCarthy, Colman. “Justice for a Lieutenant.” Washington Post 9 Jan. 1983: Style/Colman McCarthy/M4. Print.

[14] Hochman, Anndee. “13 are Accused of Homosexual Acts in Parks.” Washington Post 29 Aug. 1984: Metro/C6. Print.

[15] Squires, Sally. Washington Post 22 Sep. 1984: Metro/B1. Print.

[16] “Man Indicted in Rape Near School.” Washington Post 1 Nov. 1984: Metro/B2. Print.

[17] Sherwood, Tom. “Moral Issues Put Budget on Assembly’s Back Burner.” Washington Post 16 Feb. 1984. Print.

[18] Smith, Philip. “Albert V. Bryan Sr. Dies: U.S. Appeals, District Judge.” Washington Post 15 Mar. 1984: Metro/Obituaries/C7. Print.

[19] “68 Crimes, Including 14 Murders are Charged to Man in California.” New York Times 28 Sep. 1985: 1/8. Print.

[20] “Ramirez Charged With 14 ‘Night Stalker’ Murders.” Washington Post 28 Sep. 1985: 1/Around the Nation/A10. Print.

[21] Boffey, Philip M. New York Times 10 Aug. 1985: 1/7. Print.

[22] Taylor, Sturar, Jr. “Case on Rights for Homosexuals Will Be Heard by Supreme Court.” New York Times 5 Nov. 1985: A/25. Print. This will become the Bowers v. Hardwick decision of 1986,upholding ‘sodomy laws‘ forbidding consensual anal intercourse and/ or consensual homosexual intercourse.

[23] “Child Sex Abuse Charged.” Washington Post 29 Oct. 1985: Metro/Around the Region/B7. Print.

Sodomy, Sodomists, and Sodomizing (pt. 2)

For the 1981 data, the use and thus the meaning of the term ‘sodomy’ is highly diffuse. It can indicate anal intercourse, both hetero- and homosexual, both forced and consensual. However, in a significant number of instances, the word is used to indicate violent, illegal or immoral sexual behaviour without going into detail. It can be said with some justification that ‘sodomy’ can refer to any sort of sexual behaviour that might be deemed illegal or immoral. Furthermore, the term is used both as a legal and a colloquial term, with conflicting and overlapping meanings.  The following table shows the significant collocates of ‘sodomy’ which will be used in my argument.

Collocate Frequency LL rank by LL
brutalities 2 13.05 1st
bestiality 2 13.05 2nd
fornication 8 12.05 3rd
decriminalize 2 12.05 4th
decriminalized 3 11.82 6th
adultery 9 11.41 10th
burglary 6 11.38 11th
robbery 17 11.27 12th
mayhem 2 11.24 13th
kidnapping 3 10.93 18th
charged 31 10.52 20th
statutes 2 10.46 21st
rape 22 10.43 22nd
counts 8 10.43 22nd
heterosexual 4 9.21 39th
laws 5 8.28 56th
committed 3 8.15 60th
homosexual 10 6.96 76th


While I found that ‘rape’ indicated forced vaginal intercourse and the verb-forms of ‘to sodomize’ often meant forced anal intercourse, the same cannot be said for the noun ‘sodomy’. In fact, some of the uses seem to be diametrically opposed to this finding. See for example the instances for the most significant collocate of ‘sodomy’, namely ‘brutalities’:

  • He [Judge Garteinstein] said that Mr. Ross “would be immediately subject to homosexual rape and sodomy and to brutalities from fellow prisoners such as make the imagination recoil in horror.” [1]
  • He [Judge Garteinstein] said in a four-page opinion that Mr. Ross “would be immediately subject to homosexual rape and sodomy and to brutalities from fellow prisoners such as make the imagination recoil in horror.”[2]

It has to be conceded that this instance repeats a quote by the same person, making an idiolectal issue possible. However, there are more instances where ‘sodomy’ is used for different kinds of sexual behaviour:

  • Arrested later in an undercover operation, Lyon is charged with agreeing to commit oral sodomy on an undercover male police officer for money and offering the officer the sexual services of a 27-year-old woman who police charged with prostitution.[3]
  • Detectives, posing as customers seeking to make a pornographic movie, paid the McIntyres $300 to film them having intercourse. The couple was charged with sodomy and prostitution.[4]
  • Homosexual rape and object rape (in which inanimate objects are used in a rape), which used to be classified as forceable sodomy with a maximum 10-year prison sentence, will both carry the same penalty as rape — a maximum of life in prison.[5]
  • Under the present law, a man and wife who participate, both willingly, in unorthodox sexual behavior are guilty of sodomy and can go to prison for 10 years.[6]

‘Sodomy’, in these instances, appears to denote oral sex between men, filmed sexual intercourse, rape using objects, and non-procreational heterosexual intercourse. The term seems to serve as a placeholder for a variety of sexual behaviours that can be either violent or consensual, but are deemed immoral or are illegal.

Further evidence of the spectrum of meaning for ‘sodomy’ are the instances where it co-occurs with ‘rape’, and, to a lesser extent, words like ‘burglary’, ‘robbery’, ‘mayhem’, and ‘kidnapping’.

  • The accused – Max Lindeman, 23 years old, and Harold Wells, 22 – were accused in a 17-count indictment with rape, sodomy, aggravated sexual abuse, assault, robbery and burglary in the Oct. 10 attack at an East Harlem convent.[7]
  • Three other young men have been charged with committing other slayings with Mr. Bonin, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, robbery, sodomy and mayhem.[8]
  • George J. Dailey, a 36-year-old city maintenance worker, was booked for investigation of kidnapping, sodomy and child molestation, the authorities said.[9]

Apart from this, there are instances where ‘sodomy’ is used in a context of legal language and appears to be strictly defined as ‘anal intercourse’, being one of several illegal sexual behaviours such as ‘bestiality’, ‘fornication’ and ‘adultery’. The historical framework for these occurrences is the attempt to reform the D.C. legal code to exclude said behaviour from the list of illegal behaviours. The reform was passed initially, but then subsequently overturned by Congress. This also explains the co-occurrences of ‘sodomy’ with ‘decriminalizes’ and ‘decriminalized’.

  • [Moral Majority’s Vice President Ronald Godwin said:] “Make no mistake, a vote against the resolutions is a vote for sodomy, bestiality, fornication, adultery and seduction of a student by a teacher.”[10]
  • As it stands now, the bill decriminalizes only homosexual acts and sodomy between consenting adults.[11]
  • The measure also contained sections that decriminalized homosexual acts, sodomy, fornication and adultery between consenting adults.[12]

In terms of legal context, laws forbidding homosexual behaviour or anal intercourse were often referred to as ‘sodomy laws’:

  • Nemetz, a West German who works in Springfield, had applied to become a naturalized citizen in 1976, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service rejected his petition, arguing that it believed that as a homosexual Nemetz had violated Virginia’s sodomy laws.[13]
  • Sodomy laws in Virginia, they said, have caused many apartment owners to deny one-bedroom apartments to members of the same sex.[14]

Also, the often implicit, but sometimes even explicit mentioning that ‘sodomy’ can also be performed by ‘heterosexual’ people as well as ‘homosexual’ people reinforces the notion that ‘sodomy’ here strictly means ‘anal intercourse’.

  • It is illegal in the District for anyone, heterosexual or homosexual, to commit sodomy.[15]
  • Sodomy by either homosexual or heterosexual adults is illegal in the District.[16]

However, there are also instances where ‘sodomy’ co-occurs with other legal language terms, but here again its meaning can be best summarised as a placeholder for unspecified deviant, immoral, illegal or violent sexual behaviour (committing / charged / statutes / counts)

  • Reid W. Diggs Jr., a former Northern Virginia minister who battled sex scandal charges guilty to committing sodomy with a 14-year-old female parishioner.[17]
  • Stewart pleaded guilty last month to committing sodomy on a minor, enticing a minor, and taking indecent liberties with a minor.[18]
  • Albert J. Sell Jr., a nine-year veteran assigned to the 2nd District, was formally charged with corrupt influence, sodomy and obstructing justice involving an incident that allegedly occured [sic] last Sept. 30.[19]
  • Harold Wells, 22, and Max Lindeman, 23, each are charged with eight counts of sodomy and two counts of rape, robbery, burglary and assault, and one count of aggravated sexual abuse.[20]
  • The defendant, 28-year-old Richard Gantz, was convicted May 8 of 11 counts – including sodomy, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment -connected with his Aug. 11, 1979, escape from a state prison in Fishkill.[21]

The word ‘sodomy’ is also explicitly associated with homosexual men. However, as I have shown, this particular meaning is only one in a string of possible uses of the word.

  • For instance, the new law would delete all reference to sodomy as a criminal offense, a change that Washington’s homosexual community has sought for more than a decade.[22]
  • Under the present law, adult homosexuals who engage in sexual activity, no matter how privately, are guilty of sodomy and subject to 10 years’ imprisonment.[23]

So, in summary, the 1981 data on the term ‘sodomy’ allows the deduction of the following meanings (in no specific order): anal intercourse, other forms of non-procreational sexual activity, unspecified acts of sexual violence, homosexual behaviour. It is fair to say that the uses of ‘sodomy’ show a diffuse and un-defined spectrum of meanings, despite the existence of a legal term such as ‘sodomy laws’.

[1] New York Times 9 Apr. 1981: B/5. Print.

[2] Shipp, E. R. “Refusting to Jail a White is Called Racist by Koch.” New York Times 10 Apr. 1981: B/3. Print.

[3] Boodman, Sandra G. Washington Post 15 Nov. 1981: 1/A1. Print.

[4] Boodman, Sandra G. “Director of Gifted Children Program Cleared in Prostitution Case.” Washington Post 11 Dec. 1981: 1/A49. Print.

[5] Sager, Mike, and Margaret Shapiro. Washington Post 1 July 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[6] Raspberry, William. “Sex Bill Fiasco.” Washington Post 8 Oct. 1981: 1/Op-Ed/A31. Print.

[7] New York Times 26 Nov. 1981: B/3. Print.

[8] New York Times 12 Jan. 1981: A/14. Print.

[9] “Girl, 12, Missing Five Months, Tells of Capitvity in Coast Pit.” New York Times 6 Aug. 1981: A/18. Print.

[10] Isikoff, Michael. Washington Post 1 Oct. 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[11] “Jerry Falwell Comes to Town.” Washington Post 13 Sep. 1981: Outlook/Editorial/C6. Print.

[12] Isikoff, Michael, and Eric Pianin. Washington Post 2 Oct. 1981: 1/A1. Print.

[13] White, Ronald D. “Court Overrules Barring of Citizenship to Homosexual.” Washington Post 28 Apr. 1981: Metro/C1. Print.

[14] Russell, Brenda A. Washington Post 22 June 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[15] Sherwood, Tom. Washington Post 6 Feb. 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[16] Sherwood, Tom, and Joann Stevens. Washington Post 5 Feb. 1981: 1/A1. Print.

[17] “Former Minister Pleads Guilty in Morals Case.” Washington Post 18 Mar. 1981: Metro/C3. Print.

[18] “D.C. Man is Sentenced to Up to 10 Years for Soliciting Young Girls.” Washington Post 17 Jan. 1981: Metro/C3. Print.

[19] “D.C. Officer Charged with Corrupt Influence.” Washington Post 4 June 1981: 1/A8. Print.

[20] Washington Post 28 Nov. 1981: 1/Around the Nation/Addenda/A4. Print.

[21] “Rapist-Robber Given 25 Years in Jailbreak.” New York Times 6 Jan. 1981: B/4. Print.

[22] Richburg, Keith B. Washington Post 15 July 1981: Metro/B1. Print.

[23] Raspberry, William. “Sex Bill Fiasco.” Washington Post 8 Oct. 1981: 1/Op-Ed/A31. Print.

Findings for ‘queer’ in my General Corpus

The term ‘queer’ is used in a variety of ways, and only in a minority of cases can be linked to the topic of homosexuality. Often, the word is simply used as an alternative or synonym for ‘weird’, strange, or similar words denoting non-normality. See for example:

  • Now, as we packed up the house and rolled up the carpets, I felt as if we were sweeping up our personal history. The tables and chairs would never quite be the same, the angles all wrong, the sounds queer and unfamiliar.[1]
  • “If the tax law is changed,” Guttman said, “real estate is going to be traded again on an economic basis, not on a tax-shelter basis, and you won’t see as many weird and queer financing deals that distort the price of real estate.[2]

In the instances where ‘queer’ can be linked to homosexuality, it is almost exclusively meant as slur. See for example:

  • Persons fearful of their own sexual identity react with great negativity because of their own discomfort. Remarks and jokes about “fags,” “queers” and “dykes” abound in offices and locker rooms.[3]
  • According to one listener, D. described the gay community as “faggots and queers,” and linked them to the bombing of the Capitol on Monday night.[4]

Most striking is probably the case of Louie Welch, the Republican candidate for the mayor’s office of Houston, TX. He said that one possible way of dealing with the spreading HIV/ AIDS epidemic was to ‘shoot the queers’, explaining the high rate of co-occurrences of these two terms.[5]

There is, like with faggot, only one example which might hint at a reclaiming strategy of the word ‘queer’, as seen in this quote:

  • While some expressed their gay pride with buttons and T-shirts that ranged from “Faggot” and “Queer” to the more low-key, “I’m One Too,” Ed Murphy, 58, of New York City wore a sash that declared him to be “An Original Stonewaller.”[6]

In all, ‘queer’ has to be counted as a slur, similar to ‘fag’ or ‘faggot’. The reclaiming, which would eventually be successful (as seen in the contemporary abbreviations such as LGBTQI[7]), has at this point apparently not permeated into the discourse sphere discussed here.

[1] Wallace, Barry. New York Times 10 Mar. 1985: 11CN/26. Print.

[2] Hinden, Stan. “The Time is REIT for Federal Realty Investment Trust.” Washington Post 21 Jan. 1985: Washington Business/Washington Investing/33. Print.

[3] Bauman, Robert E. “AIDS: The Fear is of Homosexuals.” Washington Post 14 Sep. 1985: 1/Free For All/A17. Print.

[4] Trescott, Jacqueline. Washington Post 10 Nov. 1983: Style C1. Print.

[5] See for example: Shipp, E. R. “Concern over Spread of AIDS Generates a Spate of New Laws Nationwide.” Washington Post 26 Oct. 1985: 1/30. Print, or: Reinhold, Robert. “AIDS Remark is at Issue in Houston Vote Today.” New York Times 5 Nov. 1985: B/6. Print.

[6] Perl, Peter. “15,000 Parade, Picnic and Politick on Gay Pride Day.” Washington Post 21 June 1982: Metro B1. Print.

[7] Green, Eli R., and Eric N. Peterson. LGBTQI Terminology. LGBT Resource Center UC Riverside, 2004. Web. 10 Feb. 2016. <http://​www.lgbt.ucla.edu​/​documents/​LGBTTerminology.pdf>.

Sodomy, Sodomists, and Sodomizing (pt. 1)

For the word-field of ‘sodomy’, a distinction was made between the persons (‘sodomite’, ‘sodomites’, ‘sodomist’, ‘sodomists’ and ‘sodomizers’), verbs (‘sodomize’, ‘sodomizes’, ‘sodomizing’, ‘sodomized’) and nouns (‘sodomy’ and ‘sodomies’).

The terms denoting persons has one significant collocate, namely ‘rapists’. In both instances where ‘sodomites’ co-occurs with ‘rapists’, it denotes both groups of people as sexual offenders (which is technically true according to then-existing laws).

  • This maximum-security facility, to house 160 juvenile murderers, sodomists, rapists and armed robbers, will impact even more of our residential areas, schools and recreational facilities.[1]
  • “One of the teachers, right in front of the children, told us, ‘You are sitting with sodomists and rapists,’ ” another visitor to the Pyramid facility reported angrily.[2]

The verb-forms of ‘to sodomize’ indicate that the terms are often used to describe non-consensual, forced (possibly anal) intercourse, regardless of the age or sex of the victim.

  • (30) Golliver is charged with stabbing to death and sodomizing Christopher Gruhn, 14, on March 20 while the boy was on his Sunday paper route.[1]
  • Unhappily, they [two male teenagers] met Melissa Walbridge and Meghan O’Rourke, two sixth-graders taking a shortcut home from school; they overpowered the two 12-year-olds and dragged them into the brush, where they raped, sodomized and tortured them with the knife, shot them several times and left them, bound and gagged, for dead.[2]
  • (32) In one case, in September 1981, four guardsmen at the Cerron Grande outpost near the town of San Martin got drunk at a beer stand, sodomized two young men, raped two young women, another woman and her daughter, then killed three of the young people and wounded the woman, according to the document.[3]
  • A jury of seven Marine officers tonight found a 27-year-old military policeman guilty of kidnaping, raping, sodomizing and attempting to murder a woman on the Marine Corps base here last spring.[4]

As examples 30 and 32 show, for female victims, the verb form of ‘to rape’ is used distinctly from the forms of ‘to sodomize’, indicating that ‘sodomizing’ indeed refers to forced anal intercourse as opposed to forced vaginal intercourse referred to by ‘raping’. In three texts, the collocations of ‘oral’ and a verb indicating the performing of sodomy refer to forced oral intercourse, adding another meaning to the list of uses of verb-forms of ‘to sodomize’. See for example:

  • C. police spokesman William White III confirmed yesterday that the D.C. police department sex squad is investigating the girl’s charges that she was orally sodomized by a 27-year-old corrections officer about 5 p.m. Sunday.[5]
  • The arrest came after a 17-year-old girl, who was incarcerated at the jail on charges of soliciting prostitution after telling authorities she was an adult, told police that she was orally sodomized by a corrections officer against her will.[6]
  • According to court papers, the woman complained that she was orally sodomized Sunday against her will by a guard while in the jail.[7]

It has to be noted that these three examples stem from the same case, were published within a three-day period and two of the three articles were written by the same person. It is possible that there is either some sort of idiolect influencing the data or that the author copied or paraphrased the collocation of ‘oral’ + ‘to sodomise’ from a police report or similar source.

[1] New York Times 20 May 1983: B/2. Print.

[2] Washington Post 10 June 1985: Style/B2. Print.

[3] Dickey, Christopher. New York Times 15 Feb. 1982: 1/A1. Print.

[4] Moore, Molly. Washington Post 12 Oct. 1983: Metro/C1. Print.

[5] Anderson, John W. Washington Post 16 May 1985: Metro/C1. Print.

[6] Anderson, John W. “D.C. Jail Guard Arrested on Charge Of Sexually Assaulting Girl in Cell.” Washington Post 17 May 1985: Metro/C5. Print.

[7] “D.C. Jail Guard Released.” Washington Post 18 May 1985: Metro/B2. Print.

[1] Horgan, Barbara. “Dutchess County Needs no Fourth Prison.” New York Times 8 Jan. 1981: A/22. Print.

[2] Alexander, Ron. New York Times 20 Mar. 1983: 1/2/61. Print.


Wie bereits erwähnt, befinden sich in meinem Korpus 7221 Artikel. Diese bilden zusammen eine Datenbank von 7.141.425 Wörtern (also gut 7 Mio. Wörtern/ word tokens), aufgesplittet in 104607 Wortformen/ word types.

Das häufigste Wort ist (wenig überraschend) der bestimmte Artikel the (er taucht 422.328 Mal auf), bei den einmalig auftauchenden Worten reicht die Spannweite von A wie “abating” zu Z wie “zygote” – bzw., wenn man es skurill haben will, von A wie ‘Aaaaaah’ bis zu Z wie ‘Zzzzzzzz’.

Die Suchabfragen der einzelnen Suchbegriffe geben mir eine Übersicht, was ich so an Arbeit pro Wort(gruppe) zu leisten habe. Hier steht, wie viele Hits eine bestimmte Query in AntConc liefert. Fett gedruckte Worte (inklusive ihrer Unterbegriffe) habe ich bereits analysiert:

  1. ‘homosex*’ = 9520
    1. homosexual = 5034
    2. homosexuals = 2811
    3. homosexuality = 1630
    4. homosexually = 23
    5. homosex = 3
    6. homosexualists = 3
    7. homosexualrights = 3 (Tippfehler)
    8. homosexualism = 2
    9. homosexualities = 2
    10. homosexality = 1 (Tippfehler)
    11. homosexualbrawl = 1 (Tippfehler)
    12. homosexualist = 1
    13. homosexualitythe = 1 (Tippfehler)
    14. homosexualsadomasochism = 1 (Tippfehler)
    15. homosexualtiy = 1 (Tippfehler)
    16. homosexualty = 1 (Tippfehler)
    17. homosexuuality = 1 (Tippfehler)
  2. ‘gay*’ = 6606
    1. gay = 5786
    2. gays = 680
    3. gaye = 54 (irrelevant)
    4. gaylin = 15 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    5. gaylord = 12 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    6. gayness = 10
    7. gaynes = 9 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    8. gayle = 8 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    9. gayer = 6
    10. gayl = 5 (Tippfehler bzw. Eigenname, irrelevant)
    11. gaynor = 4 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    12. gaymont = 3 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    13. gayed = 2
    14. gayest = 2
    15. gayheart = 2 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    16. gaydos = 1 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    17. gaydreams = 1
    18. gayev = 1 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    19. gaynesratkowski = 1 (Tippfehler/ Eigenname, irrelevant)
    20. gaynors = 1 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
    21. gaytime = 1
    22. gaytown = 1
    23. gaywick = 1 (Eigenname, irrelevant)
  3. ‘lesbia*’ = 1172
    1. lesbian = 834
    2. lesbians = 233
    3. lesbianism = 100
    4. lesbiansim = 1 (Tippfehler im Korpus)
  4. sodomy = 569
  5. ‘queer*’ = 238
    1. queer = 183
    2. queer = 33
    3. queerly = 9
    4. queerest = 3
    5. queerness = 3
    6. queered = 2
    7. queerer = 2
    8. queering = 2
    9. queernesses = 1
  6. ‘sodomi* = 134
    1. sodomized = 72
    2. sodomizing = 31
    3. sodomize = 8
    4. sodomites = 6
    5. sodomite = 5
    6. sodomists = 4
    7. sodomizes = 3
    8. sodomies = 2
    9. sodomist = 2
    10. sodomizers = 1
  7. ‘bugger+++’ = 54 
    1. bugger = 25
    2. buggers = 18
    3. buggery = 9
    4. buggerall = 1
    5. buggered = 1
  8. ‘fag+’ = 47
    1. fag = 35
    2. fags = 12
  9. ‘faggot+’ = 46
    1. faggot = 31
    2. faggots = 15
  10. ‘homoerot*’ = 45
    1. homoerotic = 39
    2. homoeroticism = 6
  11. ‘sapphic+’ = 6
    1. sapphic = 5
    2. sapphics = 1

Ein paar Begriffe sind mir anscheinend noch durch die Lappen gegangen:

  1. sapphism (1x im Korpus)
  2. faggy (1x)
  3. lesbic (1x)

Diese sollte ich nochmal in der Datenbank überprüfen, aber eigentlich sollten die nicht so oft in den Texten vorkommen. Dafür ist der Beifang zu klein.

Ich überlege mal, wie ich mit dem Wortfeld sodomy umgehe; mal sehen, was es bringt, das nach Personen, anderen Nomen und Verben zu trennen.


Findings for “sapphic*” in my General Corpus

The term ‘sapphic’, as a way of describing lesbianism, is a rare word in the corpus, and its use is nearly restricted to discussing the fine arts. Interestingly, three of the five articles that use this term are authored by the same person, Anna Kisselgoff, possibly indicating either some sort of idiolect or a topical focus within her writing. See these examples:

  • Maria Calegari, tenderly attended by Jerri Kumery and Helene Alexopoulos, introduces a note of Sapphic lyricism.[1]
  • The ensuing pas de trois, in which Jerri Kumery and Helene Alexopoulos partner and frame Maria Calegari brings to the surface the note of Sapphic love and lyric tenderness that gives “Antique Epigraphs” its special quality.[2]
  • Debussy’s inspiration – sensualism and Sapphic themes in his “Six Epigraphes Antiques,” the myth of the Greek nymph turned into a reed in his flute solo, “Syrinx”- find their counterpart in Mr. Robbins’s ballet.[3]

Kisselgoff is named as the author of 19 New York Times articles, all reviews of ballet or dance shows. None of these articles, however, makes an explicit link to the socio-political situation at hand during the early HIV/ AIDS crisis. All of Kisselgoff’s articles – and all that others that use the word ‘sapphic’, for that matter – remain within the discursive arena of the fine arts and do not use this term to discuss homosexuality in the public sphere.

[1] Kisselgoff, Anna. “Ballet: A Robbins World Premiere.” New York Times 4 Feb. 1984: 1/11. Print.

[2] Kisselgoff, Anna. New York Times 12 Feb. 1984: 2/8. Print.

[3] Kisselgoff, Anna. “Dance: City Ballet Resumes Season.” New York Times 10 Jan. 1985: C/17. Print.

Findings for “homoerot*” in my General Corpus

The terms covered by the AntConc query ‘homoerot*’ showed that the use of the words homoeroticsm or homoeroitic was mostly limited on the discussion of theatre plays, musical shows, literature and poetry, and similar or related topics. See for example:

  • If Mr. Winston never answers that “delicate, perhaps crucial, biographical question” that his widow sidesteps in her Afterword, he examines Mann’s homoeroticism more candidly than any observer has before. “Never in his whole life was he to admit openly to that defect,” Mr. Winston records, “except in the deep privacy of his diaries.[1]
  • His [Paul Cadmus’] work, frankly erotic, often homoerotic, has ever since been identified with controversy — a later picture, titled “Sailors and Floozies,” again stirred up a ruckus, this time at an exhibition in San Francisco.[2]

This section, if it does not contain much information regarding the discourse on homosexuality during the early HIV/ AIDS crisis, sheds some light on the usability of a hybrid methodological approach. Especially the first example (the text glossing over Thomas Mann’s homosexuality by calling it a defect) could only be found by a qualitative, closer reading of the text, since the position of ‘defect’ is too far away from the position of ‘homoeroticism’ and thus the quantitative approaches could not catch it. However, only a text-mining approach in combination with an electronic search for the relevant terms could make this discovery viably possible.

[1] “Books of the Times.” New York Times 8 Dec. 1981: C/13. Print.

[2] Brown, Joe. “Capturing Cadmus.” Washington Post 14 Nov. 1984: Style/D9. Print.

Findings for “bugger+++” in my General Corpus

The AntConc query for ”bugger +++“, designed to catch word forms like ‘bugger(s)’, ‘buggered’, ‘buggering’ or ‘buggery’, returned next to none significant findings with regard to the topic of homosexuality. The only exception is an article that actually reflects on the meaning of the word ‘bugger’:

  • Miss Goodman’s paragraph illustrates two points: First, the word bugger has lost its original pejorative meanings, which included an ethnic slur on “Bulgarian,” and later came to mean “sodomite” and, finally, in its most loathsome incarnation, “one who implants secret listening devices.” Today, bugger – meaning “gizmo, whatchamacallit, unidentified sitting object” as well as an intensified “thing” – has become an acceptable noun in family newspapers.[1]

This comment that the term ‘bugger’ lost its relationship to homosexuality is evident in the language data of the corpus, as this example shows:

  • But a citrus industry representative said, “Of this stuff that’s being thrown away, if you gave somebody a bag of them, 50 percent of those oranges would be thrown away because people wouldn’t take the trouble of peeling the little buggers.[2]

The only cases were a word form of ‘bugger’ is still associated with homosexuality is the use of the word ‘buggery’. In these cases, however, ‘buggery’ is marked or used as an obscure, even archaic, term that would not be used in then-contemporary discourse, but rather when talking about the arts or historic events. See these examples:

  • The wildest character is Ben, a Butley-clone that John Christopher Jones plays with such macabre mania that we can almost overlook the fact that he seems too boyish for the part. As this newscaster gets sloshed, he stumbles about like an uninvited guest, letting loose with typically malicious (and hilarious) Gray jests about the rituals of public school “buggery” and other people’s suicides.[3]
  • The professor traced the earliest [execution of non-adults] to Massachusetts in 1642 when a 16-year-old boy was put to death for the crime of buggery.[4]

So, it can be concluded that forms of the word ‘bugger’, which used to have connotations of homosexuality, had fallen out of common use in this type of discourse by the early HIV/ AIDS crisis.

[1] Safire, William. “On Language.” New York Times 12 Feb. 1984: 6/9. Print.

[2] “California Oranges Dumped.” Washington Post 14 Feb. 1981: 1/A2. Print.

[3] Rich, Frank. “Theater: ‘Close of Play,’ by Simon Gray, Opens.” New York Times 25 Feb. 1981: C/24. Print.

[4] Reinhold, Robert. “Execution for Juveniles: New Focus on Old Issue.” New York Times 10 Sep. 1985: A/14. Print.

Findings for “faggot+” in the General Corpus

Using “faggot+” as query term in AntConc, the relevant examples clearly show that the terms are used as derogatory slurs. In terms of absolute numbers, this use of the word is the overwhelming majority. In these instances, the term is applied to both actual homosexuals and people perceived as such.

  • He answered a flurry of telephone calls, some from opponents. “Nothing really threatening, just nastiness,” Mr. Longstaff said. “They say, ‘Faggot, go home.’ [1]
  • Those, he said, were the kids who beat him up, broke his ribs and jaw and called him a faggot when he took ballet lessons at age 13.[2]
  • […]a guy, very calmly, threw a piece of granite through the wall. Three months later, the same guy came back, walked into the store muttering, ‘I’m gonna kill all you faggots.’[3]

Interestingly, in two very relevant cases, collocates of ‘faggot’ show instances where that homosexuals also used this term to describe either themselves or other homosexuals. The values of these collocations are given below.

Collocate Freq Freq L Freq R Stat
queer 2 1 1 12.33
homosexuals 2 1 1 8.41


In the process of language-reclaiming, members of a subculture or a minority will appropriate and use terms that are also, and usually more commonly, used as derogatory insults or slurs. For the collocations of ‘faggot’ and ‘queer’, we see this:

  • According to one listener, D. described the gay community as “faggots and queers,” and linked them to the bombing of the Capitol on Monday night.[4]

But also, this:

  • While some expressed their gay pride with buttons and T-shirts that ranged from “Faggot” and “Queer” to the more low-key, “I’m One Too,” Ed Murphy, 58, of New York City wore a sash that declared him to be “An Original Stonewaller.”[5]

For the collocations of ‘faggot and ‘homosexuals’, we see:

  • Again, Williams denied being a homosexual, or hating them, a partial motive police have suggested for the murders, even though he testified today that he referred to homosexuals as “Hostess cupcakes, gays, faggots and Twinkies.”[6]

But also this:

  • “Well,”said David Goff, a [Gay Men’s] chorus member, “there are faggots who give homosexuals a bad name, and there are preachers who give religion a bad name.[7]

While the examples (4) and (6) clearly reinforce the notion that ‘faggot’ is a slur for homosexual people, (5) and, to a lesser extent, (7), point towards a possible reclaiming strategy. However, the fact that most examples of the use of ‘faggot(s)’ are harsh and homophobe utterances indicate that either the reclaiming of faggot was either a rather new or an unsuccessful instance of this type of discursive strategy. ‘Faggot’, in these instances, remains a strongly negative term applied to actual or supposed homosexuals, even more so than ‘fag’.

[1] Homosexual, a. U.S. Resident 19 Years, Faces Deportation.” New York Times 3 June 1984: 1-1-40. Print.

[2] Hill, Michael E. Washington Post 3 Nov. 1985: TV Tab 10. Print.

[3] Wadler, Joyce. “No, Dorothy, You and Toto Certainly Aren’t in Kansas Anymore.” Washington Post 1 Aug. 1982: 1 A2. Print.

[4] Trescott, Jacqueline. Washington Post 10 Nov. 1983: Style C1. Print.

[5] Perl, Peter. “15,000 Parade, Picnic and Politick on Gay Pride Day.” Washington Post 21 June 1982: Metro B1. Print.

[6] Harris, Art. “Williams Sticks to His Version of Events on the Chattahoochee.” Washington Post 24 Feb. 1982: 1 A6. Print.

[7] Darling, Lynn. Washington Post 19 June 1981: Style C1. Print.


Findings for “fag+” in my General Corpus

In the source texts, the terms ‘fag’ or ‘fags’ are applied in a variety of meanings. The relevant instances for this study are the times where the word is used to denote homosexual persons. These denotations are decidedly negative, as can be seen from these examples:

  • (1) Rodwell finally replaced his store windows with shatterproof glass after they had been smashed for the third time, and he said it is not uncommon to arrive at the shop and find that someone has defaced the building with a swastika, or ‘Kill Fags.’[1]
  • (2) “I live in Logan Circle,” said 29-year-old Jeff DeMontier, “and have to deal with the prostitutes daily, and it’s always, ‘Oh, you fag — you give AIDS.’ ” […]He [Rock Hudson] could have covered it [suffering from AIDS] up, said it was cancer . . .Even today, people, politicians don’t come out. They might lose two-thirds of their business. You say you’re a fag and you’re finished.[2]

Using a “fag+” query in AntConc, I found 22 significant collocates with at least 2 occurrences for ‘fag’ or ‘fags’ in a 5L/5R window. Here, I want to focus on three striking collocates, as they form a noteworthy union: ‘basher’, ‘bashing’, and ‘baiting’. The relevant values are given below:

Collocate Freq Freq L Freq R Stat
basher 3 0 3 17.68
bashing 2 0 2 15.87
baiting 3 1 2 14.17


The terms ‘fag-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing’ or ‘fag-basher’ are used to denote verbal (for the former one) or physical (for the latter two) abuse of homosexuals. For the use of the terms denoting verbal abuse, see for example:

  • (3) Falwell, after all, is a regular Anita Byrant on the subject of homosexuality. In mailings and broadcasts, he appeals to the basest sort of antihomosexual sentiment, couching his demagoguery always in religious terms, raising the specter of “avowed homosexual” teachers seducing school children. Always his justifications for what amounts to plain old fag baiting are either the scriptures or his absolute certainty that God, like him, is, in effect, a bigot.[3]
  • (4) Neither the threat nor the existence of AIDS exonerates what amounts to nothing less than fag baiting or justifies a moral condemnation of the entire homosexual community.[4]

For the use of the terms as denoting physical abuse, see for example:

  • (5) Homosexual activists packed a courtroom today and watched angrily as three juveniles were allowed to remain free on charges of killing a homosexual man who drown after he was thrown from a bridge. David McMannus said of the decision, “It says to every fag-basher this is the time – go out and get them.”[5]
  • (6) The Republican Party has traditionally espoused principles which would allow it to support nonintervention in individual rights . . . but it has become associated with some people who indulge in ‘gay-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing,’ ” said Bauman.[6]

Bauman’s statements show that these terms are meant to mark people as violent and intolerant, as can be seen from his distancing himself from being called ‘baiter’ or ‘basher’.

  • (7) Bauman, who is practicing law in Easton, Md., acknowledged that during his political career he has twice voted against the interests of homosexuals on specific pieces of legislation. But he said that contrary to popular belief, he had never given speeches or been outspoken on the issue of homosexuality: “I have never been a ‘fag-basher’ or ‘gay-baiter.’[7]
  • (8) But I [Bauman speaking about himself] was no more a vociferous opponent of gay rights than any other conservative. I think it fitted the press’ definition of a conservative to think that they were gay baiters. I never said anything about it for reasons that should be obvious. I am not, as The Baltimore Evening Sun said in an editorial, an ex-fag-basher.[8]

So, interestingly, while the term ‘fag’ itself is apparently used as a derogatory term, words that are used to denote verbal and physical abuse of homosexuals employ the derogatory term ‘fag’ as well, as was shown for ‘fag-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing’ or ‘fag-basher’. Comparing how ‘baiting’ and ‘bashing’ relate to ‘gay’ should yield interesting results as well, seeing how Bauman used these terms in examples 6, 7, and 8.

[1] Wadler, Joyce. “No, Dorothy, You and Toto Certainly Aren’t in Kansas Anymore.” Washington Post 1 Aug. 1982: 1 A2. Print.

[2] Hall, Carla. Washington Post 27 July 1985: Style G1. Print.

[3] Cohen, Richard. “Demagougery.” Washington Post 31 Aug. 1982: Metro C1. Print.

[4] Cohen, Richard. “AIDS.” Washington Post 16 June 1983: Metro B1. Print.

[5] Washington Post 18 July 1984: A 15. Print.

[6] Murphy, Caryle. “Republican Homosexuals Form Gay Rights Group.” Washington Post 19 May 1984: Metro B8. Print.

[7] Barbash, Fred. “’Yes, I Am Gay’ Bauman Is Joining Homosexual Rights Movement.” Washington Post 3 Aug. 1983: 1 A7. Print.

[8] “On Being Gay and In Politics.” Washington Post 7 Aug. 1983: Outlook C3. Print.

Habemus Corpus II – This Time, it’s for Real!

Mir ist bei den ersten Analysen aufgefallen, dass es doch einige Artikel-Dubletten in meinen Korpus geschafft haben, da die Metadaten-Vergabe in Nexis nicht ganz stringent zu sein scheint und daher das Skript nicht alle Artikel-Dubletten rausrechnen konnte.

Freundlicherweise hat mein Betreuer, Prof. Dr. Hoffmann, sein Skript nochmals angepasst und in mehreren Phasen konnten er und ich jetzt endlich einen finalen Korpus erstellen.

Ich habe mich inzwischen auch dazu entschieden, Teilkorpora nicht nur nach Jahren, sondern auch nach Zeitungen zu erstellen. Mal sehen, ob die Washington Post und die New York Times erkennbar unterschiedlich über Homosexualität sprechen.

Zur Transparenz erstmal meine Suchbegriffe bei Nexis, anhand derer der Korpus erstellt wurde:

  1. body(bugger!)
  2. body(fag)
  3. body(faggot)
  4. body(gay)
  5. body(homoerot!)
  6. body(homosex!)
  7. body(lesbia!)
  8. body(plural(homos))
  9. body(queer!)
  10. body(sapphic!)
  11. body(sodomi!)
  12. body(sodomy)
Artikel 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 gesamt
in NYT 700 647 704 914 1007 3972
in WashPost 512 545 675 791 726 3249
gesamt 1212 1192 1379 1705 1733 7221

Ok, nicht #40000Texte. #7221Texte. Anyway: to the Laboratory of Language!

Habemus Corpus

Dank der tollen Unterstützung meines Betreuers, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Hoffmann aus der Anglistik, habe ich jetzt einen Korpus für meine Masterarbeit.

Die Datenlage sieht momentan wie folgt aus:

Jahr 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985
Anzahl der Artikel 1.257 1.220 1.404 1.739 1.771

7931 Artikel. Klingt doch super.

Zur Datenauswertung nutze ich die neueste Version von Laurene Anthony’s AntConc 3.5.0., glücklicherweise jetzt mit 64bit Unterstützung, so dass ich meinen RAM auch ordentlich nutzen kann.

Mal gespannt, was jetzt bei der Datenanalyse rauskommt. I’ll keep you posted!

Captain’s Blog, 2015.08.12

Was für ein Mist.

Ich habe meine Gliederung umgeschmissen. Mir ist klar geworden – durch viele Gespräche mit Kommiliton/innen, meiner Betreuerin, und Leuten inner- und außerhalb meiner Session auf dem histocamp – dass das alles nicht ganz so funktioniert, wie ich mir das dachte.

Meine Gliederung sieht jetzt so aus, dass nach dem einführenden Kapitel 1 und dem historischen Kontext (Kap 2) jetzt ein einzelnes großes Kapitel zur Methodologie kommt. Vorher hatte ich geplant, Key Concepts und Methodology getrennt zu behandeln – quasi einerseits die Theorie des Diskurses und der D.-Analyse zu erklären und dann, wie man eine D.-Analyse durchführt.

Es stellte sich nun leider raus, dass vor allem die historische Diskursanalyse keine Methode ist (im Sinne eines Werkzeugkastens), sondern eher eine etwas breiter zu sehende Herangehensweise, quasi ein Forschungsparadigma, eine Geisteshaltung.

Und das ist nunmehr so sehr mit den theoretischen Grundlagen der Diskurstheorie verbunden (der Konnex von Sprache, Wissen, Wahrheit, Macht), dass es mir nicht möglich ist, das getrennt darzustellen.

Den Morgen habe ich jetzt damit verbracht, meine Gliederung und alle damit verbundenen Strukturen (Leseliste, Mindmap, Citavi-Projekt etc.) umzustrukturieren. Weil ich jetzt auch akut keinen Plan habe, wie ich genau weitermachen soll, habe ich einfach mal alle Exzerpte ausgedruckt, die in den letzten Wochen und Monaten in den Kategorien zu “Key Concepts” und “Methodology” gelandet sind. Das sind 20 Seiten – daraus müsste ich doch eigentlich was gebastelt kriegen, was wie eine kohärente Darstellung der Diskurstheorie aussieht. Das ganze verquicke ich dann mit meinem bereits existenten Unterkapitel zur Corpus Linguistics und tada – Methodology. Hoffentlich.

Es ist aber nicht alles Mist. Ich habe einen ganz netten Entwurf meines Einstiegs, in dem ich die Relevanz meines Themas erkläre. Wie immer bei Textentwürfen gilt: Feedback erlaubt und erwünscht! 🙂

Achja – was ihr lest, habe ich teilweise aus dem Papierkorb bei Google Drive gekramt. Ob ich das jetzt gelöscht habe oder was da schief gelaufen ist, weiß ich nicht. Zumindest lag die Arbeit der letzten 2 Monate auf einmal im Papierkorb. Zum Glück war alles wiederherstellbar, aber gehörig erschreckt habe ich mich dennoch.

(Kapitel 1.1: Relevance of Topic, 2015.12.08)


There are two distinct topics that make this study relevant and which were and are often convalesced: homosexuality and the rights of sexual minority groups on the one hand, and HIV/ AIDS on the other hand.

In the last couple of years, LGBTQI rights have been a topic of discussion in many countries. In most cases, laws and decisions were made that expanded the rights of homosexual men and women. In the United States, the legal situation for homosexuals changed rather quickly within little more than a decade: The 2003 landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision by the Supreme Court legalised consensual homosexual contact between adults across the USA.[1] Since 2010, ‘outed’ homosexuals are allowed to serve in the US military after the repeal of the 1993 ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that forbid non-heterosexuals to disclose their sexuals orientation whilst serving the US military.[2] In 2013, the Supreme Court repealed the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in the United States v. Windsor case, effectively allowing the individual states to decide whether they would legalise homosexual marriages.[3] In their latest decision on the matter, the Supreme Court expanded on the 2013 decision with the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, ruling that all states must recognise same-sax marriages licensed in another state, thus effectively legalising marriages between two men or two women throughout the United States.[4] Especially the 2013 and 2015 SCOTUS decisions, with their careful delineation of state’s rights and powers (states may decide to license homosexual marriages, but may not choose to dismiss other states’ licenses), and the dissenting opinion of the judges show that despite their relatively quick pace, there is still a conservative proportion in the US opposing homosexual marriage specifically and sexual minority rights generally.

More than 35 years after its discovery, HIV/ AIDS continues to be one of the prime global health concerns. In some countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/ AIDS prevalence rates amongst adults exceeds 25%.[5] In the USA, there are about 1.25 million people living with HIV/ AIDS (0.4% of the population).[6] More than 1 million people died of AIDS worldwide in 2014.[7] In the US, roughly 13,000 people diagnosed with AIDS died in 2013.[8]

HIV/ AIDS continues to be of world-wide concern. The United Nations’ World Health Organization has designated the 1 December of each year as ‘World AIDS Day’, in order to increase awareness of the disease. The International AIDS Society holds an annual conference to co-ordinate scientific research and political actions regarding this pandemic. Tragically, a number of HIV/ AIDS researchers and other relevant persons en route to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, were killed in the MH 17 crash in July 2014 in the Ukraine.  Despite this setback, the search for a treatment of infected person continues and shows promises of an eventual cure of HIV/ AIDS. However, there is a small but persistent community of persons who continue to challenge HIV/ AIDS research on a fundamental level. Forming a movement that has been labelled as HIV/ AIDS denialism, these persons reject many aspects of the origin, virology, mode of spread, (in-)curability and many other aspects of the pandemic, some even denying the very existence of the HI virus and the AID syndrome. These individuals have gained so much prominence that scientists following the majority consensus of HIV/ AIDS research have published the “Durban Declaration” as a response to the HIV/ AIDS denialist claims.[9]

In the United States, as in many other ‘first-world’ countries, the rates of new HIV infections remain relatively stable on a low level.  In each year, about 50,000 Americans are newly diagnoses as carriers of the HI virus. Most newly infected Americans are between 20 and 35 years of age, while also a significant number of infected people are aged between 35 and 60.[10] In the United States, as in many other ‘first-world’ countries, the rates of new HIV infections remain relatively stable on a low level.  In each year, about 50,000 Americans are newly diagnoses as carriers of the HI virus. Most newly infected Americans are between 20 and 35 years of age, while also a significant number of infected people are aged between 35 and 60. Infection rates differ between ethnic groups, with Black/ African Americans having significantly higher rates of HIV prevalence in the USA.  The vast majority of men who are newly diagnosed with HIV/ AIDS were infected through homosexual contact[11]. Due to this, homosexual men are often barred from donating blood in many countries, as their sexual behaviour is still considered as a risk in itself.[12]

These paragraphs have shown that both homosexuality and HIV/ AIDS are topics of current societal and political significance. As the example of blood donation and infection rates showed, there is still some connection between these two topics, and the discussion to what extent this connection is causal or merely a correlation is highly contested and often polemical rather than factual. So, while homosexuals have experienced a significant improvement in their legal status in the United States, and while medical advances have increased both life expectancy and quality of HIV sufferers at least in certain parts of the world, HIV/ AIDS remains a pressing issue and still has its (discursive) connections with homosexuality. The aim of my study is to investigate the roots of this link in the wake of the occurrence of HIV/ AIDS in the United States.

[1] Supreme Court of the United States. Lawrence et al. v. Texas, 2002. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​supreme.justia.com​/​cases/​federal/​us/​539/​558/​case.pdf>.

[2] Congress of the United States. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, 2010. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.gpo.gov​/​fdsys/​pkg/​PLAW-111publ321/​pdf/​PLAW-111publ321.pdf>.

[3] Supreme Court of the United States. United States v. Windsor, 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​supreme.justia.com​/​cases/​federal/​us/​570/​12-307/​case.pdf>.

[4] Supreme Court of the United States. Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, 2014. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​supreme.justia.com​/​cases/​federal/​us/​576/​14-556/​case.pdf>.

[5] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Country Comparison: HIV/ AIDS – Adult Prevalence Rate. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <https://​www.cia.gov​/​library/​publications/​the-world-factbook/​rankorder/​2155rank.html>.

[6] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/ AIDS: Statistics Overview, 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.cdc.gov​/​hiv/​statistics/​overview/​index.html>.

[7] Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook: Field Listing: HIV/ AIDS – Deaths. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <https://​www.cia.gov​/​library/​publications/​the-world-factbook/​fields/​2157.html>.

[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/ AIDS: Statistics Overview, 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.cdc.gov​/​hiv/​statistics/​overview/​index.html>.

[9] “The Durban Declaration.” Nature 406 (2000): 15–16. Print.

[10] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV/ AIDS: Statistics Overview, 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.cdc.gov​/​hiv/​statistics/​overview/​index.html>.

[11] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV Surveillance Report, Vol. 25: Diagnoses of HIV Infection in the United States and Dependent Areas, 2013, 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.cdc.gov​/​hiv/​pdf/​library/​reports/​surveillance/​cdc-hiv-surveillance-report-vol-25.pdf>.

[12] “Schwulen darf Blutspende verweigert werden.” Die ZEIT 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 8 Dec. 2015. <http://​www.zeit.de​/​politik/​2015-04/​blutspende-homosexuelle-europaeischer-gerichtshof>.


Diskursanalyse alter Texte

Als ich gestern mit meinem Blogbeitrag um Hilfe bat, mal über die Historische Diskursanalyse zu reden, antwortete mir netterweise Eugen Pfister  (@Trogambouille ). In der Diskussion kam ich zunächst allmählich auf den Gedanken, eine recht radikale Position einzunehmen:

Bei der Diskursanalyse jedes Textes muss eine soziokulturelle und historische Situierung des Texts stattfinden. Und wenn es keine klare Methode gibt, die einen genuin historischen Blick auf Texte wirft, dann gibt es auch keine Historische Diskursanalyse. Dann gibt es nur die Diskursanalyse alter Texte.

Heute morgen kam mir dann ein Gedanke, der ein bisschen versöhnlicher ist. Die Historische Diskursanalyse findet dann statt, wenn ein Diskurs analysiert wird, der in seiner Historizität betrachtet wird und kein expliziter Link zu heutigen Diskursen gezogen wird. Das ist allerdings immer noch mau. Und die HDA wäre dann auch nur ein Forschungsprogramm, keine -methode. Und was da gemacht wird, ist einfach trotzdem die Diskursanalyse alter Texte.