[FOUNTAIN]Looks are only skin-deep

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[FOUNTAIN]Looks are only skin-deep

In ancient Greece, physical love between men and women was looked down upon as shallow desire and only a method of reproduction. Michel Foucault asserts that “During those days, the best expression of love among the intellectuals was homosexual love.” In Athens, it was natural for good-looking young men to become subjects of adoration. Adonis and Narcissus were two such beautiful youths who met tragic deaths because they were too beautiful.
The measuring stick for homosexuality differs in each era. During the Middle Ages, it was a crime and punished strictly according to church law. Leonardo da Vinci, who was accused of homosexual love in 1476, was famous for selecting his pupils for their looks. Even today, suspicions of homosexuality still exist in his masterpieces, such as the “Mona Lisa.”
Recently, the debate over homosexuality in chimpanzees has become intense. The famous books “The Naked Ape” and “The Selfish Gene” describe the chimpanzee world as a society controlled by strict power struggles. Male chimpanzees hunger for power and blood. In the chimpanzee world, even sex follows strict rules of rank.
However, in 1997 the director of the Living Links Center at Emory University, Frans De Waal, reported a unique characteristic of pygmy chimpanzees. These chimpanzees, which are genetically the closest creatures to humans, relieve conflict and tension through homosexuality. To these chimpanzees, sexual relations are more than just reproduction and are a means of bonding a stronger relationship and maintaining peace.
Recently, the movie “King and the Clown” has caused a sensation. The homosexual love between King Yeon-san and a clown is the main plot. Even before the reason for homosexuality has been closely examined medically, it has become a new social phenomenon. This is in great contrast to the situation in America where each state gets involved in disputes on whether gays should serve in the military or if movies on homosexuality should be screened.
Homosexuality is a natural phenomenon. Scientists have discovered homosexuality in 470 species of animals, including ostriches, seagulls, snipe and dolphins. Even today, some tribes in New Guinea induce their sons into homosexuality before carrying out a coming of age ceremony. It causes concern that attractive men draw more attention than women. This can lead to considering one’s looks as the most important factor. Men who are obsessed with their looks have an Adonis complex and excessive self-absorbed love is narcissism. Both are serious mental diseases that require treatment.


by Lee Chul-ho

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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