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Theories of Sexuality

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Western University
History 2185
Monda Helpern

Sept, 24, 2012 Theories of Sexuality Emergence: -People thought it wasn’t something that was possible to study because it was a fixed entity that never changes but now we know it changes for many reasons like our own perceptions, likes and dislikes, regarding sex and sexuality change over our lifetime -The study began in the 60’s-70’s because of other social movements of the time and the emergence of new disciplines (people on the margins wanted their opinions voiced and their histories researched) -Studying this allowed people to understand their present and to predict their future and new groups were able to politicize their issues and individual problems that resulted from society) Michel Foucault: -Was a French philosopher who wrote a multi-volume book called “The History of Sexuality” in the 70’s and this is seen as the real start into the issue -He was the first to talk about it as its own discipline and he argued that modern sexuality was shaped in the late th 19 century (this is now seen as incorrect because it was shaped much before) -He argued that much of sex and sexuality was dictated by larger bodies of knowledge or discourses about sex (ex: information from the church or medical community) and that what we know is not just from our own experience th th -In the 70’s this was a new idea and in the 19 century the church was dying in place of medical advice (20 century was more focused on psychological advice) -He said the discourses in the 17 century originated in Europe but we know that attitudes were shaped in ancient th times so the 17 century is too late -He said our belief that the people of the Victorian era were sexually repressed is false because the silence indicated not repression but obsession and that the people were forced into silence to control this -By telling people not to talk about sex they were talking about sex constantly -Believed there was a connection between sexuality, knowledge, and power of the discourses about sex and the attitudes produced helped to control all aspects of an individual’s sexuality -Because the church dictated the sex people had they had great power but today the biggest influence is the media and we behave according to what is says is acceptable -Because these institutions are controlled by men there is little history to be found concerning women Theories and Themes: 1. Sex and sexuality are hard to define and can describe actions, feelings, pleasure, confusion, and more -Sex can be something you are, something you have, an action, etc -Sexuality can be a biological identity or a social identity -Sex incorporates all of the body and this makes it confusing -Sex and gender are not interchangeable because sex is your biology (male or female) and gender is the social construction of masculine and feminine -Gendered behaviour ideally matches sex and it’s unnatural how we are gendered from the moment we are born 2. Traditionally sex refers to a biological or innate identity 3. Sexuality is not solely a biological or universal identity and it changes over time and one’s lifespan 4. Sex and sexuality are social and
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