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Lecture # 8 Unpacking Concepts of Sexuality II.doc

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York University
Human Rights and Equity Studies
HREQ 1900
Nadiah Habib

Lecture # 8: Unpacking Concepts of Sexuality II 1 Women’s sexuality is both varied and fluid. Women can be heterosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, trans, etc. Men’s sexuality is both varied and fluid. Men can be heterosexual, gay, bisexual, transsexual, trans, etc. In our social environment, heterosexuality is produced as normative Normative: produced as natural, and normal against which all other expressions of sexuality are produced as deviant, aberrant and at worst punishable. In the words of feminist theorist Adrienne Rich heterosexuality is compulsory. Heterosexuality has always been produced as the norm, an unchanging sexual system that is universal. Institutions produce and reinforce it (the family, religious institutions, education, law, etc.) Compulsory heterosexuality – part and parcel of the dominant ideology (Dominant ideology so pervasive that it is like fish swimming in water of which fish are unaware) Compulsory heterosexuality: refers to the ideology and social practice that pushes properly gendered women and men into couples and makes them believe it is a free choice Heterosexism does not work only through a negative stance to other sexual practices or lived lives, but also operates through processes of exclusion This also works to oppress heterosexuals themselves, since it already determines how one is to behave as a heterosexual Women are more induced to ‘find a man’ than men to ‘find a wife’ Once again we need (as with masculinities and femininities) to consider dichotomies or what we spoke of as binary oppositions. The world is split in two, where sets of terms become both meaningful and gendered. And where one term in the pair of supposed “opposites” is always more highly valued than the other. Usually terms that are associated with (hegemonic) or dominant masculinity are more highly valued than terms associated with femininity Fairy tales are one of the early and enduring ways we find out about ourselves, as boys and girls & as men and women. 1 Men are subjects of the world and world of fairy tales Women are objects of men’s desire Women are feared, hated, desired and worshipped If we have any doubt: we can look at how girls & women are represented in the dominant culture. Representation is a clue of the prescription of how to be a girl & woman in our society as well as a description of what a girl and woman are in our society. As with masculinity, the narratives available to us about how to be women and girls both discipline and limit us. While we have discussed that the category “woman” is not a singular category. Feminist theorists have argued that it is strategically useful to use the category woman for politics in order to coherently express mandates for social and political change. This is known as strategic essentialism. It is nonetheless equally important to know that this category is a fiction and that women’s lived experience contradicts, challenges and defies this singular category. Subjects are produced through representation But in our world women are produced not as subjects but as objects. Yet, Feminist theory wants to problematize the category woman and make women the subjects of feminist theories Women are often misrepresented or not represented at all It is therefore not enough to ask how women maybe more fully represented in language and in politics but we need to ask how is the category women produced? And that feminist theory is seeking to have women more fully represented in Language and in politics, yet, the very language and politics that is used by feminist theory to promote women’s emancipation, works at the same time to prohibit, limit, regulate, control and even ‘protect’ women in a way that contradicts the very aims of feminist theory. Juridicial power produces what it claims to merely represent (describe & prescribes at once) [the struggle in the Knesset] It is impossible to separate gender from the political and cultural environment in which gender is invariably produced and maintained. In gender theory and queer theory, heteronormativity is the reinforcement of certain beliefs by many social institutions and social policies. These beliefs include the belief that human beings fall into two distinct and complementary categories, male and female; that sexual and marital relations are normal only when between people of different sexes; and that each sex has certain natural roles in life. 2 Thus, physical sex, gender identity, and gender roles should in any given person align to either all-male or all-female norms, and heterosexuality is considered to be the only normal sexual orientation. Heterosexism is a predisposition towards heterosexual people; a negative attitude toward someone because of her or his sexual orientation. This is not the same as Homophobia, but rather is the discrimination towards or against non-heterosexual behavior due to a cultural bias. Heterosexism suggests that the basis for this bias is not found in the individual per se but rather has a broader cultural or biological basis that results in weighted attitudes towards heterosexuality over other sexual orientations. what constitutes a slut? Is the term gender specific? Who gets to acknowledge their desire? men/ women? why don't young women experience their own desire? what do they do with it? women's role is to control and contain men’s desire the slut/ the virgin/ femme fatale can a heterosexual man express if another man is good looking? why not? -women must sublimate certain feelings to remain in the frame of femininity (personal desire, etc.) / men must sublimate certain feelings to remain in the frame of masculinity (emotions, ect) -in the Dominant culture, what is considered natural and normal remains unmarked and invisible, that means if I am heterosexual, I don’t have to say it. It’s a given. But if I'm gay, it is not a given. I have to say it. The invisibility of heterosexuality insures its dominance. I never have to name myself because I am it. the same applies to issues of ability, racialization, ethnicity, etc. -AIDS -contraception. Teenagers are the largest growing group of people contracting HIV -in gay communities, people have had to become more comfortable 3 speaking of HIV, and condom use. -when having sex, if your not saying anything, (re: contraception, desire, pleasure, lack of pleasure, dislikes, etc.) it’s as if you're doing it but your not women have been taught to stigmatize their genitals/ do men also do that with their bodies? -if we are made to feel shame about our desires, what are the consequences of that? what are the consequences of expressing our desires? Madonna/whore “cool pose” “Cool pose” expressed by black males i
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