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Sociology of Sexualities Exam Review

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McMaster University
Tina Fetner

Sociology of Sexualities Exam Review Monday April - sex as a social phenomenon - talk about sex social norms: formal and informal rules that dictations ones behaviours. Informal social norms: often dont know what they are until you break them complaint that there is to much sex in our culture sex to taboo for public: idea that sexuality is personal, private and intimate Social Construction Basic concepts - gender is social and sex is biological E.G. interrex infants: born neither male or female nature has not split this category evenly therefore have to make a choice socially. In our culture we fit bodies of interrex in our categories better: surgical, medical, chemical - some truth that sex/gender are biological: gender wouldnt make sense without biological state of being male or female - is sexuality biological or social? Question not really able to answer: probably both aspects of sexuality are both E.G. bio: sexual appetite (how much sex we want) also target of our sexual desire - what do we mean by sexuality? - individuals have complex sexualities: - sexual behaviours: individual perspective choices: how much? With who? Etc.. - sexual desire and appetite: how much individuals interact in certain setting - sexual identity: socially constructed categories that is the basis of our identity - sexual norms - institutions organizing sexuality - inequality and sexuality: civil rights, laws, race/class effect sexual behaviours and identity Social construction - do not mean to oppose it to something that is real - there are social processes that build the categories we are talking about culturally defined - Jerry Weeks: social construction - essentialism (biologically rootedwhether your male or female determines your life. Fundamental drive to reproduce) vs. social construction essentialism cant explain changes overtime and cultural changes and variations eg. The sexual revolution - multiple sexualities and many histories: evidence lots of ways to enact sexuality Essentialist approach - sex is basic biological mandate - natural force that must be restrained by culture very hard to restrain sexuality - most natural element in social life - marriage: created by churches because children needed to be raised: control male sexuality by naming a father - gender or sexuality is simply the expression of natural or genetic qualities in people women= nurturing; men= aggressive Social constructionist approach - sexuality is very susceptible to social organization marriage: getting married before sex, one partner etc.. - biology plays a role but only beginning of the story - organized by many rules: norms change over time; institutions dealing with sex change - the expression of sexuality, what is defined as sexual and the organization of sexuality is very important too organization includes things such as partnered sex place to have sex, privacy, what sex acts they want to have, how to proceed individuals organize these things E.G. parents controlling privacy etc these norms go into sexual norms and parenting norms - special organization/geographical organization of sexuality: dark places, neighbourhoods (lesbian/gay) - family organization of sexuality: determines sexuality who it is appropriate to have sex with and when etc.. Sexual hierarchies - bottom: criteria violence, harm, consent, social value=victim - sexual crimes: necrophilia, rape, sexual assault; prostitution; sexual harassment; sex in public; incest; pornography how do you tell what is worse than others: look them up in the criminal code and see what the punishment is. When it involves children generally considered worse because children are highly values in our society - high but not top: - marriage more people choosing not to get married; pre-marital sex. Non-marriage; same sex marriage what is higher, extra marital affair or same sex marriage? Split lack consensus S.S.M. on the influx elevating close to the top 1 - secularization: religion becoming less of a criteria in some places fewer people participating in religion so less subject to religious laws - top: stable; middle class; matching; heterosexual; having sex to procreate - rewards and social approval at the top - punishment and stigma at the bottom - grants virtue to dominant groups, relegate vice to underprivileged understand quality of person by position on hierarchy Sexual Identities - socially constructed: understand who we are sexually very important to who we are - what is identity> interactional and contextual; way you communicate who you are; on the one hand everyone has their own (e.g. sin number) not good at communicating who we are social structures tell us what is important to take on as identity - starting to become limited by social processes - sexuality as of recently has become an identity Identity Stability - can identity change or vary? Kinsy scale of sexuality - identity in gernal changes - some argue identity is rigid other people say it is fluid: we are always changing Lesbian identity - Arlene stein document shift in lesbian identity over 20year period shift in criteria that built this identity older: built around politics; not particularly tied to a sexual desire for women, more just a rejection of male tension between those lesbians who had desires to have sex with others and that didnt share the political view became illegitimate to claim lesbian identity tied to political view - younger: lesbian as sexual identity - reveals social processes that go into creating these identities - constraints on who fits/doesnt fit the categories carries on: butch/fem split choose between being highly masculine or feminine -- lesbian identity linked to gender identity Trans politics - transgender and transsexual people may challenge gender binary or may accept it - transsexual: cross over to the other gender (born into male body but wants to be a woman) - transgender: umbrella term all the ways people problematize gender e.g. butch lesbians, people who reject gender completely etc. Marriage, Weddings and Heterosexuality Heterosexuality - sexual desire: sexual action and interaction; focus on natural and biological procreate - sexual identity: roles and social position in society (family); masculinity/feminity normative gender identity th - inverted in the 19 century: did not have social understanding as identity - coining of the term: psychological (Freudian: sex and sexual desires at the for front of who we are) and sexology ( what is healthy, appropriate and tagged it onto a person instead of a behaviour) new set of norms that highlights individuality industrial revolution - first use of term was as a category of a sexual disease and then made normal obsessive focus on sex: appropriatejust to procreate and not recreational - what was considered normal was changing at this time: categories trying to make sense of changes by looking at the dysfunctional - power relations, hierarchies and social forces that goes into ways of knowing our sexuality - cuts off ways of knowing ones sexuality - both desire and identity are socially constructed - criminal code change reflect new psychological idea of sexuality dysfunctional to criminal - marriage and rituals: governed by the state; cultural practices; structural and cultural that rely on heterosexuality was no law against men marrying men until homosexuality - cultural images and messages: reflect and reinforce heterosexuality as a normal sexual identity Heterosexuality as a social institution - set of rules ordering social relations and organizing social behaviour formal and informal that establish right and wrong - in what ways is heterosexuality a social institution? - set of rules: who should be with who in a gender way sexual actions/behaviours but also the way we live our lives - society questions ones sexual identity if they deviate from the heterosexual norm 2 - orders social relations organizing family (who can get married and have kids); organize social behaviour man propose to female; who you have sex with (regulates desire and choices) - intersecting institutions: heterosexuality is the root of other institutions: dating norms, schools excluding non-homosexuals from social institutions - organize the social world: segregate men and women; underlying why we need separate spaces - wage scale: wages matching jobs based on bread winner modeltraditional jobs done by women are paid less because isnt expectation that they are earning for the whole family - child custody law: what is the best situation for children dont acknowledge non-hetero parents Marriage - marriage is also a social institution: who is responsible for what children; who owes who money; where you should live - linked with heterosexuality but loosening - how does it organize behaviour? - rewards and punishments for following rules that mostly become internalized - rewards: white weddings Durkheim: our rituals tell us who we are; cuts across so many cultures it is a community ritual - benefits: medical/tax benefits, honeymoon, discounts, income increases - punishments: teen moms judged constantly not qualified even by health care professionals; social pressures - marriage gives you limited choices: fall in love head towards marriage than end it - how many Canadian people are married: 50% - prevalence: about all Canadians are in a marriage; 10% common law marriage - shift in age of marriage: birth
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