SOCIOL 3U03 Study Guide - Final Guide: Premarital Sex, Sexual Politics, Heterosexuality

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22 Nov 2012
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 don’t 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 wouldn’t 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 rooted—whether 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
- 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
- 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
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- 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 didn’t 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/doesn’t 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
- 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
- inverted in the 19th 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:
appropriate—just 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 one’s sexual identity if they deviate from the heterosexual norm
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- 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 model—traditional jobs done by women are paid
less because isn’t expectation that they are earning for the whole family
- child custody law: what is the best situation for children don’t acknowledge non-hetero parents
- 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 ½ all Canadians are in a marriage; 10% common law marriage
- shift in age of marriage: birth control shifts sex from marriage; women labour force participation
- 70s: women presented with multiple options it use to be that marriage was the you cemented yourself
transition from childhood to adulthood
- polygamy: multiple partners
- serial monogamy: one partner at a time
- 38% of marriages end in divorce in Canada increase when law loosened then steady
Sexual Subcultures
- culture: norms and beliefs. Law, religion and language use culture to play off structure – structure is
- subculture: exists in multicultural societies with social hierarchies one culture: dominant group – establish
laws, influences all systems, sets norms etc..
- smaller cultural group within
- culture not only tagged by national culture: marked by style: shared sense of taste
Social organization of sexuality
Martin, Levine, “The Gay Ghetto” (1979)
- how gay identity marks off the boundaries of a city cluster around some neighbourhood in a city
- “ghetto”: attached to Jews; assigned to ghettos because they were excluded from other aspects of the social
- gay men creating own subcultures: set of ideas, styles etc.. resistance to dominant culture that caused
gay men to be viewed as perverts
- George Chauncey, Gay New York (1995): gay ghetto emerged early 1900s – 1920 elite gay scene: be more
like a gentlemen
Conditions for Gay Ghettos
- need social structure
- capitalism fundamental to gay ghetto industrialization: move to city; move away from family – new sense
of freedom before marriage
- ww2: important to gay subcultures
- earliest were in London and Berlin
- London: molly houses like bars were people gather around taste – sexually deviant
- Berlin: home of many sexologist giving birth to first gay movement; felt there shouldn’t be laws
against homosexuality because it was not their fault – state should have mercy on the sick
- Nazis put end to this movement and gay subculture
- ww2 gave rise to a variety of sexual subcultures: gender segregation of military discover desire for same
sex sexuality
- random event redistribute population war industry: women living in all girl dorms located in big cities
- urban drop offs for leaves; discharge: dropped in port cities
- ww2 huge influence in where homosexuals live
- set the stage for the 70s ghettos: disco, fashion etc…
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