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Sexuality and the Law notes: Up to Midterm

14 Pages

Course Code
SOC 325
Lindsay Van Wyck

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SEXUALITY AND THE LAW 1 The Theory of Social Constructionism -has to do with labelling Labelling Theory (Becker) 1963 -"the central fact about deviance: it is created by society" -social groups create deciance by making and applying rules to people thus labeling them as deviant -not a quality of the act that a person commits, but rather the effects and the application of rules and sanctions to the "offender" -a deviant is someone who has had the label applied to them -sexual and moral norms change within a society and across time and space -we cannot assume that those who have been labeled have committed a deviant act The Dramatization of Evil (Tannenbaum) -conflict between deviant and society over definition of an act -the result of the conflict, the dramatization of evil, is a shift of the label from the act to the actor (tagging) -someone with deviant sexual practices becomes bad because he/she is defined as such based on society's definitions of "normal" sexual behaviour -the dramatization of evil results in the person becoming what they are described as being -or as Tannenbaum states, "bad because he is defined as bad" -definitions are built up over time and reinforced through interactions with others -shift away from sexual actions, and towards the "offender" -once this shift occurs, every future act of the offender is looked at suspiciously Social Construction of Meaning (Maines) -central premise- "constructs (definitions, ideas, values, beliefs) are inseparable from and mutually constitutive of social conditions (facts, forms, structures)" -social conditions are produced, maintained, and changed through interpretive process -in our interactions, we are constantly changing social conditions -a social event or condition can be described in terms of previous social processed or conditions giving rise to it -ex. Child who is sexually abused grows up to sexually abuse other children -meaning: -shared, common responses -the interpretive and representational processes that underlie human conduct -language provides the categories and structures for symbolic transactions -must consider what silence means and conveys *we construct meanings through interactions, and we respond based on how society would respond or how the other person responds -not all meanings have the same consequences -individuals who are seen as sexual deviants- due to the meaning that is attached to their actions- face different consequences -these consequences are engrained in society so everyone is aware of them -makes these consequences higher 1 Behaviour and the law -labeling of a sex offender and the resulting dramatization of evil -how meaning is created and reinforced -how we convey meaning when interacting with others -how meaning is situationally based and cannot be separated from attitudes and behaviours Labeling and the Law -those with political power are responsible for the changing and modifying the law -they have the power to impose what is right and wrong on society -labels are often driven by moral panic usually created by the media -complicated by legal language which produces, reinforces, or challenges social structures and norms - legal knowledge, which is based on how judges perceive and understand the meaning of sexual behaviour -every generation labels things differently -staying power is huge! (once you are labeled- youre stuck with it!) = "master status" (Becker) -the wording of the law creates the label Goffman and Stigma -successful application of labels can lead to the creation of stigma -used to devalue certain groups of people within society -can lead to social disapproval -disregards the motive and facts behind the sexual acts -stigma is the gap between what a person should be (virtual social identity) and what a person really is (actual social identity) -stigma usually results in the reclassification of the individual from one socially acceptable category to an unacceptable one -framing: -cognitive schema to organize information about the social world -stigmatized person can only try to negotiate their spoiled identity -if stigma is known to others in advance, "normal" people approach the stigmatized person expecting to encounter further stigmatizing behaviour -if it is not known in advance, stigmatized person will try to hide their spoiled identity -requires management of information about his/her actions -tension is created as a spoiled identity disqualifies them from full social acceptance -criminal behaviour is situationally based on the application of formal social control -creates the possibility of secondary marginalization -issue of conformance, not compliance Negotiated Order -ex. The creation of law, help us learn what is expected of us -process of defining a behaviour as needing negotiation follows 3 steps: 1. Animate the problem 2. Legitimize the problem 3. Demonstrate the problem -power (eg. Parent and child) -ones position in the interaction determines the nature and scope of the negotiation process -a negotiated order has temporal limitations- things taken for granted may not have always existed or existed in the same way 2 -revisions happen due to cultural changes -ex. The Youth Criminal Code Sexual Psychopathy (Chenier, 2003) -Canadian parliament voted unanimously that the sexual psychopath be included in the criminal code -originally thought to be a mental health issue, not a criminal justice issue -historical context: -increased regulation and narrow definition of sex and gender norms -label of sexual deviant- seen as threat to political security and stability -fueled by societal anxiety to the "sexual deviant" label -were a threat to personal, national stability -moral panic -in efforts to maintain social order: -middle class anxiety: gender and family History continued: -19th c. : uncontrollable mental problems beyond individual's control -early 20th c. : sexual immorality (sexual assault) -mid 20th c. : no agreement by psychiatrists Sexual Psychopathy legislation -two areas of thought: 1. Need to police sexual morality due to lax attitudes towards sex 2. What constitutes "normal" sex is not consistent over time, nor can it be clearly defined -certain types of sexual behaviour were socially constructed as problematic -exacerbated by the media's focus of acts of sexual deviation -research findings and standing committee reports were not taken into account Sex Offender Information Registration Act (2004) -Bill C-16 (SOIRA)- created national sex offender registry -purpose: enhances public safety by assisting in the investigation of crimes of sexual nature -identifying possible suspects known to reside near to the offence site -law enforcement can submit queries to the RCMP -created several new offences in the Criminal Code -cant publish this info -offenders must register Reality of the NSOR -REGISTRATION NOT MANDATORY- judge can refuse to grant order -only 50% of offenders registered when it opened -due to privacy, law enforcement cant access the database directly -registry can only be used to solve a sex crime and not to prevent a crime from occurring -correctional service canada refuses to notify registry when an inmate is released -* thus, this service must only be good for media, not for helping to prevent crime -so badly designed, based on honour system- good will of the offenders to report their whereabouts Christopher's Law (2001) -Ontario's registry law -Christopher was abducted as a child, he was sexually abused then murdered 3 -his murderer led police to the body -registry is mandatory now -law enforcements officials have direct access to registry -can search by geographic area -provides more detailed info than SOIRA -can only search by postal code originally Sex and gender roles -Society segregates sexes into 2 different categories -Sex roles- dictated by biology -Gender roles- behavioural norms -Gender identity- own sense of identification - Gender identity disorder -we all go through this disorder, but figure it out by the age of 4 -difference between biological sex and gender identity -at these stages, kids orient their gender identity with what societal gender roles are -deviance from these norms are blamed on poor socialization -DSM is a measurement used to diagnose disorders Individual Level Theories: Psychological model -Popular due to shifting of blame and responsibility from society to offender -deviant behaviours are due to abnormalities in their brains -Identify personality characteristics and try to determine future behaviour -Comprehensive theories need to account for wide range of behaviours and beliefs Psychiatric model -Examine possible motivations and what drives sexual offenders to commit their crimes -Argue that sex offenders have, at some point, experienced a split in personality and psychosocial development -Freud’s id, ego, and superego -id: unconscious impulses/desires -sex/aggression -ego: protect the individual from the id desires -there is a time and place for that behaviour -helps to delay gratification -does not weigh social costs/consequences -superego: mediator between outside world and inner desires -whats appropriate and what isnt -stems from personal experience not societal norms -Relinquishes the importance of the environment Social Learning Model -crime is learned by experiences and people around them -environment DOES play a direct role -systematic interest in gaining power/control/pleasure 4 -divided into 3 phases (according to Bandura) 1. the acquisition phase -individual assimilates his actions and personality with those he observes around him -passive stage where the person collects information about participating in certain acts 2. instigation mechanisms for aggression -individual feels desire for something and cant obtain it in legitimate ways -a learned response 3. the maintaining mechanisms -form the process by which inappropriate or aggressive tendencies are kept in personal repertoire -some suggest this is the defining element of individual decision to be violently criminal Constitutional Model -Cesare Lombroso -Born criminals -Atavism (criminals havent developed as much as everybody else) -body features (big limbs and asymetrical head) can determine criminal behaviour -William Sheldon -Somatotyping -based on characteristics of the physical body -personality traits contribute -Mesomorph (big boned people) are more likely to be criminal -Twin/adoption -Monozygotic (identical) & dizygotic (fraternal) twins -test nature vs. nurture -identical twins are more likely to both demonstrate similar characteristics of criminality if one does- genes determine it that way -Genetic predisposition -criminals are incurable and cant be rehabilitated Sociobiology -Biology plays a role in the biological and genetic conditions that affect how individuals perceive the way they fit into the social environment -Biology is NOT the only determinant of behaviour -Not all humans born a blank slate or equal -Crime caused by instinctual drives Structural Functionalism Society works like an organism, each part has its own function - Sexual deviance may play a role in a society -stigmatizes those who go against the norm Sexual deviance serves 3 purposes: - Establish boundaries - Provides sexual outlets -prostitution, can help keep family together by providing the outlet to use prostitutes to fulfill fantasies - Provides outlets for people who cannot engage in such behaviors otherwise -ie a physically disabled person 5 Conflict Theory -Ask who benefits and who suffers - Power enables individuals to label certain acts as deviant -Dominant groups define what sexual activities are legal and acts are illegal. -Gender inequality and poverty Feminist Theory -Argue society is patriarchal, oppressive, and exploitative - Sexual behaviour and deviance expressions of roles of men and women -The foundation of all deviance, including sexual, depends on who we stigmatize- usually based on sex or gender of individual -based on power of gender roles -Cultural and historical factors affect what is “normal” sexuality -John Schools are where male prostitutes go for prosecution is some cases instead of regular court, no similar option for females Social problems and the Law Law facilitates the creation of social problems in 5 ways: - Cultural lag -laws created to reflect values of a particular time, no longer apply today because of change in values -ex. Same sex marriage - Conflicting values- law supports one to the disadvantage of the other -child labour - Everyday behaviours defined as criminal (is peeping tom, very popular-but criminal which produces early stigmatizing) - Inhibit therapy - Makes illegitimate business highly profitable -prostitution, human trafficking What is "normal sex"? What is normal sex? Culture- normative system of behaviour Folkways- habitual ways of thinking Mores- destroy the moral fabric of society Sexual Standards Statistical standard -Greater than 50% is considered to be normal -based on numbers, not values Cultural standard -Reflected in laws, statutes, and ordinances Religious standard -Know how a behaviour is to be judged -*most important standard for many people Subjective standard -Similar to previous standards but at a personal level 6 -combo of it all! Based on personal experience -through these laws that culture rises to meet the needs of people and to ensure that members obey these rules and regulations Elements of Sexual Behaviour -fantasy -unique to the individual -symbolism -visualization, fetishes (inanimate objects), partialism (body parts cause sexual arousal- when it MUST be part of the sexual gratification- then it becomes an obsession) -ritualism -sex acts having to be performed in the same sequence, same way -compulsion -telling the difference between normal and deviant sexual behaviours: -when a fetish or partialism controls behaviour -compulsion without emotions -adherence to scripts of behaviours needed for ritualism -violent fantasies -torture, murder, non consensual Prevalence of Homosexuality Issues with collecting data in Canada -not all homosexuals are open to giving this information because they don’t know what its being used for etc. Canada (2009) age 18-59 - 1.1% identify as gay or lesbian - 0.9% identify as bisexual - 59% think homosexuality is something people are born with U.S. data shows a higher prevalence Same Sex marriage -Current status -currently in Canada, you can get married -only 13% of Canadians think that there should be no same sex marriage -“Marriage” versus a “civil union” -civil partnerships are not legally defined as a marriage Varies by age -81% of Canadians born after the 80s the more likely you are to accept same sex marriage than those born before the 80s Varies by having same sex relatives or friends -much more likely to support same sex marriage Is gay marriage settled? Sex and culture -sexuality and
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