Chapter 9 – Sexual Orientation.docx

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Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 2100
Cindy Clarke

Chapter 9 – Sexual Orientation Sexual Orientation: the directionality of one’s sexual interests – toward members of the same sex, the other sex, or both Heterosexual Orientation: erotic attraction to, and preference for developing romantic relationships with, members of the other sex Homosexual Orientation: erotic attraction to, and preference for developing romantic relationships with, members of one’s own sex Coming to Terms with Terms Homosexuality – some gays object to it because it draws attention to sexual behaviour  Term bears social stigma  Historically associated with concepts of deviance and mental illness Transgendered people should also be included under the topic sexual orientation  Transgendered people lack the legal protection granted to gay males and lesbians  Some within the transgendered community identify themselves as “trans”, and view their issues as related to gender, not to sexual orientation Some lesbians are uncomfortable with the term queer and worry that the general use of that term may serve to hide some of the particular issues facing lesbians. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity  For gay men, the concept of “gay” centered on the possibility for emotional involvement and relationships with other people who felt the same way rather than on sexual behaviour  Sexual orientations are not defined by sexual behaviours, but rather by the direction of one’s romantic interests and erotic attractions  Sexual orientation should be conceptualized and measured as a combination of the following factors: Sexual attraction, sexual fantasies, sexual preference, sexual partners, tendency to fall in love romantically, and experience of falling in love romantically – also measures one’s self-identified sexual identity Classification of Sexual Oreintation  Not unusual for, heterosexual people to have had sexual experiences with people of their own sex  Adolescents and those in isolated populations may have sexual experiences with people of their own sex while they maintain their heterosexual identities  Many people see themselves as gay or heterosexual long before they ever have sex with members of their own sex  Gay males and lesbians may experience sporadic heteroerotic interests Heteroerotic: of an erotic nature and involving members of the other sex  Heterosexual people may have occasional homoerotic interests Homoerotic: of an erotic nature and involving members of one’s own sex  Women’s sexual orientations are apparently somewhat more flexible or plastic than men’s, with women being somewhat more dependent on social experience  Male heterosexuals responded genitally only to the female stimuli, and gay males showed the reverse pattern  The women, both heterosexual and lesbian, were more likely to be aroused by both male and female sexual stimuli  Attraction to people of the other sex and people of one’s own sex may thus not always be mutually exclusive  Recognized that the boundaries between gay male and lesbian sexual orientations on the one hand, and a heterosexual orientation on the other, are sometimes blurry  Kinsey’s data suggested that close to 10% of the US population was gay or predominantly gay, a number that dramatically exceeds current estimates Estimates of Sexual Orientation  Research in the US, Britain, France and Denamark finds that about 3% of men surveyed identified themselves as gay  About 1% to @% of the US women identify themselves as lesbian  The approach that is used to measure sexual orientation strongly influences the results  Another approach to determining sexual orientation involves measuring physiological responses to sexual stimuli Challenges to the Kinsey Continuum  Alfred Kinsey believed that exclusive heterosexual and gay sexual orientations lay at opposite poles of one continuum Homoereoticism high Homosexuals Bisexuals low Asexual Heterosexual Low High Heteroeroticism Bisexuality  Bisexual people are sexually attracted to both males and females  Some have a stronger leaning toward people of their own sex (bi-gays)  Some toward people of the other sex (bi-straight)  Others appear to be equally attracted to people of their own sex and the other sex (bi-bi)  Some gay people, and some heterosexual people, believe that besexuality are a “cop-out” that people use to deny being gay  Others view bisexuality as a form of sexual experimentation with people of one’s own sex by people who are mostly heterosexual Biphobia: negative attitudes and feelings towards bisexual people. Including intolerance, hatred, and fear Asexuality  Asexuals are defined as people who have a low sexual attraction for both sexes, that is, they are low on both heteroticism and homoeroticism  Might be romantically attracted to others  Have a low interest in any kind of sexual stimulation, including masturbation Perspectives on Gay Males and Lesbian Sexual Orientations Historical and Religious Perspectives  Ancient societies such as the Greeks were openly accepting of male-male sexual behaviour  Jews and Christians have traditionally referred to male-male sexual activity as the sin of Sodom, hence the term sodomy, which generally denotes anal intercourse  Some churches today are performing marriages of gay couples – or at least “blessing” these relationships  Today a major international legal and political struggle over gay rights is taking place based on two opposing values: gay equality Vs. Religious freedom  United Nations, a coalition of mainly Islamic countries has been leading a campaign for the development of international laws that would prohibit “defamation of religions” such as Islam  Movement is to deter international organizations such as the UN from discussing issues such as gay rights, because this would be viewed by Islamic countries as an affront to their religious beliefs and accordingly an act of religious discrimination Current Attitudes Toward Sexual Orientation  Approximately 3/4 of teens and adults feel that homosexuals should be entitled to the same rights as other Canadians  Women tend to be somewhat more approving of homosexuality than men are Homophobia: a cluster of negative attitudes and feelings toward gay people, including intolerance, hatred, and fear Takes many forms, including:  Use of derogatory names (queer, faggot, and dyke)  Telling disparaging “queer jokes”  Barring gay people from housing, employment, or social opportunities  Taunting (verbal abuse)  Gay bashing – violence against homosexuals (physical abuse, sometimes lethal)  Gay people can also be homophobic People who have a strong stake in maintaining stereotypical gender roles may feel more readily threatened by the existence of the gay male or lesbian sexual orientation, because gay people appear to confuse or reverse the roles.  Homophobic attitudes are more common among males who identify with a traditional male gender role and a conservative political orientation, and
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