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SOC 2070
Norman Dubeski

Sexual Deviance: Chapter 9 - Liazos attacked sociologists of deviance for studying nuts, sluts and deviated perverts - he also regarded a bias of these scientists towards actors who engage in the violations of society’s sexual norms - BUT, in fact it is simply more deviant to engage in this study than corporate crime and high-level political malfeasance - it is Liazos that holds the bias, not sociologists of deviance - these scientists focus more on the sexual deviant actions because it is a prime example of deviance - Sociologists discuss sexual violations as deviance because such behavior tends to be more discrediting and stigmatizing that most other forms of deviance. - Why do societies devise and enforce so many norms about sexual behavior? Why are the punishments to severe? - We construct uncountable social identities on the basis of what we do, or have done, sexually and this is indicated by the number and strength of the norms trying to govern it - Corporate crime is an extremely minor form of deviance since only a small number of people can engage in it - Consider the bible’s sexual prohibition - contains 69 different passages that refer to adulterer, adulterers, adulteress(es), adulteries.. etc - 44 refer to fornication, fornications, fornicator (s) - prohibits sex with one’s father’s wife, daughter-in-law, mother’s daughter, mother’s sister, father’s sister etc. and not to mention all animals, another an, and one’s own wife during menstruation - interesting how these are laid out for men and not women - compliance of women to the norms is more likely to have been taken for granted What’s Deviant About Sexual Behavior - who one’s partner is, is clearly an important source of prohibition - what one’s partner determines right and wrong in the sexual arena - how the sex takes place can determine its inappropriateness - where and when sex is performed can be a source of right or wrong - What makes a sexual act illegal - and deviant - is inappropriateness along one or another of the following dimensions: (1) the degree of consent, one aspect of the how question; (2) the mature of the sexual object, the who and what question; (3) the nature of the sex act, another aspect of the how question; and (4) the setting in which the sex act occurs, the where question - rape is deviant along dimensions (2) and so is sex with non human sex objects (doll or animal) - kinky sex encompasses dimension (3) and so do Sadomasochistic practices - Anal and oral sex are considered Kinky sex because the nature of the act is considered weird, unwholesome, and worthy of condemnation - sex with patterns of the same gender is condemned - Masturbation is a widely controlled law, kids are taught not to touch themselves and adults rarely talk about it, even with a close friend - (4) sexual fantasies of many men indicate that sex in an inappropriate setting excites the imagination of many people - there are also other questions not strongly governed by the law.... - how often? - persons deemed too old - pornography - all societies deem certain partners for designated persons off-limits Essentialism Versus Constructionism - positivism is related to essentialism - Contrast is the sharpest at the sexual level - The essentialist position sees sexuality as “real,” as something that exists, in more or less standard form, everywhere and for all time. Sex is a “thing,” a pregiven entity, a concretely real phenomenon, much like oxygen molecule, an apple or an orange, or gravitation. - to the essentialists perspective, sex is an immanent, indwelling inherent force, it is there; it exists prior to the human consciousness. - “everyone knows” what sex is; sex is sex is sex. - Essentialists recognize that sex norms and sexual custom and behavior, vary the world over and throughout recorded time - Constructionism perspective asks questions about the construction and imputation of meaning - instead of assuming beforehand that a phenomenon bears an automatic sexual meaning, the constructionist asks the following: How is sexuality itself constructed? What is sexuality? How is the category put together? What is included in it, what’s excluded? What are the meanings that are attached to it? How is sex thought about? Talked about? What rules do societies construct for appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior? - they argue that sexual meanings vary from person to person, setting to setting, social circle to social circle, and society to society - Constructionists insist that behavior or phenomena that are superficially, mechanically, and outwardly the same- that might seem formally the same to an external observer- can have radically different meanings to the participants and the opposite is true as well - from the outside they bear similarity - They argue that sexuality is in the service of the social world. Sexuality does not shape our social conduct so much as social meanings give shape to our sexuality - argue that sex is not a given but something that is fashioned out of biological material partially by our culture and partly by our partners and our interactions with them - it is not the sex that makes us who we are but we who make sex what it is - They argue even more that not only sex is constructed, in addition, a specific evaluative meaning is read into it as well. (good or bad with conventional sexuality) - Until 1980s, the majority of research and writing on non normative sex cast it beyond the pale of normality saying that deviants were not like the rest of us - psychologically, sexual deviance implies a disorder, a dysfunction; socially and sociologically, sexual deviance refers to a violation of norms and a subsequently high likelihood of condemnation and stigma Homosexuality Public opinion - public opinion has become much more accepting of homosexuality than was true a generation ago. Today, as compared with 20 or 30 years ago, the public is significantly, and in some cases, strikingly, more likely to believe that homosexual relations should be illegal - 43% in 1998 - 55% in 2008 - that homosexuality should be allowed to teach in elementary school - 27% yes in 1977 vs. 54% yes in 2005 - that homosexual relations are an acceptable lifestyle - 34% in 1982 - 54% in 2008 - Most americans would withhold from homosexuals the right to get married on an equal par with heterosexuals (57%) - public is evenly split over whether or not homosexual relations are morally acceptable (48% vs 48%) - condemnation has slowed and declined - one indication of this as a form of deviance is that older sectors of the population condemn homosexuality more than younger sectors do - in 1973 56% of the young say no to homosexuality while 89% of older, 60+ did so too - as younger segments of the population grow older, they tend to retain the attitudes they held when they were younger and the younger age groups at one point in time remain less condemnatory that their older contemporaries when they age - attitudes related to homosexuality are strongly related to education - 7/10 respondents who did not graduate from high school said that homosexual relations are always wrong while 43% of sampled college grads said this, and only 33% in postgraduate education - As American society becomes increasingly educated, its condemnation of homosexuality will decrease. Correlates of Homophobia - homophobia is the hatred of homosexuals - the homophobe is a person who says that homosexuals should be regarded as deviant and treats them as such. - The older and less educated the person, the greater the likelihood that he or she says that homosexuality is wrong and that homosexuals should not have the same rights as heterosexuals - Gregory Herek pored through polling data and found that men, Southerners and Midwestern, rural dwellers, Republicans, frequent churchgoers, the religiously fundamentalist, and political conservatives are more prejudiced against gays than women; people living in the Northeast and West Coast, urban residents, democrats, and independents, have more secular views of religious beliefs and political liberals are less prejudice against gays - 2 psychologists determined that the most important variable determining whether and to what extent the public condemns homosexuality is the degree to which the respondent held a general traditional belief system - Persons who are more “closed” tend to be older. more politically conservative, and religiously fundamental, and have a low level of education - those who are more “open” tend to be younger, politically liberal, secular or religiously moderate, and have higher levels of education Homosexual Behavior as a Crime? - Until June 2003, 11 states of the United States had laws on the books criminalizing what it referred to as “sodomy” which applied equally to homosexual and heterosexual acts. - 4 states had sodomy laws that applied only to homosexual acts, 35 states repealed their sodomy laws - in a moth, the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas sodomy laws were unconstitutional, repealing all sodomy laws - this decision is referred to as Lawrence v. Texas, overturns a 1986 ruling, Bower v. Hardwick, that ended the right of states to criminalize homosexual sodomy Homosexual Marriage and Civil Unions - Sept. 2003 Canadian Parliament endorsed homosexual marriage - American Gallup pole: 34% yes, 62% no to gay marriage - Vermont has a “civil union” law - In november, Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right - in 2009 gallup pole, 57% opposed gay marriage The Media - October 2003 Bride’s magazine published an article about homosexual weddings - Richard Mohr and Robert Switzer gay marriage, listed in New York times - The early years of the 21st century witnessed the release of a remarkable array of gay-oriented television programs though 30 years ago tv depicted homosexuality as a mental disorder Homosexual Clergy - Gene Robinson (2003) was an openly gay New Hampshire priest that was elected bishop of the Episcopal Church - In Romans, St. Paul refers to same-sex act as “unseemly,” “unrighteous,” and “unnatural” - Robert Goss, a former Jesuit priest and an advocate of what’s called “queer theology”, argues that God created humans in His image; hence, homosexual behavior, an expression of that humanity, is a blessing, not a sin. Holdouts - these pro-gay interpretations of Christian theology are controversial, however. - Who are the holdouts? those segments of American society who continue to regard homosexuality as deviant Conservative Clergy - conservative christianity - Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, stated: “Homosexual behavior is deviant behavior according to the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture, from the Book of Genesis to the end of the New Testament”. - he stated that Bishop Robinson’s election, is the “antithesis of Scripture” - Christianity has moved from monolithic opposition to homosexuality to a consideration of overturning at least a millennium of that opposition The Laity - the laity also has its views on the deviance of homosexuality - 81% of Evangelical protestants were likely to disapprove than the majority - Members of a congregation were evenly split - Public support favoring civil unions or marriage like arrangements for homosexual couples declined in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the sodomy laws nation wide while earlier polls showed that roughly half accepted it - Both the church’s and the general public’s views on homosexuality are in transition The Military - The United States military is another institution in which homosexuality is regarded as unacceptable- by its very rejection of gays, dealt with as deviant - in 2001, more men and women were discharged for declaring themselves as homosexuals or for being caught at engaging in homosexuality acts (1,200 personnel) - in addition the number of incidents of antigay harassment in the four services
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