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Chapter 5

SOC102 Habits of Inequality Chapter 5

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Lorne Tepperman

Habits of Inequality Chapter 5 – Victimization More than a headline - JAMES HUBLEY o High school student at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in Kanata, Ontario (near Ottawa, Ontario) o The only openly gay student in his school o Committed suicide due to the bullying he experienced and the depression he suffered o Posted a suicide note on his online blog - Canada’s youth suicide rates are high o In 2009, 202 Canadian teens between 15-19 years old committed suicide o Suicide accounts for almost 25% of deaths among 15-19 year olds o Youths who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are more susceptible - C.J. PASCOE o Conducted an ethnographic study o Proposed that boys use the words “fag” and “gay”  To police the boundaries of what is considered masculine  To lock in the negative connotation of the word and its implication of minority sexual practices - Despite the gay rights movement and progress made toward tolerance, it is still tough to be gay in our society Social construction - Sexuality or sexual orientation  whether we are attracted to people of the same or the other biological sex - Sexual orientation is not embedded within our biology, but rather, it is a product of our social context o Undoubtedly, biology does influence how we experience and express our sexuality  Men and women are differentiated by biological markers that limit their respective sexualities in some form o However, biology exists and is expressed within a social environments o Arguments about sexuality are commonsensical  “Heterosexuality is natural because the male and female reproductive organs just fit naturally together”  Does not make sense sometimes  Tend to overshadow the significant role of social context in shaping sexuality - It matters a great deal how we define and measure whether someone is homosexual because we get quite different numbers when we take one approach rather than another - Social construction is implicated in a culture’s decision to highlight sexual orientation as a topic of interest (e.g., single out homosexuals, deviance from what has been labelled normal sexual behaviour) - There are many varieties of sexual expression (e.g., heterosexuality vs. homosexuality, married monogamy vs. multiple partners, procreative sex vs. other types of sex), but at one time or another, someone has labelled all of them as deviant - Perhaps people want to regulate sexual behaviour more than other actions because of the strong feelings that sex produces - Homosexuality has proven to be difficult to regulate because we cannot come up with a satisfying definition o Homosexuality (formal definition)  a physical and emotional attraction to people of the same sex o It is hard to say whether homosexuality is an act, a preference, or an identity o It is hard to agree on whether homosexuality is something occasional, regular, or permanent o This is because sexuality is multi-layered (e.g., people experience their sexuality in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, roles, relationships, behaviour) o This is because sexuality manifests itself at the intersection of many factors (e.g., biological, psychological, economic, political, spiritual, social) o There is a hard time developing a universally applicable definition of homosexuality o This led to the invention of the sociology of sex  study of sex, gender, and sexuality because they are important parts of social reality and not only biological reality - Our ideas about sexuality changes over time o Thirty years ago, homosexuality was viewed as a medical condition and a legal condition punishable by law o On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide  Civil Marriage Act  provided a gender-neutral marriage definition  National legislation followed court decisions  Beginning in 2003, court decisions had already legalized same-sex marriage in 8 provinces and 1 territory, which cumulatively made up about 90% of Canada’s population o Canadian public opinion on sexual topics has changed over the last 30 years (e.g., more liberal/accepting of homosexuality)  Anti-homosexuality  outwardly anti-homosexual behaviour (not homosexuality)  Most educated Canadians today consider anti-homosexuality to be a social problem and a potential violation of hate laws (e.g., Canadian Human Rights Act, or one of the provincial human rights codes)  Many of us think that other people’s sexual activity is only of public concern if it is harmful to us or others  Yet, homosexual people are still victimized, and experience discrimination, exclusion, violence  Most of us feel that governments (and churches, schools, and work places) have no business judging people’s sexual activities and preferences o Homosexuality remains stigmatized, making secrecy necessary and coming out a painful process Define normal - In early 20 century, the common wisdom in North America was that sexuality is fixed and binary o Normal people were supposed to be entirely heterosexual o Not normal people were considered entirely homosexual - ALFRED KINSEY th o Conducted research at the end of “Victorian prudery” in the mid-20 century o Showed that human sexual orientation lies on a continuum (e.g., heterosexuality and homosexuality at opposite ends) o Criticized biologists and psychologists who assumed that heterosexuality was part of an animal’s innate or instinctive equipment and viewed non-reproductive sexual activity is perverse or abnormal o Founded a research lab in Indiana, now known as the Kinsey Institute o Surveyed 18,000 Americans on their sexual practices  Men of different social classes were very different in terms of their sexual behaviour  Women’s class was less significant than age and gender ideologies for explaining sexual variations o Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale  a seven-point continuum showing a complex variety of sexual tastes  Avoided labelling people themselves as heterosexual or homosexual  Able to label people’s life histories or cumulative experiences as heterosexual or homosexual  Able to rate people differently at different times of their lives  No position on the continuum is intrinsically normal or abnormal o Proposed that most people are not entirely heterosexual or homosexual in their sexual desires  Exist somewhere between the ends of the continuum, which may change over time  Not all people at on their sexual desires because of fear of attracting censure or stigma  Not all people are entirely aware of their preferences because of stigma attached to exploring one’s options o It is difficult, maybe impossible, to label someone as strictly homosexual or heterosexual throughout their entire life  Some people try to re-enforce the boundaries between homosexuality and heterosexuality  We think of sexuality in mutually exclusive terms because we think about sex and gender in the same way  Some people tend to place themselves and others into binary categories - MARIANA VALVERDE o Showed that heterosexuality is merely constructed as the norm (e.g., socially defined as normal; rejects heteronormativity)  Yet, people still see heterosexuality as the norm (e.g., heteronormativity)  Yet, many parents continue to teach heteronormativity to their children o Suggested that arguments that normalize heterosexuality are rooted in a biological determinist perspective  Biological determinist perspective  heterosexuality as natural and innate  Based on the simplistic reasoning that heterosexuality was invented by Mother Nature to ensure that men would not abandon the mother and child after procreation, but would continue to provide them with protection in exchange for sexual favours from the woman  Everywhere in our society  Stereotypical because it sees Mother Nature as a “manipulative mother-in-law”  Men are concerned only with sex  Women are weak and sexually passive  Illogical because it does not clarify why women would turn to predatory men for protection o Pairing off or banding together are just as effective for protection - KARIN MARTIN o Heteronormativity  the view that heterosexuality is to be taken for granted as normal and natural  Relies on a variety of social institutions, practices, and norms that support heterosexuality  Shows itself when people automatically assume that another person is heterosexual  We often practice it without even realizing (e.g., subtle)  We are sometimes surprised to find out someone is homosexual  We have learned to assume that everyone is heterosexual, unless evidence shows otherwise o Parents construct their children’s sexual views and experiences on a daily basis (e.g., teach heteronormativity)  Two sets of practices 1) Mothers imagine and create a world for their children in which only heterosexuals exist (e.g., assume universal heterosexuality) o Mothers interpret their children’s behaviour as showing heterosexual interest o Mothers project their own expectations about appropriate sexual interaction onto the usually gender-neutral interactions between young children  Mothers label their children’s friends as girlfriends/boyfriends if they are of the opposite sex and as friends if they are of the same sex 2) Mothers manage heteronormativity when they allow themselves to consider the possibility that their children may one day show homosexual preferences o Few mothers consciously prepare for the possibility o More mothers hope their children will turn out heterosexual  Children are free to interpret, resist, or alter the messages they receive from their parents  Since heterosexuality is put forward as the only normal form of sexual expression, it is hard to resist  Mothers are not to be blamed o Many are unaware of the assumptions they promote o Others are reluctant to parent in unconventional ways, since mothers are themselves constrained by the social expectations that surround mothering o Many are concerned of bullying, so mothers discourage sexual deviation to protect their children from social rejection o Heterosexuality is put forward as the only valid form of sexual expression  Reinforced when we automatically assume that others are heterosexual  Privileging of heterosexuality can be intentional and spiteful, which can lead to enacting heterosexism  Heterosexism  a belief in the moral superiority of heterosexual institutions and practices Bull’s eye - Homosexual population is very small o Compared to other target groups  Women form half the population (e.g., 16% of Internet users came across hate content)  Ethnic, racial, class, or age groups are often very large (e.g., 57% of Internet users came across hate content) o Only 1% of Canadians who are ≥ 18 years old identify themselves as homosexuals  Consistent with figures from local communities in the US  Consistent with indirect measurements and statistics from the UK, France, Norway, and Denmark o Gay and lesbian leaders estimate that 10% of the general population is homosexual  Estimates are far off the mark  Only applies to geographical areas where homosexuals are concentrated (e.g., gay neighbourhoods in big cities like Montreal and Toronto) - Homosexuals represent a small fraction of the population, so especially vulnerable to victimization o Victimization is not inevitable o Victimology  study on victims of crime  Developed in recent years through the increased use of victim surveys  Collect data on the hidden incidence of crime  Takes us beyond the crime rates reported by the police  Victimization surveys  designed to target unreported victimization cases o Victimization is the most common among disadvantaged people  Victimization reflects (e.g., rooted in) social inequality  Partly a result of people’s characteristics  Partly a result of what a society labels as deviant or worthy of condemnation  People with higher-than-average risks of violent victimization include:  Self-identified Aboriginals  Self-identified homosexuals  Physical handicap  About 12% of hate-motivated incidents were focused on the victim’s sexual orientation  Rate of violent victimization for self-identified homosexuals was 2.5 times higher than the rate for self-identified heterosexuals  Victims of conscience  active homosexuals who are victimized  Cannot deny who they are  Must risk danger and rejection by others in order to be true to themselves  Appear in various social forms (e.g., heretics, whistleblowers, conscientious objectors, war resistors, bohemians or members of counter-culture)  May eventually be remembered as heroes and heralds of a new society - GEORGE WEINBERG (1972) o Homophobia  fear or hatred of homosexuals o Introduced the term in 1972 to focus attention on the problem of anti-gay prejudice and stigma o Implies that anti-gay prejudice is a phobia  An irrational feeling based mainly on fear (e.g., a clinical pathology)  A defence mechanism against that fear - Hatred of homosexuals is not a phobia, but a socially learned anti-homosexual attitude o Accounts for the historical changes in the way societies regard homosexuality (e.g., Western societies have become more tolerant of homosexuality in recent decades) o Homophobia comes in various forms  It ranges from mild social distance (e.g., unwilling to form close relationships with homosexuals) to stereotyping (e.g., the view that all homosexuals are the same)  It always reflects a type of anti-homosexual subculture  Based on essentialism  the belief that all homosexuals essentially have the same characteristics  GORDON ALLPORT o Proposed that any belief in group essence constitutes part of a prejudiced personality  Essentialism is often accompanied by a rigid way of thinking that cannot accept ambiguity or changeability o Essentialist beliefs about homosexuality are strongly associated with anti-homosexual attitudes [↑ essentialist beliefs about homosexuality = ↑ anti-homosexual attitudes]  People who demonstrate essentialist thinking are usually hostile toward homosexuals, even when they are not hostile to other minorities (e.g., women, immigrants)  Essentialist beliefs about sexual orientation vary along two dimensions 1) Immutability (of sexual orientation)  the belief that under no circumstances can one change homosexuality 2) Fundamentality (of classification of people as heterosexuals or homosexuals)  the belief that homosexuality is central to a person’s character  People who believe in immutability and fundamentality hold hostile attitudes towards homosexuals o People who think homosexuals have a choice in their sexual orientations are more likely to hold anti-homosexual attitudes o People who think of homosexuality as a defining feature of a person’s character are more likely to hold anti-homosexual attitudes  People who believe in immutability and fundamentality are likely to believe in other unsupported concepts (e.g., immutability and fundamentality are not rooted in any concrete evidence) o People who think homosexuality is a choice tend to think that homosexuality is a result of developmental experiences (e.g., negative heterosexual encounters when young, positive homosexual encounters when young, dominant/smothering mother, weak/absent father)  It is sometimes a response to the organized homosexual subculture - Most gay rights activists argue that a person is born gay, and homosexuality is permanent and uncontrollable (e.g., sexual orientation is not a choice) o Widely accepted within the gay community o Gaining acceptance and support from the heterosexual public o Heterosexuals think of themselves as naturally heterosexual o Homosexuals think of themselves as naturally homosexual - GREGORY HEREK (2004) o Anti-homosexual attitudes (in homophobic people) are rooted in three main concepts  Sexual stigma  the tendency to hold non-heterosexual behaviours and identities in low regard  Heterosexism (or heteronormativity)  the belief that only heterosexuality is natural and normal  Sexual prejudice  the tendency to hold negative attitudes about people based solely on their sexual orientation - Anti-homosexuality is influenced by four factors 1) Openness to human diversity  People who are more accepting of human diversity are less likely to be hostile to homosexuals  THEODOR ADORNO  Authoritarian people are more likely to hate homosexuals [authoritarian thinking = ↑ anti- homosexuality (also black people, Jews, and other ethnic, racial, and social minorities)] o Rooted in conservative social/religious/political/economic views  Conservatism appears to be the single best predictor of anti-homosexuality [conservatism = ↑ anti- homosexuality] o Particularly true for conservative people who are religious, uneducated, educated, older o People who are politically conservative hold more negative attitudes toward homosexuals (and more traditional views about female sexuality and male dominance) o People who are socially conservative are more likely to hold anti-homosexual attitudes  People with anti-homosexual attitudes also usually reject a wide variety of other deviant groups 2) (Lack of) Familiarity with sexual diversity  ROBERT FAY  Sexual experience determines people’s acceptance of homosexuality  People with wide variety in sexual experiences are less anti-homosexual  *↑ sexual experience = ↓ anti-homosexuality] 3) (Lack of) Familiarity with homosexuals  ROBERT FAY  People who are more familiar with homosexuality and homosexuals at work, school, or in the neighbourhood are less anti-homosexual  [living in large cities = ↑ knowing more or contact with homosexuals = ↓ anti-homosexuality]  More common in large cities  GREGORY HEREK and ERIK GLUNT  Personal contact with homosexuals has more influence on anti-homosexual attitudes than any other social or demographic variable 4) Membership in an anti-homosexual culture or subculture  National differences  ANISSA HELIE o In most of the 83 countries where homosexuality is a punishable crime, people follow fundamentalist religions that support these laws o *fundamentalist religions = ↑ anti-homosexuality]  Group differences  Subcultures that are homophobic are typically macho (e.g., frat boys, military)  *macho (e.g., frat boys, military) = ↑ anti-homosexuality] o These four factors shows that anti-homosexuality is a result of social variables, or even idiosyncratic psychopathologies - Sex-role rigidity is the single best predictor of anti-homosexuality o Sex-role rigidity  a belief in the essential difference between men and women, and a sensed need to keep women in their place - Anti-homosexuals are fixated on whether homosexual people choose their sexual orientation (e.g., blame implies free choice) o Impossible to locate a gene that determines sexual orientation o AARON GREENBERG and J. MICAHEL BAILEY  Believed that there are positive aspects to being able to select the sexuality of your child - Societies that marginalize homosexuality and promote heteronormativity are less numerous o Reflects increased tolerance for homosexuality and reduced victim blaming o Scandinavian countries (e.g., Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland)  low anti-homosexuality  Have weak just-world beliefs  Place blame on social practices that foster discrimination and disadvantage  Best way to decrease negative attitudes toward homosexuals  Allow people to express just-world beliefs by placing blame, but deflect blame away from the individua
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