Point 6 Sexuality
Sexuality is socially constructed, result of complex interaction between biological, chemical,
physiological, cultural, and soc-l factors
biology exist within a soc.env-t: society defines the way in which sexuality is expressed.
In past 30 years, Canadians become more liberal about sex; sex.education is standpart of high-
Sex both biological characteristics that define a person as male or female and the act of sexual
Sexuality feelings of sexual attraction and any behaviours related to them.
Today sex as a norm => people more open to its discussion. With increasing openness, norms
surrounding sexuality are changing (having sex younger, more often, more partners, etc)+ decline
of sex.double standard+premarital sex acceptable+deviated sexual practices(unless its harmful).
-30 years ago: medical,psychiatric problem; -since 2005, gay&lesbian have right to marry ->
punishable under law represents the end of soc.discrimin-n +evidence definition of normal and
deviant are not static, changing over time.
Take on sexuailty-product of soc.interaction at micro level, all the while influenced by macro
level that determine how our sexuality finally will be experienced.
Sexual deviations (prostitution,pornography) play a valuable role in our society: test the boundaries
of socially acceptable behaviour => help society to celebrate&promote soc.cohesion.
Prostitution the provision of sexual services for reward,usually money.
Sexual deviance provides people with varied sexual outlets. Ex, prostitution gives an opportunity
sexual fantasies => prostitution may help to keep families together => serves society as whole.
Sexual conformity vs sexual deviance (as long as isolated no tension)
Ask: who benefits from existing social order and who suffers?
Sexual deviance (ex,prostitution) reflect social inequality and differential access to money and
Dominant groups -> greatest influence over defining what kind of sex.activities are normal +
control whether legal or illegal.
Prostitution gender inequality + poverty (most in developing countries)
Sexual scripts - the guidelines that describe socially acceptable ways of behaving when engaging
activities. (one of the dominant: sexually assertive man and passive or resistant woman).
Interaction with minority sexual groups makes majority more accepting deviance. (familiarity
brings understanding, example of homosexuals).
Sym.Ineractionist approach is useful in studying socialization of prostitutes, their entry to this
line of work, how they develop strategies to deal with johns(customers) and pimps(managers).
Prostitution has its ownlanguage, prof.ethics, etc.
Is useful in studying soc.construction of soc.problems around sex.activity
Feminists argue that Canadian society patriarchal (unfare, exploitive of women and their
bodies). Sexual behaviour expresses this inequality in roles of men and women. People regard problems of teenage sex, pregnancy resulting from behaviour of girls =>
gendering the blame around sexual behaviour.
Fallen woman (Boritch,1997)
who violated her gender role, losing her culturally required purity through sexual looseness.
- serves as example of what can happen to woman (girl), who doesn't display supposedly normal
Gender inequality: female sex worker -> deviant woman, but customer man normal. Blaming
- prostitutes are charged, while customers not.
Feminists under current exploitive conditions have good reasons to criticize sex industry,
however this stance
should not prevent them from supporting more social rights and protection for sex workers.
Canadian society: violence is gendered, with women at receiving end.
Cosmopolitan and Playboy -> notion that women are to devote themselves to satisfy men.
J. Kilbourne -> women are treated as sex.objects rather than human beings; in media sex is more
trivializing than promoting, becoming synthetic and cynical rather than sinful.
Questions about normality
Michel Foucault (1970-1980) History of sexuality. Goal: to compare ancient pagan and
Christian ethics on sexuality + trace the development of Christian ideas about sex to present day.
He believes that modern thinking of sex-ty is associated with power structures of modern
In early Christianity: sexual pleasure -> unlawful conduct, rule breaking (non-procreative sex.acts
evil) Ancient Greeks: full set of se4x.activities
He argues: its everyone's right and duty to seek pleasure it this way. Modern state control of
sexuality parallels modern control of criminality by making sex (as crime) an object of allegedly
scientific analyses that offer both knowledge and domination of their objects. Science choose what
normal or abnormal.
The supposed science of sexuality controls via claimed knowledge of individuals. People try to
norms that science proposed => become objects of external discipline and self-monitoring subjects.
Discourse constrains us, because it teaches us to look at sex in a certain way, privileged by
science or state.
Foucault & Marcuse -> our goal should be the liberation of bodies and pleasures from
conventional sexuality through new awareness and re-evaluation of sexuality.
Sexuality, as a lifestyle choice and means of seeking pleasure, can be related to consumption,
especially the consumption of commodities or consumerism.
Postmodernists supports the study of alternative sexualities. In different communities people
continue to innovate and reform their identities.
People with unconventional physical norms (lack of arm, etc) must re-invent sexuality for
themselves, negotiate their inventions with others. Physically handicapped people have gained a
particular advantage from developing new forms of cybersex. They made sex.seduction and
pleasure less dependent on physical location and mobility.Classic studies: The social organization of sexuality.
The social organization of sexuality by E.Laumann, J.Gagnon, R.Michael, S.Michael (US)
most comprehensive, accurate study on sex.behaviour and practices in general adult population.
Laumann sociologist in classics Gagnon soc-st and sexologist developed sexual script
S.Michael survey methodologist
1980s -AIDS => how AIDS is related to sex behaviour. Originally, was to be funded by federal
(10.000-20.000 respondents), however government refused to fund, financial support from private.
1992 nationwide, representative survey (3432 Americans of 18-59 age) resulted in 2 books:
academic report andgeneral (Sex in America)
Report consisted of 4 parts:
!st study of theoretical framework and design (approaches used: script theory, choice theory,
2nd sexual experience and preferences
3rd sex satisfaction, dysfunction, disease, fertility, cohabitation, marriage.
4th tech.appendices: questionnaire
Findings: US as sexually conservative nation: 1) monogamy in principle and practise =>
American marriage regulates sex.behaviour with remarkable efficiency. But, its normal to have
more than one sex.partner in lifetime. 16% of adultery within marriage and few people (most men)
2) little evidence of unconventional sexuality (1 of 20 homosex.activity vs 1 of 10 in 1940-50).
3) Laumann -> people more likely to have sex with others who are like themseves in many ways.
90% of couples same r