social problems chapter 5 notes

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Published on 21 Apr 2011
Chapter 5
Sexual Orientation
-homosexuality – an attraction, physical and emotional, to people of the same sex
-sexual orientation sexual attraction to people of a particular sex (or sexes)
-queer an umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual
oterm considered offensive by some
oalternative: LGBTQ acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer
-early 20th century: most people felt that sexuality is fixed and binary, and normal people were
either entirely heterosexual or entirely homosexual
-1940s/50s: Alfred Kinsey showed that human sexual orientation lies on a continuum, with
heterosexuality at one end and homosexuality at the other
omost people are not entirely heterosexual or homosexual
oalso noted that people often do not act on their sexual desires for ear of attracting censure
or stigma
perhaps the blurring of the line between heterosexuality and homosexuality lead
some people to enforce the boundary with special rigour
may contribute to behaviour such as homophobia
Numbering the Homosexual Population
-general agreement on several matters
ofirst, it is likely the concentration of homosexuals is greater in some communities (ex. in
cities rather than rural areas)
osecond, though the homosexual population may reach as high as 10% in some
populations, the overall proportion of homosexuals is far closer to 1-2% of the national
othird, male homosexuals are invariably found to be more numerous than female
-McCabe et al. study shows difficulty associated with numbering the homosexual population
o2% identified themselves as homosexual
o4% reported at least one same-sex partner during their lifetime
o6% reported sexual attraction to members of the same sex
Gender Binary and Transgendered People
-many societies consider sex central to a persons social identity
otherefore the idea of changing of blurring genders, or crossing gender lines, troubles
many people
-transgenderedan umbrella term for any gender-variant person
odo not and cannot identify with their birth sex and socially assigned gender
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otransgender broad term that denotes anyone whose gender identity falls outside the
conventional gender binaries
can include transsexual people who are pre- or post-operative
-bisexualsomeone who is sexually attracted to people of both the same and opposite sexes
othe attraction does not need to be equal in strength
-most view transgendered people as part of the LGBT community, yet some transgendered people
feel they do not belong to that community (ex. may deal with medical and discrimination issues
that may be different from those experienced by lesbian and gay members of the community)
Coming Out
-from a sociological perspective, the most important step in the sexual career’ of an LGBT person
is coming outor disclosing his or her sexual identity (how a person self-identifieswhether
as straight, gay, lesbian or transgendered)
osociologically important for several reasons
first, until a person comes out, he or she has difficulty fully entering into the
LGBT community
second, people cannot fully enter into new social roles until they fully embrace
the new role it entails
third, important in the workplace people spend so much time and energy at
work, it is important that they be known for who they really are
Attitudes and Laws
-sexuality has been one of the most debated and problematized of human activities
-ancient Greece
ofelt one could not readily infer sexual identity from sexual actions
ohomosexuality had its own etiquette
top partner Greek citizen
bottom partner women, young boy or non-citizen
oblurry line between homosexuality and heterosexuality
-many cultural attitudes about homosexuality changed and homogenized with the spread of
Christianity and the Catholic Church
oMiddle Ages: it tolerated or ignored homosexual behaviour
o13th century: hostility surfaced
religious writings of Thomas Aquinas spread the idea that homosexuality is
unnatural an undesirable, obliging people who considered themselves Christians
to condemn homosexuality
-even today, homosexuality remains illegal or highly regulated in many countries
-generally, countries with restrictive morality laws believe that homosexual behaviour is morally
wrong and threatening to society
-not all religions oppose homosexuality
-sociologists, like many others today, view homosexuality as the result of nature, not nature
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