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Chapter 5

Chapter 5 of Social Problems

10 Pages

Course Code
Lorne Tepperman

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Chapter 5 Sexualities Introduction People with alternative sexual orientations have long suffered from ridicule, discrimination, exclusion and even violence Recently, however, public discussions of this topic have been strongly influence by current thinking about human rights Today, few Canadians view homosexuality as immoral or worthy of criminalization In particular, people with homosexuals as kin, friends, acquaintances, or workmates are more accepting and knowledgeable Most people consider anti-homosexual behaviour a social problem and a potential violation of hate laws and the human right codes Sexual Orientation Homosexuality: sexual attraction to people of the same sex It is hard whether to say homosexuality is an act, a preference, or an identity, and if it is something occasional, regular or permanent Sexual orientation: ones sexual attraction to people of a specific sex Queer: an umbrella term for anyone who does not identify as heterosexual However, the term is still not widely accepted in the heterosexual community LGBTQ: acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer often used to speak of the LGBTQ community In early 20 century NA, most people held the view that sexuality is fixed and binary The American sexologist Dr Alfred Kinsey writing in the 40s and 50s (end of Victorian prudery) showed that human sexual orientation lies on a continuum, with heterosexuality at one end and homo at the other Kinsey also noted that people often do not act on their sexual desires, for fear of attracting censure or stigma Likewise, people who identify themselves as homo yet feel an attraction to one or more people of the opposite sex may not respond to this attraction, in the belief that they should be consistent Numbering the Homosexual Population There is general agreement on several matters: 1. It is likely that the concentration of homo is greater in some communities than others (city vs rural) 2. Thought the homo population may reach as high as 10% in population where they are most concentrated, the overall proportion of homo is far closer to 1-2% of the national population 3. Male homo are invariably found to be more numerous than female In a sample of 35000 adults (20+) o 2% identified themselves as LGBTQ o 4% reported at least one same-sex sexual partner o 6% reported same-sex attraction o Non-hetero orientation was generally associated with a higher than average risk of substance use and substance dependence o However, the more important finding is that the risks of substance abuse appear to vary by a factor of 3 depending on how sexual orientation is defined Gender Binary and Transgendered People Since distinguishing between maleness and femaleness is so important in societies, the idea of changing or blurring genders, or crossing gender lines, troubles many people Transgendered: an umbrella for any gender-variant person o Feel that their society identity does not match their biological sex o They do not cannot identify with their birth sex and socially assigned gender o Not all transgendered people undergo surgery o Many view trans people as part of LGBT; yet some feel like they do not belong o Must deal with medical and discrimination issues and different identity issues Bisexual: someone who is sexually attracted to people of both the same and opposite sexes. However, the attraction to both sexes does not need to be equal in strength o Can include trans people who are pre-operative or post-operative, if they have chosen surgical means to change their sex so that it conforms to their own sense of gender o Can also include cross-dressers (transvestites), intersexed people, and people who, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, are viewed by others as atypical of their gender LGBT communities are typically located in a large urban centres Many trans move to big cities specifically to find their niche People in big cities tend to discriminate less Coming Out From a sociological perspective, the most important step in the sexual career of an LGBT person is coming out to family, friends, co-workers and others Sexual identity: how a person self-identifies whether as straight, gay, lesbian or tran This transition is sociologically important for several reasons: 1. Until a person comes out, he or she has difficulty entering into the LGBT community 2. Peoples identities are linked to the social roles they play a. They cannot fully enter into, or endorse, a new identity for themselves until they fully embrace the new role that it entails 3. Disclosure is important in the organizations where individual les or gay men work a. People spend so much of their time and energy at work, it is important they be known for who they really are b. However, many fear this may jeopardize their relations with other workers and perhaps even harm their job security c. In some situations, secrecy is not dysfunctional it is preferable; eg. secrecy may minimize family disruption and stigma by association and it controls the spread of information to other members in the community Some delay coming out for years Others, as camouflage, even marry and raise children with someone of the opposite sex, while recognizing their own deception o They may come out in middle age, after leading a life of secret wishes, desires, and activities all that time o This disrupts relationships and leads people to fear the loss of everything they have constructed Coming out affects other people too o After their child comes out, parents have to deal with a new reality, incomprehensible and perhaps even morally unacceptable to them o On top of that, they must put a good face on it for their friends and relativeso Not all parents are able to do this and so do not immediately accept and support their childrens sexual identities o Some take years to make the adjustment; others adjust quickly and some parents never do Attitudes and Laws Most of us conduct our sexual activities in private and grant the same privacy to others Most of the time, people ignore the sexual inclinations of others unless these are brought forcefully to their attention On the other hand, most people are aware of homosexuality and of prominent homo (eg. Oscar Wilde people knew and accepted as being homo until J.S. Douglas and Wildes lovers father discredit Wilde in court so that no one could ignore it; Wilde was then charged and imprisoned) In Ancient Greece, people considered sexual relations between 2 men a regular and normal part of life o Homo activity was not only accepted; it had its own etiquette o Behaviours that we would consider homo was not assumed in ancient Greece to reveal a persons sexual identity o Felt one could not readily infer sexual identity from sexual actions o Line between homo and hetero was even more blurred in ancient Greece -> but no one cared Many cultural attitudes about homo changed with the spread of Christianity and the Catholic Church o In Christian Europe during the early Middle Ages, the Church largely ignored or tolerated homo behaviour o Hostility and resentment towards homo surfaced in the 13 century o Thomas Aquinas spread the idea that homo is unnatural and undesirable, obliging people who considered themselves Christians to condemn homo behaviour o Result: was forced underground Even today, homo behaviour remains illegal or, at best
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