Sexuality

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  • Created on: 18-01-15 15:25

Sex and gender

Sex -> biological/physical differences between human bodies
Gender -> psychological, experiential, social and cultural differences between males and females

- Gender possibilities and our experiences of them constructed by patterns of social relations and behaviour- messages circulating in our culture
- Genders are taught what it means to be masculine/feminine

Sexuality

- Sexual behaviours/sexual desire- what people do, who they want to do it with, and in what ways
- Sexual orientation- a person's preferred sexual partner defines one's sexual orientation
- Thus you become included into a sexual category which identifies you
- These identifications are not neutral terms
- Their meanings are contested 
- They each have:
1) Different meanings
2) Historical connotations
3) Political implications
(Williams & Stein)

Homosexuality

- Sexual attraction/behaviour towards members of the same sex
- Where sexuality is acknowledged as a significant category for social analysis, it has been primarily in the contextof theorising the 'sexual other'
- This is defined in relation to a normative heterosexuality
(Richardson 1996) 

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Religious doctrine

- Bible Leviticus states that a man lying with a man as a woman = an abomination, and they should be put to death
- It is made equivalent to lying with an animal
- Qur'an: lusting after men instead of women is transgressing beyond bounds, and you will face punishment

History
- Blackstone: lying with a 'man' or 'beast' was equivalent- both seen as a crime against nature
- Ancient laws of England used to command such 'criminals' to be burnt to death
- 1533: Henry VIII claimed that there was not yet a sufficient punishment for such a 'detestable' and 'abominable' act
- 1885: Criminal Law Amendment Act includes amendment prohibiting male 'gross indecency' 
- 1954: C of E's Moral Welfare Council recommends legalising ****-sex over age of 17
- 1967: Sexual Offences Act: Private ****sexual sex decriminalised for over 21s
- Local Government Act 1988: Shall not intentionally promote ****sexuality, or teach it at any school  as an acceptable family relationship

Homophobia

- Weinberg
- A phobia about ****sexuals
- Fear seems to be associated with a fear of contagion/fear of reducing things once fought for (home and family)
- Argues it was a religious theory
- Herek: Not just an individual failing but a social problem of sexual stigma that exists in the form of shared knowledge
- It is embodied in cultural ideologies that:
1) Define sexuality
2) Demarcate social groupings based on it
3) Assign value to those groups/their members 

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Homophobia hate crime

Matthew Shepard (1998)
- Criminal Justice Act (2003) requires a court to consider whether the following circumstances were pertinent to the crime:
1) That, at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before/after doing so, the offender demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on:
  a) The sexual orientation (or presumed sexual orientation) of the victim, or
  b) That the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards persons who are of a particular sexual orientation 

Definitions
- Kitzinger
- The term "heteronormativity" refers to practices that derive from/reinforce a set of taken-for-granted presumptons relating to sex/gender
- These include the presumptions that:
1) There are only 2 sexes
2) It is "normal" and "natural" for people of different sexes to be attracted to one another
3) These attractions might be publicly displayed/celebrated
4) Social institutions such as marriage/the family are appropriately organised around different-sex pairings
5) Same-sex couples are (if not "deviant") a "variation on" or an "alternative to" the heterosexual couple
- Heteronormativity refers, in sum, to the myriad ways in which heterosexuality is produced as natural, unprobematic, taken-for-granted, ordinary phenomenon

Rochlin
- Came up with questions designed to show how heteronormativity occurs in everyday life
- They echo the type of questions homosexuals are asked
- E.g. "Is it possible that your heterosexuality is just a phase you might grow out of?" "What do you think caused your sexuality?" 

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Theory

Foucault
-
Looked at discourses and identity
- Also internalisation of social categories/expectations- "Normality"
- Other cultures have treated sex as an object of knowledge- an art of sensual pleasure
- Or culture is distinct, however, in treating sex as an object of distanced, scientific investigation
- Scientific discourse mixed with the idea of "confession" has shaped our discourse on sex
- Subjects were expected to "confess" their sexuality in religion
 - Discourse on sex had previously dealt solely with marriage (what you could and could not do within/without bonds of marriage)
- Began to increasingly focus on those who fell outside that cateogry- children, homosexuals etc.
 
Rich
1) Heterosexuality as a political institution 
- Might not be a preference but imposed, propagandised, mantained by force
- Is maintained by female wage scale, lack of political power, violence against women
- Anyone that differs from the normalcy of heterosexuality is deemed deviant or abhorrent 
- Regards institutions, such as marriage, that are regarded as normal as socialisations which we have internalised/reproduced in society
3) Lesbian continuum
- Greatest possible variation of female identified experience
- Potentially liberating for all women (regardless of sexual orientation) 

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Butler

- Dislikes the binary view of gender relations in which humans are divided into two clear-cut groups, women and men
- Believes that feminism, with its ideas of patriarchal society, simply reinforces these groups
- Gender should not be a fixed attribute in a person
- Should be a fluid variable which shifts and changes in different contexts and at different times
- Argues that sex (male/female) is seen to cause gender (masculine/feminine) which is seen to cause desire (towards the other gender)
- Butler's approach is to smash the supposed links between these so gender and desire are not 'caused' by other stable factors
- Notes that it doesn't have to be this way- as proven by other cultures

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2: Religion & UK Marriage

- Marriage raised to a sacrament
- McGregor: Church believed that marriage was a promotion of spiritual purity, because it prevented husbands and wives from exposure to the risks of sexual pleasure

BUT
- Between 1/3-1/2 of all 18th century brides were pregnant
- Pre-marital sex was therefore extremely prevalent amongst 'courting couples'
- Mason concludes that a significant proportion of illegitimate births resulted from "a disruption of marriage intentions"
- By 1930, C of E recognised that sex had a value of its own within that sacrament, and that thereby married love is enhanced and its character strengthened

History of Marriage
- Marriage: a couple prefacing sex with a verbal declaration of their intention to be man and wife
- Could also be the couple announcing "we are now man and wife"
- Hardwicke's Marriage Act 1753:
1) Rationalised marriage laws (and abolished common law marriage)
2) Made legitimate only marriages held in a chapel during the hours of daylight after bans had been posted
3) Only marriages conducted by the C of E, Quakers, or Jewish marriages, were recognised in England & Wales
- Marriage Act 1836: introduced civil marriage for the first time

Challenges to Marriage
1) Divorce
2) Abortion
3) Contraception
4) Feminism 

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ONS Statistics (2011)

1) More couples in a civil marriage had lived together prior to marriage than religious marriages
2) But levels of those cohabitating prior to religious marriage almost doubled between 1994-2011
3) Between 1951-2009, the amount of marriages dropped significantly
4) This was mainly first marriages- re-marriages for one or both partners actually rose during this time
5) Both civil and religious marriages began to drop significantly after the Divorce Reform Act came into effect in 1971
- Became much easier to escape an unhappy marriage (didn't need a particular reason)

David Cameron
- Doesn't support gay marriage in spite of being a Conservative- supports it BECAUSE he is a conservative
- Believes the values of marriage are give/take, support/sacrifice, values we need more of in this country

Conclusions
- Marriage is not a static institution
- The purpose/image of marriage has radically changed in both modernity and late modernity
- It has been socially constructed by religious, political and medical discourses

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3: The anthropological study of sexuality

- Development of sexology in Europe began by looking at heteronormativity
- Focused on an essentialist explanation- sex as a natural, innate force
- Universal explanation
- Anthropological studies of sexuality in the late 19th century/early 20th centuries involved:
1) Armchair anthropology
2) Early 20th century fieldwork (e.g. Malinowski, Mead)

- Contemporary studies:
1) Focus on the social/cultural contexts in which sexual activity is shaped (social constructionist approach)
2) Look at the meanings of 'sexual'
3) Look at local meanings of 'homosexuality' 'masculinity' and 'femininity'

- Contemporary studies also look at 'homosexuality' as a Western term 
1) E.g. the Sambia (Papua New Guinea, Herdt)
2) Sexual culture: A conventionalised/shared system of sexual practices, supported by beliefs and roles, according to Herdt (1997)
3) Power relations and social inequality

Sexual behaviour/sexual identity
- Is sexual behaviour always related to identity?
- Example: same-sex relations in India (Asthana & Oostvogels, 2001)
1) Men who have sex with men (MSM)
2) Challenged the Western biomedical representation of homosexuality as a "fixed and separate category in binary opposition to heterosexuality"
- They challenged the connections made between behaviour and identity
- Looked at sex, gender and power in the Indian patriarchal family
- Different terms are used for range of gender/sexual identities held by MSM 

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Summary of key points

- Early anthropological explanations focused on the idea that sexual orientation was innate and that cultural factors were not important

- Later explanations recognised that apparently similar acts could have diverse meanings related to cultural factors

- This means that same sex relations, for example, are interpreted in many different ways according to cultural context

- Means that there is not necessarily a causal connection between behaviour/identity

- It is important to recognise the connections between sexuality, gender and power relations

- Sexual identities and behaviours can change over time 

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