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Chapter 6: sexuality and society

by: Dominique Bluehorse

Chapter 6: sexuality and society Sociology 101

Marketplace > University of New Mexico > Sociology > Sociology 101 > Chapter 6 sexuality and society
Dominique Bluehorse

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These are notes that are taken from the book. Have the key terms. And an outline of what was covered in chapter 6.
Introduction to Sociology
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sexuality, Society, sociology, chapter 6, Introduction to Sociology




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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Dominique Bluehorse on Tuesday March 1, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Sociology 101 at University of New Mexico taught by Stone in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 75 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Sociology in Sociology at University of New Mexico.


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Date Created: 03/01/16
CHAPTER SIX: SEXUALITY AND SOCIETY What is Sex? Sex: the biological distinction between females and males. *Sex should not be confused with gender. Gender: is cultural, referring to behavior, power and or privileges a society attaches to being female or male. Sexuality as an issue: Biologically Culturally Is determined at conception as a male or Sex is a matter of cultural meaning and female (“the birds and the bees”) personal choice rather than biological programming. Males and Females have different: Practices vary considerably from 1 -Genitals (Primary sex characteristics) society to another -Bodily Development (secondary sex characteristics Intersexual (hermaphrodites) are people Taboos exist, specific taboos vary. w/ a combination of male/ female They exist b/c it regulates sexuality, and genitalia. is a necessary social organization. Such as the “incest taboo” Transsexual people: feel they are 1 sex although biologically they are another. Sexual Attitudes in the U.S. Sexual revolution – 1960’s and 1970’s – drew sexuality out into the public. Baby boomers were the 1 gen. to grow up w/ the idea that sex was a normal part of social life.  Got rid of double standards, affected women more than men, produced new technology and overall increased sexual activity Sexual counterrevolution – 1980’s – aimed @ “permissiveness” and urged a return to more traditional “family values” ALFRED KINSEY & others studied sexual behaviors in the U.S. and found: 1. Premarital sexual intercourse became more common during the 20 century. 2. Almost ½ of young people have sex by their senior years in high school. 3. Among all U.S. adults, sexual activity varies:  1/3 have sex once to several times a month  1/3 have sex 2 or more times a week  1/3 have sex w/ a partner a few times/ no times a year. 4. Extramarital sex is widely condemned and “just” 25% of married man & 10% of married women say they were unfaithful @ some time in their life.  The thought of sexual fidelity that it is wrong w/in a marriage has been and remains a strong element of U.S. culture. Sexual Orientation: Sexual Orientation - is a person’s romantic or emotional attraction to another person. 4 sexual orientations are: 1. Heterosexual – attraction to someone of the other sex. 2. Homosexual – attraction to someone of the same sex. 3. Bisexual – Attraction of both sexes 4. Asexual – A lack of sexual attraction to people of either sex Heterosexual is considered the “norm” in all human societies:  B/c it permits human reproduction Homosexuality is experienced by a significant # of people also. *People do not necessary fall into just 1 category; some may have varying degrees of attraction to both sexes. Important to remember: sexual attraction is not the same as sexual behavior. What gives us a sexual orientation? Two general positions 1. Sexual orientation is a product of society 2. Sexual orientation is a product of biology. SOCIETY BIOLOGY Argues that people in a society attach Supports the claim that sexual meanings to sexual activity orientation is rooted in biology in much the same way as being left/ right handed. Michel Foucault: said there is no Simon LeVay links sexual orientation distinct category or people called to a person’s brain structure (the “homosexuals” until a century ago hypothalamus- regulates hormones) when people began defining people 1993 that way. (1990, orig. 1978) Genetics could also be an influence -researchers think that there may be a “gay gene” located on the X chromosome. Sexual Orientation is not in “neat” categories b/c many people think of themselves as heterosexual have homosexual experiences; the reverse is also true. The share of homosexuals in the U.S. population DEPENDS on how you define “homosexuality”  5.6% of men Report engaging in homosexual activity @ some point in  12.7% of women their lives  1.7% of men  1.1% of women Define themselves as homosexuals  1.1% of men  3.5% of women Claim a bisexual identity. Gay Rights Movement (Arose in the middle of the 20 century) helped change public attitudes toward acceptance. Still 47% of people still say it’s wrong. They use the term homophobia: the discomfort over close personal interaction w/ people thought to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Sexual Issues & Controversies Four key Issues: 1. Teen pregnancy 2. Pornography 3. Prostitution 4. Sexual violence Teen Pregnancy  About 750,000 U.S. teens become pregnant each year.  Most teens aren’t married and have a high risk of dropping out of high school and being poor  Today teen pregnancy is LOWER than 1950’s o 1950 – many teens pregnant, but almost 90% were married o Now - # of pregnant teens is lower. About 80% of the women are unmarried  58% keep their babies  27% have abortions  15% lose the baby in miscarriages Pornography  Is sexually explicit material intended to cause sexual arousal.  U.S. courts give local communities the power to decide for themselves what type of material violates “community standards.” Conservatives condemn on MORAL Liberal/ Feminists condemn on POLITICAL grounds (power) issues 60% of U.S. adults say “sexual materials B/c most of it degrades women, lead to a breakdown of morals” portraying them as “playthings” Some critics: connect pornography w/ violence. Almost 50% of adults hold their opinion pornography leads to rape. Prostitution  Is the selling of sexual services  U.S. today, 1 in 6 men have paid for it.  Illegal in the U.S. b/c most people think that sex should be an expression of intimacy.  Is greatest in poor countries, when patriarchy is strong and cultural norms limit women’s ability to earn a living  TYPES: o “Call girls” – elite prostitutes. Can arrange their own “dates”/ clients o “Escort services” – women/men offer both companionship and sex for a fee o “Massage parlors”/ brothels – under the control of a manager. They have less choice about clients and receive less $ (no more than ½) o “Streetwalkers” - are in large cities. They have male pimps. Many are addicted to drugs and sell sex to buy the drugs. Both are @ high risk of becoming victims of violence.  1 point in common: “they all consider their work degrading”  Many people view prostitution as “victimless” crime, but it victimizes women and spreads STD’s Sexual Violence 1. Rape a. “expression of power; a violent act that uses sex to hurt, humiliate, or control another person” b. 85,000 rapes are reported each year in the U.S. c. The actual # is likely several times higher d. The government definition is: “the carnal knowledge of a FEMALE forcibly and against her will.” So all official rape statistics are pertaining to women. e. 10% of all rapes involve males. 2. Date Rape a. There are 2 myths that involve rape: i. That rape involves strangers ii. That rape (specifically date rape) is the idea that a women must have done something to encourage the man and make him think she wanted to have sex. b. 73% of all rapes involve people who know one another. They also take place in familiar surroundings. c. “Date/ Acquaintance” Rape refers to forcible sexual violence against women by men they know. Rape is a physical attack but can leave emotional and psychological scars.  It affects the victim’s ability to trust others.  Psychological scars are common among 2/3 of sexual assault victims who are under 18 and especially so in 1/3 of victims under the age of 12. Theories of Sexuality Structural-Function Theory: It explains the contribution of any social pattern to the overall operation of the society. B/c sexuality can have such important consequences; society regulates this type of behavior.  Macro-level analysis.  Society depends on sexuality to for reproduction from a biological standpoint. Cultural and social institutions regulate who & when people reproduce.  The incest taboo clearly shows that no society permits completely free choice of sexual partners. It would break down the kinship system and confuse human relationships.  As new technologies are made. They separate sex from reproduction; societies “relax” some controls on sexuality. Symbolic-Interaction Theory: This highlights how, as people interact, they construct everyday reality.  Micro-level analysis  Sexual practices vary throughout the world and the cultures.  Some societies would allow individuals more freedom than others in the matters of sexual behavior.  Example: The meaning people attach to virginity and other matters are all socially constructed and can change. Social-Conflict Theory: This links sexuality to social inequality issues.  Feminist theory – claims that men dominate women by devaluing them to the level of sexual objects. It points out that sexuality is the root of inequality between men and women.  Queer theory – claims our society has a heterosexual bias, defining anything different as “queer.” This has focused not only of the domination of women by men but to heterosexuals domination homosexuals. o Claims that our society is characterized by heterosexism – a view that labels anyone who is not heterosexual as “queer.”  Macro-level analysis  Example: U.S. society regulates women’s sexuality more than men’s. This is part of the larger pattern of men dominating women.  Some sexual standards have relaxed, but still define women in sexual terms and homosexuals are harmed by heterosexual bias.


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