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Chapter 8 Sexuality. Sex: A Biological Issue Sex refers to the biological distinctions between females and males –Primary sex characteristics refer to.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 8 Sexuality. Sex: A Biological Issue Sex refers to the biological distinctions between females and males –Primary sex characteristics refer to."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 8 Sexuality

2 Sex: A Biological Issue Sex refers to the biological distinctions between females and males –Primary sex characteristics refer to differences in genitalia –Secondary sex characteristics refer to the physically distinctive characteristics that occur as we mature –The term “sex” also refers to sexual activity, including intercourse

3 Sex: A Cultural Issue Sociologists point out that sexual activity is also guided by human culture Cultural norms define who can have sex with whom –age –marital status –sex of partners –sexual activity

4 Sexual Attitudes in the United States How people think about sex – as well as sexual practices themselves – have changed over the course of this nation’s history During the colonial era, the European settlers’ lack of effective birth control methods resulted in most communities holding strict norms that treated sexuality simply as a matter of reproduction

5 Sexual Attitudes in the United States Landmarks in the nation’s changing view of sexuality include: –Advances in technology giving people control over reproduction –Post WW II research of Alfred Kinsey that concluded that Americans were not as conventional about sex as many had believed

6 Sexual Attitudes in the United States –The “sexual revolution” that embraced a culture of freedom following the introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 –The feminist movement’s challenge of men’s power that took a stand against a number of practices associated with sex, including pornography, rape, and incest

7 Sexual Orientation Sexual orientation refers to an individual’s romantic, emotional, and sexual attraction to another person Sexual orientation can include partners of the same sex (homosexuality), the other sex (heterosexuality), either sex (bisexuality), or neither sex (asexuality)

8 What Gives Us a Sexual Orientation? Cultural Factors –Sexual orientation has much to do with one’s society –Once definitions of heterosexual and homosexual became accepted, people with homosexual experiences were set apart

9 What Gives Us a Sexual Orientation? Biological Factors –Sexual orientation appears to be fixed at birth –Both genes and hormones play a part in determining sexual orientation

10 Is Homosexuality a Problem? Prior to the 1970s, homosexuality was widely regarded as wrong This created a hostile atmosphere that resulted in most lesbians and gay men staying “in the closet” In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declared that it no longer considered homosexuality to be a mental disorder Recently, public attitudes have become more accepting of homosexuality However, mixed public attitudes have produced conflicting policies on sexual activity

11 The Gay Rights Movement Originated in a few large cities in the mid 1950s. The “Stonewall Riot” on June 27, 1969 was a defining moment in the growth of the movement Soon after, the term “homophobia” was used to demonstrate that the problem was people who would not accept others simply because of their sexual orientation

12 Pornography Pornography refers to words or images that cause sexual arousal “Soft-core” pornography shows or describes nudity and suggests sexual activity “Hard-core” pornography contains explicit descriptions or images of sexual acts The real issue: At what point does sexual material run afoul of the law and become obscenity?

13 Is Pornography a Social Problem? Conservatives treat sex as a moral issue –pornography is a social problem because it undermines morality Liberals are divided over whether pornography is a social problem –Some liberals contend that what people choose to read or view is their own business –Others object to pornography as demeaning to women

14 Pornography and Violence In 1985, the U.S. Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography was formed to investigate how people react to sexual materials –It concluded that while exposure to pornography causes sexual arousal and increases sexual activity, it does not cause violent behavior –It warned that viewing pornography containing violence makes people more accepting of violent acts

15 Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment refers to comments, gestures, or physical contact of a sexual nature that are deliberate, repeated, and unwelcome –The rise of the women’s movement in the 1960s was primarily responsible for the definition of such behavior as a social problem –In 1976, a federal court declared that sexual harassment amounted to illegal sexual discrimination (Williams v. Saxbe)

16 Sexual Harassment The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) identifies two types of sexual harassment – –quid pro quo (one thing for another) – subtle forms of behavior not intended to be harassing

17 Prostitution Prostitution is the selling of sexual services Prostitution, as well as soliciting the services of a prostitute, is against the law everywhere in the United States, except in parts of Nevada In global perspective, prostitution is most common in low-income nations

18 Prostitution Prostitutes are a diverse category, with better or worse working conditions depending on their physical attractiveness, age, and level of education Although prostitution is against the law almost everywhere in the United States, law enforcement is selective

19 Prostitution Worldwide, “sex tourism” is on the rise, with the fastest increases in Africa and Eastern Europe. In the areas where “sex tourism” occurs, as many as 100 million children live on the streets and sell sex to survive

20 Teenage Pregnancy In the US, more than 1 million teenage girls become pregnant each year –About 1/2 decide to keep their babies and 1/2 have abortions –Recently, the pregnancy rate for girls in their early teens has been rising –Teenage girls at highest risk for pregnancy are from poor families

21 Teenage Pregnancy The costs of teenage pregnancy. –For men and women both young and poor, parenthood can be financially devastating –The babies are effected the most Infants born to teens have lower birth rates and a higher risk of physical and developmental problems Most have no fathers and grow up at high risk of becoming single parents themselves

22 Teenage Pregnancy A possible solution to the problem of teenage pregnancy is sex education in schools Programs of sex education explain to young people – how their bodies grow and change –how reproduction occurs –how to avoid pregnancy by using birth control or abstaining form sex altogether

23 Abortion Abortion is perhaps the most divisive issue involving sexuality in the United States today In 1997, 1.2 million abortions were performed in the US, which is one for every three live births

24 Abortion In the U.S., from the colonial era until the mid-19th century, early-term abortion was legal By the early decades of the 20th century, laws banning abortion had been enacted in every state In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all laws that banned abortion (Roe v. Wade)

25 Sexually Transmitted Diseases There are more than fifty kinds of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) Rates of infection for most STDs - including gonorrhea, syphilis, and genital herpes - began to rise during the sexual revolution of the 1960s

26 Sexually Transmitted Diseases The most serious of all STDs is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) –In the U.S., the recent trend in AIDS deaths is downward. –Officials recorded 16,273 deaths in 1999 and 440,000 deaths since 1981 –In some regions of the world, AIDS is fast becoming a medical catastrophe

27 Sexually Transmitted Diseases While HIV is infectious, it is not contagious Specific behavior that puts people at risk for HIV infection include anal sex, sharing needles when using drugs, and any drug use (including alcohol) because it impairs one’s judgment)

28 Sexually Transmitted Diseases The US government was slow to respond to the AIDS crisis Once the epidemic spread into the heterosexual population, officials gave the problem serious attention

29 Structural-Functional Analysis: Controlling Sexuality A structural-functional perspective on sexuality emphasizes the importance of cultural norms guiding sexuality –societies observe incest taboos –traditional norms favor legitimate offspring

30 Symbolic-Interaction Analysis: Defining Sexuality Highlights the variable meanings people attach to sexuality –people socially construct sexuality just as they create the rest of the reality they experience

31 Social-Conflict Analysis: Sex and Power The social-conflict paradigm highlights social inequality –sexuality involves inequality between women and men and between homosexuals and heterosexuals Social-conflict theory also criticizes U.S. culture’s heterosexual bias

32 Conservatives: The Value of Traditional Morality Conservatives support conventional norms that claim sexuality belongs within the traditional bonds of marriage – premarital sex and extramarital sex are social problems –they condemn prostitution and pornography because they violate traditional standards of decency and because they threaten marriages

33 Conservatives: The Value of Traditional Morality Conservatives oppose abortion on demand because it gives one person the power to end the life of another who is innocent and helpless Overall, the conservative answer to sexual social problems is strong social institutions

34 Liberals: Sex and Individual Choice All people should have considerable choice in how they express their sexuality –their attitude is one of tolerance –the limits of liberal tolerance come when someone is threatened with harm Liberals support making abortion available to all – and leaving the decision on any individual case up to the woman involved

35 Radicals: Going to the Root of the Problem A common element in all of the issues cited in this chapter is social inequality –these social problems come about because one category of people has power over another

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