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INVENTING HETEROSEXUALITY Dr. M. C. Sengstock Professor of Sociology SOC 3300 – “Inequality 1.

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Presentation on theme: "INVENTING HETEROSEXUALITY Dr. M. C. Sengstock Professor of Sociology SOC 3300 – “Inequality 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 INVENTING HETEROSEXUALITY Dr. M. C. Sengstock Professor of Sociology SOC 3300 – “Inequality 1

2 HETEROSEXUALITY: A NEW CONCEPT All Dominant Groups Seek to Prove That They Are/Were the “Original” Group Heterosexuals Are No Exception – View Today That the “Natural” State of Humans Is Heterosexuality: – Adam & Eve Were Normal Sexual Beings Like Us – Strong Sexual Motivation to Opposite Sex – NOT Sexually Attracted to Anyone/thing Else EX: Same Sex, Animals, Masturbation, etc. (Jonathan Katz #13) 2

3 REALITY OF SEXUAL HISTORY Heterosexuality “Invented” in Victorian Era Pre-Victorian Era: – Early Victorian “Pure Love”: – “True Womanhood” – “Proper” – Not “Lustful” – “True Manhood” – More Sexually Oriented … BUT – Males Still Aspired to Freedom from Sex Drives – Aspired to “Higher Things”: Economic Productivity 3

4 SEXUALITY: GREATLY CONFINED Sex Was for Procreation – Not Pleasure Lust Was for Prostitutes The “Home/Castle” Was for Love & Children Lust & Sex Was for Prostitutes This Pattern Prevailed Throughout Most Middle Ages EX: The Double Standard of Royalty & Nobility Sex for “Other Woman”– Male Royals Had Mistresses Think About Most U.S. Immigrant Groups: Marriages Were Arranged 4

5 LATE VICTORIAN SEX-LOVE VIEWS ( ) Eroticizing of Western Society Middle Class: Consciousness, Behavior, Emotion, Identity Family Became Consumer (vs. Producer) Unit Societal Focus Changed to Consumerism New Bodily Focus: Pleasure vs. Productivity Medicine Became More Professional … Doctors Began Defining the Body & Functions Literature & Advertising Focus on Body Pleasures 5

6 VICTORIAN CHANGES IN SEXUAL DEFINITIONS ( ) 2 Major Medical Figures James G. Kiernan, MD, Chicago Dr. R. von Krafft-Ebing, Germany Beginnings Stages of Medicalization of the Social? 6

7 James G. Kiernan, MD, Chicago “Heterosexual” – Mixed Person – Psychical Hermaphrodites (Today’s Transsexual?) Heterosexuals Have Abnormal Methods of Gratification (Sexuality w/out Procreation) Homosexual – Persons Whose “Mental State” Is That of the Opposite Sex (E.g., Attraction is NOT Toward the Opposite Sex) (I.e., Same Sex Attraction) Deviate from BOTH Gender & Procreative Norms New View of Sexuality – Viewed in Terms of Gratification (vs. Procreation) & Gender Preference 7

8 Dr. R. von Krafft-Ebing, Germany “Heterosexual” – Attraction to Opposite Sex “Homosexual” – Erotic Feelings for Same Sex “Hermaphroditism” – Erotic Impulses Toward Both Sexes Still Viewed Opposite Sex Attraction Oriented Toward Procreation Closest to Current Definitions New View of Heterosexual Sex: Introduced Erotic Motivations (Not Just Procreation) 8

9 CONSEQUENCES FOR SEXUAL DEFINTIONS Heterosexual: Persons Attracted to Opposite Sex Homosexual: Attracted to Same Sex Hermaphrodite: Attracted to Both Same & Opposite Sex Introduced Concept of Sexual Attraction As Motive for Sexual Activity Questions Previous Procreation Motive 9

10 EARLY 20 TH CENTURY ( ) Society Still Viewed Purpose of Sexual Desire as Procreation Increased Public Concern for Sexual Changes: – Falling Birth Rate – Rising Divorce Rate – War of Sexes (Women’s Liberation of the Day?) Support of Heterosexual Eroticism as Motive for Traditional Sexual Relations Homosexual Relations Defeated the “True Purpose” of Sex  Had to Be Opposed 10

11 SOCIAL & RELIGIOUS OBJECTIONS Men Increasingly Worried About Changing Sex Roles Focused on BOTH Biological & Social Differences – Shifting Work & Social Roles for Women – Failure to Recognize Old Social Roles with Males Dominant – Decrease of Male Power – Women’s “Andromaniac” Tendencies (Rev. Charles Parkhurst) Objection to the “New Woman” (1890s) & “Flapper” (1920s) These Threatened MAJOR Institutitons in Society 11

12 EVIDENCE FROM READINGS 1. Making Young Boys Heterosexuals (Emma Reynolds #14) Boys in Grade School Pressured by Peers (Male & Female) to Exhibit Adult Heterosexual Characteristics 2. 5 Sexes? (Anne Fausto-Sterling #10) Biologically Based Differences (Chromosomes, External & Internal Sex Organs) “Herms, Werms, Ferms” (1.5%-4%, High in AK Yupik) In U.S., Medical Modification Common in Infancy 12

13 CONNECTION BETWEEN WOMEN & HOMOSEXUALS Destroys the “Pure Woman” of Early Victorian Ideals Discrimination Against Women & Homosexuals Became Connected: – If MALES Could Satisfy Sexual Urges Through Same Sex Relations … – WOMEN Could Do the Same! – “The Lesbian” Was Viewed as a Monster – This Presented a Grave Threat to Sex Between Male & Female.., – Hence Grave Threat to Procreation 13

14 MID 20 TH CENTURY 1 st Suggestion that People Could Alternate Between Hetero- & Homo- Sexual Categories Conservatives Became Concerned That Limitations on Heterosexual Activity Would Activate Homosexual Activities Encouragement of “Trust of the Opposite Sex” Became an Impetus for Increased Emphasis on “Heterosexual” as a Category 14

15 POST WW II: “CULT OF DOMESTICITY” Return of Troops from WW II Attempt to Return to Normal”: – “Women’s Place Is In the Home” – Only Men Work Outside the Home – Male Dominance – Procreation Emphasized – Sex Without Reproduction Immoral  Anti-Birth Control (Abortion Not Even an Issue!) – Homosexuality Clearly Threatened this Picture 15

16 ENTER ALFRED KINSEY STUDY(1948) Interviewed Males Re Their Sexual Behavior Found Very Wide Variety of Sexual Activity Both Hetero- & Homo-Sexual Acts by All Males Kinsey Questioned Appropriateness of “Normal” & “Abnormal” in Scientific Terms Freed Many Homosexuals to Pursue Their Personal Inclinations Gave Impetus to Gay Rights Movement 16

17 CONCLUSION History of Views of Sexual Behaviors Have Changed Dramatically Over Past 200 Years … – “Moral” or “Immoral”? – “Normal” or “Abnormal”? – Socially Acceptable or Forbidden? “help[s] us understand the erotic relationships of women and men in terms of their modes of social organization.” (Katz, prev. ed.) 17


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