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Chapter 6: Sexuality. Naturalism Naturalism—Sexuality is presented as something biological (sex = biology = natural) Essentialism—An approach based on.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 6: Sexuality. Naturalism Naturalism—Sexuality is presented as something biological (sex = biology = natural) Essentialism—An approach based on."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 6: Sexuality

2 Naturalism Naturalism—Sexuality is presented as something biological (sex = biology = natural) Essentialism—An approach based on the idea that there is an “inner truth” that exists apart from the individual observer or participant. Naturalism is considered to be essentialist (has an essence, an unchanging inherent quality).

3 Cultural Perspective and Sexuality Along with the cultural turn in postmodern societies, sexuality has been treated as a language, opposed to the naturalist view of sexuality as a biological fact Edward Laumann’s study reported same-gender sexuality in their 1994 study (many more people experience homosexual desire or display homosexual behavior than those who claim a homosexual identity).

4 Figures 6.1 and 6.2

5 Ancient Greece: Cultivating the Self For Ancient Greeks, sexual acts was itself not a highly charged act as it is today; rather, it was simply seen as a pleasurable act. According to Foucault, the specific social implications of sexual pleasure was not clearly defined and could be changed.

6 Self-Cultivation Self-cultivation involved moderation in the pursuit of pleasure. An ethical life meant fashioning one’s self according to aesthetic ideals of beauty and proportion; moral preoccupations were focused on questions of excess, overindulgence, and passivity.

7 Male Homosexual Relationships in Ancient Greece In Ancient Greek society, men were intellectually and politically dominant; male beauty (face and body) was highly prized in society. Not unusual, then, that well-established males were drawn to adolescent males. Still, the relationships between older, well- established men and younger, adolescent boys were sometimes problematic. What worried Greeks was the asymmetry between the male lovers.

8 The Protestant Reformation Max Weber, in his essay, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, noted that the Protestant Reformation broke down the walls separating the monastaries (which housed the religious elites) from everyday life. The effect was not liberation, notes Weber, but the broadening/deepening of regulation and control, particularly of sexuality.

9 The Counterculture of Modernity Modernity condemned non-procreative sexual practices. Although many followed the rigid norms and prohibitions established, a counterculture was formed, which led to underground sexual practices and red light districts, among other things.

10 Desexualization of the Public Sphere Desexualization: The effort to control, transform, and limit sexual desires, actions, and behaviors in the modern public sphere. – It is a historical process and, as such, varies according to time, place, and culture.

11 Underground Sexual Practices Victorian love: The approach to sexual relations that characterized the Victorian era. Victorian society was particularly strict in its construction and regulation of such relations, requiring that all sexual behaviors take place within the confines of marriage. An extensive sexual underground emerged as a result of this regulation.

12 The Erotic Sphere As starkly contrasted to modernity which limited sexuality to the private social institution of marriage, the erotic sphere refers to the zone in which sexual activity is a pure, transcendent, and valued end in itself. The erotic sphere viewed sex as purely romantic, high stylized, and an idealized pleasure separated from morality. Eroticism also has the effect of valorizing the non-procreative sexual practices that modernity condemned.

13 The Iron Cage A concept used by Max Weber to describe modernity. Weber argued that as modernity becomes more rational, with increasing bureaucracy and emphasis on discipline and control, it takes on the characteristics of an “iron cage” that distances and prevents individuals from manifesting their passions and callings.

14 Constructivism Constructivism is a perspective that assumes that phenomena are socially created, regulated, and defined. This perspective asserts that sexuality is tied to cultural and material differences (i.e., class, age, race, nationality, and gender), which is ever-changing.

15 Sexuality in the Postmodern Transition Many of the norms and behavioral structures associated with modernity still influence postmodern sex: patriarchy continues to affect the sexual experience, forbidden talk remains transgressive, and sexploitation, although a big business, remains a segregated and often underground entity.

16 Figure 6.3 American Attitudes Toward Homosexuality

17 Postmodernity and Sexuality Despite this, there has been a radical departure from modernity’s view of sexuality. Sexuality is no longer stigmatized and is found at the center of public life. Social causes for this radical change include: Urbanization and mobility Postindustrial economy Extended socialization Feminism Globalization and multiculturalism Expressive individualism

18 Figure 6.4 Varieties of Sex Tourism Encounters

19 Figures 6.5 and 6.6 Human Trafficking

20 Sigmund Freud Defined the libido as an individual’s inborn sexual desire and energy. Notion of sexual trajectory created, which stated that at birth the infant consists of the id, which is unfocused energy that drives the libido, and the ego and the superego develop alongside it. The repressive and controlling superego and the rational and independent ego make sublimation not only possible but desirable.

21 Freud’s Psychoanalytic Approach Psychoanalytic theory has sharply challenged the Victorian age. He demonstrated the society (parenting) strongly influenced a child’s understanding of sex. Freud’s theory undermined the value of keeping sexuality to the private social institutional of marriage.

22 The Kinsey Report (1948) Alfred Kinsey conducted thousands of interviews with randomly selected Americans. The findings were shocking revelations about sexual practices among Americans, with “abnormal,” “immoral,” or “perverse” practices in fact widely practices. The report became a kind of public sexual frenzy, with his books on male and female sexuality flying off the bookshelves.

23 The Sexual Revolution Sexual revolution: The process and time period in which sexuality was pluralized. It separated sexual activity from the purpose of procreation, placed new value on heterosexual pleasure, and gave youth the space for sexual experimentation.

24 Free-Floating Eroticism Free-floating eroticism: Sexuality that is no longer hard-wired, rigid, and morally stigmatized as a result of having become less regulated, minimized, and moralized in the late twentieth century, when the erotic sphere moved into the center stage of public life.

25 Singles Culture Singles culture: An aspect of the sexual revolution whereby single people sought partners in sex rather than marriage— specifically, at a time when publications such as Playboy and Cosmopolitan promoted a new sexual ethic and the postindustrial economy provided men and women with more free time.

26 Sexual Liberation Sexual liberation: The separation of sex from procreation. The pluralizing and normalizing of sexual activity, and especially the increased sexual freedom of women. But to some observers, sexual liberation was viewed as sexual oppression because it contributed to higher rates of sexual violence and did little to reduce or challenge patriarchy and status inequality.

27 Sexual Citizenship In contemporary society, people are demanding sexual citizenship, a term coined by Jeffrey Weeks that refers to the efforts of previously marginalized sexual minorities who wish to define themselves by their sexual identities and thereby claim social status and recognition.

28 Rights of Sexual Citizenship Rights of sexual citizenship: Entitles an individual to access to old and new contraceptive technologies, the freedom of sexual choice, and spousal, parental, and grandparental rights regardless of orientation.

29 Study Questions Describe the difference between naturalist and constructivist approaches to sexuality. What is the role of society in each approach? Which of these two approaches—naturalism or constructivism—has been characterized as essentialist? What is essentialism, and on what grounds has it been criticized?

30 Study Questions Briefly describe the ancient Greek concept of “self-cultivation.” In what ways did this ideal of ethical conduct apply to sexual relations? How does it help explain the status of male homosexual relationships in ancient Greek society?

31 Study Questions According to Max Weber, how did the Protestant Reformation make modernity possible? How did Puritanism transform both the private bedrooms and the public sphere of early-modern Europe? What is the erotic sphere? How was it created, how are non-procreative sexual practices viewed from within it, and how does it create a tension within modernity?

32 Study Questions Describe the emerging postmodern understanding of sexuality. What does it have in common with the modern understanding of sexuality, and how is it different? What are the social causes contributing to the rise of postmodern sex?

33 Study Questions How did Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Kinsey’s research on sexual behavior help unravel modernist understandings about sexuality? What is sexual citizenship? What rights accompany the claim to sexual citizenship?


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