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Human Sexuality. Chapter 1: Perspectives on Human Sexuality. Essentialism vs. Social Constructionism. Essentialism : belief that phenomena are natural, inevitable, and biologically determined (distinct categories)

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human sexuality

Human Sexuality

Chapter 1: Perspectives on

Human Sexuality

essentialism vs social constructionism
Essentialism vs. Social Constructionism
  • Essentialism: belief that phenomena are natural, inevitable, and biologically determined (distinct categories)
  • Social Constructionism: reality is the product of a culture and its institutions; language is used to interpret experience (continuum)
lev vygotsky socio cultural theory
Lev Vygotsky:Socio-cultural Theory
  • Humans develop through social interaction
  • Social context: interactions with adults, neighborhood context, cultural and historical contexts, etc.
  • Role of cultural learning
sex and the media
Sex and the Media

“Not only is sexuality not hidden from view; it often seems to surround us” (p. 2)

sex and the media5
Sex and the Media
  • Discussion Question:
    • How is sexuality portrayed in the media?
    • Which perspectives on sexuality are privileged and which are silenced?
media influences
Media Influences
  • Teenagers are exposed to media during half of their waking hours(Roberts, 2005)
  • Teenagers devote more time to media than any other activity(Roberts, 2005)
  • By the time they finish high school, teenagers will have spent more time watching television than going to school
media influences7
Media Influences
  • Increase in sexual references on television
  • 70% of shows watched by teenagers have sexual content; 14% discuss risk and responsibility (Kunkel, 2005)
media and psychological health research findings
Media and Psychological Health: Research Findings
  • Reproduction of stereotypical gender roles, which may be internalized (Croteau, 2003)
    • Discrepancies in depictions of men and women
      • Female nudity is more common
      • Differences in power?
media and psychological health research findings9
Media and Psychological Health: Research Findings
  • Link between television viewing and body dissatisfaction in girls (Harrison, 1997; Hofschire, 2002)
  • Limited information on risk behavior and sexual health
media and the sexualization of society
Media and the “Sexualization of Society”
  • Music industry
  • Television/movies
  • Video games
  • Books/magazines
  • Tabloids
sexuality in advertising
Sexuality in Advertising
  • Persuasive communication
  • To provoke sexual interests, emotional reactions, etc.
  • Ads are often tied to our “ideal” selves
    • Who we would like to be
    • Appealing lifestyles
media study brown 2002
Media Study (Brown, 2002)
  • Media:
    • Keeps sexual behavior visible
    • Reinforces sexual norms
    • Rarely includes sexually responsible models
media and social context
Media and Social Context
  • The media models:
    • What, when, and with whom sexual behavior is appropriate and desirable
glbt individuals in t v and film
GLBT Individuals in T.V. and Film
  • Television portrayals of GLBT individuals are often stereotypical
  • Recent increase in GLBT representations in the media; more complex characters
cultural variations in sexuality
Cultural Variations in Sexuality
  • Culture shapes our behavior and attitudes toward sexuality
  • Cultural diversity- what is normal, acceptable, moral, etc.
the mangaia
The Mangaia
  • Cook Island: South Pacific
  • Adolescence is constructed as an acutely sexual period in development
  • Boys engage in encounters with experienced women
the mangaia17
The Mangaia
  • Girls receive detailed instruction concerning sexual intercourse
  • Many sexual encounters are expected prior to marriage
  • Men are expected to stray during marriage, women are not
the dani
The Dani
  • Dani of New Guinea
  • Little interest in sexuality
  • Ritualized encounters; for procreation
the dani19
The Dani
  • Quick, impersonal sexual interactions
  • Sex is only permissible in the context of marriage; intercourse- during the second year of the marriage
the dani20
The Dani
  • Abstain from sex for 4-6 years after childbirth occurs
  • Lack of desire- cultural, not biological
victorian americans
Victorian Americans
  • 19th century: White, middle class Americans
  • Beliefs:
    • Women have little sexual desire
    • Women with sexual desire are “diseased” and abnormal
victorian americans22
Victorian Americans
  • Men: strong sexual desires; driven by lust
  • Shaped our cultural archetypes: “angelic” women and “demonic” men
ancient greece
Ancient Greece
  • Homosexuality between men and adolescent boys: “highest form of love”
  • Marriage was still expected
the sambians
The Sambians
  • New Guinea
  • Ritualized homosexual encounters between young boys
sex and gender
Sex and Gender
  • Sex: refers to the biological component (chromosomes)
  • Gender: a socially constructed category; male/female
    • Gender roles
transgendered individuals
Transgendered Individuals
  • Genitals and identity are discordant (i.e. biologically male, identifies as female)
  • Are often gender non-conforming
intersex individuals
Intersex Individuals
  • Ambiguous genitalia
  • Chromosomal abnormalities
cultural perspectives on transgendered persons
Cultural Perspectives on Transgendered Persons
  • Pathologized in many cultures
  • “two-spirit”: revered; high status, special privileges
  • Some cultures consider this a third “gender category”
what is normal
What is “normal”?
  • Socially/Culturally/Historically constructed
  • What is normal, and who decides?
    • Various influences: the importance of context
different discourses on sexuality
Different discourses on sexuality
  • Moral/religious/ideological
  • Cultural/historical
  • Linguistic expressions of sexuality change as a function of audiences
    • Family, peers, same and differently gendered groups, etc.
sexual variations
Sexual Variations
  • Tremendous diversity in human sexuality:
    • Desires, orientation, fantasizes, attitudes, beliefs
determinations of normality abnormality
Determinations ofNormality/Abnormality
  • Statistical: a deviation from the norm?
  • Subjective: one’s own beliefs
  • Idealistic: compared to a revered standard
  • Cultural: cultural norms and standards
  • Clinical: based on data regarding health and illness