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Chapter 9 Sexual Orientations. A Continuum of Sexual Orientations. Terminology sexual orientation : to which sex a person is attracted homosexual orientation : primary erotic psychological emotional and social orientation is to same sex gay males lesbian females

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Chapter 9 sexual orientations
Chapter 9Sexual Orientations

A continuum of sexual orientations
A Continuum of Sexual Orientations

  • Terminology

    • sexual orientation: to which sex a person is attracted

    • homosexual orientation: primary erotic psychological emotional and social orientation is to same sex

      • gay males

      • lesbian females

    • bisexual orientation: attraction to both same & opposite sex partners

    • heterosexual orientation: attraction to opposite sex partner (aka straight)

Kinsey s 7 point continuum
Kinsey’s 7-point continuum

  • Distinctions between homosexual and heterosexual are not as clear cut as many believe them to be

  • Scale based on both feelings of attraction & sexual behavior

  • Limitation: gives erroneous impression of fixed orientation

Fig. 9.2Kinsey’s continuum of sexual orientation (adapted from Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 638).

A continuum of sexual orientations cont
A Continuum of Sexual Orientations(cont.)

  • past Kinsey data = 2% of females & 4% of males were exclusively gay

  • men are more likely to fall at the extremes

  • NHSLS data: 1.4% of females & 2.8% of males identify as homosexual (1990’s)

  • may depend on how question is asked

    • In NHSLS study, 5% of men and 4% of women said they had had sex w/person of same sex since age 18

    • Global Sex Survey: average of 12% of respondents from 41 countries said they had same-sex experience

A continuum of sexual orientations cont1
A Continuum of Sexual Orientations(cont.)

  • Bisexuality

    • More women than men are bisexual

      • May be due to greater social tolerance for same-sex affection between women

    • context (environment) matters more than contact.

    • categories:

      • real: individual feels attracted to both sexes

      • transitory: temporary bisexual involvement by someone who is actually homosexual or heterosexual

      • transitional: when someone is changing from one orientation to another

      • homosexual denial: attempt to deny exclusive homosexuality to avoid stigma of homosexual identity.

A continuum of sexual orientations cont2
A Continuum of Sexual Orientations(cont.)

  • Asexuality: feeling no sexual attraction to either sex

    • Rarely studied

    • National study in Britain of 18,000 people found that 1% of individuals were asexual

    • According to Asexual Visibility and Education Network, asexuality is a sexual orientation, not a choice--therefore, different from celibacy

    • Asexual people lack sexual attraction to others, but still have desire for friendships, affection, and partnerships

    • Some asexual people masturbate, but feel no interest in sexual activity w/a partner

Sexual behaviors sexual orientation
Sexual behaviors & sexual orientation

  • As we have seen in the book, there are no sexual behaviors that are really limited to either homosexuals or heterosexuals

  • Behaviors are behaviors…

    • Sexual orientation only comes into the situation when you focus on who is interacting sexually with whom.

What determines sexual orientation
What determines sexual orientation?

  • Psychosocial theories: (not well-supported by research) life incidents, parenting, psychological.

    • “By default” myth: unhappy heterosexual experiences. Not true.

    • Seduction myth: seduced by older homosexuals. Not true.

    • Freud’s theory: childhood experiences and relationship with parents. Not true.

What determines sexual orientation1
What determines sexual orientation?

  • Biological theories:

    • Genetic factors:

      • Homosexuality is strongly familial; however, this could be due to either genetics or the family environment

      • Twin studies--look at whether a correlation is higher among identical or fraternal twins to test “nature vs. nurture.”

        • Australian study (2000):

          twin concordance rate 10-20% higher in identical twins than

          in fraternal twins

    • Gender nonconformity: homosexual adults somewhat more likely to experience gender nonconformity as children (lack of conformity to stereotypical masculine and feminine behaviors).

What determines sexual orientation2
What determines sexual orientation?

  • Biological theories: Prenatal influences

    • Animal research: influence of prenatal hormones . . .

    • Age of puberty:

    • Birth order:

Implications if biology is destiny
Implications if biology is destiny

  • May result in more acceptance

    • If homosexuality is biologically based, people who believe homosexuality is “unnatural” might reevaluate their beliefs

  • Potential for scary genetic engineering

    • Intolerant people may try to prevent or change homosexuality during pregnancy or use screening techniques to prevent birth of gay people

  • Should it really matter whether homosexuality is biologically based in order for gay people to receive equal rights?

    • Would equal rights be given only out of ‘sympathy and tolerance for having a “defective” orientation’?

Societal attitudes
Societal Attitudes

  • Cross-cultural attitudes vary greatly

    • Extreme human rights violations for gays and lesbians occur frequently in many places around the world

    • U.S. now grants political asylum to people fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation

    • 14 countries have established national laws that protect gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination (Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden) note: not U.S.

Judeo christian attitudes toward homosexuality
Judeo-Christian attitudes toward homosexuality

  • Historically negative attitudes toward homosexuality

  • Biblical injunction in Leviticus “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female; it is an abomination”

  • Judaism today:

    • Orthodox Jews: homosexual acts forbidden, homosexuals must try to “work against” their inclinations

    • Conservative Judaism: temples may perform same-sex commitment ceremonies and hire gay rabbis & cantars

    • Reform Judaism: support gay commitment ceremonies and gay families; many homosexual Jews are reforms

      • Reinterpret “to-evah” from “abomination” to “idolatrous acts;” thus, the Bible prohibits cult-like homosexual acts as practiced in Biblical times, not as homosexual relationships are today.

Islamic views toward homosexuality
Islamic views toward homosexuality

  • Homosexuality strictly forbidden among men; implicitly extends to women

  • Same-sex intercourse is officially punishable by death in several Muslim nations, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Mauritania, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen.

  • LGBT Muslim organizations

    • Al-Fatiha foundation: progressive Islamic nonprofit that promotes acceptance of homosexuality as natural

    • Straightway: support group/web site for Muslims who feel same-sex attraction--promotes “help” in avoiding acting on same-sex attractions

Societal attitudes u s
Societal Attitudes (U.S.)

  • Early to mid-1900s societal shift: from sinner to sickness

    • Drastic attempts used to “cure” homosexuality, including castration, lobotomy, drugs, hormones, hypnosis, electroshock treatment, and aversion therapy (pairing shock or nausea-induction w/homosexual stimuli)

    • 1973 APA removed homosexuality from list of mental disorders

    • no differences in psychological adjustment between gays & straights (if person has accepted their homosexuality)

    • sexual reorientation therapy (aka conversion therapy) doesn’t work but gay affirmative therapy is helpful


  • Definition:

    anti-homosexual attitudes,

    irrational fears of homosexual people, or

    self-loathing of one’s own homosexuality

  • Contributes to daily harassment, discrimination, and violence against LGBT people.

    • More than 1/3 of gay men and lesbians have been victims of violence

    • Hate crimes less likely to be reported than other crimes, b/c survivors expect nonsupportive responses from authorities




Hate crime laws
Hate crime laws

  • Increased sentences for assault, robbery, and murder that are committed because the victim is of a particular race, religion, ethnic group, or sexual orientation (not all states include protections based on sexual orientation)

What causes fuels homophobia
What causes/fuels homophobia

  • Lack of acceptance of the values and differences among people.

  • Traditional gender role stereotypes

  • Denial of homosexual feelings

    • Research study: masculinity gender role challenged or threatened, thus, violence.

  • Promotion of homophobia by a religious group

    • Quote from Jerry Falwell: "[homosexuals are] brute beasts...part of a vile and satanic system [that] will be utterly annihilated, and there will be a celebration in heaven."

  • Low self esteem leading to a need to hate other group(s).

Homophobia affects heterosexuals too
Homophobia affects heterosexuals, too

  • Homophobic individuals may restrict their sexual behaviors to avoid any behavior that might be interpreted as homosexual

  • Same sex friends or family members may refrain from hugging or showing affection

    • Men’s fear of same-sex attraction often prevents formation of deep friendships--limiting relationships to “buddyship” or acquaintances

  • Gender stereotyping and homophobia limits personal expression and aspirations

  • A woman may decide not to publicly identify as a feminist b/c she fears being labeled a lesbian


  • Definition: discrimination towards or against non-heterosexual behavior due to a cultural or sociobiological bias.

  • Like racism and sexism, pervades societal customs and institutions

    • Whereas homophobia usually refers to individual antigay attitudes, heterosexism refers to societal-level ideologies and patterns of institutionalized oppression of non-heterosexual people. (Insidious - meaning treacherous and harmful, deep rooted feeling and behavior. Hard to change).

Discussion heterosexual questionnaire

DiscussionHeterosexual questionnaire

1. Did you find the questions hard to answer? Were some harder than others? Which? Why?

2. How did the questions make you feel?

3. What does it say about our society that LGB people are frequently asked similar questions?

4. What can you do in the future if you hear someone asking such questions?

Answer the questions asked on the handout. Then, consider the following questions:

Lifestyles coming out
Lifestyles: Coming out

  • Homosexual “lifestyle” is as varied as heterosexual

  • Coming out:the process of becoming aware of and disclosing one’s homosexual identity

    • The extent to which a homosexual person is open about their sexual orientation significantly affects their lifestyle

       self-acknowledgment of orientation

       self-acceptance of orientation

       disclosure to others

    • Some terms:

      • “In the closet”

      • “Outing”

      • “Passing”

Homosexual relationships
Homosexual relationships


  • Are often more egalitarian/flexible with regard to gender roles

  • Mostly, face same challenges as heterosexual couples in creating satisfying relationships

    • Additional challenge of social acceptance, antigay discrimination and prejudice

  • Lesbians more likely to be monogamous than gay men and value emotional intimacy more

    • 1980s--lesbian “radical sex” subculture began to develop that pushed the boundaries of female sexuality & sexual expression

    • Lesbian sexual interactions tend to have more characteristics associated w/greater sexual enjoyment than heterosexual women’s sexual interactions

      • More nongenital interaction before genital contact, longer sexual encounters, more comfort w/erotic language, greater frequency of orgasm.

Homosexual families
Homosexual families

  • Many different family units (couple w/ or w/o children, single parents, etc.)

  • Census data on same-sex couples raising children

    • 33% of lesbian/female bisexual couples

    • 22% of gay/male bisexual couples

  • Children from previous heterosexual marriages, artificial insemination, help of a surrogate mother

  • Adoption:

    • Many homosexual people adopt as individuals rather than couples

    • Many state laws are ambiguous

    • States that allow gay couples to jointly adopt: NJ, Calif, Conn, Illinois, Mass, NY, Vermong, WashDC

    • States that ban adoption by gay couples: Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, Mississippi

  • Research shows that children of gay parents are no different than children of heterosexual parents


The gay rights movement
The Gay Rights Movement

  • Blossomed in U.S. in 1969 w/ the Stonewall riot

    • Police raided a gay bar, the Stonewall, (raids were common at the time), and the bar’s patrons fought back --started a riot that didn’t end until the following day

    • Gay Pride week and parades are held yearly in June to commemorate Stonewall

    • This year, SF parade is the last week in June

Goals of the gay rights movement
Goals of the Gay Rights Movement


  • Decriminalization of private sexual behavior

    • 2003 Lawrence et al. v. Texas Supreme Court ruling declared “sodomy” laws unconstitutional based on right to privacy

    • Still illegal in many countries

  • End discrimination against homosexuals

    • Amendment to 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation along w/”race, creed, color, and sex” to make discrimination illegal in housing, employment, insurance, and public accommodations

    • Equal recognition and protection for gay relationships and families

      • Legal adoption, and marriage/civil union

    • End military’s discrimination against homosexuals

      • “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy: says that military considers gay people unfit for service, but they may serve as long as they keep their orientation secret

      • 11,000 gays and lesbians have since been expelled from the military

      • Iraq war--secrecy means that partners at home have no access to support services and may not be told if partner is wounded, captured, or killed

      • Majority of people in U.S. (63%) are against policy