Sex: A Class Construct
Sex is a class construct and a person’s sexual identity can intersect with other aspects of personal and political identities such as class. Past and present social events reveal how homosexuality is a social issue which usually involves the struggle to occupy a space in the political class at par with the rest of the members of the society. It is a complex social issue which has gathered opposition from several social groups who see homosexuality as a socially destructive deviancy although it has also garnered support from other individuals from a mix of heterosexuals and bisexuals.
I chose this topic because I think it is timely with regard to the recent debates on Proposition 8 and the current struggle of homosexuals to attain equal treatment with the rest of humanity. To begin with, homosexuality can be defined as a behavior where individuals are attracted to other individuals who are of the same sex (Reitano & Ebel, 1999). Bisexuality, on the other hand, is a behavior where individuals are attracted to either sex as well as to other bisexuals (Eisler, 2000).
In contrast to homosexuality, heterosexuality is a behavior where individuals are attracted to another individual of the opposite sex (Reitano & Ebel, 1999). In general, deviancy is a concept that entails digressing from convention or from the status quo (Inness, 1997). Homosexuality as a form of deviancy, therefore, implies that people who are attracted to the same sex are not aligned with what one may call as the prevailing social convention on personal attraction.
Lorraine Johnson’s compilation titled “Forbidden Sex” will be a resource in writing the research paper. It contains concise yet valuable information on the sensitive issue of sex, especially on how people in the society such as those in “authority” address what they understand as “forbidden” forms of sex. The resource shall be used in writing my first argument on why some forms of sexual practice are considered as forbidden while some others are allowed and as to why, in general, sex is just a class construct.
Moreover, Johnson’s compilation will also be used as a resource for identifying the many different aspects of the society which either condone or promote some sexual behaviors while striking the attention of the public at the same time. Since the compilation contains a variety of information concerning previous cases where people have been apprehended due to some sexual behaviors, it will also provide the backbone for my argument on why homosexuality continues to this day. In Making Normal: Social Regulation in Canada, Deborah Brock (2003) focuses on the concept of deviance in the social context.
The introductory parts of the book contain significant discussion on the different aspects of social deviance. Selected parts of the book will play a role in the research because some of its parts provide substantial insight on the effects of calling other people deviant. Homosexuality is often considered as a form of social deviance or a form of sexual identity that does not fit the conventional sexual identities in the society.
Brock (2003) contends that deviancy involving sexuality has “the power to invoke feelings of shame, even in these sexually knowledgeable and relatively permissive times” (p. ). Using that observation, I will further explore why society has continued to capitalize on that feeling caused by sexual deviancy such as homosexuality. I also would like to look into the many responses of people who are homosexuals against the repressive nature of society’s reactions towards such sexual deviancy especially because the term “deviancy” itself “assumes a state of normalcy against which difference and rule breakers must be judged (Brock, 2003, p. 6)”.
I also wish to use the article “Sexuality & Modernity” as a resource for my research because it contrasts contemporary society’s perception of sexuality with that of the Victorian times. The article essentially points out the people at the Victorian age saw sexuality as the basic form of their identity while modern society sees that understanding as “puritanistic, moralistic and highly repressive” (Ridgway, 1996). That stark contrast is important in my research because it will serve as grounding for my claim that other people’s attribution of deviancy to the concept of homosexuality is not entirely universal; it can change in time.
The article is also significant in my research because it ties sexuality with the concept of political identity such as social class in the way that it binds the Victorian concept of sexuality as one’s place in the society. In relation to the topic of sex as a class construct, the article notes that homosexuals, among others, were seen as one of “the entities posing the greatest threat to heterosexual reproduction, bourgeois morality and social order (Ridgway, 1996)” as the Victorian people sought to construct what a family and its sexuality essentially is. The same article also explores the Freudian concept of sexuality.
It provides a brief look into how Sigmund Freud brought the concept of sexuality from nature into the social order. Freud’s analysis on human sexuality with respect to the development of individuals from childhood to adulthood is important in understanding why people tend to turn to homosexuality. In a larger sense, it gives the research ample ground on how to approach the so-called sexual deviancy from the point of view of the individual and of Freud’s seemingly patriarchal notion of the family. Recent articles published from the New York Times will also serve as sources for the body of evidence in my research.
In “Of Course You Can Have It All,” author Eric Copage (2009) looks into the cases of some individuals who opted to apply the traditional practices in romantic relationships to their same-sex relationships. The article gives prime examples of how individuals in the society are trying to rewrite the conventional notion of human relationships in an attempt to be part of the society where they live in. In the New York Times editorial “Gay Marriage Needs a Vote (2009)” the article argues that same-sex couples also deserve the legal rights that other people enjoy.
In “Gay but Equal? Mary Frances Berry (2009) suggests that the current American administration should create a government commission that will address the rights of gay groups in the country. All of these articles point to the idea that some members of contemporary society are trying to find ways to make their sexual identities recognized despite the opposition of other individuals. I intend to use these articles in my research as part of my argument that homosexuality inevitably intersects with the struggle of these individuals to be recognized as a social class that deserves the same political rights as other people.
Apparently, the social struggle of homosexuals is one that is also supported by straight individuals as well as bisexuals. Lorraine Johnson’s compilation provides the specific instances of the repression of deviant sexual behaviors. Deborah Brock (2003), on the other hand, illustrates how we perceive deviancy and why people and institutions see it as a reason to cause repressive actions towards those who subscribe to deviant sexual behaviors such as homosexuality.
Sexuality & Modernity” further contrasts modern times with the Victorian age in terms of their respective ideas about sexuality. Sigmund Freud’s work on psychoanalysis provides an understanding on human sexuality from the perspective of human development and the family. Lastly, the articles from New York Times provide contemporary views concerning homosexuality and society’s responses to the efforts of these individuals to be treated as “normal” members of the society who enjoy the same rights and social benefits.