Common Definitions • Sexual Scripts: guidelines for how we are supposed to feel and act as sexual persons; reflect social norms, provide a framework and guidelines for sexual behavior (societal level) • Sexual Self-Schemas: identities about sexual aspects of the self established from past and present experiences (guide behavior on individual level)
Definitions • The definitions of these words are not standardized throughout society. In particular, these definitions assume the existence of two and only two each of sexes, genders, and sex/gender roles, which are separate and distinct from one another; but many people see them as overlapping, closely related, or as a limited view or model of a much richer reality. • Sexual identity refers to how one thinks of oneself in terms of whom one is sexually and romantically attracted to, specifically whether one is attracted to members of the same gender as one's own or the other gender than one's own. • Gender identity refers to how one thinks of one's own gender: whether one thinks of oneself as a man (masculine) or as a woman (feminine.) • http://feminism.eserver.org/sexual-gender-identity.txt
Definitions • Heterosexuality: sexual identity where romantic and/or sexual attachments are between people of the opposite sex • Homosexuality: sexual identity where romantic and/or sexual attachments are between people of the same sex (many prefer the term gay) • Lesbian: romantic and/or sexual attachment between women • Bisexuality: sexual identification with both women and men
Definitions • Queer: traditional definition is out of the ordinary or unusual; historically an insult when used in the context of sexualities. Today it is a term of self-empowerment used by those who reject the distinct categories of straight, gay, lesbian, and bisexual, and who seek to live alternative--differing from the socially constructed norm--and genuine sexual identities
Definitions • Heteropatriarchy: the dominance associated with a gender binary system that presumes heterosexuality as a social norm (heteronormativity) • The power that men have in society gets carried into relationships and can encourage women’s subservience, sexually and emotionally
Dictionary Definitions of Sexuality (American Heritage Dictionary) • The condition of being characterized and distinguished by sex. • Concern with or interest in sexual activity. • Sexual character or potency. • The quality or state of being sexual.
Competing Explanations • Biology: sexuality is shaped by our physical shapes, biological capacities, hormones (etc.) • Sociobiology: human have innate genetically triggered impulses to pass on their genetic material through successful reproduction. Differences in reproductive capacity and strategy can shape sexual desire. • Social: cues from the environment shape human beings from the moment they enter the world. Sexual customs, values, and expectations exert powerful influence over individuals.
Sexuality • “Sexuality is not limited to ‘sex acts’, but involves our sexual feelings and relationships, the ways in which we are or are not defined as sexual by others, as well as the ways in which we define ourselves.” Scott and Jackson 1996 • “Sexuality is not instinctive but learned from our families, our peers, sex education in school, popular culture, negotiations with partners, and listening to our own bodies.”
Defense of Marriage Act • DOMA – 1996 Marriage defined as between one man and one woman • July 2011 – President Obama backs the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act • June 2013 – Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional, left it up to individual states to decide
Feminist Issues Related to Sexuality • Media’s Portrayal of Women’s Sexuality • Reproductive Freedom • Pornography • Sex Work (stripping, prostitution, etc.) • Sexual Harassment • Sexual Violence
Sexuality as a Feminist Issue • Sexual freedom: • Freedom from the policing and regulation of female’s sexuality • Freedom from the double standards • Freedom of expression • Bodily freedom
Contradictions of Sexuality “Sexuality is simultaneously a domain of restriction, repression, and danger as well as a domain of exploration, pleasure, and agency. To focus only on pleasure and gratification ignores the patriarchal structure in which women act, yet to speak only of sexual violence and oppression ignores women’s experience with sexual agency and choice.” Carole Vance