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Class: Sexuality

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Author: Jessica Collett
Understanding Societies lecture notes - Sexuality

Class Notes

Like other categories of difference, sexuality is socially constructed. Heterosexism is the presumption that everyone is heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the norm and thus superior. Homosexual is the social identity of someone who has sexual attraction or sexual relations with other persons of the same sex. Homosexual became a way to classify people in the 1850s, and was considered a psychiatric disorder until 1973. Most scientists believe that most gays and lesbians are born that way; some people do choose to identify as gay for various reasons and some choose to contradict their attractions and not live as gay. People who have a close friend of family member who is gay are more likely to believe that individuals' sexual preference are determined at birth than those who do not have close contact with gays or lesbians. This is likely the case because of the importance of contact between groups in breaking down stereotypes (contact hypothesis).


Required Reading: 

"Sexuality and Gender in Children's Daily Worlds," Thorne and Luria (Electronic Reserves)

"No Place Like Home," Carrington (Sociology Reader, pp. 143-157)

Recommended Reading

"The Architecture of Inequality: Sex and Gender," Newman (Sociology, pp. 376-403)


Keywords: sexuality, heterosexism, heterosexual, homosexual, contact hypothesis.

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