Heterosexuality in Question
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Arguments for men being the hunter are then applied to today's understanding of the male gender being superior. These understandings however do not include ideas of morality, which is what is being applied to them. Much of religion invokes a binary model for sexuality;  for example, the Bible's inclusion of Adam and Eve as the beginning of humanity. Other examples include specific texts such as this one from Leviticus, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
This directly translates to compulsory heterosexuality in society through influence of leaders of the church, as well as in devout followers of this belief. Homosexuals have a difficult time finding acceptance particularly in the Bible Belt: . While most folks have outgrown overt racist and sexist attacks, for many people it's still okay to take shots at homosexuals.
They are called names, blamed for society's problems, and often humiliated because of their sexual preference. While a binary model for sexuality might be enforced, "Many of the Puritans in colonial New England believed that all human beings were filled with homosexual as well as heterosexual desire and that the good Christian should direct that desire into procreative sex within marriage.
MacKinnon argues that women occupy low-paying jobs and their sexual marketability is a factor in the workplace. Rich argues that women feel pressure to be heterosexual in the workplace, and that this pressure is also present in society as a whole. As a species will become extinct if no reproduction occurs, and human women must be inseminated to produce offspring, heterosexual relationships are necessary for the survival of the human race, barring artificial insemination.
According to Rich, women accept the male sex drive and regard themselves as sexual prey, and this influences compulsory heterosexuality. Furthermore, according to Rich, Barry argues for a "sexual domination perspective", claims that men subject women to what she terms as "sexual abuse" and "terrorism", and that the "sexual domination perspective" causes people to consider this "sexual abuse" and "terrorism" to be natural and inevitable and thus ignore it.
According to Rich, women believe men have a natural need to have sex, and this results in them viewing "abuse" as inevitable. Barry argues that this rationale is romanticized through popular media. Rich claims that this is reinforced through compulsory heterosexuality. While the concept of compulsory heterosexuality initially only included women, later revisions of the idea have included discussion on how Compulsory Heterosexuality necessarily requires both men and women to reinforce the construct; ergo, that compulsory heterosexuality impacts males as well.
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Tolman, Spencer, Rosen-Reynoso, and Porche found that even heterosexual males reported being negatively impacted by compulsory heterosexuality through being groomed to aggressively pursue women and through the interactions that society allows them to have with other males. Compulsory heterosexuality also negatively affects gay men by teaching them from a young age that straightness is "normal" and therefore anything that deviates from that is abnormal.
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Debbie Epstein discusses in her book, Silenced Sexualities in Schools and Universities , how heteronormative standards, as well as compulsory heterosexuality, lead not only to young males feeling forced to appear heterosexual, but can lead to violence against these males if they deviate from expectations against them. To understand the complexity of compulsory heterosexuality, several scholars have pointed out the importance of the impact of this construct on the differential effects on all populations, including minorities.
Udora Richardon points out that, "Any divergences from the social norms of marriage, domesticity, and the nuclear family have brought serious accusations of savagery, pathology, and deviance upon Black people.
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Divergences from heterosexuality place Black women in particular risk of physical harm or social exile. Friction developed between members of the gay liberation and lesbian feminist movement due to the emphasis on sexual orientation politics through the lens of gender politics alone. Gay liberationists argued that the complexity of sexual orientation politics cannot be easily reduced to gender politics, and that women are denied rights while gay and lesbian individuals are denied existence. The theory of compulsory heterosexuality is criticized for upholding the existence of a binary gendered system and strict roles under this binary system.
This criticism states that compulsory heterosexuality ignores individuals who act outside of their prescribed gender roles as well as ignoring individual agency in life. Institutions such as Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal believe that compulsory heterosexuality is upheld by individuals and organizations, not society-wide beliefs. Therefore, as lesbian and gay visibility increase, compulsory heterosexuality decreases.
As individual freedoms for sexual minorities increase, the institution of heterosexuality disappears. Rich believes that a woman is able to overcome compulsory heterosexuality by separating herself from men and entering a lesbian relationship to determine if heterosexuality is right for her. She argued that all women can be lesbians, regardless of sexual orientation, by identifying as a "woman-identified woman," meaning that the woman's focuses are on the needs and emotions of other women. Compulsory heterosexuality is also seen as a precursor to the development of the theory of heteronormativity , with the difference being that compulsory heterosexuality emphasizes the regulation of sexual expression in individuals.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. The University of Chicago Press. Journal of Sex Research. Journal of Social Issues. The Origin of the Family. New Hogtown Press. Both ask initial questions about having had sexual relations, which are defined as "sex with penetration, vaginal, oral, or anal" and the sex of the first sex partner. Both surveys also asked questions about intimate contact caresses with another person. The Australian survey defined sexual experience much as in the British survey Sexual experience is examined in relation to the sex of partners using a version of a six-point Kinsey-type scale.
The question of homosexual desire or attraction. Unlike questions about homosexual behavior, with their variations and complexity in the definitions of sexual behavior, questions about sexual attraction are practically identical in almost all surveys. The most common form of this question is a Kinsey-type scale of attraction using a five-point scale varying from attracted only to persons of the opposite sex to attracted only to persons of the same sex.
The question is worded in terms of males or men and females or women. The British, Chilean, and Australian surveys include a sixth category of not being attracted to anyone. There is some variation in when the question is asked. The question on attraction is usually asked before questions about behavior, but in the U. Sexual identity. Some surveys ask a question about self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual.
A typical version is found in the U. Still, several major AIDS-era surveys do not ask such a question. It does not appear in the French or British surveys, for example. In France, such a question has only been asked thus far in surveys of homosexual populations, as if they were the only people who have to define themselves in terms of sexual orientation. Interestingly, the Chilean survey includes such a question. Time period and numbers of partners. Usually such questions are framed in terms of specific time periods.
These surveys have usually adopted the following time periods: lifetime, 5 years, 1 year, and occasionally shorter time spans such as a week or a month. One reason for using shorter time spans is to enhance recall and accuracy of reporting. Number and sex of partners can only be understood sociologically in conjunction with information on numbers of relationships and their duration, data which is often missing from surveys.
This is particularly important for understanding persons who have had partners of both sexes over their lifetime, the case for the majority of respondents who have had homosexual experiences. Treatment of men and women. Despite the AIDS impetus behind the national surveys since the s and the primary concern with male homosexuality, men and women are mostly treated comparably. Questionnaires generally ask the same questions of both sexes. Data analysis on homosexuality in the primary reports from these surveys usually treats men and women in parallel.
This is definitely the case in the main national surveys from the early s, the British, French, and U. In the main scientific report on the British and U. In the French survey, on the other hand, the first detailed analysis of data on homosexuality only considered men's behavior 29, The first article that analyzed the French data on homosexual behavior of women was a comparative analysis with the U.
Homosexuality rates reported in national surveys. Table 2 presents key summary data on reported rates for various aspects of homosexuality from all the national surveys we have discussed in this article. We selected 6 measures: attraction to persons of the same sex, four separate measures of homosexual experience defined in terms of time period, and finally for those surveys which include it, the distribution of self-identification measures.
Interestingly, in spite of Kinsey's recognition of a psychic dimension when measuring the balance of heterosexuality and homosexuality, when ones actually examines what is tabulated and quantified in his publications, the primary focus is on "overt" sexual behavior. A detailed analysis was finally published in with the data on male homosexual behavior from the Kinsey Institute national survey All of the sexual behavior questions were asked via self-administered forms and thus had much missing data.
The analysis used sophisticated statistical methods of data imputation to minimize the impact of the missing data. It found that " Unfortunately, the data from the women respondents is not reported in this detailed analysis. The raw percentages on the questions in the survey are reported separately for men and women in Klassen et al. Interestingly, lifetime rates from the Kinsey research and the survey are much higher than the rates reported in other surveys. These rates have often been attributed to the sample design. But another explanation is that these higher rates reflect historical changes in sexual behavior.
It may be that youthful homosexual behavior has actually declined since the s due to a confluence of factors including increasing rates of youthful heterosexual behavior, the impact of AIDS, and the impact of increased public attention to homosexuality due both to AIDS and the emergence of a politically active and publicly visible gay movement and community.
Youthful sexual experiences between persons of the same sex, male or female, may be avoided because it would be thought to indicate a homosexual identity or orientation. However when one examines the two French surveys, collected twenty years apart, the percentages of lifetime homosexual behavior for both men and women are very close. Since homosexuality in all these societies receives substantial social disapproval, one concern is the accuracy of reporting of such behaviors, and such rates have generally been considered to be lower bound estimates. One may wonder about the reasons for these variations.
For example, the behavior rates for both men and women in the NHSLS are consistently higher than all the other surveys from the early s. One might ask whether this is due to differences in behavior in the United States as compared to Britain, France, and Finland. Or is this due to national differences in the ease of talking about one's own homosexual experiences that might affect responses in surveys? Still further, are these differences due to a combination of methodological differences in questionnaire design and wording?
The Finnish survey, by replicating the framework and questions from , presumes heterosexuality and treats homosexuality as an afterthought. The British, French, and U. However, the French and British surveys both ask a single question in a Kinsey-type scale about the sex of lifetime partners, which then serves as a filter.
Respondents who say they have never had a same-sex sexual experience are asked no further questions about homosexual contacts. On the other hand, in the U. Instead, at different points in the questionnaire, respondents are asked to enumerate their partners and their gender. Whatever the reason, there are somewhat higher rates of lifetime, five-year, and past-year reporting of same-sex partners in the U. The Finnish survey stands out as the only survey from the s that produced equivalent rates of lifetime same-sex sexual partners for men and women.
All of the other surveys in this group produced rates for men that were approximately double the rates reported by women. Again, one can only wonder if this is due to a greater degree of gender similarity in behavior in Finland or whether it is an artifact of survey design. A similar question arises in comparing the Chilean and Brazilian survey results. The Chilean survey found extremely low rates of reporting of homosexuality.
The Brazilian survey found a more substantial rate of same-sex partners in the previous five years, a rate that was the same for men and women. The Australian survey, which is also the most recent, found relatively high homosexuality rates.
Heterosexuality in Question
Developing surveys on homosexuality and analyzing their findings cannot be separated from social and political dynamics that go beyond narrow scientific and technical issues For example, questions about homosexuality rates at a given time and in a given country are almost inevitably contested. The stakes are different for different segments of society: gay men and lesbians themselves, policymakers, political leaders, religious leaders, etc. While it is often difficult to separate scientific and social concerns, researchers need to pay close attention to conceptual and methodological issues in the design and analysis of surveys.
The authors hope that this review will contribute to such a process. The relationship between methodological issues in surveys such as sampling, interviewing modes, and formulation of questions on rates of self-reported homosexual feelings and experiences is a complex and unresolved question. Thus, determining to what extent observed differences in homosexuality rates are due to reporting versus actual practices will depend in part on careful attention to what is being compared, e.
Attention should also be given to less easily quantifiable and replicable aspects of survey design and execution such as interviewer training and framing and organization of the interview, e. Subtle differences in language and ordering of questions are also important. What is the relationship between the social context surrounding homosexuality in a given society and the different rates of persons who say they have engaged in homosexual behavior? We also find much lower rates in recent surveys in Latin America compared to North American, Australian, and European surveys.
Are these due to differences in reporting, or do they reflect differences in practices? In surveys that have examined the relationship between respondents' socio-demographic characteristics and observed rates of same-sex behavior, overall, for both men and women, one finds higher rates among the more educated, the unmarried or divorced, those without children, and those living in larger cities These social and demographic factors are associated with a greater social liberalism and a greater degree of independence and freedom from social pressures, especially those associated with marriage and family.
It is difficult to separate the degree to which these factors facilitate higher rates of reporting homosexual behavior from the degree to which they facilitate homosexual behavior itself. In addition, inequalities between men and women, which are found everywhere although in different forms in different societies , condition the possibilities for homosexual expression by men and women. Heteronormativity, the social pressure to conform to norms of heterosexuality especially as regards marriage, reproduction, and family, is stronger for women than men, which may explain the widely observed higher rates of self-reported homosexual behavior by men.
Heterosexuality in Question | SAGE Publications Ltd
However it should be noted that gender differences in rates of reporting of same-sex attraction is much less marked. Further longitudinal and comparative research is needed that carefully controls for methodological differences in order to distinguish actual behavior differences in various populations and societies. In addition, to advance our understanding, we need a precise analysis of the relations between the sexes as well the social conditions underlying the possibilities of homosexual expression in different countries.
The two authors of this article made fully equal contributions to it, sharing equally in its conception and execution. Pollak M. Homosexualities: a study of diversity among men and women. Male-male sexual contact in the U.
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