The sex/gender distinction is a staple of feminist philosophy. In slogan form: sex is “natural,” while gender is the “social meaning” of sex. Considering the importance of the sex/gender distinction—which, here, I neither endorse nor reject—it’s interesting to ask if philosophers working on the metaphysics of sexuality might make use of an analogous distinction. In this paper, I argue that we ought to endorse the sexual orientation/identity distinction. In particular, I argue that the orientation/identity distinction is indispensable to normative explanations (...) regarding LGBTQIA+ oppression and resistance. As a case study, I consider the oppression involved in the gentrification of historic queer neighborhoods. (shrink)
Was bisexuality a widespread feature of ancient Greek society? This question is an instance of cross-cultural projection -- of taking the means through which people are categorized in one culture and applying it to members of another. It’s widely held by those who think that sexual orientation is socially constructed that its projection poses a problem. In this paper, I offer a more careful analysis of this alleged problem. To analyze projection, I adapt Iris Einheuser’s substratum-carving model of conventionalism to (...) fit the specific needs of social construction. Using this model, I show that projection is conceptually coherent, and so does not for that reason pose any problem. Along the way, I identify some of the epistemic difficulties facing projection. While these difficulties are formidable, they are not substantially affected by the constructivist claim. I therefore conclude that there is no unique problem facing the projection of a socially constructed sexual orientation. (shrink)
I defend an account of sexual orientation, understood as a reflexive disposition to be sexually attracted to people of a particular biological Sex or Sexes. An orientation is identified in terms of two aspects: the Sex of the subject who has the disposition, and whether that Sex is the same as, or different to, the Sex to which the subject is disposed to be attracted. I explore this account in some detail and defend it from several challenges. In doing so, (...) I provide a theoretical framework that justifies our continued reference to Sex-directed sexual orientation as an important means of classifying human subjects. (shrink)
The present research paper approaches homosexuality from a Foucauldian perspective. Foucault's place and standing in a postmodern historical and cultural context will be explained. The paper outlines how homosexuality has been historically constructed and socially constituted. How sexuality became understood as a particular form of discourse, that is as a science, will be explored particularly with regard to the strategic use of confession as a producer of knowledge. I will present how homosexuality, as a medicalized, ontological identity was implanted in (...) bodies and an entire pathological population was created. To reverse an excessive medicalized discourse of homosexuality, Foucault's prescription of moving to the care of self and predicating sexuality on the pleasure of bodies as opposed to scientific or clinical ideology will be discussed. Such critical analysis facilitates new imaginative spaces that can enable educators to engage in meaningful and informed dialogue around the various discourses surrounding homosexuality in a postmodern historical and cultural context. (shrink)
Billy Wilder's classic film ‘Some Like It Hot’ prefigures Judith Butler's concept of performativity in relation to sex, gender and sexuality. Butler introduced this in Gender Trouble , demonstrating that sex, gender and sexuality are naturalized effects of citation and repetition. In that text she explains that denaturalization is visibly demonstrated by drag. Later in Bodies that Matter she argues that drag in ‘Some Like It Hot’ does not denaturalize heterosexuality, but rather fortifies it. What then for Butler divides denaturalizing (...) drag from non-denaturalizing drag? Butler locates denaturalizing drag in the film ‘Female Trouble’ , where Divine's drag-queen persona satirizes gender in a hyperbolic performance. However, Butler misconstrues the cross-dressing performances in ‘Some Like It Hot’ as drag, which are better understood as instances of theatrical disguise. Narrative analysis reveals that all the characters in ‘Some Like It Hot’ function within a dystopian critique of heteronormativity. Because the film takes a performative view of sex, gender and sexuality, it can validate three queer couples who defy the strictures of heterosexual romance. Butler thus overlooks a discourse of critique and destabilization alternative to gay perspectives. Current developments in sexual politics, broadly conceived, track both Butlerian concepts of performativity and dystopian critiques of heteronormativity. (shrink)
: For many of us, entry into motherhood involves an ambiguous visibility and intelligibility, where our acceptance into mainstream spaces as mothers entails a loss of lesbian difference. Mann explores this loss using the work of two philosophers of lesbian difference, Monique Wittig and Judith Butler. She argues that the figure of the lesbian mother is deployed on a broad cultural scale to reinvigorate and renaturalize the myth of the happy, natural, heterosexual mother.
The social and ethical framework of opposition toward homosexuality and, for example, gay marriage and gay parenting must be understood both from the process of institutionalism within Western society and from the essentialist view of human beings and the construction of their identities.This essentialist context of humanity and society, however, must be put in opposition to the social definition of human existence and identity. The latter are the dynamic and never-completed result of personal and social interrelation.Therefore, they cannot be separated (...) into abstractions denominating the essence of humanity and society, nor may they be viewed as clear-cut atomic or autonomous realities. On the basis of this opposition, I criticize the arguments against accepting and positively integrating homosexuality within society, especially through an analysis of the interpersonal aspects of the formation of gay identity and of gay parenting. (shrink)
Our beloved “genders” of the present moment are neither universal nor trans-historical presences in the world. The specific gender order which we employ today is the legacy of a particular cultural and political history, and there is still a great deal at stake in preserving it. As a graduate student I stumbled upon the topic of intersexuality a few years ago and found myself enthralled with its implications. Continuing to present itself inspite of all our scientific knowledge about the supposed (...) immutability of “female” and “male,” intersexuality disrupts the gender order. The response to this disruption has been swift and terrible: from the intersexed infants who enter “our” world everyday are carved (literally and figuratively) supposedly “normal” boys and girls (mostly girls). The following exposition represents a pre-fieldwork (theoretical) stage in my current research and attempts to demonstrate that medical authorities manage intersex “cases” as they do in order to stabilize the always precarious institution of heterosexuality. (shrink)
Reviews of studies on sexual orientation reveal that researchers have not developed a clear conceptual definition of sexual orientation and that most researchers have failed to provide a theoretical framework for their studies. While some scholars recognize the conceptual confusion that has plagued the development of a theory of sexual orientation, most researchers study sexual orientation as if it were an immutable, essential nature of an individual without questioning how social context influences categorization. The problem with this approach is that (...) components have been hypothesized to be part of the construct, but there has been no systematic study of how to judge the accuracy of the construct. The present study suggests that, because categories of sexual orientation are socially constructed, the study of sexual orientation would benefit from an understanding of how the ordinary language community defines and categorizes sexual orientation. The purpose of the present study was to test the semantics of various category labels of sexual orientation used in ordinary language. Three hypothesized components of sexual orientation , involving either same-sex or opposite-sex oriented behavior, along with a fourth stimulus condition were manipulated in a 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design. Subjects were 371 college students who completed a questionnaire in which they were asked to give a one-word description in response to written statements about hypothetical individuals described as male or female who engage in various same- or opposite-sex behavior. Contrary to what was hypothesized, results demonstrate that there were some necessary and sufficient conditions for categorizing sexual orientation. Also contrary to a proto-behavioral hypothesis, the results of the relative strength of the three components in predicting category label indicate that sexual attraction was the strongest predictor, followed by overt sexual behavior, and sexual fantasy, respectively. The most impressive finding was the overwhelming support for the impurity hypothesis in which descriptions with any same-sex oriented behavior appeared to be judged to contaminate the individual's sexual orientation resulting in greater frequencies of responses of "homosexual" compared to other category labels. Finally, as predicted, overt sexual behavior was least predictive of the sexual orientation of females with sexual fantasy being the most predictive. For descriptions of males, sexual attraction was the most important predictor. Provided in the discussion are possible explanations for the current findings, a description of the limitations and implications of the study, and recommendations for future research. (shrink)
Lesbian-feminism typically rejects lesbian and gay family, marriage, and parenting, because these practices neither transform gender relations nor challenge the maternal imperative and women’s location in a depoliticized, domestic sphere. I argue that this lesbian-feminist view neglects the historical construction of lesbians and gay men as outlaws to the family. The 1880’s-1990s image of the mannish lesbian, the 1930s-1950s image of the homosexual child molester, and the 1980s-1990s image of lesbian and gay “pretended family relationships” constructed lesbians and gays as (...) constitutionally unfit for family, marriage, and parenting. These images helped displace social anxiety that the heterosexual family was disintegrating from within onto the specter of the hostile outsider to the family. By masking heterosexuals’ own family-disrupting behavior, these constructions of lesbians and gays as natural outlaws to the family serve to reserve the private sphere for heterosexuals only. (shrink)
One. Hundred. Years. of. Homosexuality. I. In 1992, when the patriots among us will be celebrating the fivehundredth anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, our cultural historians may wish to mark the centenary of ...
For a balanced discussion of the main social, medical, and philosophical aspects of homosexuality, here is the ideal book. Written by philosophers of science, each comprehensive chapter takes a critical look at research on the etiology of homosexuality. Read Philosophy and Homosexuality and examine the evidence for both the sociobiological and hormonal explanations of homosexuality and study the definitions of sexual orientation and how they have affected research.
This article is a postscript to Bem's (1996) theory of sexual orientation, which claims that an individual's sexual orientation is more directly the result of childhood experiences than of inborn biological factors. The possibility that the theory provides a successful strategy for preventing gender-nonconforming children from becoming homosexual adults is considered and rejected. So, too, is the thesis that biological explanations of homosexuality are more likely than experience-based explanations to promote gay-positive attitudes and practices.