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How Sexuality Is Socially Constructed Essay

2012 words - 8 pages

From birth, one's sexuality is shaped by society. Cultures institute behaviors that are to be seen as the societal norms, which work to constantly reinforce societal expectations of how genders should act in relation to one another. Although some may argue that one's sexuality is an innate characteristic resulting from genetic makeup, there is a large amount of evidence pointing to its social construction instead. Through the power differences between males and females, established gender roles, and drastic economic shifts, society establishes sexuality and reinforces the behaviors that are expected of its citizens.
As Tamsin Wilton explains in her piece, “Which One’s the Man? The Heterosexualisation of Lesbian Sex,” society has fronted that heterosexuality, or desire for the opposite sex, is the norm. However, the reason behind why this is the case is left out. Rather, Wilton claims that “heterosexual desire is [an] eroticised power difference [because] heterosexual desire originates in the power relationship between men and women” (161). This social struggle for power forces the majority of individuals into male-female based relationships because most women are unable to overcome the oppressive cycle society has led them into. Whereas heterosexual relationships are made up of the male (the oppressor) and the female (the victim who is unable to fight against the oppressor), homosexual relationships involve two or more individuals that have been freed from their oppressor-oppressed roles.
Gender is a socially constructed phenomenon, and how acceptable one’s relationship is determined by society’s view of gender roles. Because the majority of the population is characterized as heterosexual, those who deviate from that path are seen as anarchists to the male authority that presides over them. If and when a woman finds the power to shed her heterosexual chains that bind her to a man, she is “‘threaten[ing] male supremacy at its core.’” Wilton quotes the Leeds Revolutionary Feminists as they describe how “‘Serious feminists have no choice but to abandon heterosexuality…men are the enemy [and] heterosexual women are collaborators with the enemy’” (163). Wilton later describes how, by turning away from the heterosexual male-female institution, women are taking a crucial step on the path of liberation. Although a woman may be content having relations with a male, the male’s dominant role in society should be enough persuasion for the former to leave such structured relationship so as to explore a freer partnership that goes against societal expectations.
Wilton refers to Monique Wittig, a French author and feminist theorist, who states “our survival demands that we contribute all our strength to the destruction of the class of women within which men appropriate women.” Thus, Wittig expresses that “heterosexuality is a social system” (Wilton 165). Why heterosexuality is forced upon the majority, however, is still unclear. Emily Martin, in her...

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