Gender and sexuality

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As Disch states in the Introduction to Part V on Sexuality, the social construction of gender has a lot ofinfluence on human sexuality, and she goes on to assert that “[w]ithout the constraints put upon sexualityby gender, expressions of human sexuality would probably look very different than they currently do”(262). The hegemonic ideology that dominates US culture is that sex and gender should match (i.e.cisgender is the norm), even though findings from our society itself show that the “combinations andpermutations of biological sex, gender, and sexual orientation are many” (Disch 262). Disch’s introductionidentifies various issues that comprise the study of gender and sexuality today, including:● Sexual behavior, sexual orientation, and gender do not always align in a predictable pattern. Forinstance, some people who identify as heterosexual may actually engage in sex acts andrelationships with same-sex partners. Moreover, some people’s sexualities can change over time(e.g. someone can identify has heterosexual at one point and then later on in life get involved inheterosexual relationships).● Debates continue over the origins of sexual orientations—what roles do genetic makeup andcultural factors play in sexual identity and expression (a.k.a. the “nature vs. nurture” debate).● Pornography and the extent of its influence on sexual behavior. For instance, does theprevalence of the dynamic of male domination and female subordination in pornography affecthow men and women relate to one another? Does pornography contribute to the objectificationand degradation of women?● Similarities and differences between male and female sexuality. The advent of Viagra (a drug forenhancing male sexual potency) has led to a push for an equivalent female drug—leading in turnto debates concerning the existence of female sexual dysfunction and whether or not women’ssexual arousal can be compared to men’s.● The intersections between racial and cultural affiliations and sexuality. For exle, the relativelack of tolerance of homosexuality in certain ethnic groups and the racism or color-blindness ofsome LGBT communities make life particularly difficult for non-heteronormative individuals.2) “The Myth of the Sexual Athlete” by Don Sabo2) “The Myth of the Sexual Athlete” by Don SaboIn “The Myth of the Sexual Athlete,” Don Sabo discusses how dominant standards of masculinity,especially regarding that of the “sexual athlete,” conflict with intimate, loving relationships. As he definesit, the sexual athlete refers to “male heterosexual virtuosity in the bedroom” that comes with images ofpotency, agility, technical expertise, and an ability to attract and satisfy women” (278). Many men in theUS have been socialized to believe in the ethos of the sexual athlete, in which dating and sex are treatedmuch like a sport, women are objectified as targets for sexual conquests, and honest discussions aboutlove and intimacy are taboo. Think here of the popular sports metaphors we have in our culture for malesexuality: the baseball metaphor for how many bases one can get to on a date, sexual intercourse with anew partner as “scoring,” and scoring as much as possible with different women. As Sabo writes, “[t]o bemanly in sports, traditionally, means to be competitive, successful, dominating, aggressive, stoical,goal-directed, and physically strong. Many athletes accept this definition of masculinity and apply it in theirrelationships with women” (279).The truth, according to Sabo, is that men and women both desire love and intimacy in relationships, butmen tend to lack a “vocabulary of intimacy” with which to discuss relationships with others and betterunderstand the nature of women’s sexuality. Since sexual relations in Western nations are forged withinpatriarchal social structures, male dominance and the physical aspects of the sex act are emphasized at

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