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Transcript of Sexuality Perspectives
Questions to Ponder
1. What role does popular culture play in teaching us about sexuality and understanding our own sexual identities?
2. Does the internet give us a place to explore sexuality safely or is it a threatening space?
3. Is popular culture transforming the way we think about gay, lesbian, and bisexual identities, or is popular culture actually slowing down progress?
4. What is gay popular culture and how does it relate to gay and straight audiences?
The story of Jamey Rodemeyer and It Gets Better
Theories of culture, sexuality and power from Emile Durkheim and Michel Foucault
Sexuality and the cultural diamond: social world, content, production, audience
Three methods: quantitative content analysis, production surveys, audience interviews
Keywords: anomie, dominant ideology, queer
From It Gets Better...
... to a tragic suicide.
Why did this happen to Jamey? And why does it happen to many teens?
What role does the internet play?
Why did Jamey turn to the Internet to express himself?
Why does the It Gets Better Campaign focus on YouTube videos?
Emile Durkheim, 1858-1917, France
Selected works: The Division of Labor in Society (1893), Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Suicide (1897), The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1912)
Forms of Suicide
Reasons why crime is necessary
1. Generates norms (
2. Produces social boundaries
3. Produces rituals that generate solidarity
4. Generates innovation
5. Generates social progress
All of these now apply to pop culture!
Michel Foucault, 1926-1984
Discipline and Punish, 1975
History of Sexuality, vol 1-3, 1976-1984
It seems to me that power must be understood in the first instance as the multiplicity of force relations immanent in the sphere in which they operate and which constitute their own organization; as the process which, through ceaseless struggles and confrontations, transforms, strengthens, or reverses them; as the support which these force relations find in one another, thus forming a chain or system, or on the contrary, the disjunctions and contradictions which isolate them from one another; and lastly, as the strategies in which they take effect, whose general design or institutional crystallization is embodied in the state apparatus, in the formulation of the law, in the various social hegemonies. (1990, 92-93)
: A state of normlessness in which existing social norms have broken down and have not yet been replaced by new ones
: A set of ruling ideas and social norms that legitimize existing power relations making a challenge to the system unlikely.
: A word that has been used as both a slur against the LGBT community and as a term of identity for the same community. People who embrace the word queer typically are looking for an open-ended and inclusive identity, focus more on the fluidity of sexuality, and are less interested in mainstream culture.
: a person's internal sense of being male or female, whatever those words mean to them.
: the ways that person presents their sense of gender identity, and the ways they play with identity.
Transgender, Trans Man (F2M), Trans Woman (M2F)
: Some words that are typically preferred terms for trans people.
: The collection of processes that trans people go through to embrace their gender identity.
Gender confirmation surgery/ Sex reassignment surgery
: A variety of medical practices that may be a part of transition for some trans people.
Cisgender / Cis
: A term used to refer to folks who do not identify as trans. (cis privilege)
Confusions to avoid
: Doing drag is not synonymous with being trans. Cross-dressing is not synonymous with being trans nor is it the same as doing drag. Intersex people have genetic, hormonal, or chromosomal circumstances that make their biological sex ambiguous within a gender binary.
Language to avoid
: Transgenders, Transgendered, Tranny, Sex Change, Shemale, He-She.
When in doubt, ask. Conversation is the best way to learn. If the person you ask doesn't want to answer your questions, respect that wish. No trans person speaks for the trans community.
The celluloid closet
Vito Russo's term for the way that the film industry treats LGBT people
Deep seated homophobia of Hollywood
The role film plays in pushing people to live in a closet
2005's Brokeback Mountain has been declared as groundbreaking. But was it? And why did it come so late?
Sexuality in comics and comic-themed film and TV
Neil Shyminsky argues that sidekicks serve as a foil for the failed masculinity of the superhero. Superheroes are meant to symbolize modern masculinity but their costumes and superpowers make them freaks and mutants. The femininity of the sidekick distracts us from the queerness of the superhero himself.
Quantitative Content Analysis
A method of studying types of discernible representations and examining the relationship between one type of representation and another or between one type of representation and some other quantifiable issue.
This example is from Kidd's analysis of TV:
Gay white men tend to dominate the roles and the off screen hiring for LGBTQ folks in Hollywood.
Where are the women? Where are the Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American gay men in Hollywood?
Gay activism started in music much earlier.
Cindy Boucher's historical analysis of Folkways Records offers insight into the ways that gay and lesbian musicians were using music for social change in the 1970s.
Michael Cohen, What Did You Expect?... Songs About the Experiences of Being Gay (1973)
Kathy Fire, Songs of Fire: Songs of a Lesbian Anarchist (1979)
Various Artists, Walls to Roses: Songs of Changing Men (1979)
Various Artists, Gay and Straight Together (1980)
Gay-themed music today is less political than the music made by Folkways in the 1970s.
It sounds more like mainstream pop and focuses on the same issues: relationships and sex.
Cazwell is one of the more prominent gay musicians who blends hip-hop music with overt sexuality.
A method of studying the perspectives of culture industry professionals using short, often closed-ended, questions.
Example: Out & Equal Workplace Survey
Queer Readings: Audience-driven re-imaginings of straight (or non-sexually identified) story lines that insert queer use existing cues from the story to insert queer relationships.
Slash fiction is one of the strongest forms of queer readings.
Audience Responses to Will & Grace
Evan Cooper (2003)
Audience Responses to Will & Grace cont.
Thomas Linneman (2008)
Focuses on the use of feminizing language within the show against male characters. How do focus groups respond?
1. Obliviousness: found more in straight respondents
2. Anger: Found more in gay respondents
3. Acceptance: Found across groups
The Facebook Revolution, LGBT Identity and Activism (Cooper and Dzara 2010)
Consider these Facebook conundrums
Rob is “out” to friends in real life. He is not out on Facebook, however, because not all of his family members know. He plans a secret trip with his new boyfriend, who posts that he can’t wait for their romantic European vacation.
Sarah is also “out” in everyday life, but has not posted this, or any indicator of this, on Facebook, because she may face discrimination at work. Several coworkers have added her to their friends list. She states in a status update that she can’t wait to go to a movie on Saturday night. One real-life friend posts, “Can’t wait to meet your new lover!” Another friend posts, “You guys will like her! She’s really nice!”
Cary is out to friends and family, yet some of his family members are conservative and uncomfortable with public displays of aff ection between Cary and a partner. A friend of Cary’s posts pics of him and his boyfriend in an embrace at a party. Another pic posted shows Cary’s boyfriend in drag at a fund-raiser. (2010 104–105)
A method of studying cultural consumers by directly asking them about the culture they select, how they interpret it, and how they turn that experience into social action.
Popular culture features more gay images than ever before is still lagging far behind other areas of American life.
Most of the gay images in contemporary popular culture feature White gay men. We are still lacking images of gay men of color, of lesbians of all races, and of bisexual men and women.
We have not collected enough data to really understand either the gay experience working within the culture industries or the differences between gay and straight audiences.
Is the Internet a safe space for gay youth? If not, what should we do about it?
What would or should more sexually diverse media images look like?
How do we recruit a diverse set of LGBT people into media production?
How might gay and straight audiences differ? Is it discriminatory to think they might differ?
Should gay culture be more political?
Fox: Excellent 45%
CW: Good 45%
ABC: Good 32%
NBC: Adequate 28%
CBS: Adequate 27%
Charlie Ballard, gay Native American comedian
Trans perspectives from Laverne Cox and Lana Wachowski