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Sexuality 499-1 - Time to"Refle" However the work...

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Unformatted text preview: - Time. to. "Refle- " However, the work of deviance theorists, some of whom, like Michel Foucault, have been themselves outspoken members of sexual minorities, challenged assumptions about ‘deviant’ sexual categories and the individuals who inhabited them. Consequently, a large and growing body of literature on sexuality also challenges various systems of oppression. Some writers, for example, exam- ined the role of stigma in the social control of sexuality (Plummer, 1975). One of the most (in)famous sociolog— ical studies of sexual stigma, Laud Humphreys’s 720427)ch Trade (1970), controversially examined the dehumaniz— ing role of stigma on the lives of men who sought sexual pleasure in public washrooms (see Chapter 7). While some continue to study sexual stigma and out under— standing of sexual deviance, many have since come to problematize the very notion of sexual deviance. Plum: met (2003), for example, critiques and contests the lan— guage 0f perversion. Destabilizing Sexual Categories: Feminists, Queer Theory, and Beyond Many feminists have questioned and challenged, among other things, the social construction of sex and sexuality, the control of women’s bodies and reproduction, the objectification of women, sexual double standards, the link between sex and power, and sexual abuse and oppression (Millett, 1969; Greer, 1984; Weitz, 2002). Holly Benkert notes that ‘the basis for oppression of women is deeply rooted to our sexuality, the very source of our primary "difference” (Benkert, 2002: 1197). Some, however, have pointed out that, since the 19605, feminists in North America have understood sexuality as both ‘an arena for women’s liberation’ and ca crucial vec— tor of women’s oppressiorf (Marcus, 2005: 193). Some feminists have attempted to deconstruct and then reclaim women’s rights to sexual pleasure, autonomy, and knowledge (Bell, 1994; Eaves, 2002), while others have challenged the forces that stood against women's autonomy, including pornography, rape, and sexual harassment (Brownmiller, 1975; Dworkin, 1981; MacKinnon, 1989). The debates around pornography have been espe— cially divisive. Some, like Dworkin and MacKinnon, consider pornography to be demeaning and degrading to women and representative of male power over women. For others, the freedom to explore diverse rep— resentations of sexuality, including pornography or erot- ica, is seen as liberating to women, and challenges restrictions placed on women’s sexuality (Bell, 1994; Sprinkle, 1991). The African—American social theorist and feminist critic bell hooks explains that many ferni— nists, in fact, stopped talking about sex publicly because it exposed ‘our differences’ (hooks, 1994: 79); however, challenging patriarchal definitions and restrictions on women’s sexual autonomy has been a unifying theme within feminism. Writers such as Judith Butler (1990) have argued that categories like ‘heterosexual’ and ‘homosexual’ are used to control and constrain individuals and therefore should be challenged on a number of fronts. Some, like Carr, promote the notion of a ‘fiuid conception of sex— ual identification” that is subject to ‘the flux and flow of life’ (Carr, 1999: 17), allowing for the possibility of indi- viduals to change from one identification to another. Queer theory calls for this type of challenge and change. The use of the term ‘queer’ within the gay community began as a ploy to reclaim a slur and highlight the multi— ple ways that sexual practices, sexual fantasy, and sexual identity ‘fail to line up consistently’ and Expresses an important insight about the complexity of sexuality” (Marcus, 2005: 196). Queer theory derives part of its phi- losophy from the ideas of Michel Foucault (1990), who saw homosexuality as a strategically situated marginal [Cchiapter 17. sexuality“: 5 .. £34995” .n ...
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