Culture Acceptance of Homosexuality in the African-American Culture
Culture Acceptance of Homosexuality in the African-American Culture
Different factions of sociologists depict men. Functionalists suggest that a division of labor originally arose between man and women because of the woman’s role in reproduction. By virtue of their larger size and greater muscular strength, men were assigned hunting and defense tasks. Conflict theorists reject functionalist arguments as simply offering a rationale for male dominance. They contend that a sexual division of labor is a social vehicle devised by men to assure themselves of privilege, prestige, and power in their relationships with women.
By relegating women to the home, men have been able to deny women those resources they need to succeed in the larger world. Others say that the fundamental motive is men’s desire to have women readily available for sexual gratification. And still others emphasize that the appropriation of women is not for copulation but for procreation, especially to produce male heirs and daughters who can be used as exchanges in cementing political economic alliances with other families (Hinkle, 1994).
Indeed, this gender stratification promotes the survival of the species and fulfilling their label to be strong, men even use violence to assert their so-called masculinity, which in any case is portrayed by the sociologists as the more superior specie. But when one takes a closer look into Kinsey’s reports, he or she won’t help but notice an honest existence of a “third kind” or the second-class citizens as the popular belief says in the persons of the homosexuals (Betancourt & Lopez, 1993). For the best information on sexual characteristics, we are indebted to the Kinsey reports.
Kinsey’s greatest contribution was the discovery that individual differences in sexual behavior are truly amazing. The reports were designed to give a scientific gloss to the normalization of promiscuity and deviancy. Kinsey’s initial report, released in 1948 stunned the nation by saying that American men were so sexually wild that “95% of them could be accused of some kind of sexual offense under 1940s laws” (Kinsey et al. , 1948). The report included reports of sexual activity by boys, even babies, and said, “37% of adult males had had at least one homosexual experience” (Kinsey et al.
, 1948). Homosexuality is a preference for an individual of the same sex as a sexual partner. The Alfred C. Kinsey Institute for Sex Research estimates that five to six percent of the adult population is predominantly homosexual. However, since there are so many gradations in sexual behavior and preferences, many sociologists and psychologists take the view that there heterosexual or homosexual practices but not homosexual individuals (Halgin, 2006). In brief, homosexuality and heterosexuality are terms that describe behavior, not the identity of a person.
But gender identity confusion can lead to fear of homosexuality. But behavior is not grossly disorganized, nor is functioning impaired if the delusions are not acted out. A gay man or a lesbian may or may not elect to engage in homosexual behavior (Bell and Weinberg, 1998). Father’s Presence A boy prefers the company of boys; his favorite toys are cars and trucks and wants to be a fireman or policeman. The parents treated both the children differently, even though they are technically the same. This shows how parents do seek to socialize children into their gender roles, even if they are doing it unconsciously.
Parents provide distinctive environments for boys and girls. They give them different toys and clothes and decorate their rooms differently (Fagot, 1995). They respond negatively to more obvious forms of cross-sex behavior. A very young boy who tries on his mother high-heeled shoes or puts on a dress or lipstick may be regarded with amused tolerance, but such behavior in older children is regarded as outrageous rather than funny. Father reacts especially strongly to any such signs of feminine tendencies in their sons (Nicolosi, 1991).
The men may interpret certain kinds of feminine interests or actions as signs of developing homosexual tendencies in their sons and react to their tendencies in the strongest terms (Nicolosi, 1991). Psychologists described the uniformity of reports from literature that gay males had poorer relations with their fathers and concludes, “Every study reported findings that their relationships with their fathers were unsatisfying with the father variously described as cold, rejecting, indifferent, hostile, or simply distant” (Moberly, 1983).
Likewise it was concluded that the homosexuals hurtful relationship with the father results in defensive detachment, which is carried over to relationships with other men. Homosexuality becomes a form of a reparative drive (Nicolosi, 1991) in which the boy seeks a nurturing male relationship to undo the repression and regain the lost father. Significant environmental issues such as the impact of the father-son relationship are indicated as important in the development of adult male homosexual orientation. As scholars suggested, the father-child relationship is one of many crucial elements in the development of any child.
Deficits in this area may result in adverse effects to the child’s (and later adult child’s) identification with self as an adult, and this identification is generally considered to be crucial in determining the way in which children and adults form relationships with others (Blankenhorn, 1995). Conversely, boys seemed to conform to the sex-role standards of their culture when their relationships with their fathers were warm, regardless of how masculine the fathers were, even though warmth and intimacy have traditionally been seen as feminine characteristics (Blankenhorn, 1995).
Son’s pubertal development was a significant predictor of both information sharing and, to a lesser extent, values sharing, with fathers more likely to talk with sons who had attained more physical development. The father’s recognition of his son’s physical development appears to be an important factor in talking about sexuality. When fathers see their sons maturing physically, they may become aware of the increased possibility of sexual initiation, and this possibility spurs them to discussion of sexual topics (Moberly, 1983).
In the movie Billy Elliot, the simple rights of gay people are also advanced. In terms of personality traits, boys are generally aggressive, independent, dominant, competitive, logical, direct, adventurous, self-confident, and ambitious. Boys are described as closemouthed, rough, and sloppy in their habits. Boys do not usually enjoy art and literature, and cannot easily express and find it easy to express their feelings. This is what it means to be masculine in the eyes of biased society.
But Billy, more than the fondness for boxing his father wants for him, his natural flair falls for dancing, an art predominantly associated with girls. Most families, like that of Billy, urge boys to be little men even before they have any idea what it means to be a man. As a matter of fact, there is even more pressure on boys to be masculine than on girls to be feminine. They are constantly warned not to act like girls, not cry, not to be sissies.
Most people have always considered it worse for a boy to be a sissy than for a girl to be a tomboy. Boys may have to prove themselves by being athletic or by being tough, men by making a lot of money or by being a man’s man in whatever way this is defined by their associates. But the burden of proof is always present. And the burden is heavier than most people think. When cooing to a baby in a crib, they use one tone of voice toward a girl, a different one toward a boy. Mothers look at baby girl more often and talk to her more frequently.
By and large, children have been brought up to believe that women should be pretty and preferably slim, while men should be tall and strong (Sheinberg, 2004). This familial stereotyping is even carried on to the bigger world of the boys known as school. In the world that children enter at 6 there is a new adult, the teacher, whose discipline boys must conform to and whose acceptance they must court. Ordinarily the teacher is a woman, like the mother, and children’s behavior toward their mother can be generalized toward her.
But boys who are identifying with their father and rebelling against their mother often have trouble in the early grades. They may be less fearful of rejection by the teacher and therefore more reluctant to accept her influence (Sheinberg, 2004). It was also found that father’s age at first intercourse would predict father-son sex-based communication. The rationale was that fathers who were sexually active at an earlier age would remember their experiences and would see their sons as needing information (Moberly, 1983).
On the other hand, fathers who had sexual intercourse at a later age may believe it is best to wait, and they may talk with sons to instill this same value, while fathers who had sex at an early age might believe it best to inform their sons about sex in order to prepare them for it (Moberly, 1983). Without a doubt, among African Americans, a father is the most important thing a boy can have in his life. They relate to one another on a level that cannot be achieved through a mother-son relationship. It is important to have communication in the relationship because talking brings the two closer.
A father, though, needs to know when to play an active role in his son’s life, and when to be more of an observer. If he mixes the two up, serious repercussions may occur. A father can be the best thing in his son’s life, but he needs to care for the right (Sheinberg, 2004). Masculinity Another expert to have studied sexuality is Margaret Mead. Margaret Mead (1949) edified a good number of Americans about the significance of examining sensitively and plainly at other cultures to better comprehend the intricacies of humanness.
She contends that it seems quite probable that nature creates some inborn tendencies. But there is ample proof that heredity alone does not necessarily push men toward being independent and aggressive, nor women toward being passive and submissive (Mead, 1949). In one tribe that Mead studied, both men and women were what we would call highly feminine. Both sexes shunned aggression. Both took care of and nurtured the children. In modern times, girls and women are considered feminine unless they display overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but boys and men have to win the right to be called masculine.
They have to prove their masculinity; they have to face and succeed in all kinds of financial, intellectual, sexual, and physical tests. The testing process starts early and continues throughout life (Mead, 1949). In the other tribe, the members of one sex spent all their time applying cosmetics, gossiping, putting, engaging in emotional outbursts, and taking care of the children. Members of the other sex had clean-shaven heads, scorned any makeup or ornamentation, were active and domineering, and provided most of the tribe’s food and other necessities.
But the last sentence describes how the women behaved. The preceding sentence, about a fondness for cosmetics and emotional outbursts, describes the men (Mead, 1949). The motives for affiliation and dependency are universal. So are the emotions that accompany them. Society’s demand to suppress them is in effect a demand to transcend humanity. And efforts to do so can never completely succeed. Since it is impossible to program out all emotions, even the most extreme he-man can only approximate the masculine ideal.
Thus every man, aware of the stirrings of the softer and weaker emotion he tries so dutifully to hide, is bound to worry about his own masculinity. Otherwise, he is prejudged as gay, a sissy, or a homosexual (Duberman, et al. , 1989). The Religion’s Take The church usually operates with a bureaucratic structure and claims to include most of the members of a society. The difficulties the society has experienced in recent years are reflective of that of the ancient times and have contributed to the resurgence of conservative Christianity (Fisher, et al. , 1994).
We have seen in Christie Davies’ Sexual Taboos and Social Boundaries that religion may be a conservative force, impeding modernization and reaffirming traditional authority (Davies, 1982). The bold article tackles Christianity’s bias against such so-called sexual taboos as homosexuality, bestiality, and transvestism in North America and Europe. That is, Christianity is associable with such concepts as hypocrisy, racism, narrow-mindedness and conservativism (Fisher, et al. , 1994). Davies is referring to the passages in the Bible, which state that homosexuality is wrong.
These occur most prominently in Deuteronomy. Is it not entirely possible for instance to believe that the Bible is entirely true except those passages which condemn homosexuality which were inserted later by corrupt scribes (Fisher, et al. , 1994). Second, because homosexuals are considered deviants, the religious, military, and political principals find a way to give them a reprehensible image by consolidating their boundaries. The symbolic interactionist perspective has been a useful tool for examining the complexities of this heterosexual-homosexual relationship.
Thus, should the roles of certain members of the society depart from the normal conventions bordering on the taboo, as homosexuals have been automatically deemed doing, invariably there are spiteful consequences for their behavior and actions (Fisher, et al. , 1994). And third, Davies argues that the society’s mainstream institutions dictate and shape the homosexuals’ experiences. In large part, they unconsciously build up their sense of reality by the way the society orders its social agendas and structures social alternatives.
To the extent that they are locked within the social environment provided by the heterosexual culture, the homosexual segment inhabits a somewhat restricted world outside and is thus considered an external threat to any open social frontier (Fisher, et al. , 1994). Homosexual acts were punishable by death among the ancient Hebrews, but accepted and even admired by the Greeks. Later, the early Christians held that abstinence was the noblest form of sexual behavior, but at about the same time, the Romans were indulging in their famous orgies in the Colosseum (Fisher, et al.
, 1994). In England, at the time of Queen Elizabeth, sex was treated with a frankness and frequently with a ribaldry that has no parallel in Western history. A little later, under Queen Victoria, it was regarded with such great circumspection that among some groups of these very same Englishmen, one would hardly have known that coitus ever took place and any falls from propriety were the cause of great scandal and disgrace (Lenski and Lenski, 1999). Moreover, Davies also touches on dehumanization or slavery by way of Christian association.
In the Western society, significant segments of the population reject coexistence with minorities in equal terms. Women and homosexuals are subsumed in the list of minorities in the large group of African Americans (Davies, 1982). The current debate suggests that Christianity or any religion for that matter, remains a powerful moving force in Western life. People are not close to resolving how to relate people’s religious lives to their religious lives. Each generation must tackle its own church-state question as Christie Davies does with homosexuality in her article (Davies, 1982).
Furthermore, broadly considered, long-term relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, should be considered as families. The social definition of the family as a group of people related by blood, marriage, or adoption has come to its revolutionary point of reshaping into such as a group of people who love and care or each other regardless of spiritual background or sexual preference (Fisher, et al. , 1994). Some gays and lesbians are married, have children, and lead lives that in most respects are indistinguishable from those of the larger population.
However, homosexual adults who have come to terms with their homosexuality, who do not regret their sexual orientation, and who can function effectively sexually and socially, are no more distressed psychologically than are heterosexual men and women (Klonoff & Landrine, 2000). Homophobia Few people in the history of Western society have been more scorned, feared, and stigmatized than homosexuals. To put in a more appropriate context, these people who fear, hate, and persecute the homosexuals are homophobic (Kagay, 1999).
Gays and lesbians often hold values and beliefs that are different from those of the dominant culture. Because of the controversial nature of being gay or lesbian, and the heavy social proscriptions against it, many individuals are reluctant to “come out of the closet” or to reveal their membership in this co-culture. As more gays and lesbians identify themselves publicly, they find that their attitudes and communication patterns often clash with people who do not understand the gay and lesbian co-cultures (Vander Zanden, 1995).
When the collision involves the arbitrary denial of privilege, prestige, and power to members of the homosexual co-culture whose qualifications are equal to those of members of the dominant group as the heterosexuals, then generally, sociologists can easily label this as discrimination. And when the attitudes of aversion and hostility toward the homosexual co-culture abound because they simply belong to it and hence are presumed to have the objectionable qualities ascribed to it, then the label becomes prejudice (Vander Zanden, 1993).
Whereas prejudice is an attitude or a state of mind, discrimination is action. Therefore, phobia as an irrational part of a person’s mentality makes homophobia basically a prejudice that may lead to discrimination but cannot grow to be a form of racism (Klonoff & Landrine, 2000). Racism or racialism is a belief in the superiority of some races over others. It also involves prejudice against or hatred of other races. Discriminating behavior is also defining element in racism.
Be that as it may, racism is based on none other than racial membership and in this paper’s case, on sexual preference or orientation too. Stereotypically, it is based on the color of the skin, the texture of the hair, the facial features, the stature, and the shape of the heads. Biologists typically view races as populations that differ in the incidence of various hereditary traits. More narrowly, they conceive of a race or subspecies as an inbreeding, geographically isolated population that differs in hereditary traits from other members of the species (Bullough & Bullough 1996).
Hereditary is the key term. Although there are some floating nature-nurture debate on the tendency to be homosexual, being gay or lesbian is more broadly accepted as a behavior than a heritable peculiarity (Klonoff & Landrine, 2000). Homosexuality knows no color or physical feature. Although gays whiten the color of their skin, stretch their hair length, effeminize their facial features, glamorize their stature, or cosmetically alter the shape of their heads, they cannot be classified a race but a co-culture instead (Bell and Weinberg, 1998).
Although racial stratification is similar to other systems of stratification in which African Americans are a part of, including gender stratification, in its essential features, there tends to be one major difference. Racial and ethnic groups often have the potential for carving their own independent nation from the existing state (Klonoff & Landrine, 2000). Political separatism may offer racial groups a solution that is not available to gender groups. Gender groups typically lack the potential for becoming self-sufficient political states because they do not function as self-sufficient social or economic groups (Vander Zanden, 1995).
Homosexuals are a varied group. They are found in all occupational fields, political persuasions, religious faiths, and racial and ethnic groups. Some are married, have children, and lead lives that in most respects are indistinguishable from those of the larger population. Others enter homosexual unions that are relatively durable (Kagay, 1999). In fact, if homosexuality could be considered a part of the gender stratification, then homophobia could even be more appropriately subsumed by the realms of sexism than racism.
But the homosexual population cannot be undervalued that a gay joke can testify to their numbers: “I wonder why gay people multiply. They don’t have any vagina but they seem born twice a straight baby girl’s chance. ” In many modern nations, the members of some groups participate in the main culture of the society while simultaneously sharing with one another a number of unique values, norms, traditions, and lifestyles. These cultural patterns are termed a co-culture (Vander Zanden, 1993).
African American co-cultures that have become prominent in the United States partly because of their numbers and partly because of their lack of subscription to many of the mainstream beliefs, attitudes, and values. Although there are many co-cultures in the United States, the homosexual culture has become increasingly prominent because of their demands for equality.