Homosexuality from a Sociological Perspective
Homosexuality from a Sociological Perspective
I understand that we do not see eye to eye on most of the issues I brought up in my previous letter. I also understand how you wish for me to convey that I understand what we have discussed in class over the past couple months from a sociological perspective. I would like to go ahead and explain that now and then perhaps further explain where I was coming from originally.
There are two basic ways to view the reality of homosexuality: through the essentialist model and through the social constructionist model. The essentialist argues that homosexuality is a “natural, universal category that exists independent of culture, time, or situation”. (David Greenberg) They regard the fundamental reality of homosexuality as residing in sexual orientation. Sexual behavior is secondary in nature. Concisely their goal in life is to find out what causes someone to prefer same-sex partners.
Social constructionists however believe that homosexuality is not a concrete reality, but instead “a phenomenon that exists because of the way it is defined socially, culturally, and situationally”. (David Greenberg) They are interested in the recognition of separate categories of humanity based on sexual orientation, as well as treatment based on that fact. They think that being a homosexual is experienced differently between different people, according to the social context within which it takes place, and that what it means to be a homosexual can vary across the board.
From what you’ve taught us this semester so far I’ve come to the understanding that there is no single infallible measure of homosexuality. I mean what actually defines a homosexual. Just the thought or desire to be with someone of the same sex, or is it perhaps a kiss with Madonna on MTV. Does one actually have to commit a sexual act behind closed doors with someone of the same sex to be labeled a homosexual? These are some of the questions we have discussed in class, which have led me to the conclusion that homosexual sex is multidimensional.
Throughout my readings in the Reader, I have learned that male and female homosexual expression are very different in nature. They have dramatically different homosexual styles. For example, males tend to act on homosexual desires more so than women do, while women tend to have their feelings and desires about homosexual behavior brew longer before they act upon them.
I’ve learned that many homosexuals claim that they have no more choice in becoming gay than heterosexuals did in being straight. I’ve learned that a gene or set of genes could predispose men to becoming homosexual from the on start of their life. Which of course begs the question of whether or not this gene can be “fixed” before a child is born, to allow the child to leave a “normal” life.
I brought up the gene issue to my good friend Ryll and asked about her brother, who is a homosexual, and asked her if it were possible did she think her brother would choose to have his gene altered in order to make him “straight”? She answered no, because that was the life he was used to, and to change it now would be more detrimental to him then just staying the way he was.
Bottom line is homosexuality is a form of deviant behavior simply because most members of our society do not approve of it, and because this disapproval takes the form of condemnation and punishment of homosexuals and strained, difficult relations betweens straights and gays.
I would like to clear up one issue if you have time… the difference between deviance and sin as I see it. Not all deviant behavior falls under the category of sin. However, all sin is deviant in my opinion. I do not believe sin to be socially constructed as deviance is. I believe people interchange the words more often than they should. I still hold true to my personal semi-absolutist perspective of sin. I believe that there is a sense of wrong that is not tied in to culture or society; I believe that this sense of wrong is because there is indeed an absolute when it comes to right and wrong. I further believe that we, as a human race, never achieve at keeping any standard of right and wrong, much less the absolute standard that I’ve referred to.
Sin is anything that we do that does not please God. This is not due to an arbitrary set of rules that we follow, instead it is indicative of the character of God. I know I have done many things wrong; I have sinned. How do I know this? I feel a conviction in my heart when I do something that I know is wrong. It pains me when I sin. However, even if I have become calloused to the wrong that I do, it does not mean that the things I do are no longer wrong. So the most important indication of sin is judging against the character of God. Where can the character of God be found? In the Bible of course. 😉
I’ll stop there because I doubt you want to be preached to in this letter. I simply wanted to attempt to show you how I see sin as not being socially constructed at all, but at the same time showing that I understand how deviance is socially constructed. I do hope this short explanation of what I have learned thus far in your class will be sufficient for this assignment. I will continue, of course, with new material when the next “letter” is due.