Boy, Girl, Straight, Gay … Starved, Groomed, Altered?

How do you know if you’re a boy or girl, straight or gay, or something else altogether? Is it just obvious biology, something you’ve always known instinctively? Or is it something you’ve learned? What about your sexuality? Or what about your image of yourself as a sexual person?

While conventional perspectives focus on a hetero-normative image of men and women accompanied by prescribed male and female behaviours, and other perspectives gave range to a number of alternative conceptions – gay, lesbian, queer, transgender etc – the origins and repercussions of our sex, gender and sexuality are contested.

Some say that sexuality is fluid and eroticism is plastic, changing over the life course and in different contexts. Others point out that ‘obvious biological’ parts of our existence – our bodies – are increasingly altered to confirm to socially derived gendered stereotypes. Many women continue to alter themselves in ways ranging ‘beach ready body dieting to labiaplasty in pursuit of the perfect female form. Similarly, eating disorders, cosmetic surgery, and sales of protein enhancement and grooming products are steadily increasing amongst men.

What do you think? How much of our sex, gender and sexuality is innate and biological, and how much is environmental and social?

#S327UOW17 #Tut4

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2 Comments

  1. While I personally believe that social learning plays a large role in my own gender identity, this approach is made problematic by people who instinctively identify with the opposite of their biological sex, or are gender non-conforming. Consequently, it seems that both biology and social learning have a role to play, although different people may feel as though one is more dominant.

    In the current mediated and globalised world, bodies are arguably becoming more autonomous, and individuals have more freedom to realise their ‘true’ sex/gender/sexuality. In contemporary western society, there is increasing acceptance of unconventional and even fluid gender and sexual identities, which supports “the dissolution of the universal ordering of sexuality in late modern times” (Davis 2009, p. 23).

    In recent years, both social media and art have played a role in the changing perceptions towards gender and sexuality. For example, this performance artist uses his own body as a tool to explore gender identity and demonstrate how the body can be both a biological and social in different contexts: https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/meet-the-performance-artist-challenging-gender-norms-in-ghana%20.

    #S327UOW17 #Tut4 #Mon1330

  2. In response to this post the issues raised in this I found to be very interesting and thought provoking. Homosexuality has been supported by major international organisations around the world including the United Nations and the Mayo Clinic. It was not until 1997 where the decriminalisation of Homosexuality in Australia was fully achieved, with Tasmania the last state to abolish its criminal convictions (UN 2017).

    In today’s society the LGBTQI+ community has a lot more support than ever before but still many inequalities exist. Our society is still majority heteronormative with gender stereotypes and pressures influencing individuals behaviours all sexualities alike.

    As stated by Roger Patulny 2017 in his post about gender and sex being learned or biological there have been countless studies focused at research of the topic “Nature VS Nature” and weather our sexuality, traits and behaviours we are born with or are picked up by our surrounding environments.

    An increasing problem that exists within the LGBTQI+ community and especially with gay males is the idea of “Straight acting” or being masculine rather than feminine. This is an example of internalised homophobic causing mental health problems for gay men feeling pressure to be more masculine. The idea of the “Perfect” male body is one that few actually have and products out on the market such as protein powders and advertisement are re-enforcing this idea of Male = masculine.

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