Make sure to look over this announcement carefully.
Download the lecture notes here.
This week, the readings are all about sexuality and sex practices. Today's readings focus on the historical and social construction of sexuality, particularly the modern history of heterosexuality, and the other half of its binary, homosexuality. The readings for Wednesday focus on the social/historical construction of normal/good and deviant/bad sex practices.
PART ONE: THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY
By not studying the heterosexual idea in history, analysis of sex, gay and straight, have continued to privilege the "normal" and "natural" at the expense of the "abnormal" and "unnatural." Such privileging of the norm accedes to its domination, protecting it from questions. In making the normal the object of a thorough-going historical study we simultaneously pursue a pure truth and a sex-radical and subversive goal: we upset basic preconceptions. We discover that the heterosexual, the normal, and the natural have a history of changing definitions. Studying the history of the term challenges its power (Katz, 150).
Important Questions to ask (for Katz):
What has been and is the social function of sexual categorizing? Whose interests have been served by the division of the world into heterosexual and homosexual? Do we dare not draw a line between those two erotic species? Is some sexual naming socially necessary? Would human freedom be enhanced if the sex-biology of our partners in lust was of no particular concern, and had no name? In what kind of society could we all more freely explore our desire and our flesh (Katz, 160)?
1820-1860 Before Heterosexuality
- cult of true womanhood = purity
- proper procreation, women as procreators not sexual subjects
- True Love, true men, true women
- families: from producers to consumers
- new pleasure ethic
- emphasis on the erotic
- medical model of Normal Love
- Krafft-Ebing and the modern heterosexual
- heterosexuality introduced as "erotic feeling for a different sex"
- homosexuality introduced as counter, same-sex erotic feelings
- break from procreative standard
- doctors' normalization of heterosexuality
- tied to oppositeness of sexes
- reflects deep anxieties by men about changing economy and the "new women"
- social transformation and revaluing of pleasure and procreation, consumption and work
- the menacing "lesbian"
- the term gains popularity
- cult of domesticity
- feminine female and masculine men as prolific breeders
- Kinsey, quality to quantity
- emphasis on acts, not identities
- feminists and gay rights advocates challenge/critique sexual repression
I think that part of the power of cultural criticism and cultural studies has been its sort of political intervention as a force in American society to say, there really is a conscious manipulation of representations and it's not about magical thinking, it's not about pure imagination, creativity, it's about people consciously knowing what kinds of images will produce a certain kind of impact (bell hooks, Cultural Criticism and Transformation).
Heterosexuality is just not natural! It is socially organized and controlled. To understand how we give meaning to one of our major institutions is to participate as a critical consumer and citizen actively engaged in the production of cultural and the social order (Ingraham, "Thinking Straight," 81).
Example One: PEPSI MAX 2009 for Men
Text: Men can take anything except the taste of diet cola. Until now. Pepsi Max. The first diet cola for MEN!
Example two: PEPSI MAX 2011 for Men
Pepsi Max. 0 calories. Maximum taste.
Example three: DR. PEPPER 2011 for Men
Text: Hey Ladies? Enjoying the film? Of course not. Because this is our movie. And Dr. Pepper Ten is our soda. Only 10 manly calories, but with all 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper. What guys want...like this. Catch phrase. So you can keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks. We're good. Dr. Pepper Ten. It's not for women.
Question: It's Just a Joke! Parody as critical intervention or perpetuation? What does making fun of gender or sexual stereotypes do to the normative roles that these stereotypes play? Does humor allow us to have a critical distance from them? Does it expose their ridiculousness? Or does it reinforce and perpetuate the stereotypes?
Example four: DR. PEPPER CHERRY 2011 for Men?