Diablog #3 Summary

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Rubin examines fundamental basis of sexual ideology and sexual value system. According to the text, many assumptions about sex have existed without being questioned. And those assumptions have been reinforced by both scientific researches and cultural traditions.

Sexual essentialism suggests that biological aspects of sexuality explain everything about individual. It ignores roles of environment such as social structure and culture. Many studies were conducted in various areas including medicine, psychiatry, and psychology to support such perspective. Another important thought is sex negativity. It is mainly derived from Christian tradition which implies that sex is sinful. The statement that "sex is presumed guilty until proven innocent" (Rubin, 11) is basis of such axiom, which produces hierarchical system of sexual value. According to this criterion, sexual behaviors beneficial to reproduction are valued the most.

'Charmed circle' depicts this hierarchical system nicely. As mentioned in the text, "individuals whose behavior stands high in this hierarchy are rewarded with certified mental health, respectability, legality, social and physical mobility, institutional support, and material benefits." (Rubin, 12) Again this circle is reinforced by both religious traditions and medical and psychiatric opprobrium, establishing strict standard for sexual morality.

Rubin says the main concern of existing sexual morality is not true ethics. Rather, it gives virtue to the dominant groups and relegate vice to the underprivileged. Also we can see most of existing thoughts of sex lack of empirical evidences in the text. Thus, it can be said that these thoughts are closer to sexual ideologies than real 'theories'.

Questions: What can be differences between those ideologies and theories of sex? What maintains sexual oppression and hierarchical system? And what is needed to establish rich theories of sex and overcome limitations in existing notion of sexuality?

On the other hand, Wilkerson talks about how medical information reflects and reinforces cultural norms by mainly focusing on queer or disabled people. The text examines more specifically how medical studies became a powerful source of reason and basis of norms and standards of sexuality.

Wilkerson explains why she brought up queer perspectives and disability perspectives to discuss sexuality. "Queer perspectives have helped us to understand and resist regimes organized around controlling a variety of sexual identities and practices. Disability perspectives reveal the broad array of cultural norms with privilege an illusory ideal mind and body at the expense of our actual bodies of all shapes and sizes, [...]. Together, queer and disability perspectives help to reveal why sexual agency must be understood as an important, and in some ways, key component of the liberation struggles of all disenfranchised groups, rather than a luxury to be addressed after achieving goals that might be perceived as more basic."(Wilkerson, 37)

Also she claims that sexual democracy should be established based on various kinds of oppressive social relations such as racism, ableism, capitalism, and sexism rather than merely on political forces that stigmatize some sexualities as perversions.


Questions: How can bodily image of particular sexuality be shaped and reinforced? What maintained Erotophobia? And does it still exist and play powerful role in reinforcing sexual oppression?

2 Comments

In response to your question regarding Rubin, "what maintains sexual oppression and the hierarchical system?", I think that there are a number of things maintaining judgement towards non-heterosexual individuals and the hierarchy of sex practices. First, I think that there is a need or desire to identify with a specific set of morals or groups in American society. For example, many people who identify themselves as Christians also identify with a specific set of morals--most of the inner circle of Rubin's "charmed circle." That is not saying that all Christians identify or support each of these morals, but some do. In order to dissolve the hierarchy of sex practices, society needs to stop identifying with a set of morals because they identify with a certain group. Second, I think a major contribution to maintaining sexual oppression is the acceptance and prevalence of derogatory jokes and slurs towards non-heterosexuality. As long as we're joking about someone being "gay" or doing something "gay" as casual insults, we will continue to see sexual oppression because it seems more widely accepted. Lastly, I think that society needs to understand that biology cannot explain sexuality; there are many other factors that trump the male and female binaries. Some of these factors include the body, the brain, and language, which lays the foundation for a whole other set of factors--culture, society, and religion, just to name a few.

Yeah you made good points about the system. I think those things you mentioned are mainly from two underlying desires: desire to secure one's privilege in society and desire to explain everything merely based on particular standard or norm. I think second one is kinda extended form of the first because some people consider acceptance of variety equals threat to existing norms. Thus, those desires make people exclusive and close-minded. I assume "charmed circle" is just one form of those close-mindedness of people in society. Since most of norms in society are based on perspectives of majority or privileged people, it doesn't reflects needs of minority, that is to say outsiders of "charmed circle". Actually many of my friends still tell such derogatory jokes sometimes. They look surprised when I talk about microaggression but that's it. They don't think further. They just look surprised, hesitate, but still tell such jokes later. It's sad that people just don't care others outside their own 'group's or boundaries.

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