Chapters7 & 12 from text: (Macionis,John J.,2019 Society: The Basics,15th ed., NJ: Prentice Hall.)
- What could be more natural than sex? It is easy to think of sex as all about the birds and the bees, which is another way of saying that it is easy to think of sex as rooted in biology. And, of course, sex is about biology in some important ways. First, our sex at birth (as well as our sexual orientation) results from biological processes. Second, more broadly, sex is an evolutionary strategy for the survival and enhancement of our species. Darwin had this part figured out more than 150 years ago. But, as the text points out, the tendency to see patterns of human behavior as nothing more than expressions of biology can lead to a great deal of misunderstanding. As Chapter 6 explains, although sex does involve our biology, human beings are cultural creatures who experience sex (and everything else) through the lens of meaning. That is, humans are not concerned simply with behavior or with experiencing what feels good in a physical sense; we try to understand all behavior in terms of its meaning. If someone you find attractive smiles at you, for example, the first thing that comes to your mind is Wow. What does that smile mean? In short, sex is one element of culture; the meanings we attach to sex are those made available to us by the cultural system in which we exist. As an element of culture, sex is inseparable from the operation of society. The lesson that human behavior is never a simple reflection of biology has important applications. For example, in the same way that people can easily, but incorrectly, view sex as a simple expression of biology, so they can easily but incorrectly view gendersocial patterns linked to being female or maleas a simple expression of biology; as we saw last week, what we call feminine or masculine turns out to be not simple biological facts but mostly a creation of society.
What personal benefits do we gain from recognizing that sexuality is acreation of society? A major benefit is learning not to think about sexualityin clear-cut categories of right and wrong. Sexual patterns that seemnatural to people living in one society are quite strange to people livingelsewhere. What was viewed as right at one point in time may not be seen thesame way today. In fact, even in one time and place, it is very difficult todescribe patterns of sexual behavior using any rigid generalizationspeoplediffer too much. For example, not everyone fits neatly into categories such asstraight or gayor even into categories like male orfemale. Based on what you have read in this chapter, what evidence supports theargument that sexuality is constructed by society?
- Define race, ethnicity, and minority. How are these concepts distinct and in what ways might they overlap?
- Biologists sometimes argue that, from their perspective, race is of little or no real significance. How would a sociologist respond to such a claim? Make reference to the Thomas theorem.
- Watch: (https://digital-films-com.mxcc.idm.oclc.org/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=49736&tScript=0) Discuss and give at least three examples, including a public policy regarding housing, of some ways in which ones racial designation has determined the possibilities for ones social and political participation.
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