Postmodern Sexualities

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It has been described as the first work to take a rigorous, procedurally sound sociological look at sex, rather than a biological or psychological one. He and Dr. Julia A. Ericksen, a sociology professor at Temple University, said the strength of Dr. Simon's work was his use of carefully weighted research into sexuality, in which he sought out random samples of people instead of relying on volunteers. If Dr. Simon took a decidedly nontraditional approach to his field, it may have been because he arrived there by such a nontraditional route.

His father, a supermarket clerk, moved the family to Detroit in By the second grade, his teachers were summoning his parents to complain that the boy would not keep still, and that he persisted in questioning their authority.

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By age 13, according to his family, William Simon was protesting a meeting of the isolationist America First movement, catching the attention of the Independent Socialist Alliance, a Trotskyite group, for which he began organizing young workers in the automobile industry. William dropped out of school in the eighth grade and, using false identification, took a job as an assembly-line worker. At 16, he went to West Virginia to organize mine workers, said Russell L.

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Curtis Jr. At 17, he married a fellow socialist, Bernice Stark; they were later divorced, and she died in At the age of 19, while he was working as a keypunch operator, William was provisionally accepted at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with the help of Myron, who was a student there. A year later, he ran out of money and dropped out. He later re-entered the university, and although once again he did not graduate, he so impressed faculty members at the University of Chicago that they invited him to study sociology in the graduate program.

Postmodern Sexualities

After earning his doctorate, Dr. Simon taught at Southern Illinois University, Indiana University at Bloomington where he worked at the Kinsey Institute, and began his first work in sexuality and finally, in , at Houston. In addition to Jonathan and Myron, Dr. This means that the act of speaking of sexual differences is vital, but we must be aware that pinning them down and delineating membership of sexual categories is impossible; sexuality is ambiguous, identifications are fluctuating, strategically performed, yet sometimes also ascribed.

Not least amongst these, of course, was the post-war welfare state, which assumed as its subject the married, heterosexual man and his family. Seidman and Adam suggest that although the s are widely perceived to have been conservative, the seeds of the sexual rebellions of the s were sown by the geographical mobility, prosperity and social liberalization which followed the war, and they point to the emergence of homophile organizations, which began, very tentatively, to claim a public voice for homosexuals, and the cultural interventions of rock music and the beatniks, which offered a challenge to dominant sexual mores.

Postmodern Sexualities | Taylor & Francis Group

And in Britain saw the publication of the Wolfenden Report advocating homosexual law reform some 10 years before the passing of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalized sex between men over 21 in private. The radical demands of gay liberation which were to be echoed in the queer politics of the s faded by the mid s, giving way to a more assimilationist politics demanding equal rights and protection for lesbians and gay men as a minority group, and the s and 80s saw the growth of self-confident lesbian and gay communities with their own institutions and traditions.

The AIDS epidemic, which decimated the population of gay men in the global gay cities, called forth new forms of political activism and self-help welfare organization, and ultimately, at a collective level, strengthened the ties of communality and sociality amongst those who survived.

Plummer's discussion of the telling of sexual stories identifies the coming out story as an archetypal modernist tale, featuring a linear progression from a period of suffering to the crucial moment of self-discovery, and ending with a satisfactory resolution in the form of the achievement of a secure identity as lesbian or gay amidst a supportive community. This work suggests that there is underway a shift in relations of cathexis. Jamieson, , this literature offers important insights into, or at least raises questions about, contemporary social change.

But I now wish to extend this analysis to consider the constitution of the sexual more generally.

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Recent years have seen an upsurge of discussion within public forums of communities about a range of issues which challenge the assumed coherence and constituency of lesbian and gay communities and fixity of sexual practice; for instance, lesbians having sex with men, and gay men having sex with women are openly discussed, and bisexuality and transgender are on the agenda.

However, this commentary has tended to focus on the meaning of these changes in terms of gender relations and the family; it has not addressed their implications with respect to the established organization of sexuality. This is surprising because it seems to me that these changes speak of a significant decentring of heterorelations, as the heterosexual couple, and particularly the married, co-resident heterosexual couple with children, no longer occupies the centre-ground of British society, and cannot be taken for granted as the basic unit in society.

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Processes of individualization and detraditionalization are releasing individuals from traditional heterosexual scripts and from the patterns of heterorelationality which accompany them. At the start of the twenty first century there can be few families which do not include at least some members who diverge from traditional heterorelational practices, whether as divorcees, unmarried mothers, lesbians, gay men or bisexuals.

All of these television programmes are fundamentally post-heterorelational in their thematic concerns and narrative drive. Unlike the generation of situation comedies that preceded them, which were almost exclusively focused on co-resident, heterosexual families, these programmes are concerned with the embeddness of friends in daily life. The Spice Girls have not just offered their fans a range of models of contemporary femininity with which to identify, which includes one - Sporty - which clearly draws on lesbian street style, but also, more radically and uniquely they have captured a generation of girls' passion outside the framework of heterorelationality and heterosexuality.

It would be sociologically naive to assume that changes in popular culture necessarily give rise to or reflect transformations in people's everyday beliefs and practices, or to assume that people always behave in consistent ways so that liking Ellen or Julian Clary also constitutes a rejection of homophobia ; but I would like to propose that the ideas and images of the sexual which permeate our everyday world through popular culture are of considerable importance in framing the cultural imaginaries within which people lead their lives and construct their identities and relationships.

It is my suggestion that there is underway, particularly in Britain, a queering of popular culture, a valorizing of the sexually ambiguous, and of that which transgresses rigid boundaries of gender. Whereas the gender- benders of the s and early s had something of a freak-show about them, and were a safe distance from their fans, whose normality was perhaps reconstituted in contrast with the stars' allowable excesses, the cultural valorizing of the queer at the end of the s is far more participatory and closer to everyday life.

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This can be seen in three areas of popular culture: dance culture, fashion magazines and television. As it moved from underground raves into the mainstream, clubbing has become a leisure pursuit for millions of young people, and the fashions, imagery and ideals of dance culture have become the fashions, imagery and ideals of a generation as the category of "youth" expands both upwards and downwards this is large generation. Dance culture has its roots in the house music born in black gay clubs in New York, Chicago and Detroit, in which boundaries of sexuality developed a fluidity, and to which men and women of a range of sexual and gender identifications were welcomed.