Examples Of Cultural Construction Of Sexuality

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Cultural construction of sexuality can be defined as the view that perceptions and attitudes towards sexuality varies due to the diversification in values and practices amongst various cultures. In this essay, I will argue that sexuality is culturally constructed and explore the different ways in which it is perceived and understood, as well as analysing the reasons for these differences. Firstly, I will look at sexually restrictive cultures and discuss how religion and ethos cause some cultures to have strict morals and beliefs regarding sexuality. Secondly, I will go on to look at sexually permissive cultures and explore how some cultures have greater freedom and openness towards sexuality, exploring the alternative connotations of sexual …show more content…
This relates to the ideal of heterosexuality and the way it is viewed as the normal sexuality in several cultures . Foucault discusses this idea of normality stating “the legitimate couple, with its regular sexuality, had a right to more discretion. It tended to function as a norm...” (1976, p40) which subsequently, can be used to explain the concept of heteronormativity, an idea developed by Michael Warner (Warner, 1993). It represented the belief that opposite sex relationships were perceived to be the natural sexuality and that anything which defied this idea was viewed as unusual. Rich explores the concept of compulsory heterosexuality, discussing the motion that heterosexuality in western cultures is enforced upon women in particular, stating it is “imposed, managed, organized, propagandized and maintained by force” (1979 p135) Whilst this is predominant for Western models, it can also be seen cross culturally. For instance, presumptions related to marriage and child bearing and ideals that the woman should take care of the children and play a passive role in the family. In terms of sexual behaviour, the idea of chastity is common and the prejudice sometimes expressed towards women who engage in sexual intercourse before marriage may be seen as unfavourable. Amongst the Yanamamö, a culture in the Amazonian rainforest, girls as young as twelve were often being prepared to get married and start a family, showing similar ideas of heterosexuality being imposed. (Chagnon, 1968) In South Africa, virginity testing ceremonies are promoted in order to examine whether girls are upholding the traditional chastity values, which in South African culture, was a major attribute determining female sexuality (Leclerc-Madlala, 2001). This shows the stress upon females to act in a way that is deemed appropriate according to their

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