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Chapter 11

Sexual Orientation

For use with text,


Human Sexuality Today,
5th edition.
Bruce M. King

Slides by Callista Lee

1 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Chapter 11
Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation represents ones distinct


sense of a natural preference and consistent
attraction to sexual and romantic partners of a
particular sex in the presence of clear
alternatives.
Sexual orientation is viewed as a continuum
with heterosexuality at one end, homosexuality
at the other end and bisexuality in the middle.
Kinseys 0 6 scale; ratings of 2,3,4 were
identified as bisexual.
2 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Prevalence of
homosexuality and bisexuality

The gay/lesbian/bisexual community generally


cites a 10% combined figure.
Upon review of over 50 years of research your
textbook author concludes that about 3-5% of
adult American men and about 1% of adult
American women are homosexual. Bisexuals
are not included in these figures.
Prevalence is much higher in gay friendly
large urban areas.

3 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Defining sexual orientation

Sexual orientation has 3 distinct components:


Affective (feelings of attraction, desire, love)
Behavioral
Self-identity
Female sexuality is often more complex than
male sexuality; it is not uncommon for lesbian
and bisexual women to change their self-
identity; womens sexual orientation has been
described as more fluid than mens.
4 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Bisexuality
Bisexuality adult sexual orientation toward both
men and women; behavior may focus on one sex
more than the other but attractions persist.
Sexual self-identity can change throughout
adolescence and adulthood as part of the
continuing development of the self.
Bisexuality > homosexuality is the most common
Researchers as well as the gay/lesbian/ bisexual
community now agree that bisexuality is a
legitimate classification of sexual orientation,
distinct from both heterosexuality and
homosexuality.
5 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Sexual orientation,
gender identity and gender roles

Homosexuals and bisexuals generally have a


gender identity consistent with their anatomical
sex, just as is the case with heterosexuals.
Whether or not a person conforms to gender
stereotypes does not accurately predict their
sexual orientation.
Homosexual men are attracted to men; not just
feminine men. They may be quite masculine.
The stereotype of the butch lesbian does not apply
to all or even most lesbian women.
6 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Origins of sexual orientation

Neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality nor


bisexuality has a single cause.
Heterosexuality is the norm because the vast
majority of people are heterosexual; other
orientations are a normal part of human
diversity.
Biological, psychological and socio-cultural
influences interact to produce a persons adult
sexual orientation.

7 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Freuds Psychoanalytic Theory

Recall Freuds Victorian biases.


Belief that sexual orientation depended upon
how the Oedipal complex was resolved
Fixation or regression because of a domineering,
rejecting mother would lead a boy to turn to men for
love > male homosexuality
An absent father and cold, rejecting mother would
lead to female homosexuality
Interesting, popular theory but no reliable
evidence has been found to support it.
8 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Other psychosocial explanations

Social learning theory rewarding experiences


with same-sex or bad experiences with other-
sex individuals early in life.
Although some homosexuals have this childhood
background, so do many heterosexuals.
Most lesbians have had pleasurable sexual relations
with men but still prefer sexual relations with
women.
Boys from cultures in which adolescent same-sex
activity is encouraged, there is no greater ratio of
adult homosexuality.
9 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Is childhood gender nonconformity an
accurate predictor of adult orientation?

Childhood nonconformity is often but not


always associated with adult homosexuality.
Even cases of extreme nonconformity (e.g.,
very effeminate boys) cannot absolutely predict
future sexual orientation. And many adult male
homosexuals showed typical masculine gender
role behavior in childhood.
Tomboy behavior is quite common in girls but
only about 3% are lesbian or bisexual.
10 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Genetic factors

Concordance rates for identical twins is about


52% but only about 22% in fraternal twins.
Certain DNA patterns on the X chromosome
(the genes a man inherits from his mother)
appear to be associated with male
homosexuality. No such pattern has yet been
identified for lesbians.
50-60% of a persons tendency toward one
sexual orientation of the other appears to be
genetic.
11 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Anatomical factors

Differences between heterosexual and


homosexual men are found in a small region of
the hypothalamus as well as a major bundle of
nerves connecting the two halves of the brain.
These parts of the homosexual mens brains were
more similar to brains of heterosexual women than
they are to brains of heterosexual men.
Are we born with these brain differences or do
our brains change as we respond to life
experiences?
12 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Effects of the prenatal environment

The mothers immune system changes with


each birth and may affect her younger sons.
Homosexual men have more older brothers
than heterosexual men; each additional older
brother increases the probability that the
younger brother will be homosexual by 33%.
There is no evidence that sexual activity or
other influences of the older brothers is the
cause of this phenomenon.
13 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Hormones
in the prenatal environment

Animal studies reveal that prenatal treatment


with hormones will result in homosexual
behavior.
Hypothalamus of male homosexuals respond
to estrogen in the same way as heterosexual
women; the hypothalamus appears feminine.
Other hormonal effects:
Homosexuals are more likely to be left-handed
Lesbian finger length studies similar to males
14 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
How can anatomy be normal
but orientation be variant?

Ellis and Ames claim that the critical period for


development of sexual orientation comes
between 2nd and 5th months of pregnancy;
others claim that hormones have an effect in
the first year or two following birth. The genitals
have been differentiated since weeks 7-12.
Maternal stress, genetic-hormonal factors,
drugs, and immune system functioning may all
play a role in the biological component of
orientation.
15 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Conclusions about the
origins of sexual orientation

Both biological and social influences contribute


to the development of sexual orientation,
whether heterosexual, bisexual or homosexual.
Biological factors predispose an individual to a
particular sexual orientation.
Today there is stronger evidence for the
biological contribution in men than in women;
the sexual fluidity of bisexual women
emphasizes the importance of social context in
womens relationships.
16 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Historical and cross-cultural
attitudes about homosexuality
Pederasty an accepted practice in some parts of
ancient Greece; sexual behavior between adult
men and adolescent boys as a natural part of his
social education.
Because it was accepted in society, the boys seem not to
have been harmed by this practice and there are many
artifacts created by both the young men and their mentors
attesting to their deep love and commitment to one another.
Heterosexual marriage and having children was still every
adult male citizens duty to the society.
Adult men were also free to have female lovers. Ultimately,
male pleasure was the rule of the day.

17 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Ancient Hebrew
historical perspectives

Some Hebrew groups, prior to the 7th century


B.C. practiced same-sex religious rituals, which
were later banned during a later movement to
unify the Hebrew nation, hence the strong,
anti-homosexuality language in Leviticus.
Female homosexuality was dealt with less
harshly because there was no spillage of the
sacred seed.

18 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Christian historical perspectives

Early Christians, following Roman tradition,


were initially tolerant of same-sex behaviors,
including pederasty.
Later, St. Thomas Aquinas (13th century) taught
that the only purpose of sex was reproduction;
therefore homosexuality was unnatural.
Not until the 17th century did same-sex acts
become considered criminal.

19 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


More recent history
Late 1800s homosexuality become considered a
sign of mental illness. By the early 1900s
intolerance of homosexuality reached an all-time
high.
1957 Evelyn Hookers research found that there
are no psychiatric differences between
heterosexual and homosexual men.
1973 American Psychiatric Association removed
homosexuality from its list of mental illnesses.
The Catholic church no longer considers
homosexual orientation (desire) sinful but
continues to condemn same-sex behaviors.
20 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Homosexuality in other cultures

A review of 294 cultures found that in the 59


that had a clear opinion, 69% were supportive
and 31% condemned homosexuality.
Psychiatrists in China, India, Brazil, Belarus
and Poland still consider it a mental illness.
Sambian and Azande cultures expect same-
sex behavior for adolescent boys but expect
heterosexual marriage for adults.
Only the passive male partner is considered
homosexual in Mexico, Brazil, Turkey, Greece.
21 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Increasing acceptance
of homosexuality

2000 46% of Americans view homosexuality


as sinful, down from 54% in 1998. About 80%
favor equal housing and employment
protection for gays and lesbians.
2003 U.S. Supreme Court rules against state
laws that prohibit the sexual expressions of
homosexuality.
2003 2/3 of Fortune 500 companies offer
benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

22 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Sexual prejudice today

90% of gay men have been verbally abused or


threatened (1989).
Most mental health problems among gays and
lesbians can be attributed to minority stress.
Homophobia term first used in 1960s
implying that negative attitudes toward
homosexuals reflect irrational fears.
Sexual prejudice refers to negative attitudes
and behaviors toward homosexuals but without
implication as to the origin of these feelings.
23 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Who exhibits sexual prejudice?

Greater among men than women and most


negative feelings are toward gays and
bisexuals rather than lesbians.
Most often in men with stereotypic male
gender-role attitudes, authoritarians, religious
fundamentalists, and those with little education.
Are men symbolically affirming their own
manhood when they attack gays?

24 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Coming Out
A gradual process

Admitting to oneself that one has a


homosexual or bisexual orientation.
Many recognize their difference in childhood.
Getting to know other homo/bisexuals.
Telling close family and friends.
Many hide their orientation for many years out of
fear of rejection.
Openness about ones homo/bisexuality.
No longer having to hide ones own truth.
25 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
What is the homosexual lifestyle?

Sexual prejudice leads many to relocate to gay


friendly metropolitan areas to feel safe, accepted.
Relationship types are similar to heterosexuals
Close-coupled committed partnership
Open-coupled primary partnership with additional
sexual partners
Functional single, independent, multiple partners
Dysfunctional sexually active but unhappy
Asexual single, having few sexual partners

26 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall


Homosexual relationships

No differences found in relationship satisfaction


between straight vs. gay cohabitators.
Sex is a relatively small part of a relationship,
just as it is in heterosexual relationships.
Men, whether homosexual or heterosexual, do
not place as high a value on monogamy as do
women; gay men have more opportunity to
enjoy a large number of partners.
Matching masculine/feminine partners is just
a stereotype. Nobody has to be the woman.
27 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Sexual Behaviors

When it comes to sexual behaviors, differences are


greater between men and women than between
heterosexuals and homosexuals.
Lesbians manual stimulation of the genitals and
oral-genital sex are preferred; very few use dildoes.
Gay men manual stimulation of the genitals and
oral-genital sex are the most common behaviors.
Although 70-80% engage in anal intercourse at
least sometimes, it is the least common behavior
practiced on a regular basis for most gay men.
28 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Homosexuals and marriage (1)

In the past, most homosexuals either stayed


single or married heterosexually to suit societal
standards. Having to hide their orientation
caused significant anxiety and stress.
Some individuals still do so, although more are
feeling free to come out in mid-life.
Homosexual couples cohabit without the legal
rights and benefits of marriage afforded
heterosexual citizens. A few churches will bless
gay unions.
29 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Homosexuals and marriage (2)

Some states (e.g., Vermont) are beginning to


grant civil union status to same-sex couples.
Some state supreme courts have ruled that it is
unconstitutional to deny marriage rights to
same-sex couples/citizens.
2003 37 states have banned same-sex
marriages and more plan to do so.
2004 The Bush administration seeks an
amendment to the U.S. constitution to bar
same-sex marriages.
30 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Homosexuals as parents

Five percent of partnered gays and 22% of


partnered lesbians have children currently
living in their homes.
Fears of abuse Sexual abuse is most
commonly committed by heterosexuals.
Children raised by openly homosexual parents
do not show any greater risk of gender identity
conflicts, greater incidence of homosexuality or
problems with emotional or social adjustment
than children raised by heterosexual parents.
31 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Media portrayals

Until relatively recently gay/lesbian actors had


to remain closeted; some still remain closeted.
Until recently when homosexual were
portrayed only as stereotypes.
Newer movies and television shows are
including more gay/lesbian characters with
increasing variety and depth.
Visit the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against
Defamation (GLAAD) website for more
information: www.glaad.org
32 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Can (should) sexual
orientation be changed?
About half of Americans believe that homosexuals
could change if they really tried.
The large majority of homosexuals feel comfortable
and do not wish to change their orientation.
Attempts to cure homosexuality are conducted
by fundamentalist religious groups; success rates
have been low and indicate behavior changes but
not orientation changes.
The American Psychological Association calls
these reparative therapies harmful; failing to
cure anything but instead creating greater self-
loathing than before.
33 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall
Questions for heterosexuals

When did you first realize you were straight?


Did situations in your childhood lead you to
become straight?
Is your sexual orientation something you chose
or is it just a natural part of who you are?
If your sexual orientation were the minority
orientation would you try to change to better fit
in with societys expectations?

34 King, Human Sexuality Today, 5/e 2005 by Prentice Hall