Intersectionality is defined as the overlapping and interdependent nature of institutions of systemic oppression such as race, class, gender, and sexuality. Recently, it has become widely accepted that when studying any one of these social categorizations, it is imperative to also study the others. The whole concept of intersectionality revolves around the fact that multiple aspects make up one person’s identity so it is limiting and incomplete to study one systematic oppression without studying the other. In this respect, in order to get a comprehensive understanding of sexuality, it is necessary to look through the lens of the social construction of gender. Sexuality, or the sexual habits and desires of a person, cannot exist without gender. This is because in modern society, notions of sexual orientation and sexual behavior are constantly placed into the concepts of masculinity and femininity. Therefore, in order to understand the defining characteristics of sexuality and draw conclusions for social analysis, we must first understand gender.
The prevailing, distinguishing component of masculinity is to be perceived as strong, invulnerable, and athletic. Because of this, one of the main shortcomings of a man in modern society is to act feminine or gay. In order to police the genders of each other and to legitimize their own masculinity, boys have increasingly begun integrating the derogatory words “fag” and “gay” into their vernacular. Traditionally these terms have been used to insult and degrade homosexual men, however, in recent decades, they have come to have a new, additional meaning in discourse between adolescents. Although at the surface these terms are homophobic and degrading to gay...
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...ies. Because of the way gender is viewed in society and is taught in social institutions, slut discourse allows girls to normalize their own sexuality in a society which insists that they ignore it.
Gender is incredibly influential in the ways that society views sexuality. For boys, this means the upkeep of a hyper masculinity that criticizes any boys who may stray from these gender norms. Girls have very different expectations of them that essentially nullify their own sexual desires and force them to behave passively. If any girls stray from this, they are considered sluts. Because of the connection between gender and sexuality demonstrated by the fag and slut discourses, it is necessary to study these concepts in juxtaposition. When society is able to recognize the interconnectedness of systems of oppression, only then can it finally begin to dismantle them.
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