A History of Sexuality Essay

A History of Sexuality Essay

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Unlike sex, the history of sexuality is dependant upon society and limited by its language in order to be defined and understood.
In his paper which is called Is There A History of Sexuality, Halperin drew a distinction between the topics of sexuality and of sex. He claimed that the two concepts are separate ideas. In Halperin's view, sex is a natural function that has not changed in many years, if ever at all. He says that sex “is a natural fact, grounded in the functioning of the body, and as such, it lies outside of history and culture” (Halperin 416). This means that sex cannot be measured in historical thought, for it has not changed since the beginning of time. As a natural function, it will continue to exist without the influence of culture, for it has always existed inside of the natural body. Sexuality, on the other hand, is a completely different issue to be considered. Sexuality is a socially created phenomenon, or as Halperin says, “sexuality is not a somatic fact, it is a cultural effect” (Halperin 416). This means that sexuality is entirely dependant upon the social world because it is created by the social world. Halperin argues against the prevailing concept that our sexual activities make any statements about our sexuality in and of itself. Halperin claims that “one of the currently unquestioned assumptions about sexual experience which the study of antiquity calls into question is the assumption that sexual behavior reflects or expresses an individual's 'sexuality'” (Halperin 417). With this statement, Halperin raises the issue of what exactly a sexuality is, and how it can be defined. Specifically, Halperin is saying that the modern concept of sexuality can not be applied to the supposed sexualities expressed...


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...e person themselves, and as such, lasts only as long as that identity as chosen by the individual.


Works Cited

Halperin, David. "Is There a History of Sexuality?." The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Ed. Henry Abelove, Ed. Michele Aina Barale and Ed. David M. Halperin. New York: Routledge, 1993. 416-431. Print.

Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapovsky, and Madeline Davis. "The Reproduction of Butch-Fem Roles: A Social Constructionist Approach." Passion and Power: Sexuality in History. Ed. Kathy Peiss and Ed. Christina Simmons. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1989. 241-256. Print.

Rayter, Scott. "Butch/Fem in the 1950s." Sexuality: Theories, Histories, Cultures. University of Toronto, Toronto. 11, Oct, 2011. Class Lecture.

Rayter, Scott. "Identity Transformations." Sexuality: Theories, Histories, Cultures. University of Toronto, Toronto. 20, Sep, 2011. Class Lecture.

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