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Sexual Inequalities and Social Justice

Sexual Inequalities and Social Justice

Niels Teunis
Gilbert Herdt
With a foreword by Richard Parker
Niels Teunis
Gilbert Herdt
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 281
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  • Book Info
    Sexual Inequalities and Social Justice
    Book Description:

    This pioneering collection of ten ethnographically rich essays signals the emergence of a new paradigm of social analysis committed to understanding and analyzing social oppression in the context of sexuality and gender. The contributors, an interdisciplinary group of social scientists representing anthropology, sociology, public health, and psychology, illuminate the role of sexuality in producing and reproducing inequality, difference, and structural violence among a range of populations in various geographic, historical, and cultural arenas. In particular, the essays consider racial minorities including Hispanics, Koreans, and African Americans; discuss disabled people; examine issues including substance abuse, sexual coercion, and HIV/AIDS; and delve into other topics including religion and politics. Rather than emphasizing sexuality as an individual trait, the essays view it as a social phenomenon, focusing in particular on cultural meaning and real-world processes of inequality such as racism and homophobia. The authors address the complex and challenging question of how the research under discussion here can make a real contribution to the struggle for social justice.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93914-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Richard Parker

    In recent years, the intersection between sexuality and social inequality has increasingly become a major focus of concern, both on the part of researchers seeking to understand intellectually the ways in which forms of inequality affect the constitution of diverse expressions of sexuality, and, perhaps even more powerfully, on the part of academics who hope to use their work in order to influence positive forms of social change.

    This focus on the intersection of sexuality, social inequality, and the struggle for social change is still, of course, a very new phenomenon—and flies in the face of much of what...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    Niels Teunis
  5. Introduction: The Analysis of Sexual Inequality
    (pp. 1-30)

    Sexual inequalities—the forms of indignity, social disadvantage, stigma, discrimination, and violence perpetuated by or based on sexual conduct, sexual identity, or perceived sexual orientation or membership in a sexual category or sexual culture—remain common in the United States. Social and legal protections against sexual injustice are minimal, and not surprisingly, knowledge of sexual health and sexual rights needed to advance social justice and sexual health policy are rather poorly developed in the United States. Study of these issues has been difficult—in some cases impossible—because of the historical barriers confronting sexuality research in the academy and the...


    • CHAPTER 1 Childhood Sexual Abuse and HIV among Latino Gay Men: The Price of Sexual Silence during the AIDS Epidemic
      (pp. 35-49)

      In the mid-1980s, I worked as the director of an AIDS-prevention program in Long Beach, California. This program provided education and counseling to gay men who were struggling to avoid HIV infection or coping with being infected with HIV. The program evolved to include workshops for Spanish-speaking gay men, and I quickly learned that simply translating into Spanish the workshops designed for English-speaking gay men was woefully insufficient. Although the gay men who attended the clinic had much in common, it became clear that the differences between Latino gay men and non-Latino gay men went beyond the complexities of managing...

    • CHAPTER 2 In Our Own Backyard: HIV/AIDS Stigmatization in the Latino Gay Community
      (pp. 50-65)

      I began this chapter just a few days after the closing ceremonies of the Fourteenth International AIDS Conference in Barcelona. The conference news was mostly bad, highlighted by the plight of the poor who die preventable deaths in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with millions of orphans left behind. In the United States, facing our own—though perhaps less overwhelming—battles with the epidemic, HIV workers and researchers were shaken by grim statistics about the spread of HIV among young gay men. An alarming and surprising finding reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rippled through the...

    • CHAPTER 3 Knowing Girls: Gender and Learning in School-Based Sexuality Education
      (pp. 66-85)

      In spring 1996, I took a graduate course on feminist theory. The instructor and other students were all women. One afternoon, at the beginning of class, another graduate student told us that she had been surprised to learn the night before that her son’s eighth-grade sexuality education class included lessons on clitoral and vaginal orgasms. Many of us in the room were similarly surprised and troubled. We wondered aloud if eighth-graders needed such intimate information about women’s and girls’ bodies. What would they do with the information? One woman eventually interrupted and asked what we found threatening about young people’s...

    • CHAPTER 4 Sexual Enslavement and Reproductive Health: Narratives of Han among Korean Comfort Women Survivors
      (pp. 86-104)

      The termcomfort womenrefers to numerous young girls and women in Asia, including Japanese and Dutch, who were pressed into prostitution and sexual slavery for Japanese troops during the Asia Pacific War (1931–1945). Estimates of their number range between fifty thousand and two hundred thousand (see Yoshimi 1995: 79–80). It is believed that most came from colonial Korea (1910–1945). However, there is no documentary evidence to determine either how many young girls and women were used, or how many of them were forced into the role, except for the Dutch case, in which at least sixty-five...


    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 105-108)

      Seeking sexual pleasure openly is a political and transgressive act, as several decades of feminist and gay and lesbian thought have shown us. This remains the case today just as it was in 1960s and early 1970s. The essays in this part speak to the transgressive nature of sexual pleasure seeking in ways that demand critical reflection from even the most forward-thinking individuals, for whom the right to sexual pleasure is a foregone conclusion. Héctor Carrillo shows how HIV prevention campaigns can be harmful to the pleasure that individuals seek. Furthermore, in his case study he shows that, contrary to...

    • CHAPTER 5 Where Does Oppression End and Pleasure Begin? Confronting Sexual and Gender Inequality in HIV Prevention Work
      (pp. 109-122)

      Two general strategies have become increasingly common in progressive HIV prevention work. The first, of fairly recent adoption, is related to the goal of promoting gender and sexual equality as a means to facilitate the use of safety measures against HIV. The logic behind this strategy is that a reduction in sexual and gender inequality would help eliminate power differentials between partners in sexual and romantic relationships, which would in turn facilitate greater individual empowerment to adopt HIV prevention measures. A second strategy is related to the goal of creating a more “sex positive” sociocultural environment—to remove sexual taboos...

    • CHAPTER 6 Circuit Culture: Ethnographic Reflections on Inequality, Sexuality, and Life on the Gay Party Circuit
      (pp. 123-147)

      Midnight approaches on a warm desert night in Palm Springs, California, and from the booming music and light spectacle emanating from the cavernous Palm Springs Convention Center, one can tell the Circuit has come to town. Ten thousand people, mostly gay and mostly male, have gathered to dance and rejoice. The convention hall glows with an intense, captivating light generated by the latest software and laser technology. The lights and the music unite in perfect sync. The music, a fierce combination of trance, epic, and progressive house, infuses one’s body, erasing the line between one’s self and the music pulsating...

    • CHAPTER 7 Confesiones de Mujer: The Catholic Church and Sacred Morality in the Sex Lives of Mexican Immigrant Women
      (pp. 148-173)

      “The pope says thatel método naturalis the only way to prevent pregnancy but that is impossible!” vigorously stated Xóchitl, a thirty-four-year-old housewife who has lived in Los Angeles for more than nine years. Then, she continued, “As a woman, you have to look for different ways to avoid getting pregnant. So, the Church has to change, the pope has no idea of what a woman has to go through. Then, he is against abortion too! Can you imagine? I would have ten children by now!” Xóchitl proudly identified herself as a highly committed Catholic while recalling her personal...

    • CHAPTER 8 Disability and Sexuality: Toward a Constructionist Focus on Access and the Inclusion of Disabled People in the Sexual Rights Movement
      (pp. 174-208)

      Disabled people suffer significant social oppression in the United States and are stigmatized in many sociocultural contexts, perhaps none more so than within the contexts of dating and romance and in their attempts to negotiate sexual intimacy. Yet a critical constructionist approach to studying the intersection of disability and sexuality has been slow to emerge.¹ In the present essay, I first suggest some of the reasons for this neglect and argue that a key focus of this kind of research should be on the construction of access/obstruction to the sociocultural contexts in which desire is evoked and sexual negotiations become...


    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 209-212)

      Gays, lesbians, and bisexuals have a long history of organizing in the face of severe social oppression. However, organizing was mainly something done by those in the so-called productive years of their lives. One had to be an adult, first of all, to stake a claim in the sexual landscape as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Second, those visible within organizations were able-bodied working men and women who had not yet retired. The two essays in this part address distinct ways in which young men and women and older men and women organize their lives socially and, in the case of...

    • CHAPTER 9 The Family-Friends of Older Gay Men and Lesbians
      (pp. 213-232)

      The study of the lives of older gay men and lesbians has recently gained some popularity in gerontological thinking and research. These relatively “uncharted lives” (Siegel and Lowe 1995) are held to represent the unique juncture of history and biography (Mullan 1997). That is, these are individuals whose socialization experiences have been dramatically colored by having been “labeled as sick by doctors, immoral by clergy, unfit by the military, and a menace by the police” (Kochman 1997: 2). These individuals have survived AIDS, both as a disease and as a community-stigma, and are currently living lives as gay men and...

    • CHAPTER 10 Sexual Inequality, Youth Empowerment, and the GSA: A Community Study in California
      (pp. 233-252)

      “Sexuality” as a cultural notion has gradually expanded since the 1960s to include a broad spectrum of identities, rights, and communities that has enlarged the meaning of “diversity” in neoliberal democracy. The LGBTQ movement has played a large role in this change, of course, but not without twists and turns that have followed the inclusion of bisexuals, then transgenders, and, more recently, queer people. More than a generation ago, these issues were focused almost exclusively on adults, with gay and lesbian adults disconnected from youths and fearful of being involved more closely because of persistent false accusations of sexual influence...

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 253-256)
  10. Index
    (pp. 257-264)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 265-265)