This paper will analyse the personal advertisements placed by heterosexual men and women and gay men and lesbian women and identify the recurring themes and ideologies within them.
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INTRODUCTION This paper will analyse the personal advertisements placed by heterosexual men and women and gay men and lesbian women and identify the recurring themes and ideologies within them. The themes and ideologies in relation to different genders and sexual identities will be discussed. The findings will be analysed in relation to the theoretical framework of Michel Foucault and it will be established that in accordance with this framework, sex is a mechanism of control and regulation through institutions and discourses of society, which inform individuals how to experience their bodies. Recurring themes of Personal Advertisements The average age of heterosexual men who placed personal advertisements seeking females ranged from twenty to fifty. Most men provided a physical description of themselves as well as their physical preferences for women. The physical attributes of the body would appear to be of more significance than romantic love, which was rarely mentioned. Sexual desire was evident in most ads where physical attributes were emphasised with 'quiet nights at home' and 'fun times' mentioned frequently. Descriptions of interests were generally provided which would indicate that compatibility was also given importance. The average age of heterosexual women seeking males was from twenty to fifty. Some women provided a physical description of themselves with a few expressing their physical preferences for men. ...read more.
198). However Freud saw sexual opposition as inevitable and his discourse was phallocentric (Woodward, 1997, p. 199). Feminists have attacked Freud's psychoanalysis accusing it of providing sexist and conservative prescriptions about women's true interests and place in society (Woodward, 1997, p. 199). The central tenets of feminism and queer theory are that gender and sexuality are socially constructed questioning the normative status of heterosexuality (Jackson, 1999, p. 159). According to Jackson (1999) a critique of heterosexuality should contain a critique of heteronormativity - the normative status of heterosexuality, and a critique of heteropatriarchy - heterosexuality as systematically male dominated (p. 163). What sustains heterosexuality as an identity and an institution, is gender hierarchy (Jackson, 1999, p. 174). Heterosexuality is not simply about guarding against the homosexual other, but about maintaining male domination (Jackson, 1999, p. 174). There is an interconnection between the oppression of women and the maintenance of heterosexual hegemony. According to Connell gender differentiation cannot be reduced to biological determinism or social determinism or a combination of the two, but rather it should be acknowledged, the physical sense of maleness and femaleness is central to the cultural interpretation of gender (Woodward, 1997, p. 232). The body is inescapable in the construction of masculinity; but what is inescapable is not fixed (Woodward, 1997, p. 233). Bodies are not just landscape but have various forms of recalcitrance to social symbolism (Woodward, 1997, p. ...read more.
239). Foucault believed that there was a direct connection between the Christian confessional and modern discourses - e.g. sexology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis - that approach sex as an autonomous psychic and social force (Seidman, 1998, p. 239). Confession was replaced by the practice of the 'examination' by physicians, psychiatrists, sexologists and scientists (Seidman, 1998, p. 240). Foucault suggested that Victorian discourses created the idea of a natural sexuality, of an order of desires and acts built into the body (Seidman, 1998, p. 240). Foucault argued that sexuality is not a natural fact, but rather is an idea of who we are that has powerfully shaped the experience of our bodies (Seidman, 1998, p. 240). According to Foucault the power of medical-scientific discourses lie in their integration in social institutions and in being tied to social practices (Seidman, 1998, p. 240). By interpreting same-sex desire as indicative of personal identity, the medical-scientific discourses invented a new human type, 'the homosexual' (Seidman, 1998, p. 241). Homosexual behaviour was not only a transgression of social norms or laws but marked a deviant human type (Seidman, 1998, p. 241). According to Foucault the modern regime of sexuality creates sexual subjects and positions them as objects of social control (Seidman, 1998, p. 241). The system of sexuality is built into the fabric of our institutions, cultural apparatus and our everyday lives (Seidman, 1998, p. 241). Individuals are positioned as heterosexual or homosexual regardless of their wishes (Seidman, 1998, p. 241). ...read more.
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