Transgendered individuals include transvestites those who dress in the clothing of the opposite sex and transsexuals those whose gender identity differs from their physiological sex and who sometimes undergo a sex change. A transgender woman is a person who was born biologically as a male and becomes a woman, while a transgender man is a person who was born biologically as a woman and becomes a man.
As you almost certainly know, gay is the common term now used for any homosexual individual; gay men or gays is the common term used for homosexual men, while lesbian is the common term used for homosexual women. As you almost certainly also know, the term straight is used today as a synonym for heterosexual. We will probably never know precisely how many people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.
One problem is conceptual. For example, what does it mean to be gay or lesbian? Does one need to actually have sexual relations with a same-sex partner to be considered gay? What if someone is attracted to same-sex partners but does Define sexual orientation in sociology actually engage in sex with such persons? What if someone identifies as heterosexual but engages in homosexual sex for money as in certain forms of prostitution or for power and influence as in much prison sex?
These conceptual problems make it difficult to determine the extent of homosexuality Gates, A second problem is empirical.
Even if we can settle on a definition of homosexuality, how do we then determine how many people fit this definition? For better or worse, our best evidence of the number of gays and lesbians in the United States comes from surveys that ask random samples of Americans various questions about their sexuality. Although these are anonymous surveys, some individuals may be reluctant to disclose their sexual activity and thoughts to an interviewer.
Still, scholars think that estimates "Define sexual orientation in sociology" these surveys are fairly accurate but also that they probably underestimate by at least a small amount the number of gays and lesbians. During the s and s, sex researcher Alfred C. His project interviewed more than 11, white women and men about their sexual experiences, thoughts, and attractions, with each subject answering hundreds of questions.
While most individuals had experiences and feelings that were exclusively heterosexual, a significant number had experiences and feelings that were either exclusively homosexual or both heterosexual and homosexual in varying degrees. These findings led Kinsey to reject the popular idea back then that a person is necessarily either heterosexual or homosexual or straight or gay, to use the common modern terms.
To reflect these gradations, he developed the well-known Kinsey Scalewhich ranks individuals on a continuum ranging from 0 exclusively heterosexual to 6 exclusively homosexual.
In terms of specific numbers, Kinsey found that a 37 percent of males and 13 percent of females had had at least one same-sex experience; b 10 percent of males had mostly homosexual experiences between the ages of 16 and 55, while up to 6 percent of females had mostly homosexual experiences between the ages of 20 and 35; c 4 percent of males were exclusively homosexual after adolescence began, compared to 1—3 percent of females; and d 46 percent of males either had engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual experiences or had been attracted to persons of both sexes, compared to 14 percent of females.
This figure amounts to about 9 million people. A widely cited survey carried out in the early s by researchers at the University of Chicago found that 2. Data from Laumann, E. The social organization of sexuality. University of Chicago Press. These are all a lot of numbers, but demographer Gary J.
Gates drew on the most recent national survey evidence to come up with the following estimates for adults 18 and older:. The overall picture from these estimates is clear: Self-identified LGBT people comprise only a small percentage of the US "Define sexual orientation in sociology," but they amount to about 9 million adults and undoubtedly a significant number of adolescents.
In addition, the total number of people who, regardless of their sexual orientation, have had a same-sex experience is probably at least 19 million, and the number who have had same-sex attraction is probably at least 25 million.
This historical record is clear: Homosexuality has existed since ancient times and in some societies has been rather common or at least fully accepted as a normal form of sexual expression. In the great city of Athens in ancient Greece, male homosexuality to be more precise, sexual relations between a man and a teenaged boy and, less often, between a man and a man was not only approved but even encouraged.
According to classical scholar K. Greek lyric poets sing of male love from almost the earliest fragments down to the end of classical times…Vase-painters portray scores of homoerotic scenes, hundreds of inscriptions celebrate the love of boys, and such affairs enter into the lives of a long catalogue of famous Greek statesmen, warriors, artists, and authors.
Though it has often been assumed that the love of males was a fashion confined to a small intellectual elite during the age of Plato, in fact it was pervasive throughout all levels of Greek society and held an honored place in Greek culture for more than a thousand years, that is, from before B.
Male homosexuality in ancient Rome was also common and accepted as normal sexuality, but it took a different form from than in ancient Greece. Ancient Romans disapproved of sexual relations between a man and a freeborn male youth, but they approved of relations between a slave master and his youthful male slave.
Sexual activity of this type was common. As Cromptonp. Influenced by several passages in the Bible that condemn homosexuality, Europeans considered homosexuality
Define sexual orientation in sociology sin, and their governments outlawed same-sex relations.
If discovered, male homosexuals or any men suspected of homosexuality were vulnerable to execution for the next fourteen Define sexual orientation in sociology, and many did lose their lives.
During the Middle Ages, gay men and lesbians were stoned, burned at the stake, hanged, or beheaded, and otherwise abused and mistreated.
In contrast to the European treatment of gay men and lesbians, China and Japan from ancient times onward viewed homosexuality much more positively in what Cromptonp. In China, both male and female homosexuality Define sexual orientation in sociology seen as normal and even healthy sexual outlets.
Because Confucianism, the major Chinese religion when the Common Era began, considered women inferior, it considered male friendships very important and thus may have unwittingly promoted same-sex relations among men. Various artistic and written records indicate that male homosexuality was fairly common in China over the centuries, although the exact numbers can never be known.
When China began trading and otherwise communicating with Europe during the Ming dynasty, its tolerance for homosexuality shocked and disgusted Catholic missionaries and other Europeans. Some European clergy and scientists even blamed earthquakes and other natural disasters in China on this tolerance.
In addition to this body of work by historians, anthropologists have also studied same-sex relations in small, traditional societies. In many of these societies, homosexuality is both common and accepted as normal sexual behavior.
Among the Azande of East Africa, for example, young warriors live with each other and are not allowed to marry. During this time, they often have sex with younger boys. Among the Sambia of New Guinea, young males live separately from females and have same-sex relations for at least a decade. It is felt that the boys would be less masculine if they continued to live with their mothers and that the semen of older males helps young boys become strong and fierce Edgerton, This brief historical and anthropological overview provides ready evidence of what was said at its outset: Although Western society, influenced by the Judeo-Christian tradition, has largely condemned homosexuality since Western civilization began some 2, years ago, the great civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient China and Japan Define sexual orientation in sociology the industrial age approved of homosexuality.
In these civilizations, male homosexuality was fairly common, and female homosexuality was far from unknown. Same-sex relations are also fairly common in many of the societies that anthropologists Define sexual orientation in sociology studied. Although Western societies have long considered homosexuality sinful and unnatural and more generally have viewed it very negatively, the historical and anthropological record demonstrates that same-sex relationships are far from rare.
They thus must objectively be regarded as normal expressions of sexuality. In fact, some of the most famous individuals in Western political, literary, and artistic history certainly or probably engaged in same-sex relations, either sometimes or exclusively: Regardless or perhaps in some cases because of their sexuality, they all made great contributions to the societies in which they lived. Determining the origins of sexual orientation is not just an academic exercise.
When people believe that the Define sexual orientation in sociology of homosexuality are biological or that gays otherwise do not choose to be gay, they are more likely to have positive or at least tolerant views of same-sex behavior.
When they believe that homosexuality is instead merely a personal choice, they are more likely Define sexual orientation in sociology disapprove of it Sheldon et al. For this reason if for no other, it is important to know why some people are gay or bisexual while most are not. Studies of the origins of sexual orientation focus mostly on biological factors and on social and cultural factors, and a healthy scholarly debate exists on the relative importance of these two sets of factors.
Research points to certain genetic and other biological roots of sexual orientation but is by no means conclusive. One line of research concerns genetics. Because identical twins have the same DNA, this similarity suggests, but does not prove, a genetic basis for sexual orientation.
Keep in mind, however, that any physical or behavioral trait that is totally due to genetics should show up in both twins or in neither twin.
Because many identical twins do not have the same sexual orientation, this dissimilarity suggests that genetics are far from the only cause of sexual orientation, to the Define sexual orientation in sociology they cause it at all. Several methodological problems also cast doubt on findings from many of these twin studies. A recent review concluded that the case for a genetic cause of sexual orientation is far from proven: Despite scholarly speculation, sexual orientation does not appear to be affected by the level of prenatal hormones.
Complicating matters further, because sexual behavior can affect the hypothalamus Breedlove,it is difficult to determine whether any differences that might be found reflect the influence of the hypothalamus on sexual orientation, or instead the influence of sexual orientation on the hypothalamus Sheldon et al. A third line of biological research concerns hormonal balance in the womb, with scientists speculating that the level of prenatal androgen affects which sexual orientation develops.
Because prenatal androgen levels cannot be measured, studies typically measure it only indirectly in the bodies of gays and straights by comparing the lengths of certain fingers and bones that are thought to be related to prenatal androgen. Sociologists usually emphasize the importance of socialization over biology for the learning of many forms of human behavior.
Given this standard sociological position, one might think that sociologists generally believe that people are gay or straight not because of their biology but because they learn to be gay or straight from their society, culture, and immediate social environment.
This, in fact, was a common belief of sociologists about a generation ago Engle et al. In a recent national survey of a random sample of sociologists, 22 percent said male homosexuality results from biological factors, 38 percent said it results from both biological and environmental learning factors, and 39 percent said it results from environmental factors Engle et al.
If we grow up with positive messages about same-sex attraction, we are more likely to acquire this attraction. If we grow up with negative messages about attraction, we are less likely to acquire it and more likely to have heterosexual desire.
It is difficult to do the necessary type of research to test Define sexual orientation in sociology socialization matters in this way, but the historical and cross-cultural evidence discussed earlier provides at least some support for this process. Homosexuality was generally accepted in ancient Greece, ancient China, and ancient Japan, and it also seemed rather common in those societies.
The same connection holds true in many of the societies that anthropologists have studied. In contrast, homosexuality was condemned in Europe from the very early part of the first millennium CE, and it seems to have been rather rare although it is very possible that many gays hid their sexual orientation for fear of persecution and death.
So where does this leave us? What are the origins of sexual orientation? The most honest answer is that we do not yet know its origins. As we have seen, many scholars attribute sexual orientation to still unknown biological factor s over which individuals have no control, just as individuals do not decide whether they are left-handed or right-handed. Other scholars say that sexual orientation is at least partly influenced by cultural norms, so that individuals are more likely to Define sexual orientation in sociology as gay or straight and be attracted to their same sex or opposite sex depending on the cultural views of sexual orientation into which they are socialized as they grow up.
At best, perhaps all we can say is that sexual orientation stems from a complex mix of biological and cultural factors that remain to be determined. Although much research has examined the possible genetic, hormonal, developmental, social, and cultural influences on sexual orientation, no findings have emerged that permit scientists to conclude that sexual orientation is determined by any particular factor or factors.
Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to persons of the Sexual orientation is traditionally defined as including heterosexuality. Writing about the Samoan fa'afafine demographic, sociologist Johanna. This page is a resource explaining the sociological concept of sexuality. that their sexual orientation doesn't exist, we have to go back to the gay liberation movement of the .
Who I am is someone so profound that words can never define.”. What is sexual orientation? Sociological definition of sexual orientation.