Sociology Sexualities
by
Nancy L. Fischer
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 June 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0168

Introduction

The social study of sexuality encompasses investigating sexual practices and behaviors, sexual feelings, sexual orientation, and the ways in which particular sexual identities and behaviors are reinforced or discouraged by societal institutions and culture. Sexuality studies are interdisciplinary and include work from anthropology, gender and women’s studies, history, LGBT studies, psychology, queer studies, and sociology. The social study of sexuality contrasts with biological approaches to human sexuality, which frame sexual expression as resulting from anatomy and hormones. Contemporary social approaches to studying sexualities—the focus of this article—took shape during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when sociologists, feminists, and gay liberationists argued that sexuality (desire, orientation) was not innate, but socially constructed. Thus, contemporary research and theory operates under the assumption that sexual desires, identities, and behaviors are socially constructed. Sexuality studies seek to explain how social institutions and social interaction patterns shape sexual meanings and practices. A significant portion of sexualities work focuses on inequalities between genders, between heterosexuals and nonheterosexuals (of which there are an expanding array of identities, particularly as gender identities expand), races and ethnicities, and social classes.

Anthologies

Sexualities anthologies tend to fall into four categories: textbook overviews of the field for undergraduates; overviews of particular theoretical traditions; overviews of intersections of sexualities with particular ethnic/racial groups; and collections of articles around specific topics, such as sexual health or particular identities. This list provides a brief overview of some nontextbook anthologies. Other anthologies are included throughout this article as they pertain to the specific identities and intersections. This section focuses on collections that have become classic texts, as well as ones that forge new ground in terms of providing useful overviews of a particular area of study within sexualities research. Abelove, et al. 1993 is a collection of classic essays published early in the development of gay/lesbian studies as an academic field. The 1980s and 1990s work of LGBT studies scholars tended to disproportionately emphasize white middle-class perspectives. Johnson and Henderson 2005 charts where queer theory has headed in the 2000s, where the multiple intersections of sexuality, race, and class are articulated. Likewise, Hall and Jagose 2012 brings early statements in queer theory together with voices of newer scholars researching topics such as race, citizenship, and migration. Attwood 2010 looks at online pornography, and Ditmore, et al. 2010 represents the expanding area of researching commercial sex and sex workers. Finally, Aggleton, et al. 2015 addresses the important topic of sexual health, which is useful both for sexuality researchers and health workers.

  • Abelove, Henry, Michèle Aina Barale, and David M. Halperin, eds. 1993. The lesbian and gay studies reader. New York: Routledge.

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    One of the first edited volumes in gay/lesbian studies, this collection of forty-two essays by highly respected authors has become a classic text in gay and lesbian studies/queer theory. It is essential reading that introduces scholars to the initial theoretical statements and empirical research in LGBT studies and queer theory.

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    • Aggleton, Peter, Richard Parker, and Felicity Thomas. 2015. Culture, health and sexuality. New York: Routledge.

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      International in scope, this collection brings together multidisciplinary perspectives on sexual health. It provides an excellent overview of contemporary sexuality and health research. Divided into sections on culture, sex and gender, sexual diversity, sex work, sexual violence, and migration.

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      • Attwood, Feona, ed. 2010. Porn.com: Making sense of online pornography. New York and Oxford: Peter Lang.

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        This collection of thirteen essays provides an introduction to porn studies and how it intersects with digital media. Media and communication studies scholar Attwood divided this collection into the following sections in order to provide an overview of recent online pornography studies work: Porn Practices, Porn Styles, and Porn Cultures.

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        • Ditmore, Melissa Hope, Antonia Levy, and Alys Willman, eds. 2010. Sex work matters: Exploring money, power and intimacy in the sex industry. London: Zed Books.

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          There are many books on sex work. This anthology provides a good overview of key writers who represent the perspective that sex work is similar to other kinds of labor in a capitalist economy. Organized into sections on sex work research perspectives, roles of sex workers, money, regulation, and activism.

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          • Hall, Donald E., and Annamarie Jagose, eds. 2012. The Routledge queer studies reader. New York: Routledge.

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            This edited volume marks the shift from GLBT studies to queer studies. The collection of thirty-three essays is divided into seven parts: Genealogies, Sex, Temporalities, Kinship, Affect, Bodies, and Borders. International in scope, this is a key text in queer studies that illustrates the development of queer scholarship.

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            • Johnson, E. Patrick, and Mae G. Henderson, eds. 2005. Black queer studies: A critical anthology. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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              This is the first anthology whose emphasis is on queer-of-color perspectives. The eighteen essays featured in this collection are divided into the disciplinary tensions between black studies and queer studies; representations; race studies and queer pedagogy; and black queer fiction. Contains both classic and new queer theory works.

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              • Seidman, Steven, ed. 1996. Queer theory/sociology. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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                Seidman’s book was one of the first works to explore the intersections of queer theory and sociological thought. Sections include sociological perspectives on homosexuality; sociology/queer theory: a dialogue; queer sociological approaches on identity and society; and queer sociological approaches to identity and politics.

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                Journals

                The journals listed here feature academic work that specifically focuses on sexuality research and theory, in some cases in specific subfields of sexuality studies. The study of sexualities encompasses many fields; therefore, scholarly journals on sexualities are interdisciplinary. The Journal of Sex Research and Sexualities feature social science research. GLQ, the Journal of Bisexuality and the Journal of Homosexuality all focus on nonheterosexual identities. The Journal of Sexual History emphasizes historical research from a number of disciplines. Porn Studies is the newest sexuality-related journal, focusing on sexual representations in the commercial sex-work industry.

                • GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies. 1993–.

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                  GLQ is an interdisciplinary journal for the GL/Q Caucus for the Modern Languages. GLQ publishes scholarship, criticism, and commentary on queer issues, particularly seeking out research on pre-20th century periods, non-English speaking cultures, and marginalized populations. Its archives include previously unpublished, primary sources for scholars that may be exclusively available there.

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                  • Journal of Bisexuality. 2000–.

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                    The Journal of Bisexuality was established in 2000 by the American Institute of Bisexuality. It is a quarterly journal featuring articles on bisexuality-focused topics such as how bisexual issues differ from gay, lesbian, and transgender issues; new research; therapy issues; lifestyles; and media depictions.

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                    • Journal of Homosexuality. 1976–.

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                      Established in 1976, the Journal of Homosexuality is an interdisciplinary, international journal geared toward those who research gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. The monthly journal features the work of both scholars and community activists.

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                      • Journal of Sex Research. 1965–.

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                        The Journal of Sex Research, established in 1965, is the official journal of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, which represents the field of sexology. JSR is an interdisciplinary journal that publishes empirical research, brief reports, theoretical essays, review articles, methodological articles, and commentaries.

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                        • Journal of Sexual History. 1990–.

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                          Histories of sexuality have been crucial to sexuality studies since the constructionist turn. JSH, established in 1990, publishes three issues a year on histories of sexuality, particularly those that recognize differences in gender, race, class, culture, and sexual orientation.

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                          • Porn Studies 2014–.

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                            Reflecting the prevalence of sex work and mediated representations of sexuality, Porn Studies is the newest journal in critical sexuality studies, established in 2014. It explores “those cultural products and services designated as pornographic and their cultural, economic, historical, institutional, legal, and social contexts.”

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                            • Sexualities. 1998–.

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                              A bimonthly first published in 1998, Sexualities is interdisciplinary and international and publishes analytic and empirical work that describes, analyzes, and theorizes the ways sexual experiences are organized in modernity. Sexualities is the key journal for sexualities researchers and theorists in the constructionist tradition.

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                              • Sexuality and Culture. 2000–.

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                                An interdisciplinary quarterly first published in 2000, Sexuality and Culture is an international journal that analyzes sexual relationships and behaviors from ethical, psychological, cultural, social and political points of view.

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                                Classic Works

                                Sexuality became an object of social scientific study in the late 1800s, when sexologists like Richard Von Krafft-Ebing and Havelock Ellis wrote “scientific” treatises on sexual practices based on case studies of clinical populations (see Krafft-Ebing 2010 and Ellis 2010). Explaining heterosexuality and deviations from it were a focus of early research. Early sexuality research often assumed heterosexuality was caused by “natural,” “biological” drives that were innate to all humanity. Sigmund Freud somewhat destabilized this assumption when he argued in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (Freud 2015, first published 1905) that infants have unbounded potential in sexual desire, which is then shaped by family and society. He introduced the role of the unconscious in constructing sexual selves. Whether extending psychoanalytic theory or critiquing it, Freud’s work had to be reckoned with by scholars at least through the 1980s. The mid-20th-century Kinsey Reports (Kinsey, et al. 2010a; Kinsey, et al. 2010b, first published 1948 and 1953) empirically tapped into the breadth of human sexual potential. Based on interviews with thousands of American men and women, the “Kinsey Reports,” detailed the variety of American sexual practices in the 1940s and 1950s. Kinsey’s work was later critiqued for problematic sampling methods; the Kinsey research team’s statistical conclusions could not be generalized to the American population as a whole. The Kinsey Reports were controversial, and thus valuable for opening public discussion of sexual behaviors and identities in the postwar period. Kinsey relativized monogamous heterosexuality, arguing that variety in sexual practices is the rule, not the exception. In the 1960s, building upon the work of Kinsey, sociologists (from the symbolic interactionist tradition), feminists, and gay liberationists decentered institutionalized heterosexuality. McIntosh 1968 and Gagnon and Simon 1973 used symbolic interaction and labeling theory to illustrate how society’s views on sexuality are reproduced by patterned daily interactions that function to make heterosexuality appear natural, normal, and superior. These sociologists influenced subsequent gender/sexuality theorists who wrote on gender and sexuality as performance and performative. Finally, feminist scholars challenged heterosexuality by illustrating how heterosexuality upholds patriarchy. Adrienne Rich’s work (e.g., Rich 1994, first published 1980) was revolutionary for directly challenging the assumption of heterosexuality as innate and beneficial, instead claiming it was a patriarchal social institution that perpetuates women’s oppression.

                                • Ellis, Havelock. 2010. Sexual inversion. Charleston, SC: Nabu.

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                                  Sexual Inversion became the first medical textbook published in English on homosexuality. Based on his medical case studies, Ellis describes relations between homosexual males. He was progressive for his time period, not characterizing homosexuality as a disease. First published in German in 1896.

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                                  • Freud, Sigmund. 2015. Three essays on the theory of sexuality. Translated by A. A. Brill. Seaside, OR: Rough Draft Printing.

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                                    Three Essays outlines Freud’s ideas on sexual aberrations, infantile sexuality, and puberty’s sexual transformations. Freud suggests that sexual deviation is not a unique property of the insane or immoral, but is common, arising as forbidden, unconscious desires. With “polymorphous perversity,” in infantile sexuality, Freud challenges the idea of innate heterosexuality. First published in 1905.

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                                    • Gagnon, John, and William Simon. 1973. Sexual conduct: The social sources of human sexuality. Chicago: Aldine.

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                                      The authors introduced script theory to explain how social actors enact sexuality throughout their everyday lives. Challenging prevailing ideas largely based on psychoanalytic theories of innate sexual drive and the power of the unconscious, Gagnon and Simon argued sexuality is socially produced, and organized through economic, political, religious, and social conditions.

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                                      • Kinsey, Alfred, Wardell Pomeroy, and Clyde Martin. 2010a. Sexual behavior in the human male. Vol. 1. Mountain View, CA: Ishi.

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                                        The first of the Kinsey Reports, the research team provided a statistical sample of American men’s sexual experiences, including sexual practices and fantasies. Kinsey argued that “homosexual” and “heterosexual” are not categorical opposites, but exist on the same continuum, known as the Kinsey Scale. First published in 1948.

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                                        • Kinsey, Alfred, Wardell Pomeroy, Clyde Martin, Paul Gebhard, and Sam Sloan. 2010b. Sexual behavior in the human female. Vol. 1. Mountain View, CA: Ishi.

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                                          The follow-up to the male Kinsey Report, the second Kinsey Report was equally scandalous for the American public. Women in postwar American culture were often believed to lack sexual desire, particularly desire outside of monogamous sexual relationships. The second Kinsey Report challenged this belief. First published in 1953.

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                                          • Krafft-Ebing, Richard. 2010. Psychopathia sexualis. Charleston, SC: Nabu.

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                                            Krafft-Ebing wrote Psychopathia Sexualis as a reference guide for doctors, mental health practitioners, and judges, based on case studies with psychiatric patients. One of the first books to address nonheterosexual identities, though in a way that pathologized them. First published in German in 1886.

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                                            • McIntosh, Mary. 1968. The homosexual role. Social Problems 16.2: 182–192.

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                                              This is one of the first theoretical statements on how sexuality is socially constructed. McIntosh documents how the meaning of same-sex sexual relations changes across time and varies among different cultures, highlighting oppositions between homosexual behavior/identity, same-sex behavior, premodern/modern society, and purity/pollution symbolic boundaries drawn between heterosexuality and homosexuality.

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                                              • Rich, Adrienne. 1994. Compulsory heterosexuality and the lesbian existence. In Blood, bread, and poetry: Selected prose 1979–1985. New York: W. W. Norton.

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                                                Rich challenged heterosexuality as natural, instead arguing it is a patriarchal social institution. She charts women’s relationships on a “lesbian continuum.” “Compulsory heterosexuality” makes alternative expressions of desire, affection, and ways of organizing relationships among women invisible. First published in 1980 for the journal Signs, Rich stated this version from Blood, Bread, and Poetry best represents her ideas.

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                                                Theoretical Developments

                                                Theoretical developments in sexuality studies build upon the authors discussed in Classic Works. Theorists drew off of both the empirical or theoretical work of these classics. At present, the two dominant theoretical traditions within sexuality studies are queer theory and feminism. Michel Foucault challenged the idea that increased sexual knowledge was a source of liberation; instead, it could serve as means of controlling selves and populations (Foucault 1990). Foucault’s thought becomes the foundation of queer theory. Foucault becomes, perhaps, the most influential single theorist to influence sexualities research and theorizing post-1980. Feminism—as a school of thought—has been equally influential. In the 1980s, feminist theorists like Adrienne Rich (see Rich 1994, under Classic Works) and Monique Wittig (in Wittig 1992) focused on how heterosexuality reinforces gender inequality and male dominance. Wittig in particular influenced the ideas of Judith Butler (see Butler 1990), providing the scaffold for her idea of “the heterosexual matrix” and the basis of challenging the category “lesbian.” Rubin 1984 also interrogates sexual hierarchies between “moral” and “immoral” sexual citizens. Rubin critiques moral distinctions made between homosexuals and heterosexuals, monogamous and polygamous coupling, etc., using her “charmed circle” concept. Butler 1990 illuminates gender differences in a new way, arguing that gender is a social accomplishment based on repetitions of expected behavior in daily interactions. Butler explains how the “heterosexual matrix,” based on gender binarism, constructs the idea of gender difference. This is a foundational text in both contemporary feminist theory and queer theory. Sedgewick 1990, by a key figure in queer theory, troubles the heterosexual/homosexual binary rather than focusing on the gender binary. Sedgewick argues that a complete understanding of Western culture must include a critical analysis of the homo/heterosexual binary and other binaries that arise from it. Also in the early 1990s, theorizing outside of the queer theory and feminist theory traditions, Giddens 1993 offered an account of how 20th-century sexual identity is impacted by macrosocial changes in Western modernity. In the 2000s, theorizing sexualities shifted into issues of citizenship, immigration, and the perspectives of marginalized communities. Ferguson 2003 critiques how mainstream sociology contributed to marginalizing people of color by depicting black sexuality as an aberration from the white heteronormative ideal. Ferguson offers a theoretical perspective that challenge hegemonic sexual cultures from a margins-as-center approach with his queer-of-color analysis. Eng, et al. 2005 brings together the work of newer theorists, marking new directions in queer theory. This edition of Social Text is highly useful for an introduction of key thinkers and themes in contemporary queer theory that will lead to other works.

                                                • Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.

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                                                  A key text for gender studies and sexuality studies. Butler explains how gender is a stylized repetition of acts (performativity). She explains the concept of the heterosexual matrix, which forms the scaffold of the ideology of heterosexuality that underpins societal ideas of gender difference and inequality.

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                                                  • Eng, David L., Judith Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz, eds. 2005. Special issue: What’s queer about queer studies now? Social Text 23.3–4 (Fall/Winter).

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                                                    Sixteen essays by a new generation of queer theorists explore queer theory in context of gay/lesbian acceptance and the neoliberal state. Queer theory moves beyond the project of making sense of marginalized identities and is deployed to make sense of broader issues, including citizenship, immigration, and incarceration.

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                                                    • Ferguson, Roderick A. 2003. Aberrations in black: Toward a queer of color critique. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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                                                      Sociologically trained Ferguson introduces a “queer of color analysis,” interrogating “social formations at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class.” He highlights how the heterogeneity of black culture has been pathologized for deviating from heteronormative gender and sexual ideals. He critiques canonical sociology for reinforcing heteronormative ideals that further pathologize black culture.

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                                                      • Foucault, Michel. 1990. The history of sexuality. Vol. 1, An introduction. New York: Vintage.

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                                                        A foundational text, Foucault describes how sexual discourse shifts from acts to sexual identities, where individuals understand sexuality as key to knowing the self. He explains his model of power as diffuse, embedded in discourse and claims to truth. First published in 1976, translated from the French in 1978.

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                                                        • Giddens, Anthony. 1993. The transformation of intimacy: Sexuality, love and eroticism in modern societies. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                          Giddens illustrates how macrosocial forces (capitalism, birth control, women’s financial independence) shape intimacy and sexual selves. Modernity is characterized by “plastic sexuality,” where erotic expression (unfettered from reproduction) becomes a flexible trait of the self. Modern couples seek a cultural ideal—“pure relationships”—between sexually and emotionally equal partners.

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                                                          • Rubin, Gayle. 1984. Thinking sex: Notes for a radical theory of the politics of sexuality. In Pleasure and danger: Exploring female sexuality. Edited by Carole S. Vance, 267–319. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

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                                                            Rubin explores sexual hierarchies and how symbolic boundaries are drawn between sexual actors based on the kinds of sexual practices they engage in through her “charmed circle” metaphor. By emphasizing acceptable/unacceptable sexual practices, Rubin shows how inequalities are not only gendered. The charmed circle can spark discussion of changing sexual mores.

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                                                            • Sedgewick, Eve Kosofsky. 1990. The epistemology of the closet. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                              Sedgewick challenges binary modes of thinking about sexual identity. The heterosexual/homosexual binary privileges heterosexuality. By constructing them as dichotomous categories, heterosexuality is positioned as the opposite of homosexuality, as if it is completely disassociated with traits associated with homosexuality.

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                                                              • Wittig, Monique. 1992. One is not born a woman. In The straight mind and other essays. By M. Wittig, 9–20. Boston: Beacon.

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                                                                Wittig questions essentialist understandings of “woman,” anticipating claims made by queer and postmodern theorists. Wittig contends that the meaning of the category “woman” is not-man; the binary opposition of woman/man only has meaning within a heterosexual framework. Therefore, she controversially claims, lesbians are not women. First published in 1981.

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                                                                Histories of Sexualities

                                                                Once social scientists began to understand sexuality as a social construct, historically tracing how different sexual meanings emerged and changed over time and across cultures became a significant academic project. Jeffrey Weeks is one of the best-known scholars of sexual history. Weeks 1977 was truly pathbreaking for providing a social constructionist account of gay/lesbian history in Britain. D’Emilio and Freedman 1988 provides historical overviews of how sexual attitudes, policies, and politics have transformed in the United States, Drawing on Foucault’s theory, the authors explain the historical shift of sexuality being understood in terms of acts to sexual identities. Histories of sexuality often are framed in ways that disrupt “commonsense” assumptions about the history of sex and sexual identities. Chauncey 1994 deflates the belief that pre-Stonewall gay life in New York was closeted and characterized by shame. Same-sex relationships between women were often overlooked, making Vicinus 2006, on women’s romantic friendships, pathbreaking. Katz 2007 reveals that “heterosexuality” is not an identity that has been with us since time immemorial, but has a specific, recent history. Canaday 2011 (cited under the State and Sexual Regulation) traces the role of the state in regulating sexual behaviors and simultaneously constructing notions of approved sexual citizens. Most histories of sexuality have a geographical focus on the United States and Britain. Clark 2011, an edited volume, instead brings forward historical discussions of sexual practices in ancient Greece, the early Islamic world, France, and 20th-century Germany.

                                                                • Chauncey, George. 1994. Gay New York: Gender, urban culture, and the makings of the gay male world, 1890–1940. New York: Basic Books.

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                                                                  Challenging assumptions that gay men in the past were always closeted, invisible, and steeped in shame, Chauncey makes the case that in urban pockets of New York City, a complex gay subculture flourished that was recognized as a vital part of New York’s social and cultural life.

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                                                                  • Clark, Anna, ed. 2011. The history of sexuality in Europe: A sourcebook and reader. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                    This edited volume has an interesting style of organization, based around thirteen different sexual history questions. Each question is answered by at least two different authors. The time span and geography ranges from ancient Greece to 1960s Europe.

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                                                                    • D’Emilio, John, and Estelle Freedman. 1988. Intimate matters: A history of sexuality in America. New York: Harper & Row.

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                                                                      D’Emilio and Freedman chart American sexual history from when Puritans encountered American Indians to the decriminalization of sodomy. Arguing that the history of sexuality is not a linear story of progress, the authors illustrate how America’s sexual past includes both oppression and moments of liberation.

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                                                                      • Katz, Jonathan Ned. 2007. The invention of heterosexuality. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                        A seminal book in the sexualities field, Katz challenges the commonsense understanding of heterosexuality as an ahistorical ever-present identity. “Heterosexuality” shifts from being understood as an obscure medical term for unnatural sexual appetites to an identity that serves to naturalize “opposite sex” attraction.

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                                                                        • Vicinus, Martha. 2006. Intimate friends: Women who loved women, 1778–1928. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                          Analyzing diaries, letters, and poetry, Vicinus documents romantic relationships between educated, white women in the United States and Britain. During most of the historical period examined, homosexuality did not exist as a concept. Nonetheless, women constructed a sense of same-sex eroticism. A classic history of same-sex intimacy, first published in 2004.

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                                                                          • Weeks, Jeffrey. 1977. Coming out: Homosexual politics in Britain from the nineteenth century to the present. London: Quartet.

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                                                                            This is one of the first gay/lesbian histories in Britain at a time when the academy was suspicious of such historical endeavors. Influenced by Mary McIntosh’s essay “The Homosexual Role,” Weeks was one of the first authors to employ a social constructionist framework to understanding sexual history.

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                                                                            Sexual Politics

                                                                            The relationship between sexual politics and scholarship has been quite close in sexuality studies. Political activism has tended to inform theorizing and empirical research projects. The list here combines some of the influential work of sexuality-related political activism with the work of scholars. There is a tension in this literature between those who advocate for sexual minority inclusion in heteronormative society and those who argue for rejecting the dominant heteronormative culture. The documentary film Before Stonewall (Schiller and Rosenberg 2010) is useful in order to hear first-person accounts of the sexual political landscape for lesbian and gay Americans who sought equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens before the Stonewall Riots of 1969. Most of the activists interviewed in the documentary have passed away, and thus the film provides a rare opportunity to hear and see them in person. Cathy Cohen addressed the AIDS crisis in the black community in her book Boundaries of Blackness (1999). Here, in her well-known essay “Punks, Bulldaggers and Welfare Queens” (Cohen 1997), she introduces the basis of a queer-of-color approach to sexual politics, arguing that queer politics that do not address inequalities based on class and race are inadequate. Duggan 2003 also addresses the limited political agenda of 1990s sexual politics in the gay and lesbian community that focused on a minority rights’ approach that sought inclusion in the larger social order. Duggan argues that such an approach ultimately aligns with (rather than changes) heteronormative social institutions. While Duggan critiques the emphasis of gay/lesbian politics on assimilationist goals like marriage equality, the battle for inclusion was important politically and marked a significant shift in sexuality politics. Based on interviews of gay and lesbian couples during the height of the battle for marriage equality in the United States, Hull 2006 illustrates why inclusion in the institution of marriage was important in the everyday lives of lesbian women and gay men. Political discourse around sexual morality is also an important branch of sexual politics research. One of the Christian Right’s first sexual moral battlegrounds was gaining influence on how sexual education was taught in US public schools. Irvine 2004 explores this history and how sexual education linked to larger moral culture wars. Irvine’s history of sexual education politics reveals multiple actors in the political process—clergy, school boards, politicians—as does Solinger 2007, an excellent history of women’s reproductive rights. Solinger illustrates how race, class, and gender consistently interact in the history of reproductive rights, a history in which women have been active political agents of both expanding rights and fighting for women’s ability to have control over sex and pregnancy. Heath 2012 also tackles the sexual politics of marriage and sexual morality, exploring US marriage promotion campaigns that touted marriage as a means of poverty alleviation. Heath shows how marriage discourse not only promotes a conservative heteronormative moral agenda, but also marginalizes racial minorities and the poor.

                                                                            • Cohen, Cathy. 1997. Punks, bulldaggers, and welfare queens: The Radical potential of queer politics? GLQ: A Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies 3.4: 437–465.

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                                                                              A classic essay on the intersection of race and queer politics, Cohen provides one of the initial statements for a queer-of-color perspective. She argues that queer sexual politics has reinforced heterosexual and queer dichotomies, but instead needs to embrace an intersectional approach in order to deal with other systemic forms of oppression.

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                                                                              • Duggan, Lisa. 2003. The twilight of equality?: Neoliberalism, cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon.

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                                                                                Duggan critiques the privatizing impact of neoliberal politics that substitute a politics of recognition for a politics of redistribution. Gay/lesbian inclusion in institutions like marriage and military still uphold heteronormative systems of oppression. She introduces the concept of “homonormativity,” a form of politics that aligns with and sustains heteronormative institutions.

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                                                                                • Heath, Melanie. 2012. One marriage under God: The campaign to promote marriage in America. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                  Heath shows how the politics of marriage promotion reflects not just conservative Christian morality and heteronormativity, but also intersects with neoconservative campaigns against the welfare state. Through ethnographic work attending marriage workshops and policy analysis, Heath illustrates how sexual political agendas intersect with economic ones.

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                                                                                  • Hull, Kathleen E. 2006. Same-Sex Marriage: The cultural politics of love and law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                    Hull draws upon interviews, participant observation, and content analysis to analyze why and how same-sex couples seek marriage equality. The book illustrates how law, cultural beliefs about marriage, love, and commitment come together in sexual political debates about same-sex marriage.

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                                                                                    • Irvine, Janice. 2004. Talk about sex: The battles over sex education in the United States. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                      Irvine’s history of political battles over sexual education in the United States illustrates how the Christian Right’s discourse on sexual morality came to influence sexual education policy. Talk About Sex illustrates the importance of sexual speech and framing in public sexual politics.

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                                                                                      • Schiller, Greta, and Robert Rosenberg, dirs. 2010. Before Stonewall. DVD. 25th Anniversary Edition. New York: First Run Features.

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                                                                                        Originally released in 1984, this landmark documentary features interviews of key activists such as Harry Hay and Audre Lorde about the early gay/lesbian movement before the 1969 Stonewall Riots. It features disputes over same-sex relationships during World War II, picketing the State Department, McCarthyism, and the development of gay and lesbian societies.

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                                                                                        • Solinger, Rickie. 2007. Pregnancy and power: A short history of reproductive politics in America. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                          Historian Solinger begins with the birth of the US nation-state in 1776 and ends in the 2000s, showing how the politics of reproductive rights—women’s political ability to control sex and pregnancy—have always centered on race and class. This is a very useful work as an introduction to the politics of women’s reproductive rights.

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                                                                                          The State and Sexual Regulation

                                                                                          The state plays a critical role in constructing the meaning of sexuality and legal frameworks for regulating what sexual behaviors, desires, and identities can be expressed in a society. Weeks 2012 provides a history of sexuality seen through the lens of legal discourse. Policies like Britain’s Contagious Disease Act (1864) were as much about regulating sexual behaviors as about public health. One of the most important areas of study in sexualities is sexual citizenship—how sexual morality and “character” have frequently been deployed to designate who has access to being considered an appropriate moral citizen. A “moral” citizen who deserves full rights and respect has often been a heterosexual citizen. Evans 1993 was one of the first works to discuss the relationship between sexuality and citizenship, focusing on consumer capitalism and the emergence of “sexual lifestyles” that deemphasize political relations. Bernstein and Reimann 2001, a discussion of the law and queer families, illustrates how the political agency of queer citizens—families in this case—intersects with race, class, and immigration status, where white middle-class native families have the most access to legal rights. Nagel 2003 addresses nationalism, sexuality, and race. Sexualized, stigmatizing images and accounts have often been used in constructing national boundaries. Relatedly, Puri 2003 and Puar 2007 both discuss the relationship between nationalism and sexual stigmatization following the attack on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001. Puri provides an important discussion of how states are implicitly heterosexual, a theme thoroughly researched in Canaday 2011, which illustrates how US bureaucracies drew upon notions of what homosexuality means to intentionally try to construct a “straight” state.

                                                                                          • Bernstein, Mary, and Renate Reimann, eds. 2001. Queer families, queer politics: Challenging culture and the state. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                            One of the first books on LGBT families and law. Queer Families discusses the risks associated with coming out in a society where medical, legal, and political institutions enforce heteronormativity. It highlights how queer families of color, immigrants, and poor families face greater risks and have less claim to citizenship rights.

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                                                                                            • Canaday, Margot. 2011. The straight state: Sexuality and citizenship in twentieth century America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                              The United States developed many bureaucratic rules when knowledge of homosexuality was nascent. In a number of areas—immigration policy, military policy, and social services—this led to drafting rules that reinforced heterosexuality and stigmatized homosexuality. A valuable contribution to how the nation-state constructs sexual citizens.

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                                                                                              • Evans, David T. 1993. Sexual citizenship: The material construction of sexualities. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                One of the first books on sexual citizenship. Evans argues that social constructionist accounts often ignore the material contexts in which gender constructions occur. In late capitalism, the state and the market have intersecting interests that encourage individuals to think of themselves as consumers, displaying rather depoliticized sexual lifestyles.

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                                                                                                • Nagel, Joane. 2003. Race, ethnicity and sexuality: Intimate intersections, forbidden frontiers. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                  Nagel illustrates the relationship between race, sexuality, nationalism, and boundary-formation between groups into “us” versus “them.” Race, ethnicity, and sexual boundaries have often been used to justify ethnic violence and conquest, and Nagel explores these themes in US history. Ethnosexuality is a key concept throughout the book.

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                                                                                                  • Puar, Jasbir. 2007. Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1215/9780822390442Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Paur forges new territory by exploring multiple intersections (race/ethnicity, sexuality, gender, class) that are impacted by secularization, counterterrorism, and nationalism. Building on Duggan’s homonormativity, the concept of “homonationalism” describes how some queer subjects are represented as proper homo citizens who can be included in heteronormative assumptions of the nation.

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                                                                                                    • Puri, Jyoti. 2003. Encountering nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell.

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                                                                                                      Puri provides a foundational account of the relationship between state, nation, race, gender and sexuality. Chapter three on the gendered nature of nationalism and chapter four on how states are implicitly heterosexual and patriarchal are particularly useful for sexualities scholars.

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                                                                                                      • Weeks, Jeffrey. 2012. Sex, politics and society: The regulation of sexuality since 1800. 3d ed. London: Taylor & Francis.

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                                                                                                        Weeks provides an excellent discussion of the interplay between ideas about sexuality and state policy. Influenced by Foucault, Weeks explores the production of sexual knowledge by early sexologists and psychologists, and how such knowledge produced regimes and policies of sexual social control. First published in 1981.

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                                                                                                        Sexual Spaces

                                                                                                        Sexualities exhibit geographical patterns, particularly in urban areas where red light districts and gay communities congregate in enclaves. Sexual spaces research explores the borders between sexualities and urban studies. Most research on sexual spaces focuses on gay enclaves and how they are changing. Castells 1983, a classic case study, illustrates how gay enclaves became an effective political base for LGBT communities. Like ethnic enclaves, gay enclaves have changed with the political landscape. Leap 1998 describes the significance of public space as spaces for anonymous sex between gay men. While the contributors to this volume see public sex as integral to gay men’s culture, the later authors on this list call into question whether such public sexual practices can remain in the neoliberal city of public surveillance. Manalansan 2005 and Hanhardt 2013 address how greater toleration and acceptance of white middle-to-upper-class lesbian and gay community members encourage cities to engage in greater exclusion of marginalized people. Bernstein illustrates how public sex—in this case, street prostitution—is also being eradicated in the name of sanitizing the city for tourism and new middle- and upper-class residents. Ghaziani 2015 takes us full-circle from Castells, describing how increased queer tolerance is leading to a post-gay climate where gay enclaves are no longer needed as safe sexual spaces, and former gay enclaves are experiencing turnover to nongay populations. As most histories of sexuality point out, cities, with their potential anonymity, have always been associated with sexual openness and innovation. Therefore, most literature on sexual spaces concerns urban areas. Gorman-Murray, et al. 2015 is a pathbreaking edited volume on rural sexualities that includes discussions of rural performances of femininity and masculinity, the dynamics of being queer in rural areas, and the “queerness” of rural sexuality.

                                                                                                        • Bernstein, Elizabeth. 2007. Temporarily yours: Intimacy, authenticity and the commerce of sex. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226044620.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          Bernstein’s study of different sites of sex work in San Francisco during the dot.com boom illustrates how gentrification impacted marginalized sex workers of the Tenderloin, rationalized the labor of brothel workers, and encouraged higher-income sex workers to become independent contractors, working out of their homes and using the Internet to find potential clients.

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                                                                                                          • Castells, Manuel. 1983. Cultural identity, sexual liberation and urban structure: The gay community in San Francisco. In The city and the grassroots: A cross-cultural theory of urban social movements. By Manuel Castells, 138–170. London: Edward Arnold.

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                                                                                                            In this classic case study, urban sociologist Castells describes San Francisco’s Castro District—a well-known gay enclave. The clustering of gay bars, gay-friendly businesses, and gay clientele in the 1970s formed the basis for successful political organizing of the gay community, illustrating the power of a gay vote in a municipality.

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                                                                                                            • Ghaziani, Amin. 2015. There goes the gayborhood? Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                              Gay enclaves were once small urban safe havens where gay and lesbian residents and businesses clustered in a largely hostile homophobic urban environment. Ghaziani explores the question of what happens to gay enclaves (gayborhoods) in an era of acceptance when individuals and families no longer feel the need cluster in certain areas?

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                                                                                                              • Gorman-Murray, Andrew, Barbara Pini, and Lia Bryant. 2015. Sexuality, rurality, and geography. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

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                                                                                                                An excellent place to start for researchers interested in rural sexuality, this book provides an excellent overview of an underresearched area. The edited volume is divided into four sections: Intimacies and Institutions, Communities, Mobilities, and Production and Consumption. Essays cover straight, gay, lesbian, and queer rural identities.

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                                                                                                                • Hanhardt, Christina. 2013. Safe space: Gay neighborhood history and the politics of violence. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1215/9780822378860Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Hanhardt calls attention to the efforts of mainstream LGBT activists, in particular their calls to police public space in the name of safety. LGBT activists’ desire for safe space aligned with urban politicians’ desire for greater policing of urban crime, results in disproportionate policing of low-income areas and people of color.

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                                                                                                                  • Leap, William L., ed. 1998. Public sex/gay space. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                    The only book of its kind, this collection explores the boundary between public and private space in relation to sex. Leap provides an international, interdisciplinary overview on the significance of public sex for gay culture, followed by twelve ethnographic essays that describe various sites of public sex for gay men.

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                                                                                                                    • Manalansan, Martin. 2005. Race, violence, and neoliberal spatial politics in the global city. Social Text 23.3–4: 141–155.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1215/01642472-23-3-4_84-85-141Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      A contemporary classic essay, Manalansan describes how sexual spaces associated with people of color are sanitized and policed under neoliberal municipal policies. Building on Duggan’s homonormativity, he describes how private interests redevelop spaces symbolically associated with queer people of color for white, upper-class queer individuals, while marginalized populations are dispersed.

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                                                                                                                      Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality

                                                                                                                      Race and ethnicity were not a central feature of sexualities scholarship in the 1970s and 1980s. Discussions of the stigmatization of particular ethnic groups were included in histories of sexuality, like D’Emilio and Freedman 1988 (cited under Histories of Sexualities), but race or class were seldom emphasized, and thus queer white middle-class perspectives tended to be overrepresented in sexualities scholarship. Social Text’s special issue on “Queer Transexions of Race, Nation, and Gender” (Harper, et al. 1997) was one of the first attempts at a queer of color emphasis. Cohen’s investigation in Boundaries of Blackness (1999) of how the AIDS crisis impacted the African American community revealed that sexuality issues—particularly queer issues—were often viewed as outside the scope of black political organizing. Collins 2005 and Holland 2012 further develop this theme, revealing how racial oppression is inextricably linked with gender and sexual oppression, and how black sexuality can be used for the purposes of racial oppression or liberation. Battle and Barnes 2009, an edited volume, also delves into the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. This interdisciplinary anthology includes both quantitative and qualitative research; it is a useful contribution, since most sexualities research is qualitative. Marysol Asencio’s Latina/o Sexualities (Asencio 2010) was produced as part of the same series as Black Sexualities (Battle and Barnes 2009), and was the first anthology to provide an overview of current research on intersections of ethnicity, gender, and sexuality specific to the Latin American population. Gay Latino Studies (Hames-Garcia and Martinez 2011) asks readers to consider whether cultural explanations of sexuality are useful, and contests the universal use of terms like “gay” and “queer.”

                                                                                                                      • Asencio, Marysol, ed. 2010. Latina/o sexualities: Probing powers, practices, and policies. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                        This book is the first social science anthology to gather scholarship on American Latina/o sexualities. Topics on the American Latina/o community include sex education, sexual health, representations of Latina/o sexualities, LGBT sexualities, and social science theorizing and empirical research.

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                                                                                                                        • Battle, Juan, and Sandra Barnes, eds. 2009. Black sexualities: Probing powers, passions, and practices. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                          This interdisciplinary anthology of twenty essays on black sexualities explores straight and queer issues within the African American community. It is unique in that it contains both quantitative and qualitative research on black sexual lives. Divided into sections on identity theories, depictions, citizenship, negotiating and personal systemic stresses, and the life course.

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                                                                                                                          • Collins, Patricia Hill. 2005. Black sexual politics: African Americans, gender and the new racism. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                            Collins deploys an intersectional approach to race, gender, and sexuality. She explains black sexual politics in terms of intersecting oppressions of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. The book addresses mass incarceration, media depictions of African Americans, and sexual violence.

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                                                                                                                            • Hames-Garcia, Michael, and Ernesto Javier Martinez, eds. 2011. Gay Latino studies: A critical reader. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                              A thoughtful, unusual anthology that is organized in terms of paired essays—an essay followed by a critical response commentary. Thought-provoking and useful for encouraging dialogue and debate on ethnicity, culture, and sexuality. The book is interdisciplinary and international, with key authors in Latino studies and queer studies.

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                                                                                                                              • Harper, Philip Brian, Anne McClintock, Jose Esteban Muñoz, Trish Rosen, eds. 1997. Special issue: Queer transexions of race, nation, and gender. Social Text 52/53 (Autumn–Winter).

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                                                                                                                                Queer theory had not produced much discourse on questions of race, nation, and citizenship and how they intersect with sexuality. This special issue of Social Texts is an early formative statement by queer theorists on race, nation, and sexuality.

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                                                                                                                                • Holland, Sharon Patricia. 2012. The erotic life of racism. Chapel Hill, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1215/9780822395157Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Synthesizing critical race theory, black feminism, and queer theory, Holland makes the case that racism is an ordinary, everyday phenomenon, and that in a racist society, sexuality and racism are deeply intertwined. Racism impacts erotic choice and thinking about oneself as desiring/desirable.

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                                                                                                                                  Sexual Identities

                                                                                                                                  In The History of Sexuality (Foucault 1990, cited under Theoretical Developments), Michel Foucault describes a historical shift in modernity from understanding sexuality in terms of sexual acts to understanding it in terms of sexual identities. He famously comments that the sodomite was an aberration, while the homosexual became a species. He discusses the explosion of discourse on sexuality, and how this produces (not merely regulates or represses) sexual identities. Certainly since Foucault’s time, discourses on sexual identities have multiplied, and the number of sexual identities has expanded far beyond the heterosexual/homosexual binary he discussed. Sexual identity is a very active construction site in sexuality studies right now, with new identities emerging and the meaning of old and new identities constantly changing. The citations in this section represent key statements and research on some of the different sexual identities that have emerged in the 20th and 21st centuries. The list of possible identities is partial, as sexualities scholarship is just emerging on newer identity positions.

                                                                                                                                  Lesbian and Gay Identities

                                                                                                                                  Scholarly work in the 1970s often focused on the heterosexual/homosexual binary, as as in McIntosh 1968 (cited under Classic Works). By the 1990s, the term “homosexual” had fallen out of favor in the scholarly literature as a medicalized, pathological term. Terms like “lesbian” and “gay”—associated with the gay liberation movement—were preferred. Lesbian and gay studies emphasized the struggles of lesbian and gay individuals and communities to achieve full rights and respect in a heteronormative, homophobic society. With the 1980s conservative backlash to the gay right movement, the lesbian and gay communities were often portrayed as antithetical to family. Weston’s Families We Choose (Weston 1997, first published 1991) was a key work for challenging this assumption, as Weston documented how gay and lesbian couples (re)form family ties in a homophobic society. Works like Weston’s helped support arguments for same-sex marriage and reforming adoption laws. At nearly the same time, Butler 1993 was questioning the liberationist potential of identity labels like “lesbian” or “woman,” noting that to take on a label also fixes what that identity means in popular consciousness. Butler’s work was a key text for the shift to the identity category “queer,” an umbrella term meant to be less limiting. Seidman 2004 illustrates how increasing acceptance of lesbian and gay identities in the 1990s was changing young people’s experiences with the closet. Increasing social acceptance also changed lesbian and gay politics as sexual identity became less central for some individuals. The use of terms like “gay,” “lesbian,” or “queer” was beginning to follow generational lines, with younger nonstraight people more frequently identifying as queer. For those who came of age earlier in the 20th century, like the men in the different gay subcultures that Hennen 2008 describes, “gay” remains an important identity and source of community. However, as Stein 2010 discusses, the category “lesbian” is perhaps falling out of favor as younger generations of women may identify as “fluid,” “trans,” “queer,” or “pansexual.” For more discussion of queer identities and theoretical positions, please refer to the sections Theoretical Developments and Race, Ethnicity, and Sexuality.

                                                                                                                                  • Butler, Judith. 1993. Imitation and gender insubordination. In The lesbian and gay studies reader. Edited by Henry Abelove, Michele Aina Barale, and David Halperin, 307–320. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                    In this classic theoretical essay, Butler—echoing Foucault — discusses identity categories as potential tools of regulatory control. Using the category “lesbian” as an example, Butler explains how identity categories narrow the meaning and complexities of lesbian (and other) lived experiences.

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                                                                                                                                    • Hennen, Peter. 2008. Faeries, bears, and leathermen: Men in community queering the masculine. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226327297.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      Hennen’s ethnographic account of the three gay subcultures from the title illustrates how gay communities and subcultures shape individual identities. This is an important work for understanding gay masculinity and community formation and maintenance.

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                                                                                                                                      • Seidman, Steven. 2004. Beyond the closet: The transformation of gay and lesbian life. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                        Homosexuality was once closely associated with shame, which had to be overcome through coming out of the closet. Seidman marks a historical shift in the late 1990s United States, after which, particularly in dense urban centers, young gay and lesbian individuals no longer experienced the shame of the closet and a post-gay and/or queer identity was possible.

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                                                                                                                                        • Stein, Arlene. 2010. The incredible shrinking lesbian world and other queer conundra. Sexualities 13.1: 21–32.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/1363460709352724Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Adapted from a speech, Stein discusses how, as trans issues move to the forefront of identity politics, a combination of sexual preference, gender presentation, and other identity facets are becoming more central to identity construction in a way that means lesbian identity may be fading as an identity construct.

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                                                                                                                                          • Weston, Kath. 1997. Families we choose: Lesbians, gays and kinship. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                            Many lesbian and gay individuals grow up in families that do not fully accept their sexual identities. What does family mean in such a context? Anthropologist Weston interviewed lesbian and gay individuals about their relationships with their straight families, revealing that kinship ties can be fluid, based on who is and is not accepting. First published in 1991.

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                                                                                                                                            Heterosexualities

                                                                                                                                            Before the 1980s, heterosexuality was often taken for granted as natural, normal, and therefore not in need of social explanation. In feminist work of the 1980s, heterosexuality is theorized as a patriarchal institution that reinforces women’s oppression, as discussed earlier in regard to Rich 1994 (cited under Classic Works) and Wittig 1992 (cited under Theoretical Developments). Richardson 1996 was one of the first collections of scholarly essays on heterosexuality that explored heterosexuality in a more complex, nuanced way than earlier feminist work. Similarly, Ingraham 2004, in a collection of essays on heterosexuality, addresses how heterosexuality is reinforced through various societal institutions, rituals, and social practices. Beasley, et al. 2012 is critical of approaches to theorizing and studying heterosexuality that portray heterosexuals as boring, conformist, and normative, pointing out how heterosexuals’ experiences are broad and complex. Nonetheless, hierarchies among heterosexuals and nonheterosexuals are still regularly deployed in various social contexts, as Froyum 2007 shows for low-income African Americans, and Hamilton 2007 shows for white middle-class college students. Anderson 2011, however, shows that for some straight college men, homophobia is declining, and they may feel more comfortable expressing both physical and emotional affection toward other men. Ward 2015 similarly discusses the same-sex sexual experiences of straight men. While Anderson emphasizes straight men whose ideas about intimacy, romance, and friendship are more open, Ward focuses on white straight masculine sexual practices that have homoerotic meaning. Dean 2014 maps straight men’s and women’s attitudes toward gay, lesbian, and queer communities onto a homophobic–anti-homophobic continuum, illustrating how heterosexual attitudes are complex and changing in a post-closeted society.

                                                                                                                                            • Anderson, Eric. 2011. Inclusive masculinity: The changing nature of masculinities. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                              Hegemonic masculine norms have long been associated with expression of homophobia in order to prove straight identity and maintain social status. Anderson reveals how this is breaking down as some straight college men become comfortable with gay friends, and with expressing emotions and physical affection with other men.

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                                                                                                                                              • Beasley, Chris, Heather Brook, and Mary Holmes. 2012. Heterosexuality in theory and practice. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                In sexuality studies, “queer” is often depicted as a sexual identity that is the locus of experimentation, transgression, and nonconformity, while “heterosexuality” symbolizes conformity and conservative social values. The authors question such assumptions about heterosexuality. Their aim is to theorize the full complexity of heterosexual experiences.

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                                                                                                                                                • Dean, James J. 2014. Straights: Heterosexuality in a post-closeted culture. New York: New York Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814762752.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                  Dean asks what it means to be straight in a culture that is largely accepting of nonstraight identities. Dean interviewed white and black American men and white and black American women about their attitudes and experiences with nonstraight community members. He maps different types of responses onto a continuum of homophobic/anti-homophobic.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Froyum, Carissa. 2007. “At least I’m not gay”: Heterosexual identity making among poor black teens. Sexualities 10.5: 603–622.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1177/1363460707083171Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    Taking an intersectional approach, Froyum’s ethnographic research reveals how heterosexual identity can be a source of affirmation for low-income African American teens. Heterosexuality is valued and protected through the use of heterosexualist ideas, distancing oneself from gay-coded behaviors and threatening those who don’t conform to heterosexual norms.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Hamilton, Laura. 2007. Trading on heterosexuality: College women’s gender strategies and homophobia. Gender & Society 12.2: 145–172.

                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0891243206297604Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                      Hamilton’s study on mostly white middle-class college women at a large American university illustrates how gender conformity, femininity, and heterosexuality remain closely intertwined, even in a time of increased gay/lesbian/queer social acceptance. Lesbian and gender-nonconforming women are largely left out of the college party scene for not conforming to heterosexual feminine norms.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Ingraham, Chrys, ed. 2004. Thinking straight: The power, promise, and paradox of heterosexuality. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                        This volume features twelve essays by key authors writing from feminist and queer perspectives on heterosexuality. It is divided into three sections that explore power relations associated with heterosexuality, the paradoxes of straight experiences and the promise of the heterosexual imaginary. Institutions such as media and marriage, and rituals like proms and weddings, are discussed.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Richardson, Diane, ed. 1996. Theorising heterosexuality: Telling it straight. Buckingham, UK: Open Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                          Richardson’s collection is one of the first on heterosexuality that brings forward more complicated perspectives that understand straight identities as not merely homophobic or oppressive, as earlier feminists had emphasized. The authors ask how heterosexuality structures everyday social life. Written from feminist and queer theory perspectives.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Ward, Jane. 2015. Not gay: Sex between straight white men. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                            Ward explores the homoerotic elements of hegemonic straight white male sexual practices like hazing rituals, and anonymous sex in public restrooms. She makes the argument that rather than encourage straight men’s recognition of sexual fluidity within themselves, such practices serve to reinforce notions of white straight male masculinity.

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                                                                                                                                                            Bisexuality, Queer Identities, and Sexual Fluidity

                                                                                                                                                            In the past, lesbian and gay sexual politics tended to emphasize the heterosexual/homosexual binary—the idea that either one is straight or gay/lesbian. Bisexuality as an identity category and sexual political position was often overlooked in sexualities scholarship. In activist communities, bisexuality was often stigmatized in some way, interpreted as a way of not fully coming out of the closet and trying to maintain one’s heterosexual privilege. Blumstein and Schwartz 1977, in a longitudinal study based on interviews of self-identified bisexuals, revealed that sexual identity can change over the course of a lifetime as individuals partner with different people and reflect upon on their own identities. This finding that sexual identity can change over a lifetime was also found by Diamond 2009, in a longitudinal study on lesbian women. Rodriguez Rust 2000, an edited volume, is one of the first anthologies on bisexualities research in social science, discussing how and why bisexualities were often neglected in sexualities research, as well as the state of existing bisexualities research at the beginning of the millennium. Shneer and Aviv 2006, a collection of essays, is useful for charting how queer identity originally emerged, first as stigmatized identity and then shifting over time as different movements and institutions grappled with the meaning of queer. Diamond 2009, based on the author’s longitudinal study of self-identified lesbian women who changed sexual identities over the course of the study, marked a significant shift in how sexual identity was conceptualized. While Diamond’s findings echoed Blumstein and Schwartz’s, the idea of sexual identity changing according to life course and situation struck more of a chord with the public and scholars in 2009. For younger generations, identifying as “sexually fluid” replaced identifying as bisexual. Callis 2014 illustrates just how much sexual identity categories are shifting—Callis’s research on sexual identities revealed that younger generations are identifying in ways that are sexually fluid, and that they want to avoid the heterosexual/homosexual binary by constructing new identity categories. Interestingly, bisexuality is interpreted as remaining within the gender/sexuality binary, and through Callis’s research we see how bisexuality may be fading as an identity category.

                                                                                                                                                            • Blumstein, Philip, and Pepper Schwartz. 1977. Bisexuality: Some social psychological issues. Journal of Social Issues 33.2: 30–45.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4560.1977.tb02004.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              In this pioneering work, Blumstein and Schwartz interviewed men and women who described how their sexual identities changed over their lifetimes. Individuals first alternated between identifying as gay/lesbian or straight as their sexual and romantic partners shifted. Bisexuality was an identity chosen once such partner and identity shifts had occurred multiple times.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Callis, April. 2014. Bisexual, pansexual, queer: Non-binary identities and the sexual borderlands. Sexualities 17.1–2: 63–80.

                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1177/1363460713511094Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                Callis explores “borderland identities”—individuals who identify outside of the heterosexual/homosexual binary. Her participant observation and interview research reveals how identity labels such as queer, pansexual, and heteroflexible are replacing straight, gay, lesbian, and even bisexual, which are still interpreted as being within the hetero/homo binary.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Diamond, Lisa. 2009. Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Psychologist Lisa Diamond’s longitudinal research on self-identified lesbians who changed identities according to changing attractions and relationships has been highly influential, challenging the very notion of fixed sexual identity and the need to choose identity labels. Introduces and explains the concept of sexual fluidity.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Rodriguez Rust, Paula C., ed. 2000. Bisexuality in the United States: A social science reader. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Rodriguez Rust addressed the lack of scholarship on bisexualities with this collection of thirty essays. The book is divided into discussions about the lack of bisexualities scholarship and theories around bisexualities, baseline data about bisexuals, historical research on bisexuality, bisexual erasure in couples, the state of bisexuality research, and stereotypes. First published in 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Shneer, David, and Caryn Aviv, eds. 2006. American queer, now and then. Boulder, CO: Paradigm.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Much writing on queer identity per se is geared toward queer theorizing, based on potential meanings of “queer.” Shneer and Aviv’s collection is unique for including authors and official documents from the 1940s to the early 2000s on queer identities, illustrating empirically how the meaning of what it means to be “queer” has developed over time.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Emerging Nonbinary Sexes, Genders, and Sexualities

                                                                                                                                                                      Gender and women’s studies and sexualities studies are rapidly changing as identities emerge and shift. By the mid-2000s, the TQIA (trans, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual) in LGBTQIA was increasingly receiving attention both in popular consciousness and in sexualities scholarship. Sexualities research on these identities is still taking shape; the list here represents some initial statements on nonbinary identities. Most work on transgender relates more closely to the field of gender studies, though obviously trans issues are intertwined with sexual identities. Valentine 2007, an ethnography on transgender individuals in New York, illustrates how rapidly transgender discourse has changed. In the early 2000s in New York, the individuals Valentine interviewed did not use “transgender” to describe themselves—academics and social workers did. His interviewees—identified as transgender by organizations that provided social services—self-identified in various ways, such as gay men, men in drag, etc. There seems to be much less reluctance today to use some version of “transgender” as an identity label, though individuals may prefer terms such as “trans,” or “trans*” where “trans” is short for transgender and “trans*” is used to describe the variety and complexity of potential gender identities. Pfeffer 2014, in a special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality on trans sexualities, features current scholarship on trans embodiment and sexual partnerships. On the subject of intersex identities, Preves 2003 provides a sociological analysis of how medical institutions have treated individuals whose bodies do not conform to the sexual binary. Michel Foucault argued that one’s sexuality became a key to knowing oneself in the modern period, and is considered important to one’s mental and physical health. If sexual identity is key to understanding the self, what does it mean to not identify sexually? In such a social context, individuals without sexual desires are marked (by the medical and psychiatric establishments) as abnormal and in need of a cure. The emerging asexual identity movement counters this medicalized narrative. Scherrer 2008 discusses the coming out process for those who identify as asexual. Cerankowski and Milks 2014, an edited collection on asexualities, provides an initial overview of queer and feminist scholarship on this emerging identity.

                                                                                                                                                                      • Cerankowski, Karli June, and Megan Milks. 2014. Asexualities: Feminist and queer perspectives. New York: Routledge. 139–161.

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                                                                                                                                                                        This is the first anthology on asexual identities. Cerankowski and Milks’s collection features seventeen essays that are essential reading for an initial overview of asexuality. The book includes sections on Theory, Politics, Representation, Masculinity, Health, and Literary Theory.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Pfeffer, Carla, ed. 2014. Special issue: Trans sexualities. Journal of Homosexuality 61.5.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Sociologist Pfeffer’s edited special issue features eleven articles that specifically focus on the sexuality and sexual experiences of trans individuals and their partners (instead of focusing exclusively on gender). Trans embodiment, intimacy, sexual orientation, and trans sexual politics are discussed by key authors in this emerging area of sexuality studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Preves, Sharon. 2003. Intersex and identity: The contested self. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                            Preves examines how the belief in a sex/gender binary led surgeons to intervene, altering the infant bodies of individuals whose genitalia were ambiguous. A useful sociological analysis of how heteronormative beliefs in “opposite sex” has guided parents and medical institutions to make decisions with grave potential harm to infants.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Scherrer, Kristin. 2008. Coming to an asexual identity: Negotiating identity, negotiating desire. Sexualities 11.5: 621–641.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/1363460708094269Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              One of the first explorations of asexuality, Scherrer’s survey of self-identified asexuals reveals not just what it means to identify as asexual, but what sexuality itself means. Various experiences of asexuals are discussed, including stereotypes, desire for romance, and behaviors.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Valentine, David. 2007. Imagining transgender: An ethnography of a category. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1215/9780822390213Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Valentine’s ethnography charts the early use of the word “transgender” and how it emerged within academic and counseling contexts. “Transgender” was applied to working-class gay men and lesbian women who did not understand their own identities as “trans.” This occurred even when trans activists like Kate Bornstein and Riki Wilchins used the term “transgender.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                Transnational and Global Sexualities

                                                                                                                                                                                As in most of academia in the English-speaking world, the bulk of sexualities scholarship has focused on populations, practices, and theorizing in and about the United Kingdom and the United States. Fortunately, an increasing body of English-language sexualities scholarship addresses the movement of people and ideas across international borders (transnational sexualities) and sexual practices and populations in the Global South. Most of the works featured in this section emphasize the impact of globalization on sexualities. With globalization, the ideas and practices from different sexual cultures are having an impact across international borders. Farrer 2002 explores this theme through a study of how the influx of money, foreigners, and new ideas impacts sexual practices and norms among youth in Shanghai, China. The subject of migration has often been considered a topic outside the realm of the sexual, often treated simply as a matter of nationality, occupational skills, and economic need. Cantu 2009 and Gonzalez-Lopez 2005 show how sexuality also plays a role in migration in terms of the desire to emigrate, which sexual identities the state regulates through immigration regulations, and how the immigration process itself changes individuals’ sexual self-reflection. Cantu focuses on gay men, while Gonzalez-Lopez interviews heterosexual Mexican men and women. Gonzalez-Lopez emphasizes the role of employment and social networks on immigrant sexuality, while Cantu focuses on the role of the state. Corrales and Pecheny 2010, a reader on Latin American sexual politics, draws upon the work of activists, politicians, and scholars to provide a contemporary picture of LGBT political work in Central and South America. Finally, Aggleton, et al. 2012 represents the expansion of English-language sexualities research beyond the United States and the United Kingdom. It is an important contribution for exploring sexual issues specific to the developing world.

                                                                                                                                                                                • Aggleton, Peter, Paul Boyce, Henrietta L. Moore, and Richard Parker, eds. 2012. Understanding Global Sexualities: New Frontiers. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  This collection of seventeen essays is divided into three sections: Global Transformation and Sexual Subjectivities, Sexualities in Practice, and Sexualities in Theory. The geographical range includes Africa, Asia, and Latin America. An important introduction to non-Western and Southern sexuality studies.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Cantu, Lionel. 2009. The sexuality of migration: Border crossing and Mexican immigrant men. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Edited by Salvador Vidal-Ortiz and Nancy Naples after Cantu passed away, The Sexuality of Migration explores the roles sexual identity has played in the movement of people across the US-Mexican border. Useful to exploring the role of the state and immigration in regulating sexual identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Corrales, Javier, and Mario Pecheny, eds. 2010. The politics of sexuality in Latin America: A reader on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Pittsburgh, PA: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      This is the first English-language reader on LGBT politics in Latin America, contributing a Global South perspective on sexual politics. Authors include scholars, activists, and politicians from Argentina to Mexico. Includes sections on nation-building and heteronormativity, sexual political struggles, LGBT relations with politicians, public policies, intrasociety relations, and diversities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Farrer, James. 2002. Opening up: Youth sex culture and market reform in Shanghai. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        China shifted to a capitalist market-based superpower by the early 2000s. With more circulation of wealth through global cities like Shanghai, more possibilities for diverse sexual practices arose. Farrer examines Chinese popular culture and media, and interviews Shanghai youth who are responding sexually to increased wealth and interactions with foreigners.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gonzalez-Lopez, Gloria. 2005. Erotic journeys: Mexican immigrants and their sex lives. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          Gonzalez-Lopez examines how immigration to the United States impacts the sexual identities and romantic lives of Mexican straight men and women. Immigrants negotiate new meanings for their sexual and romantic lives as employment opportunities, new social networks, and different sexual norms change how they view their lives.

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