Globalization modernization has contributed to the progressive change of perspective about sexuality and more specifically sexual orientation in the American society. This has consequently led to the establishment of laws that protect the minority whose sexuality is not in conformity with the general cultural definition of sexual identity, gender identity, and sexual orientation. Besides, there have emerged a number of institutions whose primary role is to advocate for the adherence of these laws by all Americans as well as pushing for adoption of such laws internationally (Murphy & Spear, 2011). The focus of this writing will be on the rapid changes that have occurred in the American society with regard to sexuality in the late 20th century and 21st century. It will explore the factors that have influenced these changes and the particular changeovers that have occurred throughout the course of modernization and globalization. This will include how the American society has generally responded to legalization and recognition of relationships between people of diverse sexual orientations. Secondly, the essay will discuss the global perspective on this matter of sexuality. Lastly, it will explore instances of discrimination, isolation, violence and stigma against the affected minority group in various environments. This will include the legal, health, religious and human rights implications with regard to the subject matter.
The American society has had a social change in all spheres on how sexual orientation is perceived with the introduction of computerization, internet, and globalization. According to James and Newsweek (2015), widespread of information sharing is a factor that has brought about cultural relativism, cultural tolerance, and diversity. Traditionally, in most American societies, the issues surrounding human sexuality had standard values that were strictly adhered to and which attracted severe punishment upon transgressing the morality values of the popular culture. In the 1950s, the males were generally considered masculine and females being feminine and distinct roles were defined for each gender in the society. Heterosexuality was the only acceptable sexual orientation. Consequently, people with other sexual orientations were discriminated, stigmatized besides experiencing violence and abuse. Most of the homosexual community individuals were denied jobs in both the public and private sector and sometimes faced legal charges that saw them being imprisoned or banished from their communities (Ciment, 2014). This was the first time most people in America were heard of trying to change their sexes prompting to research into the matter by anthropologists, theorists, and clinicians. Thus a lot was found out of human behaviour, gender identity the social and environmental factors that affect them. Sexuality depends on the four main interrelated aspects that are sexual conduct, sexual identity, gender identity and sexual orientation. They all affect personality, growth, development and functioning of an individual within a society. This is the reason most of those who advocated for the establishment of laws and rights protecting these groups (Jones, 2014).
Extreme aversion therapies were utilized to prevent the phenomenon of the culturally unfit sexuality which included castration and exposure to shock among other crude methods. Nonetheless, it is indisputable that some of these individuals have other underlying mental and sexual disorders known as paraphilia. The behaviours involved are destructive or hurtful to oneself, partner or threatening to the community as a whole. The most commonly known paraphilia are exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism, pedophilia, sexual masochism, sexual sadism, voyeurism, transvestic fetishism, telephone scatalogia that develops out of sexting, necrophilia, partialism, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, zoophilia, coprophilia, klismaphilia, urophilia and hypoxyphilia (Tasman, 2015). Some of these disorders are severe while others are less serious and worried about in the society. In the same way, some of them can attract punishment and legal implications from the authorities. They were considered a pathological condition which violated the social norms according to Jones (2014), in the 1970s through to 1990s and up to now, perception and perspectives around the issue of sexuality have changed significantly. Among the notable changes was the removal of homosexuality by the American psychological Association as a mental disorder from their list of mental and behavioural disorders. Professional guidance and counselling were being provided by individuals employed in government agencies to specifically address and provide psychological and emotional support for those affected by the issue. Additionally, several support groups were formed whose purposes were to empower not only the affected but also the general public as well as to provide and promote treatment for them when it was deemed necessary and possible. Nevertheless, there were reported public opposition, and violence against any meeting meant to serve and empower those having problems with sexuality. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) was formed in 1993. Moreover, Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual and Transgender association, a support group had been established earlier in 1969 which staged a demonstration against police attacks and harassment to those whose sexual orientation was not with conformity with the cultural norms. Consequently, between the mid-20th century and now, most American people have generally become more accepting to same-sex sexual activities, treating it as a lifestyle. These perceptual changes have been termed by the media in the modern era as sexual revolution (James & Newsweek, 2015)
In terms of local and international law and human rights, bold advances have been made to establish protective laws for lesbian, gay, and lesbian communities. There are no special laws and rights that are meant to protect these individuals but are guaranteed in the general rights, ethical principles and legislation that apply to other “normal people” with a heterosexual orientation. Even though rights to non-discrimination have not been achieved by all persons throughout the republic, there has been a significant improvement on how they are handled and considered. In the international arena, universal human rights were established in 1958 one of them being the ILO convention package of human rights. The African Union, the European Union and other organizations together with the countries making them have since adopted these rights and incorporated them in their respective constitutions, federal and local laws (Friedman, 2012).
A number of factors have been attributed to the changes that have occurred not only in the American society but also in other places around the world include cultural diversity, globalization, and advancement in technologies. Medical discoveries on artificial methods of birth control also have to some extent impacted on how people perceive sexuality (Friedman, 2012) As a matter of fact, some people in the lesbian community believe that due to dramatic changes in hormonal profiles that occur in the body with the use of contraceptives, their sexual attraction becomes oriented towards other females, hence explaining their sexual nature. Furthermore, an explosive increase in population and concentration in the urban areas has led to change in traditional gender roles which consequently results in sexual behaviour change and same-sex relationships. According to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental illnesses, psychiatrists explain that sexual tendencies can be caused by biological factors such as destruction of the limbic system that leads to hypersexual behaviour, the existence of temporal lobe tumours, abnormal level of androgens in the body, and violent sexual offenders. Psychoanalytic factors that include failed developmental process include failure to resolve Oedipal and Electra crisis. Behavioural factors depend on the reinforcement one receives following an exhibition of a particular behaviour. Moreover, media has considerably contributed to how information about can be easily acquired and attitude of people. The media platforms that have been implicated are television, movies, drama performances and music among other art shows. It has been stipulated that more than 90% of the American teens have access to television and other media. Furthermore, sexual content in the media exposed to them leads to early sexual intercourse in more than 50% of them with a likelihood of teen pregnancies. On the other hand, showing the risks of sex in media helps educate the general public especially the vulnerable such as teenagers about the consequences of particular sexual behaviours. Unrestricted internet access and telecommunication have also had a significant impact on individuals with their sexualities. Access to pornographic contents by teens and adults have psychological, mental and behavioural effects on most of the individuals, a tendency that seems to result in sexual experimentations with self, others and in some instances sexual violence which is detrimental to the societal coexistence (Vernacchio, 2014). Lastly, the other aspects with equally important influence on the matters of sexuality are government and institutional policies, the existence of lawyers and other professionals of all sexual orientations and religion.
This essay has explored the perspective change of sexuality in America and general view of the issue globally. Technology, media, education and cultural relativism and modernization have contributed to these changes. Initially, people received banishment and severe punishment if they exhibited behaviours that depicted sexuality that was not acceptable in the popular culture. Establishment of human rights and laws that were indiscriminate have enhanced the people’s acceptance of same-sex sexual activities as well as the incorporation of this status and rights in government and institutional policies. Religious and family integration of the affected individuals has shown significant support from the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual communities. Thus, as much as sexuality remains a controversial issue in most places globally, there have been advances that have been experienced which can be recommendable by human rights watch agencies.
Ciment, J 2014, Social issues in America: An encyclopedia, Sharpe, Boston, Massachusetts: Credo Reference, Armonk, New York.
Friedman, M, 2012, Human rights, Heinemann Library, Chicago.
James, E. L., & Newsweek 2015, The Fifty shades phenomenon: Exploring a sexual revolution, Media Lab Books, New York.
Jones, A 2014, Sexuality,The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Murphy, K, P & Spear, J, M 2011, Historicising gender and sexuality, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden.
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Vernacchio, A, 2014, For goodness sex: Changing the way we talk to teens about sexuality, values, and health, Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, New York.