The Heterosexual and Homosexual Identities: The Normalization of Sexual Relationships

Despite more than two centuries of research and theory regarding the nature of sexual identity—in religion, medicine, philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis, law, anthropology, sociobiology, psychology, and myriad other fields—no unambiguous, universally adopted conceptual or operational definition, no objective way of assessing, sexual orientation has ever existed, nor does one exist today. Is real or perceived sexual behavior identity? When people discriminate against those they identify as “homosexual” or “bisexual,” what is the nature of the “identity” to which they object? Little or no methodological examination of the beliefs and attitudes that inform research and theory on sexual identity has been postulated. This book is a sweeping analysis and critique of research and writing on sexual identity, on the historical and cultural processes that have contributed to the toxication and detoxication of “homosexual identity,” and on the “normalization” of sexual relationships—from the nineteenth-century roots of the conceptualization of sexual identity to the end of the twentieth century.

By John P. DeCecco & Michael G. Shively

$22.95 | ISBN-13: 978-1732044203 | 6” x 9” | 640 pages

An excerpt from The Heterosexual and Homosexual Identities

“The awesome inevitability of biological, psychological, or sociocultural forces has placed the control and responsibility of relationships well beyond the grasp of the partners involved in them. Indeed, the discourse on sexual identity has progressed as a moral pronouncement (no matter how intricately couched in the languages of “science”) that narrowly circumscribes the exercise of sexual choice. Because the social sciences have scarcely explored possibilities for understanding sexual relationships from the perspective of moral choice rather than of moral obligation, three vast domains of action and agency in sexual relationships remain uncharted and largely neglected. First, the actual structure of relationships, which may be determined from the mentality and practices of the individuals who engage in them, no matter how accurately or inaccurately this reflects prevailing morality or convention. Second, the prerogative of the partners within relationships to make decisions about the nature, meaning, definition, and character of their sexual behavior. And, finally, the way in which rules governing relationships and establishing their boundaries may be envisioned as products of the relationships themselves rather than of pre-established moral, biological, cultural, or psychosocial parameters. The structural similarities of heterosexual and homosexual relationships go unrecognized when it is assumed that different sexual identities require dissimilar structures. Approaching relationships as if they were governed by lawful forces, in the manner in which physical and biological phenomena are organized, the social scientist is blinded to the boundless ingenuity individuals exercise in forming, maintaining, and ending sexual relationships. In that context, concern with sexual identity appears to be a narrow preoccupation.”

Table of Contents available for download as a .pdf. Click for Heterosexual & Homosexual Identities – Full Table of Contents.

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