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Social Construction of Sexuality Assignment

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Social Construction of Sexuality Assignment
  1. Social Construction of Sexuality

One key concept in Sociology is the social construction of reality.  I’m sure most of you have heard somebody say that perception is reality.  Sociologists apply this very common phrase in a more academic manner as they examine how our understanding/perception of certain concepts change from place to place and over time. 

 

Sexuality is one of those concepts that is subject to change and outside influence.  Our understanding of sexuality can impact the type of media/culture that gain in popularity…just as the popular media/culture can impact our understanding of sexuality.

 

After watching the documentary, consider two aspects that the film emphasizes: a film’s ability to increase visibility concerning certain sexuality and the MPAA’s ability to influence what is deemed appropriate for specific ratings.  If you want to close the loop, then you can also think how the MPAA’s ratings might influence a director’s decision on scenes of sexual nature in their films.

 

Be sure to incorporate discussion from the textbook about sexuality in the media in your response.

 

  1. Sexism in Film Ratings

 

One component of the documentary that stood out was the discussion of the gender double standard.  Behavior that is deemed R-rated when a male actor performs it might be considered NC-17 if an actress performs it.  I’d like you to explore sociological answers as well as providing some biological/psychological context for your response.  In other words, here are some questions to consider:

Why is this scenario prevalent? 

What does this say about our attitudes regarding female and male sexuality? 
Is one protected more than the other? 

What does your textbook say about differences between female and male sexuality? 

Your textbook is an academic source…how does the academic perspective differ from the MPAA?  Should they be the same?

 

 

  1. Heterosexism in Film Ratings

Another component of the documentary that stood out was the discussion of the differences between how same-sex behavior and heterosexual behavior were rated.  Behavior that is deemed R-rated when heterosexual actors perform it might be considered NC-17 if the scene depicts same-sex sexual behavior.  I’d like you to explore sociological answers as well as providing some biological/psychological context for your response.  In other words, here are some questions to consider:

Why is this scenario prevalent? 

What does this say about our attitudes regarding sexual behavior?  Do you think, given the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, the MPAA will be more tolerant of scenes depicting same-sex sexual behavior.

What does your textbook say about the scientific understanding of sexual behavior ?  Your textbook is an academic source…how does the academic perspective differ from the MPAA?  Should they be the same?

Discuss the difference in perceptions of sexual behavior among same-sex couples.  Do you think female same-sex behavior is perceived differently than male same-sex behavior?  Why?

  1. Sex vs. Violence in Films

The final option you’ll have is to explore the discussion of sex vs. violence in American movies.  I would encourage you to listen to the NPR audio link (approximately 20 minutes) for another discussion around this topic and others.  I think this topic is fairly self-explanatory, but here are some questions to consider:

Is violence more tolerated by the MPAA than sexuality is?  How does the MPAA’s stance compare to ratings boards from other countries?

Should violence be more tolerated/accepted in films? 

What are some social ramifications of our acceptance of violence in films?

Should you choose this option, I would encourage you to provide examples beyond what is used in the documentary.  Think about recent films you’ve watched.  Was there violence?  What about sexual behavior?  What was the rating it received? 

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