Sexual citizenship is a concept that was coined by David Evans in 1993 with the intention of amending social-constructionist theories. This was also aimed at supporting foundations that underlie frameworks of sexualities emanating from neo-Marxist perspective. In modern day discussions of sexualities, the concept has primarily been used to draw attention to aspects of erotic and sexual components (Hicks 43). Traditionally, people have viewed the concept of sexual expression as a natural phenomenon and private notion. However, they have also viewed cultural and public aspects associated with the concept. Moreover, postmodern proponents of sexuality among women have indulged more on gender studies with the intent of breaking down perceived dichotomies surrounding culture and beliefs and the same is factual about the concept of sexual citizenship (Hicks 44). The paper aims to investigate the concept of sexual citizenship and how to relate to girlhood.
Concept of Sexual Citizenship
Broadly, citizens can be described as liberal people, males or females who are conspicuously operating in free markets. When placed into perspective, they embody different cultures, ethnic orientations, different genders and sexuality facets. Considering the fact that citizens embody different genders and sexualities, scholars have avowed that there is need for free sexual expression, bodily autonomy, institutional inclusion, and spatial themes are all pertinent to the concept of sexual citizenship (Josephson 77).
It has been established that sexual citizenship cannot be discussed without mentioning sexual rights (Josephson 64). Sociologists have affirmed that conceptualization of sexual citizenship can be done using a model of rights and duties, after which questions can be raised on sexual rights (Josephson 65). Sexual rights can therefore be viewed in different ways considering how definition of sexual citizenship cannot be conclusively defined. Rights for women and girls in respect to sexual citizenship include the right to for feminists to participate in sexual activities in societies. Moreover, women and girls have rights for pleasure, this should be determined and proper knowledge accorded. Consequently, scholars have affirmed that feminists should have sexual and reproductive rights that are self-determined (Josephson 83).
The concept of sexual citizenship is multi-faceted considering how writers and scholars have indulged in the topic. For instance, some scholars have mentioned intimate citizenship in their writings to means an intimate and personal sexual life (Josephson 89). Consequently, available literature has established that most authors view sexual citizenships as a way of theorizing access to individual rights granted or allowed in community in respect to sexuality, with great emphasis on sexual expression and identity (Josephson 90).
Significantly, studies have established that most of what has been written about sexual citizenship and its relation to girlhood is in respect to rights (Ryan-Flood 56). It has been established that these rights revolve around non-heterosexual and non-gender normative people through analysis of, in the main, lesbian and gay citizenship, but also incorporating work on bisexual citizenship (Ryan-Flood 64). Consequently, sexual citizenship can also be conceived as primarily about rights that allow participation in society especially sexual marketing and consumption of goods and services (Ryan-Flood 46).
Recently, researchers have outlined that the concept of sexual citizenship is often accompanied by some aspects of materiality (Ryan-Flood 57). It has been established that, in this sense, it provides a different dimension that highlights on the significance of class to the forms of sexual citizenship made possible through modes of state recognition such as civil recognition of domestic partnerships, including the right to marry (Ryan-Flood 58).
Notably, sociologists have confirmed that sexual citizenship bridges the gap between public and private lifestyle and furthermore stresses on cultural and political dimensions of sexual expression (Sanger and Yvette 110). This is supported by the assertion that sexuality privacy may not exist devoid of open sexual cultures. For instance, homosexuality may be practiced in the bedroom, but partners must first be observed in public places such as streets, bars and mainstream media channels.
Analysis of Relationship between Sexual Citizenship and Girlhood
First, Sexual citizenship promotes free sexual expression especially women and girls who are often marginalized in community. It has been established that girlhood is associated with dependence where women and girls depend so much on their husbands and fathers or any other male figures of authority around them (Sanger and Yvette 110). Moreover, lesbians are often condemned to silence just because they lack the requisite civic right to express their sexual belonging and experiences. Studies have found out that free expression of individual sexuality removes the discrimination of women and girls while allowing male individuals to dominate public spheres, schools and politics (Sanger and Yvette 115). For instance, pornography is a form of free expression though; it is rooted in the exploitation of women and girls. This can be defended through sexual citizenship by legitimizing this form of sexual self-expression as long as concerned and involved parties are respected. Sexual expression cannot be complete without consent law that governs girlhood. Different countries operate on different consent laws and thus restrict erotic expression while demonizing those that violate such laws. Efficient sexual citizenship sets myriad limits in which sexuality can be portrayed, for example, studies have confirmed that there are different limits set for homosexuality and marriage (Sanger and Yvette 103).
Significantly, sexual citizenship relates to girlhood because it prohibits physicians and religious leaders from attacking lesbians. This means that it governs freedom of expression that would otherwise be used to attack women and girls practicing specific types of sexual orientation. Studies have established that such negative expression come in form of attacks and name calling which affect girls psychologically and socially (Sanger and Yvette 124). Sexual citizenship is important because it helps curtail such abuses and discrimination through creation of hate speech laws to help protect women and girls who are vulnerable in society.
Sexual citizenship embodies girlhood as it includes reproductive and contraceptive rights while protecting their decision in relation to birth control and abortion. Moreover, it allows lesbian girls to engage in different kinds of sexual acts by providing freedoms despite prohibition by national and local governments. Researchers have opined that criminal laws at times may restrain access to sexuality by prohibiting certain acts by banning certain sexual activities or imposing ages for consent (Sanger and Yvette 87). Moreover, public indecency laws may deter women and girls from fully practicing their sexuality and gain pleasure. It is worth pointing out that sexual citizenship has protected women and girls in light of the latest medical field developments (Sanger and Yvette 117). This is because certain medical professionals have termed certain sexual practices as pathological just like homosexuality and masturbation. It has been discovered that some medical professionals often refuse lesbians access to reproductive technologies because of their sexual preference (Sanger and Yvette 60). Prevalence of diseases such as AIDS have raised serious question on access to medical care and products like condoms. Therefore, if girls and women are denied medical care and education, their lives are endangered. Sexual citizenship brings on board gender performance that includes aspects of sexuality such as sex reassignment surgeries, gender transgression and body transformation to allow women and girls to achieve their sexual desires and preferences. This is to protect women and girls from induced gender violence that often leads to sex denials and other inappropriate sex behaviors. Through sexual citizenship many desired body transformation for reasons of erotic pleasures have been achieved especially on young girls. Consequently, the concept tries to eradicate and eliminate social prejudices associated with inhibited asexual and gender orientations.
Sexual citizenship ensures institutional inclusion because most institutions often deny certain groups of people services and opportunities to participate fully as sexual citizens. This has been witnessed in women and girls who are often denied the right to marry or lesbians denied the opportunity of working in the military. This is anchored by assertions that marriage or sexual diversity is private affairs between people and that state should not have the moral obligation to refuse or allow same-sex couples to marry because such an action often amounts to discrimination (Weeks 34). Studies have established that many institutions fancy nuclear families; this has been termed as breach to sexual citizenship rights because all those outside such arrangements also deserve social arrangement (Weeks 45). Moreover, girls and women have been denied social equity and participation by institutions in areas such as housing, social marketing, health care among other crucial services. Scientists have also opined that denial of institutional equality in these fields is a clear example that gay men and lesbians and other erotic groups are not fully recognized as citizens (Weeks 52). This is an area that relates sexual citizenship to girlhood because it ensures that they are not discriminated or denied services by crucial institutions in the community.
In relation to space, sexual citizenship has created spatial themes because girls and women are often confined to private life in homes and families. Moreover, evidence has established that lesbians are often restricted to subcultures of bars which are located in decaying areas of cities and suburbs (Weeks 68). These locations are not safe for them and touch on accord of basic civil right of protection in respect to abuse and violence. In situations that women and girls are confined to subcultures and private lives, their sexual orientation and behaviors as sexual citizens remain unknown. Sociologists have confirmed that public life is often strongly limited by the sexism homophobia of straight female society (Weeks 49). Evidence from these studies have pointed out that there are places established for lesbians inform of avenues, streets, communities that condemns vulnerable women and girls to a confined lifestyle (Weeks 38). Activists have pointed out that girls practicing lesbianism also need public places to express their sexual desires, to find lifelong partners and take part in politics that is instrumental in the enactment of their civic rights (Weeks 77).
From the analysis above, it is clear that sexual citizenships relate so much to girlhood because the various aspects enable comparison of society and the provisions present for all genders and sexual orientations. Different treatments are anchored on different religious beliefs and values that belittle sexual expression and freedom. In the effort to bring sanity in sexuality, many democracies have separated state and church with old traditions remaining strong to guide the general population. It is worth pointing out that sexual citizenship acknowledges and exerts power on the influence of education and politics in sexuality of women and girls in community (Hicks 92). This is aimed at eradicating norms that have been deeply rooted in communities that lead to denial of rights to express sexuality or complete neglect of sexual citizenship. The concept of sexual citizenship therefore evokes assertions that maintain stronger sexual foothold in society and thus allowing female gender to speak out more strongly on their sexual rights (Hicks 85). Notably, this concept draws much attention to all kinds of social exclusions that women and girls go through in the community. Studies have confirmed that such exclusions prevent women and girls from participating actively in social, political, cultural and economic matter in society (Hicks 72). It has been opined that constraints that prevent active participation of women and girls in community necessitate thorough study of sexuality and institutions and thus challenges the heterosexist assumptions that govern most societies (Josephson 120). Sexual citizenships therefore bring the necessary transformation of public life by providing strong points on the place of women in societies that is rather dominated by male heterosexuals.
Sexual citizenship raises fundamental issues to do with privileging of individual rights that is deeply rooted on individualism. Scholars have established that such a situation is problematic to society at large when considered in respect to social relationships arising from family and society (Josephson 68). For instance, it can be observed that Muslim feminist expresses their sexual citizenship views in different ways compared to people who profess other religious beliefs. It is recommended that when expressing sexual citizenship view then individuals should liberally express their views in the most accommodative way.
Consequently, scholars have raised issues on how it is problematic when focusing on individual rights in respect to cultural orientations (Josephson 123). This is because culturally rights are often treated collective with no respect to individual preferences. Most authors have treated the concept in the context of providing thorough analysis of the dominant trends and developments in political world in respect to LGBT members of the population (Ryan-Flood 75). Individuals’ rights for women entail treating lesbians differently from other members of society; this prompts the need to acknowledge situations in which focus is social group rights or collective rights that may distinct individual assumptions.
Moreover, the concept elicits discussions that revolve around the relationship between the state and sexual citizen. This is different across countries with most countries conferring rights through an individual’s relationship with her community rather than state. There is need to unify relationships across communities with sexual citizenships rights expressed.
Lastly, it has been established that sexual citizenship raises issues on sexual democracy (Ryan-Flood 92). It is recommended that sexual citizenship concepts should be further clarified so that girls and women can understand the kind of control that they have in over their bodies and sexual choices. Sexual citizenship concept in girlhood recognizes the legibility of women choosing those who they want to spend their lives with. Sociologists have affirmed that there is need to develop conceptual understanding that goes beyond politics of sexual choice (Ryan-Flood 60). It is believed that this will factor in assertions that both enables and constrains how people experience and initiate sexual citizenship in different societies across the world (Ryan-Flood 65).
The examination above has explored the concept of sexual citizenship and how it relates to girlhood especially in respect to sexual rights and expressions. From the discussions, it is evident that the idea of rights in relation to sexuality raises serious issues because it can mean many different things. For women and girls, scientists claim put forward in respect to sexuality have been revolving around their safety, body control, self-definition of sexuality and pleasure (Ryan-Flood 97). This has prompted lesbians to emphasize mostly on specific sexual rights and consent that has been extensively discussed above. Scholars have recognized that social policies are important in documenting sexual rights of women and girls (Ryan-Flood 60). This is because studies have confirmed that there is knowledge gap of social policy theory in relation to sexuality preferences of women and girls (Ryan-Flood 63). Latest developments have seen demands increasing tremendously and are being made by lesbians and other sexual groups with much concentration on sexual rights and citizenship. Sexuality is an important concept in community and has prompted governments to come up with policies and rules that govern different sexual orientations. This has cautiously been done so as to accommodate myriad rights of people especially women in societies. This has been done in order to minimize discrimination that is likely to be channeled to women and girls.
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