Archives for posts with tag: Janice M. Irvine

Oftentimes in organizational politics, it seems that the quest for widespread societal acceptance is partnered with the emphatic reflection of mainstream cultural attitude.  In an organization’s journey toward achieving general respect for its purpose, too often the organization seems to enable an over-identification between itself and the larger culture.  In Irvine’s work Disorders of Desire, she recounts the history of sexology and maps its different ideological attitudes; one of the deeply rooted tenets in sexology is the valorization of marriage and the nuclear family.  Early in its existence the field of sexology had to dig in its heels and fight for cultural acceptance, and part of how this was done was by citing the reparation of marriages as one of sexology’s primary objectives.  Irvine writes, “Scientific sexologists had always defended themselves against challengers to their cultural authority by stressing their connection to medical science, impugning the credentials and methods of rivals, and focusing their practices in areas of major concern to mainstream culture: the clarification and regularization of gender and the refinement of sex therapy techniques for the purpose of, as Time magazine phrased it in 1970, ‘repairing the conjugal bed,'” (Irvine, 102).  While it may not necessarily be bad for sexologists to try and improve the institution of marriage, the problem comes in when this is done without an examination of the patriarchal mechanisms of female control inherent in marriage and also when marriage is valorized at the expense of all other types of relationship organizations.  However, the valuing of a traditional marriage relationship is an attitude deeply supported by American culture, and thus by appealing to the this deep-seated cultural institution sexology saved its place at the table of serious and valuable practices.

Reflecting on this kind of cultural identification strategy, I am reminded of the attitudes of certain feminist organizers in 1969 in relation to what was eventually termed the Lavender Menace.  From America’s inception to 1969 and continuing on to today, mainstream American culture was/is homophobic.  While early feminist ideology was rather exclusionary in as far as it targeted the problems and interests of white, heterosexual, middle class women, it is my impression that many feminists of this time saw lesbianism as an empowered wayto be a woman-identified woman.  However, in 1969, tensions between lesbian feminists and straight feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Women came to a head.  Betty Friedan (author of The Feminine Mystique and then-president of NOW) is fabled to have been the one who coined the term “Lavender Menace” when she was describing the threat lesbian feminist members posed to the potential achievement of NOW’s goals in American society.  Her argument seemed to be along these lines: since the greater culture is homophobic, the presence of lesbians in feminist organizations or the pursuit of lesbian objectives by these organizations would deteriorate mainstream society’s acceptance of feminist organizations and prevent them from making any gains towards feminist aims.  Thus it can be seen that in a struggle to be accepted by culture, some feminist organizations have attempted to mirror attitudes of mainstream society regarding homosexuality, sometimes at the expense of their own ideology.

By Rosalind Rini

So much time, money, and effort is put into finding the G-spot. Men and women both are fascinated by the elusive G-spot. Men want to be masters of pleasure and give women mind-blowing sex that will make them sex gods. While women just don’t think they’ve had a “real” orgasm until they’ve had a G-spot orgasm.

There are countless books…

magazines articles…

and sex toys….

all geared towards achieving a G-spot orgasm. We are a culture that is obsessed with the G-spot, but why is it so desirable? In Disorders of Desire, Whipple and Perry are quoted saying the G-spot would offer a “deeper” and “less superficial orgasm”(Irvine 123). At the time, there was a fear that sex would focus more on the vagina and less on the clitoris, which would have supported a return to “patriarchal conceptions of sex, and heterosexual intercourse could maintain its privileged status as the ultimate sex” (Irvine 118).  While patriarchal conceptions of sex and the privileging of heterosexual sex still exist, the existence of the G-spot has not brought back the idea that women can achieve orgasm only through vaginal stimulation. Actually, many articles and how to’s advocate women exploring their body on their own first and trying to achieve G-spot orgasm through masturbation. I advocate anything that gets women trying to better understand their bodies. Similarly, these articles also argue that G-spot orgasms can only occur if a women is highly sexually aroused and feels a close connection to her partner.

One of the most interesting aspects about the G-spot orgasm is female ejaculation. Many of the book titles out there today concerning G-spot orgasms also sport the words “female ejaculation” in the title. While the main course is obviously the orgasm, experiencing female ejaculation is also an enticing aspect. An experience that allows a woman to ejaculate during sex is so cool! Not only does showcase yet another similarity between men and women, but is just a super fascinating experience.

However, not being able to achieve a G-spot orgasm could and probably does make women feel inadequate. All of these fantastic stories about amazing female ejaculating orgasms could make a girl wonder, “why can’t I have one?”.

By Kristy Wilson

I started reading Disorders of Desire by Janice M. Irvine which made me think about gender as an essence. Irvine discusses Kinsey and his work, but one aspect particularly caught my attention, Kinsey’s seven-point scale. I am sure you know what I am talking about, but until I read Irvine’s article I had no idea what this scale was. The scale is a homosexual-heterosexual continuum. Kinsey rated people based on both their physical and psychological experience.

This scale was used throughout the 40′- 80’s even though the Kinsey Institute found the scale to be useless. Kinsey hoped this scale would help other’s realize that people did not fit perfectly into heterosexual and homosexual categories. I the scare is ranked based on the following numbers:

0. Exclusively heterosexual with no homosexual

I. Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual

II. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual

III. Equally heterosexual and homosexual

IV. Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual

V. Predominantly homosexual, but incidentally heterosexual

VI. Exclusively homosexual

I cans see how this chart can be useful. Number three would identify bisexuals, one would identify heterosexuals, and number six would identify homosexuals. Then the remaining few numbers would categories those who experience with their sexuality. I also see why this chart was disposed. Often people do not identify with one sexuality or can be placed into a category. Before taking this course, I always thought sexuality was binary. Honestly, I did not even believe in bisexuality, but now I am realizing just how unique sexuality can be. This chart was probably useful for society to understand that sexuality is not always black and white, heck it was useful for me. What I find even more interesting about this chart and Kinsey is that Kinsey “refused to talk about homosexuality as an identity or about homosexual persons.” Irvine writes on page 32 that Kinsey felt that everyone had the capacity to be homosexual. This simply means that everyone is homosexual in some way. This idea obviously conflicts with most ideas of the church and a lot of people would disagree. I absolutely agree with Kinsey. I think everyone could enjoy a sexual experience or have sexual feelings toward the same sex, but not everyone has to act on their feelings. I find it to be more true with females because society is more accepting of a female who is bisexual opposed to a male being bisexual. The lesbian friends that I do have, have no problem converting a “straight” girl to be with them, sexually of course. Once the converted girls are done being used, they often go back to being with men. This is easier for society to accept because men have always been more accepting of their girlfriends being with other women, the man might even be turned on by this idea. This is less likely to happen for a man because society thinks once you have sexual relations with one man then you are gay. I thought this to be true. It does not work that way. Men can also have relations with a man or two then happily spend the rest of their life with a woman. I rarely hear about a woman who is marrying or dating a guy who used to date other men. I guess it is just one of those many double standards. Anyways, back to the quote, I think Kinsey’s reasoning behind not talking about homosexuality ties in with Grasz’s idea of sexuality being an essence. Each person has their own idea of what sexuality is. I think everyone can find something different about their sexuality or gender that is different from another person. I included this article that gives some ideas about gender being an essence.


-Brent Lopez