Film and Sexuality

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22nd October 2012
SOC 314: Sociology of Gender

Assignment 2: Film Analysis. Due Monday, October 22

Analyze a movie with regard to what we have learned about sexuality. Your assignment should not be written like a general film review found in the campus paper or other newspaper, but instead written from the perspective of a student studying the sociology of gender. What does the movie teach us about men, women, and sexuality? How does these lessons relate to the materials we’ve read and ideas we’ve discussed in class? Be sure to pick one or two specific concepts, ideas, or points raised by particular readings or class discussions to highlight in your write-up (for example, you might talk about compulsory heterosexuality, “hooking up,” sexual double standards, the principle of homogamy, etc.).

We live in a society in which gender influences the way we talk, think, act and behave. Our affiliation to a particular gender group imposes rules upon us to behave in accordance to the norms associated with the gender. Gender is learned by socialization. We learned it by both observing others and by other’s corrective maneuvers upon seeing our actions that is categorized as not typically masculine or as not typically feminine. In “She’s The Man” movie, this is seen when Viola tries to imitate the guys on the street to learn how to act like a guy and the way Illyria soccer team react to Viola’s behaviors which are considered to be more feminine. By looking at the interaction between Viola and the people around her, there are various lessons that we can take away from it. Firstly, males and females are expected to dress and adopt a look in a specific way that emphasizes their gender. The way they dressed determines their acceptance in the in-groups. This clearly shown in the way Monique criticized Viola when she mistook her for her brother, Sebastian: Monique: Sebastian

Viola: *didn’t hear*
Monique: *grabs viola and viola turns around and realizing she’s not Sebastian* Ewww. It’s you. God, you and your brother look scarily similar for the back. I think it is your lack of curves. Secondly, we live in a world where there is compulsory heterosexuality. This is referred to the assumption by male-dominated society that the only normal sexual relationship is between a man and a woman. Compulsory heterosexuality is seen when Viola bumped into another girl, the headmaster said “What is going on here?! *Seeing Viola helping pick up the Olivia’s stuffs.* Oh I see here. Getting to know the opposite sex, are we? Male-Female dynamics. All that sexual tension.” The headmaster immediately assumed that Viola, while posing as a male character, is attracted to a female instinctively, because being attracted to the opposite sex is socially normative. Another example of it is when Viola is trying to confess to Duke that she is actually not Sebastian, she mentioned that she loves him. Thinking that Viola is actually Sebastian, those on the field were staring at her in disbelief and withdrew from her. In this scenario, it also shows how homophobia is used as a weapon of sexism. Heterosexism and homophobia work hand in hand to enforce compulsory heterosexuality within the society and enforces the bastion of patriarchal power, which is the nuclear family by creating fear of being ostracized by the society. The nuclear family represents the heart of sexism because the couple has to be a male and female in order to procreate. In many states, heterosexual couples receive many benefits, ranging from housing, societal support, financial aid etc. At puberty, it is the period whereby it feels most vital to be accepted within the in-groups. As such, the best controlling tactic to enforce heterosexuality is for the society and peers to shun the transgressor of societal norms. Therefore, the way Viola’s schoolmate responded to her declaration is an example of a display of others’ corrective maneuvers upon seeing actions that are not gender typical. In...
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