Power Relationship Between Heterosexuals Sociology Essay

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2.0 Introduction

In this survey, the function theory and contact theory has been used. Role theory explains the grounds why straight persons are prejudiced toward homosexuals and tribades concentrating on straight persons ‘ belief that homophiles breach expected societal functions. On the other manus, contact theory clarifies positive attitudes towards homosexuals and tribades developed by straight persons ‘ interpersonal contact with homophiles.

To exemplify the power relationship between straight persons and homophiles, the attack of heterosexism from extremist feminism theory and the manner homophiles are abused in society are being discussed. Further, function theory and contact theory is being integrated into the construct of heterosexism.

2.1 Role Theory

“ Role theory is a scientific discipline that survey behaviours which are characteristic of persons within context and within distinguishable procedures that seemingly produce, describe, or are influenced by those behaviours ” ( Biddle, 1979 ) . Biddle ( 1979 ) defined functions as “ a behavioural repertory feature of an person or a place ; a set of rules, descriptions, norms, or constructs existed and maintained for the behaviours of an person or societal place ; or ( less frequently ) a place itself. In other words, persons are assigned to play specific functions and act suitably based on their personal features or the places they occupy. Some illustrations of personal features are age, race, and sex. Indefinitely such personal features are by and large fixed, compared to certain behavioural features or places which are on a regular basis more ductile ( Biddle, 1979 ) . This is why ; physical features may define power relationships.

There are certain outlooks that are indispensable for persons to fulfill their functions. These outlooks are shared by many persons and are learned through socialisation. These outlooks are learned from parents, household, and co-workers and can be taught by societal establishments such as schools and spiritual establishments ( Eagly 1987 ) . Like outlooks, reactions are besides shared. Persons who adopt the expected behaviours are expected to be rewarded, while those who violate them are anticipated to be punished.

Social behaviour outlooks lay great accent on sex and gender classifications ( Eagly, 1987 ) . He classified gender functions as “ those shared outlooks ( that is those suited behaviours and qualities ) that apply to people on the footing of their socially identified gender. ” Particularly, adult females are expected to take attention of others and to make household jobs more than work forces, while work forces are considered to be more bossy and more suited as breadwinners ( Eagly, 1987 ) . Nevertheless, overtime adult females ‘s functions have changed. Twenge ‘s ( 1997 ) probe found that both adult females ‘s and work forces ‘s maleness tonss have speed up since 1973, even though adult females ‘s tonss have altered more quickly than work forces ‘s. On the other manus, work forces ‘s and adult females ‘s muliebrity tonss have changed reasonably. As a consequence, there is a diminishing form on work forces ‘s and adult females ‘s maleness tonss. That is, adult females possess more masculine attitudes and are going more androgynous. This implies that adult females have fewer societal restraints in the acquisition of masculine features, whereas work forces continue to travel through strong negative reactions from others if they attain feminine traits ( Feinman 1981 ; Twenge 1997 ) .

Kite and Deaux ( 1987 ) analyzed the stereotypes associated with homophiles. Their survey showed that the straight persons associated cheery work forces with heterosexual female traits and tribades with heterosexual male features. For illustration, tribades are have more a masculine feature such as short hairs, while cheery work forces walk femininely and speak in a high-pitched tone and wear jewellery. Moulton and Adams-Price ( 1997 ) carry out an analysis about heterosexual and homosexual work forces ‘s behaviour towards heterosexual transvestites, homosexual transvestites and homosexual non-cross-dresses.

Heterosexual work forces did non distinguish the grade of maleness between the three groups and expressed negative attitudes towards them. These consequences illustrate that heterosexual work forces point cheery work forces as feminine, much like transvestites. Further, billfish work forces are considered to be go againsting traditional male sex functions alternatively of showing traditionally female traits. Due to the fact that feminine homosexual work forces and masculine tribades breach or are thought to transgress traditional gender functions, straight persons expressed negative attitudes towards them.

However, recent research concludes that images of homophiles are going more complicated. Harmonizing to Clausell and Fiske ( 2005 ) , respondents when asked about images of cheery work forces, identified both masculine and feminine traits, even though they described feminine traits such as cross chest of drawers and royal poinciana more often than masculine features such as hyper masculine, physically fit and consecutive moving. In their research of stereotypes about tribades, Geiger, Harwood and Hummert ( 2006 ) found that their respondents ‘ attitudes consist of both positive and negative images. The positive stereotypes involved alleged lip rouge tribades that is they are beautiful, sexy, attractive and career-oriented women’s rightist, while the negative stereotypes involved hypersexual, sexually aberrant ( for illustration dirty, gross outing immoral ) and angry dike. Heterosexuals non merely possess images of gender inverted homophiles but besides gender corroborating homophiles. Hence, straight persons may demo more negative attitudes towards feminine gay work forces and masculine tribades compared to masculine cheery work forces and feminine tribades.

Schope and Eliason ( 2004 ) research focused on whether straight persons ‘ attitudes varied towards feminine and straight-acting homosexual work forces. Their respondents were asked what would be their reactions in 12 different state of affairss such as analyzing in the respondent ‘s room, hanging out at saloon, and presenting to the respondent ‘s parents. Even though they find that homophiles who behave in cross-gender ways received some negative judgements, the concluding consequences did non held those forms. Alternatively than the misdemeanor of traditional gender functions, the writers debated that homosexualism itself developed negative attitudes among heterosexual respondents. These findings contrast old surveies, but Schope and Eliason ( 2004 ) did non command for the traditional gender function beliefs of their respondents, which illustrate their anomalous consequences.

Heterosexuals are likely to perceive homophiles as gender-inverted and see that they violate traditional gender functions. Hence, straight persons who have about traditional gender function attitudes may unwrap negative attitudes toward homophiles as they believe that homophiles deserve to be punished for non following shared functions.

2.2 Contact Theory

Gordon W.Allport ( 1954 ) in The Nature of Prejudice proposed contact theory, where bulk group members ‘ bias toward a minority group is reduced through communicating with members of the minority group. In order for contact theory to work adequately, four conditions must be met. First, the contact needs to take topographic point between groups with equal position. If one group has higher repute than the other, the interaction does non lend to the decrease of negative attitudes. Second, group members have to work on seeking to accomplish the same aim, which creates solidarity among the members in the group. Third, cooperation non competition is indispensable. Fourth, institutional supports can raise the consequence of contact.

Research workers have been transporting out surveies on whether contact theory is appropriate to different group scenes, such as the interaction between White persons and Blacks ( Fine, 1979 ) , the general populace and homeless people ( Lee, Farrell and Link 2004 ) , and many other groups. These researches showed the effectivity of contact theory in explicating and cut downing bias. At the same clip, many research workers have reconstructed contact theory and they have offered many of import challenges to the theory. First, Pettigrew ( 1998 ) proposed that individualized interaction should be an indispensable status for contact theory to successfully minimise bias attitudes.

One of the major jobs associated with contact theory is causal order. It is unsure whether those who have had old contact with persons from the prejudiced groups so have more positive attitudes or whether those who have more positive attitudes than have more contacts with group members ( Baunach et al. n.d.I? Van Dick et Al. 2004I? Herek and Glunt 1993I? Pettigrew 1998 ) . Harmonizing to Pettigrew ( 1998 ) , there are three ways to decide the causal order ; these are to analyze state of affairss where respondents can non do a voluntary determination to clear up with members of prejudiced groups, to utilize particular statistical agencies and to transport out a longitudinal survey designs.

Van Dick et Al. ( 2004 ) conducted two surveies using the first and 2nd methods to see whether the causal order from contact to prejudice correspond good than that from bias to reach. They believed that pupils could non avoid the interaction with racial minorities when they were in the racially assorted work topographic points, schools and vicinities. Their consequences showed that contact increased familiarities and co-workers and so decrease the antipathy toward racial minorities. The statistical trials found that the consequence of contact to positive attitudes was greater than that of positive attitudes to reach. Longitudinal analysis performed by Eller and Abrams ( 2004 ) found that contact with prejudiced members positively altered positive attitudes. As these consequences showed, it may be appropriate to sum up that the causal order from contact to bias is the major causal telling, alternatively of the opposite order signifier bias to reach.

Another restriction of contact theory is the “ job of generalisation. ” Contact theory believes that contact with members in a bias group influences the attitudes toward the whole group. But, it is equivocal as to how single can generalise their experience with a peculiar individual or a little figure of people to all of the prejudiced group members ( Pettigrew 1998 ; Rothbart and John 1985 ) . Hewstone and Brown ( 1986 ) presented one generalisation procedure, while Brewer ( 1984 ) and Miller ( 1988 ) two generalisation procedures. Pettigrew debated that these three generalisation procedures can be efficient when they are used in the suggested order ; ( I ) decategorization, ( two ) high group position saliency, and ( three ) recategorization.

Brewer ( 1984 ) and Miller ( 1988 ) and Brewer ( 1996 ) advocated “ decategorization ” to be a possible generalisation procedure. Individual “ considers information at the single degree that replaces class individuality as the most effectual footing for categorising respondents ” ( Brewer, 1996 ) . Ideally, single must develop their friendly relationship through interpersonal communicating. As the prejudiced rank position is a barrier to develop a close friendly relationship, the prejudiced rank position should non be recognizable. In the procedure of interaction with homosexuals and tribades, homophiles may develop friendly relationship with straight persons without uncovering their sexual orientation.

Hewstone and Brown ( 1986 ) pointed out that single can generalise the interaction with members from a prejudiced group to the whole group when the group saliency obvious, as it keeps retrieving respondents of their rank differences. Once a certain grade of friendly relationship is built, the high group saliency encourages the decrease of bias toward the whole group members. The respondents pay attending that they belong to different groups and can value their differences. Specifically, straight persons must be cognizant that their co-workers are homophiles during the interaction. When the straight persons consider their homosexual friends as distant friends or co-workers, friend ‘s homosexualism may be outstanding as homosexualism can be a maestro position.

Last, “ recategorization ” implies that by emphasizing “ low-level class designation that surrounds both the in-group and out-group in a individual societal group representation, ” single show less attending to the different rank position ( Brewer, 1996:294 ) . In this phase, the participants point that member of minority group and themselves appertain to the same larger group. As such, straight persons might categorise their homosexual friends based on the larger class like human existences and so they portion distinguishable rank repute. Hence, the prejudiced rank position, which is homosexualism in this instance, does non go an obstruction to interactions.

Eller and Abrams ( 2004 ) studied Britain ‘s ‘ bias toward Gallic people and Mexican people ‘s bias toward Americans by doing usage of contact theory. They besides take into consideration whether the degrees of classification reconciled the effects of contact on bias decrease. Mexican and British participants who had contact with American and Gallic people accordingly categorized their friends either in the interpersonal class, which is equal to “ decategorization ” or in the ace ordinate class which equals to “ recategorization ” . These two variables did non move as go-betweens of contact. Alternatively, each variable had a direct and independent consequence on bias decrease toward out group members. The participants who categorized their friends either in the interpersonal degree or in the ace ordinate degree depicted a more positive attitude toward the whole out group members. Eller and Abrams ( 2004 ) determined that the degrees of classification show the quality of friendly relationship. Heterosexual who maintain close relationship with homophiles either sort their homosexual friends in the interpersonal degree such as schoolmates and co-workers or on the ace ordinate degree for e.g. human existences. In either manner, straight persons lay accent on the rank position which is shared with their homosexual friends.

Hence, contact theory has been challenged and reconsidered by many researches. All over the reformulations, though, contact diminishes bias.

2.3 Heterosexism

Heterosexism is on a regular basis discussed in feminist theory. Rich ( 1980 ) discussed that the subjugation of adult females is inseparable from heterosexual relationships with work forces. She proposed the importance to name heterosexism as a signifier of subjugation. Heterosexism is an effectual attack to exemplify the power relationship between straight persons and homophiles and to measure straight persons ‘ negative attitudes toward homophiles.

Many theoreticians have distinguished the power relationship between straight persons and homophiles to that between Whites and inkinesss or between work forces and adult females ; in other word, heterosexism is related to racism and sexism. Heterosexism shows negative attitudes toward homophiles as non merely a personal job, but besides a societal structural delinquency ( Adam 1998 ; Lorde 1984 ; Neisen 1990 ) . Adam ( 1998 ) argued that the matrix that illustrates racism could be applied to heterosexual-homosexual dealingss.

In brief, the distribution of incomes, the organisation of societal construction and mundane life and person ‘s categorization of people into distinguishable classs are all based on sexual orientation. Hence, Neisen ( 1990 ) declared that many establishments, consisting household, faith and work, influence an person ‘s credence of stereotypes, perceptual experiences of opportunism, stratification beliefs, and a sense of group place, all of which addition heterosexual privilege over homophiles. One type of homosexual subjugation is illustrated by feminist theories. As heterosexualism is powerful in society, and other types of gender are viewed as unnatural ( Schneider and Gould 1987 ) , heterosexual norms and values are broadcasted in telecasting, films, advertizements and vocal wordss ( Rich 1980 ) . As stated by Rubin ( 1984 ) , “ gender that is ‘good ‘ , ‘normal ‘ and ‘natural ‘ must be heterosexual, matrimonial, moral, generative and non-commercial. ” As such, work forces ‘s control over adult females ‘s reproduction in households reconstructs male and female homophiles as unnatural ( Adam, 1998 ) . Gay work forces are non included into this construction as they do non construct up a relationship with adult females, while tribades are ignored as no adult male is present to take control.

Another manner to discourse heterosexualism in society is to analyse jurisprudence. One aspect of jurisprudence is to show public morality that find what is and is non acceptable ( Leonard 1991 ) . One illustration used by Leonard ( 1991 ) is when a sapphic female parent is forbidden of trial rights and joint detention as her homosexual relationship is viewed as inferior to the traditional male-female relationship. The tribunal determination has great effects on the social perceptual experience of homosexual relationships. Leonard ( 1991 ) declares that the “ legal system is seemingly no more homophobic or heterosexist as compared to the larger society, nevertheless because of its power to command single ‘s lives through stigmatisation and favoritism, legal homophobia and heterosexism can be much more detrimental. ”

These illustrations demonstrate that homosexualism is constructed as bad, unnatural,

and unnatural through societal establishments. Homosexual life styles and forms are

considered inferior to heterosexual 1s. For cheery work forces and tribades populating in the United

States, geting a positive homosexual individuality and unwraping the sexual orientation

were no longer primary concernsI? instead happening friends, set uping relationships,

obtaining legal rights, and holding their lives recognized by their coworkers,

close friends,

and household members had become primary ( Seidman, Meeks and Traschen 1999 ) . On one

manus, American society has become more accepting of homophiles ( Seidman et Al.

1999 ) On the other manus, homosexual work forces and tribades still need to negociate to whom they

“ come out ” because there is still a opportunity of rejection, and heterosexism continues to

exist in jurisprudence, policy, and public civilization ( Seidman et al. 1999 ) .

Even with respect to what advancement has been made, societal restraints against

homophiles and premises that everyone is heterosexual make many homophiles

make-believe to be heterosexual to avoid heterosexist bias. Homosexuals have to be

careful about the manner they dress, the manner they speak, and their gender public presentation. In

decision, gender produces the power relationship which gives benefits to those who

follow heterosexual norms and deprives privileges from those who violate them ( Rubin

1984 ) .


The construct of heterosexism and function theory are interconnected. Role theory

suggests that people are assigned to play functions based on their personal features,

such as gender. Once functions are assigned, people are expected to fulfill their functions in

certain ways. If they do non make full functions as expected, they are punished. The distribution of

functions and the shared outlooks are based on heterosexualism. Therefore, homophiles

are considered go againsting expected functions and are punished for that. On one manus,

heterosexism is perpetuated by implementing people to follow expected functions and penalizing

those who do non. On the other manus, heterosexism contributes to finding who

should be assigned to specific functions and how they should make full them. In this thesis, I use

this model to turn to the effects of respondents ‘ attitudes toward gender functions on

their bias toward homophiles.

Heterosexism provides the macro degree model that straight persons are

privileged over homophiles. Because people are socialized in the society that

heterosexualism is considered normal, they are likely to keep prejudiced attitudes toward

homophiles. Contact theory challenges this thought and explains prejudice decrease in the

single degree. Contact theory predicts that straight persons who have personal interaction

with homophiles express fewer prejudiced attitudes toward all homophiles. Although

persons ‘ contact experience may non alter the heterosexist construction dramatically, it

is likely to alter persons ‘ attitudes toward homophiles. In this thesis, I verify

whether contact experience reduces prejudice toward homophiles in malice of

heterosexism in society.

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