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​Violating Sexual Scripts and Men and Abstinence

by EllieMae

(Before you read: this paper does not contain any potentially triggering mentions. It is a sociological paper about sexual abstinence, so the topic of sex is mentioned frequently but no actual descriptions are included. This paper is due tomorrow. I am looking for feedback on how I can improve it. I will include my grading rubric in the comments! Also, the actual version is formatted in proper paragraphs with indents and there is a citation page that I didn't include here. The basic format is, an introduction, an explanation of 2 theories, explain which theory is better, a conclusion, and then a sharing of personal experience. It is 4 full pages long.)

Violating Sexual Scripts and Men and Abstinence

It is obvious that people are having sex. If people were not, we would not see babies being born and we would not see growth in our population. According to the United Nations, about 385,000 babies are born each day (How many babies are born a day?). Reproduction is required to replenish our earth and sex is practiced by many people as an enjoyable activity. On the topic of sex, we may wonder, how exactly can it be defined. What does it mean to have sex? Sexual scripts are guidelines that we learn through our experiences. They allow us to express ourselves as well as teach us what is deemed normal sexual expression and desire in our society (Ryle, 165). A sexual script, that is common in US society, is that men play an instrumental, or initiative role, being sexual subjects (Ryle, 170) or those who are giving sex. As opposed to women, who are sexual objects, the receiver, or the person who is being acted upon. But what happens when men do not fill these scripts and choose to abstain from sexual activity? To be abstinent means to refrain from sexual activity for a variety of reasons, such as religious reasons, or birth control. Can a man really be seen as masculine if he does not have sex? From my studies, I believe the answer is yes, he definitely can. In this paper, I will discuss men and abstinence from sexual activity through the lens of the Doing Gender Theory, Hegemonic Masculinity as an approach, and the Sex Roles Theory, to explain how men who abstain from sexual activity are impacted by society as well as what they do in order to continue to be perceived as masculine individuals.

What are the consequences for men who choose to not engage in sexual activity? One way to examine this question is through analyzing it through the lens of the Doing Gender Theory. Doing Gender is a theory developed first by Candace West and Don Zimmerman. This theory teaches that gender is a performance that we put on for other people (Ryle, 33). As if we are actors on stage, constantly trying our best to please our audience and appear natural, or in character. To rephrase the question asked at the beginning of this paragraph, if men in our society are expected to be sexually active and involved with a partner, how does this affect their performance of being a man? The Doing Gender Theory teaches that even if a performance is not done well, it can still be categorized into our overall sex category, in this case, male, if our overall behaviours align with it. To explain this further, let's examine it with the specific example of a man abstaining from sex.

A man may behave in certain ways to appear masculine, specifically, he may act in ways that present ideal dominant male traits. Hegemonic Masculinity is a concept that refers to exploring the ideas of what it means to 'be a man' in any society (Ryle, 53). On this hierarchy of manliness, subordinated masculinity is placed at the bottom, reflecting men who possess feminine features, often homosexuals, or heterosexuals who are seen as 'sissies, yellowbellies, pushovers, or mother's boys' (Ryle, 54). Men who abstain from sexual behaviors may not necessarily be perceived as feminine, as long as they adhere to hegemonic traits. For example, a man who is skinny and without any muscles may still be viewed as masculine as long as he, as the Doing Gender Theory states, has behaviours that align with his sex category well enough. This man, following complicit masculinity, is still entitled to receive patriarchal benefits and receive advantage as a male. The Doing Gender Theory relates more to putting on a performance of our gender, while Hegemonic Masculinity speaks more of dominant ideas of masculinity, but both highlight how men act in ways that change the way other people perceive them. Gender is a performance for men who abstain from sexual activity. They want to be perceived as dominantly masculine, despite choosing to refrain from sex for religious reasons.

To examine this idea at an individual level, we can use the Sex Roles Theory to understand men and abstinence. To begin, let's explore this theory more closely. A social role is the expectations that are attached to a person's position in society, such as being a man or a woman. Therefore, a sex role is an expectation set to a person's sex category, in our case, male (Ryle, 30). There are countless examples of sex roles that are normal in US society, some of which are working a full-time job to support your family, being physically strong, not crying, and relating to the topic of this paper, being sexually active and regularly engaged with a partner. Again, we see the expectation for men to be instrumental, or task oriented. It seems as if there are countless expectations of men in our society, more of these examples include being fully financially stable, being the decision-maker and head of household, and being fully in control of emotions, in our case, not being emotional and displaying toughness or an authoritative personality. A man is expected to be dominantly powerful over other men who do not possess these qualities. From these observations, we see that men are expected to do and be many things. If a man abstains from sex, he can still fit his gender norms if he follows and adheres to other masculine behaviours.

Based on the sources explored in this paper, both theories can seek to explain the social impacts of how men are affected regarding sexual abstinence. The Doing Gender theory explains how we are constantly performing our genders. We act in ways that put on a show for others. Men who abstain from sex can still put on a show of being male, as long as the rest of their actions still reflect masculinity. Tying this into Hegemonic Masculinity, these men may not be viewed as perfectly masculinely dominant, but the other masculine features that they possess can still allow them to benefit from patriarchal advantages in society. The Sex Roles Theory explains how men are expected to behave in certain ways because of their sex. It may be expected of a male to be sexually active and not refrain from sexual behaviours with another person, so going against this norm may cause him to receive societal sanctions. From this information, it seems that the Doing Gender Theory best encapsulates the experience of men in this situation. This is because it emphasizes the active effort that men make to be seen as masculine members of society while practicing abstinence.

I chose to use these two theories in my paper because I felt that they were the most inclusive of expectations attached to a person's gender. In the case of this paper, that was male. For my project this term, I am focusing on violating sexual scripts. I settled on the topic of men and abstinence because, as I was going through the textbook, it stood out to me. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully married. Therefore, young adults and single adults strive to abstain from all sexual activity, in order to remain morally pure. Following the Law of Chastity, as taught by church leaders, scriptures, and in the Temple, has brought endless blessings to my life. The Law of Chastity allows me to develop self-control and trust in God. I am so grateful for the instruction and commandments we have received, as members of the Church, because these teachings bring me so much joy and peace. In this paper, I sought to explore how society impacts men who abstain from sex, as well as what they do in order to remain seen as masculine figures.

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451 Reviews

Points: 45164
Reviews: 451

Stickied -- Fri Oct 27, 2023 7:35 pm
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EllieMae says...

Here is the rubric!

Soc 367 Sociology of Gender

General Instructions for short papers (4-5 pages):
The overall point of these short papers is to show me your ability to articulate gender issues and to show your depth of understanding of the topics we discuss in class. The exams cover your breadth of knowledge, the papers should focus on the depth of your understanding -- how well can you think about and critically discuss gender issues.

I expect you to first and foremost – make a point! Draw a conclusion and then back it up with evidence from the text, or any other materials you choose to support your conclusion. With such a short paper, I assume that you will primarily use the text for evidence. You can cite the text as follows (Ryle, p. 91). If you use other material besides the text, include a reference list or cite the full source in a footnote. I’m not picky about the citation style you use – just don’t plagiarize. Cite when you draw from someone else’s work.

Specific instructions for each paper are outlined below, but each paper should follow the following general format:
• Introductory paragraph with thesis statement (what is your primary conclusion). Give us the punchline upfront.
• Discussion of supporting evidence (draw from the text or other sources to support your conclusion and flesh out your argument)
• Concluding paragraph that sums up again your main point or thesis
• About a page in which you give your own personal application – how has thinking about this topic influenced you personally (or not?), or shaped how you think about gender personally? I would like a page where you tell me what personal insights you have gained (assuming you have gained something) from the class.
• If you are using outside sources, please reference them in a final Works Cited page.

Be sure to proofread your paper. Grammar and organization matter. The FHSS college writing center can help you with organization and grammar [1049 JFSB is the Writing Lab Office] (https://fhsswriting.byu.edu/Pages/home.aspx).

Please make sure that you upload papers in the correct format for Learning Suite (.docx or pdf). If I can’t open your paper, you receive zero points and a feedback comment indicating the file is in the wrong format. It is your responsibility to make sure that the file is uploaded in the correct format. If you have problems uploading, let myself or the TA know via email.

Theoretical Analysis (Paper 1)
The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate your understanding and ability to apply gender theories. Specifically, this assignment gives you the opportunity to examine your research topic/question through the lenses of TWO distinct gender theories, not approaches. (Approaches may be used in combination with a theory, but NOT alone.) Because each theory is based on different assumptions and asks different questions, gender theories provide different ways to analyze and answer your question. In this paper you should demonstrate your ability to choose appropriate theories for your question, demonstrate that you understand the theory, and can evaluate or analyze a behavior or interaction through a particular theoretical lens. For example, one may be analyzing why retail stores, such as Target, have decided to not organize their toy section by gender anymore. How would a person use Sex Differences Research to evaluate the process of organizing toys by gender versus a Doing Gender perspective?
I would expect this example paper to discuss the organizing of toys by gender through the lens of these two perspectives, and then to compare and contrast the differences between the perspectives. Such a paper would draw a conclusion about which theory best explains why most stores organize their toys by gender. Such a paper would have 1) an introduction and outline the thesis statement; 2) supporting paragraphs that present the theoretical perspectives and compare and contrast them, 3) a concluding paragraph that would restate the thesis and summarize your argument; and 4) lastly, a personal application section (using first person) in which you give your personal thoughts or responses to the topic (maybe what you think about organizing toys by gender and why?).

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100 Reviews

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Reviews: 100

Sat Oct 28, 2023 9:47 am
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dragonight9 wrote a review...

I am a psychology student who is bad at writing essays so take my advice with that in mind.
I really like this topic which is why I'm leaving this in the first place and will simply note down everything I notice as I go then say something about the paper overall.

In the introduction you kind of say the same thing twice "Reproduction is required to replenish our earth and sex is practiced by many people as an enjoyable activity." This is kind of just restating the first sentence.

At the end of the first paragraph you have a large run on sentence. Try to break it up if you can.

Your second and third paragraphs were pretty good overall. (no obvious improvements that I noticed) They definitely get your point across in a way that is easy to understand.

In the fourth paragraph you have two sections of examples about sex rolls in US society, many of which are not relevant to your topic. Maybe pair down or combine the examples.

Your fifth paragraph was a good summarizing/concluding paragraph. However it seemed to me from the title that you were looking at how not following sexual scripts might hurt men or change people's view of them in a negative way in society. If that is the case then the Sex Roles theory might better explain why men might be harmed if they don't appear masculine. (Gender performance states how men avoid the consequences while Sex Roles explains the consequence itself)

I really liked your last paragraph. As a Christian myself it is wonderful to see someone unafraid to mention their beliefs in the school environment, and I want to encourage you that this will make more of a difference than you know. For myself it brought me great joy to read it and encouraged me to not be afraid to share my faith as well. The role of religion in sexual scripts and how they interact with society as a whole cannot be ignored or overlooked. Great job!

The general structure of this paper is great and I didn't see any grammar errors either. There are a few areas where it could be refined but it was easy to understand and I was able to learn more about a field similar to my own. You might want a bit more variety in your citing (I know profs like multiple sources saying the same thing in these kinds of papers), but for a paper like this you should be fine.

I hope this helps and good luck :)

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26 Reviews

Points: 700
Reviews: 26

Sat Oct 28, 2023 12:20 am
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foxtails wrote a review...

sociology is a very interesting subject. i think this is a solid article all things considered, especially with all of the arguments going around.

gender theory is a very complex subject & with that its heavily debated. i think you capture the specific theories you are writing about quite nicely & theres a good amount of detail. im actually familiar with all of the ones mentioned, which shocked me. i think youve picked a good selection, especially considering most readers arent well-versed in gender theory id assume.

although, i wish you elaborated more on the objective aspects of the theories. the rubric specifies personal application, but i do see a lot of bias throughout the whole article. i dont mind it, but i think it could possibly sway readers into one direction rather than remaining middle of the road. for example, hegemonic masculinity has on multiple occasions been correlated with violence. that doesnt specifically mean it is violent in nature, but it has been & can be.

i also really enjoyed reading your personal experiences. i dont personally believe in the same things, but its very eye-opening to see how other people live. with that said though, i think adding more diversity to your article could heighten the reading experience. your article mainly focuses on the heterosexual, religious aspect of sexual abstinence. you lack real-life examples & anecdotes outside of your own, which could again promote bias in your audience. in a nonargumentative piece, bias is impossible to escape yet it isnt always ideal to have.

reading your rubric again, i see that you are basing this off of a text given to you. that allows for wiggle room, but i think my points stand either way. this was a very good exploration of gender though i have to say.


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