Sexual script

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The idea of sexual script brings a new metaphor and imagery for understanding human sexual encounters as social and learned interactions. The concept was first introduced by sociologists John H. Gagnon and William Simon in their 1973 book Sexual Conduct. The idea highlights three levels of scripting: the cultural/historical, the social/interactive and the personal/intra-psychic. It draws from a range of theories including symbolic interactionism, discourse theory and feminism. It is the foundation of the new Critical Sexualities Studies and the reshaping of the field of sexualities studies in the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. The theory of sexual scripting brings sociological, cultural, anthropological, historical and social psychological tools to the study of human sexualities. Whereas human sexuality is usually seen as the province of the biologist and the clinician, scripting helps research and analysis to understand sexualities as less biological and more cultural, historical and social.

Sexual script[edit]

Sexual scripting suggests the importance of meanings and symbols in human sexuality. According to Gagnon and Simon, scripts can be layered through three dimensions: 'cultural scenarios', 'interpersonal scenarios', and 'intrapsychic scenarios'. Sexual feeling does not simply happen from within the body but needs meanings and symbols which provide cues and clues to enable sexualities to develop. Cultural scenarios are linked to different historical periods and social change; for example scripts can be shown to change with the arrival of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s (Epstein, Lauman ...). Interpersonal scenarios are linked to encounters and interactions (for example in rape, as illustrated in the early work of Stevi Jackson). And intra-psychic scenarios indicate the ways in which personal sexual 'turn ons' and imageries grow. (cf William Simon's). Sexual scripts can be seen as providing guideline for appropriate sexual behaviour and sexual encounters as sexual behaviour and encounters are learned through culture and others in interactions. It can be linked to theories of sexual desire but is critical of their tendency to stress the purely biological aspects of desire.

Developments[edit]

Drawing upon conversational analysis, Firth and Kitzinger, sexual encounters are considered to be scripted if the parties involved use any of these five linguistic devices:

  • References to predictable stages
  • References to common knowledge
  • The production of consensus through seamless torn-talking & collaborative talk
  • The use of hypothetical & general instances
  • Active voicing

See: Hannah Firth, Celia Kitzinger, Reformulating Sexual Script Theory. Theory and Psychology, 11 (2). pp. 209–232. Sass, November 2007. Research on sexual scripts and sexual script theory have concluded that sexual scripts are organised through gender, class, ethnicity and other social vectors. Sexual Script Theory (SST) and its application in clinical practice are founded on the undeniable reality that the subjective understandings of each person about his or her sexuality (and called a sexual script) substantively determine that person's choice of sexual actions and the subsequent qualitative experiencing of those sexual acts. Scripts refer to social functions. They dictate what one should be doing at a particular time and in a particular place if one is to play the role characteristically associated with that script. There may be several people involved in the same situation, but they may differ in the roles that they have been given or have chosen to ena Script theory is a form of social scripting theory which has been defined clearly by Michael W. Wiederman who says, "Social scripting theory points to the fact that much of sexual behavior seems to follow a script. Similar to scripts that stage actors use to guide their behavior, social scripts instruct members of a society as to appropriate behavior and the meanings to attach to certain behaviors.".[1] Social scripting theory directly relates to sexual scripts as it is just a specified example regarding sexual encounters and sexual behavior in social context. Social Theory is also a useful resource in determining the construction of social scripts.

Effects of Sexual script[edit]

Some of the characteristics demonstrated in sexual scripts have been proved that it can increase the risk of sexual aggression. These scripts can lead to sexual through the effects of alcohol consumption, miscommunication of sexual purposes and a lot of sexual experience.[2]

Social construction[edit]

The theory is linked to the wider development of Social construction social constructionism on the socially created nature of social life. See the social construction of sexuality. Social construction is important to sexual script because sexual scripts can come from how a child is raised through the beliefs of social construction. [3] In other words, women are to be subjected to Male Gaze in order to be a part of the social construction system and maintain social norms of a long living society.

Sexuality[edit]

Sexuality is the behavior of human beings with regard to the activities that causes or is associated with sexual arousal. It is influenced by the genetically inherited sexual response patterns, societal attitudes toward sex, and each individual's upbringing. "Physiology sets only very broad limits on human sexuality; most of the enormous variation found among humans results from learning and conditioning. What is deviant in one society may be normal in another. Sexuality covers gender identity, sexual orientation, and actual practices, as well as one's acceptance of these aspects of one's personality, which may be more important than their specifics." [1]

Sexual norms[edit]

A sexual norm can be an individual or a social norm, which is a rule that is socially enforced. Norms affect a wide variety of human behavior. Social norms regarding sexuality are present in most cultures. For example, the norm in most cultures consists of heterosexual acts between married individuals. Sexual norms are constantly changing and normal sexual behavior is a spectrum and cannot be rigidly defined. Deviance from normal sexual behavior is common and can be classified in several ways. If non-restrictive sexual norms are regarded positively they may be called "sexual freedom:, "sexual liberation", or "free love". If regarded negatively they may be called "sexual license" or "licentiousness". Restrictive behavior when judged negatively is called sexual oppression"; if judged positively they are called "chastity", "sexual restraint", The Maritial Effect, or "sexual decency".[citation needed] In the West, sexual normality can be defined as any sexual practice which does not involve sexual perversions. There has been a liberalization in attitudes which has resulted in the legalization of homosexuality in many countries. There is a tendency in Western countries toward serial monogamy as a normal heterosexual lifestyle.[4]

Sociologists believe that emotion emerges in relation to dominant sexual scripts and sexual identity. Sexual script is also believed to have different scripts for males and females in relation to sexual activity. In sexual script's link to sexual activity; sexuality, sexual norms, social construction and gender roles all play a part in what makes sexual script differ between males and females.

Gender roles[edit]

Gender Schema Theory also plays a part in sexual script because studies show that males and females interact in different ways, even from a young age. In 1991, Martha Boston and Gary Levy found that through their research observations, children, primarily boys, were better with being able to sequence own-sex rather than other-sex scripts. "As well as acquiring knowledge about the sex-role stereotypes of their culture, young children also develop sex-typed attitudes, preferences, and behaviors that pervade many aspects of their lives." [5] At a young age, children learn from their sex-roles in which later relate to the way in which they interact through their sexual scripting. A double standard exists in the traditional heterosexual sexual script. It endorses different sexual behavior for women and men, whereby women are expected to confine sexual behavior to the context of a committed relationship and men are expected to engage in sexual behavior in all kinds of relationships. Research, however, demonstrates that the expectation that women and men follow this traditional sexual script has lessened and become more subtle over time, especially in the context of established relationships, and that couples may use other kinds of scripts instead.

Application of the theory[edit]

The theory has now been applied to a wide range of areas including:

  • Young gay men (Matt G Mutchler)
  • Rape (Stevi Jackson[6] )
  • Pornography ([7] Jeffrey Escoffier)
  • Men's scripts (Christopher T. Norwood)
  • 'My types' (David Whittier) [8]
  • Women's scripts (Pepper Schwarz; Rebecca F. Plante)
  • HIV and AIDS (Lauman, Seidman)
  • Sexuphramacology (Leonore Tiefer)
  • Love (Lynsey Moon)
  • Bodies (Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott)[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michael Wiederman, The Gendered Nature of Sexual Scripts. The Family Journal, Vol. 13, No. 4, 496-502. Sage Publications, 2005
  2. ^ Barbara Krahé; Steffen Bieneck; Renate Scheinberger-Olwig, “The Role of Sexual Scripts in Sexual Aggression and Victimization”, ‘Archives of Sexual Behavior’, Oct 2007.
  3. ^ Social Construction of Gender. http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/ARTH/ARTH200/gender.html
  4. ^ Stanton L. Jones, Heather R. Hostler, Sexual Script Theory: An Integrative Exploration of the Possibilities and Limits of Sexual Self-Definition. 2002.
  5. ^ Lisa Serbin, Kimberly Powlishta, Judith Gulko, The Development of Sex Typing in Middle Childhood. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development, Volume 58, No. 2. 1993.
  6. ^ Jackson, Stevi (1978). "The Social Context of Rape". Women's Studies Interntational Quarterly 1 (1): 341–352. 
  7. ^ Escoffier, Jeffrey (2007). Michael Kimmel, ed. The Sexual Self. Vanderbilt. pp. 61–80. 
  8. ^ Whittier, David Knapp; Simon, William (2001). "The Fuzzy Matrix of 'My Type' in Intrapsychic Sexual Scripting". Sexualities 4 (2): 139–166. doi:10.1177/136346001004002003. 
  9. ^ Jackson, Stevi, Scott, Sue. Theorizing Sexuality. Maidenhead, England: McGraw Hill/ Open University Press. 
  • Gagnon, J., and W. Simon, Sexual Conduct: The Social Sources of Human Sexuality. Aldine, 1973.
  • Michael Kimmel ed The Sexual Self: The Social Construction of Sexual Scripts, Vanderbilt, 2007
  • Hannah Firth, Celia Kitzinger, Reformulating Sexual Script Theory. Theory and Psychology, 11 (2). pp. 209–232. Sass, November 2007 * Gary Levy, Martha Boston, Preschoolers' Recall of Own-Sex and Other-Sex Gender Scripts. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155(3). pp. 369–371. 2001.
  • Lyndsey Moon, The Heterpsexualisation of Emotion: Sexual Scripts and Feeling Frames. August 2006.
  • Plummer, K. (2010). The social reality of sexual rights. In P. Aggleton & R. Parker (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Sexuality, Health and Rights (pp. 45-55). New York, NY: Routledge.