Double-Conscious Sexuality

“It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. The Negro ever feels his two-ness—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings . . . two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” -W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk

In reading the article about Yun Ch’i-ho, I was immediately reminded of this statement by WEB Dubois and his concept of double consciousness, or the juggling dual states of awareness. By this Dubois meant that the minority must be always aware of their being seen, and so is himself not free to evolve and explore the world around him as pure being. For those who’ve had the luxury of considering others’ reality when convenient, this is an easy concept to shirk off. Yet this effect has implications that go much deeper than head games or personal anxiety.

Dubois used “double consciousness” in the reference to the reality of being Black in America and of being “the other” in a society that chooses, and forces us to choose, sides. But the article on Yun throws into relief the universality of the concept, suggesting that such universality could lie with being “the other,” no matter how or where it occurs. According to Bubois, the double-consciousness:

“yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world…” -W.E.B. Dubois, The Souls of Black Folk

In diverse populations there will always be fault lines along which some can dominate, while the rest are marginalized, made into an other. When this happens, “the other” is asked to simultaneously be themselves and yet identify that self as the other, out of necessity than preference.  This alone is counterintuitive… “How can I at one time be here, myself, me, yet at the same time be there, one of those, with the others?” The presence alone of a perceptual hegemon means that self-identity is not even free to unfold in its own vacuum of awareness. Except when around each other, “the others” find that they can at no time be themselves…even their “self” is an identity that must be constructed in response to, and in the context of, another.

So one is not free to realize his truest self when he must forever see around his own projection. But this is important because our reality is not shaped by our perceptions in only an existential sense. Perception finds its form in our laws, our television shows, the music on the radio, and even the slang we use. All are the result of some perceptual hegemon, and our adherence or response to it. Whomever’s perceptions have primacy in the. So there is an inherent bondage to being the perceived other that “the other” is powerless to shed. Entangled within the web of dual awareness and the reality of then-era social expectations, Yun was not even free to pursue a love interest. Therein is a biggest travesty of walking around with a double-consicous: the other not only percieves the present with it, but also surveys their aspirations and prospects for the future based on the presence of the seer and the unseen.

This is not the type of trap that is attached to an era and goes away. Today’s others–gays, transexuals, women, immigrants–have their own version of the double-counscious to wield, just as Yun did so long ago. It exists whenever and wherever the ingredients are present: a diverse community; a normative hegemon within the diversity. Yun’s story just confirms to me that though this was a thing of the past, it is a part of Emory’s present because it is a part of America’s present.

Sexuality and Minding Our Own Business

At its most basic level, homosexuality is the kind of thing that, unless you are somehow involved in it, doesn’t have to touch you. Perhaps seeing same-sex couples in public bothers you to no end. It might even affect your health if it causes you to lose sleep. Ultimately, sexuality boils down to bedroom preference. While biology has shown that bedroom preference is not really a matter of choice, letting someone else’s bedroom preferences cause you to lose sleep is. It would be easy to say that it’s a matter of people being less judgmental or perhaps just keeping their opinions to themselves.

But while reading these articles I was struck by how something so individual (for both participants and bothered spectators) makes its way into the domain of public debate. What is MOST striking is the way that individual sentiments and prejudices find their way into macro-level institutions like government and religion. Because these sentiments, coupled with the power of institutions, become dangerous once unchecked. And the presence of this danger is especially apparent when these sentiments are consistent. Avoiding a rant about the hypocrisy of institutions like the Catholic Church, with their numerous allegations of sodomy and maltreatment of boys, what is ALSO worth highlighting is the conflict within institutions that results from the variance within instsitutional bodies. When an entity wields as much power as an institution like the Catholic Church, it cannot afford to be shaky or flexible in its moral compass, neither can it afford to be careless in its distribution of justice.

At the heart of the matter is fear, misunderstanding and perhaps even ignorance. How this fear misunderstanding and ignorance goes from being individual sentiment to institutional law is no mystery. The same individuals who hold the sentiments make up our institutions. And as long as our institutions make laws, these sentiments go from being feelings held by a disgruntled few, to being a mandated law that impacts many. Because lawmaking bodies inherently are up gist doing the most god fret most people, they also cannot afford for their policy-making to be tainted by fear, misunderstanding and especially ignorance. Aside from the fact that these laws often bring about conditions that serve to perpetuate the very problems they are drawn up to solve, they also serve to reinforce the same skewed and harmful sentiments that birthed them to begin with.

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Marriage Upkeep

Emory Report 1981-1987

Unfortunately, I did not find much while doing research in the MARBL on my topic so, I will write about what I did find interesting from an Emory Report dating from 1981-1987. There was a specific article that caught my eye pertaining to marriage. The article “Marriage upkeep” compared marriage to owning a home.

                        “If you by the best house in the world,

                         the day you move into it, it begins to fall

                         down. You have to polish the floors, paint

                         change the washer in the sink, clean the

                         toilet, make the beds and vacuum underneath

                         the sofa-all on a regular basis-or else your 

                         house fall down around your ears.”

This analogy, I think, describes marriage well. The issue that this article zoned in on is an issue that I think couples today continue to struggle with and that’s time-time to work, fuel and feed the relationship so that the love does not die. Even in the 1980’s, couples were burdened with a busy schedule and a set time period for family, interaction, and sexual time. This article advised the Emory students and faculty to not let schedules get in the way of what’s more important aspect of marriage-a relationship.

The article continues to go on even further about making accusations. For a participant of a relationship to not complain about “Why is it that we are having hamburgers again?” or “You never hang the towels up after you take a shower.” Instead of expressing oneself with “you always, you never or you don’t” one should begin with “I feel” or “I need.” this form of expressing and explaining will cause less drama and complications and everyone is happier because then there is no miscommunication.

Overall, I think that this article applies even today and how our lives have not slowed down over the years. This article reiterates the importance of a relationship in marriage and to continue working and improving it as if it were a house. I think that this article further implies how “sexy time” is of high importance and essential to any relationship. What I don’t necessarily agree with this article is how they connect sexy time exclusively to those in a legal, binding marriage. Why could they include those couple in a dating relationship? Further more, if sex is only for marriage then what about individuals in gay or lesbian relationships? Yes, I understand that for this time period “gay” or “lesbian” were unspoken terms but lets not forget that these individuals too participate in sexy time and they too develop deep relationships. Even today, these individuals still don’t get the recognition they deserve however, small steps have been taken to recognize these partnerships and we can only hope that someday soon they will be.

Sexual Identity: Desire, Dating and Marriage

Talks with S 


We can describe desire as something or someone that one may want, dating as an activity that two persons engage themselves in together as a couple, and marriage as an institution that includes the legal acknowledgement of a commitment made by this couple. The traditional model of sexuality included a man desiring a woman and visa versa. The inclusive model now acknowledges men desiring other men, women desiring other women, men desiring both men and women and so on. Our global society has although now acknowledged this new inclusive model, it hasn’t wholeheartedly accepted this new trend. It is believed that our desires occur from certain hormones and other bodily fluids that are secreted by our brain and body glands. When one is attracted to another individual, it isn’t under our control. The terms such as “love is blind” and “love at first sight” aren’t just cheesy lines created by the romanticists, but actually hold scientific proof of attraction among human beings. Although the topics of men loving other men, women loving other women and so on, have surfaced only in recent years, this actually wouldn’t have been the real case. I believe that this would have been experienced ever since the existence of human civilization. The first male may have desired the first female, and thus as eventually societies settled and grew, this must have become the norm. If a female would have desired another female, she would have thought of it as just “caring” for the other female and distracted herself by getting attracted to another man. However, now, that the subject of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. is out in the open, the global society needs to understand that this is the real case. Desires are beyond a female wanting a man’s biological organ and a man wanting a female’s biological organ. Desires include emotions, feelings and wants. Such qualities can also be accomplished by one after being with someone of the same sex.

As I mentioned before, society has at least acknowledged the fact that some individuals may desire someone belonging to the same sex. Now after desiring someone, the next step comes to dating. When couples of different genders show their affection publically, it may be viewed as “the norm”, however, when couples of the same sex show the same kind of affection, one may look away out of disgust. This, again pointing out that society hasn’t accepted the inclusive sexuality model. If a “straight” female is allowed to date a male, then why is a gay male not allowed to date another gay male? And then why are they not allowed to get married? Today in modern society, we view marriage as an activity that a couple partakes in to legally prove their love towards each other, thereby giving them a legal title and also health, social, pension and other such benefits. Our Human Rights give us the legal right to choose our own lifestyle, choose our dating mate and our own life partner. Since the law cannot command a white- 6 feet tall- male to only date or marry a 5 feet 10 inches tall –white- female, it shouldn’t be allowed to define what a people belonging to the queer group should be allowed to do. If he or she desires, wants to date or marry someone of the same sex, he or she should be allowed to do so. At the end of the day, it has been proven by scientists, psychologist, doctors, and other such professionals that one does not “choose” their sexuality, it is what one is “born with.”

This process of gaining societal and legal acceptance, along with acknowledgement of same-sex marriages will take several years to accomplish as this issue is fairly new. The first step should be to re-define marriage as the union of two individuals of any sexual orientation and sexual identity, and not just as the union of a male with a female.

Is my gender a disadvantage?

What I gathered from this weeks readings, as well as our class discussion and years of exposure to popular media, was the extreme notion that people are all different. I know this might come as a big to surprise to everyone (and all sarcasm aside, I think it actually does surprise some), but unless we are planning to write 7 billion new laws to give or deny permission for the controversial choices of each unique individual, some concessions are going to have to be made.

There is no cookie cutter outline for gender or sexuality that is going to satisfy America. We have men and women and every possibility in between. The gender we assume is not always the case and for many, that can be scary. We assign gender roles that detract from the true nature of certain individuals and we critique those who cross gender lines. In some cases, we react differently toward individuals of opposite genders even as they pursue the same acts. As an example, let’s examine the point introduced by Schwartz and Rutter about the variance in socially acceptable acts and tendencies across genders. Boys and girls are traditionally assigned to blue and pink things at a young age. While there seems to be little harm in that, societal pressures increase as children reach puberty. In middle school, you don’t see many boys wearing pink shirts or girls that play football. Girls that still play rough with the boys are met with a disapproving look by their mothers and often proudly take on the title of “tomboys.” As puberty ends, men take on a new role of the aggressor, the pursuant who is expected to be bold and forward; women are expected to resist and retain an exterior innocence.

This is all well and good, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for. I find assertive guys attractive and I’ll admit that looking back, I am embarrassed by the tomboy I chose to be before I learned how to dress like a girl.

The problem, however, is that this viewpoint escalates. It can destroy the lives of those who do not meet the standards we now expect of adults. There is a double standard for men and women in regard to sexual behavior. Men are socially expected to be aggressive and extreme in sexual acts while women who are expected to be loyal and respectable. This has recently been an issue in the pop culture media as people express outrage in the “Trampire vs. Chris Brown” debate. Essentially, Kristen Stewart was trashed by fans and the media for her infidelity in her relationship with co-star Robert Pattinson, Cosmopolitan’s hottest guy of the year; around the same time, Chris Brown’s newest album was released and more media attention was given to his continued success despite being convicted of assaulting his equally famous girlfriend three years prior.

The point is not that either of these actions deserve our attention. I simply wish to point out the disparity in social opinion as the general public trashed the female offender and still praises the male.

While on the topic of judging actions with a gender-bias, I wish to explain my opinion on a comment made in class on Tuesday. Briefly after discussing varying sexuality, the frequent occurrence of female/female public displays while “partying” in our generation and environment was mentioned. While I find the physical interaction of all sexualities acceptable, the question that arose related to the motivation behind this form of PDA. At Emory, like every where else, we have people that range from 1 to 6 on the Kinsey scale identifying as homosexual, heterosexual or varying levels of bisexual. In recognition of the rights of these individuals, I fully support equal acceptance of PDA from all couples. I think it’s an expression of desire and confidence in a relationship and personally enjoy the feeling of openly displaying my relationship. In class, however, Dr. Troka posed the question, “does it matter if they’re lesbian or straight?” Most people said no without pause. I disagree. I honestly believe there is a fundamental problem created by encouraging female displays for the entertainment of men.

It’s often said that the sexuality of women is much more fluid than that of men. While statistically this is supported by the research that was surmised during the 1990’s, I think the effects of social culture reinforces this mentality. Straight men, and perhaps some women, are threatened by the idea of male/male intimacy. Therefore, I think the strictness of identifying as either homosexual or heterosexual is a way to avoid some of the judgment that men who are attracted to men often face. The same intimacy shared by two women however, can be passed over as entertainment by men and often viewed with curiosity or alternatively disdain by other women, depending on the environment.

Many people experience societal pressure, imagined or real. As a formerly (and sometimes still) awkward person, my personal goal is to arrive at acceptance. Sexual identity is very personal and I think we owe it to each other to find a way to support every individual that enters our lives in their evolving, or fulfilled identity.

1984 and 2012

It’s very interesting to compare the Emory campus of 1984 to that of 2012. The culture is differing yet has some of the same images when it comes to sexual orientation acceptance on Emory’s campus.

One of the most interesting things I found in the 1984 Emory Wheel was the name of the LGBT organization at the time. Student Action for Human Rights was a club in 1984 at Emory that advocated for “lesbian and gay concerns.” The terms bisexual and transgender did not even make the ad for promotion of this organization. This can be tied to the “Sexual Desire and Gender” article by Pepper Schwartz and Virginia E. Rutter. In this article the social construction of sexuality was discussed. As said in the article, the United States is very complex when it comes to this subject. Social construction can get very detailed to hone in on a person’s family as their main influence in their outlook on and position in society. Even though overall America has accepted pre-marital sex, many families do not condone this behavior and this in turn affects the children’s actions. They will either accept their parents wishes or find their own way while rebuking their families’ ideals.

To bring this back to Emory’s 1984 Student Action for Human Rights, organizations can be socially constructed just as much as a human being. Although Emory was more tolerant of different sexual orientations than other schools, they could not have the organization have any hint of sexual orientation advocacy in the name. Having an umbrella term such as “human rights” in the name helped Emory still keep a mildly conservative image in order to still engage those that are not as forthcoming in their sexual identity.

Another interesting aspect of the Emory Wheel from 1984 was the use of women in advertisements. In the advertisements that cascaded across the newspaper, there were numerous women in little to no clothing that had nothing to do with the product being sold. One of the ads for a package store had a woman wearing a tight dress holding a wine glass. The only pertinent aspect of this image is the wine glass yet the woman is being objectified to advertise the package store. Another example is an ad or the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A woman is holding an Atlanta banner behind her back. Again,this has nothing to do with the advertising of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The last example is the use of “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli to advertise to use mammograms in order to prevent late detection of breast cancer. It is interesting that the first two examples had real women used to pull viewers into the ads, but for a mammogram a piece of famous art was used. This could be due to the separation of men and women in socially constructed society. As the reading from Schwartz and Rutter says, women were thought of as housewives while men were thought to go out and make the money for the family. To have the goddess of love and desire as an ad is a very interesting combination of societal influence and propaganda. Women of this time inadvertently had a solidarity with Venus because of how they were though of at the time. If there were a famous painting of Hestia, the goddess of hearth and home, I believe it would be the first and only choice for an ad to bring in women and make men subconsciously enticed to view the ad as well.


I think it is human nature to try and classify things. We always try to identify ourselves within finite groups. But the diversity within the human population often makes this very difficult. Sex usually seems like the easiest way to divide people, but even this is not as easy as previously thought. Using a spectrum to describe sex, gender and sexual identity, as was presented first by Alfred Kinsey, is a much more advantageous method. Not only does it incorporate the many identities throughout a wide range, it also seems to create a feeling of relatedness. It was easier to separate the ‘self’ from the ‘other’ when there was not a continuous spectrum connecting everyone.
One thought that I have always silently pondered is the reason behind the evolution of non-heterosexual desire and action. Biologically, fitness is defined as the extent to which an organism is able to produce offspring. The desire to have sexual relations with a member of the same sex (thus, not being able to produce offspring) should have un-advantageous, and over time removed from the population. The fact that it is still present in humans as well as in other species means that it confers some advantages. One idea brought up by Schwartz and Rutter in their chapter Sexual Desire and Gender is that it promotes group bonding, which in turn increases the fitness of the entire group. Whatever the reason, non-heterosexual behavior doesn’t seem like it is going to go away anytime soon so we might as well traverse this ethical bridge sooner rather than later.
I think the biggest issue facing non-heterosexual behavior is misinformation. Upon entry of Ghana we were welcomed with 6 important rules, 3 of which informed us that any sort of homosexual acts are prohibited by law. This outlawing is consistent in many places throughout Africa and is designed to curb the spreading of AIDS. From my conversations with many people there, it was surprising to me how widespread and deeply rooted these sexually oppressive beliefs were. Rather than keeping their countries in the ethical dark ages, I think it would be a much more effective measure to educate their constituents. Both hetero- and homosexual behavior have the risks associated with STIs and both are protected by safe sex practices.
There is no reason to squander and regulate the sexual diversity present within the human race. Evolutionarily, it is doing something beneficial or else it wouldn’t still exist. We live in a country and time period where we place so much emphasis on how technology and the government is going to lead to a loss of our freedoms, yet some of those same people readily fight to deny sexual freedoms to others. I think education has the ability to open people to the idea of accepting others for the way that they are. We should live in a society where sexual diversity (as well as every type of diversity, for that matter) is celebrated.

Culture and Sexuality 2

Culture tends to create societies that have systems and laws favorable to the majority. This often seems to be the best way for most people, but it can work against those who is outside the majority. What if the system can be adjusted to make both majority and minority satisfied? I believe there are numerous innovative ways to give equal marriage rights to heterosexual and homosexual couples without taking away much from the majority. I think there are two big reasons why many people are still against homosexual marriages. First, people tend to be repelled from others who are different from themselves, and the second, people do not like changes and taking risks without much possible benefits.

We briefly talked about the first one with the book ‘Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?’. I see Koreans students hanging out with themselves at Emory all the time, and I had seen American soldiers in Korea hanging out only with themselves in certain boundaries. I remember reading an article written by a psychologist, Linda J. Roberts, who compared the faces of couples in long relationships to see if people are attracted to a person who resembled themselves. Her result showed that we, unconsciously, tend to be more attracted to people who look like ourselves. This shows how much value we unknowingly put on ‘similarity to ourselves’ when interacting with other people. For this reason, I believe that some people, or homophobes are subconsciously against the idea of homosexuality, which is the opposite of their sexual orientation. Then why are people accepting different races more easily than homosexuality? The late beginning of the emergence of the issue in homosexuality can be one of the reason, but I think there is more than that. I think people could accept different races more quickly, because accepting different races does not really have anything to lose in their minds. However, I think that being close to homosexual people can mean to the homophobic people, again unconsciously thinking, that they can be approached by homosexuals, creating awkward situation and frustration. I am sure many of us have seen a lot of these scenes on comedy shows or movies. I think this is also why we see less homophobic reactions from males towards lesbians, and more females’ friendships with gay people, because people know that lesbians and gays will not affect men and women, respectively. Some people would say they are against homosexuality because it is unnatural. However, a species of primates called bonobos have homosexuality too, in their natural environments, which actually plays a big role in maintaining peace in their groups.

I am recently starting to feel that homosexuality is becoming acceptable to more people. Even with this progressive phenomenon, homosexual marriages are not legalized yet, because simply there is not enough of them to make it happen quickly. Although relatively big part of the majority, heterosexuals, is now accepting the legitimacy of homosexuals, including myself, we simply do not care because our lives are not much affected by whether the homosexual couples are legally married or not. On the other hand, homophobic people will tend to actively show their opinions against homosexuality, since they think they will get negative effects by giving the equal rights to the homosexual couples. However, most of the negative effects they assert seems to originate from themselves. When talking about a child who is adopted by gay parents, people against gay marriages will question the environment for the child and the prejudice the kid have to deal with. However, if people did not discriminate homosexuals in the first place, there will be no such worries.

People who have committed a serious felony are allowed to get married to have a family. We already have people taking advantage of marriage laws in the United States. I think homosexual couples, who have been longing for legal recognition of their relationship for a long time, will do much more than those people when carefully designed law gets passed.