Jenna as something to be hidden, whispered

    

Jenna Winebrenner

What’s Love Got to
Do With It

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November 15th 2017

 

Question 1:

In
the beginning of What’s Love Got to Do
With It? (1995), Meredith Small illustrates how sex is embedded into our
culture by describing many red light districts throughout the world. Although
these red light districts publicize sexual activity through various signs,
stores and women on the streets, they also have normal urban life behind them,
“Sex may be the most visible item on sale here, but all around, the usual urban
activities go on as well”(3). In this sense, our culture has separated sex from
reproduction and made it about more, about something that is sometimes ashamed
of, “We look from a distance at pictures of sex in magazines and acts of sex in
films and think of them not as patterns of behavior that evolved as part of our
nature, but as something to be hidden, whispered about, perhaps be ashamed
of”(4). Over four million years ago, sex was just about reproduction, but now
our culture has separated it into something of pleasure instead of viewing it
as a way to pass our genes on. Smith argues that we must look back to the times
before culture, when there were no ‘expectations’ about what sex should be to
fully understand the place of sex in our lives (4).  

Question 2:

 According to Small, marriage is a human
universal thing, just like divorce (153). There are many things that a marriage
seeks to accomplish, “Marriage is used in all cultures to formalize the system
in which most children are born and raised; marriages also represent the
joining of extended family that can translate into alliances” (12).  Although it is possible for a single mom or a
single dad to raise a child, it is definitely easier to raise children with two
parents, marriage seeks to achieve this. Because a baby has to be born before
its neural time, it becomes more and more dependent on the parents, which forms
the pair-bound. Although the Western culture has become known for premarital
sex, it is still frowned upon to have a baby before marriage. Whereas in some
other cultures, premarital sex is forbidden.

Small
states that humans are not naturally monogamous, “The monogamous marriage
system is something culture invented to make people stay together for life”
(22). In fact, humans are more biologically designed for polygamy rather than
monogamy, “Men and women initially agree to stay with each other and care for
babies, but both sexes would really like an occasional fling” (22). Animals are
able to mate with multiple partners, just as humans wish they could do.

 

Question 3:

Small
describe four main theories about the origins and development of homosexuality
throughout her book. The first theory discussed is that homosexual humans
consciously choose who they are physically and psychologically attracted to,
making it their choice to be homosexual. Small seems to disagree with this
particular theory, “But it’s highly unlikely that we can consciously control
our sexual impulses toward one sex or the other; falling in love is exactly
that, a fall, not a conscious step” (169). 
The next theory discussed in What’s
Love Got to Do With It? is the theory that homosexuality is hormonal. This
theory states that the work of hormones is what determines our sexuality as a
person later in life and apparently there are critical periods for this hormone
work, “there are critical periods when a genetically male fetus becomes awash
in hormones that independently masculinize and defeminize the brain — these
hormones “organize” the brain for later life as “male” or “female”” (176). So,
in light of this theory,  if something
were to go wrong during these periods, the brain can be incomplete in its
development, leading to homosexuality. 
Science has not yet shown that hormones are able to change brain or body
chemistry making someone homosexual. The third theory about the origins and
development of homosexuality might be “analogous to neuroanatomical male-female
differences; since male homosexuals are oriented toward men, the parts of their
brains that guide sexuality should be female-like” (181). Simon LeVay conducted
research on the hypothalamus, which he believed was “associated not with a
person’s sex, but their sexual orientation” (182). Many experiments were done
after LeVay’s that contradicted his original findings of a correlation. Not to
mention there’s no way to tell if the changes in the brain caused the
homosexual attraction or if they were a result of the homosexual attraction.
(183). The last theory of the origin or homosexuality is the genetic theory,
“The key to the genetics of homosexuality might, therefore, lie on the tip of
the X chromosome, and be passed from mothers to sons” (172).   Dean Hamer conducted research on pedigrees
of families that had male homosexuals in them. He found that there was a part
of the X chromosome that was different in DNA in all of the gay men than in
their heterosexual brothers. Hamer admits that this is not a gene for
homosexuality, “they’ve only identified a region of the X chromosome that seems
to most often look the same in brothers who are gay; this isn’t the same as
finding the genes for homosexuality” (173). 

After
all of the theories, the only real difference between a homosexual male and a
heterosexual male is the sex of their partner. After reading all of these
theories, I do not believe that being gay is a lifestyle. I think that
homosexual individuals may have different biological make up than heterosexual
individuals. Nonetheless, I believe that they love and make love in the same
way that heterosexuals do. I personally do not see a reason to question whether
it is a lifestyle or biological make up though, a person should be free to be
attracted to whoever they want!

Question 4:

Our
culture has implemented an image in our minds that men are more sexaully active
and are essentially more into  sexual
relations and behaviors. Although men are “genetically encoded to have more sex
than women”, our culture has blown the extent out of proportion (122). Women
may also like the variety of sex partners, but they are unable to express it
because “this kind of behavior is made socially unacceptable in a patriarchal
society” (123). For example, women in college may be categorized as ‘sluts’ or
‘whores’ if the word gets out that they have participated in sexual behavior
with multiple men, but it is a sense of pride for men to have sexual contact
with multiple women. This is why “Men have more sex partners over and lifetime
than women” and most of them flaunt it as a success story, at least on college
campuses.

            The double standard that our culture
has put on sexual behaviors has shaped many of the differences found between
men and women. Small talks about the study done on a college campus and how
“men are more interested in sex with strangers, more willing to have sex for
sex’s sake, than women”, but she also points out many cultural aspects that
lead to this conclusion (122). Women are taught from a young age to never go
anywhere with a stranger because of the potential for dangerous outcomes,  but men do not have this fear, because
“Humans have a long history of male domination” so they do not have to even
consider the fact that they are going to a stranger’s apartment (123).  Women may have the same sex drive as men, but
we will never know because our culture has come to a point that we tell women
what they should think about sex.

Question 5:

  Small dedicates her book “For Tim, Because
Love Has Something To Do With It” in the beginning of the book, but almost all
of the book is dedicated to showing the reader how love actually doesn’t have
much to do with sex. This was confusing to me at first, I did not understand,
especially after thinking that love was a big part of sex before reading this
book. However, in the last couple of pages of the book, Small explains how love
may not have something to do with it, but it could (208). She shows that many
babies are conceived to parents who had no previous interaction or love, but
babies are also conceived to partners who “had sex with someone they love”
which shows that love can indeed have something to do with it (208). 

            Although Small argued that love
doesn’t have much to do with it for almost 207 pages, she also admits that “but
often, sex is part of love” (209). So in spite of the one night stands between
random people who meet at a bar, sex can be a behavior that is done through
love. A family can be made by two strangers, but it can also be made by
partners who have loved one another for many years. Love may not have a lot to
do with sex, but sometimes it does have something to do with it, so her
dedication is saying that love was a factor between her and Tim.