Symbolic Interactionism And You Essay

1731 words - 7 pages

As a society, we feed off of each other for what a proper response to something may be. As children, we first look to see our mother’s reaction after falling down; if she is calm, I should also be. We look to each other for what a definition of things should be, as well. In the 1950’s, it was generally obscene for a woman on television to show her belly button, whereas today we will show nude breasts on primetime programming. This follows the sociological theory of symbolic interactionism, where society and individual social interaction provides a subjective meaning to deviant behavior. Many social definitions change for the better, however some change for the worse. One such example was once viewed as normal, with no second thoughts given to it, but now is seen as an actual social problem affecting some groups aversely. This is the topic of homosexuality, a subject that has been on the receiving end of both accepting and discriminating cultures for thousands of years.
In the past, the general attitude towards homosexual and bisexual individuals was common acceptance and normality. Homosexuality in native Africa was quite prevalent, even if it was often repressed by Roman Catholic explorers who came across these behaviors. Anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that “women in Lesotho engaged in socially sanctioned long term relationships with each other called motsoalle” (Murray & Roscoe, 1998). In the early Americas, a frequent belief was that all people were “two-spirited” and were very capable of being in love with any gender openly. Homosexual and transgender individuals were also common among other pre-conquest civilizations in Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, Quechuas, Zapotecs, and the Tupinambá of Brazil (Murray, 2004). Greek mythology very often features male same-sex love in many of the constituent myths, and have been described as being crucially influential on modern acceptability in European culture (Peguiney, 2002). The overall approval was accredited to early societies defining gay behaviors as suitable and normal, making the societal definition a good one.
As religious culture took hold of many countries, the normality and acceptance of homosexual behavior became viewed as a sinful life. The spread of homophobia attributed to so-called “accurate translations” of the bible condemning such a lifestyle began as early as the 12th century. In the year 342, the Christian emperors Constantius II and Constans declared the death penalty for any man who played the role of a wife. In the year 390, the Christian emperors Valentinian II, Theodosius I, and Arcadius accused males "acting the part of a woman" to be publicly burned in order to make sure such acts openly condemnable. The Christian emperor Justinian, years 527–565, made those who would now be called "homosexuals" a scapegoat for problems such as famines, earthquakes, and pestilences (Crogiez, Jailette & Poinsotte, 2009). Overwhelming fear and distrust...

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