On the Institutionalization of Sexuality Author(s): Jetse Sprey Source: Journal of Marriage and Family, Vol. 31, No. 3 (Aug., 1969), pp.
432-440 Published by: National Council on Family Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/349761 Accessed: 14/05/2010 04:26
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On the Institutionalizationof Sexuality
within the conceptualframeworksof marriage Human sexualityhas been analyzedtraditionally and the family. This paperdeals, however,with the premisethat sex is becomingan autonomous and distinct realmof social interaction. The sociologicalimplicationsof such a developmentare explored.An attemptis made to design an analyticalframeworksuitable to the study of sexual with other social institutions-as an end in itself. Finally, a behavior-and its interconnections case is made in supportof the analysisof sexual interactionwithin a frameworkof reciprocity and exchange.
THIS paper deals with the assumptionthat in our society sexuality is becoming institutionalized autonomously,that is, in its own right rather than primarily within the institutional contextsof reproduction and child-rearing. Autonomy is seen as a matter of degree, not as a condition of complete independence. Furthermore, the accentlies on its culturaldimension: the extent to which a given kind of social interaction is defined and legitimated as an end in itself. Considering sex as a more or less autonomous institution is not a new idea. In 1954 Nelson Foote proposed a view of sexual conduct as a "legitimateform of play"'1; while the title of Jessie Bernard'srecent book The Sex Gane reflects an increasing preoccupationof present-daystudents of sexuality with its somanifestations.2 called non-procreative Unfortunately,sociologists,in contrastto psychologists,3 have largely failed to explore the analyticaland theoreticalimplicationsof sex apart from marriage and reproduction. Many researchdata are availableon changingsexual attitudes,behavior, and the social variables affecting them. Yet most explanations-with a few exceptionstend to be of an ad hoc nature.Predictionsfrequentlylack theoreticalfoundation,insteadpresenting extensions of current patterns into an uncertain future. The aim of this paper is primarilyanalytical. It is an attempt at deductive reasoning, rather than a formulationof theoryor a review of the existing researchliterature.Its rationaleis that the analysis of sexuality can no longer validly
* Jetse Sprey, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University. 1 Nelson Foote, "Sex as Play," Social Problems, 1 (1954), p. 161. 2 Jessie Bernard, The Sex Game, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968; see also Ira L. Re ss, 'The Sexual Renaissance: A Summary and Analysis," Journal of Social Issues, 22 (1966), pp. 123-137. Cf. Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization, New York: Vintage Books, 1955; the earlier works of Wilhelm Reich and, of course, Freud's seminal writings on the matter.
be conductedwithin the frameworkof existing social institutions, including those of marriage and the family. The subsequentdiscussiondeals with a presumed "outcomestate" and aims to provide an analyticalperspective suited to its sociologicalimplications.The fact that currently much sexual behavior may still be guided by traditional institutional arrangementsis taken for granted. However, as Max Weber observed long ago:
Where, however, evasion or violation of the order has become the rule the order has come to be valid in but a limited sense or has ceased to be valid altogether. For the lawyer an order is either valid or not, but no such absolute alternative exists for the sociologist. Instead, fluid transitions exist between validity and nonvalidity, and mutually contradictory orders can be valid alongside each other. Each one is valid simply in proportion to the probability that conduct will actually be oriented toward it.4
of a "realm of sexuality" as, to use Weber's terms, a social order beside its traditionalcounterpart. The questions of whether this new order will replacethe old one, when it will do so, and how all lie outside the analyticalscope of the present paper; nor does it propose that sexualitywill become totally removedfrom the institutions for reproductionand child-rearing, namely, marriage and the family. Rather the paper assumes merely that the societal "game of sex" will increasingly generate its own set of rules.5Therefore,two sets of analytical problems must be faced and dealt with. First, the question is: how will this new order of sexualitybe defined within society at large? realmof sex, Second,given such an autonomous what can be postulated about its internal dynamicsand intrinsicmorality ?
4 Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft (Erster Halbband), Tubingen, Deutsche Bundes Republik: J. C. B. Mohr, 1956, p. 17. 5 The term "game" is used heuristically. No assumptions of any nature are implicit in its usage.
This writer suggests the ultimate formation
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SEXUALITY CONSIDERED IN THE TRADITIONAL FRAMEWORK OF REPRODUCTION
Traditionally,in our society all sexual behavior-whether for procreativereasons or notwas expected to occur in marriage. All other such activitywas thus by definition a violation of the norms. Consequently,phenomena like and extramarital, homosexualbehavpremarital, ior still tend to be defined-even by most social scientists-as manifestationsof social deviance. Their explanation,therefore,frequentlyfocuses the upon the theoreticalissues surrounding legitimation of deviance. Ira Reiss's recently published theory of sexual permissivenessis a sophisticated example of this approach.It provides an explanationof a numberof important aspectsof what is defined as sexual permissiveness: how it is learned, transmitted,and affected by a variety of socioculturaland family variables.6 Logically,however, a distinctionbetween premarital "permissivenesswith affection" and "without affection"implies that permissivenessis deviancewhich is made more acceptableby the presenceof affection.Currently, as Reiss demonstrates,violations of our traditional sex code seem easier to rationalizein associationwith "affection"than without such an association.It would be good to know why this is the case. Would the same be true in a society in which premaritalsex is no longer seen as a violation of the mores? The above analysisof premaritalsex would then lose its validity, for it would obscurethe notion of a code of morality based upon sex as a "game"or institutionin itself. Logically,one would have to assumethat, under such conditions, the interconnections between sex and states of mind-affection, love, or indifference-would be guided by a "new" moralitydesigned to deal with sexuality in and for itself. The treatmentof sexualitywithin the conceptual frameworksof marriage and the family leads to the analysisof so-callednon-procreative sex as a residual category:something done by people for a host of reasons other than reproduction. The analytical difficultiesinherent in this approach may be demonstrated a look at by Jessie Bernard'swork. She views changing sexual behavior as a sequence of four "revolutions," ranging from the emergenceof a "social sex life" among certain animal species to a "confluenceof the two culturalsubrevolutions,
one normative and one technological."7 The
6 Ira L. Reiss, The Social Context of Premarital Permissiveness, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967. 7Jessie Bernard, "The Fourth Revolution," Journal of Social Issues, 22 (1966), p. 77.
involves the "resexualinormative subrevolution zation" of the female body; the technological the subrevolution, greatlyincreasedefficiencyof knowledge. Together the two are contraceptive held largely responsiblefor the currentdistinction between procreative and non-procreative heterosexuality.Apparently this approachcannot incorporate the phenomenon of homosexuality. Neither one of the two "subrevolutions" pertains to it. Yet current changes toward homosexual conduct-cultural as well as social-may well be of great relevanceto our of understanding changesin sexualityper se. A theoreticalframeworkshould, therefore,be able to includehomosexuality. A conceptualdistinctionbetween procreative and non-procreativesex seems almost a lastditch attemptto accountfor all sexual behavior within the social context of reproduction.As such, it is analytically confusing and empirically almost meaningless. Bernardherself comments that "it is not possible to make clearcutdistinctions between procreativeand non-procreative If heterosexuality."8 it is not possible, why try? Sex has a varietyof meanings for those who engage in it. One of these is procreation.Similarly, it may or may not have reproductive consequences,regardlessof the intentions of its It participants. seems clearthat, as long as sexual intercourseremains a necessary condition for human reproduction,the communitywill have an importantstake in at least one aspect of its morality:that which concernsitself with manifestly reproductiveends. But reproduction,of course, is not the only aim of sex. Kingsley Davis, however,has made the point that "sex is too important and too ramified in the actual lives of people to be treated as a mere appein tite."9Even under circumstances which individuals would be totally free to dispose of their sexualityas they see fit, the communityat large must be responsible to protect them against fraud and force. Furthermore,the linkages of sexualitywith other social spheres-economics, politics, and entertainment,to mention only a fewl0-may also be expected to requirea variety of types of societal intervention, affecting the degreeof autonomyof sexualbehavior. But one can no longer assume, with Davis, that most relevantto the analysisof sexual conduct is its connectionwith the family.
9 Kingsley Davis, "Sexual Behavior," in Contemporary Social Problems, ed. by Robert K. Merton and Robert A. Nisbet, New York: Harcourt, Brace, & World, 2nd ed., 1966, p. 332. 10One of the unique aspects of sexual interaction is its wide variety of manifestations and interconnections with other social spheres.
8 Ibid., p. 82.
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This connection enables us to explain most of the patterns of sexual behavior everywhere and most of the variations connected with particular kinds of societies.1
This holds only to the extent that sex is, in the public mind, seen not just as a necessarybut also as a sufficientcauseof procreation. The latter misconceptionhas been eroded by the increasinglyvisible effectivenessof modern contraceptivetechnology. The interdependenceof sexuality and the family, ratherthan losing its relevance,becomesone amongsta set of alternatives to be incorporatedinto the analysis of present-daysexuality and, for that matter, into the analysisof the changingnatureof the marital relationshipitself. These alternativesmust be discoveredin connectionwith the conditions -social and cultural-under which the new realmof sex is emerging.
play-any kind of play-generates its own morality and values. And the enforcement of the rules of play becomes the concern of each player, because without observance, the play cannot continue.14
This is presumedregardlessof the durationof the game, its structure,or its meaning to the individuals.Sex as an end in itself participating is thus seen as a cultural definition which may or may not coincidewith the aims of participating individuals.The assertionthat the so-called new moralityis dominatedby purely egocentric fun elements is an empiricalone-and one that has not yet been validatedby data. Within the traditional setting of marriage and the family, sexual conductis consideredto be a very private matter. Despite the current, often commercially inspiredpublicitysurrounding sexuality,there is no reasonto assumethat it will lose its privatenature.The reverseseems THE INSTITUTIONAL FORM OF true. To conceive of a sphere of social interacAUTONOMOUS SEXUALITY tion that is both privateand moral,one may use It should be made clear at the outset that sex Georg Simmel's classic formulationof the role is not viewed as becominga purelyindividualis- of secrecyin societyas an analogy: tic and hedonistic type of activity, a private In comparison with the childish stage in which matterwithout connectionor evaluationby any- every conception is expressed at once, and every underone else. Undoubtedlyto some individuals sex taking is accessible to the eyes of all, the secret prois just another kind of physical gratification, duces an immense enlargement of life: numerous conwhile to many others this may be so from time tents of life cannot even emerge in the presence of full to time; such an interpretationof sex-not at publicity. The secret offers, so to speak, the possibility all a new one-is not the issue taken up in this of a second world alongside the manifest world; and paper. the latter is decisively influenced by the former.1 For some sociologists and many other indisexu- Sexuality,when institutionalized,is expected to viduals, the concept of non-reproductive ality, the usage of terms such as "game" or remaina very privateworld, one whose content "play" as heuristic devices in the analysis of lies, by culturallegitimation, outside the realm sex, and doubtlessly the phrase "autonomous of full publicity. But it will not be a normless it realm of sex" do conveythe notion of a cultur- realm. Furthermore, does not exist in a socieally legitimizedhedonism,however.Even Jessie tal vacuum.Privacy-in the same way as secrecy Bernard, in her perceptive treatmentof sexu- -defines its own boundaries,the areas about ality, equates "sex as play" with "sex just for which it is private. In addition it implies those fun."12This definitionleads to the formulation sociocultural arrangementswhich legitimately the of some ratherdubious assumptions,for exam- interconnect public andprivatespheres. The question thus becomes: is it analytically "Sex for fun cannot be serious." "The ple: sex-as-playconcept constitutesthe central core warranted to postulate such an autonomous of much pornographicwriting," and "Sex as realm of sexuality? How is it defined relative ? to fun may be intrinsically in conflict with civi- to othersocial institutions And furthermore, what extent would such a definition of the lized sexuality."13 Autonomoussexualityor even "sex as an end game of sex affectthe natureof its rules? In anin itself" is not perceivedhere as identicalwith swer to the firstpartof the above, one can point sex for fun. The terms "play"and "game"are out that certain types of social interactionare used heuristicallywhen analyticallywarranted. predominantly legitimatedas ends in themselves. The former, for example, calls attentionto the Moore and Anderson have called them "autotelic" forms of social interaction.l6 The term fact that
11Davis, op. cit., p. 325. 12Bernard, The Sex Game, oP. cit., p. 305. 13 Ibid., p. 306. 14Foote, oP. cit., p. 160. 15Kurt W. Wolff, ed., The Sociology of Georg Simmel, Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press, 1950, p. 330. 16Omar K. Moore and Alan R. Anderson, "Some Puz-
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activities undertaken by human beings solely because of their intrinsic interest. . . . The rules governing autotelic activity, which have the effect of keeping the activity autotelic, are remarkably pervasive. We may not do business at a party; we may not go to the opera in order to be seen there by the right people; we may not join the country club simply to meet the right people. Rather: we must go to the party because we enjoy being sociable."
If one stands by the sociability impulse as the source or also as the substance of sociability, the following is the principle according to which it is constituted; everyone should have as much satisfaction of this impulse as is consonant with the satisfaction of the impulse for all others. . . . everyone should guarantee to the other that maximum of sociable values (joy, relief, vivacity) which is consonant with the maximum of values he himself receives.20
We see the autotelicrealmof sexualityas a type of "secondworld" existing beside, but part of, the social order. Specific rules are needed to protect the quality of interaction contained within its boundaries. Autotelic action, to be institutionalized,requires culturallegitimation;that is, an institutionalizeddefinitionof its situationof reference and, to some degree, by othby its participants ers in society. The degree of its autonomythus depends on the extent to which its content is judged to be outsidethe strugglefor survivalof society.Moore and Andersonrecognizethis and apply the conceptprimarilyto "puzzles,games, aesthetic objects."18 There is no reason, however, not to extend its applicationto other categories of the social process, such as tourism, amateur sports, dating, and sexual behavior. Many interpersonal relationshipsare, of course, to some degree intrinsicallyrewarding but do not warrant the definition "autotelic"in the sense that they belong to a culturally legitimatedsphereof interaction. A further usage of the above concept in the analysisof sexualitycan be found by connecting it analytically with Simmel'snotion of sociability:
Sociability is, then, the play-form of association and is related to the content-determined concreteness of association as art is related to reality. . . . Since sociability in its pure form has no ulterior end, no content, and no result outside itself, it is oriented completely about personalities. Since nothing but the satisfaction of the impulse to sociability-although with a resonance left over-is to be gained, the process remains, in its conditions, as in its results, strictly limited to its personal bearers.19
Sociabilityas defined above, is seen as the polar type of autotelicinteraction.Empirically,autonomy, that is, the degree to which something is legitimized as having "no result outside itself," is of coursea matterof degree. Human sexual interactionis conceived of as a sphere of sociability,albeit a unique one; or, to paraphraseDavid Riesman and his co-authors, a processin which the producersare also the consumers, the performers also the audience.21This implies that whatever legitiis mate gratification to be had must be reciprocal in nature but not necessarilyidentical. Furthermore, the normative arrangementsto be made should deal with the unique aspects of human sexualityitself. While, finally, it should be noted that all of the foregoing analytically pertainsto sex within and outside wedlock and to heterosexualas well as homosexualrelationships.
ON THE NATURE OF SEXUAL RECIPROCITY AND EXCHANGE
Aboutthe moralityof sociability,Simmelsays:
zling Aspects of Social Interaction," Review of Metaphysics, 4 (1962), p. 410. 18Alan R. Anderson and Omar K. Moore, "Autotelic Folk Models," Sociological Quarterly, 1 (1960), p. 203. 19Georg Simmel, "The Sociology of Sociability," American Journal of Sociology, 55 (1949), p. 255.
7T Ibid., pp. 410-411.
toward the If games are seen as instrumental generationof their own morality,two questions are in order. First, how will the unique nature of human sexuality be reflected normatively? Second, to what extent will the private and autotelic definition of the realm of sex affect its ? intrinsicmorality In orderto try to answerthese questions,one may considersexual interactionas alwaysconstituting a reciprocal person-to-personrelationship, even under conditionsin which it is sold or bargainedfor. It is thus analyzedwithin a frameworkof exchange. The institutionalprocess leads to a state of affairsbest called a "negotiated order";that is, a set of normativearthat are rangementsand sharedunderstandings "continually being established, renewed, reThe process of negotiation viewed, revised."22
Ibid., p. 257. David Riesman, Robert J. Potter, and Jeanne Watson, "Sociability, Permissiveness, and Equality," Psychiatry, 23 (November, 1960), p. 324. 22 See Anselm Strauss, Leonard Schatzman, Danuta Ehrlich, Rue Bucher, and Melvin Sabshin, "The Hospital and Its Negotiated Order," in The Hospital in Modern Society, ed. by Elliot Freidson, New York: Free Press, 1963, p. 148.
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then is seen as leading to an ongoing series of exchangesbetweenpeople. It is clearthat its nature is affectedby the structural position its participantsoccupyin the communityat large and vice versa. The actualinvolvementof individualsis analyzed through the concept of role: "the focal of point of the institutionalization rules of exOn change."23 this level one has to confrontthe complexnatureof humansexuality.Sex role behavior-as distinct from masculinityand femiby ninityin general-is characterized greatphysical intimacy.Its emotionalcomponent,however, mayrangefrom none to one of deep attachment. Moreover,sex relationsallow for a wide variety of incidenceand permanency. They includebrief and casual encounters,regular contact between lovers, and the marital relationship.Individuals of oppositeor same sex may be involved.Thereas fore, to define sexual reciprocity an exchange of sex per se would be meaningless. One way of handling this problemis through the exclusionof certainsexual associations from the exchange category. Eisenstadt, for one, maintains that a crucial aspect of any institutionalized sphere of exchange is the definition of certain goals and qualities as intrinsically He non-exchangeable. gives as an example
the symbols and situations of basic cultural, societal, and personal identity, such as those of personal honor and virtue of the limits, nature, and belongingness to different collectivities.24
an equal and opposite effort on the principle of lex talionis. . . . The extremes are notably positive and negative in a moral sense.25
Thus, certainwomen, by virtue of their identity with the class of honorable females, are obligated not to engage in sexual intercoursein return for money. The definitionof certaintypes of sexual association as intrinsicallynon-exchangeable would, however, seriouslyimpair the usefulness of our analyticscheme.Moreover,the decisionon what exactly to exclude would be quite difficult to make. All sexual interactionis, therefore,incorand poratedin one frameworkof reciprocity exchange. This can be accomplishedby defining as reciprocity MarshallSahlinsdoes:
A whole class of exchanges, a continuum of forms. . . . At one end of the spectrum stands the assistance freely given . . . the "pure gift" regarding which an open stipulation of return would be unthinkable and unsociable. At the other pole, self-interested seizure, appropriation by chicanery or force requited only by
23 This formulation of the exchange concept is largely derived from S. N. Eisenstadt's work. See his Essays on ComParative Institutions, New York: John Wiley, 1965, pp.
An honorablewoman, thus, does not "sell" but "gives"herself. The relationshipremainsan exchange,but one occurringon a level of reciprocity at which the criterionof one-to-one equivalence is absent. Analytically,three forms of exchange can be postulated within the spectrum of reciprocity. The first one would be that of the "puregift." Here equivalenceor non-equivalence the exof change would not be considered. The second form of exchangeis barter,which would involve gifts of equal value. Often the criterionof oneto-one equivalence may not be met; the exchanges may be unequal. In such cases, howfactorsare expectedto enter ever, compensatory into the relationshipto restore the balance.Finally, the third type of exchangeis what Talcott Parsonshas called the "market"form.26In this situation,money is introduceddirectlyor indirectly into the exchange process. Reciprocityat each level of exchange involves its own negotiatedorder. A unique aspect of sexual interactionis the fact that libidinal sex, as a commodity,lends itself to exchange on such different levels of human association.Sex per se can be offered in return for money, the most impersonalof all exchangemedia. This is in contrastto other intimaterelationships, such as love and friendship, where the exchange may approachthe highest intrinsic significance. Here the major reward must be sought in the strengtheningof the relationship itself, paymentin any form being indeed unthinkableand unsociable. In contrast,it is inappropriatefor a prostitute to "sell herself" in returnfor just love or affection,for doing so would disqualifyher as a professional.27Simmel observed that money, throughits intrinsicneutrality, provides a major condition for the preservation of individual freedom and integrity in certain kinds of A human associations.28 woman, as prostitute,
25 Marshall D. Sahlins, "On the Sociology of Primitive Exchange," in The Relevance of Models for Social Anthro. pology, ed. by Michael Banton, New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1965, p. 144. 26 Talcott Parsons, "On the Concept of Influence," Public Opinion Quarterly, 27 (1963), p. 40. 27 One of the elementary rules of trade for the prostitute is not to become emotionally, or even physically, involved with a client. Cf. John M. Murtagh and Sara Harris, Cast the First Stone, New York: Pocket Books, Inc., 1958; and Harold Greenwald, The Call Girl, New York: Ballantine Books, 1958. 28Georg Simmel, Philosophie des Geldes, Leipzig: Duncker und Humbolt, 1907.
Ibid., p. 33.
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can thus do no better than accept cash for her intimate services to protect her personal integrity. Only in this way can she remain completely outside the relationship in which she physicallyparticipates. Between the "pure gift" and "market"exchanges is barter, an exchange of one-to-one equivalencebut incorporating qualitiesthat cannot be measured in currency.Much of what Reiss defines as sex "without affection"would fall into this category. It could include exas changesof pure physicalgratification well as intangibles-prestige, power, or the privilege of belongingto an exclusiveclique. Defining sex in terms of reciprocity may shed light upon the norms of sexuality.Agreement should exist about what is to be exchanged on what level. Rules defining complementarity-what constitutes the whole-for barter and market exchanges are needed. Such rules and values must ultimatelyprovidethe negotiated orderwithin the spectrumof sexual reciprocity.This logically leads to a further question: how do such rules operate in fact; and how are they maintained,changed, or reestablished? The intimate, face-to-face nature of sexual relationsis not likely to change.However,those studyinginstitutionswithin a frameworkof exchange seem to agree that mechanismsof exchange soon becometoo complex to be grasped and manipulatedby individuals. As Peter Blau puts it:
The simpler social processes that can be observed in interpersonal associations and that rest directly on psychological dispositions give rise to the more complex social processes that govern structures of interconnected social associations. . . . New social forces emerge in the increasingly complex social structures that develop in societies, and these dynamic forces are quite removed from the ultimate psychological base of all social life.29
needs to experiencesex as somethingmeaningful in and by itself. Symptomatic of the strength of the latter autotelic commitmentare unsuccessful computerizedmate selection and such evasive personal standards as "spontain neity" and "naturalness" individual evaluations of sexuality. To understandthe process of sexuality, one may resortagain to the field of social anthropology. Sahlin's discussion of primitive exchange seems particularly helpful:
The indicative condition of primitive society is the absence of a public and sovereign power: persons and [especially] groups confront each other not merely as distinct interests but with the possible inclination and certain right to physically prosecute these interests.... So peacemaking is not a sporadic intersocial event, it is a continuous process within society itself.30
Peacemaking-coming to terms with other people-is essentiallythe processof sexuality.Individuals, ratherthan the collectivity,are obliged to maintain the continuityof the process. This may well be one reason why sex educationin abstracto makes so little sense to people, young and old, who are actuallyinvolved in some type of sexual relationship. The rules of the game do exist, but provide no more than a set of alternative strategies to meet the problem of actual face-to-face interaction. Furthermore, under these conditions one plays or does not play the game. There is no roomfor "playingat." Mausssays:
In these primitive and archaic societies there is no middle path. There is either complete trust or mistrust. .... It is in such conditions that men, despite themselves, learnt to renounce what was theirs and made contracts to give and repay."3
Accepting these views as correct, one may say that the norms safeguarding the autotelic nature of sexuality have a dual task. Extraneous forces are excluded from the realm of sex, while emerging patternsof sexual organization are not allowed to develop away from the "ultimatepsychologicalbase" of the social process. Only thus can sexual behaviorremain, in Simmel's words, "oriented completely about personalities." Conflictmust resultfrom the pressuretoward organization and the continuous individual
2a Peter M. Blau, Exchange and Power in Social Life, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1967, p. 20; see also Eisenstadt, op. cit., p. 34.
Analogous to the situation describedby Mauss, in the alternatives sexualinteraction few: one are comes to terms, engages in conflicts, or withdrawscompletely.It is the processof coming to terms that concerns us here, especially as reflected in and guided by the negotiated orders of eachlevel of reciprocity. In gift-giving, for example, trust is a neceskind of saryconditionbut also an all-or-nothing personal commitment, for which one cannot bargain.The only possibleway in which the absence of trust can be compensatedis by a lie. Simmel stressed the sociological relevance of lying for the maintenanceof intimate personal relationships.
30Sahlins, op. cit., p. 140. 31Marcel 'Mauss, The Gift, Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1959, p. 79.
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However often a lie may destroy a given relationship, as long as the relationship existed, the lie was an integral element of it.32
The qualitativedifferencebetweenthe "market" and "pure gift" foci on the spectrumof reciprocitycan be well illustratedby contemplating the part of the lie in each. In the contactbetween the prostituteand her client, lies are neither a sourceof strengthnor weakness;they are simplyirrelevant.A relationshipbetweenlovers may,however,be basedon a lie. Whether people can indeed develop associations that are sufficientlytrusting to allow for pure giving is an empiricalratherthan analytical question. It is important, however, for it concernsnot just sexual interactionbut love and friendship as well. Blau, for example, sees an element of "brinkmanship" courtship,with in both parties "seeking to withhold their own commitmentup to the point where it could enHe dangerthe relationship."33 deals with a love relationship,one that in our frameworkis conceived as still on the level of barter.Such a relationship, in our terms, is faced with the problem of replacing the condition of equivalence They [the pornographers] make nothing of virginity with one of unconditional commitment. It is an themefor two thousand years; that the similarities,potential incom- deflowered, important suggested patibilities, and interdependenceof sex, love, they make nothing of it for the simple reason we make within the little of it. Straightforward adultery no longer fasand friendshipcan all be approached cinates the pornographer . homosexuality is now analyticalframeworkpresentedin this paper.
taken for granted . . . because we take it for granted.8'
SEXUAL DISORGANIZATION AND DEVIANCE
which are defined within the context of the game of sex itself. Not using this framework leads to confusing and frequently pointless types of discourseeven on the public level. For instance, the current controversyover pornographicliteraturemight be more nearlyresolved or through use of the autotelic framework34 at least awarenessof some of the analyticalconin ceptspresented this paper. When sex is seen as an end in itself, its in representation the literaturemust reflect its main theme: erotic gratificationin its various manifestations. it Furthermore, will be difficult, and rather pointless, to proclaim one kind of sexual activity as intrinsically better than another as long as its consequences not considare ered a threat to the well-being of others. Judgcan ments, such as "normal"versus "perverse," be expected to continue. They are, however, alien to the realmof sex and basedon standards can, at any given time, be seen as indicativeof the degree to which its autotelic definition has becomegenerallyaccepted.In view of this, a recent comment on the changing nature of pornographyby Gore Vidal is revealing:
Within the conceptual framework of marriage and the family, the notion of sexual disorganizationis logically meaningless.If no autonomous realmof sexualityis postulated,it cannot be viewed as organizedor disorganized.Instead we often find the terms "disorganization" and "deviance" used interchangeablyto describe sexual behaviorconsideredto be abnormal; that is, either in violation of our traditionalreproductive moralityor dysfunctionalto the family. Homosexualityand adultery are abnormal according to this interpretation. Consequently many quite differentforms of behavior-prostietc. tution, extramarital relations,autoeroticism, -tend to be lumped together into one meaningless category, sexual deviance or disorder. One hardlyneeds to mention that such lumping together does not facilitate the study of any of these concepts. In contrast,the frameworkoutlined above allows one to make a clear analyticaldistinction between sexual deviance and disorder,both of
82Wolff, ed., oP. cit., p. 316. 33Blau, oP. cit., p. 83.
He then sadly commentsthat writersof pornography-literature calculatedto arousesexual exciternent-will find it progressivelyharder to unearthstimulatingmaterials. The activities of individuals engaged in either the suppression,defense, or "legislation" of erotic literature seem equally meaningless when sexualityis viewed as autonomous.Symptomatic is the fact that the strategies used by both attackers and defenders of pornography have little to do with sex per se. The formertry to get at "smut peddlers" by fabricatingnew or crimes,such as the advertisement mailing of The defenders sexuallyprovocativematerials.36
34Jessie Bernard's earlier quoted view that "sex as play" is central to "much erotic or poronographic writing" is accepted here but for different reasons. Her subsequent claims about the connection of pornography with an antipathy to "ties" or that of "sex as play" with an inability to establish "genuine human relationships" are in total contrast to the views espoused in this paper, however. 35Gore Vidal, "On Pornography," New York Review of Books, 6 (March 31, 1966), p. 8. 36Cf. John H. Gagnon and William Simon, "PornograMenace or Paper Tiger," Trans-action, 4 phy-Raging (1967), p. 48.
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of pornographyattemptto protect its free distributionby declaringit art. Legislators,finally, engage in increasinglymore complicateddefinitions of pornography itself. This has resultedin the popularbut meaninglessdistinctionbetween "hard core obscenity" and other, presumably more healthy,kinds of erotica.In comment,eroticallystimulatingliteratureis a basicmanifestation of autotelicsexuality,whateverits literary merit, style, or taste. The currentattitudeof the law merelyreflectsan attemptto deal with sexuality-not just pornography-in the framework of an orderthat is no longer generallyvalid. In the context of this paper, sexual disorganization is defined as a state of inadequacyin the structureof the order which guides the social process of sexuality.37 Deviance, however, refers to the violation of sex role prescriptions. In terms of the game analogy, disorganization thus describesan impairmentof the definition of the game, and deviance a violation of its rules. Deviance is a game event, while disorganizationis not. One manifestationof sexual disorderwould thus be the impairment,for whateverreason,of the definitionof the game itself. Under certain conditions,sexual interactionmight be reduced to an essentially individualisticand hedonistic activity-one no longer definableas a social exchange. What is exchanged would then have lost its meaning. It would have become a "sample without value" so that the analyticaldistinction between giving, bartering,and selling had lost validity. This would not mean the absence of sex; on the contrary,there might be a great deal of it. Its analysis,however, could validly be conductedon a strictlypsychobiological level ratherthan on that of social interaction. The attitudes toward "free sex" and love prevalent within the currenthippie subculturemay serve as an exampleof this sort of disorder.38 A second possible source of disorganization lies within the sphereof sexualityitself, that is, in the nature of its normativestructure. Poorly defined or contradictory norms make a meaningful sexual relationshipdifficult,if not impossible. This type of condition does not necessarily reflecta breakdownof the existing structure, however. It may also indicatea large-scaleindi"7This conceptual approach is similar to that formulated by Albert K. Cohen. See his "The Study of Social Disorganization and Deviant Behavior," in Sociology Today, ed. by Robert K. Merton, Leonard Broom, and Leonard S. CottrelI, Jr., New York: Basic Books, 1959, pp. 461-484. 3s Cf. Fred Davis, "Focus on the Flower Children," Trans-action, 5 (1967), pp. 10-19; and in the same issue Bennet M. Berger, "Hippie Morality-More Old than New." pp. 19-27.
vidual inability or unwillingness to act meaningfully in the face of a new situation. Deviant sex role behavior thus may or may not be indicative of disorganization.Empirically, the distinctionwill frequentlybe impossible to make. A majorsourceof devianceper se, however,may be the introductionof extraneous, that is, non-sexual, goals and motivationsinto sexual relationships.The associationthen may turn into an exploitativeratherthan a cooperative one-exploitation denoting an exchangeof commoditiesof unequal value in a situationof obligatory equivalence or the deliberate misof representation the natureof the relationship. An example of the latterwould be the feigning of love to obtain certainsexual privileges. The idea of equivalence is then deliberatelyintroduced on a level where it must be considered, in Sahlin's words, "unthinkable and unsociable." Lester Kirkendall's study of the premarital sexual activitiesof some 200 male undergraduates39provides illustrative data on both sexual devianceand disorder.Instancesof exploitation are evident; some reflect conscious acts, others an inability of boys and girls to arrive at any in kind of mutualunderstanding the absenceof -or in ignoranceabout-an establishedorder. One conclusionwas that the "association sexof ual experience with important non-sexual values," such as prestige, tends to interfere drasticallywith the quality of sexual relationships.40Within the frameworkof this paper, this is exactly what could be expected to happen. Unfortunately,Kirkendallappliesonly one set of universal standards,such as honesty, to evaluatethe moralityfor all forms of sexual interaction, regardless of their intrinsic differences. He is thereforeunable to deal, except in the most general terms, with the wide range of deviancereportedin his insightful study.
The aim of this paper has been limited and twofold. The limitation has resulted from a focus upon sexuality primarilyas a dependent ratherthan an independentsocial attribute.The doubtlesslycomplex, and quite relevant,impact of sexuality upon other social spheres-private as well as public-has not been treated.41As stated in the beginning, the extensive psycho39 Lester A. Kirkendall, Premarital Intercourse and Interpersonal Relationships, New York: Matrix House, 1961. 40 Ibid.,
For a good discussion of this aspect, see Hans L. Zetterberg, "The Secret Ranking," Journal of Marriage and the Family, 28 (1966), pp. 134-142.
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logical literatureon sexual autonomyhas been omittedin an attemptto presentthe deliberately sociologicalperspective. The writer'saim was to outline an analytical perspectivesuitable to the study of a projected "outcomestate" of human sexuality.An autonomous and private sphere was postulated to serve as an alternativeto the traditionalincorporation of sexual conduct within the institutional frameworksof marriageand the family. In this way the spurious distinction between procreative and non-procreative sexuality is eliminated,while all its manifestations-homosexual as well as heterosexual,marital and extramarital-can be dealt with. Finally, it was argued that the process of sexuality itself, despite its unique nature, can and should be analyzed within a sociological frameworkof reciprocityand exchange.
A second, less manifest, purposewas to view sexual behavioras a specifictype of social interaction and to use it as a vehicle for the study of those social processeswhich still remain in the twilight zone of sociologicalinvestigation.Sexual relations are informal and intimate, and as such they are outside the realm of the formally organizedsocial processesoccupyingso much of the time and energy of present-daysocial scientists. Sexualityhas, for obvious reasons,also escaped the attention of experimentallyoriented small-group investigators. It is strongly suggested, however,that the studyof sexuality-independent of its traditionallinkage with procreation-can provide us with a great deal of of understanding what MarcelMausshas called the conditionsunder which men, despite themselves, learn to make contracts,to give, and to repay.
JOURNAL Does a physician risk prosecutionwhen he prescribescontraceptionfor a sexually active unmarriedminor without first obtaining parental consent? Two distinguished lawyers say, 'There are good reasonsto believe he should not be at risk." The lawyers,Harriet F. Pilpel and Nancy F. Wechsler, presenttheir opinion in a landmarkarticlein the first issue of Family Planning Perspectives, a quarterly published by the Center for Family Planning Program Development (CFPPD) of PlannedParenthood-World Population. Another article in the new journal recounts how a Congressional"mandate"was ignored by virtually all of the 50 states, and funds allocated for voluntarybirth control shunted aside. Although 1967 Social Security Amendments laid down the fiat that family planning "must" be provided to "appropriate recipientsof public assistance"and offered 85 cents in federal funds towardsevery dollar spent locally for the purpose,FrederickS. Jaffe, a PlannedParenthood-World Population Vice President, asserted that "most state welfare departmentsare still unaware of the thrustof the regulations." The spring issue of the quarterly includes a varietyof other articlesproviding practicalguidance and information to all professionals involved in the extension of family-planning services in communitiesthroughoutthe land. It is addressedto some 20,000 health, welfare, and antipoverty workers.
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