9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Sex Work Building I, 1E10

I want to sleep with you: rupture and normative processes in sexuality

This paper spawns from two on-going research projects that, in a way, converge in a common interest on rupture and normative processes in sexuality. The data used here has, therefore, different sources and is based on a plural methodology. Following an ethnographic strategy complemented by in-depth biographical interviews we analyze the organizing principles of social sexual relations between escort-girls and their clients. Simultaneously, we explore semi-structured in-depth interviews applied to 30 women and 30 men, as part of the Gender and Generation project (ICS.UL).
The sociological study of sexuality has been determined by its analytical focus on more particular or deviated forms of intimate lives, privileging often the exceptionality on sexual practices and life styles. However, we must consider that sexuality is also a part of the mundane routine of everyday life. The aim of this paper is, in this extent, to explore both disruptive and normative experiences of sexuality, showing how those experiences are crossed by regulation and freeing up phenomena.
A closer look at everyday intimate lives reveals that neither the ordinary is always monolithic, nor the marginal practices free actors from constraints. On the contrary, protected by legitimacy, most normative sexuality can potentiate scenarios of change and relativity, for instance, when it comes to variations in sexual interaction, values and desire during the couple life-course; contexts of gender roles suppleness; or the elasticity of the sexual exclusivity rule.
Conversely, in the margin, transgressive practices must obey to more rigid conduct codes. The erotic scenario of call-girl and client is a dimension where they organize social constructed images or plots for sexual behaviour and expression that they wish to accomplish, turning out to be a ritualistic and controlled dimension of the everyday life of repetition.
Resulting from the analysis of these two erotic scenarios sexual reciprocity emerges as the most powerful constraint to those involved (both men and women) in sexual relations. The idea of reciprocity not only defines the intimate dynamics setting an orgiastic normativity, but also shapes gender identity.