Mitigating the Discomforts of Sexuality
How do women talk about sex? This is the question that drives the heart of this research. In the proposed ethnographic research, I will investigate the linguistic tools that women use to mitigate the discomfort in talking about sex. The selected field of study is a passion party, in which a group of friends and family members gather at a private residence with the explicit purpose to learn and talk about sex. A passion party consultant is invited to demonstrate sexual products, sell the products to the guests, and stimulate talk. Nevertheless, with the foremost purpose to educate women about sex. Passion parties are often part of a bacholorette party. Therefore, the data that I will later analyzed is derived from a friend’s bacholorette passion party and video recordings posted online. Subsequently, the data will be analyzed with a focus on the linguistic semiotic process that index sexuality and the linguistic construction of humor that serve to alleviate embarrassment of talking about sex among women and overcome linguistic ideologies of female sexuality.
First, lets explore the linguistic inequalities that exist in gender which provide the building blocks of the construction of the linguistic ideology that places female sex talk as a taboo subject. “At the heart of language and social inequality is the idea that some expressions of language are valued more than others in a way that is associated with some people being more valued than others and some ideas expressed by people through language being more valued than others (Philips, 474).” Susan U. Philips argues that social and language inequality is the outcome of the ideologies that value features of language and society over others, in which the people with the dominant feature or trait is valued more than others and thus the ideas of the less valued individuals are suppressed through the suppression of their forms of speech. Furthermore, Philips states women are often placed in linguistic ideologies like the idea that women‘s language is perceived powerless compare to the male counterpart which indexes them as the marked gender . I will expand her argument by stating that American Culture has a linguistic ideology that places female sex talk as a taboo subject and suppresses forms of speech in which women communicate about sex. As described by Phillips, women frequently speak freely in the privacy of their own home, but sometimes there is denial of complete access of the public sphere through a silencing process. For instance, as illustrated by Philips in the Tonga culture women are not allowed to participate in political and authoritative decisions and therefore their opinions are silenced. I will further expand Philips argument by applying it to American culture. In which, the ideology of no sex talk limit women to the private spheres to talk about sex and in the public sphere women are not supposed to talk about sex, explicitly sexual experience and experimentation.
Second, I will investigate further how the linguistic ideology of no-sex talk develops in young adults specifically young women and subsequently into adulthood. According to West, sex education is salient in the development of the youth, but the subjects most ignored because of their taboo content are masturbation, pleasure, wet dreams, and other explicit sexual experiences. She argues that sex education in school is limited to reproduction and abstinence that warns students in particularly females about the risk of having sex and often in the public environment men are encourage to have sex while young women are warned of the consequences. Furthermore, West states that legal rights that give the right to parents to withdraw their children from sex education illustrates how sex education in youth is not universally accepted. West’s argument functions as the backbone to my argument that of the construction of the language ideology in American...
Cited: Duranti, Alessandro. "Language and Social Inequality by Susan U. Philips." A companion to linguistic anthropology . Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2004. 474-495. Print.
Norrick, Neal R.. "Humor in Interaction." Language and Linguistics Compass 4.4 (2010): 232-244. Print.
West, Jackie. "(Not) talking about sex: youth, identity and sexuality." The Sociological Review 47.3 (1999): 525-547. Print.
Ochs, Elinor. "Indexing Gender.” ." Rethinking Context: language as an interactive phenomenon,
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